So this week we had a few surprises. Obviously, the first being that I stayed here in La Fuente again. We didn't tell our bishop, and he assumed that Hermana Dominguez had left the area, and when I walked into his house the first day to introduce my new companion, Hermana Garcia, he looked like (and admitted that he felt like) he had just seen a ghost. Ha!
Other surprise, Hermana Dominguez went to my first area in Esteli! She's going to meet everyone I loved there, and they're going to love her!
Tender mercy of the week, I lost my agenda on Saturday. A missionary's agenda is their brain. It has everything you need in it, and mine always has a whole big piece of my heart, with inspiring quotes and notes from my companions. I thought I might have lost it in a "rapidito," they're like shady-looking taxis that run a specific route in our part of Managua, but had no idea how to find that specific car again. But the next day as we were walking around picking up people for church, we just happened to walk into the same street as that same rapidito. He rolls down his window and calls "Hermana Ferrin?" (He doesn't know me. He just remembered that I was the only gringa he'd seen that weekend)
"Did you lose this?" And hands me my agenda. That was a million to one chance that I'd ever get that back, but I know it was a simple way that Heavenly Father had of showing me he was aware of me and loves me, even in silly, simple ways like that.
Next surprise: Last Sunday, my last day with Hermana Dominguez, we contacted a really cool family in the street named Wilfredo and Xiomara. We introduced ourselves and our message, and ended up joking and laughing with them. He mentioned that he'd learned from other LDS missionaries before, and that she'd talked with them a few times, but had never had a lesson with them. When we were writing down their information in order to go by and see them later, he told us his name was Denzel Washington. He starts laughing, and we start laughing, and he says "see? Now you won't forget about us!" That's now our joke with them. When we went to visit them the first time, and got to the part in our lesson where we take out the Book of Mormon and are about to introduce what it is, he says
"I know what that is. It tells the story of the other part of the House of Israel who left Jerusalem during the time of Zedekiah and came to the Americas. It talks about Lehi and Nephi, and then later tells the story of when Christ came to visit the Americas after his resurrection. Moroni was the last one to write in it, right? I've been wanting to know how to get a copy of that book."
I was flabbergasted and dumbstruck, and wasn't actually able to respond at that moment. Even though he'd talked with missionaries before, very few people in Nicaragua know that much about the Book of Mormon, and even if they read it, they don't understand for themselves always the connection between the covenant people of the Lord in the Bible and the covenant house of Israel in the Book of Mormon, in the Americas.
He continued: "But I really also want to find a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants. I've been hoping to learn more about the priesthood - that's called by the names of Melchizedek and Aaron, right? - and how that authority of God was restored to the earth in these times."
Again, all I could manage to say was "how do you know that?"
He said "wait here" and went into their room to retrieve a book to show me. That book was "Jesus the Christ," by an apostle of the Lord, James E. Talmage. With that book, everything clicked. Their names, having talked with missionaries before, that book. There was an entry in our area book - the record that stays in the specific proselyting area of the missionaries in order to help newcoming missionaries follow through on contacts and teaching done by previous missionaries - about this family, that they were really open to learning more and even had a copy of Jesus the Christ, but that the missionaries hadn't been able to get in touch with them at that time. I had seen their names in a list of various that needed follow up at the beginning of May, and felt urged by the Holy Ghost to look for that family, but their address (addresses are notoriously bad in Central America, especially in Nicaragua) did not help us find them, and we ran out of leads. Then three months later, we coincidentally run into them in the street. But that wasn't a coincidence at all. After talking with them more and seeing the hunger they have for the truth, I have no doubt that the four of us were guided together at this time so that they could receive the eternal blessings they so crave.
I told them this, and I could see that they agree. And they are so willing to do all that they learn to do.
We brought a special family to church on Sunday. They have been so excited to talk with us. They were visited by missionaries not too long ago, but never learned about the Book of Mormon, which really is something key and something special when it comes to strengthening our testimonies of Christ and learning the truth of the restoration of the gospel. They've been so excited to read in the Book of Mormon, and to teach their kids about it, too. And we've been working with the family that our mission president taught and baptized in our ward, and this week they came to church not just with a white shirt and tie, but with the Preach My Gospel that the mission president had gifted to the husband.
Biggest surprise: this week, we went to see a family that we were teaching as they returned to activity in the church, who has a 12-year-old daughter who is not a member. She has been learning with the family, but has been afraid and reluctant to be baptized. We backed off so she wouldn't feel so pressured, and began focusing a bit more on other families we were teaching, but stopped by this week to see them and to teach a lesson on how to receive and understand answers to our prayers. Before we even started the lesson, we asked her if she remembered the question we'd invited her to ask in her prayers.
"What was it?"
"If I should be baptized."
"And how have you felt?"
"That you should be baptized?"
She nods again, shyly.
"Excellent. We're so happy for you, and we know this step will make you even happier, especially as you receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Would you like to be baptized on Saturday?"
She nods again, and her parents smile.
So, we had a baptism on Saturday (pictures to follow next week). She and her family are so great, and they have so many huge blessings waiting. I just love them. I just love being here. This is all about learning to see the beloved children that we all are to our Heavenly Father, and treating everyone as such, and helping them understand how to live in the way that will make Him, and them, the happiest. I'm so glad I get to be a part of it.
I love you all!