Monday, November 30, 2009

Letter #10 - November 30, 2009

Hello one and all!

Thanks for all the emails this week. It was great to hear from Katie, Vince, and Maddie. I also got a dearelder from Aunt Carolyn, Rachel Ilene, and Mama this week. Thank you, thank you. You are all wonderful and make my life better. Okay, this week I am going to try to answer your questions first before I run out of time and hopefully still have time to tell you about the fridge episode and the baptisms we had this week. The scripture I want on my plaque (there are way too many that apply so perfectly...) is Alma 26:12. I thought of a few things that I would love in a package at some point in time: crystal light packets, more tan no-show socks, a selection of your favorite classical pieces including Jupiter and Nimrod from the Elgar Variations, chocolate, good daily vitamins and maybe calcium supplements, and some pictures of Utah maybe of the different seasons. The members ask me what Utah is like sometimes and I wish I had more pictures to show them. There are only two seasons here. Wet and dry.

Okay, what else. Dad, you wanted missionary work details. Well, we pretty much have appointments all day and we street contact along the way everywhere we go. Nobody is usually inside their houses because it's too hot, so there are tons of people sitting in plastic chairs on the side walks or walking around. Everyone is so nice here that we stop and talk with every family that we see and usually make an appointment with them to come to their house and share our message. Everyone is willing to talk with us and listen, so it's a little hard to know who is really interested. It's been a little frustrating to teach and then see that clearly they didn't really understand what we have, or why we're different, or how this message can change their lives. I was grateful for the bit Paige wrote me about the council in heaven and foreordination vs. predestination. I miss intellectual conversation for two reasons, 1) there are not many people here who think very deeply about gospel things 2) I can't converse very deeply in Spanish yet... But yeah, mostly we talk to a ton of people on the street everyday and teach about 10 lessons a day. Understanding people is getting easier but I am still frustrated a lot of the time because I don't know fully what is going on and I can't express all that I want to. Also, Hna. Bustillos has such a particular way she likes to teach each principle that it's kind of hard to learn her way to do it. Anyway, I'm learning a lot. Mostly, how to be patient and humble. In my district, I think there are only 4 of us, but in the Zone there are maybe 12. We are the only hermanas.

Okay, the apartment really isn't that bad. I was going through "nice things" withdrawls I think for a while. We have a tile floor (which is way better than dirt) and our shower is actually inside the house (which is way better than outside) and we have two fans and two beds and two desks. And the fridge doesn't smell so bad anymore... The bathroom is the only thing that is scary. The door frame is coming apart so you have to push it back in place to close the door.

The whole room is cement (with tile floor) and the shower is cement with a little cement barrier about 8 inches high to divide the shower from the rest of the bathroom. The water pipe runs up the wall and comes out the showerhead. We bought a shower curtain last week so that has improved things a lot. Also the water is cold, kind of like pool water with no heater. I just take a quick breath in right when I jump in and after a few seconds it
feel okay. I take fast showers. Ah! I have to tell you stories.

The fridge, turns out, was chalk full of rotting food and GUSANOS (maggots). It's not like we couldn't locate the smell, we just didn't open it for a week. It was seriously the nastiest thing I have ever done to clean out that fridge. We put plastic bags on our hands and removed all the contents of the fridge, then we carried it to the bathroom and used bowls to throw water in it to try to flush out some of the maggots. I swear there were a million. And they are probably the nastiest of all of God's creations. They way their little white bodies ripple when they move... it makes my spine tingle just thinking about it. And the SMELL! I have never smelled anything like it before in my life. Needless to say, we had a big and disgusting job, but we did it. We still haven't put any food in it though. We were waiting for all the maggots to crawl out of their hidding places, but now I just don't think I can get over the mental block of how gross that fridge seems to me, even cleaned out.

Another good story: We have been teaching this cute little family, really poor, but so great and humble. After a lesson one night this week, little Kevin ran out after us on our way out and whispered something to me. I couldn't understand him, but soon found out he had asked for some money to buy food tomorrow. We aren't allowed to give any money to anyone, but it about broke my heart. So what did we teach the next day? The law of tithing! I kept thinking to myself, how can we ask these people to give money to the church when they don't have enough to eat. But then I remembered the blessing of tithing. When we pay a full tithing the Lord always provides for our needs. Well when we taught them about tithing, they accepted whole heartedly. Hna. B asked if 10% was a lot and they all said, No! Pequeño! Wow, the faith and humility of these people. Sure enough they brought their filled out tithing slip with their 10 cordobas to church yesterday.

Well the mom, Emelda and her second son Devin got baptized yesterday, but it was sort of a fiasco. I swear Hna. B leaves everything to the last second. She is so preoccupied with teaching a finding that she sometimes doesn't plan for things very well. Anyway, at about 8:30 Saturday night we went to look at the font which is in back of the church in the little patio area. It is just a big plastic tub and it was full of dirt and leaves. We cleaned it out the best we could and then started filling it because apparently there was no one who could fill it in the morning. Pretty soon I realized it was going to take over an hour to fill and it was already close to 9:30. Then we realized we had a bigger problem. The font was leaking near the exit hole. So the baptism is scheduled for 8:00am the next morning, right before church, we were supposed to be back in our casa 30 minutes ago, and we had a leaking font. We ended up finishing cleaning up, going home to plan for the next day and praying for the font. Well yesterday morning I had the idea to roll up my plastic exercise strap that I got in the Provo MTC and make a sort of plug. That didn't fix the problem completely, but enough to slow the leaking to where we could fill the font. But it filled so slow that we had to postpone the baptisms until after church. But it was nice because some of the members stayed for the service and it ended up being okay. Not quite the spiritual experience I was hoping for but, through a series of miracles it happened. Wow, things sure are different here.

I've started dreaming in Spanish. Last night I dreamed about teaching about obedience in Spanish using 1 Ne 3:7 and Heleman 10. Both great obedience scriptures. Haha. That's cool I guess. So it's Christmas time and there are some Christmas lights around and a few trees in some houses. But it's blazing hot and sunny and, oh! Mom, you should see the bouganvillia (sp?) here. It's beautiful and everywhere. The flowers and the trees are so pretty. And mostly it doesn't fell like Christmas at all, but when we sing Christmas hymns I always tear up because they make me think of singing with all of you at home. I've been a little teary this week. Things are so hard. I'm happy and ever grateful to be a missionary. But being in Nicaragua I feel homesick for the first time on my mission. I really miss the holidays with the family. I didn't find out that last thursday was thanksgiving until it was almost friday, and I was grateful because it made me feel weird to think of all of you together doing thanksgiving things. I miss that a lot. I feel very far from home and I can't talk to anyone here in English. It's very isolating at times. Sorry to be a downer for a second. I have had lots of good days. Anyway, I have to go.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even with a fridge full of maggots.

I love you all SO much it brings tears to my eyes. Like mom said, I love you so much it hurts sometimes. But I'm so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow and bring people to the knowledge of the gospel. How cool is that?

Love, Hna. Crosland

Monday, November 23, 2009

Letter #9 - November 23, 2009


It feels like an eternity since I've written or heard from you. I spent last P-day traveling and being oriented a bit. President Fraatz and his wife picked us up at the airport and we went straight to the main chapel in Managua where they always meet for changes. There, our suitcases were loaded onto a truck and we sat down with the 7 north american elders that arrived the night befoe fom the Provo MTC. I felt cool because I came with all the Latinos from the Guatemala CCM and we were all friends. I was speaking Spanish with them and the MA elders kind of stayed to themselves. I thanked my lucky stars for the chance I had to go to the Guat CCM. I certainly understood more and felt more comfortable speaking Sanish than they did.

No one ever told us the schedule for the day so I just took things one at a time, wondering when I would meet my new companion and find out whre I would be serving for the next 6 weeks at the least... But we pretty much just talked all day until about 6pm and then we went on something like divisions with some missionaries in the area and proselyted until about 9. That night I stayed with the two latina hermanas that came in a little "hotel" that, when I look back at it, was really nice though under construction. However, for whatever reason, the truck with our suitcases was very far away and the AP's finally arrived with them around 12:30am with MacDonalds. It was a weird night. Actually a weird day altogether.

We had the change conference in the morning where I found out that Hna Bustillos from Panama was going to be my new companion and we would be serving in the Nagarote area in the Sandino zone. It was an hour
and a half long bus ride south of Managua and near the ocean (so it's super hot) but not near enough that I ever see or hear the waves. Once we got to our little casa, right next to the church building, we set our stuff down long enough to grab a couple of Libros de Mormon and some pamphlets and then we hit the streets and talked to EVERYONE. That's pretty much how it's been all week. We seriously don't stop.

The tiny fridge in our room (our house is only one room with a pint sized and pretty scary looking bathroom that's all cement) is not working for whatever reason but we haven't stopped long enough to investigate and it smells like the worst thing ever. Every night when we come in I want to throw-up but we sit right down and start planning and by the time we're done, I've usually fallen asleep once or twice and only have enough energ
y to pray, wash my face, and fall in bed. It is so exhausting to try to understand what's going on all the time. People here are speaking french or something. They never say the last half of the words and drop most of the s's. But I understand more and more everyday. It's been a culture shock.

I wish I could send pictures, but it is taking so long to load that I decided to just write this week. I'll try again next week to send pics. The village of Nagarote is pretty small. Lots of dirt roads and houses made of plastic, cardboard, metal siding. There are a few nicer looking houses, but most have dirt floors. I've been surprized at how many people don't know how to read. That makes asking people to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon a bit difficult. We have to explain the gospel like we're teaching primary most of the time. It's a bit overwhelming how much work there is to do here. But I am determined to really learn Spanish and do all I can. The Spanish is coming. It's by far the hardest and most frustrating and tiring thing I've ever done to be here serving a mission. But being a missionary is the greatest thing in the world - even when I'm so worn out I can't think straight anymore. I have to go. I wish I could write more... but I love and miss you all "un monton".

Love , Hna Crosland

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Letter #8 - November 10, 2009


We are down to the last week here in the CCM and I couldn't be more excited to finally get to Nicaragua. It seems like I've already been on my mission forever, and yet I can't believe it's been nearly two months. Time flies. It makes me even more anxious to make the most of every minute. Thanks for the emails fam, and for the letter mom. Real mail is by far the coolest thing ever, but I love hearing from you all in any form.

Dad- way to be Santa. That is so funny.
Paige - please send pictures. I miss seeing your art. Thanks for telling me about crazy BYU... it makes me really glad I'm not in school right now! ;)
Mike - happy birthday, sorry it's late... I think you are wonderful.}
Will - Way to cry all through your first bandimony. That's awesome. Now practice your cello! :D
Ali - I still miss you and think about you the most. I hope that doesn't make anyone else feel bad... Way to be such a good girl. I wish I could be there watching you grow in the next year and a half because these are such changing years. You are amazing. Keep studying your scriptures and praying everyday and you will be a winner. One thing I keep wishing is that I had really memorized all my scripture mastery scrips... maybe I should tell that to Will. Don't waste your oppotunities. I love you.
Mom - I miss you a close second. Thanks for the lovely cyber-hug. Hna. Fuka gave me a hand massage today to keep her awake and I thought of you rubbing my fingers in church. Mmmm, I love you so much. Have so much fun in DC with Dad and tell Mike and Kimber and the kids hi.

Okay, so we had a pretty normal week this week except that it keeps raining which is weird for this time of year here. This morning we had Elder Costa of the presidency of the seventy here to speak to us. I got a double trio together and sang El Cristo Es! (This is the Christ) and it turned out really nice. I love listening to the devotionals in Spanish and being able to understand almost everything. It makes me feel so good. Tomorrow we have divisions again so I get to spend the day as a "real missionary" one more time before hitting the streets (dirt roads?) of Nicaragua. Then Thursday we have meetings with Pres. Christensen all day. Friday is our last day of classes. Saturday is info meetings and packing. Sunday is Sunday. And Monday we go to Las Colinas to play the day away again. This week is going to fly. Wow. I can't wait to get out of here. I have loved it but I want to get to work.

As far as a package goes, send it to the mission office I think. Don't send anything else here, because I won't be here by the time they come. Oh, I got the letter you sent on the 29 today mom. Along with the dear elders. I'm not sure of the day that they arrived at the CCM though because they keep everything and wait until P-day to give it to us. A bit different from the MTC in Provo, where the mail was delivered and we checked our boxes twice a day. I'll try to think of things that would be nice during the week. I'm pretty content though. Things are good.

On Sunday we heard from Elder/Pres.? Amado and he spoke just to our little group of North Americans so it was in English which was nice. He gave us a pattern for being good missionaries (good disciples, really) from the story of Nephi the prophet in Helaman 10. It's a short chapter but one I have come to love. I discovered it a few weeks ago and was really excited when he started talking about it. Nephi is left alone by all the people he is trying to teach and as he's walking home a bit dejected, the Lord speaks to him. I love the words of the Lord to Nephi and you can just feel how much the Lord trusts him. He knows that Nephi will do exactly what the Lord would have him do, so he gives Nephi immense power. Then the Lord commands him to go back and preach to the people again, and Nephi stops right where he is at and goes back. He obeys immediately. What a great example. I want to be the kind of missionary the Lord can trust like that. It seems easy to do if the Lord spoke right to you and asked you to do something. Who wouldn't do obey? The hard part is recognizing that the missionary handbook and the silly Guat CCM rules and little impressions are the same as the Lord speaking. I am recommited to being more obedient in every way I can be.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - I'm learning to recognize the Lord's voice.

I love you all so much and The next letter I write you will be from Nicaragua which is SO COOL! (P.S. we had a little culture night where our teachers who went to our different missions came in and told us about our missions and it was so cool. Also one of the teachers named Hna. Vasquez said she talked to Pres. Fraatz last week and told him about me. The first question he asked was "How's her Spanish" and I got a thumbs up from Hna. Vasquez.)

Love, Hna. Crosland

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week #7 - November 3, 2009

Hey everyone,

I got a boat load of dearelders today, mostly forwards from the cousins and thorntons, but a nice one from Grandma Donna to her missionaries and a great one from Aunt Ruth.   Mom, Larry sends me the forwards of the Ray's emails so you don't need to send those as well.

This week Hna. Fuka had an allergic reaction to something and her face ballooned!  It started below her right eye and went down through her upper lip. It was huge.  I wish we could have taken pictures.  She was a champ though, and even though she was embarrased, did all she had to do, even going to the temple Saturday morning to do contacts.  I am having my share of interesting problems as well...  I'm covered in bug bites that I'm pretty sure I receive while I sleep.  Sis. Christensen gave me some promethryn (sp?) to spray on my bed and on my clothes so hopefully that will take care of the problem.  For now I will try not to scratch.

It's starting to get kind of chilly here and the teachers tell me that the months of november and december are actually pretty "cold"  We'll see.  I think I'll be able to survive two more weeks before I get to some warmer weather.  It's only nippy in the mornings and also when the Elders crank the AC in our classroom...  Yesterday it was pouring rain during our gym time so we ran out and played soccer in our bare feet, slipping and sliding around in the puddles.  I only went down twice.  Haha.  Not hard enough to do any damage, but I sure got wet.  It was a blast, but probably not the smartest thing we've ever done.  Our feet were pretty beat up, not to mention all the crazy parasites we probably got.  It was sure a day I'll remember though.

Well, I only have ten minutes left, not enough time to go into any details really, but I want to let you know how grateful I am for this experience.  This week I think the thing that stood out most to me was that I have a LOT to work on and to learn.  There were some hard and frustrating days and I realize new weaknesses of mine everyday.  It's very humbling to be a missionary.  But I also recognize more and more how much the Lord is with me, answering my prayers, helping me minute by minute to improve and do better next time.  My testimony of the gospel is deeping and expanding, becoming richer through the knowledge and testimonies of so many around me.  I see the restoration with new eyes and I'm beginning to see how everything fits together so perfectly.  I love making new connections that I've never seen before.  I love studying my scriptures.  I've been reading in Moses, chapter 6 this morning, and I'm just amazed at the things I've never thought of before.  Enoch was born about 622 years after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden and at that time, Adam was still alive, probably still having children.  The human family grew SO fast in those first 1000 years and the great patriarchs of the earth starting with Adam down til Enoch were all on the earth together.  Wow!  How did so many people fall away so quickly, with their one common ancestor still on the earth, able to tell them how it all started.  And Enoch preaching the gospel to people who seemed so astounded at his words, the fulness of the gospel that they had already forgotten.  How important we each are, to teach our children the gospel so that a whole branch of people, our descendants are not lost to the truths that will save them... Anyway, it is pretty cool to study the scriptures and really think about what I'm reading and where these words came from.

I have to go, but I love and miss you all.  I think you might still be working on the family email for this week but we had early email time today I'll just have to read it next week.

Also, if anyone ever sees Rachel Ilene, tell that girl to send me an email.  I want to know how she's doing and Ashton and Jocelyn.  I haven't heard anything about them since I left.

I pray for you all everynight by name, just as I know you are praying for me.  I sometimes wonder if we are kneeling down saying each others names at the same time.  :)  I love you lots.

Love, Hna. Crosland