So I keep forgetting to tell you about the misión blog. It’s www.mision-nicaragua.blogspot.
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.