Monday, April 20, 2015

Ward Conference, Care Packages, and a Great Work in Sandino!

So first off, the baptisms we had planned for this past Saturday didn't happen. The couple was planning to get married to each other and then baptized, but they had a HUGE problem come up last Thursday. Turns out they are not so sure that they want to get married to each other after all, which would be sad for the whole family, and they asked for a little more time to work everything out. We even had the AP's (Assistants to the President) come and meet with them to try and help them talk through their problems, but it wasn't enough. The bottom line is that they aren't sure about marriage now, and they want some more time. Unfortunately, they didn't come to church yesterday, either... BUT we brought 11 investigators to church again!!!
I plan on getting one of these when I get back home.
I call this one: "Slow but Sure."

Between me and Elder Salmeron's 11 investigators, and then Elder Hinojosa and Elder Roundy also brought 11 investigators, so we had a total of 22 investigators to the Barrio Trinidad this week for church!! We had our Ward Conference yesterday, and all week the Bishop had been telling us he wanted to have a large turnout. Well, our chapel only holds about 170 people comfortably. We don't have rows or benches, but it is all folding chairs set up in rows in the Sacrament Hall. As it turned out, we broke the record for Sacrament attendance for the Barrio Trinidad with 248 souls in the congregation!! Our Bishop was so happy -- we literally had NO SPACE left in the chapel, so we missionaries and some of the ward leaders had to stand in the hallway with the door open to listen because there were no more chairs left, and even if there were chairs, there was nowhere left to put any more. He was talking about how the Barrio has had 23 new converts the last 4 months, and each week we have been bringing a ton of investigators, so it is insane to see all this growth! He was so happy that he invited us missionaries to a dinner at the end of the month.

Well, a lot of our investigators are making great progress with their commitments, and as a result, we have 6 more baptisms scheduled for this next Saturday (and possibly 8 if we can help the couple resolve their problems and change their mind about getting married -- we still haven't given up hope on them and plan to keep working with them). Plus, Elder Hinojosa and Elder Roundy have 3 baptisms scheduled, and possibly a fourth one for next Saturday!! Right now, they all look pretty positive!! Overall, our district of 8 missionaries brought 34 investigators to church yesterday, so we have been so blessed to have this whole area in Sandino catch fire with the Spirit!

Our anti-coffee "Care Packages" we give to our investigators.
I included a picture of some of our "Care Packages" (LOL -- Call of DUTY reference) that we give to our investigators to help them break the habit of coffee every morning. Coffee is a HUGE problem here in Nicaragua with almost everyone growing up drinking it for breakfast, which makes it tough for them to break a lifelong habit and give it up for the Gospel. Additionally, coffee is the cheapest thing you can buy here for breakfast, and they don't have a lot of money to begin with, so we missionaries will drop in "care packages" the week before their baptism to help them. The packages include various drinks and breakfast stuff, ha ha. We have had to buy so much lately with all of our investigators, I wanted to take a pic and share it!!

So my folks were a little worried and asked me if I have experienced any problems with getting mugged or robbed. I guess in this area of Sandino, there have been many muggings and crime with past missionaries, but it sounds like a lot of them happened more to the Latino missionaries for some weird reason. Actually, there have been very few times where I was worried. A lot of the same drunks or gangster hobos have seen me and my companions walk by a million times, and we frequently talk with some of them and have made a few friends. In fact, we have a small "gang" that watch out for us and say they will "kill" anyone that tries to rob us, ha ha. I'm serious, though -- they say that they are our "eyes and power" on the street -- LOL. However, I am a lot bigger than most of the people here, and none of them can afford guns -- only machetes and rocks, so I think my size helps deter some of them. We still do have half of our area that we "shouldn't enter" after 6:00 PM. It is called Nueva Vida and is super poor and a little dangerous, but we usually end up working there all day and don't leave until it's time to go home, ha ha. It was restricted for quite a while, but now it is just a warning. Heck, I have been here almost 4 months and nothing has really happened since I have been here, so don't worry about that!

My parents also asked about the heat and the people loving soup. Yes, even though it is super hot right now, they do eat a lot of soup here, but not very of the soups taste that great. I can sleep OK at night so long as I have a fan blasting directly on me, but without a fan, forget about it! We even played some basketball this morning for P-day, but it is so blazing hot, and you get tired faster, and literally, completely drenched in sweat, ha ha. 

Overall, I'm all healthy, and my companion is really starting to be fluid with me. I had to reteach him a lot of stuff, but he's getting it better now, and we have so many investigators that are progressing!!!! I'm definitely feeling the responsibility as District Leader, but I'm in one of the happier times I've had in the mission so far. Things are going really well right now, were baptizing, and this ward is amazing! I won't lie -- the whole ward loves the tall chelle (spanish for white guy ha ha). But hey, the mission is nothing like how I thought it would be. It is definitely a TON of work...holy cow, it's a lot of work, but it's all worth it. I've had a few rough times in this (almost 8) 7 months here, but I'm so happy I'm here doing this great work. Anyways, I'm out of time for today and I got to get back to work now! Love you all back home and thanks again for all of the emails and letters!

We still helped Elder Hinojosa and Elder Roundy with some baptisms this past Saturday.

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