Monday, February 23, 2015

No Changes, Still Finding People

The family we baptized last week invited us over for dinner.
First off, we had cambios this past week, and neither me nor my companion, Elder Rodas, were changed. So we're in the same area and everything is the same, and we are working hard again trying to find new people to teach. It's exhausting because it seems like I have to do everything as the senior companion, but we are working away!!!

This family is so incredibly humble and they sacrificed quite
a bit to have such a big meal for us, so we were very grateful.
This past week was kind of rough as far as finding any new people to teach. A lot of people will actually tell you they are interested until they have to go to church on Sunday, and then they give excuses and even hide from you.  That's basically how our Sundays go here in Nicaragua. People commit during the week, and then when we pass by Sunday morning on our way to church, nobody is home, or "they have to run an errand,"... so that sucks, but that's the mission and looking for new people to teach -- ha, ha. On a good note, the other missionaries in our ward had some baptisms on Saturday, so we helped them out and that was nice to see and be a part of. Baptisms are the best part of the mission!

Once in a while we do have to burn our 'green trash.'
One of the members brought his machete over and
helped us to cut the waste into smaller pieces.
I was sad to hear about Micheal's Grandma Jensen passing away. I had visited her several times with Micheal, and even though she never remembered my name very well, she did usually remember my face (she had Alzheimer's). I was "Micheal's friend," so that was cool she would recognize me. I sure wish Micheal's family well during this hard time.

Sounds like it has been a pretty warm February in Utah, and you guys are lucky. It is getting hotter here, and we can definitely tell. It's miserable to be outside from about 10:00 AM until about 5:00 PM, and then it is super nice until about 8:00 PM when it's dark. Apparently, everyone here in Nicaragua dreads April because they say that's the season of earthquakes and usually when it is the hottest month of the year, and Ciudad Sandino is incredibly hot... should be fun!

We continue to work with our families we have baptized. Every day we are supposed to visit with at least 4 recent converts or less active families, and we try to visit with the new converts every 2 or 3 days. We actually continue to teach them lessons up until they hit their one-year-mark as members and they are fully active. So we get to continue working with them and teaching them.
Elder Rodas taking a break.

Well, I had a lot of emails today, which was awesome, but I am almost out of time. I also don't have a lot of photos this week -- lo siento!! I hope everyone else is doing well back home.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Super Awesome Valentine's Day!

We spent Friday evening getting the church decorated and
ready for the wedding and baptisms. Here we are having
a little fun afterwards, ha ha.
Getting ready before the wedding, and this is only some of the crowd.
Hey everyone! Well, I'll start with the super awesome news first.... we had the wedding and baptisms last Saturday!!! And the family was all confirmed in church on Sunday!!! Awesome!!! Elder Rodas and I found this family during our second week of this past cambia, and then they were able to all get baptized this last week of the cambia. This family has definitely been one of the highlights of my mission so far. Thank you everyone for the prayers on behalf of this family, and they are all doing really well. It was definitely a love-filled Valentine's Day on Saturday with the wedding! This couple had been together for 20 years, and they have 4 children together, but they hadn't been able to get married until we helped them out, and they are extremely grateful. This next week, we get to teach them about setting a goal to go to the temple and getting sealed together as a family, which they can do one year from now. After the wedding, I was able to baptize two of the family, and Elder Rodas baptized the other two. One good thing was that there was a huge crowd of members and investigators present to watch the wedding and baptisms -- some said it was the biggest crowd they had ever seen at a baptism in Nicaragua, so it was a super awesome Valentine's Day!!

After the wedding, then we had the baptisms.
Such an awesome family!!
Otherwise it was a pretty normal week. We were just incredibly busy planning the wedding. The missionaries take care of quite a bit, including talking to the lawyer, getting the cake, inviting the members to be there, getting two witnesses, filling out lots of paperwork, making copies of IDs and such, but it turned out great and I learned a lot during the process. We are now working to find some new, positive people to start teaching.

This is our District, and these guys helped us with the wedding and baptisms.
Today for P-Day, we had to go back to the Immigration Offices in the morning, but this time for an ID for Elder Rodas. The rest of our P-Day today was pretty relaxed. I forgot all about President's Day back home, because obviously, they don't celebrate that as a holiday here in Nicaragua. There were lots of people and couples walking around on Valentine's Day, so they do celebrate that holiday and it is rather popular here. Random thing, by the way, I have seen a handful of kids wearing Jr. Jazz jerseys down here, and it's kind of funny, LOL.

This hoop is about as ghetto as it gets!
As I mentioned, this next week is cambios and Elder Rodas will likely be transferred as he has been here in Ciudad Sandino for three cambios already, and this is the only area he has served in so far on his mission. BUT, anything is possible, so you never know. The cambios are on Wednesday, and we won't find out the changes until Tuesday evening. Thanks for all the updates from home, everyone. I'm doing great -- I'm feeling much better and not sick any more -- got over the stupid cold. I did miss home a lot this week, don't know why, maybe the stress of the baptisms and wedding or something. Anyways, have a great week everyone!!
(Alex didn't say what was going on here. Let's just hope
with the exciting, busy week they had, that the Spirit of God
like a fire was burning, and then they had to go put it out
before someone called the Fire Department.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Multi-Zone Conference, Fist Bumps, and Dr. Pepper

La Plaza Hugo Chavez in Managua
A patch of green in Managua.
So this past week we had a Multi-Zone Conference that was super cool. Elder Duncan, the Area President of Central America, came and spoke to us. He was really focusing on making sure we are having baptisms and retaining the converts afterwards. That's a huge problem here in Nicaragua -- a lot of converts never go back to church, sometimes even after the Sunday they get confirmed a member of the church. Three zones were at the conference: Managua, Masaya, and Jinotepe. I was so glad Masaya Zone was there because I know just about everyone there, plus a bunch of my friends from the CCM were there also! Nobody has heard anything about our CCM friend, Elder Bronson. He had to go home about a month ago because he was pretty sick, and nobody has heard when, or if, he will be coming back to Nicaragua to finish his mission.

Also this past week, I got a package from my parents that had a copy of our family Christmas slideshow. Oh my gosh -- it was so awesome! That really brought the Christmas spirit, ha ha. I was also really glad they sent me some chocolate. I immediately put it in the freezer to stop melting. I haven't eaten all of it yet, but it tastes so good!

So something kind of funny this week -- I found out this week that I am now officially a Nicaraguan! Today me and my companion went to the Immigration Offices in Managua to get my Cedula, or ID. While we were there in Managua, we were able to go shopping at the Plaza Inter (Mall) they have there. It's all right, but everything there is super expensive! However, we were able to eat lunch at McDonald's and I bought some Dr. Pepper!! Woo hoo!!

I finally found a store here that sells Dr. Pepper, so I stocked up!!
As for our investigators and the work in our area, this Saturday we are hoping to have a marriage of the parents followed by the baptisms for that super positive family we have been working with (the ones with the Mango tree photos last week). It's a lot to plan on for this Saturday, but if all goes well and they pass their baptismal interviews, we will get to see four of them get baptized (the parents and their two daughters)!! The whole family was able to come to church with us this last Sunday, and it was a super awesome experience! So a quick story about this family -- I don't think I had mentioned before, but their family also includes 2 special-needs boys who are aged 18- and 12-years-old. They both have Down Syndrome-like conditions, and they have a really hard time leaving the house. That was part of the challenge of having the whole family go to church together because the boys can't be left alone at home. Well, yesterday was the first time their older son, A., (18-year-old) had left the house in 5 years and he came to church with the rest of the family!! It was such an incredible experience -- everyone in the church was greeting the family and greeting A. -- he went around and gave a fist bump to every person that passed by him, and it was super funny. So this family is really awesome, and if all goes well, we will have a wedding and the 4 baptisms with this family on Saturday!!!

Well, I am running out of time. I have been battling a cold this week. I don't know how or why I caught one because it is actually getting hotter here in Nicaragua, and Ciudad Sandino is known as one of the hottest spots in Managua. Still, I've had a runny nose and sore throat, and it hasn't gotten better yet, ha ha, it's pretty weird. I was super jealous to see the photos of my siblings and Dad at the BYU Men's Volleyball game -- I definitely want to go to some of those games when I get home -- heck, I might even want to try out to be on the team! How cool would that be? I don't think the people in Nicaragua even know what volleyball is and I've never seen any of them playing it. 
Elder Rodas and I in Managua today.

Other then this stupid cold, I'm doing really good right now. I get along OK with Elder Rodas. He is pretty funny, cool, and he makes friends with everyone, but I do have to push him quite a bit. Also, my Spanish is doing really good and people don't believe I have only been on my mission for 5 months now, so I am really happy about that. The Spanish does seem pretty easy now, and I have no problems being out here without being able to use English now. Anyways, I am really enjoying my mission right now and we are having a lot of fun. This week is going to be crazy working with our family for the wedding and baptism, and trying to find new people to teach and bring to church.

Monday, February 2, 2015

No More Coffee, a Fungus, and the Water Tower

No more coffee! So the sisters were able to be baptized this week!
The super positive family we are working with have this huge mango tree.
I helped them pick a few mangoes.
Well, the good news this week is that we had two baptisms! The family we have been working with on their coffee drinking made the switch this week, and the sisters didn't drink any coffee! So their baptisms went great. As for the other 20-year-old girl who was hiding under the bed last week, well, she decided now that she didn't want to be baptized after all, so we had to stop visiting her, and her 23-year-old brother also decided not to be taught any more either -- ha ha. That's OK, because we have a super positive family we are working with right now. The two daughters and their dad have come to church with us, but we're still working on getting their mother to come to church also. They have responded really positively to the teachings and they are on schedule to get baptized probably a little later this month.

It's almost mango season here and soon there will be
mangoes everywhere!
As for the bad news this week, my companion developed this crazy foot fungus and it got so bad that we couldn't leave the house for one whole day because he couldn't walk on it. We had to stay in the house and we were soooo bored! So the next day we went to the hospital to get him checked out. Now he is doing fine and we can work thanks to some medication and a foot cream. The hospital here was surprisingly nice, and they say it's the nicest hospital in Nicaragua. It kind of reminded me of the hospital where my Dad works, although not quite as nice as that, but still good.

Otherwise not a whole lot happened this week. Just a lot of normal teaching appointments and such. Next week, we have a multi-zone conference scheduled for Wednesday and the Area President of Central America is coming to talk to us! No baptisms scheduled this next week, but hopefully a few in a couple of weeks or so. The work is moving along and things are going super well. Thanks everyone back home for the support and updates!
This giant, abandoned water tower is located in the development where
we live. It's pretty cool!
Paraiso! Hanging in my new T-shirt -- ha ha.