Monday, February 22, 2016

Cold Font Water, Nicaraguan Nachos, and Pet Squirrels

Our baptismal service this past week.
Well, to start off, we had another baptism this past Saturday, BUT, between the cold water in the font and bending backwards when he was baptized, he was too sick and sore to come to church the next day to get confirmed. So this Sunday, he will get confirmed after he recovers. Kind of a bummer as he is a cute, little, old man and he loved that a ton of the members showed up to his baptismal service.

We also found a pair of sisters who came to church this week and seem pretty positive. They are especially interested in the Restoration. Additionally, A.'s grandma, J., returned from Costa Rica on Sunday afternoon and she said she will be back again next weekend to be baptized. Where she lives in Costa Rica is only about 1 hour away from here, but the family is pretty poor, so I hope she can pay to make the trip. There is another companionship in our district who will also be baptizing a family, so it should be a busy weekend this next week and the work seems to be starting to move along again here in the ward.
Nicaraguan Nachos! They're not even tortilla chips, but
these are all we got here.

I had my interview with President Russell this past week, and it went very well this time. He said he is pleased with the work we have been doing and he knows Rivas is a difficult area/city. He asked me to encourage the Hermanas to work a little harder as they have been struggling to find people to teach.

This next week, we will be having a Multi-Zone Conference with one of the Seventy, Elder Ochoa, so it should be good. The next cambios were extended 1 week, so we won't have changes again for 2 and a 1/2 more weeks now.

Today for P-Day, we played baseball with some of the members and it was a good time. Elder Perez, one of the other missionaries in our apartment, he is finishing his mission this next transfer, so he loves to tell us about the first things he is going to do when he gets home and stuff. Our companions, Elder Smith and Elder Foster, are both just barely out on their missions, but I think they get more trunk than I do when Perez starts talking about home.

My sister asked if I had seen any interesting animals in Rivas, but I haven't seen too many here lately. One of our convert's homes has some little baby pigs living inside, and every once in a while you will see someone with a pet squirrel, which is crazy, but you only see squirrels here in Nicaragua as people's pets. We walk a ton still and get a little sunburnt every day. We still pretty much just eat rice and beans and drink silty water, but there is a Burger King here in Rivas, which is pretty rare. Also, we get to play some basketball here once in a while, so maybe I won't be super rusty when I get back home. I also measure just over 6' 3" now, so my little brother better not be taller than me when I get home. Otherwise, we are just healthy and happy and working like crazy this next week to find some more investigators to teach.
I found my dream car and dream house!
Can't believe people actually live in these humble homes here in Nicaragua.

Monday, February 15, 2016

No Valentine's or President's Holidays Here in Rivas

Me, A., and Elder Smith
So the big news this past week was our baptism on Saturday. A. was excited to be baptized and decided she didn't want to wait for her grandmother to return from Costa Rica (she called and said she will be back on February 26th). We are also teaching A.'s uncle and he is progressing really well even though he will have to work on a couple of things before he will be ready for baptism.

Me and A.
We also have another baptism scheduled for next Saturday with an older man named J. He nearly died in a motorcycle crash about 10 years ago and he can't walk very well any more. He also stutters at times when he talks, but he loves the church. So prayers on his behalf are appreciated, and we will be working our tails off this week to help him be baptized. Otherwise, we didn't really find anyone super positive this week, so we will continue to be searching for new investigators this next week as well.

Unfortunately, the Hermanas in the district don't have any baptisms until next week even though I have done quite a few interviews for them. Their investigators just weren't quite ready yet, so hopefully next week. It seems like the whole city of Rivas is struggling so far in 2016 for our district to find the people that God has prepared for us to teach, so more prayers would be welcome.

We have interviews with President Russell tomorrow, so today for P-Day we spent the day cleaning the house and getting haircuts. Our house was pretty dirty, so it took us a while to get it ready for tomorrow. I guess yesterday was Valentine's Day back home, but here in Nicaragua, it was just a normal day without any signs of a holiday. So that's about it for this week. Not a whole lot going on right now beyond just the normal missionary life!
A. and her family

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Friends in the Park

I made a new friend in the park....
Apparently a lot of people are freaking out about some Zika virus, but they haven't said anything about it to us down here and I haven't seen anyone who has been sick with it. It sounds kind of scary, though, so I guess I better watch out for the mosquitoes.

A cool statue in the park of San Miguel killing a demon.
This past week was all right. We did divisions with members a lot, but not a whole lot has come out of it so far. The mission targets for our daily numbers went up, with more lessons to teach each day, a goal of 7 investigators in church each week, and then 3 baptisms each month.  Rivas is known as one of the more difficult places to baptize, but really there should be no excuses. Last month our Zone didn't do very well hitting our targets, but at least our zone was not the lowest in the mission. Still, I think we will do better this month.

Another cool statue in the park.
As for our investigators, J., the grandmother who has been coming to church with her granddaughter, well, she went to Costa Rica this past week, and we will be talking with the family to see if she found out yet when she will be able to return. In the meantime, her 13-year-old granddaughter, A., is super pumped for her baptism this Saturday. She is a super cool little girl.

Other than that, we are working hard, searching for new investigators to teach. We have a few, but none of them are crazy positive yet, but maybe they will start progressing this week. We have decided to try and change the way we are working to see if we will have more success. I realized that if I am stressed all the time, then I am not happy and it limits our success, so I am trying not to be so stressed out. It is also helping me to have more patience with my companion and we are getting along better. Anyways, this week we will keep looking for new investigators and preparing for our interviews with President Russell the following week. As a whole, our Zone isn't doing very well so far this month, and right now, my district doesn't have any baptisms scheduled other than mine until the end of the month.

Sounds like the Super Bowl was OK, but it's nothing that I miss really. What I do miss is playing basketball and volleyball on a wooden court again. Today for P-Day, we went to the church and played some basketball. Anyways, I hope everyone continues to do well back home and have a happy Valentine's Day!!

The Rivas Zone

Monday, February 1, 2016

No Groundhogs in Nicaragua

Trying new foods...,
Well, this past week was really tough.... A lot of the Hermanas' baptisms fell through at the last minute, so for January we ended the month with the low number for our Zone. The Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President were calling me and asking what was going on and why the baptisms didn't happen. All the Hermanas were struggling last month, and Elder Smith and I haven't had a baptism since December.

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However, coming up in February, we should have a really great lady and her granddaughter get baptized. They came to church with us again for the third Sunday in a row, and they are really excited for their baptism. Unfortunately, the grandmother has to travel to Costa Rica for a week, and we are a little afraid she won't be able to come back. So we're praying like crazy she will be able to return to be baptized with her granddaughter.

We actually have a few other investigators who want to be baptized, but they will take a few months because they are waiting for their divorce to finalize, or they don't want to get baptized and just want to learn more about the church. Anyway, there seems to be a lot of pressure lately to increase the number of baptisms, but Rivas is a difficult area and we are working our tails off. This next week we will be doing divisions almost every day so that we can find more new investigators. I'm a little nervous about our interviews coming up with President Russell later this month.

Sounds like my folks had a great Stake Conference this past weekend with some really good talks. My dad said the Salt Lake City West Mission President talked about many of his missionaries come from broken homes and desire to have a strong family like some of the examples they see in Utah. Well, nearly every family here in Nicaragua is broken apart. Even when we find someone who accepts the Gospel, it is pretty rare for the whole family to become members.

So kind of a frustrating week, but happy February and too bad there aren't any groundhogs in Nicaragua!