To my wonderful family and friends:
Hey, it´s Monday again! How does time pass so quickly in the mission? I feel that I am not taking full advantage of every minute, and it stresses me out!
But really, I´m happy and learning, so it´s all good. And now, on to the news, bullet-point style:
-The Relief Society put on a baby shower for a sister in the ward this Saturday. When we first arrived (at 3:05 for the 3:00 shower), nobody was there. So we dropped off our plates and cups and went to do some contacting. At 3:45 when we returned, there were some sisters and some food and a few gifts, but no decorations or games. The Relief Society president turns to us and says, ¨The sister missionaries are going to help us get started.¨ Turns out that we´re pretty good at teaching the gospel, but not so adept at throwing spur-of-the-moment baby showers. So we sang a hymn, shared a spiritual thought, and asked the other sisters to share parenting advice. After that, Vanessa and Lucia took over with the toilet-paper belly measuring and I imagine the group enjoyed the food after we had to leave for our other teaching appointments. Awkward to the max! Future missionaries, prepare yourselves with a few baby shower games, okay?
-The good thing about having a companion that´s about to ¨die¨ is that members want to invite us to eat with them. We made tajadas with a less-active sister this week, and we have plans for other dinners. Whoo!
-Sometimes the ever-present mission tiredness gets the better of us and results in hilarious moments. This week Hermana Estrada invited an investigator to get baptized on April 6th instead of December 6th. Also, she fell asleep in a prayer and said ¨amen¨ before the recent convert had finished praying. The good news is that we were able to fix both situations as well as have a little laughing fit (I´m telling you, the sleepiness is SO real!).
-There are days when all of your appointments fall through for five hours straight. But there are also days when your ward mission leader accompanies you for six hours. The ups and downs of mission life.
-Had some important lessons with recent converts this week and committed them to come to church. And we get so excited and feel the Spirit and can see that they´re feeling it too, and then they don´t show up on Sunday.
-Have I ever mentioned how often we find less actives while contacting? It happens at least once a week. Not sure why I felt the need to tell you all that...
-MIRACLE TIME! We were looking for the house of a contact we had made in the street earlier in the week and had set up an appointment. However, it was starting to get dark and we were in an area that´s supposedly dangerous at night. I was focused on finding this house, having a quick lesson, and getting ourselves out of there. We asked a man sitting in his hammock if he knew where these people lived. He said no, so we thanked him and casually invited him to church (one more tally mark in our daily contacts). He asked us more details about when and where, and we answered practically over our shoulders as we hurried on our way. Fast forward to Sunday morning: I´m sitting at the piano in Sacrament Meeting and I see a man walk in and sit in the same pew as my companion. She asks me at the end of the meeting, ¨Do you recognize him?¨ Nope. But we talk to him in Gospel Principles to set up an appointment, and he tells us some of the details of his difficult life. He has many vices and feels hopeless, but wants to change. He says, ¨I was praying to God to help me, and then you passed by and invited me to church. I´ve never been to a church before, even though my sister always invites me to her Evangelical church. I knew you were an answer to my prayers.¨ Okay, one day I´ll learn to follow the promptings of the Spirit. Until then, Heavenly Father will just help those people find their way to church so we can teach them. Wow, He loves His children so much! Pedro now has a baptismal goal for December 13th.
-I decided that a major part of serving a mission is learning how to deal with adversity. You experience physical discomfort (sun, humidity, ever-present intestinal issues, bug bites, over-eating, hunger, back or foot pain, sore muscles, fatigue, etc.) and emotional/spiritual discomfort (rejection, investigators who don´t keep commitments, appointments that fall through, stress to reach numbers goals, sorrow at watching people deal with vices or family problems, homesickness, testimony-trying moments, language frustration). But you learn to keep your chin up and keep working your hardest to fulfill your duty to your Heavenly Father. And you learn to notice the hundreds of ways He is blessing you in His work. You learn to study the scriptures and pray out of necessity to help these people you love and also to find solace and answers yourself. Missionary problems are far different and sometimes I think easier than ¨normal life¨ problems, but they are helping me learn to rely on the Lord, keep His commandments, and endure to the end.
So keep on keeping on, everyone! I know life is not easy, but it´s sure a whole lot easier when we live the gospel. Make time for the Lord, and watch Him bless you!
Hermana Ali Hansen
1) Nicaraguan children are adorable. Even if they don´t smile for pictures. Meet Magaby, daughter of recent converts Alondra and Reynaldo.
2) Fernanda and Maura, daughters of less-actives. Maura is the cutest/most talkative/most mischievous child I have met in Nicaragua. Dad, you would get such a kick out of hearing this kid talk!