Monday, January 25, 2010

Photos from Week #18 - January 25, 2010

Okay, if I remember right, these pictures are of Napoleon and Belkys (the couple we baptized this week), the ward members seated in the "court yard" of the church waiting for the baptism, a cute girl on a horse that I saw in the street on my way to write this letter, and an old picture from the Guatemala MTC with Pres. Christensen and his wife and my companion, Hna. Fuka. I don't remember if I already sent the one with hna. Fuka or not, but I thought you might like to see her. Love you heaps and bunches.

Letter #18 - January 25, 2010

Hey lovelies,

How are ya’ll? This week really flew by it seemed. Hey I got Paige’s package today! I’m so happy that it arrived and it was so awesome to see the pictures and get the letters. I also got letters/Christmas cards from the Wilsons and the Swifts. How great it was to hear all about the Wilson clan and to receive love from the ward. All my love and thanks to the Wilsons and Swifts.

I’m so jealous about your China trip. I hope you are still saving up money to come and pick me up and see Nicaragua. And tell Will that if he doesn’t get to go to China, he can come see Nicaragua too.

My Spanish is definitely getting better. These last three and a half weeks have been really good for me, not having a senior companion to hide behind. I still struggle for words and make a lot of mistakes, but I understand most everything (when I am concentrating) and am able to communicate while teaching and also while chatting. I definitely have a specified vocabulary but it’s growing…

Thanks for the big email this week. It was fun to hear from the whole gang. I love hearing from my missionary aunts and I am way impressed with Amie and her musical and Heather and all she is doing with missionary work. That is so cool. We don’t see much of the technology the church uses here (the branch doesn’t even have a computer) but it’s amazing to hear about all the ways we are spreading the gospel.

I’m also glad you are having fun in the snow. This week was especially hot and I kind of feel like I’m melting all the time. I miss snow.
This week our new challenge is that the branch president is in the hospital. He has something wrong with his prostate (I don’t know if it is as serious as cancer… ) but that is really going to be a challenge. The counselors are pretty unreliable and don’t really know how to do a lot of things (such as do confirmations, lead the church meetings, give priesthood blessings) because President Antonio really did everything himself. So we are missing him and relying on the elders in the nearest area. Wow, the priesthood is so important and vital in running the church.

My favorite Nica words are:
salvaje = wild, sweet, crazy
tuanis = cool, awesome, great
como no = yes, sure is
de le pues = alright then, okay
asì es = that's how it is, that's right

So I thought it might be fun to give you a few scenes from my life…

Scene 1: I am now the proud owner of a hello kitty wallet in which I keep all my cordobas. It is red and pink and does just what a wallet should do. I had been using that plastic Ziploc bag to keep all my money in, hoping I’d find a really cool artisan wallet hear but necessity called and I bought the first one I could find. Hello Kitty is my constant companion, along with Hna. Pineda and the Holy Ghost, verdad?

Scene2: I have nicknamed Hna. Pineda “The bone cruncher”. You should see this girl eat chicken. She cleans the bones right up, chomping and swallowing cartilage and all. It’s actually pretty disgusting to hear her crunching and look up to see a squeaky clean chicken leg bone…

Scene3: We found a huge scorpion running around in our casa. We chased him around with the broom until he ran under the beds, so we used it to sweep him out and then Hna. Pineda gave him a good pounding with a rubber rain boot that was left in the casa by the last missionaries. Ha, take that scorpion man. It was about the size of the palm of my hand.

Scene 4: I really felt like a pioneer this week. We have an investigator who lives in an area called Sonrisa de Dios (smile of God) where most of the houses are plastic and cardboard and none of them have running water. There are actually a few houses spread out around the area that have been built by the government and have cement floors, a main room and two bedrooms and are actually pretty nice and Maria Cristina lives in one of these houses. But she still has to take her cart to the community water spigot to fill up her buckets and yesterday we found her in the middle of that daily chore. I felt close to my pioneer heritage as I pushed the two-wheeled cart full of buckets of water, up the dusty hill to her house. It was actually pretty fun and then we taught her a great lesson about how we can feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost. She is really progressing, coming to church, paying tithing and I know she has a testimony. She has two cute kids that want to be baptized as well. The problem is, she’s not married to the man she’s living with and he is actually still married to another person. Big problems right? So hopefully there will be a divorce and another wedding in the near future.

Ah! I wish I had more time to write.

We baptized Napoleon and Belkys this week (Napoleon is Maria Cristina’s little brother) and they are doing great. We had a lesson about temples and eternal marriage this week and I got a glimpse of how wonderful their future could be as we were talking about when they could go to the temple and be sealed. Hna. Pineda is from El Salvador and the temple that is being built there will be done by the time that Nap and Bel have one year, so Hna. Pineda might get to go to their sealing. How amazing would it be to be in the temple with people you had taught and baptized? Wow. I feel so urgently that we need to really take good care of Nap and Belkys in the next year to strengthen and support them and continue to teach them. I hope that the next missionaries here will take good care of them and all of the people we’ve baptized. It made me look at the rest of the recent converts here differently. They were baptized before I got here, but they were some missionary’s converts and I know that that missionary is hoping the same thing, that Hna. Pineda and I are taking good care of them to help them become deeply rooted in the gospel. I hope all the members throughout the world and paying special close attention to the recent converts in their ward and helping to point them towards the temple.

I’m out of time, darn it. But I just wanted to let you all know that being a missionary is the best thing in the world – it’s being able to see more clearly the eternal possibilities of people’s lives.

Love you all so much,
Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Photos from Week #17 - January 18, 2010

Editor's note: The Hermana sent us a few emails this week in addition to pictures (how lucky!), so make sure to keep scrolling down and read the post from last week as well as the email from this week.

Doing laundry

Cleaning out the maggots from the mini-fridge. (For more on the maggots, click here to read the Hermana's story).

A view of the Hermana's lovely accommodations. Who's next in line for a shower?

Thanks for your continued love and support of the Hermana.

Letter #17 - January 18, 2010

Queridos Amados,

Thanks so much for your emails this week. What a wealth of wisdom and strength you all are. I am grateful everyday, nearly to the point of tears for what a strong, united family we are, full of love and eternal. I can’t say thank you enough.

Ali, thanks for your story of the lady at Days and your insight. We truly can’t change many of the situations that make up our day, but you are exactly right-we sure can do a lot about how our circumstances affect us. You are wonderful. I loved reading your email last week and hearing about your busy and exciting life. Are you sure I did
n’t respond? I must have done it in my mind. I think a lot about you while I’m walking around in the streets, especially on P-day right after I read your emails. Don’t you love life’s new experiences. I think you’re amazing.

Will, thanks so much for your email. It made me way happy. You seem so much older and mature, really understanding and applying the gospel. That is amazing. I wish we had even one of you in the young men’s program here to strengthen the branch. It would work miracles.

Mama, I did get the birthday package with the flowers and the brownie mix and the dress. It was delicious and the members I shared it wit
h loved it. The flowers have sprouted and are growing at the casa of the lady who cooks for us. I get to check on them twice a day:). And the dress is so pretty, it’s just the buttons all the way down the front are a little problematic… I can still wear it, it’s just not an everyday dress. But I’m doing fine in the clothing department. Except for the fact that the left sole of my Danscos split already! I’m so mad. I can still use them and because of the nice inserts I can’t even tell. It will be a problem in the rainy season though. Good thing I have two pairs of shoes. The SD card you sent was the wrong size… I need a mini SD, but it’s not urgent. Seems like the packages are arriving. The only one I didn’t get was Paige’s (boo :( Maybe it will still come). And I’m thrilled that the package I sent you arrived so quickly. Sorry abou
t will’s shirt. Now that I know how easy it is (and pretty cheap), maybe I’ll send another shirt when I get the chance. And I’ll have to send stuff for Dad and Ali’s birthdays too.

Speaking of birthdays… HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Paige and Leslie tomorrow and to Rachel Ilene last week and to Erin Sorenson about three weeks ago. I think you’re all stars and I hope you have(had) lovely birthdays.

The big events this week were two weddings
and two baptisms! I wish I had more time to write about them but I’ll have to give you the short versions. The weddings were a little crazy. We had talked to the members to get a budget to decorate the church (toilet paper and ballons look lovely when done right…) and to have a small refreshment of sandwiches and soda. And we talked to the Relief Society to do the decorating and food. But the day of a lot of things fell through and I ended up buying the decorations (minus the toilet paper flowers and bows that one of the ladies in the ward made) and helping make the food and carrying everything to the church where we had Alberto (the husband of our cooking lady, Johana) saw off the lock to the outer gate/door because the keys were with another member who was in Managua with all the young women at girls camp. Then Hna. Pineda and I proceded to do the decor
ating ourselves for about a 45 minutes before the RS pres showed up. All in all, after a lot of running around and waiting, we got the two pairs of investigators married. One pair was Napoleon and Belkys, a young couple with a little boy, and the other was Marselino and Lilian, an middle-aged couple with like six grown kids. I think that if we work really hard with them this week, they will all be baptized this Saturday.

The baptisms were two great-granddaughters of a cute little Recent Convert in the ward. We actually had a lot of support from the members at the baptism which was nice and everything went pretty well. We still need to teach the girls (Marvia and Yahoca) a lot more of the gospel but they are coming to church regularly, and like it.

I had a very important conversation with my Father in Heaven yesterday. I was feeling very inadequate and completely overwhelmed with all that was being asked of me. I know how important our work is and I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing all that I needed to, nor that I had the ability or knowledge to do so. But I know that my Father in Heaven does. I poured out my heart to him and pleaded for help, for strength, and for the spirit to guide me. It’s interesting how much I’ve realized that I can’t do this on my own. And the Lord answered my prayer with success last night in finding four new families to teach. We do all that we can and fall short many times. Our efforts might feel tremendous and still seem to yield very little at times. We are very human, and very limited in many ways. But luckily we are members of the only true church on the earth and have received a very important gift called the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We have a Father in Heaven who knows us, who knows what we are trying to accomplish, and who knows the right way to accomplish it. He is always there with his arms wide open, waiting for us to ask for his help and willingly follow his guidance.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world – we are never alone.

I love you all so much. Keep being the wonderful people you are and don’t be content with only working on your own spiritual growth. Find those you can help everyday to draw closer to Christ.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Letter #16 - January 11, 2010

Lovely Familia,

This week had lots of ups and downs. I have a serious love/hate relationship with being “in charge.” It has been really nice to address some needs that I wasn’t able to when working with Hna. Bustillos because we were always on her agenda. During our weekly planning session I flushed out the area book of all the junk that didn’t need to be in there and organized it a lot better. I feel like I know a lot more about what is going on by taking charge and figuring things out on my own this week. I found the forms that we had been neglecting and focused on using them this week to keep better track of people and make better plans. Hna. Pineda and I also made a branch mission plan for the whole year with the branch President. We had a meeting with the hombre who used to be the branch mission leader, and technically still is, and he’s still not sure if his work responsibilities are going to allow for him to have the time to be the branch mission leader, but things are looking positive. All in all, I feel a lot more organized and hopeful that a change for the good is taking place here and that soon we will have enough faithful priesthood leaders to form a ward here.

The most frustrating thing is seeing members not living the commandments and neglecting responsibilities. But we do our best to motivate them. It’s interesting to have so many people to worry and care about. All the members, their personal struggles, their spiritual well-being, our investigators and how they are coming along, if they are really understanding what we are teaching. I didn’t know I would care so much. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive. I’ve never seen so many problems first hand before in my life nor felt the responsibility to help in everyway I can. But I keep my faith in the Lord. He knows and cares about these people infinitely more than I do and as I continue to work as hard as I can, I know he is guiding my efforts.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world – it’s all about love.

To answer a few questions: I got the dress and it fits fine, but the buttons all the way down the front are a bit of a problem so I’ve only worn it once… Maybe when I get to a less windy area I’ll be able to use it more. Also, Hna. Pineda and I are getting along fine and figuring things out with the help of our mission leaders. I hope you got the email where I attached a few pictures. It finally worked this week I think. Love you all eternally.

Hna. Crosland

Monday, January 11, 2010

Photos from Week #16 - January 11, 2010

Editor's note: Here are a few photos of the Hermana. No letter yet, but the pictures are great!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Letter #15 - January 4, 2010


I'm glad to hear you are keeping wonderful traditions alive, that you
are all had a bit of fun and relaxation over christmas break, and that
you missed me. ;)

Quick note: Ali, your a star. I haven't read your email yet because
I'm going to print it out so I'll respond next week. Don't let another
two months go by without writing me!

So my first experience with changes was the 30th of December. The ZL's called at about 10:00pm Tuesday night and told Hna. Bustillos that she had cambios. It was actually kind of hard on her and she cried a bit as she packed everything up. I was just super nervous because the implications for me meant that I would now be the companion who supposedly knew the area and the members and had a plan of action for the people we were teaching. And although I was feeling more oriented, I still relied a ton on Hna. Bustillos to know our way around and to know who we should visit. Because of her personality, she normally took over the planning. (Oh dad, she's from Panama, her mom and younger sister are members, her dad is from the united states and left when she was really little so she doesn't know him, and she only has 3 months left in the mission - now she's training again in Chinandega...) So I was nervous accompaning her to the change conference to find out who my new companion was and hoping she had un monton de experiencia so I wouldn't feel so lost. Turns out, my new companion is Hna. Pineda, a cute little Salvadoreña who was IN THE CCM WITH ME in Guatemala! So technically, I have a month and a half more time on the mission than she does. C R A Z Y. It has been a really stretching and growing experience for me. My Spanish has gotten a lot better just this week because I'm the one that knows the area AND we're both only starting our second change. I have to speak Spanish, there really isn't another option. And before with Hna. Bustillos, I hardly ever contacted and now I'm doing everything, or rather we are doing everything much more equally. It's really hard but I know that the Lord is counting on me and He knows I can do it.

Our biggest challenge is the branch. We handed out the lists of members of each organization to the leaders and we have the list of future elders and we're going to try to find out where each one lives and contact them and reactivate them all in the next week. There are about 100 people on our list, so we're going to divide it up into areas and hit the ground running. There is so much to do, and so much to know. I don't know how a Branch President is supposed to run a branch, or the responsibilities of the Elders Quorum president (speaking of our EQP, he has been working every sunday since he was endowed and sealed to his wife and son about a month ago and hasn't been reading the scriptures or praying, he didn't come to church yesterday and when we went to find him and talk to him yesterday he said he doesn't know for sure that the church is true... we have a lot of work to do), but we are going to start reading the manuals with branch president for a few minutes each day and hopefully remind him of a few responsibilities that he has let slide.

We had the baptisms of Elena y Fernanda Duartes on Saturday, a mother and daughter who's father passed away about 10 months ago. We had to baptize Elena 4 times and Fernandita twice. They were both pretty nervous about the water, haha, but they are pilas (solid) and are going to be a great addition to the branch.

The family we had planned for this week has some problems it turns out. The word of wisdom is a killer and they are still pretty hesitant about getting married. I'm kind of dissapointed because they seemed so positive at first, but we're going to keep working with them.

Anyway, Sorry for this mostly informative and not very spiritual letter. I love you all so much. Good luck with the new semesters and work and all that you do. I am thankful everyday for my amazing family, so strong in the church. Everytime I talk about you, show people your pictures and bear my testimony of eternal families, I cry. It's kind of embarrassing... I love you more than I could ever put into words.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - the Lord truly knows how to stretch us and help us grow in new and amazing ways.

All my love, Hna. Crosland