Nicaragua is such a weird place, and I'm really learning to love it. Managua is such a weird mix of third-world poverty and high-techness. People who sleep with their whole family in one bed walk around in Hollister shirts and talk on Blackberries. People use magnetic cards to ride surprisingly clean city busses to their work in rudimentary factories.
I've gotten used to the need to bathe twice a day due to sweat, buying bags of sliced green mangoes topped with salt and vinegar in the street, having t-rex syndrome and mosquito-bite scars due to the amount we walk and my apparenty more desireable blood. Don't worry, I do still laugh at taking pictures with people whose heads don't even reach my shoulders (everyone here) and cramming myself into a "mototaxi" or "japonese" (you'll have to google those, I don't have any pictures, sorry, but they're so worth seeing).
I can almost eavesdrop on Spanish now. I still love walking the streets and hearing a mix of bachata and Justin Beiber, watching taxis almost run into busses, being given fresco, delicious, juicy, ripe mangoes, or soda at every house I visit, learning to love a city, and learning to love the Lord and the temple.
I'm getting used to, but still loving, that no matter where I go, children want to follow me, watch me play piano, sit in my lap, wear my nametag, hear me speak English, or just hold my hand. That is one of the most special ways to be a representative of Christ, and, like him, I've never sent a kid away.
Half of my bishop, his 3-year-old son Samuelito, his wife Nadieska, and me eating dinner and sharing pictures at his house, like we do every Thursday night. She was a boxer before she had Sam.
On Wednesday I'm going to complete 6 months as a missionary, as a representative of Jesus Christ, called to such a responsibility by a living prophet. And boy have these 6 months as a full-time builder of the kingdom been some of the greatest moments of growth and change in my whole life.
At this point, more than ever, I have desires to follow my Savior, to let him take and seal my heart his. As I come every day to understand his atonement and his life a little better, I have more and more love for him, and more and more desire to do his will. And as I continue to study his life through the scriptures and as I continue to try to emulate his life through my daily actions, I come to know him more and more and have greater desires to stay on the path he's outlined to return to live with him and our Heavenly Father.
I've learned a whole lot of patience, and I've learned how to be a better teacher. I've learned Spanish...of course. I've learned to be oh so grateful for every little thing that I have at home and in the first world. I've learned to be that grateful for the things I have here, the people who've stolen my heart, the testimonies and the light in the eyes of English-speaking missionaries, Nicaraguan members, and latina sisters alike. I've learned to conquer fears of failure, fears of talking to people, fears of public speaking (in English and Spanish), fears of what others might think of me, and I've learned to focus on what the Lord thinks of me. That is just about the only thing that really matters at this point.
I'm still trying to learn to become the person that the Lord and I both want me to be, but if I've gotten that far at this point, I can't wait to see what comes in another year.
I love you all lots and lots! Cuidense!