Monday, January 31, 2011

Letter #72 - January 31, 2011

Another week has come and gone. How does that happen so quickly. I wish I could report that Sunilda and Juan got baptized and confirmed yesterday, but the divorce didn't get finalized until today. But they are all set, excited and ready for next Saturday. What a celestial family. They were all in church yesterday, all five (Kervin and Nidia are their two older children and have been less active for a while, but now they're coming back to church) and we also had Felix and Ruth with their three little screaming kids. But they looked so nice and dressed up.

I was kind of sad on Saturday when I found out that we weren't going to have the baptism that day and it really hit me that I only have 6 more Saturdays... yikes. Only six more opportunities to see these people I love enter the waters of baptism and make covenants with the Lord. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt almost a panic in my chest and a sense of urgency that I hadn't felt quite that strongly before. I don't feel like I have wasted time on my mission, but I felt a renewed energy to use every second wisely and work even harder to bring these people to Christ. I don't know what will happen with changes. I don't think I will be leaving Corinto, and if I do, I will be really sad, but I know that the Lord will put me where He needs me most and where I will learn and grow the most.

A couple of days ago I tried a raw clam. It was super salty and super fishy and all around super nasty. We were helping the bishop and his family make ceviche - or seafood cocktail - with raw fish, clams, and shrimp. They say that the lime juice cooks it. Okay, that's fine. I actually tried the finished product as well and really liked it, but the raw squiggly little guy that I just popped into my mouth right out of his shell... I won't be doing that again. My job was taking the clams, after the bishop had opened the shell, and scraping them out into a big bowl. There were a whole lot of clams. Anyway, it was a fun experience. I eat a lot of fish here, and clams and shrimp every once and a while too. And last night, Hna. Cunningham gave us each a little loaf of coconut bread. ¡Que RICO! I don't know if she will give me that secret recipe but it was delicious. You must think I'm hungry from how much I've been talking about food...

So here in Corinto the people are really interesting. I don't know any other place in the world where the men (straight men) pluck their eyebrows and the women don't even shave their legs. Very strange, very strange. But I am enjoying the culture and getting to know these beautiful people. They are all children of God, my own brothers and sisters and as I look at them, I think of Paige, Alison and William. There isn't much I wouldn't do to help my sisters and my little brother. As I contact new people on the street, I try to imagine that I am contacting you guys, and giving you the gopel that has blessed our lives so inexplicably. We all lived together once and fought side by side for our chance to come to earth. Now we are here together and we walk by each other as strangers. Why can't we remember? We must remember. With all their oddities, weaknesses, and errors these people belong to me and I must take care of them, we fought together once and now it's my turn to fight for them.

Thanks for your support and prayers in my behalf and in behalf of those I'm fighting for. Thank you for your good lives and your good examples. You are a strength to me. I can't wait to hear about and see pictures of the new little person in our lives that should be arriving shortly. Ada Lou, I love you.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - fighting for our brothers and sisters.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter #71 - January 25, 2011

Just to let you know, I'm going to write the real letter tomorrow because we got back so late again and we don't have time right now. Just didn't want you to worry, but you're probably getting used to this bad habit of writing a day late. Okay so here are just a couple pictures of Sunilda y Juan and another family that we're teaching named Felix y Ruth.
Felix y Ruth
Sunilda y Juan. Sunilda and Juans son in the back is named Kervin and the daughter is Daniela. She is going to get baptized this week too if all works out right
We played soccer today and went to Presidents house to celebrate the great success of the choir. He also took us to a great mexican food restaurant. It was another P-day of traveling to and from Managua, but always great to be with Presidente and the missionaries. And oh how I love mexican food.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the conference which was amazing. Pray for Sunilda y Juan to get baptized this weekend. Okay loves. Until tomorrow.


Sorry for the teaser email, but I didn't want to let you down by not sending one on Monday. We got back late and the plan was to still write but when we got to the cyber they were closing and only gave us half an hour to write, so now we'll see what I can pump out in the other half hour. Really the best thing this week was the conference.

The missionaries in the choir had to go to Managua on Thursday to practice one more time Thursday night and then be there early Friday morning. Which meant that we left Corinto at about 2:00pm and after the practice we stayed with the hermanas in Ciudad Jardin! It was fun to be there in my old house with Hna. Cano and Hna. Rippstein (her new comp) and also Hna. Willford, Hna. Avila, and Hna. López. We had a great slumber party and I got a nice surprise when the Medina Family showed up at the door to say hi! It was so lovely to see them. I don't know how they found out that I was staying there. Actually, I had wanted to go out and visit a bunch of people but we got back too late from the practice, so I was feeling a little sad.

I don't know if I told you that Aldo y Karla got baptized a week and a half ago! I am so happy for them. And Norlan and Maryuri are getting baptized this Saturday. Hopefully Sunilda y Juan también, so basically, even though I couldn't/can't be there in Ciudad Jardin to see those two families get baptized, my heart is full to overflowing that they are entering the waters of baptism and making those covenants with the Lord that will bless their lives forever.

Friday morning we were all excited, waiting for the apostle to come and Pres. Arredonde had asked us all to prepare questions for him. Before he arrived, we were all seated and pondering, listening to the prelude music and when Elder Christofferson walked in we all stood and sang We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet. It was such a powerful feeling and the spirit was strong as we walked up one by one to shake his hand and look into his eyes.

Elder Falabella, Elder Duarte, and Hna. Christofferson also spoke briefly. Some things I liked from their remarks were the emphasis on the habits we are making in the mission and continuing to do these things after we get home, that these things are for all our lives, not just good ideas for missionaries. Elder Falabella said that a habit forgotten was never a habit, it was an obligation. Hna. Christofferson made a really good remark about being ready to receive all that the Lord wants to give us. We only receive according to what we are ready to receive. The question is, how much do we want? She talked about our study time in the morning and how important it is to be immursed in the scriptures. How much are we spiritually prepared to receive? And that the "word of God" is not limited to written scriptures, it also means personal revelation. We receive the word of God when we receive revelation personal.

Elder Christofferson was magnificent. He spoke humble and simply but testified so powerfully. He let us ask questions for the majority of the time and it was incredible to watch him listen and ponder after a
question was made, waiting for the spirit to reveal the answer. Someone asked (actually it was Elder Goodman, jaja) how we can know if we have really been converted on the mission. I thought it was a very good question and the answer was so beautiful. He talked about having the spirit in your life and
being able to recognize it as a good sign of conversion, but then he started talking about the Savior and doing the will of the Father. He said that when a person has removed every motive from his life except that of doing the will of our Father in Heaven, they have achieved true conversion. He went on to say that if Christ's one true motive was not doing the will of the Father, He would not have been able to complete the atonement.

He said that when we return home, we will be able to note the difference in our conversion, but we will not have yet arrived. It is a life-time process. He said that to keep our families of converts in the mission and our families at home strong, we should help them to understand the gift of the Holy Ghost and it's role in our lives. He said that they have to keep doing the things that they did to plant the seed in their hearts in the first place. The process described in Alma 32 has to continue after baptism and throughout our lives.

He bore testimony that the Lord is personally guiding this church and that He is an active leader, there each day guiding in very specific ways. The Lord takes care of this church because it is the most important organization on the earth. He bore powerful testimony of the Savior and of our magnificent callings as missionaries, preaching with His power and authority and in His name. He also left us with an apostolic blessing to receive the gift of faith in a greater profundity, that we will feel more deeply His love and that as we preach in His name, we will feel it. He also blessed us to achieve celestial marriages and eternal families and to be faithful servants of the Lord throughout the rest of our lives, and that His angels will guide us and keep us on the path to eternal life. Those were just the blessings that my heart was longing to hear.

He finished all too soon, and as we sang the closing song I was left wishing he would speak again. Unfortunately I didn't get my wish but he did allow us to take pictures with him zone by zone. It was great.

The other best thing was the FHE that we had with Sunilda y Juan last night. After leaving the cyber we ran to their house because we were about 15 minutes late and we found them with their scriptures and hymn book out, just about to start. Wow. Sunilda had planned down to the hymns and the refreshment. I have never been in an FHE so well planned and so spiritually rich. I was left with my jaw dropped. She had picked a lesson from the book Principles of the Gospel about the life of our Savior, Jesus Chist and had all the scriptures marked with little papers. The comments of the family, explaining the scriptures was so amazing. We said very little, just adding a comment here and there. Basically they taught us lesson three, the gospel of Jesus Christ right down to enduring to the end and the importance of baptism. Um... I think... they're ready. I just am praying that the divorce will finalize so that they can get married!!!

Anyway, my time is up but I just love you all to pieces. I love my mission. I can't believe all the amazing experiences I am having and the ways that these people are changing my life. I don't know what I would have done without this experience. I don't even want to think about it.. hahaha.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - period.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Letter #70 - January 18, 2011

Hey! Glad to hear you got the all the stuff. I really don't have any time this week. It's been hard having to travel to Managua on Mondays to practice for the musical number we're doing for Elder Christofferson this week, but the conference is on Friday so hopefully next Monday we will actually have a normal P-day.

Just to tell you a couple of highlights... We had an awesome activity for the recient converts on the beach and it was a great success. We played games (water balloon volleyball and others) and had a testimony meeting around a bonfire. It was wonderful to hear the testimonies of the recient converts, some of which were sharing their testimonies for the first time in their lives. It was a great spiritual and faith building experience for them. Then on Saturday, the elders from Chinandega came to Corinto with their investigators and we had a baptismal service on the beach. I was sad that we didn't have anyone ready to be baptized, but hopefully we will on the 29th, when we do the activity again. It was really beautiful though.

Okay, now to answer your questions. The ward is doing pretty good. We've made some good progress and now we just need to really follow up well so that they keep up the energy and develope good habits. They had a leadership training meeting with the stake this week but I still want to organize an activity for leaders and really get them going strong. Maybe next Friday.

Sunilda is still awesome, but Juan broke my heart this weekend because he got drunk on Saturday and didn't come to church. But we had a great Family Home Evening with them at the bishops house yesterday and they are still progressing. We contacted a bunch of new families on Saturday but we haven't had appointments with them yet. As soon as I'm done writing we're going to see a family named Justo and María. They seemed really positive so I hope they're there.

We go into Chinandega on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and sometimes on Monday to do stuff as a zone for P-day. We just take a little micro-bus and get there in about 20 minutes. Here in Corinto we get around on our feet. It's pretty small. It actually reminds me a lot of Nagarote. We also go in Bixi (tricycles) sometimes when we're short on time. I'll take a picture of one if I remember. In Corinto we're four missionaries. All sisters. But in Chinandega there are like ten and in Chichigalpa there are about 6. I am pretty sure there are 20 in our zone. Chichigalpa is another town on the other side of Chinandega.

As far as health goes, I'm feeling really good. Just sad about my once lovely hair that now is pretty sad. It is still falling out but not quite as much as before. But my little pony-tail just makes me cry. I think I'm going to cut it short when I get home. Oh well. Hopefully it will grow back right?

Well, sorry for an informative but not very spiritual email. I love you all endlessly and can't wait to see your faces so soon.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - building up zion, one drunk at a time.

Hna. Crosland

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Letter #69 - January 10, 2011

Dear Family,

Thanks for the emails this week. I'm grateful to have such an amazing family. Happy Birthday to Grandma Donna!!! I'm glad you all got to get together and celebrate and enjoy each other's company. I'm looking forward to more days like that in a few months. I think that Paige needs to follow the tradition and name the baby Ada Louise. It seems like a pretty great pattern to me.

This week I have more to tell you about than I have time. Sad story.. The highlights are that after a lot of hard work and patience, we achieved a bishopric meeting and consequently a great ward council meeting. The organizations haven't been really functioning for a little while now and it's time to get the ward up and running again. It's a little bit amazing to me to think of how the church runs like an oiled machine in my home ward and how I have taken that for granted all my life. Here, it is a battle to get the members to have their meetings, and basically take care of each other and work in unity. I've been working a lot with the leaders and I have high hopes that we can make some lasting changes. Really it starts with a vision. Each leader needs to have a vision of what they want their ward or organization to look like, then they can set the right goals and make the necessary plans to accomplish those goals. And on top of it all, they need to have a personal commitment to their plan and the diligence (and patience) to follow up and keep going when the run up against problems, because the problems are many.

We are teaching a wonderful family, the family Roque (Sunilda and Juan) and they are progressing really well. They came to the activity we had on Sunday where we showed the film The Testaments and Juan was crying at the end. He said what a powerful film it was and how it had really touched his heart. I'm just hoping his divorce can go through quickly so that they can be baptized this month. We found a couple of new families this week and I'm excited to go to the appointments and get to know them and help them start progressing.

I'm just in awe of how truly white the field is. There is only one road to Corinto from the closest city of Chinandega and it's a beautiful and inspiring drive. Along both sides of the road, there are sugar cane fields and right now, the grass is high with the white heads of grain blowing in the wind. When the sun streams through in the early morning on the way to district meetings or in the evening as the sun is setting, it nearly brings tears to my eyes to have such a beautiful physical representation of the marvellous work of the Lord. And those who serve in this great work are laying up salvation to their own souls. The Lord brought me here to give me the chance to save my own soul, an amazing opportunity to save my own life and to change in ways that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. I can't express my gratitude for that gift and for the infinite and eternal gift of the atonement that makes salvation possible.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - la sembra es nuestra, pero la cosecha es de Él.


Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letter #68 - January 3, 2011

Dear Fam,

This week was pretty hectic with new years and all the drinking and the fireworks and the burning of "el viejo" that accompanies it. We are teaching a young couple, the family Beteta, named Carlos and Christian (yes, Christian is a girl). We are trying to help Carlos stop drinking and get them married so they can be baptized at the end of this month. Unfortunately the festivities haven't been helping and we couldn't get them to church this week. But we did have an investigator named Enrique who came up to us after the class and told us that he wants to keep studying with us and if he recieves an answer, we can expect him every week in church. We put a baptismal date with him on the spot.

We are also teaching the family Roque, named Sunilda and Juan José. Juan José also has a drinking problem and we have had a couple of funny lessons with him. He kept saying "WOW, que fascinante!" to everything we were teaching. He also likes to talk a lot about the war. He said he signed up because he didn't want to live anymore but although he made it through all the fighting, I think it left him pretty emotionally scarred. However, Sunilda is awesome and has been to church both last week and this week and even came to be a part of the choir (we're starting a ward choir). We left her a pamphlet of lesson one and when we went back to teach her and asked her what she understood from what she had read, she taught the whole lesson to us, right down to the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood. They have both recieved the lessons before but it has been quite a few years. Their oldest son, Kervin who's about 22, is a less-active member. They also need to get married but the hold up is that Juan José has to get divorced first. That is probably going to be a bit expensive... thanks for the Christmas money! :)

Well there is a funny tradition here that they do for new years. It's the burning of the oldy, kind of an out with the old, in with the new idea. They all make these viejos that remind me a ton of halloween, with the jeans and the shirt stuffed with newspaper, old shoes, old gloves for hands, some with hats, some with wigs, many with empty bottles of alcohol and all ready to be sacrificed. The idea is to burn the old year and leave behind all the problems and bad things that happened. Unfortunately we couldn't see the smorgaspor because we were fast asleep in our beds (despite the barage of fireworks), but we did take some pictures of our favorite viejos for your viewing pleasure.

kissing a smoking viejo

teaching a drunk viejo

A point of sadness. Our beach running got nixed. And with it, all my motivation to exercise.

So we are forming another choir because this month Elder Christofferson is coming. Today we got up really early and went to Managua to practice. I also got my hands on a flute (miracle) that belongs to some really awesome members here close in Chinandega. It was fun practicing with the other missionary singers and to see some of my good friends here in the mission and especially seeing Hna. Cano and learning about how everyone is doing in Ciudad Jardin. This Sunday they had 7 investigators in Church including Aldo y Karla and Maryuri y Norlan! They all have baptismal dates for this month and are doing really well. I was so excited to hear it. Also Oscar, who we had been working with forever and ever finally comitted himself to a set date, Jan 22. And last week they baptized an investigator named Juan who we found just before I left. I'm glad that things are progressing there. Corinto has such a different feel from Managua. I love this little town. It's a lot prettier and a lot safer. There's not a bunch of trash and traffic. It's just all around a much more laid back place and it's a nice break. Not from the work, just from the city life. I never was much of a city girl.

Hey, this week an Elder who finished his mission in August, came back to visit with his parents and I got to talking to them on Sunday. Turns out that Elder Burrows dad (I didn't catch his first name) knows mom. Hahaha.. everyone knows mom! No, but I gues you went to high school together. Anyway, he took a picture of us and is going to put it up on facebook. They were also kind enough to loan me an empty suitcase of theirs, because they brought down a few extra suitcases with clothes and things to give away, and I loaded it up with things I wanted to send home, that I won't be using in the next few months. So that will lighten my load a lot. I also sent Dad's machete with it. I hope it gets through the airport security. Let me know when you get the stuff and also when you get the Christmas cards and package I sent.

Well this is getting long, but I just have to tell you that being a missionary is the best thing in the world - I've never been so happy.

I love you all so much and hope everyone had an enchanting time welcoming in the new year. As we set our goals and make our new years resolutions, I hope we can always remember that every day is a day of changes. It's not just once a year that we should evaluate our lives and make the necessary changes to become more like our Savior. Let's all be more like Him everyday.


Hna. Crosland

us with Hna. Cunningham, originally from the atlantic coast

new years dinner (nacatamales) with the bishop and his family

Hna. Winter, Hna. Contreras, yours truly

the kitchen

our bedroom

our patio in the new house, including our coconut tree