Monday, January 25, 2016

Exhausting Interviews and Multi-Mission Conference

Me and my buddy/Zone Leader, Elder Scheffler
Well, this week ended up being a pretty good one. First off, we had cambios... but neither me or Elder Smith were transferred. So at least one more change together, which is strange because I have been his trainer and usually they switch things up once the training is finished. Whatever, not a big deal, but we will both have 6 more weeks here in Rivas.

Nicaraguan roadkill -- check out the fangs!
Neither of the Zone Leaders were changed either, so Elder Scheffler (he is the Elder I replaced here in Rivas when he became the Zone Leader) came down for 2 days this week and we tracked all over Rivas doing 10 interviews and visiting with the most important investigators of the Hermanas, and even some from the missionaries in the other District here. It was very exhausting. Meanwhile, the other Zone Leader and Elder Smith worked in our area and we were able to bring a decent number of investigators to church on Sunday.

Unfortunately, our super-cool investigator, J., had to move back in with his mother, who is really anti-Mormon, and now he doesn't want anything to do with us. Which is sad, because he had stopped drinking and started changing his life. We are still looking forward to at least one baptism in February of a really great lady who came to church for the second time yesterday. Plus, she is inviting all of her family to come with her to church. The only problem is that she has to travel to Costa Rica at the beginning of February, so we will have to wait to baptize her when she returns... but she is becoming converted more each week!

Today we had the Multi-Mission Conference with President Christensen of the Seventy. It was pretty cool, but we didn't get back to our apartment until 5:00, so we really didn't have much of a P-Day today (which is why I don't have time to write much). Anyway, President Christensen talked about how we need to not only have more baptisms, but also have better converts because the retention rate is really bad here in Nicaragua. So it is tough here on the front lines in the mission field, and Rivas is a little difficult, but we are just working hard and doing our best.

Oh, I did finally get all the rest of my Christmas packages, and I also got the envelope with the copy of the Christmas slideshow. Tell everyone back home thank you so much for all the presents and things. Also, there has been a lot of wind here lately, and it is even a little chilly in the mornings as it has cooled down some. Anyways, I am out of time -- have a great week!!
One more selfie with Scheffler (say that 5 times really fast).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mission Celebration at the Playa Gigante

Sunset at the Playa Gigante
Our mission celebrated exceeding our goal for 2015.
I feel bad that my Dad broke his foot back home, but it's kind of funny because I have also had some issues with my foot this week. I got an ingrown toenail and it was so much fun! It wasn't really big or ugly, but it hurt really bad and I had a rough few days there where I couldn't walk until it was removed. Luckily, the wife of one of our recent converts was able to remove it without much pain and now I'm all good.

Some of the members cooked us some sweet water lake fish
for the mission celebration party.
So this past week was our Mission Celebration and the Playa Gigante was pretty sweet. Because the beach is in our Zone, we got to go down early and set stuff up with the office Elders and President and Sister Russell. We had a nice BBQ and played a bunch of games. Unfortunately, the heat was pretty miserable and we were on the beach during the hottest hours of the day, but we all stayed dry and nobody got sent home. After it was over, we got to stay and help clean up, so we also got to see the sunset and take pictures of the water.

The baseball team here in Rivas is in the national championship, and
every house is going crazy for baseball right now.
I got myself a T-shirt with the baseball team name.
We also had a lot more success this week with several investigators who came to church with us yesterday. We started teaching a few new people that want to get baptized in February.

Cambios are this week and we are all pretty sure my companion, Elder Smith, will have changes, along with Elder Jensen who has been here a while. So come Wednesday, we will likely have two new Elders in the apartment. Also this Wednesday we get to attend a Worldwide Mission Broadcast, and then we will be having a Multi-Mission Conference one week from today. Otherwise, we're just working hard in our area this week.

The missionaries of the Rivas Zone, at least until cambios tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rough Week in Rivas

A cool mural on the side of a building here.
So because of our Mission Activity this Wednesday, we didn't get to have P-Day today like we normally do. We spent most of the day contacting people without a lot of success. Yesterday we didn't have any investigators make it to church... nobody kept their commitments. Even J. didn't make it. He was supposed to attend today so that he could be baptized this coming Saturday, but he got called into work 2 hours before church.

This is in the middle of a big round-about on the main
highway that goes through Rivas.
So it has been a pretty rough week, but we have been able to find a few new people each day. This area is pretty tough, but Elder Smith and I were able to give out 8 Book of Mormons, so we did find a few interested people. It just seems a lot of them don't have the faith or understanding of the importance of going to church yet, so it can be a struggle.  I'm trying my hardest, but it just seems a lot of the people don't follow through very often. Such is being a missionary, I suppose. Like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Salvation isn't a cheap experience... it wasn't easy for Him (the Savior), so why should it be easy for you?" So we are working hard to take more investigators to church. At least the hermanas all have some baptisms scheduled for this Saturday, so I was busy all day yesterday doing interviews, and then we will be helping with the baptismal service next week.

Another cool mural of the beach that is here on the side
of a building that we walk past every day.
I also wore out another pair of shoes (one of the ones I just bought in Masaya). They were starting to hurt my feet because the sole on the bottom was breaking down from walking on all the rocky paths and the heat. So another pair of shoes down. I will have to see if I can find another pair of shoes here to last the rest of the mission.

For our Mission Activity this Wednesday, all of the missionaries here in the Rivas Zone get to go to the beach early to help the Mission Office Elders set everything up, and then we get to stay after the activity to help take stuff down. Elder Jensen and I had to charter some buses to take us down early and then back late.  I will hopefully also get the rest of my Christmas packages. It should be a lot of fun, but our Mission President warned us that "where the water begins, your mission ends" (that is exactly what he said). So I won't be touching the Pacific Ocean, but at least I will get to see it!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Adios, 2015! Bienvenido a 2016!

This was one of our New Year's Eve dinner appointments, and it was big. We were invited, along with most
of the missionaries in Rivas, to the home of two of our baptisms from last week, and then one of their
friends who is an investigator of one of the Hermana companionships.
Another picture of the dinner appointment.
Well, the best part of New Year's Eve was that we received multiple invitations for dinner. We ended up accepting three of the invitations, ha ha. After dinner, there wasn't much to do so we made our way back home. We did buy some ginger ale to toast and drink in the new year, plus we ate the rest of our candy from Christmas, so it was a pretty good night for eating.

This past week was pretty tough with the holidays and all the parties going on. We weren't able to bring any investigators to church, and the ones we have been working with gave us all sorts of stories and run-around, so I was pretty frustrated. Luckily, some of the members of the ward brought 3 referrals for us of people to work with.

Missionary Dummies -- just a silly pic of
our name badges on some dummies that were
prepared for the New Year's Eve celebration here.
Despite not coming to church yesterday, we do have two investigators that are pretty positive for baptism maybe later this month. First is J. He has come with us twice to church, but we couldn't find him this past week because he was partying with friends, so we obviously have some work still to get him ready for baptism. Second is R. who is a good friend of B. (the man we baptized on Christmas). He was sick yesterday so he couldn't come to church, but he told us he wants to get baptized and we are hoping he might be ready by the end of January.

Lucky for us, we just got through the toughest time of the year to work with people because of the multiple holidays, festivals, and parades. My last area, Masaya, and this area here in Rivas are both really Catholic, so the holidays have been especially challenging. Now hopefully things will start to get a little easier to find people home.

Some of the cool sights from Central Park here in Rivas.
We got an email from President Russell that told us we will be having our mission celebration not this week, but next. We will be going to this place called Giant Beach where we will spend the day playing games, eating, and hanging out. The cool part is that it is in my District and only about 20 minutes away, so it will be a short trip for us to get there.

I took some of my Christmas money and did a little shopping today. I bought a new side bag to use while proselytizing. It only cost about 500 Cordovas ($15). Now don't get me wrong, I love my Ogio backpack, but I might take a little break from it while I am here in blazing hot Rivas (the black backpack on my back gets pretty miserable some days). I also took some money and bought a new pan and spatula. We also went to Burger King for lunch today, which is the only American restaurant here in Rivas and is a little pricey (I should say priced like it is in the US). We also used some money to buy a few small church supplies for our recent baptisms.

Otherwise, nothing super special going on this week -- just lots of work trying to find more people to teach.  My 'son' is almost finished with his training. It is hard to believe we are now in 2016. I still feel like it is 2014. Enjoy your cold weather back home because we are going to start getting even hotter here in Nicaragua. Usually after Christmas, the weather gets hotter and hotter until Semana Santa, which is in April...miserable. Hope everyone had a great New Year's.