Monday, July 25, 2016

So Many Weddings to Plan, So Little Time....

Here is a pic of the volcano behind me.
Well, this past week was rather normal for us -- no baptisms and no extra meetings or anything -- just normal missionary work. My companion is starting to get used to my fast walking and long strides, but he is not particularly happy about the heat. Still he has been a decent companion and he is a fast learner.

This past week we were really busy trying to prepare for two weddings next week and another one for the week after. We have been talking to a lawyer here and helping the families get ready. As it turns out, one of the guys we were working with from Sabaneta (the one who's fiancee is already baptized and just had a baby last week) decided to go out Sunday night and drink with some of his family who aren't members of the church. So now he won't be able to get baptized this week, but we will continue to work with him.

The other wedding and baptism we are working on is for a lady named L., who I have been teaching since the first week I got here in Grenada. Her fiancee has been super against the church (and he still is) but he finally agreed to a civil marriage so she could get baptized, and we are planning it for this coming Saturday.

We have also been working with a family who literally live on the farthest outskirts of our area close to the volcano. They picked their own baptismal date for August 6th. The only concern is that they have been heavy smokers, but they now have a huge desire to stop and have already quit. So as long as they don't smoke these next two weeks and show their repentance and desire to live the Word of Wisdom, then they will also be married and baptized. They also have many kids that we teach at their house, but none of the children made it to church with their parents, but overall they have been a really positive family.

Having both areas results in us walking a lot more and we have a lot of visits during the day, but I am kind of partial to working more in Grenada where I was at before and that is still where most of our investigators are located.

This next week we will also have our first interviews (and possibly my last) with the new mission president, President Brown.  No Pioneer Day here in Nicaragua, and in fact, I didn't even remember myself until my parent's letter reminded me. Well, that's about it for this week -- working hard, enduring to the end, and trying not to get too trunky yet -- ha, ha! Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Double the Work and Double the Appliances in Grenada

So the big news this past week is that we had cambios and I got my last companion. His name is Elder Contreras and he just finished his training in Managua. He is from Guatemala and a pretty cool guy. However, the bigger news is that they combined our area with another one in the district named Sabaneta. They had to combine some areas in the mission this change because about 20 missionaries finished their missions and went home, but only about 8 came in. So now I am in charge of two areas, and to make things even busier, each area belongs to a different branch of the church, so we have two Sacrament Meetings to attend, two correlation meetings, and two branch counsels each Sunday. Needless to say, we are a couple of pretty busy missionaries and my companion has a lot of pressure to learn the areas well so that he will be familiar with them when I leave in a few weeks.

My new companion, Elder Contreras.
Also as a result of cambios, my district has only half as many missionaries now because not only of combining my area with Sabaneta, but also because the Zone Leaders do not have separate companions, but there are just the two zone leaders, Elder Nave, who goes home with me, and then Elder Medrano, who goes home the cambios after ours.

The change is going to be a good one. I feel a little overwhelmed about the two areas because even though they are next to each other, we basically cover half of Grenada. This should be quite an adventure and make the next few weeks fly by. I chuckle because we do a lot more walking now and my poor companion gets so tired keeping up with me that he basically passes out when we get home at night. We will be better organized next Sunday for all of our meetings as we will be in church for 6 hours plus ward correlations for both branches, which makes for a long Sunday. However, if there is one thing I have learned on my mission is patience to sit through long meetings, ha ha, but I'm still always shaking my legs and the benches -- can't stop that.

Now even though we have two areas to cover and super long Sundays, one of the benefits of combining areas is that we got to choose which of the two apartments to stay in, so we moved all the stuff into the house that is bigger and we now have 2 refrigerators, 2 microwaves, 4 fans, and 4 desks, which is pretty awesome.

As for our investigators, we were able to help two of them start the process of getting married so they can get baptized, but the paperwork can take some time. We also picked up some investigators in Sabaneta who are preparing to get married where the wife is already a member, and then he can get baptized as well. So we may have a couple of weddings and baptisms coming up the end of the month. I was also pretty stoked to talk to the family of converts in Sandino that we married and baptized on Valentine's Day 2015 -- their oldest daughter is putting in her mission papers in 2 weeks!!

Well, that's about it this week. Luckily, it really hasn't been as hot here in Grenada as it was down in Rivas, plus I have really enjoyed P-Days here in Grenada as they have a lot more awesome places to eat to choose from. We are supposed to have interviews with the new mission president some time the next 2 weeks, and this may double as my exit interview, but we will see. Well, have a great week back home!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Shark in Granada

Well, we had our baptism last Saturday and all went well. He was super excited to finally be getting baptized, and now most of the family are members, but there is still one cousin struggling with some commandments and we are continuing to work with him. My companion will be heading home on Wednesday along with two other missionaries in our district, but even still the district is having a lot of success and there are more baptisms scheduled for next Saturday. Although no baptisms scheduled from my area. Once the my new companion arrives, we will be working hard to find some new investigators.

Although the shark meat looks like fried chicken, it actually
tastes like fishy, ground beef. Tasty!
Elder Nave is super stoked to go home and he reminds me all the time, ha ha. I hope I get a really cool companion for my last companion. Most likely I will be training a new district leader to take my place, and since I am leaving 1 week earlier than the next cambios, my new companion probably won't be a new missionary.

This past week wasn't very productive because I got sick with a weird, stomach bug that I have had several times before, but this time it seemed much worse and I was laid up for almost 3 whole days. By the time I recovered, we had to go to Managua for my eye check-up, and the eyes are doing a ton better. I think this new clinic had better doctors and they gave me different medicines that seemed to work better. Still, the doctors have been telling me that the combination of sun and dust keep inflaming my eyes, and once I return home it shouldn't be a problem. As of right now, though, my eyes feel much better than they have in a while.

We made some awesome sandwiches this week for super cheap.
Last Tuesday, the new mission president and his family came to Granada for a multi-zone conference with the Masaya Zone. It was certainly different seeing a family of six up on the stand, and President and Hermana Brown seem very nice and much more relaxed. In his talk, President Brown said we need to stop baptizing just to baptize and he wants to place a focus on retaining families, improving Sacrament Meeting attendance, and getting a temple in Nicaragua. He was pretty blunt and said he wants the mission to improve its spirituality as a whole. One thing that is really different is that President Brown said he would be dedicating his weekends to caring for his family, so it is a much different atmosphere already.

One adventure from this past week is that we got to eat shark meat (after I recovered from the stomach bug). Add that to the list of pigeon, turtle, horse, iguana, and chicken heads!!! In the picture you can see that it kind of looks like fried chicken, but it tastes like kind of fishy, ground beef. It wasn't too bad. So I can check off another cool food on my list. We also made some awesome sandwiches for super cheap (only about $2.50 US dollars). That's about it for this week, just cambios coming next week should be interesting.

Don't be jealous of our awesome sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Awesome Week -- Baptisms, Pupusas, and the 4th of July!

Her mom and some family friends also from El Salvador came to the baptism.
It was a really nice service, and she asked me to baptize her.
Well, this past week was pretty awesome! We had our baptism and she was super excited all week. Also, the district had two more baptisms, and this next week our district has 7 more baptisms scheduled. Elder Jimenez and I have one of the seven, who is K., the little brother of our baptisms from 3 weeks ago. That would make 4 straight weeks with a baptism, which has been pretty amazing.

After the baptismal service, we celebrated with the branch president
and some other members of the branch by learning how to make
"pupusas salvadoreanias." My companion is from El Salvador also,
so he was super excited and if you ask anyone from El Salvador, they
are the only ones who know how to make real pupusas -- not the same
as the ones Nicaraguans make.
So my companion, Elder Jimenez is getting pretty excited about going home next week. He already has his suitcases packed and has everything arranged in Managua for his trip home, so I guess you could say he is pretty "trunky" and it is getting harder to get him motivated to get out and find people to teach. Even still, we have a lot of people we have been teaching and we were able to bring 10 investigators to church yesterday.

Speaking of church yesterday, the new mission president, President Brown, came to our branch in Granada yesterday. He and his wife sat up on the stand and even shared their testimonies during the meeting. They actually both speak Spanish pretty well, but they do have some pretty funny, gringo accents, and their children don't speak any Spanish at all. However, it was kind of weird to see how white and pasty their skin is as they just arrived from Utah. They are really nice, but we didn't get much time to talk with them after church.

Elders Nave and Marler also accompanied us as they wanted to try
making them as well.
On Wednesday, I had to travel to the eye clinic again for the same issue with my eyes -- red, swollen, crazy itchy, and super uncomfortable. They are going to try 3 new medicines to see it they work any better, so I have a return visit this next Friday. Also this past week, we woke up every morning at 5:00 and went with the Zone Leaders to the church to play soccer or futsal (concrete-court soccer using a tiny ball) for some exercise.

"Pupusas Salvadoreanias"
For the 4th of July today, we had a zone activity and played volleyball at the church, which has a real volleyball net. I had my volleyball, and wow, was I super rusty from not playing a real game since the MTC. It was a lot of fun, and then later tonight we are going to the Zone Leader's house and order pizza to celebrate. In fact, a lot of Nicaraguans wore red, white, and blue shirts today, or shirts with the American flag on it, just because a lot of them really like the USA here. However, no fireworks this time of year, and you can't even find them anywhere to buy, which is a shame. Anyway, sounds like things are good at home. Have a great week everyone and light some fireworks for me!

Having lunch with the Zone Leaders at a sweet Mexican restaurant here in Granada.