Monday, January 26, 2015

Just a Normal Missionary in Ciudad Sandino

My new little mission buddy
goes with me everywhere I go.
First off, I just have to say congrats to my cousin Hollie who just got called to serve a mission to Baton Rouge Louisiana!!! That's so cool!! I never would have thought of Louisiana. I also have to say that my friend Jonny looks kind of silly in his new Culver's hat -- ha ha, but I guess a job is a job (my parents sent me a pic of him).

My parents also mentioned the missionary in Mexico who passed away last week, but I had already saw that as one of the members in our ward showed us a page about that. Kind of scary, but don't worry about me. I'm doing really good, healthy, happy, and working hard! In fact, I have really come to appreciate that our little house is a lot nicer that other houses and this is supposedly the best one in our whole Managua Zone. I'm kind of lucky to have this one, and its actually in a really nice, little neighborhood that has guards at the entrances to keep out the drunks and such, so I have come to really like it!

OK, so my week! Sorry if it seems kind of boring -- not as much to report now that I am no longer with the Zone Leaders. I guess being a normal missionary is a lot less interesting -- ha ha, but I kind of like getting to spend all my time working just in my area, and we do have some stuff going on here.

Me, M., and Elder Rodas.
We always ask who they would like to have perform
the baptism, and they always want the gringos
to do it, ha ha, so I baptized him!
First, we had one baptism!! Of the three kids I was telling you about last week, two of them drank some coffee again..., but we are helping them this week by bringing them some different drinks to drink during the week. We took them a Nicaraguan drink called Pinolillo and we also took them some Cacao, which is my favorite Nicaraguan drink. So hopefully the other two children should be getting baptized this next week. However, their brother, M., was baptized and confirmed last Saturday! That was the big news this past week.

We also attended a super fun birthday party last night with una hermana that lives in the house of our pensionista where we eat lunch every day. That family is really awesome and all of their children are about our age, and all of them have served missions! 

Oh, how could I almost forget? So we have another 20-year-old girl who we found lost in the records of our area book, and we have been working with her since my first week here in Ciudad Sandino. Well, the District Leader wanted to interview her again -- she has passed two other baptismal interviews previously, but she supposedly has a bad habit of drinking alcohol the night before her baptism, or at least that is what the other missionaries had written in her teaching record. She is actually pretty cool and she seems to love the gospel -- she knows it all and says she wants to get baptized... at least up until the day before her baptism. Her 13-year-old brother also lives with her, and we have been working to help him get prepared to be baptized in two weeks. Well, she was going to get baptized again this past Saturday, but she sent some text messages saying she was super far away and telling us that she drank alcohol again the night before. However, we eventually found her just hiding under her bed and we could tell she really didn't drink. We had the Zone Leaders come and try to help encourage her so she would come get baptized, but it didn't happen again. It's so weird -- she keeps saying she wants to get baptized, and then she keeps backing out -- for three times now! Well, we're going to try again for this next week..., but we don't have a whole lot of hope. We'll work with her and maybe we will see a miracle!

Well that's about it for this week. I am about out of time, as usual. Thank you everyone for your emails and letters! I love the updates of everything! Have a great week!
M.s Baptism.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Speedy-Walking Chellie

This is our casa. It's actually a really nice little house,
it just gets a lot of dirt that blows in....
Here is our little kitchen area.
Sorry I didn't have much time to write today. I had a lot of emails to read from everybody -- ha ha! Thank you so much to everyone for the advice and words of encouragement. I imagine that this area is just another chapter in my mission story, and I need to try and enjoy it no matter how difficult it gets. I definitely didn't feel I was ready to be a senior companion, but I am learning. It can also be a little annoying when your companion wasn't trained properly, but don't worry, I am not going to get lazy or slack off for nothing. My companion is just going to have to learn how to work!!!!! In fact, my new companion, Elder Rodas, is always telling me how he's glad that he has a "speedy-walking Chellie" that pushes him around (he does walk very slow, so I do literally push him sometimes, ha ha). Thanks again, everyone. It really helps knowing that there are people thinking about you back home. I really appreciate that people are actually reading my blog posts, and I love the comments. They make me super happy!!! :)

This front room is where we study.
OK, so we've been making good progress in the area, and in fact, we already have 3 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday! Long story short, the mother of this family was just baptized in November, and her three children were supposed to be baptized with her, but they accidentally drank some coffee the night before their baptism (the same night as their baptismal interview), so they couldn't get baptized the next day with their mom. When I first arrived here last week, I was looking through our area book because I was so frustrated we didn't have anybody to teach, and I found this family's progress sheets and asked my companion about them. For some reason, after the mother was baptized, they never went back to help the children get baptized. So we went and found them, and we have been working with them all week. We took them to church yesterday and they have another baptism interview tomorrow!!! Maybe there is a reason this family had to wait until now, but it makes me incredibly happy!! We also have been working super hard and we have two new families that we are teaching -- and whole families are super hard to find because it is difficult to find everybody at home at the same time, let alone entire families who actually want to listen and talk to us. So the area is picking up a little bit and we're making some progress. Thanks again everyone for your prayers back home.
So I found out that they also play Angry Birds down here in Nicaragua,
but it's just a little more realistic....

We had Zone Conference this past week and the Mission President came and 'machete'd' us like crazy because this zone was slacking soooo much and not having many baptisms (my new area wasn't the only one with missionaries not working). So we're definitely feeling the pressure to improve FAST, ha ha. BUT, I do have to say, I love my new area. Yes, it's a lot of dirt and not as pretty, but I love the people here. Our bishop is awesome and super funny, and we have some really cool investigators and I have really loved teaching the people here.

So, that's about it for this week, but I'm so happy we have some baptisms coming up, and I'm feeling a LOT better about this new area!!!! I included some photos of our little casa, and today, for P-Day, we played baseball with some other missionaries from our zone and we brought some investigators and ward members and it was super fun.

Playing baseball on P-Day today. My companion, Elder Rodas, is in the blue floral shorts.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bienvenido a Ciudad Sandino!

Me and Elder Sanchez became best friends out here, and I'm going to miss
the guy like crazy. He got transferred to Juigalpa, so he's pretty far away....
There is this little, teeny, tiny market here in Sandino, and that's all we
really have here in this area -- this market and a lot of dirt!
Hey everyone!!! Well, we had cambios last week, and I was transferred. Bienvenido's a area Trinidad 1 in Zona Managua!!! So now I'm in the city of Sandino (Ciudad Sandino), which is part of the west side of Managua -- so I am in a suburb of Managua essentially. Well, I'm not going to lie ... my new area is incredibly boring and not nearly as pretty as Masaya. All of the roads are straight up dirt, and it's suuuuper windy here, so in our little house there is sooooo much dirt all the time. When I first got here, it was was disgusting..., but I have been making me and my companion clean it literally every time we walk into the house. And dirt is constantly blowing into our face, so it sucks in that way, or blows, I guess.

I probably shouldn't tell my mom this, but this area is one of the most dangerous areas in the mission. Half of our area we cannot go into after 6:00 PM or for sure we would get robbed or attacked, and that was the rule put in place for two latino missionaries in the past. Now there's a white guy here -- ha ha, so we'll have to be careful.
I found the prettiest part of my new area in Sandino --
a little green (above), and a lot of trash (below).

OK, so my new companion... he also just finished his training, but he has been out on his mission one month less than me because he only spent 2 weeks in the CCM -- so that means I'm the Senior Comp!!! His name is Elder Rodas. He is 19 years old, from Guatemala, and he weighs almost 300 pounds! He said that since he has been on his mission, which is like only 3 months, he has gained 45 pounds! Not only that, but his trainer was this huge 350-pound Polynesian elder (that would be a sight to see). So my companion has been in this area for both cambios of his mission and he straight up told me that for the last 2 weeks, he and his trainer would go to a recent convert's house for about 8 hours every day, and then go eat at the pensionista's, and then go home and lie about their numbers. So, when I got here, we only had 3 investigators in our teaching pool -- which is NOTHING! So I am feeling super pressured right now, but I know why I was put here in this area, and I for sure will be here in this area for a while. This is so different from being with the Zone Leaders ... but I have been pushing my companion really hard and we've been getting some new investigators this week, and things are starting to move a little. This already is super hard though. I was hoping for someone with some experience to help me learn more and have a good example, but apparently that's what I am for Elder Rodas -- at least that is what everyone's been telling me LOL. So yeah, I'm in Sandino in Managua, and things are much different here.
Today for P-Day we visited this laguna in Managua (I think it is called
La Lago de Managua). Turned out it is actually really dirty and kind
of boring... but I got some photos!

I did hear that my friend from the CCM, Elder Bronson, got so sick that he had to go home for some medical treatment a couple of weeks ago. It's so sad because when he returns, he has lost some time and may not be coming home with us... so that really sucks. I haven't heard anything since the day he went home, so I hope he is doing better and will come back soon.

This is the huge pig at the house where we take our clothes to get washed.
So I had to take a picture at this house where we take our clothes to get washed. They have been raising this huge pig for when their daughter gets home from her mission, which is pretty soon. SO, I thought that this was such a good idea, I've decided that instead of my parents taking me to a restaurant when I get home after MY mission, I would rather have them just buy a piglet now, and then make him nice and fat and cook him up for when I get back!!! That's all LOL!

I'll try to take more pictures of my new area next week, and my house. We've been working so hard trying to start putting a few things together here. I've been feeling so lost. I didn't learn how to be in this position when I was with the Zone Leaders and this was such a surprise for me. I haven't missed home this much before -- this is such a test of my faith. I've been praying for so much help and direction. I've felt so pressured -- I need to relax a little. I'll admit, I cried the first few nights here, and during one of the first days here when I couldn't hold it in... BUT I'm a man and now I just need to suck it up... I guess I gotta grow up on the Mish somehow!!! I'm sorry for all the negativity this week. Just a lot of changes. But, I'm healthy, and I'm pushing through. I love you guys! Thanks for all your prayers and letters and emails and support.
Lake Managua

Monday, January 5, 2015

Nicaraguan New Year's Eve and Laguna de Apoyo

For New Year's Eve, they have these dummies all over
Monimbo that are filled with a load of firecrackers
and fireworks inside. At midnight, everyone blows them up!!
So, not much exciting happened for New Year's Eve. We were sent to help work in Monimbo for the day. Monimbo is the area right next to ours and every day we eat lunch there. Our pensionista lives there, so it is literally a five-minute walk to get there, but we were assigned to work there for the day and then we stayed the night in the apartment there with Elders Carter and Anderson. Nothing really super happened that night for New Year's Eve -- we were just chilling with the Monimbo District, ha ha. We didn't really eat a dinner that night, just snacks from a pulperia. It was a lot of fun, except when we tried to sleep that night ... impossible! For New Year's Eve in Nicaragua there were probably billions of firecrackers, all super loud, and uncolorful fireworks going non-stop until about 5:00 in the morning on New Year's Day. So that night, no one slept well ... super annoying!

Que guapos, eh? Fue Elder Sanchez's final intrevista, y yo fui con el!
(A couple of handsome dudes on their way to Managua for
Elder Sanchez's final interview)
This week in our own area, well, we were only able to work here in Masaya for two days. So, we worked in Monimbo on Wednesday. On Thursday, I had to go with Zone Leader Sanchez to San Carlos, a different district in our zone. On Friday, I went with Elder Sanchez to Managua because he had his final interview with the Mission President (he goes home this week on Wednesday). While we were in Managua, we went to McDonalds for lunch. It was my first time inside and it looks just like a McDonalds from the states, but the menu was a little bit different. Then, on Saturday, Elder Sanchez (not the zone leader, but my brother) and I had to go back up to Diriomo, and we even had to stay until Sunday and attend Sacrament Meeting with the missionaries there. So this week, our last week in this area (probably) was sad in the sense that I didn't get to talk to many people, but hey, we still got tonight and tomorrow to visit people!!

Inside the Managua McDonald's.
We didn't have any baptisms this week, but there should be some next week. The big thing this next week is cambios. Tomorrow, about 2:00, we will find out who will be changing areas, and then the actual cambios are on Wednesday morning in Managua. So by next week, I most likely won't be in this same apartment or area. They say there are always some crazy things that happen with cambios, but it is very unlikely that I'll stay here again with the Zone Leaders, because as of today, I am officially finished with my training!

This is the Mombacho Volcano where we were planning to go for our
Zone activity today until we found out how expensive it was to
enter the park (US $20 per person!!!).
Last, we were going to go for a Zone activity today for P-Day to visit the Mombacho Volcano, but then we found out that it cost $20 (US dollars) per person to get into the park!! (That is more Cordobas than we receive in our quincena!!) So, we went to a cool laguna (Laguna de Apoyo) instead and we took lots of pictures.  It is really close to Diriomo, but it was SUPER windy with insanely strong winds! Such a cool little tourist spot and it was a fun time!!

Well, that's about it for this week. I'm healthy and everything, doing great, feeling good, and super happy I am out of training now! Lots of stuff happening this next week, so I should have a lot more stuff to write next P-Day.

Elder Sanchez (my brother), me, and Elder Sanchez (my trainer) standing
on a bench with the Laguna de Apoyo behind us.
The Laguna de Apoyo -- a really fun, pretty cool place to visit.