Monday, December 28, 2015

A Feliz Navidad Indeed!

Pic with President and Hermana Russell at the Multi-Zone Christmas Conference
Having a super nice dinner with all the missionaries in Rivas.
This past week was fantastic! First, we had our Multi-Zone Christmas Conference, which was awesome. Plus, President and Hermana Russell gave us all microwaves for our apartments! We also got our Christmas packages and letters from our families.

We were fed again later in the evening on Christmas Eve. Great food!
Elder Jensen, me, Elder Foster, and Elder Smith.
On Christmas Eve, this wealthy guy from Managua paid for all of the missionaries in Rivas to have a super nice dinner, and it was a lot of fun getting together with all of them. We were invited to another dinner later that evening, so we ate well.

Then, Christmas day was the best because we had a baptism (see below) and then I got to Skype with my family. Although, after I finished talking to home, I thought of a billion things that I wanted to ask about. I was a little disappointed because I forgot all my questions.

Skipping with my family on Christmas Day.
B. and his family at B's baptism on Christmas Day.
On Saturday, the day after Christmas, we had three more baptisms. On Sunday, we were able to bring 6 investigators to church and all of our baptisms made it so that they could get confirmed.  All 4 of these baptisms will be some of the strongest converts of my entire mission. They all have goals to go the temple or mission plans one year from now! All of them were "eternal" investigators that have been working with the missionaries for many months, or years, but these past 2 weeks that I have been here, it has been cool to work with them and help them take that step to be baptized. It just seemed like it was a series of miracles throughout the week after they decided to be baptized, so it turned out super awesome, so I can honestly say it was a great Christmas.

Elder Smith, along with C, J, A, and myself
at the baptismal service on Saturday.
The first baptism, named B., seemed like he was pretty much ready for his baptism on Christmas by the time I arrived here, but the other 3 baptisms on Saturday were complete, last-second miracles. So, B. was asking us a lot about tithing because he wants to buy some land next year, but in the end he told us, "if I'm gonna have enough money for that, I will have to pay my tithing and receive the blessings" -- that is just how cool he is! He took this long to be baptized mostly because he had a hard time giving up smoking cigarettes, but he quit over 2 weeks ago so that he could be baptized on Christmas, which is a small miracle, and he is still going strong. His wife is also a recent convert who was baptized about 6 months ago. She has a calling in the ward and is always cooking dinners for us, so they have become another one of my favorite families here in Nicaragua.

On Saturday, two of the baptisms are sisters -- A. and C. They have wanted to be baptized for a while, but their parents are Catholic and very against them joining the church. The sisters are 18 and 20, so they didn't necessarily need permission from their parents, but they were hoping they would still consent to their decision. Elder Smith and I helped them see the importance of baptism and faith in the Lord, and they proceeded even though their parents were not happy about it. But both of them had finished reading the Book of Mormon and knew it was true, and now they are super happy to finally be baptized! After their baptism, they asked us for Triple Combinations so that they could start reading the Doctrine and Covenants.
Three of the people that I had been working with in Masaya who all got
baptized on Saturday. 

The third baptism on Saturday was a lady named J. Her husband had been baptized about 8 months ago, but she didn't want anything to do with the missionaries for a long time. However, one of the members of the ward helped out a ton so that we could finally teach her, and another miracle -- she decided that she wanted to be baptized during the Christmas holiday as well. I also just found out from Elder Nolasco that three people in my last area in Masaya were also baptized. I had been working for 3 weeks with a couple who we committed to be married and baptized last Saturday, so I was super happy to see that they kept their commitments and also got baptized this past week. So this past week just seemed to be a total series of miracles and it turned out to be a great Christmas.
One of the cool Nicaraguan traditions is placing these dummies filled with fireworks all around town.
Then at midnight on New Year's Eve, they all get blown up. Awesome!







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