I´m in Nicaragua! How crazy is it that I´m actually here? Oh my, I have so much to write, so hopefully I can get as much in as possible. I wish I could just send you my journal, but this will have to suffice.
First off, everything you´ve ever heard about Nicaragua is true. Let me list the wildlife I see every day, in order of how many there are (and sorry, I can´t speak English OR Spanish, so that´s why my grammar will be all over the place): insects, chickens, dogs, other birds, lizards, pigs, horses... it goes on. I´m in Monte Fresco, which as far as I can tell is super close to Managua. The ¨monte¨ part is definitely true, but I´m not sure about ¨fresco¨; I still think it´s pretty hot and humid. ;) The roads are all dirt or stone. We climb a lot of hills and visit people in their cement and tin houses. I´m getting the full Nicaraguan experience... bucket shower my first day, bug bites all over my legs, huge rainstorm in a metal-roofed house. We have a member of the Relief Society who we pay to make our lunch every day. I´ve eaten rice and beans at every meal, as well as platanos in every form (fried, boiled, sweetened, in the peel, etc.). I´ve had some delicious juices and other drinks as well. I´ve liked everything I´ve tried.
The people here are wonderful. They´re always willing to stop and listen, even if they won´t ever keep their commitments. Oh, these Nicaraguans... the first few days, I was pretty sure they weren´t even speaking Spanish, but I´m getting better at listening carefully and understanding the accent. I can understand conversations, but for some reason when they ask me direct questions, I have no idea what they´re saying. And every time I´m asked to pray in a lesson, I panic and forget how to speak Spanish. Once, it was so bad I was afraid to even open my eyes, and when I did everyone was staring, and Hermana Aquian was trying hard not to laugh. Hahaha, I look forward to the day that I am fluent in Spanish.
Hermana Aquian is great. She´s from El Salvador and is literally a head shorter than me. I love being tall here in Central America! Anyway, Hermana Aquian takes good care of me on the scary jam-packed buses and when we walk past drunk men. She speaks some English, so we can communicate with no problem when I speak as much Spanish as possible and she clarifies with English when necessary.
We live with two other Hermanas in a house that I´m told is pretty nice for Nicaragua. Hermana Cuque is from Guatemala and is in her last transfer. She´s training Hermana Richins from Las Vegas; Hermana Richins and I have fun talking in English sometimes to keep us from going nuts. :)
We had a baptism on Saturday! Two jovenes, cousins Jordan and Josue. Jordan is 12 and Josue is 9, and I can see Josh being best friends with these kids. Josue is a mischevious little monkey, and Jordan is more laid back. Josue´s mother is less active, but she came to the baptism and confirmation the following day with her other kids, so I´m hopeful she´ll come back into full activity. We work a lot with less actives... people accept the gospel, they just don´t want to live it forever.
Anyway, I´m going to try to send some photos now, but hopefully I can include some funny moments and tender mercies first.
Funny moments: On the bus, there was a lady with a bag full of chickens on her lap. Seriously, like five live chickens just chilling on her lap with their heads sticking out of a bag. I was standing next to her and trying not to squish them. Just another day in Nicaragua!
Tender mercies: I´m pretty sure I met one of the three Nephites. His name is Max Arcia, and he stayed with me in the Atlanta airport when I was traveling to a foreign country all by myself. He´s from Nicaragua but speaks fluent English, and he has a daughter serving in Nicaragua as well (but not my mission). He bought me lunch, let me use his phone to call home, and told me everything I need to know about Nicaragua.
Okay, I could go on all day, but I want to send photos, so that´s all for now. I am learning and growing a lot. The days are long and hard, but I know this is where I´m supposed to be right now in my life. The gospel is so true! I can´t wait until I can actually share it with these people... praying for the gift of tongues down here. :) Anyway, I love you all!