Monday, October 26, 2015

Needles Turning Into Diamonds

Feliz Dia de los Muertas!
This week was a pretty good week even though we didn't have a baptism, but we found an awesome new family. Last week, one of the APs (Assistants to the President) came to our zone to pump up all the investigators scheduled for baptism this week. Well, the AP came to our area and got our investigator, F., all excited and ready to be baptized on Saturday. Well, after we returned from our Multi-Mission Conference on Saturday afternoon, we basically ran the entire way to his house from where the bus dropped us off. We were sweating like crazy and breathing so hard, and then as it turns out, F. had gone to work and wasn't going to get home until about 10:00 PM. He also had to work on Sunday, so we haven't been able to even meet with him since the AP visited, but hopefully we can reconnect and schedule his baptism for next Saturday if he doesn't have to work.

So we found a new family that immediately showed interest in our message. They have been having problems with their only son, who is 16-years-old, and we shared with them how the Gospel blesses families and the importance of marriage (because the parents aren't married). We also talked about the Young Men's Program at church, which they thought would be much better for their son instead of hanging out on the street corners with some of his gangster friends. Although they weren't able to come to church with us yesterday, they are committed to come this Sunday and want to work towards being baptized as a family! So we have a few really positive people we are teaching. Finding good people to teach is tough here in Masaya -- like finding needles in haystacks here, but at least all the needles we have been finding are turning out to be diamonds in the rough because these people seem to have all been prepared for us by the Lord!!!

This makes me miss making a haunted house in our neighborhood every year with Micheal for Halloween.
So at least the Zone Leaders and Hermanas had baptisms this past week, so our district overall is doing really well and we were the top district in the Masaya Zone for this month. President Russell congratulated us at the Multi-Mission Conference, which was pretty cool.

Speaking of the Multi-Mission Conference, it was really good except we had to wake up at 3:30 AM to catch the bus to Managua... and the night before we didn't get to bed until almost 11:00 PM, so it was a super long and hard day! Especially with our baptism falling through when we returned. Still, at the Conference we learned some cool stuff from one of the Church Historians. He talked to us about the history of some of the missions here in Central America, and the growth of the Church here. He also talked to us a lot about what we need to do to help the people here in Nicaragua be blessed with a temple. I was kind of bummed that the Elders from Bluefields didn't come, so I wasn't able to see them, but I saw a lot of other old friends.

So this next week is cambios, and they announced that our Masaya Zone is going to be split in half. We don't know who will be transferred yet. If I get to stay here in Masaya, that would be fine because we have some really cool families we are teaching right now, but if I get transferred, that would be OK also because this area is really tough and I have been in Masaya several months already (counting when I first came to Nicaragua). For P-Day today, we went with a lot of the missionaries in our zone and district and got pizza today and just hung out since we will be having changes this week. I hope everyone has a great Halloween!
Most of our Masaya Zone enjoying some P-Day Pizzas and Coke!

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Simple Wedding and Baptism Saved by the Holy Ghost

First was the wedding....
Well, everything this week turned out pretty good! The best news is that we had the wedding and the baptisms last Saturday!!! The family was sooo happy, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. In fact, we actually had a scare on Friday when went to visit them and found they had been fighting. So we reminded them about the importance of families and the temple and they talked about their daughter that had passed away a few years ago. Then they felt the Holy Ghost touch their hearts, and they got humble and made up with each other. Once the Holy Ghost was there, then they were back on track and super excited again!!!!

The rest of the week was actually fairly normal with most of our time spent looking for people to teach. We have been struggling to find more people to teach, but the investigators we do have are doing pretty well. So the past few weeks, we have been working with this guy named F. We first contacted him about 3 weeks ago, and initially, he was not very positive at all. He told us that he visited the LDS Church when he was younger, but he claimed that the LDS leaders wanted to send him off to Honduras...not sure what he means by that. He also explained that he's very Catholic and wants to die Catholic. However, we were able to convince him to come to General Conference with us, and then he completely changed and was super excited about apostles and prophets. Since that time, he has been reading in the Book of Mormon, and he even passed a baptismal interview, but then yesterday morning, for some reason he didn't want to come to church and he said he doesn't want to get baptized anymore. So we have a visit scheduled with him on Wednesday, so hopefully we can help him with his concerns and help him re-commit to getting baptized.

Then they were able to be baptized. What an awesome family!
In fact, yesterday, almost nobody would come to church with us, so we are working extra hard this next week to bring more people. Still, the new family we baptized last Saturday have been awesome, coming to church, and they love making us shakes (and we love eating them). This next Saturday, we have another Multi-Mission Conference and a Church Historian is coming, We are not sure what he's gonna talk about, but I hope it's something cool. Plus, here in Nicaragua, they will be celebrating Halloween this coming Friday, so it's going to be a crazy day and the streets get really full with people dressed up in costumes just walking around (there's no candy here, sadly).

Cambios are not this week, but next, and we all think my companion is gonna have changes and I will get a new companion. Otherwise, our district has been the top district in the zone, and the Masaya Zone is one of the hardest in the whole mission!!!! So me and my companion are doing well and all healthy now. In fact, lots of people have been giving us food lately.With 1 year under my belt, I feel like I know a lot more what I am doing and I don't miss home nearly as much as when I first came out. According to some of the other missionaries, they say the time starts going by crazy fast during your second year out, so I'm trying to work hard and make the most of it. Anyways, that's about it for this week. Thanks to everyone back home for all the emails and updates! Have a great week!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Multi-Zone (Spiritual) Machete and a Baptism

This past week we had the baptism of the girl we have been working with and now she is officially a member of the church with the rest of her family. The baptismal service went well, and afterward, we ordered pizza to celebrate! She wants to go on a mission of her own when she gets a little older, so it turned out pretty cool.

After the baptism on Saturday, we had a pizza
delivered to the house to celebrate with the family.
Next week, we have another baptism scheduled with the family I was telling you about the last few weeks, which should be awesome! They came to General Conference and then to church yesterday, and they are super excited to be baptized and have loved coming to church. We are also going to have their wedding the same day before the baptism, and we are still working on all the paperwork for that, but it should all be good for Saturday. This family also has an in-home "smoothie shop" and they make us smoothies every time we visit, which are so delicious! Anyway, we are support excited for the baptism, plus the Zone Leaders have a cool guy, and the Hermanas also have a family scheduled for baptism this Saturday, so we will be doing them all together at the same service and we are planning to buy two giant cakes from the Costco-owned store here to celebrate.

We also had a few new people come with us to church yesterday, but we are struggling to find many new people. This area in Masaya is more difficult than Bluefields or Trinidad Ciudad, and the Catholic holidays aren't helping, but hey, we're seeing the Lord's blessings with some people ready for baptism! A new bishop was also called in our ward here yesterday, and he is going to be a great help!

Also this past week, we had our Multi-Zone Conference last Thursday. President Russell gave a really good talk from the book, "The Fourth Missionary," and told us how to be a consecrated missionary. It was basically a machete for everyone, but I liked it a lot. We all got copies of the book to take home with us, and then after 5 hours of classes and training, we got to play some games! They were a bunch of different "Minute-to-Win-It" types of games that were a lot of fun, and then we finally got back to our apartment around 8:00 that night.
Just glad he wasn't hiding inside my shoe....

One other thing we received at the Multi-Zone was a bunch of bug spray and repellent. This chemical spray came from the States and when we got home, we used it to fumigate our apartment so now hopefully the tarantulas and cockroaches shouldn't get to us anymore :). Out apartment is a little small, but honestly it is not all that bad and I kind of like it, especially with fewer bugs and spiders. Me and my comp, Elder Nolasco, are both doing good and getting along really well. I have had a nagging cold for about three weeks now, but I think it is finally starting to go away. Well, glad to hear everyone at home is well. That's about it for this week as I am about out of time.
The Masaya Zone riding on the bus coming back from the Multi-Zone Conference.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Conference Weekend, Bow, and Pupusas

In the jungle, the mighty jungle... this thick jungle drop-off is the backyard of one of our investigators.
Often it will rain so hard here that the streets turn into rivers.
This is called "bow," or at least that is how you pronounce it.
It is a plate of yuka and plantains cooked for a few hours in
a crockpot. It wasn't too bad.
With General Conference this weekend, our mission president wouldn't let us attend more than one of the sessions unless we brought at least 4 investigators with us, and well, our Conference weekend... was a success! We got to watch 3 of the 4 sessions, as well as the Priesthood Session on Saturday night. We were able to bring at least 4 investigators to the Saturday morning session, as well as both sessions on Sunday. However, we didn't get to just sit and enjoy the talks because we were busy giving up our seats to our investigators or other members, and we kept leaving to go get more people or help usher and all sorts of stuff... but I was able to listen to some of the talks. I really enjoyed the ones I got to listen to. Of course, they were all in Spanish and I was able to understand 100% of them without any problem, but I have realized that it is more difficult for me to actually remember the talks as well when I hear them in Spanish. I did happen to notice President Monson struggling a little bit during the end of his talk, and I really liked Elder Bednar's talk at the very end where he talked about the last few Apostles who passed away, showing their pictures and sharing parts of their last Conference talks. Overall, I enjoyed Conference a lot, but it was still rather stressful!

I know it's Catholic, but it's pretty dang cool looking:
La Iglesia San Sebastian, Monimbo Barrio, Masaya.
This past week was difficult because they held Catholic Festivals pretty much every day, with a new saint and new parades each day, as well as lots of beer and craziness. So trying to contact people was rough because it seemed like nobody was really interested in our message. Otherwise, it was just a normal week in our area, just trying to work around all the parties and festivals, which makes it stressful to try and get our goals for the week.

A pretty view of Laguna Catarina today.
This next Saturday we will be having a baptismal service along with the Hermanas in our ward (our area is half the ward, and the Hermanas have the other half). We will be baptizing a Young Woman who is part of a family of active members, but she hasn't been baptized yet. The Hermanas also have a few investigators planning to be baptized. Also this next week we will be having a multi-zone conference on Thursday, so I will get to see some of my friends from other zones.

Today for P-Day, we went with the Zone Leaders to Catarina Laguna, which I also visited when I was here in Masaya last year. Afterwards, we went to a place that serves pupusas, which is an El Salvadorean food, in honor of my companion's heritage.

P-Day pupusas.
Last, I had an experience this past week where I actually used the scripture my family is studying this next week. The Hermanas were struggling with a family that is committed to be baptized soon, but they have had some problems and the Hermanas asked me to come and try to help them. The father of the family was having some issues, but I urged him to realize that their family needs to have a firm foundation, with him leading the way. I used Helaman 5:12 as the base of my message to them, and we also read from the "Family: A Proclamation to the World." After we visited, the family decided to continue working with the Hermanas and strengthen their family, so it is cool that this was the same scripture my family picked for this week.
Mission buddies -- we all met up and took this pic while we were on divisions with the Zone Leaders.