Monday, February 22, 2010

Letter #22 - February 23, 2010

Hey there one and all,

So this week it was awesome to hear from Elder Clayton. He spoke a lot about the importance of the Spirit in missionary work and it was nice to be able to understand everything, in contrast to the new week-old Elders sitting behind me. A couple of other Elders were translating for them and for a moment, I could really see how far my Spanish has come. That’s not to say it’s very good yet but I’m so grateful I don’t have to start back at the beginning again with the language. We lost a good part of the week due to traveling because we stayed with the sisters in Matagalpa Monday and Tuesday night, arriving back at in our area with only enough time for one appointment Wednesday night after the conference. The lack of work really showed yesterday in church as we had a less than steller attendance. We also didn’t have a baptism this week which is a big downer. It’s the first week in a while I haven’t had a baptism. But we are pumped up and ready to really work hard this week to improve.

Jinotega is seriously cold. I thought I was going to die a few nights ago. I had on one of my thin sweaters and the suit jacket of a lady in the branch and was hugging Hna. Aguilar’s arm to keep warm in the wind. Really it was probably only 55 degrees or so, but with the wind I was freezing. My body really got accustomed to the heat after 3 months in the oven of Nagarote. Let’s see, the apartment is two levels but super small. Our front door is a nice celeste (blue) and when you walk in the stairs are on the immediate right and the desk where we plan and eat is in front of you. The little space further in after you pass the desk has the stove top the kitchen sink and bathroom. Ha, the bathroom is the smallest one I have ever seen. The door barely clears the toilet and the tiolet hangs over into the shower and when sitting on the toilet, your knees nearly touch the wall in front of you. And since it is colder here, logically the water is colder too. It’s way hard to take showers, but always worth it! :)

So back to the apartment... at the top of the stairs there are two small rooms. One has just enough space for our two twin beds and about two feet to walk between them. The other has two small tables where we study. We spent about two hours cleaning the house today and it was disgusting. Elders had been living there for a long time before Hna. Aguilar arrived in the area the change before I did and consequently it was in desperate need of some deep cleaning. I think I inhaled something along with the mountains of dust though because now I can’t stop coughing. I hope I don’t get sick.

The piano lesson went pretty well. I only had three students so that was a lot more managable. I am learning lots of new vocab words to teach music in spanish. It’s fun.

Um, yes we have zone conferences every week and yes, three hours is a lot of time to lose in the bus, but it’s only once a week.

We are teaching some interesting people right now. Camilo is in his mid or early thirties, divorced and he just lost his father a few months ago. The death of his dad was really hard for him and he started drinking pretty heavily but we’ve been teaching him and he came to church yesterday and he hasn’t been drinking for a week now. We’re pretty excited about his progress and he has a baptismal date for this Saturday. We’re also teaching the wife of one of the recent converts in the branch. She is pretty closed right now and I think has a lot of issues from the past to work out with her husband, but she is starting to open up and I hope we can help her realize the eternal possibilities of her family and bring some hope to her life.

I’m learning how important it is to work with the members from Hna. Aguilar. She is really good and building strong friendships and relationships with the members. When we gain the trust of the members, they are willing the help and support us and without them, we truly can’t work effectively. The work does not progress without the strength of the members. Also, Hna. Aguilar keeps me laughing which is wonderful. She pushes me out of my comfort zone with teaching, contacting, and chatting with everyone which is also good even though it scares me sometimes. I’ll be sad in 5 weeks when she heads back to
her casa in Guatemala.

Well lovelies, I miss you all with all my heart but I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else than here in fridged Jinotega. At least it’s hot in the day and a lot warmer than where you are!! Haha.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world – who needs a comfort zone anyway?

Love, Hna. Crosland

P.S. Just keep sending everthing to the mission address. It comes through the pouch fast enough. Just the packages take a while because we only get them when we go to Managua for multi-zonas, but that is the same as before. Loves.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Photos from Week #21 - February 15, 2010

The first one is me in the central park of Nagarote in front of the catholic church there. The second is our first baptism in Jinotega. Hna. Lucia doesn't look real happy in the photo but she really was. Her son is a member and he is the one who baptized her. Loves.

Letter #21 - February 15, 2010


Hey lovies,

Well, Dad’s predictions about changes turned out to be incorrect… I’m now serving in the city of Jinotega in the North end of Nicaragua, bordering Honduras. It’s in the mountains and it’s actually cold enough to merit a sweater in the evenings, which is a blessed change from the heat of Nagarote. They left Hna. Pineda in Nagarote (with my heart) and put Hna. Lee, the mission nurse with her. Hna. Lee is awesome and I’m glad Nagarote will stay in good hands with those two. However, no Elders to help out with the leadership.

My new companion is Hna. Aguilar from Guatemala. She is hilarious, short and chubby with attitude to boot. Pres.Fraatz pulled me aside after the change conference and told me that the Lord wants me to learn how to work like Hna. Aguilar because she is the best sister missionary in the mission. This is her last change plus a few weeks because she extended and I’m really grateful to get to work with her and soak up all her knowledge. So far we’ve had a lot of fun. Jinotega is a lot bigger and busier than Nagarote. We are still in a branch, but it’s bigger and functioning a lot better than the one in Nagarote. And the church is super nice with a big sports court outside. It’s so nice to have a good church building with a baptismal font. Everyone here wants to learn to play the piano so we are going to start holding classes from 3-4pm every Saturday. It will be a good chance to find positive people to teach and get the members excited. I’ve never taught group piano lessons with only two pianos but we’ll see how it goes. Also, I had another rock thrown at me. A real rock this time, but they missed. It was close though. There is a noticeable change in the opposition to the church here. I think it’s because it’s a bigger city. We have a recent convert who’s only 13 and her neighbors have been telling her ugly things about the church and now she doesn’t want to come to church and wants to give us the Book of Mormon back. She is really confused but seems to be scared to investigate and truly find out the truth. It’s frustrating.

We travelled today to meet with our Zone in Matagalpa. The bus ride is about an hour and a half through the mountains and it is seriously gorgeous. Wow, beautiful and green. I really like it here. Matagalpa is a big city, bigger than Jinotega and I’ll be getting to know a bit of it too. There are sisters serving here and since we have zone meetings Tuesday mornings, the Mondays that we come out, we’ll stay the night with the sisters here and go back to our area after the meeting Tuesday morning since the bus ride is long and kind of expensive.
This Wednesday we get to hear from Elder Whitney Clayton and I’m way excited. We have to take a bus at 3:00am to make it to the conference in Chinandega in time but it will be salvaje. Also, our Zone is singing Fe en Cada Paso (faith in every footstep) so that should be interesting. There aren’t that many good singers here, but we do our best. At least we have an Elder who plays piano pretty well.

So more news about the mission split: Mision Nicaragua Managua Norte will be under the direction of Presidente Arredonde from Guatemala and Mision Nicaragua Managua Sur will be under the direction of Presidente Monestel from Costa Rica. I guess they are dividing the Managua stakes right down the middle. The south mission will be a little sparse at first, but will have a lot of potential to grow. Good times. We’ll find out which mission we’ll be in next change.

As far as the shoes go, I’ll send pictures next week but go ahead and send the Borns. I don’t know what model mine are but I’m pretty sure they are size 7. Do they look comfy with good padding? That’s all I really care about. I’ll be fine for quite a while, so no rush.

Give Sean a big hug for me and ask him if he ever got to meet or serve with Sorella Cuzzens. I was in the Provo MTC with her and she was a great. I’m pretty sure she went to Sean’s mission.

Thanks so much for all your love and support. I love hearing the tidbits of your lives, especially your spiritual experiences. I hope you are all cultivating spiritual experiences each day. I got some dear elders today from Feb. 4, super fast! Thanks to Mama and Aunt Ruth. I love hearing about things you remember from your mission. Haha. I haven’t experienced the rain here yet, but I’m sure it will be amazing. Lots of mud hills to slide down.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world – it doesn’t matter where in the world you are!

Love you a million times over,
Hna. Crosland

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter #20 - February 8, 2010

Hey lovelies,

Another week has come and gone and now it’s nearly time for changes again. I can’t believe six weeks has gone by already. And I’ll hit my sixth month mark in this next change. Crazy. It still feels like I have an eternity left, but time sure is flying. I am worried that I'll be leaving Nagarote on Wednesday... President Fraatz actually told me in our last interview that I would be staying here for quite a while, but who ever knows, and with our branch bishopric suffering like it is, I think President will put an elder in here as branch president until Pres. Antonio gets out of the hospital. Really, I have no idea, but I've loved serving here despite the challenges and I will be devastated when I have to change areas. I'll let you know what happens next week.

The big news is that in June, when President Fraatz finishes as mission president, they are going to divide the mission! So Nicaragua will have two missions and will open a whole bunch of new areas. Each change, following the one in which I arrived, we’ve gotten about 20-25 new missionaries and only ten have gone home. And that is how it will be until the mission divides. So we are getting a ton of new missionaries and right now, President Fraatz is really trying to train a lot of the younger missionaries to be zone leaders and district leaders. It’s an exciting time. Also, Elder Whitney Clayton of the presidency of the Seventy is coming to speak to all of Nicaragua on the 18 of February. I’m excited to hear him speak and to listen to what counsel he has for Nicaragua. I was also told that the church has begun to look for a temple plot in Nicaragua. That makes me happier than I can express. How wonderful it will be to have a temple here.

So this week mom turns 29! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA! I didn’t get a letter in the mail last week for you, so I’ll have to try extra hard today and you’ll have to forgive me that it won’t arrive in time for you to read on your birthday. But I love you endlessly. I hope you have an amazing birthday and that you get to do exactly what you want to do all day.

Last Monday after I wrote, we did some service with the ward. They told us we were going to clean the church property (the plot of land where the chapel is going to be built). I was expecting to pick up garbage and such, but what the members had in mind was a big different.
They all showed up with their machetes and sandals ready to hack down all the plants growing on the property and with matches to burn the trash. The culture difference was funny. We also picked up bricks and rocks and piled them up near the front of the property. It was fun using the machetes and hacking away at the plants.

Of course there was the weekly baptism crisis this week. We had the baptism of Jose Antonio Olivas, a 14-year-old who is really solid, planned for Friday this week since there was an activity Saturday in the morning and the afternoon for the branch. He was all set to go, so I
wasn’t worried about him. We walked out the door of our casita to see water seeping out from under the door of the chapel. Hmmm… I thought, it has to be the day-of-a-baptism disaster. The crisis came in the form of a flood. Yep, a flood. “That’s a new one, Satan,” I thought, “but nothing we can’t handle!” Turns out, someone had left water on in the bathroom and that room, the room where the YW meet and the chapel all had about an inch of water (give or take, because the floor is not that level). We we grabbed a couple of brooms and went to work sweeping all the water out and onto the street. Luckily there is no such thing as carpet here to ruin, so once the tile dried, we were good to go. The baptism went just fine and Jose was confirmed this Sunday.

We have found a few new families to teach, but of course none of them are married. In particular we have been teaching a man named Maikel (pronounced like Michael) who is really ready and prepared to change his life. He made a goal to get married this weekend and quit smoking and we are going to start teaching his wife this week too, so hopefully they can be baptized together soon. It was awesome in our last lesson, we had given him the pamphlet of lesson 3 about faith, repentance, baptism, the holy ghost and enduring to the end, and he told us he had read it twice and wanted to talk about the atonement. Wow, that like never happens. He is solid and ready to commit to the gospel. I love teaching people the truths that will change their lives for eternity and bring them more happiness that they can imagine.

Being a missionary is truly the best thing ever – the Lord is preparing people’s hearts, we just have to find them.

Love you all to the moon and back,
Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Letter #19 - February 2, 2010

Hey hey,

So I keep forgetting to tell you about the misiĆ³n blog. It’s There isn’t a whole lot on the site but there are a few pictures of the different zones. I’m in zone Sandino if you want to take a look.

I prayed a lot and thought of you a ton this week Daddy. I hope everything really went well and that you are happy with how things turned out with your surgery.

Of all the things it means to be a missionary, glamour is not part of the deal. It has been so windy and dry here and we walk down a lot of long dusty roads against the wind, covering us with dirt and making it hard to open our eyes. We have a couple of families in an area called Sonrisa de Dios (God’s smile, although it doesn’t really seem like God is smiling much on this particular area) and it’s pretty far away from everything. So after making a visit to Napoleon and Belkis this week, our most recent converts, we mentioned that our next appointment was in Sonrisa de Dios. Well, anxious to help, they told us of a shorter route to get there from their house. Unfortunately, I don’t know if we misunderstood their directions or if they were just wrong, but we walked for about an hour along this deserted road, climbed under a few barbed wire fences, passed a dead horse with it’s mouth hanging open and it’s neck arched back, and finally found ourselves on the outskirts of Sonrisa de Dios. Definitely not my favorite part of the week. I also had a dirt clod thrown at me this week! Ha, it wasn't a rock, but I finally felt like a legitimate missionary.

But this week did contain some cool experiences as well. One day we showed up for lunch to find all the kids of the Garcia family, along with some other youth in the ward, gathered around a big bucket. Turns out they found a honey bee hive while cleaning the plot of land the church owns here, where they are planning to build the chapel. The bucket was chalk full of honeycomb, dripping with honey and a bunch of bees as well. They were picking the bees off and handing big chunks of it to Juan who was squeezing out all the honey into another bucket. Yesser broke off a little chunk and handed it to me and told me to try it. So I bit right into the wax and felt the sticky sweet honey squish into my mouth and drip down my hand. It was pretty cool. I wish I had had my camera.

The other cool experience was the baptism this week. Well, cool and kind of crazy at the same time, sort of like everything here. Our two possibilities this week were Marselino and Lilian. They are one of the two couples we married a few weeks ago. The elders had been out to interview them and talk with them twice this week, but I still didn’t really feel like they were prepared and there was also the huge problem of trying to figure out the details of the baptism since Lilian said she would only be baptized in a river like Jesus… seriously, a river. But we do anything here to baptize people, so find a river we did, arrange (and pay) for transportation we did, and round up a few willing members we did. All that was left was to help Marselino and Lilian feel secure and give them the push they needed to go through with it. Early this morning we had a bit of a struggle getting them to church, but even though we arrived late, we got them both there and getting them pumped up for the baptism was the same. Luckily we had the help of Elder Sanders, the ZL, as well. We were late getting off, all 12 of us piled into the back of a pick-up truck (don’t tell grandpa pete) and I was really worried that we wouldn’t have sunlight because the river was about 45 minutes away. But since there was nothing to do at that point but pray, I prayed and let the wind blow my hair and enjoyed the spectacular sunset. The river turned out to be really beautiful and the sunset really made the whole atmosphere beautiful. There were a few little cascades and some nice deep pools. We cut the actual service really short for the lack of light, just singing one hymn and a prayer. But both Lilian and Marselino were baptized and confirmed and it was a neat experience.

We had a good attendance this week at church again. These last two weeks attendance has been in the 80’s. But what really impressed me was the number of less-active members who came. We had a family of six and another lady with two small kids come yesterday who hadn’t been to church for about 4 years. The members are really started to work hard, to visit people and strengthen the branch during the week. It makes all the difference when the members take charge and care for their branch. We still struggle a lot with priesthood leadership here, but it’s nice to see a few things improving. Thanks for all your faithfulness and prayers. I know that I have not only my own faith and strength to draw from, but yours as well, and of course my Father in Heaven. It’s a blessing beyond words to have a powerful, faithful family behind me. I can feel your strength and your love in my difficult hours. Keep on keeping on.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world – even when I’m covered in dirt with dust in my eyes.

Love you forever.

Hna. Crosland

Monday, February 1, 2010

Photos from Week #19 - February 1, 2010

Okay, here are the pictures for the week. They are mostly of the cool baptism we had in the Tamarindo river. Also one of my sweet tan (plus grime...) Love you more than spectacular sunsets.