Monday, April 25, 2016

A Few More Weeks In Rivas with a House Full of Guatemalans

Me and my new companion, Elder Cuyan.
Well, we had cambios this past week and I got a new companion. His name is Elder Cuyan from Guatemala City, Guatemala, and he has been out on his mission for 17 months now. I actually knew him already as he was in the other district in Rivas for the past 3 months and he was even in our apartment a few times on divisions with the other District Leader. Anyway, the Assistants to thePresident called me the day after cambios and told me that I am training him to be a District Leader. I am getting along well with Elder Cuyan. He is kind of funny and he is a great teacher with experience, so I think the next 6 weeks with him will be good. Elder Cuyan and I did find a new family to teach on our first day together here in Rivas, and they even came with us to church on Sunday.

Elder Foster, who was in our apartment with us, well he got transferred to my old area in Bluefields, so I'm pretty excited for him. So now I am the only American in the apartment with the other three Elders all from Guatemala. So it's pretty much just pure Spanish here now 24/7.

I also got some new Hermanas in my district. One is a super awesome, Sister Training Leader named Hermana Fraire and she is from Arkansas. We actually helped them have a wedding and baptism the middle of this past week. We lost two days of work in our own area, but we were able to help them get a family married and baptized! Last Thursday, they were still a little unsure about getting married on Saturday although the husband really wanted to get baptized, but the wife was still not sure about baptism. I interviewed them on Thursday and as I visited with her, she decided to at least get married, so we decided to do have the wedding that same night on Thursday night and her husband wanted to get baptized after the wedding. They had been unsure for the past couple of weeks trying to get them committed to get married, so when she decided to do it we thought we had better do it that night so she wouldn't change her mind again. The next day after the wedding and her husband's baptism, the Zone Leaders came down for our district meetings, and we went and paid the family a visit. Well, the Zone Leaders met with her for almost two hours and when she came out of the interview, she announced, "I'm getting baptized tonight!" So we had two awesome miracles with the Hermanas this past week.

So today my companion and I travelled to Managua and I realized that Rivas is one of the hottest parts of Nicaragua. A lot of the missionaries agree that the temperature in Managua is nowhere near as hot as in Rivas, and today while we were in Managua, I barely broke a sweat. Yet in Rivas, we are sweating all the time. It's almost rainy season here, and so the air pressure is crazy high and even though it is not super sunny, we are drenched with sweat because the of the dang humidity and it is super uncomfortable.

I visited the doctor in Managua and got some medicine for my eye infection today.
So anyway, yeah, we had to go to Managua partly so that I could go to the hospital there and meet with an eye doctor who said I had an infection. He prescribed me some pretty expensive medicines that I have to apply to my eyes for the next 3 months! I also got my package at cambios that had the beef jerky, chocolate almond nuggets, and other candy in it. I shared with my house full of Guatemalans as they had never seen anything like it before, and it was great. They loved the chocolates for sure.

Well, I have 12 other emails to answer today, so I better close. The only thing coming up the next couple of weeks is President Russell will be touring the mission doing his last round of interviews as he will be finishing his time as mission president the end of June. Anyways, the area is still pretty tough looking for new people to teach and the heat, but I think the next 6 weeks will be good.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rough Week in Rivas

Sitting on a bench waiting for the bus in a place called Tola, Nicaragua.
We had just finished one of the baptismal interviews for the Hermanas' investigator.
So first off, President Russell has changed the way we do cambios, so now we get a telephone call on Monday afternoon telling us our new assignments, and then we leave on Tuesday morning. Well, we just got our telephone call this afternoon, and Elder Petty will have changes while I will be staying here in Rivas for another 6 weeks. I was pretty shocked that I am staying, and it is going to be a little awkward because so many of the people thought I would be leaving and we were taking pictures and stuff, but now I'm not leaving.

I am going to miss Elder Petty, and I am a little sad because I feel tired in this area working-wise, like I have knocked on just about every door here already. We are also getting tons of pressure from the Zone Leaders and President Russell saying we aren't working hard enough because we didn't have seven investigators in church this week and we won't have three baptisms this month. So I'm feeling a little down this week. Hopefully my new companion will have a great desire to work really hard with me so that we can find more people to teach and baptize.

This week in our area wasn't very good, either. We didn't find a single new, positive investigator to teach, and the people we are teaching didn't come to church. Our one baptism that we had scheduled for this past Saturday, M., well he broke the Word of Wisdom on Tuesday, so he fell and the Zone Leaders told us we need to move on because he has not kept his commitments for two baptismal dates now. Our Zone Leaders said that in May, the goal is for each companionship to have 5 baptisms, which would break all sorts of records for this area here in Rivas, but we will pray to be blessed and do the best we can.

On a good note, we did help all of the Hermanas in our district to have a total of 5 baptisms between them. We were super busy doing interviews and helping them with the baptismal service and getting things ready on Saturday, but other than that, it was a pretty rough week.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Filling a Room with the Savior, Divisions, and Stake Conference

So this week was rather different. We spent two whole days this week doing splits with the AP's and then the Zone Leaders who wanted to come down to meet all the investigators in our districts here in Rivas, and that included all the Hermanas and their areas and investigators as well. As a result, we weren't really able to do much work in our own area for those two days, so it had a bit of an impact on the number of investigators we were able to commit to come to Stake Conference yesterday. Really, the big problem is that a lot of them weren't fully committed to begin with, and then we couldn't visit with them to teach them during the week, so a lot of them kind of flaked on us yesterday.

Stake Conference was interesting and it was more like a normal Sunday for a change. We ended up with only 3 investigators in attendance. Plus, our mission president, President Russell, attends all the Stake Conferences, and he said that this was his last Stake Conference as the mission president here in Nicaragua because he will be getting released the end of June.

We are still hoping for one baptism of our own this week for M, who was scheduled to be baptized last month before he slipped up with the Word of Wisdom a couple of days before his baptism. He was actually a pretty heavy drinker before and he is struggling to quit. However, he is super converted and attends church every week. I gave him a white shirt and tie to wear, and he loves for us to visit him, but he says he falls easily into temptation. So far, so good the last couple of weeks and if he can make it to Saturday without a drink of alcohol, then he will be baptized. My companion and I have been stopping by his house two times per day to help strengthen his will to not drink, and to honestly help him feel better about his life. He lives all by himself in a room that is situated next door to his sister who has a family. We also got about 20 pictures of the Savior and hung them all around his room, and then we wrote April 16th in big letters on the pictures to help him stay committed and focussed. We're trying our hardest to help him, but the devil is chancho, so I am sure we will be battling all week to help M.

The Hermanas in my district have about 6 or 7 investigators scheduled for baptism this next week, and we already have 2 days of divisions planned with the hermanas this week to help them prepare their investigators, so it should be pretty busy.

Sorry that I didn't have much time to write this week. I had a lot of emails to respond to (which I appreciate!!) and I had to report to President Russell about how the hermanas are doing and all their scheduled baptisms. Luckily my eye infection is all clear up now. I also suspect that I will be getting transferred from Rivas at the next cambios on April 20th, so I am just doing my best to enjoy my awesome companion and work hard to see these baptisms through this week. Happy birthday again to my "little" brother last week and my "little" sister next week!
We didn't really take any pics this week because we were so busy, so we just snapped
a couple this morning on our way to the cyber cafe.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conference Success in Rivas

Zone activity for P-Day today.
I would say that this past weekend was a success! One of our mission rules is that if we don't have at least 4 investigators come with us to a session, we can only stay for one of the 4 sessions of General Conference. We actually brought a lot of investigators with us and so we were able to stay and watch every session of Conference except the Saturday morning session. However, neither of the two new families that we started teaching this week were able to come. A couple of my favorite talks were Elder Bednar's from the Sunday morning session and then Elder Holland's to finish the Sunday afternoon session. In fact, our Zone did so well bringing investigators to Conference this weekend that we were able to have a Zone activity today and we ate some really good hamburgers and played some sports and games in Jinotepe.

This past week, my eyes started getting red and sore again. I had to send pics of my eyes to the mission nurse, and then she sent them to the mission doctor in the States, and he sent a prescription for some eye drops called "prednisolona" (Prednisone). So now my eyes are getting better again, but I have also had a sore throat the last few days that I started taking some medicine and is helping. My companion also broke out in a crazy rash this past week. These past two weeks are typically the hottest time of the entire year here in Nicaragua, and it has really been a struggle to sleep at night, but we have been working pretty hard without much rest, so hopefully the Lord will bless our efforts.

Last Friday we had Zone Conference in Jinotepe, and that same day I completed one year of being a District Leader. Other than that our week was about the same. The next cambios are on April 20th, and I wouldn't mind staying here in Rivas for one more cambios even though I feel like I've contacted the whole area. A big reason to stay is I am really enjoying my time with my current companion, who is really great, but also  most of the people we are currently teaching are scheduled for baptism the end of April or first part of May. So if I get transferred, I would be leaving behind a bunch of baptisms again.

My little sister asked if I have had any more weird animal encounters, but I haven't really because my current area is more in the city. However, I have been told that on the outskirts of the city there are a tons of wild monkeys up in the trees! I haven't seen one yet, but it would be cool to see one.

Well, just in closing I am really loving my mission. I love teaching the people that want to know more about the Gospel and have desires to changes their lives and follow in Christ's footsteps. I have realized that it was a great privilege to be born in the Gospel, because it can be super hard for some people to be able to change, or to be willing to follow the commandments. Anyways, I had a pretty good week, and just a shout out to my little brother to have a happy birthday this next week!
Mmmm, tastes like chicken.