This week, I've been trying to take the counsel in my setting apart blessing: "Do not take counsel from your fears. Do not let your fears guide you." That is something so hard for me. I think Satan knows just what he needs to do to use fear to incapacitate me. And I give in all too often instead of fighting. But if instead I can go and do the work of Jesus Christ with faith and joy, then things will be better for me, things will be better for my companion, and things will be better for my investigators and for my ward.
As for my new area, I live in the middle of Managua. Well, in a barrio of Managua. Managua is huge. I do not really enjoy this feeling of being trapped in the suburbs. I do, however, enjoy that every night a different member feeds us dinner. What a change from Estelí! I'm hoping to avoid gaining weight in spite of all the food, (I had some sister missionaries I ran into today tell me that it looks like I've gotten skinner in my 4 months here. Let's hope I can keep that up, and that it's not only the work of a parasite...) but most importantly, I'm excited for this opportunity to become an even more integral part of this ward, and to work with and love the members even more than in my last area (if that's possible).
Here in Barrio La Fuente (the name of both the ward, and the neighborhood where I live. Feel free to look that up on the lds.org map), we meet in a house-turned-meetinghouse rather than in one of the pretty, fachenta chapels that populate most of Managua. But our bishop is awesome, and we eat dinner with him every Thursday night after correlation. His wife is a boxer. No joke. She's pretty tough, and I think we're going to be friends. Our bishop asked my mission president for permission to have my companion and I receive visiting teaching assignments as companions of other sisters in the Relief Society, and President Collado said yes. Pretty cool, no? He also asked for permission to have me teach a piano class to a few children of his choosing every Saturday, so that eventually there will be someone in that ward to play piano after I leave. He didn't ask me about any of this, but I'm excited to do it, although I really have no clue about the vocab for music teaching in Spanish. This week's class was a little rough, but was fun, and the kids are dolls.
We share the ward with two elders, one of whom was in my area before me. We moved into a house that the elders had vacated for us, and the stories they tell about elders' houses are so true. We're still cleaning. But it's an awesome place to live. The house isn't much to look at, it's a few rooms that we rent from a woman who has rented to elders for years and years and years, but there are gardens everywhere in the patio, and outside, and a beautiful dalmatian named Donkey who just loves me, and I like to sit outside at night while my comp is washing her clothes in the pila, and pet Donkey and look at the stars and feel like I'm in Arizona.
Another side note, the members here are super psyched to have sisters. It's been 20 years since the last time sisters worked in this ward, and supposedly they've been asking for sisters to come for a long time. And it will be cool to share the ward with Elders, so that we can work with our individual strengths to bless the ward in unique ways.
Just one story for this week, on Saturday night we went to visit one of the recent converts, a cool kid named Roberto who is 13 years old and is the son of members who live in a different house and attend a different ward. He is super funny, but doesn't have a lot of self-confidence. I hope we'll help him with that, too. But we walked up to his house that night (which is on the main road) and he came running out to us yelling something about a snake. I thought he was joking about how his family had cooked up a snake for us to eat dinner, or to sell in their fritanga (that's italicized because you have to google it), but no. There was a huge, dead snake on the sidewalk in front of his neighbors house. We go look at it, asking each other if it's dead, daring each other to touch it, wishing we had our cameras, and wondering where the heck it came from. Everyone who walks by reacted as if it were Candid Camera, all nonchalant, then suddenly "oh my gosh whatintheworld that's a huge snake, no wait it's dead, no maybe not...", like the one kid jogging by with his dog who double-taked, almost tripped, then came back to watch and throw a rock at it. Then the Elders happened by (since it was the highway) and they did have their camera and were about to take a picture when a strange, tatooed man crossed the street, picked up the snake without a word, and walked away. Nicaragua.
We spent a lot of this week completely lost, contacting all day to get new investigators, and not knowing exactly how to get back to where we started from. And I'm not so sure how to be in charge. It's hard out here, but it's not impossible. I'm just going to have fun, remember who I'm serving, and testify with love and boldness. That's the way the witnesses of Christ have always worked, and that's the way I'm going to have to work, too. And things are always better when I change my desires for the better. That's one thing the mission is going to be teaching me for a long time: what my desires should be, and how to make them that way. The Lord needs my heart, for some reason, and He needs it now, and so He's using this mission to seal it. And sometimes that hurts, but it is always better to do things His way. He is always right, He is going to win, and we can join in that fight with him, or we can be left on our own. Who's stronger? Where's it safer? I know where I want to be.
Also, guess where my companion, Hermana Argueta, is from? Yep...Guatemala. Huehuetenango, to be exact.
Oh! One last thing. I don't know if I've written much before about Celia, but she was an investigator of mine in Estelí. I had a couple lessons with her and brought her to church for the first time in February "on my own," while on exchanges with my friend and fellow gringa Hermana Howell. But Celia is so special, and has two little girls who are just adorable, and from that first day, she hasn't missed church since, and stays for all three hours every time (highly unusual), and wants so badly for her family to have all the blessings of the gospel, but her husband hasn't listened much. It broke my heart to have to leave her and her girls behind. She even gave Hermana Ayala and me stuffed animals for Valentine's Day, because she has such great "cariño" for us, as she put it. Well, Hermana Ayala just wrote me to tell me that Celia and her husband have a baptismal date for March 9, and that he's come to church now, too. Miracles can happen. I am so excited for her, for their family. I'm learning to love this people a lot.
Enjoy FHE tonight, all, and remember DyC 6:33-36. Fear not to do good, and look unto Christ for strength in every moment.