Monday, October 20, 2014

Bienvenido a Masaya, Nicaragua!

Our bus ride from the CCM to the Mexico City Airport, 2:30 AM.
Hola from Nicaragua!!

Entonces, I still have a few stories about leaving the CCM. So a week ago Saturday, I thought I was feeling better from my cold/virus, but then later that night, I noticed my arm was COVERED in hives. I had been feeling incredibly itchy all day and didn't know why. Well, about 8:00 that evening, I realized I had hives covering nearly my entire body. I went over to the Infirmary and the doctor told me it was because of the virus I still had and the hives were the result of my body fighting the virus and my itching all day made it one-hundred times worse. So he gave me some Benadryl and this other stuff that was super sketchy, but since that night, the hives and virus haven't come back, so hopefully it is all gone now.

Van ride from the Managua Airport to the Mission Home.
This is one of the Assistants to the President who picked us up.
Then, a week ago Sunday, our last night in the CCM, we didn't go to sleep. We were all busy packing, and since our whole casa was leaving at 2:30 AM, it was also one last party. The flight from Mexico to San Salvador to Nicaragua was all right. I did try to call my parents, but the phone said the call wouldn't go through (my dad later told me that I still got charged a whopping $49! What a rip off!). Nothing too eventful otherwise.

First day in Managua, Nicaragua.
Nicaragua-- Can I just say it is so incredibly hot here!!! The second we walked out of the airport doors, I have never been so hot in my life! We arrived at the Mission Home, met President Russell and his wife. Kind of funny, but the Managua South Mission Home is right next door to the Managua North Mission Home. We had Papa Johns pizza the first night in Nicaragua, and it is not the same as the pizza back home at all! The first night, we stayed in a HUGE, but really old house with the office Elders. One of them, Elder Nesbit, he went to Copper Hills High School! We recognized each other right away. He's pretty cool and he got here in January. Later that first night, we stayed in the house with the office Elders, and holy cow, we all felt a big earthquake! I was on the top of a bunk bed, and it started shaking like crazy. At first, I thought it was Elder Bradbeer in the bunk below me playing a joke or something, but obviously it wasn't LOL. All the office Elders came rushing out of their rooms into the central family room where all the bunk beds were set up for the newbies, and we all just kind of freaked out for a minute or so. It was crazy! First night here!
Me and my new companion, Elder Castro. He is from El Salvador.

Our new apartment in Masaya, Nicaragua.
The next day we had training and interviews with the President and APs. Then on Wednesday, it was cambios and exchanges. A bunch of the Elders were about to become Trainers, and ALL areas got new Zone Leaders and District Leaders. So I found out the first area I was assigned to is: MASAYA!! So far, it's a pretty awesome city about 45 minutes south of Managua. AND get this -- I have three companions! That's right. So, Elder Sanchez is another newbie missionary, but for some reason, he was the only one of us who went to the Provo MTC -- we aren't sure why, but he arrived in Nicaragua on Thursday, the day after cambios, and he joined us in Masaya. Elder Sanchez is from California and even though one of his parents is from Mexico, he didn't speak Spanish before his mission. The other two companions are the Zone Leaders for our zone, Elder Castro and Elder Mehmatof. Elder Castro is my main companion, and when we go on splits and stuff, I always go with him. Elder Castro has been on his mission for 18 months and he is from El Salvador. He comes from a pretty humble life just like the people here in Nicaragua. Elder Mehmatof is from Brazil, but his grandpa emigrated there from Turkey, so he is Arabian. Elder Mehmatof has been on his mission for 21 months, and neither he nor Elder Castro speak any English. Now don't get me wrong, having Elder Castro and Elder Mehmatof REALLY helped my with the SPanish, but it was kind of nice when Elder Sanchez arrived from the Provo MTC because I could still speak a little English.
Our entire zone minus 4 hermanas. We all went to the
Masaya Volcano National Park for our P-Day today.

So apparently, our house in Masaya is supposedly the nicest one in the mission next to the office Elders' house. I sure hope that is not true, because it is really dark and danky. It does have an upstairs where we sleep. As for Masaya, I have never seen anything like this. I need to take some pictures of these houses we contact for next week. About 80% of the houses are tin roof garbage bag homes. You can tell how much money a family has by whether they have a tile floor or just dirt, but every single casa, guaranteed 100%, has a TV. Funny, but most of the homes only have one lightbulb and they cook over a fire every night, but they all have a television. TV is LIFE here for the Nicaraguans, and they always have them turned on with the audio blasted loud -- rather funny. Some of them can't buy enough food, but they have their TV! The slums here are literally slums! I can't believe the living conditions of the people here and I can see how this is one of the poorest places on Earth.

I was really frustrated with the Spanish at first, but already I feel like it has improved a ton! The first couple of days I couldn't understand ANYTHING, but I was actually able to say a lot. But if someone said something to me, even my native companions, I couldn't understand! I was constantly praying for help... CONSTANTLY, and guess what? By like Friday, I was already improving like CRAZY and I am actually, already, not even a week in Nicaragua for that, and I can understand most things now, and I can speak quite a bit. My companion told me that he has trained 4 different greenies (new missionaries) and apparently my Spanish has been the best of any of them.

Standing in front of the Masaya Volcano.
Believe it or not, I actually really like the food here. All of it, even the sketchy cow intestine soup. I haven't got sick yet. However, I did eat all my candy from the CCM already. I also already took a shower with a bucket of cold water and a bowl -- not fun! For P-Day today, we visits the Masaya Volcano National Park (see the pics). I also get a lot of drunk guys shouting at me because I am a gringo, and also it's HILARIOUS when we give lessons and all the children stare at me because I am so tall. I tower over everyone here! All the members and investigators' first question is they ask me how I am so tall.

The work here is great, very tiring, and the thing about Nicaragua is that they don't know much about the outside world. Even some members of the church don't even know about temples, so we have to give members lessons about the church, too. Also, I found out our mission has the most baptisms of any mission in the world, but the problem here is getting people to come to church before and after their baptism. Every single contact says they will go to church. We contact them on Friday and make sure they're still good to go on Saturday, but then Sunday morning when we show up, surprisingly they aren't home, or they went into Managua that day or something comes up, so we don't take many people to church with us. I do already have a baptism scheduled for next Saturday, and yesterday I was able to stand in the confirmation circle for 2 AWESOME now-members (they have been my favorite to teach).

I'll be honest, though, I'm still struggling some times. It's just really tiring... one day my body is super ready to go and I get up right on time at 6:30 AM, and then other days I get up and feel like death because I'm so tired... so much to do. I miss home like crazy, and time seems to be going SUPER slow right now. I can't wait until I have a few months under my belt so I can be one of the cool missionaries that have all the experience, Spanish, and go home soon. Two years sure seems like a really long time, really hard for me to imagine how long this is really going to be. I'm trying to fight through it, but that's kind of hard right now. This might be a loooong 2 years for me, BUT I almost have 2 months under my belt now -- ha ha -- that is a little better than thinking I have only been out in the field for 7 days. Well, thanks for all the emails and letters from everyone (my cousin Ally sent me a letter already even).

Close up pic of me in front of the Masaya Volcano.

1 comment:

  1. Alex, what an awesome experience you get to have! I love how much living in a country like this makes a person appreciate what they DO have, instead of what they DON'T have. I love how you'll be able to come home and stretch your money. It's good to be poor for a while. ;) Keep working hard. You're pretty awesome!