Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Letter #14 - December 29, 2009

Dearest family - how I love you!

It was wonderful to talk to you on Christmas and hear your dear voices.  The time seemed super short and there were a ton of things I wanted to tell you that I didn't... but oh well.

I got the birthday package and the christmas package on Sunday and the package from G. Pete today.  Thank you so so so much!  I loved all the individually wrapped gifts and I put them all under our tiny tree and took pictures before opening them.  (someday I'll figure out how to get a picture or two or my card to you...) And I'm super excited for the conference talks in the ENSIGN.  So did everything make it alright?  There are no lingering packages right?  I guess the address you sent them too works just fine, we just have to wait for the office elders to pick themup and deliver them.

So happy surprize babies to LESLIE and ERIN SORENSON!  Les, I seriously can't believe that but I'm so happy for you.  And I can't wait to meet my new cousin when I get home in 15 months...  How cool is that?  You are in my prayers, along with everyone else.  ;)

Also, happy anniversary mom and dad!  I loved your schmoopy email this week.  I can't describe how grateful I am to have parents that love each other like you do.  And what's more, that love the gospel like you do.  I am seeing my family with new eyes after being here in this crazy country for a month and a half now.  I was reading my patriarchal blessing today and parts about my family (current, not future) stood out to me that never have before.  You all bless my life so much and I am a better missionary because of the way you have always lived your lives.  Thank you for acknowledging, understanding and practicing gospel principles everyday.  That is so rare in the rest of the world.

Paige - thanks for your wisdom and insight about love and sacrifice in your email and also in your church talk which I just recieved.  I needed to be reminded of that.  It seems like being on a mission, all you'd think about is love and sacrifice, and in a way that is true, but there are so many aspects to think about.  Dad said to be grateful for this time when I can concentrate all my thought and energy on one thing, preaching the gospel.  And I certainly am grateful, but in a way I feel like I have more things to concentrate on and juggle than I ever have before, and the difference this time is that all the things are of eternal importance this time...  I worry about people's lives, the branch here, the leadership (which really struggles - they just don't know how the church is supposed to run, what their responsibilities are, how to be good leaders, etc. - but we are teaching them poco a poco), my companion, how to be a better teacher, how to improve baptismal services, how to plan better, and the list goes on.  There are so many different facets of missionary work and it's such a task to divide my time and give the most important things the most time.  There is just far more to do here than two missionaries are able to do.  Luckily, this is the Lord's work and we have His help and His spirit to guide us.

Mom - thanks for the Henley poem.  I really liked it, especially the last few lines.  It's important to remember that we have the power to be who we want to be, more importantly and wonderfully, to be who Heavenly Fathers wants and knows we can be.  And we have that power because of the atonement of our Savior.  Keep sending me your spiritual insights.  They strengthen me so much, whether they come from friends, church, scriptures, or good literature (I miss reading good books besides the scriptures... but don't get me wrong, I love the scriptures more than I ever have).

All in all, my dearest family, you just make me smile from ear to ear.  You are funny, and wonderful, and righteous and good.  I love being able to hear your voices in my head as I read your emails.  Your words always make my week and fill me up to overflowing with gratitude.

This week I also recieved words from: Roger Brough, Brent Warr, Sam Griffeths, Rosie Jones and Jocelyn Coffman!  Thanks so much for your letters friends.  I know you wrote them forever ago, but many of the things you wrote me were just what I needed this week.  So I guess the timing was right.  A note to all my friends - I am allowed to email you even though my time is very limited.  So if you send me a line in order to give me your email address, I can respond to you much more easily.  I rarely have time to write hand written letters even though I try to get one off each week to a lucky winner.  But I love hearing about your lives and what you are all up to.

Jocelyn - you better tell me more about this man of yours.  And Rachey face too.  Are you guys engaged yet or what?

And last but not least, ALISON - thanks for the two sentences in the email this week, BUT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE!  I think about you all the time.  I don't worry, because I know you are amazing, but I want to know what you are doing, what your plans are, and who you are spending the most time with ;).

I'm convinced that Nicaragua is the craziest country in the world, but also one of the most beautiful and amazing.  Yesterday I didn't write because we had a "super p-day" and the whole zone went to see the masaya volcano and tour the cave there.  (Put this on your list Dad)  It took all day to travel there and tour around and travel back, so we didn't get to write but the volcano was so cool.  I didn't get to see lava because the crater is pretty deep but the sulfer fumes, like gaseous clouds were pretty sweet.  And the cave was great too, finally a break from the hot-ness.   There were even bats and vines in the cave.  I just wish we could have gone further and explored more, but the guide said it was dangerous to go any further and I guess he was probably right since we were literally right next to an active volcano and two other inactive ones...  So Nicaragua is pretty cool.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - my life is full of eternal worries of the most worthwhile kind.

I love you all to Kolob and back.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Monday, December 21, 2009

letter #13 - December 21, 2009

Hello one and all!

First things first: how to call me on Christmas! 9:00am will be fine,
or 10:00am here. I'll just be doing my morning studying. The sad thing
is that I only have 40 minutes. I thought it would be an hour at least
but President Fraatz told us yesterday that we only have 40 minutes. So
we'll have to talk fast! I have the number of the lady who cooks for us
so you'll just have to call me. I'm pretty sure that first you dial
00505 and then her number which is 86029182. I'll have her phone
Christmas morning. I'm not sure if a test call is allowed but if you
are worried maybe you could do a test call. We are at her house from
about 12:30-1:15pm and 5:15-6:00pm. I think it should work Christmas
morning though. So, I'm very excited to hear all your voices. You have
to forgive me for being lame... I didn't send anything home for you for
Christmas. Well, except that one letter but that really doesn't have
anything to do with Christmas. I've just been so preoccupied with
getting my feet under me that it didn't even occure to me until this
week and I haven't really had time to think much about it. I'll try to
send something soon though.

This week we had a Christmas Activity for all the missionaries. It was
really fun. We had a devotional from President Fraatz that was really
good. Actually he kind of cracked down on us, but it was motivating.
He's really strict but it helps us to be obedient and focused. He spoke
for a few minutes in English to the North Americans. He told us that he
really felt like we needed to step up our effort. Most of us have been
blessed to be born in the church, we know how the organization works,
what it's like to grow up in a family of committed members. Many of us
have pioneer heritage, ancestors who literally gave everything for the
church and the gospel. And how sad would it be for us to come out here
and not give our all, to not feel those feelings that our
great-grandparents felt for the gospel because of the sacrifices they
made. It gave more meaning to the compass around my neck. My pioneer heritage means a lot to me. It made me wonder, am I really sacrificing my all? Do I have the same feelings that they did, is my testimony as strong, and am I willing to give like they did? It made me want to work harder, to give more when I feel like I have nothing left. To really put my best effort forward and learn to sacrifice. Like Jenny Thornton said, in reality we give so little and the Lord blesses us with so much. Well, I want to give a little more.

After the devotional we were divided up into about ten teams and played
some games, mostly involving water balloons. There was also a
watermelon eating contest and a huge blow-up slip and slide. It was
pretty fun. And of course we broke piñatas. This time we had sticks

I've been thinking a lot this week on how to help the members and
recent converts in our little branch catch the vision of this gospel and
realize the importance of the basics such as coming to church, paying
tithing, keeping the word of wisdom, keeping the sabath day holy,
reading the scriptures everyday, family prayer. I feel like I've taken
these things for granted my whole life. What a difference they make! I
want to start teaching the members more about temples. I've been
surprised to find out how many recent converts really don't even know
what a temple is. It's so critical how we follow up with our recent
converts. In our little branch in Nagarote, we don't have ward members
to rely on to teach the recent converts what they need to know to really
get started in the church. Retaining those we baptize is a huge part of
the work and helping them really start to understand the gospel is a
huge job. But it's an amazing work to be a part of.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we are literally
Christ's representatives on the earth.

I am so grateful to be preaching the gospel of JESUS CHRIST especially
at this time of the year.

I can't wait to talk to you lovely family.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Letter #12 - December 15, 2009


Sorry to be so tardy. We had a Zone activity yesterday and by the time we made it back to Nagarote, we couldn't find any open computers at the two internet cafes here before P-day was officially over and we had our night appointments. But we got permission to write today, hooray!

Thanks for all the shout-outs from the fam. It was fun to hear from everyone. I still haven't gotten your packages, but we are only able to get them when we have Multi-zone conferences or exchanges I guess. Luckily we have a big Christmas party for half the mission, about 100 missionaries on Thursday (the other half on Wednesday) and if the packages have come, I'll be able to get them then. If they haven't gotten here, changes are on the 30th of December. Also, I sent a letter home about two weeks ago. Has it arrived yet? And I don't know when you will have a chance to send another package, but maybe you can just start a list of things that I'd like: the conference Ensign from Oct in English and Spanish if you can find it, Oreos, and my flute... I should have just packed it when I had it at the MTC in Provo but I was worried about the weight. Hopefully we'll get this mail thing figured out.

So, to answer your questions: First of all, sorry I didn't answer all of your questions last week Mom. Yes, I can print stuff off here, so you can send more via email. I loved the words of wisdom from the Thorntons. I copied them into my journal because they really spoke to me. The gospel really is amazing at filling our holes. Let's see, things have been better with Hna. Bustillos. We are both learning how to work with each other despite the communication gap. And I am learning to just go along with things even when I don't know why we are doing what we're doing exactly and when I feel like there is a better way to do things. I am definitely learning a lot about patience and humility. But this week felt a lot better than last week. I have moments when I feel things are really starting to click. I feel like I'm starting to settle into the groove. I'm not exactly sure what made me sick. I think it was the drinks from the hermana who feeds us lunch and dinner. We asked her if she was using purified water to make the juice she gave us and found out she wasn't. But we told her it was a mission rule for us to only drink purified water so now I think she is doing something to purify it before making it into nice drinks. We eat lunch and dinner with Hna. Johanna everyday. Mostly it's gallo pinto and this cheese (I don't know how to spell it). Sometimes there is vegetables and chicken and rice, sometimes soup with interesting things in it, sometimes fried tortillas with cheese or meat. We eat a variety of things. And for breakfast, the first two weeks we went to a little store half a block from our house and bought picos (triangle shaped bread with sugar folded up) and oatmeal and juice. But we went to a grocery type store and bought cornflakes and milk and pancake mix and eggs last week so we've been eating that for breakfast. We don't put much in the stinky fridge, just the milk and eggs and margarine. There are 16 sisters in the mission and four north Americans (including me) out of about 200 missionaries in the mission.

Okay, so Happy Birthday to ME this week. I got up and made grandma Helene style pancakes for the first time here which was lovely. We couldn't find syrup so we just ate them rolled up with sugar like when I was little. That brought back good memories and it was yummy. We had a piñata at our district meeting on my birthday which was fun. We just batted at it with our fists because we didn't have a bat. It was a pretty good day except for when we found one of our investigators sitting on the side of the road, pretty drunk. It took some work but we convinced him to let us walk him home, so arm in arm we strolled up the dirt road to his house. It was quite the walk and as we got closer and closer he kept holding back and making this nervous face because he didn't want his wife to see him. It was actually pretty funny, my birthday stroll with the borracho, or bolo as they are called here.

This Sunday I was asked to give a talk on tithing. We didn't have time to prepare on Saturday and we always get up at 5:00am on Sundays to be out the door by 6:00 to gather the youth to help us gather the rest of the members and the investigators for church. We make up the routes and hit the streets by 7:00trying to get people to church by 9:00. Well this Sunday I was up at 4:00am to prepare my talk. It went alright I think. Hna. B said I only made a couple of mistakes. Then we found out that one of the Sunday School teachers didn't come so I had to teach the recent convert/investigator class all by myself so that Hna. B could fill in for the teacher who didn't come. I was really nervous to get started but I pretended to be confident, put on a big smile, pulled out my laminated plan of salvation that I made in the Provo MTC and taught the class. It went better than I thought it would. I am learning to set my fears aside and trust that the Lord will help my in the areas that I lack, mainly Spanish.

This week I had a good experience teaching a couple in the ward who are being sealed in the temple today actually. Francisco and Mayra are a young couple (20 and 21 I think) who have a darling little boy. Francisco is the Elder's Quorum president and Mayra is the RS president. They are great, but Francisco struggles a bit with his faith and testimony when challenges come. They run a little venta, a store or more like a stand in the park where they sell candy and drinks and little toys and baked goods. Well we were all sitting on crates in the venta and Hna B. looked at me and said, teach about the atonement. So I asked Francisco who is Jesus Christ to you? The question kind of threw him off and he responded with a general answer, but I prodded and said, no to you personally. Mayra spoke up and bore her testimony of the Savior and she asked Hna. B who Jesus Christ was to her. After Hna. B testified of the Savior's role in her life, I pulled out my D&C and read section 50:40-45 (I know this is one of mom's favorites and it always reminds me of her and often makes me cry, this time was no different). I read it and got through it okay, but as I started to explain my relationship with my Savior through those verses, the tears couldn't be restrained. I also testified of the temple that they were about to have the opportunity to attend and tell them how much Heavenly Father wants to teach us and show us His plan for our lives, and how the temple is a place of revelation and learning. The spirit was so strong and I felt like I was really able to communicate the things I wanted to share, which was really gratifying. I love the temple so much and I miss being able to go whenever I want. I feel like we need to teach the members here more about the temple and stress it so much more. I think if they start to see the vision of what the temple really means and what it is and how important it is, it will help motivate them to be more faithful in paying their tithing, coming to church, living the word of wisdom and sharing the gospel. Then, when the members start to show the Lord their faithfulness in keeping the commandments, He will bless Nicaragua with a temple and more families here can be sealed for eternity. How amazing is that?

I read a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf from two conferences ago and there was a quote that stuck out to me. He said, "I am doing a great work and cannot come down." When I get discouraged or frustrated or when things of the world threaten to take my mind from the work, I remember that phrase: I am doing a great work and cannot come down.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - I am helping families to be together for eternity.

I love you all so much it hurts. Also, ALISON AND WILLIAM, get off facebook and write me an email. It won't take long. I'm forgetting who you are. :)

Love and kisses and sniffs in your ears.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Monday, December 7, 2009

Letter #11 - December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME! (Well, tomorrow that is...) I'm getting old.

Before I forget, here is the address to the mission that I got from my Zone Leader on Tuesday:

Mision Managua Nicaragua
De la Rotonda Del Periodista
150 varas al sur
Ofiplaza Suite #725
Managua, Nicaragua
America Central

So try that for packages and letters in the future I guess. I hope everything you sent gets here. If you used the mission home address in the call packet I'm sure it will.

Are you ready for this week’s bunch of questions? Well let’s start with your companion. What is she like? Well other than she likes to teach and find investigators. What kind of Branch are you in? Ward? How big is it? I’m still confused about how rotting food got in the fridge. Are you two new to the apartment and it was already in the fridge, or you just don’t fix food very often? Are you taking care of yourself?

So here are the answers to Dad's questions. My companion is just a bit shorter than me with really curly hair that she always tucks back tight in a braid. I've discovered that she's a bit obsessive and very set in her ways. She has a one-track mind for missionary work and I often feel like she forgets that she is supposed to be training me and helping me figure out how everything works. She has a very specific way that she likes to teach each principle and to be honest, I don't really like the way she teaches. But she wants me to do it her way and so I'm trying to learn. There are good things about the way she teaches and I'm trying to glean the things I like and then when I'm calling the shots, I can do it a little differently. Ha, when I'm calling the shots and also when I am able to actually express myself in Spanish the way I want to. I feel like there is just a huge communication gap between us most of the time. I want to work together more and implement my own ideas but it is just so frustrating to try to explain things to her especially since she really just likes to do things her way.

I'm trying to take care of myself because Hna. Bustillos never takes her own needs into account, much less mine. Her only concern is the people we are finding and teaching. So I'm trying to balance my own needs and taking care of myself with losing myself in the work. I didn't know this balance would be so hard to figure out. This week I got really sick with diarrhea and I spent Wednesday night in a hospital in Managua with an IV getting rehydrated and the likes. I worked for three days with a pretty sore stomach and diarrhea until finally Wednesday we had a multi-zone meeting and my stomach hurt so bad I could barely concentrate on anything but the pain and I was going to the bathroom every 30 minutes. Luckily the doctor for all the central american missions was there that day and he gave me some pills to take and when we got home I was able to convince Hna. B that I was too sick to go out so I tried to sleep between trips to the bathroom. But around 10:00pm the AP's called and said that President Fraatz wanted me to go to the hospital. So they came and picked me up and we went. The hospital in Managua is actually pretty nice and I was treated really well and stayed there overnight. The next day we hit the streets again. But the worst part was, I didn't know how long we'd be gone at the hospital so I took my whole suitcase and it stayed in the AP's truck for FOUR DAYS! Yes, I wore the same garments for 4 days. Luckily I had my toothbrush on me in the hospital and a change of clothes. Craziness. But we work and work and work.

Okay really fast, the fridge. We are in the same apartment that two other sisters were in just before us. They left all the food in the fridge and unplugged it for some reason before they left that morning for changes. So when we got there that night it already started to smell and a week later when we finally got to cleaning it, it was pretty much the worst thing ever. And now we have it plugged in but we don't use it at all. It still smells. But only when we open it, which is basically never.

Oh, the Branch. Yes, it is a branch and it struggles. The attendance is about 75 each week but there are about 400 members on record. There is no young mens or young womens president, but there are leaders of the primary. Hna B. and I teach the recent converts and investigator class each week and I think they have teachers of sunday school. The branch president has been the president for 8 years and he seems tired. There are only two endowed members in Nagarote - president of the branch and one other lady named yessenia. I wrote you a letter last week telling a lot more about Nagarote. I am pretty sure now that the coast I saw was the lake. You probably know where I am a lot better than I do. Um, there are no nice houses really. There are a few houses here that are painted nice and actually have tile floors and more than one room divided by actual walls, but only a few houses are like that. And Hna. B said that Nagarote is one of the nicest areas in all of Nicaragua. In most other places every house is made of rough cut boards, tin or zinc roofs and sheets of plastic. It's really overwhelming. Anyway, my time is gone. Love you all.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even when you're in the hospital.

Love, Hna. Crosland