Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Masaya

Multi-Zone Conference lunch on Christmas Eve with Elders Mehmetoff,
Sanchez, me, and Elder Bradbeer. Best food I've eaten in Nicaragua!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!!!!

It was so amazing to be able to Skype with my family on Christmas Day! I was so happy during the call that I couldn't stop talking and I wasn't really sad at the time, but after we hung up, I started bawling like a baby. I felt like I could only tell them about 1% of what I wanted ... ugh ... hasta el dis de las madres!

Me, Elder Sanchez, Hermana Combs, and Hermana Pena at the
Multi-Zone Conference on Christmas Eve.
Me and Elder Sanchez on Christmas morning, getting ready
to unwrap our presents.
On Christmas Eve, we had a multi-zone conference in Managua. It was nice to see some of my old friends, and President Russell, he fed us really well! That was some of the best food I have had since I have been in Nicaragua. We started off the conference with about 3 hours of teaching from the President -- good stuff! Then, after we ate, they showed us a slideshow of a lot of the missionaries' families, and then they surprised us with some hand-written letters from our families. After that, we went outside and played some games in the heat, and then we came back in and took some pictures and stuff before we headed back to our areas. I included some pictures of the Hermanas in our district -- Hermana Combs and Hermana Pena. They're awesome! I was telling my folks on Christmas that Hermana Combs has been robbed a couple of times since she has been on her mission, and the second time, the drunk guy that was robbing her tried to cut off her finger so he could take her 'CTR' ring. Luckily, his knife wasn't sharp enough to cut through her bone, so she still has her finger that now includes a big scar.

Rocking my new shirt and PJ bottoms from Christmas.
I was really excited for the Nutella and peanut butter!!
For Christmas breakfast, I had some Oreos with the Nutella and PB ha ha.
Me and my companion had to go up to San Miguel on the 27th to
help baptize a lady named Tamara. The two elders up there who were
teaching her were super sick (if you can tell in the picture).
This is the home of our pensionista where she prepares lunch for us
everyday. Her kids had all received socks for Christmas and
that was it, so they were super excited.
So in Nicaragua, Christmas Eve is a much bigger deal than Christmas Day. December 25th isn't even a holiday here, but it's like a pretty normal day for most people. On the 24th, though, the people go CRAZY with fireworks and parades (I have been told that New Year's Eve will be even bigger fireworks). They do get visits from Santa Clause here, but if he brings any presents, they are usually just food and some item of clothing. A lot of people can't really afford any presents here, but most of the presents I saw were new socks. So I had a lot of fun handing out presents that my parents sent -- my family saw some of the pictures from my area and decided to send some presents for me and my companion to give away to some of the children for Christmas.  They wrapped them in two different kinds of wrapping paper so I could tell the 'boy' gifts from the 'gifts.' They sent so many, I still haven't been able to give them all out quite yet, but we've been searching for more and more people that deserve them. I know it helped make a lot of people happy. I can't tell you how amazingly excited the kids were for the new toys, especially for them coming from the States as I would explain it to them. I tried to include as many pictures as I could.

Well, we shouldn't be having any baptisms this week. There is one possibility, but it's not looking super likely, so we'll see. I am doing really good, all healthy, and the Spanish is fine. This next week will be our last full week before the next cambios. I know I will be leaving this area for sure, but I could still be staying in the Masaya Zone. Just have to wait and see.

Thanks to everyone for the letters and cards and emails and Christmas presents! I sure appreciate all the love and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

This is little W. Her mother comes and cleans our house, so her family
does a lot for us, and she loooooves playing and talking to us, and she
absolutely loved her presents.

This is J. Jr. and his little brother. They are a super young and humble family
family that we are teaching.

This is the son of the family who invited us over for dinner on Christmas Eve.
He hadn't received any gifts, so I was glad to give him one.

These are some of the family of Hermana Glorinda, whom we baptized back
in November. They are probably the most humble family I have ever had the
opportunity of teaching

We baptized H. and his dad a couple of weeks ago. He is a super cool kid!
He also didn't receive any presents for Christmas, so he was so stoked!!
Super great family and definitely deserving.

This is L and she is crazy! She is H.'s little sister and she loves coloring!
She couldn't wait to get started coloring.
This is more of the family of Hermana Glorinda. They loved the presents
but they needed us to play the card game with them to help explain how
to play because the instructions were only in English, which they can't
read. It was a lot of fun to play it with them.

I had to throw in one more picture of the little puppy for my little sister.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Miracle Sunday" Baptism and Tres Leches

Me and Elder Sanchez, H., Harold, Harold's daughter,
Elder Sanchez, and Elder Castro
Well, the big news this week was the baptism on Saturday. I was soooo happy for this family. It was super neat as this was the "Miracle Sunday" family from about a month ago that felt prompted to ask to come to church with us, and now they were able to get baptized.

Me and Harold and his family at the baptism.
I was so incredibly happy for them!
Last Monday, right after writing our emails home, we went back to the house of the family where we eat lunch because on P-Days they feed us dinner instead of lunch. Anyway, it was their daughter's birthday, so we celebrated with them and it was fun: a piñata, tres leches, it was all a blast. Elder Anderson (from Logan area) and his companion, Elder Carter, also eat meals with us there, so they were also there for the party. 

On Tuesday right before we were headed out the door to go to work, there was a phone call for Elder Sanchez and me to go to Dirioma to help out there! So we had to go up to Dirioma and stay the night up there, but this time it was just me and Elder Sanchez, which was kind of weird because we are both still training, but they sent us up there to work with a member in a relatively untouched part of Dirioma. We almost had to go up there agin on Saturday and Sunday, but we didn't because of our baptism service (I told them I wouldn't miss for anything my first baptism where I taught the family).

On Thursday, we had out interviews with President Russell. My interview only took about five minutes, and all he told me was to "keep up the Spanish and work hard, Elder." From what other missionaries have told me, that's pretty much a normal interview for the Elders-in-training. Other than that, the week has been pretty normal. Oh, and I have felt 100% better this week, which was really good.
We helped hold the piñata up for the birthday party on Monday night.

Amazing cake!!! I need to learn how too make Tres Leches, and then I can
make it all the time when I go back home.
This upcoming week should be pretty exciting. We have a Multi-Zone Conference on the 24th and it's all day. Because of that, we didn't get P-Day today -- it was a normal work day except we were allowed one hour to write our families, and then back to work. We haven't had any mail delivered to us in a while, so hopefully we'll be getting it all at the Conference on Christmas Eve. They were talking about holding it on the 26th, but I am glad it will be on the 24th because I'll be with more friends on Christmas Eve. Then I am excited to Skype on Christmas Day with my family. Also, I get to delver a bunch of presents (toys) that my family sent to hand out to as many children here that I can. Even though it's supposed to be a normal work day on Christmas, apparently everyone, including President Russell, knows its gonna be a day to just visit members and chill because nobody wants to be taught by the missionaries on Christmas Day. We also had a bunch of members invite us over to dinner on Christmas, so we have some options, ha ha. It's funny, but Christmas here will be like 90 degrees. It's just blazing hot here -- and humid.

We found a Children's Primary Songbook in English, and so
we sang for the birthday party in English, ha ha.
We're moving along here in Nicaragua. Hard to believe that I have already finished 10 weeks here in Nicaragua as of today, and I am almost done with Training!! Crazy!!! No baptisms scheduled for next week, but there are two possibilities for probably the week after, so we will see. Well, Merry Christmas to everyone back home, and thanks for all the letters and cards and pictures!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Leche Magnesio To the Rescue

Some of our members had a little puppy less than a month old
and I couldn't resist a photo ha ha!
Hey everyone! Firstly, I am feeling muuuuch better. I guess I may or may not have gotten a parasite that made me sick, and then it either died or is dormant right now. I called the Mission Nurse and she told me what to do. I had to stop eating all the Nicaraguan food for this week and I had to buy and eat packaged food from the US for every meal -- which was pricey, BUT I am feeling soooo much better. I also had to consume large quantities of Leche Magnesio, and I still have to take it now, ha ha.

OK, so we went to Managua this week on Tuesday for the new missionary reunion and training. It went pretty well, and our Mission President was really impressed with my Spanish. The meeting took up most of the day -- AND they fed us McDonalds!  Unfortunately, I threw it all up a few hours later (I was feeling really good when I ate it, but that night was super rough). So my first experience with the McDonalds wasn't the best.

So we went to this little fast food chicken place called Tip Top Chicken.
It's actually pretty high class here -- they take your order, and it costs
quite a bit Cordobas-wise. I ordered this chicken combo and it came to
150 Cords -- and just like ALL the chicken I have eaten in Nicaragua,
this one came with bones and tendons and everything!
Let's just say I definitely prefer boneless, but what can you do?
By about Thursday, I was finally starting to feel a little better and we were able to get back to work again, and the awesome news is that we have 2 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday!! Remember a few weeks ago the 'Miracle Sunday' where we brought this random guy to church because I felt prompted to ask him to come? Well, he is getting baptized this Saturday with his son!!! So, I can't wait for that! This week, we only had to stay in Dirioma one time and other than that we were able to work our own are, but things have been getting sluggish because people struggle to keep their commitments. We ended up only bringing one person to church yesterday with us, and he is someone that we can only visit on Sundays so he can't really be taught, but all is well!!!

For this next week, nothing really big happening beyond the baptisms. We have some interviews and possibly a multi-zone conference coming up next week, I believe. We're also trying to work out the logistics to Skype home on Christmas. We found one of the member who has a laptop computer, but they also have a son who is out serving a mission, and they don't know when he will be Skyping with the yet. At any rate, she will let us use her computer to talk on Christmas.
I had to get a picture of this tree with ginormous limes the size of my head!
They eat these like melons here, but when they are this big, they aren't
supposed to be as sour as our little limes back home.

My folks sent me pics of my cousin, Sister Kaitlyn Langford, getting home from her mission last week. Looks like everyone is doing awesome! On the Olsen side, my cousin Trevor is the next to come home, but on the Langford side of my family, I'm the next one to come home ha ha! Only a little more than 20 months LOLOLOL. Overall, I am feeling a lot better and better about being out here. I'm making a lot of friends with the other missionaries, but I am super nervous about our next cambia coming up, because I don't where I might go or who my new companion will be!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hurling and La Policima

Not a ton of stuff happened last week. My interview with the President didn't happen. Not sure why..., so maybe it will be this week. I did get sick again, however. Not sure if it was something I ate or what, but I was hurling my guts out Saturday night and my stomach has been super upset ever since. Some serious upset stomach issues, so it makes it hard to do anything. Makes P-Day not very fun either. It sucks being sick.

Me and Elder Sanchez at the Christmas Devotional Broadcast
with the Hermanas behind us photo bombing our picture.
We went to the church last night for the broadcast of the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional. Even though it was in Spanish I could understand it all and it was really good, except for being sick....ugggh.

The Nativity Scene my parents sent me this week.
I did get a package from my family this past week. Yo-yos for me and my companion, with instructions how to perform some tricks. I've already been practicing with Sanchez! It also had a nativity scene for some Christmas decorations that we set up on our table and 5 CDs full of Christmas music. Oh my gosh, I love all of it. We've been listening to Christmas music non-stop.

OK, so something exciting yesterday and today is the Nicaraguan Catholic Holiday called "La Policima." It basically means everyone goes out and parties and sings in the streets and lights off firecrackers and super loud fireworks -- ALL NIGHT LONG. So hard to sleep last night during the celebrations. I guess it's a little bit like Halloween where the families go to houses to get candy, but when they go, they worship the Virgin Mary and sing and chant things to Mary. It's a crazy holiday here. Also, because of the holiday, a lot of the stores are closing early, so we spent almost 2 hours this afternoon trying to find a cyber-cafe to write emails home (there was a mass of 8 missionaries together running around searching, ha ha). We almost couldn't find an open cyber-cafe and were about to go home and then I wouldn't have been able to write this week, which would have also really sucked. But we found this little cyber-cafe that we had never been to before, and it is really slow in here, so we were able to write, but we are almost out of time now.

Me, Diego (a member here who is awesome and waiting
for his mission call), and Elder Sanchez at the
Christmas Devotional Broadcast.
We were able to work in our own area this whole week, and we have been setting lots of baptismal dates, but they're not for 4 to 5 weeks from now. It makes me a little sad to be with the Zone Leaders because their areas aren't as productive because they have all sorts of other responsibilities to take care of besides just teaching. Oh well, only one more month and I'll be finished with my training and then I can be in a normal area as a normal missionary and we'll have the opportunity to have more baptisms!!!

As for Christmas, I haven't heard too many details on that yet. I have no idea how we're supposed to Skype. We get to have a multi-zone devotional on either the 24th or 26th, but other than that, we are supposed to work on Christmas and treat it like a normal day out in the field. It would be nice if we could do some service or something, but apparently even before our current Mission President was here the missionaries weren't allowed to do much service. All I do know is we get a dinner, probably like our Thanksgiving dinner, on the 25th.

Anyways, that's about all that's been going on here. I did hit my 3-month mark this last week! In the next week, nothing super big should be happening, but hopefully I get over this sickness soon! So, working hard and enjoying it more and more (when I'm not sick.....ha ha)!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Nicaraguan Thanksgiving!

Me and Elder Sanchez (my new trainer)
Me and Elder Sanchez (my "brother") -- awesome pals!
First off this past week, we had cambios. Well, we got his with a BIG surprise -- Elder Mehmetoff got transferred! Nobody expected that since he only had one more cambia to go, but they sent him up to Managua to be a Zone Leader there for his last transfer. So, we got a new "dad" to replace him.... so, introducing my new companion: Elder Sanchez! That's right! We have two Elder Sanchez's in one house! He also leaves to go home next cambio, like Mehmetoff, so that guarantees Elder Castro will be here after the next cambio to train the next Zone Leader as well, which means he'll end up being in this one house for almost 7 months! Elder Sanchez is from Guatemala, and because of the confusion with names, I'll be working with him a lot more than Elder Castro going forward. I am also getting along better with Elder Castro now, but I think it is partly because he knows that he will be here in Masay for at least another 6 weeks now, so he has been a little nicer the past few days.

Our Zone Thanksgiving feast
So after that excitement, we had Thanksgiving this past Thursday. As I mentioned last week, we ate together as a Zone in the chapel, and some of the members helped prepare the meal for us. It was a nice gesture, but it didn't quite hit the mark of a traditional Thanksgiving back home. Also, unfortunately it was served a little cold and not much flavoring (like no chili sauce or nada).  So, not necessarily the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had, but heck, it's better than nothing!

Where's the turkey? Not happening in Nicaragua.
This was our meal for Thanksgiving.
One day this past week, I had to go with Elder Castro and Elder Benson (one of the APs) and we were gone for the entire day visiting other areas of the zone for baptismal interviews, and that day was suuuper fun driving around in the AP's super nice truck and visiting with the new people is a lot of fun. Then finally, for the last two days, I've been working a lot with Elder Sanchez (my brother, not my trainer) because the Zone Leaders had to visit other areas for interviews and such to help with the baptism craziness that occurs at the end of each month. Unfortunately, no baptisms in our area, but we were finally able to start working here again and we should have some more baptisms coming up in December.

We found a friendly visitor on the wall of our house in our little
backyard area. Ha ha -- don't worry, we killed it after taking the pics,
but it was HUGE and could have easily crawled right into our house!
Thought I would take a pic with my hand in there for size comparison.
This is probably just an average-sized tarantula here in Masaya.
So my Spanish is doing great, but I have been speaking more English lately because we have more Americans in the Zone after the last cambio. Plus, me and Elder Sanchez (my brother) have been working together and when we're not with members or investigators, we speak in English, but I can switch back and forth pretty darn good for only 3 months in the mission (which is probably not saying much, I guess, ha ha). I also noticed that I have this mental alarm clock EVERY morning. I wake up at 6:20 AM every day..., always 6:20..., I don't know why, but it's like a normal thing now.

I was glad to get a package and some letters today. The letters included some of my cousins' blogs on their missions. I love to read them all. My cousin Kaitlyn (Utica New York Mission) has like no time left on her mission (less than 2 weeks), and my other cousin Trevor (Berlin Germany Mission) makes me jealous of how freakin awesome his mission is and reading about all the stuff he gets to do in his mission sounds soooo cool. My mission is definitely different from his... but I enjoy reading all that stuff. I also appreciate all the updates and stuff. So this next week I have an interview with the Mission President (always on the 8th week of your training). Thank you everyone at home for all the emails, letters, and love. Keep them coming! Have a great week!
I also found an interesting friend while strolling through the tienda.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Finally Back in Masaya This Week

Some of the missionaries in our zone.
First off, I just wanted to say that I am glad my sister, Erin, made it home OK from her mission in Peru. I'm not gonna lie -- I wish I could have been there. I sure miss her like crazy! But heck, I almost already have 3 months under my own missionary belt, so I'm glad I left as early as I did.

We helped with a baptismal service at the church.
Last Monday, after P-Day, we went to a Noche de Hogar (Family Home
Evening), and the family served us this soup. I don't know the
name of it, but the soup was the best I have had here so far.
I just had to watch out for the chicken bones in it -- ha ha.
So for this past week, to start off, on Tuesday we had a Zone Division, and I was assigned to work with a missionary named Elder Velasquez up in his area of San Miguel. He is sooooo cool and such a chill Elder. He actually started off his mission serving in El Salvador for the first 6 months, but then he had to come to Nicaragua because of problems with his visa, and now he has been a missionary for about 15 months. It was a really fun day, and Elder Velasquez walks incredibly fast!!! Like, I was dead-tired by the end of the day just because of how fast he walks when he works.

Just in case there is a volcanic eruption,
they have these signs all over Masaya pointing you where to go,
and I decided to get a pic with one!
Then, finally on Wednesday, I was able to work in my own area in Masaya again. It sucks sometimes how we have to visit all the other areas in our zone instead of getting to work in our own area with our own investigators. Sometimes it is a little hard for Elder Sanchez and me because of the zone leader responsibilities of our companions takes so much time, so for instance, we spend more time in the apartment some days because the Zone Leaders have to collect numbers, or we have to go to other areas for days at a time, which is fun at first, but becomes a little boring after the third or fourth time. So I was glad to finally get a few days in my own area this past week.

This next week we have cambios (transfers) and I am 99% sure I will have a new companion. Not sure how it will turn out yet, but I will have officially completed 2 cambios and only have 15 more to go!

This next week we will also get to celebrate Thanksgiving. Of course, Thanksgiving is not a national holiday here in Nicaragua, but a lot of the people know what it is surprisingly (La Dia de Accion de Gracias). Only the gringo missionaries celebrate it, but the latino missionaries of course join us for the food LOL. So we all get a little extra money this week to pitch in for a special dinner on Thanksgiving, and our zone asked a family to help make us a traditional turkey dinner, and then we will eat it together at the church.

Overall, I feel like I'm doing really good. I'm not as tired during the day, and I am trying to drink lots of water (forcing myself to drink a ton because I can tell I need a lot) because, of course, it is still incredibly hot. I think my body is adjusting to not sweat as much, I think, but it is still so hot -- and the other missionaries tell me that Masaya isn't even as hot as other parts of our mission, like Granada or Managua. I am actually jealous of the pictures of the snow back home right now, although I would probably eat my words after only a day or two, ha ha. As for the scorpions, well, the house we are living in is located in the more urban part of Masaya, so we're mostly alright. But it might be more of a problem if I move into other zones that are more rural, or more ghetto houses than the one I am in right now. Really, I am having a few adventures and working hard every day, and as long as I don't start thinking about my time, then it's not so bad. I'm making a lot of friends in the mission, and although my comp, Elder Castro, and I don't always see eye to eye, Elder Sanchez and Elder Mehmetoff help out quite a bit.

Rear view of our sweet new Zona Masaya jerseys.
Unfortunately, we don't have any baptisms scheduled for a few weeks. We had been working with this couple in our area that were planning to get baptized last Saturday, but in the end, they decided they didn't want to get married any more, so they split up and don't want to get baptized either. Kind of depressing end to that story. Anyways, I'm doing great. Spanish is excellent!! Today, we even had a zone activity with all the missionaries in our zone except for two of the Elders. We played a ton of soccer on the outdoor church court. We got some zone jerseys and it was suuuuper fun, really hot and sweaty for everyone, though, ha ha.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Our zone had a blast playing soccer for P-Day today in our new zone jerseys. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Diriomo Critters, A Little Miracle, and Suits

This tree is just on the side of the small dirt road to Diriomo, and it is soooo cool!
The tree is hollow all the way up inside, and when we first crawled in,
all of these bats flew out of the tree cave -- scared the crap out of me!
First off, I would like to give a shout out to my sister, Erin, to say Happy Birthday today! And to my parents happy anniversary!

A pic of the small dirt road through the jungle on our way to Diriomo.
OK for my week.... I wasn't even in my area for more than half of it!!! On Tuesday, for Zone Leader business with my companion, we went to Las Flores, BUT then on Wednesday through Friday, we went to Diriomo again (about 14 km south of Masaya), and this time we stayed a couple of nights with the Elders there, so I was actually in Diriomo for 3 days and 2 nights. It was really fun, though and I got to work with a few different Elders there. However, the house that we stayed in is really infested with spiders and scorpions, so it was a little scary. They have these big tarantulas and the Elders there showed me pictures of the HUGE scorpions that have been in their house! And right after we were all talking about this, we pulled out the mattress-things to sleep on (not comfortable at all, by the way...) and there was a HUGE spider on it and a bunch of eggs. We squished the spider and the eggs, but then a bunch of baby spiders spewed out of them allllll over the mattress. Needless to say, Elder Castro slept on somthing else that night LOL.
These little guys are everywhere here in Nicaragua, and this is just
a baby one. The locals say that they are not deadly, but they will
make you sick for days if you get stung by their tail.

All in all, working in Diriomo was super fun and it's a looot cooler there temperature-wise. The cooler temperatures felt super good at night and in the mornings. When we returned to our area, it was weird not having seen our investigators for so many days. Elders Mehmetoff and Sanchez had stayed back in our area  to keep things going, but they only could do half the work we all normally do. So, in the end, only about 2ish days in our own area this week!!!

Sunset through the jungle in Diriomo -- Paradise!
Alright, now for some of the interesting stuff. So we found out that one of our investigators, well, .... I guess he actually puts little children on the black market! Our Bishop had to tell us when we had this guy's name on our investigator list, which is too bad because the guy was actually progressing with the lessons. Apparently he has worked with the missionaries here before, and he was progressing at that time also, but he deals children around the world. Scary, and sad...so that was rather unusual this week. 

Kind of strange, but just about every other day, there is some sort
of parade in the middle of the street here in Masaya, with a band that
follows and plays really loud music, and the people will just get up
and start walking in it, and this one even had a little float with a
bunch of guys carrying it. I don't know why they do it, but
it's kinda cool!
On Sunday, we had a cool little miracle!! SO we do our ¨mission train¨ every Sunday, where we go through our area and pick up people to come with us on our way to church, and it is usually VERY UNsuccesful. As usual, our investigators mysteriously weren't home or couldn't go, but in our last stop at an investigator's house, we walked past a guy sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the road with his little daughter in his lap. As we passed by, he actually shouted something at me along the lines of ¨Hey, how's the view up there, chellie?¨ So by now I am pretty used to stupid stuff like that, and brushed it off. We then went to the investigator's house, and of course, they weren't home, and we almost had to go to church bringing NO one with us (which is really bad)! BUT, I felt a prompting to ask that guy in the lawn chair to come with us...even though he called me out...so as we walked back past him again, and without even telling Elder Castro to stop, I just started talking to him....AND HE SAID YES!!! He went with us, and brought his daughter. It was his first time in the church ever, but he was very comfortable because HE HAS FRIENDS in our branch! He didn't even have to sit with us because he sat by a really good friend of his, and he even had all these people come up and say 'hello' to him and his daughter, and it was a suuuper cool experience! He went to our Sunday School class that the missionaries teach and he took a ¨Gospel Principles¨manual to read, and we will be visiting him twice this week....incredible!! So that was my cool story this week -- a small little prompting and now we have a very encouraging investigator!!!!

ALSO Id like to give a report on my Spanish...nobody believes I'm in training! My Spanish has been improving sooo much! I can understand almost everything now and I can talk to everyone!! I'm so happy!! Not very much frustration anymore in that. Now, I still have a lot to learn about being a missionary, but I feel soooo good about my Spanish! All the people that I talk to always ask me about my height, where I'm from, and what not, and as I am talking to them, they don't believe that I have been here in Nicaragua for barely only one month!! I'm really starting to enjoy the work more as I'm starting to know everyone better and making friends and knowing my area. It took some getting used to, but I did it!!

Last, even though it is so incredibly hot here, we wore our suits yesterday to church just to switch it up.  During our train misional, as we walked around our area picking up people to go to church, we got some very interesting looks and everyone was staring at us because no one has a suit here!!! And because it was so hot, it was kind of fun for our investigators, and the members were so impressed with us. Sure got everyone's attention!
Me and Elder Sanchez in our suits for the train misional.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Baptism, Shoe Repair, Comprensión, and Nutella

Pobre ceballos! I feel bad for the horses here, but here is a little farm of them, with some cool scenery
we passed while visiting with Elder Castro in Las Flores. I think its cool!
My folks said tomorrow is Veteran's Day at home, which of course, they don't celebrate here in Nicaragua. However, a ton of people already have little Christmas trees up and strings of lights on their shacks, so I'm guessing Christmas is a much bigger deal!

A little glimpse inside the huge marketplace where they fixed my shoes.
I feel like I've been on a roller coaster this past week out here... some days are much better than others. First off, my rash is finally gone! It lasted until about Wednesday and now I am 100% better. Overall, I would have to say this week was better -- I feel better about everything for the most part. I just need some more time under my belt. BUT, I have some very good news: I can understand the Spanish!!!! This week, I finally have been able to have casual conversations with the people. I am not even sure which day it kinda clicked, but it clicked alright! I am not fluent, but I am sooo happy because my Spanish has improved a ton and I can finally understand what the people are saying!!
These are the guys who fixed my shoes...sketchy, with old school
machines LOL, but it only took 30 minutes and only cost 30 Cordobas!

Also this past week, I went and got my shoes fixed for only 30 Cordobas (less than $1 US), which is a good amount of money here. So now that those are repaired, I hope I won't have to buy more shoes while I'm here, but we'll see. I took some pics from the cool huge marketplace where we got them fixed. The market is huge, and it had lots of hallways that are tiny and crowded. In fact, they have SO MUCH STUFF that I was basically walking on my knees and constantly crouching down to walk underneath all the merchandise they have hanging up. It was my first time in there, and they had a ton of stuff, including some mini electric fans, which I might have to go back and get one. We only have 2 fans in the house we live in now, so we have to take turns. I reeeaally want one to help me sleep, so maybe with my Christmas money from home....

So here is a cool thing about my companion, Elder Castro: he is an artisan! He can do anything and everything to do with leather. So we all really want some Forros (scripture covers) and he had made some earlier in his mission for his own scriptures that look so cool. So we bought all the stuff and he uses the tools from one of the members here, and that's what we have been doing most of the day today for P-Day. In fact, he's still working on them right now, but we went on splits so I didn't have to sit and just watch him make them all day. It is a really long process, with lots of details, but it will be so cool when he is finished.

So this guy was walking his pig, and I had to get a picture of it!
Not many people have pigs here, so its rather unusual.
Also this week, I was able to visit a lot of different areas again with Elder Castro fulfilling some of his Zone Leader duties. I basically got to tag along, but I did have to pay some for the transportation. However, I got to go to Nindiri for the first time, and San Miguel, both really cool little cities close to Masaya. I like doing that, but I know once I am no longer with Zone Leaders, all of that visiting stuff will stop and I'll only be in my area... but it's OK for now -- ha ha.

The biggest news this past week is we had another baptism (actually two)! We baptized the little girl and her grandma that I told you about in last week's blog and sent pictures of their humble home. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera to the church, so hopefully I can get a copy of some of the pics from the Bishop. I'll forward them next week if I can.

I appreciate some of the sports updates from everyone at home, especially the basketball stuff, porque me extraño baloncesto.... However, everyone here LOVES the NFL so they know quite a bit about football games back home. It is funny, though, because the people love to ask me what my favorite team is, it I personally know any of their favorite players, how many games I have attended, etc., and I don't even really like the NFL that much LOL.

Read it and weep -- 185.00 Cordobas for a little jar of Nutella! Dang!
Today for our P-Day, we went shopping in a little nicer grocery store, and they had Nutella and peanut butter! I had to take a picture! BUT, look at the price.... yeah, that's a dream for me to buy one. The 185 Cordobas equals about $4 US, but here that many Cordobas is ridiculous. The little jar of peanut butter is like 100 Cordobas, and it is tiny, not even worth it. The bread we buy to spread it on ins only about 1 cord -- seriously! That's like 3 pennies back home! Pulperias have these rolls we buy that are only 1 Cord each. I really miss chocolate. I also miss making nachos with my brother -- they don't have cheddar cheese here, only this gross kind of cheese that doesn't have to be refrigerated, but they don't have microwaves either. I can't really tell if I have gained any weight. I do know that I am ALWAYS hungry, not that I wasn't always hungry at home either, but I think I am still about the same weight as when I left.

So, there are lots of adventures here in Nicaragua. It's really hard, but it's totally worth it, and I know how much it means to the Lord that I am here. I just love the scenery here. It is similar to when we went to Hawaii, just 10x hotter 24/7, and a looot greener, and the palm trees here are sooo cool and tropical and grow weird fruit/coconut things -- ha ha. Nicaragua is kind of the coolest!

Anyways, that is about all for this week. The baptism last Saturday was really good, but we don't have another scheduled for about 2 more weeks or so. We've been struggling to find investigators who keep their commitments and progress... but we're working on it!!