I think this week wins the prize as the most stressful week of my entire mission. The good news is that with the greatest opposition come the greatest blessings! Here we go with the ¨stress and blessings:¨
Blessing: Betania got baptized! And she had the support of her father in the baptismal service, although hardly anybody came.
Stress: We couldn´t find Betania all week for her scheduled baptismal interview and were completely stressed out of our minds about it. I had a great study of Jacob 5 and we talked in our companionship about how God is the Lord of the vineyard and that we can do all we can, but sometimes we have to work and prune and then wait a little longer for the good fruit to come. Then on Friday night, one of the APs and one of our zone leaders came to work with us, and we finally located Betania at 8:50 PM. After a speedy interview, the elders told us she´d be getting baptized at 9:00 the next morning. Woohoo! But the stressful part: finding her father to sign the baptismal record to give permission (she´s 17), calling the ward mission leader and the bishop (and we didn´t have ¨saldo¨ so we couldn´t call anyone), filling the font (and there were no keys, so we had to hop the glass and then the Elders helped us by filling countless garbage cans full of water and hauling them to the font to fill it in time), finding baptismal clothes, giving talks and a musical number, etc.... By 10:00 AM, we were completely exhausted, but happy. And then we cleaned the church with sweet Geovanny (recent convert) for two hours.
Blessing: Miguel Briones continues to be a miracle. On Thursday, he opens the gate with a big smile and his three grown children and wife all gathered to listen to us. He read his pamphlet and the chapter we left him in the Book of Mormon. He had good questions. We felt the Spirit, and laughed, and committed them to come to church. They fed us dinner and gave us cake because it was the son´s birthday. And again on Sunday, he and his wife were all ready and were at church before we were. Ahh, investigators like this make missionary work easy!
Stress: We moved on Monday. And we don´t know anybody who has a pickup truck, so we walked around in the street looking for pickups and asking if people would be willing to move our stuff if we paid them. Talking to people is what missionaries do best! Mission accomplished, and it was less painful than expected. The new house is BIG and far away from the church and our lunch appointment. It also smells like cigarettes. But hey, it has TWO working sinks, which makes it the most luxurious place I´ve lived on my mission. We had a hard time sleeping the first few nights because of the noise and smell and unfamiliarity of it all, but now we´ve basically adjusted.
Blessing: We had a surprise Stake Christmas Music Fireside on Sunday. Wow, it was powerful! Forgive me for thinking Nicaraguans can´t sing. :) The biggest highlight was seeing ¨mi gente¨ from Barrio Monte Fresco. I got to see Yasmina (wife of Elmer) who got baptized after I got transferred. Wow, she is so changed! Before she was very emotionally guarded and rarely smiled. Yesterday, she was the one who greeted me and gave me a big hug and smile. AHHHH! The gospel changes lives. It makes us HAPPY! Let it make you happy!
Stress: We visited more less-actives this week, because the ward is seriously struggling with church attendance. We learned some things that make our job a whole lot harder... but we´re going to press forward with faith. The gospel is perfect, even if members and church leaders are not. Hold fast to the scriptures, to prayer, and keep the faith!
Ah, so much more happened, and I can´t tell it all. I guess we´ll have to wait until Thursday to fill you in on the rest!
I love you!! Merry Christmas!
1) We found this giant, artistic Nativity scene in a house on a dirt road in the middle of Nicaragua. Too bad the owners don´t want to come to church with us.
2) Betania´s baptism!
3) Happy birthday to my favorite little brother! I hope you have a fantastic day!
4) Here´s my new bathroom! The shower is basically like a strong drinking fountain, but at least there´s running water. :)