Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Series of Miracles in Rivas

This past Sunday, there were a series of miracles so that we could confirm our cute, little old convert.  It's kind of a long story, but bear with it because it really goes to show how the Lord has His hand in this work and blesses us after all that we can do.

So when a new convert is baptized, usually on Saturday, then they are confirmed a member and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost the next day at church during Sacrament Meeting. If for some reason the new convert misses church the next Sunday, they get only one more Sunday to be confirmed. If they don't get confirmed within 2 Sundays of their baptism, then the baptism doesn't count and they need to start all over again.

So I told you last week about our little, old convert, J., who was baptized but he was unable to make it to church last Sunday because he was too sick and sore from the cold font water and bending backwards. So J. had to be confirmed this Sunday and we went by his home every day this week to make sure he remembered and was coming. We even went by twice on Saturday to be sure, and he was super excited and everything looked great.
This is a sweet, giant palm tree that you can see from
almost everywhere in Rivas.

However, on Sunday morning at 8:00 we go by his house to pick him up for church and he wasn't home! Turns out that late Saturday night, some of his family from another part of Rivas called El Ingenio ("The Genius"), came and picked him up and took him up there. El Ingenio is about 15 minutes by car from central Rivas and is actually located in the area of the other Elders in our apartment. Since we don't have a car, it is SUPER far away to walk to, and J. had told us stories about his family up there and how he used to live up there.

As a result, we figured he wasn't going to get confirmed, so we immediately called our Zone Leaders and reported it. They were upset with us. Then to top it off, a lot of our investigators failed to keep their commitment to come to church with us and it was turning into a really crappy Sunday. So we walked into church at 9:00 with our heads down and wondering why that would happen to us....

Well, after we partook of the Sacrament, one of our investigators called us about 9:20 AM and asked us to come and pick him up so he could come with us to church. So Elder Foster and I left to go get him, but once we got to his house, some complications had come up and he ended up not being able to go to church!!!

So once again, we were stood up and I got even more upset for going to all that effort for nothing! We were wondering why the Lord would do that to us and bring us all the way out here from church when the impression comes to us to "go to El Ingenio." So we asked our investigator where exactly El Ingenio is located and we found out is a huge section of the city that is out in the middle of nowhere, but only about 10 minutes from where he lived so long as you are driving Nicaraguan crazy fast on the highway. He told us that it costs about 100 Cordovas (very, very expensive) to get there by taxi, but we felt that was our only option at that point.

So we had to first take a taxi to the central market in Rivas where they have a bunch of taxis always waiting to take people places, but when we got there, it turns out that the taxis for El Ingenio don't work on Sundays. So again we felt defeated and were about to walk back to the church when...

Miracle #1: This taxi from out of nowhere drives past us, but stops and then comes back and asks us where we want to go. We told him El Ingenio and he said he would take us for less money than what we had been told. So we hop in the taxi and take off even though by this point is about 9:35 and Sacrament meeting only goes until about 10:10 or so.

Miracle #2: The taxi drops us off on the edge of the neighborhood and we are standing there trying to figure out which house he might live in. We begin walking along the edge of the neighborhood looking down the long streets full of shacks and tin houses trying to decide where to look. So we started running up and down the streets, knocking on some of the doors, and asking the people if they knew any of J.'s family when, finally, we knock on the door of his daughter and her family. She tells us that he is staying with his wife on the other side of El Ingenio, which is about a 20 minute walk and now it is 9:50 AM. So at this point, I called my companion, Elder Smith, and Elder Perez who are back at the church and told them we were in El Ingenio and that we were looking for J. They couldn't believe it! I asked them to stall and not let Sacrament Meeting end until we could get there!!

Miracle #3: So this daughter's son (J.'s grandson) was going to walk us to his grandpa's house and as soon as we turn the first corner -- BOOM -- there sat an empty taxi. We hopped in the taxi and it takes us to what we hoped was the correct house.

Miracle #4: We pull up to this old wooden shack at about 10:00 AM and there is a lady standing out in front of the house. We ask her if J. is there and she said, "yes, he is. Hang on a second." WE FOUND HIM!! He was so happy to see us and immediately walks over and jumps into the taxi with us.

Miracle #5: So I call my companion again and tell him we are on our way and he told me that Elder Perez was giving a talk and trying to buy us some time. It seemed like an eternity for the taxi to drive us back to church and we roll up to the door at about 10:20 AM. We rush through the doors and walk straight to the front of the chapel to a chair up on the stand and we confirm him. Once we finished the confirmation, the congregation sang the closing song, then there was the closing prayer and the meeting ended. We got there at the very last second possible and Elder Perez was awesome because he gave an unbelievable talk about missionary work that he easily stretched to 25 minutes and allowed us to get there before the meeting ended. It was incredible!!!

When I called my Zone Leaders and told them J. was confirmed after all, they didn't believe me at first, but in the end they were just as amazed as we were. The Bishop was extremely happy with us as well as a lot of the ward members really like J. So... after being so defeated, the Lord placed many miracles in our path to help us get J. confirmed, and it was totally 1 Nephi 4:6.

So that was obviously the highlight of my week. We did also have the Multi-Zone Conference with Elder Ochoa, and it was really good. We had to wake up at 2:30 AM to catch the bus to the chapel and we arrived around 6:30 AM even though the meeting didn't start until 9:00 AM. The meeting lasted until 4:00 in the afternoon, and we got back home around 8:00 that evening, so we were dead tired from the lack of sleep and all the travel. However, is was a great meeting and Elder Ochoa talked a lot about how we can be better missionaries. He had a question and answer session at the end that turned out to last almost 3 hours. Other than those two things, not much else spectacular happened this week. We're healthy and happy and working hard.
We played baseball again for P-Day, but this time with more members and a few more missionaries.
The guy in the orange shirt is one of my best friends here in Rivas. He also served a mission and he
got home last May and he is super dope. His family feeds us every Friday night.

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