Is there really anything more intense than life on a mission? Is there anything that prepares you better for the rest of your life? My answer is NO!
Let`s start with the best parts: This weekend we had a spiritual feast! Nicaragua had the immense privilege of receiving a visit from President Russell M. Nelson. On Saturday morning we had a combined mission conference with the North mission where he spoke to us. I can testify that he is a prophet of God! From the time he entered the room to the time the conference finished, there was such a strong, peaceful spirit. We each got to pass and shake his hand. I`m regretting leaving my notes at home, but the main part of his message was on how to increase our personal testimonies of foundational doctrine. He mentioned the topics of Atonement, sacrifice, tithing, temple, endowment, Abrahamic covenant, Jesus Christ, covenants, sacrament, and many other entries in the Guía para el Estudio de las Escrituras that should be our ¨core curriculum¨ for the mission in order to testify with clarity and deep understanding. Ah, I received so many answers to prayers and questions! The LOVE in that room was overwhelming. If everyone could even taste of that love for a minute, they would be so motivated to live the gospel! Did you hear that? Go love someone into being a little more obedient this week!
Apostles are just so optimistic and cheerful! They have a very sure confidence that everything´s going to work out, because they have strong faith in Christ. Everyone around them can feel it, too. I want to be more like that, instead of feeling destroyed when I encounter little setbacks in the work or in life!
On Sunday, President Nelson came to speak in Masaya. We got to go to the stake center to see and hear him. Another great talk about teaching our families correct principles. Unfortunately, none of our investigators came to church. We have been obedient and seen miracles this week. We found and set baptismal dates with five families this week... yet nobody came to church. Aaaahhh!!! It`s so hard to want someone`s happiness so badly and they won`t even be honest with you! Okay, I`m not going to elaborate on those negative feelings, because we all know that missions are hard and that complaining about it doesn`t make anything better.
Now, the downer of the week: I got a little case of Chikungunya starting on Tuesday. Don`t look it up, you`ll probably get freaked out, haha! It`s a disease that you get from mosquito bites, and it`s basically a plague in all of Central America. For me, it just meant that my ankles felt like they were broken for a few hours a day and my knees, wrists, fingers, and shoulders also hurt. I never got the fever, and the rash didn`t last long either. With ibuprofen, I was able to work normally all week. I gained a new respect for all people who suffer from arthritis!
I had a lightbulb moment about repentance this week. Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves when we have to repent? It is a very fundamental part of God´s plan for us, and He knows that we are going to have to repent every day for big or little things. Let`s think about Peter, or Alma, or Joseph Smith. All were powerful prophets. All had to repent of pretty big things, and had to repent repeatedly. So why should we feel terrible about ourselves every time we mess up? Yes, we must feel godly sorrow to repent, but we need not wallow in that! He expects us to put it in our past, apply the Atonement, and move on. I have set a goal to become a better repenter this week. Join me!
Oh, and I am LOVING the conference talks in the Ensign that Mom sent me! Read those words of the prophets and apply them to be made blissfully happy!
I LOVE YOU!
The hermanas of Zona Masaya on p-day
Much of Zona Masaya at a fancy lunch on p-day
Mire que fachenta! My change from the grocery store - 260 córdobas all in 10s
It`s been a full week, for me and for all of you! Thanks for keeping me updated on all the goings-on at home. It`s not an exaggeration when I say that all of you are in my prayers!
-INTERVIEWS: We had interviews with President Russell this week! That means that we now have a really clean house after cleaning checks and boosted ¨ánimo¨ after the interviews. I got to have an awesome talk with my mission mom, Hermana Russell, before the actual interview. The truth is, last transfer was a SUPER hard one for me, but I`m a stronger person for it. After that, I had my interview with President. He gave me lots of good advice and really took the time to help me feel better. Here are a few of my takeaways: 1) The Lord does not need INSTANT missionaries, He needs CONSTANT missionaries. 2) Get your game face on before ward council! Help them help you. 3) Missions are not meant to be stressful. President looked in my eyes and said, ¨I want to see the Hermana Hansen that I knew in Pancasan again!¨ It´s true, Granada was hard, but I grew so much! I came out confident, and I seem to have lost a lot of that confidence. After my interview, I´m feeling way better!
-BAPTISMS: The chavalos got baptized! José de Jesus, Yobelis, and Suleydi, all three cousins and all three children of less-actives. Their grandpa has been bringing them to church, so we followed up with the teaching and, after a series of miracles, they made it to the waters of baptism! We had a very spiritual experience as we conversed with Yobelis´ less-active-turned-evangelical dad who originally did not want her to get baptized. I felt the Spirit guiding me and my companion to know what words to say and saw the change in his heart as we spoke. Anyway, Saturday arrived and we were walking to the church with the whole family when it started POURING rain. We frantically scrambled to find taxis and got completely soaked in the process... see baptism photos for evidence. Just a little pre-soaking!
Oops, out of time! I`m so sorry, next week will be better! At least I`ll remember to attach photos this week.
President Nelson is coming to speak this week! On Saturday we have a combined mission conference with the North mission, and on Sunday he´s coming to a Stake Conference here in Masaya! Lots of preparation and lots of questions...
Love you tons! I really am feeling so grateful to be where I am and with the people I am. I know that the Lord loves us and that everything that happens is part of His plan for our eternal progression. When you have questions, just ask Him and seek the answers in the scriptures, in prayer, and in the words of living prophets! Be the answer to someone´s prayer this week!
The good news is... you guys are great and you all write me kind, inspiring, and news-filled emails, which I love! The bad news is... my emails get shorter and less interesting every week. Sorry!
Adventure of the week: Tisma! It`s a little town that is part of our area, but we can`t work there unless we have references because it is really far away. A less-active member has brought his granddaughter Suleydi to church for the past few weeks, so we set an appointment to go visit her. NEVER in my life have I felt so off-the-map as I do in Tisma! We took a 30-minute bus ride through the Nicaraguan rainforest out to the main part of the town, then another 30-minute mototaxi ride to the finca where she lives. We got out of the mototaxi to find about six Nicaraguans staring unabashedly at our American-ness as if they`d never seen a white person before.
BUT the good news is that Suleydi and her family are all really excited about her getting baptized, and they gave us soda and sweet bread (picos). We just have to help Suleydi remember that prophets are NOT guys who write poems... that would be ¨poeta,¨ not ¨profeta.¨ Haha, she´s a cutie!
Miracle of the week: Teresa! It was raining on Wednesday while we contacted. One lady opens her gate and invites us into her yard. As we start to talk, she didn`t seem that positive (she said she was evangelical), but since it was raining, we decided to share a message instead of just moving on. We learned as we asked questions that her husband had cheated on her and for that, she wasn`t all that excited about attending the evangelical church where they had been married. We shared a little more and invited her to church, and she accepted! After we explained how the meetings in the church are, she says, ¨Really, I´m shocked.¨ Oh dang, we were too earnest in pressuring her to come to church! But then she continues, ¨I feel this weird thing in my chest. It´s like joy, or peace. I have talked to missionaries from your church before, but I never thought much of it. Ever since you walked in, I`ve felt that you walk with the Lord, and that´s why I accepted your invitation to go to church.¨
Well, that just made my week! The sad part is that her father told her a bunch of lies about the church and her sister left her daughter there for Teresa to watch so she couldn´t come to church, but I know that she´s going to come next week! I could see in her eyes that it wasn´t just an excuse, she actually does want to go!
Funnies: It´s so different to have an American companion!!! The real problem is that we´ve been speaking too much English, and the sound of my voice changes in English. My Spanish voice is a little stronger and deeper, I think. It drives me crazy to hear the tone of my voice in English! I`m sorry if I never speak English again when I come home... hahaha.
So, we´re going to keep working hard this week! We have two baptisms lined up for this Saturday (possibly three), of Yobelis, José de Jesús, and Suleydi, all children of less-actives. But they`re cute and their parents are getting more friendly toward the church every day, so that´s the good part!
Trying hard to feel the Spirit always and let Him guide our actions instead of just the numbers!
I love you all! I am grateful for each of you and the influence you`ve had on my life!
Coming to you live from Las Flores 3 with a new companion at my side, and she is none other than.... Hermana McArthur! Yep, my first gringa! I never thought it would happen, but I am ¨felíz como un lombríz¨ as they say here (happy as a stomach worm). She´s my little sister in the mission, as she is Hermana Aquian´s second daughter. We met back in September when we were in the same district and she was new to the mission. She has one change less than me in the mission (because of the MTC) and is one of the most obedient, hilarious, dedicated missionaries I know. I feel so blessed!
Other changes... our new district has only four people: us, the district leader, and his companion. Hermana McArthur: ¨Isn´t that like a date?¨ Haha, it´s different. It´s the DL´s first time as a leader.
We´ve been working HARD this week and have seen miracles! One of them is Juan Carlos. Hna. Chanchavac and I met him when he came to fix the shower in our house. The bathroom is near where we keep all the pamphlets and other materials. He saw a Book of Mormon and started leafing through it. He asked us as he left if we sold the books. We set up an appointment to visit him and taught lesson one. With Hna. McArthur, we verified what he had learned the last time, and he remembered everything about how God established His true church and how the truth was lost, but then restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. We asked if he had prayed about Joseph Smith, and he said he had and he felt good. Wow! When we passed by to pick him up on Sunday morning, he wasn´t ready yet and we had to convince him then wait for him for about half an hour, but he went and seemed to like it!
Another miracle: a new family is going to move into the ward. The wife is a member, but the husband is not. This week was his first time to visit church, and he was pleasantly surprised that it was different than he had envisioned. Excited to share more with them when they officially live here starting this Friday!
Today we spent most of the day in Managua for a two-mission choir practice. Do you know what that means? There´s an apostle coming to visit! Also, I got to see and talk to some of my favorite people, namely Hna. Powell, Hna. Gomez, Hna. Richins, Hna. Oldroyd, Hna. Seui-Matagi, Hna. Haws, and the rest.
Oh, and I have been VERY blessed with new clothes this week, after raiding Hna. Richins´ cast-offs when she had transfers, receiving a package from my wonderful family, and receiving a gifted dress from Hna. Karla.
Sorry to have a lame, me-centered email! I promise next week will be better. Just know that I am feeling a LOT more happy and hopeful! I love you lots!
Happy Birthday, Dad! And thanks for the package!
With Hna. McArthur!
Our new, awkward district. Dad, Elder Miculax loved the cherry sours! And I look horrid in this photo...
I`m going to be honest, this was a LONG week. But, we made it through and on Wednesday we have changes! I`m going to be sad to say goodbye to Hna. Chanchavac as she heads back to Guatemala, yet I`m excited for new eyes and new energy that changes always bring!
On Thursday, I did divisions with the Sister Training Leaders that are above me in Managua. I got to work with Hna. De Leon in her area. It was fun to remember how different the people are in each area... Managua, Masaya, Granada, etc. I enjoyed Hna. De Leon`s energy and enthusiasm! And it was fun not to be the leader for one day. Also, I got some good counsel from Hna. Arana, my old sister training leader and great friend in the mission who lives with the STLs in Managua.
Wendy´s husband told us that we never have permission to teach her again. My heart broke.
We`re trying to seek the Spirit more as we teach and contact. Most of the time we still think of people as numbers, and I did NOT come on a mission for numbers!!
Some answers to prayers came this week as I read in True to the Faith about the Holy Ghost... page 82, go look it up! Haha. And also, Alma 57:6, oddly enough.
One final thought: I love the scriptures! My set of scriptures, specifically. One night I was having a really hard time turning off my brain to go to sleep, and I started feeling panicky. I didn`t want to turn the light on to read my scriptures and disturb my companion, so I just brought my English scriptures into my bed with me. I thought of how many hours I`ve spent reading those inspired words and the comfort they`ve given me on so many occasions. Those scriptures have been with me to girls´ camps, seminary, on vacations, to college, and they have lived next to my bed in my basement bedroom for years. Even though I didn`t actually read the scriptures in that moment, I could feel greater peace and love knowing that I always have access to pure truth. I KNOW the scriptures are true! I know that God lives and loves us. Please don`t get discouraged no matter how hard things get.
This has been a very difficult change, to be honest. It was hard to leave Granada and all my friends and coping mechanisms. I`m not sure what this change will bring, but I have hope!
I LOVE YOU! Sending big hugs and specific prayers your way!
1) With Hna. Arana in Managua! Hna. Grow had a book with Nicaraguan slang words and their meanings, and we found the entry for ¨chocho,¨ a word that Hna. Arana is famous for using. I love this hilarious, wise, friendly chapina!
2) Hna. De Leon!
3) The smallest mandarin oranges I`ve ever eaten... 4) The quote I loved from True to the Faith.
5) The first and only p-day activity as a district... pretty sure the DL didn`t even ask permission, but sometimes you get desperate to see other missionaries. :)