Monday, September 22, 2014

Hermana "I'm Just Happy to Be Here" Ferrin

Well, this week has just been a dream-come-true. I have waited my whole mission to be in this zone, and I'm so glad and so grateful that I'm here. Here in Puerto Cabezas I feel like I'm living in a mix of The Princess and the Frog for the southern, coastal, african touch, Peter Pan for living in trees, and Home Alone for being a bunch of irresponsible young people doing amazing things that no one expects of them. I just love love love it here. It's like a mix of Hawaii and Africa and, of course, Nicaragua. Not to mention it's a small town, and thus I feel a little bit like I'm in rural Utah from time to time. I have waited so long for this!

Here's the short story:
Monday and Tuesday, I mostly rested to recover from the flu and my trip to Puerto. Tuesday we all gathered in the backyard of a branch president here who has a house on the beach, and had a bonfire where we shared testimonies and Puerto Cabezas mission experiences. That was amazing. We also had our first "Miskitu class" with the Miskitu elders who share our branch with us, as they helped me through my first baby steps in the Miskitu language. One of the most important phrases, which we use every preparation day, "man nani plum wantsma?," or "you guys want food?" Also obtained my pair of rubber boots, a hand-me-down from an Elder who finished his mission.

On Wednesday my companion was on divisions with our sister leader, and I went with her companion to get to know Rama Bilwi. We had a pretty cool experience as we met with a less active sister who asked us to interperet some pretty powerful dreams, in which she was told she had another chance to do things right for her family, and she chose to come back to church.

Thursday, we did zone interchanges, where our zone leaders made assignments and sent everyone out with new companions for the day. I was sent back to the same area, just with the other companion, my sister training leader, Hermana Pochop. The goals we set as a zone were to find two new families and put baptismal dates with two families, contact a BUNCH of people, and, almost as a joke at the end, to baptize one family. And to drink some soda. Well, this is Puerto, and miracles and crazy things happen every day. When we got back together on Friday to finish up the zone changes, we'd all drunk a lot of soda, we'd found a lot of new families, talked to a ton of people, and baptized 3 families. In one day. This is Puerto.

On Friday and Saturday, I finally started to get to know my area, which is all of the city of Puerto. I wish that you could see, that I could explain, what it is like teaching in houses on stilts, full of hammocks and without running water. It is like paradise. I just can't get over how beautiful it is, and how good and faithful the Miskitu people are. We are teaching some special families with baptismal dates, we are working with a bunch of members who speak Miskitu way better than us and can translate beautifully and testify powerfully. The zone is very unified, and often pass references to us of families that are not progressing well in the Spanish language, but who understand and commit to act while learning in Miskitu. The missionaries work closely together, closely with the members, and find prepared investigators. 

And on Sunday, well, Sunday was crazy. Never in my life would I have expected to be going to church in a meeting in a language that is neither Spanish nor English, which I don't understand at all, in a skirt and muddy rubber boots, traveling there in a rundown, refurbished, brightly painted, green-lighted school-bus, full-to-overflowing, with everyone piling out and pushing from behind to get it to restart every so often, as I pass through swamps and pass by houses on stilts in marshes, surrounded by black and brown skin, and listening to people say "meriki mairin yari," tall american woman. But it's funny how personal revelation can send us on new and blessed roads, and how inspired priesthood leaders and personal inspiration point us to doors that we didn't even see before, doors which, when opened, have completely new and beautiful views. And I just love when God confirms that my desires were good, by conceding them to me, such as this desire to be here which I've held on to for so long.

I will hopefly get photos out next week, but just trust that I am so, so, so dang happy here, loving this more than any other adventure, and that I'm just happy to be here.
I love you all, and I want you to know that there exists zero doubt whatsoever that this is true, that this is the work of God, and that the church that has the power and authority of Christ, and all His truth, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Love love love,
Hermana Ferrin

Monday, September 15, 2014

AU AU AU!!!!

I had changes! I got up at 2:30 this morning to board a flight for PUERTO CABEZAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When we took off, there was a rainbow in Managua, and when we landed, there was another one waiting for me here. I take that to be a good sign. Here I am now, and I LOVE IT ALREADY!!!! This place is amazing. A-MA-ZING. It's practically a whole other mission. Here the languages spoken are English Creole, Spanish, but more than that, Miskitu, a native language of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. area will be the whole city, because I am one of the two companionships who teach exclusively in Miskitu, while everyone teaches in Spanish as well, possibly primarily. This zone is super unified, super buena onda, super pilas, and has a whole different culture. And practically, no one leaves the zone until they go home, since a missionary that has learned Miskitu (and we all learn at least a bit, even if we're not teaching exclusively in Miskitu like me) is quite valuable. 

Also, I will be the first white girl working in the Miskitu Branch. Booyeah. I may not be the first gringa missionary who got to Puerto, but I am the second, and I am the first to teach in only Miskitu!

My companion's name in Hermana Ochoa, she's from Guatemala, San Marcos, close to Mexico, and has as much time in Puerto as I have in the mission. Her first area was the same branch where I started in Esteli, just the other half, and she packed up and came to Puerto when I came to Esteli, and has been here ever since. She's just darling, and I'm going to love working with her. 

Other news...Here in Puerto, there are five branches and one...meeting...The meeting is a sacrament meeting and then Sunday School exclusively in Miskitu. That's mine. We only have 2 hours of church, because there's no 3rd hour of auxiliaries. We also have a bus to go pick people up for church on Sunday. WHAT!!!! I know, awesome, right??

More info on Puerto next week, after I've lived here a while!
Hermana Ferrin

Monday, September 8, 2014

5 am...

Other than the lack of sleep, this past week has been very good. On Monday (preparation day), I had to get up at 5 am to go practice for one of the musical numbers that we performed on Wednesday for the conference we had with Elder Alonso, a Seventy and member of the Area Presidency (one of the general church leaders, or rather, one of the leaders who has authority for a large portion of the world. "Seventy" is an office of the priesthood, one which has always been a part of the true church of Jesus Christ, during the time of Moses, the time of Christ, and today as well). Tuesday, I also woke up at 5, as a result of waking up at 5 the previous two days, and my body having accustomed itself to doing so. Thanks, body.

Wednesday we had our conference with Elder Alonso. As the "official" mission pianist, I had to show up at 6:30 to practice with the various groups that would be performing. Again, I got up at 5. It was a wonderful conference, though. It reaffirmed my testimony that this church is directed by men called of God, having authority. He taught us some wonderful things about boldly offering the blessings that one can only find in the true church of Jesus Christ, such as modern revelation, prophets, the priesthood authority to baptize, and to seal families for eternity. And the coolest part of all was when he pronounced a promise on us at the end, after talking about the difference that came to Peter before and after the atonement and ressurection of Christ, using the example of healing the lame man in the temple entrance, that if we were obedient, we too could "arise and walk," and do amazing things in our missions that we'd never imagined before. And so what did I do? I went out of the church building to take a city bus to go home, and decided to stand up in front and preach to the bus. That was a great way to face my fears, was definitely a first, and we got some good contacts out of it. Now I'm not afraid to talk to anyone.

We've seen a few miracles this week. William continues to be a miracle. He's a man who saw a ad online, decided he liked what he saw, contacted a member and told him he wanted to go to his church. He's been showing up to church on his own, and reading the Book of Mormon with a hunger, and has all the right questions. 

One of the best moments of this week was when we went to eat lunch with a less-active member we met the week before, Carlos Oscar, who invited us to eat "indio viejo" with him and his family. A member told us to look him up, when we met him the first time, and he and his wife told us they'd been baptized 12 years ago, but stopped attending because it was very, very far from their house. And he didn't think that the true church exists on this earth, but loved the Book of Mormon and knew it was true. The problem was that he had loaned someone his Book of Mormon 10 years ago, and they never returned it, and then moved away. He was trying so hard for that whole time to get his hands on another copy. I tried to explain to him how the fact that the Book of Mormon is true means that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is also true, but he didn't quite understand. So, I gifted him a Book of Mormon, and he was overcome with gratitude. I was touched, because I realized that at times I don't treat that book with such reverence. He then invited us to his house to eat with them the next week.

When we returned, he was recounting us all the wonderful things he'd found in the Book of Mormon. "Que cosas mas bellas, hermana!" He absolutely loves the fact that there are more prophets than the ones that appear in the Bible. We then invited him to General Conference, the Biannual conference where the modern-day prophets and apostles direct themselves to the whole church and world, and again, he was overcome. Absolutely speechless. He, so excited, said to his wife "why...let's go! Let's go! Did you hear that? It's not ever day that someone invites you to hear a prophet speak!" She's evangelical these days, but even she was excited about it. Not even my Uncle Loren, the person who loves conference the most on this world, I thought, can match Carlos in his excitement. He's inviting all his friends. I am so excited for him.

Yesterday we were a little disappointed when one of our families didn't come to church with us. After church I was walking around so discouraged and disappointed that I didn't want to talk to anyone, because I didn't feel happy enough to convey the joy of my message with them, when we saw a beautiful young family coming our way. I had an inner battle, asking if I should talk to them or no, not wanting to, but feeling that I should. We did introduce ourselves to them, explained a little of our message, they mentioned that they'd talked with Elders once before, but never had time to visit with them. As we explained about eternal families, they asked us when we could come visit with them. We set an appointment, and then invited them to accompany us to church on Sunday. The wife said "you know what? We will. Because of what happened this morning." Her husband had gotten into a terrible accident at almost 100 km per hour, totaled his car, ruined the other vehicles as well, but he escaped without a scratch. They knew it was a miracle, and were ready to show gratitude to God in the ways he asked. As they left, they told us "we visit a lot of churches, but the one we like best is the one you have, because those young men explained us such simple, basic truths in such a simple way. We're busy, but if we make an appointment and say we'll be there, we'll be there. We'll be expecting you!" 

This time, I was the overcome, speechless one. The Lord blesses us when we least expect it, and I am so excited to see blessings come to that adorable little family.

I love my Savior, I love his gospel, and I love you! Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Ferrin