Thank you for your birthday wishes. My birthday was great. I had more fotos to send you but I forgot my camera.... oops, until next week. I got many birthday wishes from the ward members and even a few gifts. They are so sweet. And I was invited to a birthday lunch and dinner. Actually we've been invited to eat at members houses all week, which has been perfect because the Medina family was gone and with them, our normal food appointment. But the Lord has taken super good care of us. I also tried Mondongo for the first time this week. Mondongo is cow stomach and it is just as nasty as it sounds (fotos coming soon). But basically it looks like carpet and tastes nasty. I'm not quite sure why people eat it, but whatever.
News with investigators is not so great this week. After some amazing lessons with Norlan and Maryuri, they didn't show up for church last week and then on Tuesday, we found Norlan drunk. He has been drunk this whole week even though we've been stopping by his house nearly every day. The frustrating part is that his wife says that he hadn't had a drink in over two years and right when we found him and started teaching him and his family, Satan had to pull the rug out from under them. So frustrating.
We also weren't able to teach Aldo y Karla until Sunday night even though we also passed by their house everyday this week as well. After the great experience with them at the Chirstmas devotional, we wanted to follow up with them quickly and strike while the iron was hot, but no such luck. They were always gone or too busy to receive us.
The Purisima didn't help matters either this week. Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday the streets were full of people singing praises to the Virgen and each house hadconstructed a fancy schmancy alter with flashy lights and the Virgen María prominent. I wanted to take pictures of them and the people were thrilled to be asked if we could take a picture of their shrine. It's a tradition to give out things for the Purisima to those that come and sing at your shrine and after one of the pictures I took, the man gave us a little gift...oops, I was purisima-ing. Bad missionary. But the festivities made it really hard to proselyte and Tuesday night we even had to go in early. Elder Figueroa had part of a burning firecracker land on his head and it caught his hair on fire! I wish I had seen it. I was pretty much dying of laughter as he showed me his singed scalp. Crazy catholics. Hopefully this week we can help Norlan stop drinking so he can really start progressing and Aldo and Karla will get more involved. We invited them to a bunch of activities this week in the church and they are all in the evening when they are a little more free with time. They are always really positive when we teach them, they just can't stop being work-aholics. We really need to get some investigators progressing right now. Seems like the Christmas season should be the best season to find more open and willing people, but here it is just the opposite.
We had our mission Christmas activity/conference today and it was so good. Each zone prepared a hymn (the ones we prepared went splendidly) and the program was really nice. Then we played outside with a few big blow-up obstacle courses and water balloons and dodge ball. And I participated in the watermelon eating contest... and WON! Well it was only me and one other elder because they did a whole bunch, just two at a time. But I won. Yep, turns out that besides being a really good balloon player, I'm I really good watermelon eater. We couldn't use our hands and I had watermelon juice all over my face and up my nose. Salvaje. It was fun. Then we had a big banquet and swapped gifts and Presidente and Hermana Arredondo closed with a few words. It was really wonderful, especially when Presidente and his family sang. They have a singing family too and it was a good moment for me to remember singing with my family at Christmas.
This Christmas we are far from each other once again, but truly I am grateful. I can't imagine myself in any other place, doing any other thing this Christmas. The best gift that we can give the Lord is the very best of ourselves. I am not much. I don't have many talents or much charm. My spanish is far from perfect and my teaching skills are average. But this Christmas season, I am giving my all to the Lord, the very best that I have. And I am going to see what His hands can make of it and watch the miracles unfold. We are here to serve, not ourselves, but all those around us. There are so many looking for love and that is exactly what we have to offer, the pure love of the Savior that never runs out or wears out. I can't think of a more perfect and beautiful gift. And we are armed with it always. Don't forget what you have to give, it's everything.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we have everything to give and nothing to lose.
Your favorite hermana in Nicaragua