I feel like we just talked... oh wait, we did! How great it was to talk to all of you and feel like I was a part of you for a little while on Christmas. I started remember Christmas things and what it might be like to be there relaxing with family. But it acutally didn't make me homesick. It seems like a completely different universe, or like the pleasant dream of a far off place in a fairy tale that I someday hope to visit. I'm glad that you are all doing well and enjoying each other's company. It is so lovely to know that I have a family that loves to be together.
So to fill in those that I didn't talk to on Saturday, I had changes this week and I am now re-opening an area and training. We are in the port town of Corinto in the northwest of Nicarauga (if you wanted to find it on google earth). Corinto is a pretty clean town compared to Manauga and it's quaint, with few cars and a lot of tricyclos (three-wheeled bicycle taxis). They eat a lot of fish and clams and everything from the sea, and it just has that easy going, care-free feel of costal people. Our house is really close to the church and the beach is only two blocks away. It's fun to see the ocean even though we can't take a dip. And I found out that Corinto is actually where all the cruise ships come, so Grandma Donna will have to double check her cruise stops and what days she'll be in Nicaragua. It is actually hotter here than in Managua. I didn't think there was a hotter place on earth than Managua, but I was wrong. Well they threw me into the fire to finish my mission and I'm going to "echar fuego" (throw fire) here in Corinto and go out with a bang.
It has been fun trying to get to know a new place and contacting a lot of new people while trying to find ourselves. I've been carrying my guitar around and we had some fun starting our contacts with a christmas hymn. One time, we saw an old couple sitting in front of there house so we went over to talk to them. There was a fiesta just finishing up next door and it was
a little loud, but we started asking them how they were doing anyway. The abuelitos said that things were regular, not good, but not bad either and I told them that we brought them a song to lift their spirits. As we started to sing, the mańs face lit up, and the woman lifted her head and started to smile. Soon the people leaving the fiesta were shushing each other and
turning to listen too. We had a good crowd all quiet and listening to us and were able to contact and teach them a little, setting up appointments to come back later on in the week. The power of music to lift hearts is truly amazing and the way it facilitates so freely the spirit opens doors that otherwise wouldn't be available.
Hna. Winter has a really pretty voice and actually holds her own part pretty well so we've been able to have some fun harmonizing. She's the first companion I've been able to do that with. Hna. Winter is from Guatemala even though her name comes from Germany (great grandpa) and she is white with black hair. I'll have to send some pictures next week because I forgot my camera today. She is excited to work and to learn and she really wants to be a great missionary and follow the rules. She is a little on the moon sometimes, the scatter-brained type and almost too sweet, but we're going to have fun and I know she is going to be an amazing missionary. We are also living with Hna. Contreras from El Salvador and she is working with one of the members right now, María José, because we have an odd number of sisters. They are both great and it's nice to have them to help us and show us around the area. We actually have two seperate areas, both in the same ward. The ward seems pretty strong, with an average attendance of about 115, but the leaders seems a little tired, a little disanimated. But we're going to put in the batteries and get everyone charged up for the new year.
Mom, thanks for your sweet testimony. It brought tears to my eyes. I rarely cry now when I'm teaching or bearing my testimony. I remember this time last year when I really couldn't even open my mouth without tears, I was so tender. But it's not that I don't have tender feelings about the gospel anymore, really they are deeper and more profound. And they are accompanied with experience. I know that Christ lives. He suffered beyond human comprehension and took upon himself all the wickedness and confusion and darkness and pain that the human heart can experience. Then he rose from that abismal and triumphed over death and sin, freeing us all from their bondage if we will but humble ourselves before Him and seek His will. I know that in our darkest and most difficult hours, we are very close to the Savior and that as we reach out and up to take His hand, He will guide us into the light again. That is the plan, it is the good news. Christ restored his complete gospel with all that we need to achieve our exhaultation through the Prophet Joseph Smith. His is an extraordinary story of faith and perserverance, never wavering even until the end of his extraordinary life. Because of the diligence of that faithful man, the blessings of the priesthood are again available on the earth and the ordinances of the temple have been restored. We have a living prophet today who counsels with the Lord to guide His work on the earth. If we heed his words, we will never go astray.
Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - being a special witness of Christ during Christmas was never sweeter.
P.S. I sent a package home and a few Christmas cards this week. Sorry so late. The package has a few articles of clothing, shirt for Will (light blue button-up) and shirt for Ali (awesome baseball jersey) and a nighty for Mom. I got Dad a machete but they wouldn't let me mail it. So he'll just have to wait a little while, along with Mike and Paige. Sorry. But I hope the Christmas cards get to you this week, even though they missed Christmas. LOVE YOU!