Monday, May 24, 2010

Letter #36 - May 24, 2010

Hey friends and fam,

We had our conferencia multizona this week which wiped out a good day and a half because of all the traveling, but it was really good to hear from Pres.Fraatz and have classes from the office elders. I always feel edified and leave with new goals of how I can improve. We didn't get Ronaldo y Rosa Idalia to church again... and neither of the other two families I told you about last week came either. Darn. But Osmin was there and we taught a really awesome lesson on the atonement in the class of investigators/recent converts. And Ivania and her kids came.

We had a baptism lined up with Concepción, a single mom with 5 kids under the age of 12. But since we had the conference in the middle of the week we couldńt go visit her and when the DL's came out to interview her Friday night, she had left to work. I was so frustrated. We had set up the appointment with her and everything. So we came back at 7 am the next morning and she had just left to go work again. We tried to get any information about where she was working from her kids and other people that live there, but only got the general area. So we went out to search for her for a couple of hours, but by about 9 we had our first appointments and the elders had to get back to their area. I had a bit of a breakdown and had a good cry, but then we got to work and the day went a little better. It's hard for Concepción because she is incredibly poor and trying to support five kids, so she is basically washing and ironing clothes for other people to earn money all the time. She comes in way late at night and often leaves at 5 in the morning. We'll keep trying to find her and help her understand how the gospel is going to bless her life even though it will take away some work time.

I am learning more and more what it means to sacrifice. We have been on a new schedule for three weeks now. Waking up at 5am instead of 630am and getting out on the streets to work at 9 instead of 1030. Honestly, I haven't seen a drastic improvement but I have faith the the Lord will bless us. And Presidente Fraatz said that it really has made a big difference in the mission because all the missionaries are doing it.

It has really started to pour super hard everyday. We've been lucky to be near houses where we can jump inside when it starts and haven't gotten drenched yet, but it tests your patience when you're stuck in someone's house for a good hour while the rain passes and you had bunch of people you needed to see. That's what happened on Saturday. We were working in an area called Los Angeles when it started to dump buckets of rain so we knocked on the door of a couple that we had contacted the week before. We hadn't had the chance to go back and visit them yet so we really didn't know them, but they were happy to invite us in out of the rain. Unfortunately when it's the enormous drops of rain are pelting the zinc roofs, no one can hear absolutely anything anyone says... so we tried to sing a hymn and then sort of sat trying to talk and mostly looking and smiling at each other until I started falling asleep. At that point the daughter invited us to come to the back and make tortillas with the mom.

It was pretty funny, because I'm still really bad at palmeando or making tortillas but they gave us all the ones we made to eat, probably because they were ugly. Then the daughter asked if we liked beans... funny question, what else are you going to eat in Nicaragua if you don't like beans? So we said yes and she proceeded to cook us a huge pot of beans and gave us each a heaping plate of steaming hot beans, three more tortillas and a bit of cheese called cuajada. And we had just eaten lunch... wow, I thought I was going to burst and out would spill all the beans from my belly onto the dirt floor. But I was really touched at how open and kind and generous the people are here.

They invite anyone inside to escape the rain and then give them all that they have. They are truly Christ-like examples in that aspect. I hope I can learn to sacrifice the best I have and to serve others like that, not expecting anything in return and not saving the best for me. I hope I am learning to sacrife my own wants and comforts to serve like Christ did and truly help others in every way that I can for the rest of my life. I think that mothers learn to do that really fast.

Congrats to my newest mother-friend, Ms. Erin Sorensen, may you find all the most beautiful joy in sacrifice with your new little boy. Well, my time is up!

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - because sacrifice builds faith.

I love you all more than I can say. Thanks for your letters and words of love and support. They make a world of difference while we're a world away.

LOVE, Hna. Crosland

Hna Juarez and I on the last P-day before she left
All of the zone crammed into a microbus on our way to a Multizona Conference. I couldn't believe how many missionaries we jammed into one tiny space for a three hour bus ride in the Nicaraguan heat.

A rad pig I met.

A few pictures from the Young Single Adult Activity from a few weeks ago.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Letter #35 - May 17, 2010

Hi lovelies,

This week makes three in row without a baptism and we've had pretty sad numbers at church. It's really easy to see and monitor progress by the baptisms and church attendance, and after a week of hard work, it hurts when there is nothing to show for it. We were hoping to baptize Ivania and her kids this week, and one of the APs and our zone leader came out to get them excited and teach/interview them, but we went to her house in the morning and she was busy, but the elders kind of pushed their way in and tried to teach/talk to her anyway and they ended up just making her way mad. So there went our baptisms. Trying to push people around just never works.

But, we taught some bang-a-rang lessons this week to some of the recent converts who are now less active (and inactive) members of the ward that I've been working with for over 3 months. We felt the spirit so strong and they were so pumped up and excited to come to church, committed to come with zeal.... and they didn't show. It just about killed me. I was so sure they would finally come. We also really needed to get family (Ronaldo y Rosa Idalia) to church so they start really progressing and they put up a bunch of excuses Sunday morning. However, we did have 8 investigators at church and two of them were even a family. Teaching families is the best thing ever. It's just sad when you think you've found a really awesome family that is going to progress and then you find out that one of them is married to someone else still... not that many people care or much less have the money to get a divorce in Nicaragua. That's happened to us twice in the last month. So that's the pits, but we are working with 2 families that are actually legally married and a couple more who aren't married but who don't have a divorce standing in the way.

Ronald and Rosa Idalia had the discussions like 5 years ago but they moved to a new area and I think the missionaries lost them. They went to church with them at least once the first time around, but they didn't come this week with us. Hopefully next week we can get them both there. Ronaldo is a lot more positive than his wife but when we can get her to sit down and listen she always softens up.

The other married family was a reference from one of the oldest members in the branch (has the most time to be a member of the church). It's his son and daughter in law. Hno. Cesar is a very interesting ward member. He's about 65 and joined the church almost 20 years ago. His wife and 8 kids are all super catholic and basically disowned him (and divorced him) when he joined the church. But he still lives in the same house as his ex-wife.

The lesson with his son actually went really well though. We talked about eternal families and the restoration of the sealing power and they were really interested and had good questions. They live in a dangerous area for us to work in after dark though and since they work all week, we can only teach them on Sundays. Which means it will be hard to get them to church and progress will be a little slow but I think that they have a lot of potential too.

The family that came to church yesterday are called Julio Cesar and Kenia. He's about 35 and she's 17... but whatever. They've got a cute one year old and they are both mildly interested, but they did come to church. What I like about them is they are frank with us. They don't lie and they don't hide. That always saves us time...

Another who came to church is named Osmin. He is 20 and was a reference from another ward member. I help him learn english and then we preach the gospel. So far it's working out nicely. I think it would be amazing to baptize him and prepare him for a mission... How sweet would it be to have someone you taught on a mission? That's my dream with him anyway.

Wow, I feel like this email is super boring. I'm getting good at soccer again. We play every monday and I'm always the only hermana who likes to play. I made two goals today and had a direct assit in two others. It's fun to play with the latino elders. They're way good. Well, really that's all that happened this week, we taught a lot of sweet lessons and then no one came to church and our baptism fell through... bummer. But the work goes on and we keep praying and working with all we've got to find those whose hearts are prepared to receive greater blessings than they ever thought possible.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even when you can't see the fruits...

Love, Hna. Crosland

P.S. Thanks for sending me stuff. Wow, you guys are on the ball. And I don't think I told you last week, the stuff you sent with the Sheets came through pouch this week. Thanks so much! The talks are amazing. And the singing card just about made my week. Jajaja, you guys are a hoot. I miss your crazy faces.

Here is a pic I sent to our zone leaders last week. This is the zone Matagalpa before the last changes. The sisters from left to right are Hna. Aguilar, Hna. Bustillos, yo, Hna. López, Hna. Zavaleta, Hna. Escobar, Hna. Juarez, Hna. Estrada, y Hna. Pineda. All of my comps are in this photo (except for Hna. Hernandez). Fun huh? Sorry I haven't sent any interesting pics for a long time... I'll try harder next week.

Love me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter #34 - May 10, 2010

Yay! It was so fun to talk to you all yesterday. I'm so glad everyone is happy and healthy in body and spirit. It is really an incredible support to have a family like you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Well, for everyone else who doesn't know... I'm still in Jinotega and I'm not training. My new companion is Hna. Hernandez from Guatemala. She's bold and not afraid to say it how it is, so that's mostly a good thing. :)

It is nice to be back in Jinotega working like a normal missionary after the last week and a half of activity planning. It's amazing the progress we lose in such a short time of not working. Satan works 24/7 and when we are doing other things, he never rests. We've had a less than steller church attendance the last two weeks and I don't know if we are going to baptize this week, but we have a lot of faith and we're going to work dang hard.

It's started to rain more consistantly. It drizzles at least every day and we've had about three really good monsoons in the last week. I think I'll be damp for the next 6 months of my mission. But, everything is looking more green and beautiful and that is nice. This place really is gorgeous when you get out of the city and look past the trash.

So Paige asked about our investigators yesterday and I realized that I need to repent and write more about the people we are teaching. So here is my repentance, and a few words about some of the interesting people we've met and taught:

1) Felix - an old guy who actually lives about 20 minutes away by bus. He raises chickens and pigs and has a beautiful piece of land and charming house in the mountains outside of the city. He has been investigating the church for about three years, knows it's true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet but wont stop drinking coffee... He's very interesting and very frustrating to teach.

2) Ivania and kids - the wife of a recent convert named José Luis. She can't read and doesn't ever want to pray, but she comes to church and to a lot of the activities. We're still waiting for her to give permission to baptize her two kids, Irvin and Leila.

3) Armando y Yamileth - a lovely pair who are not married, but have two little kids. She really likes everything we teach but hasn't been able to come to church yet, in part because of her crazy three year old. He doesn't want to get married but has come to church once. We're gonna keep working on him.

4) Melba y Noel - she has been to church about 3 times and knows it's true. The problem is that she is living with Noel but is still married to the father of her two sons. Divorces are really expensive and take a ton of time... downer.

5) Concepción - single mom who likes the lessons. She can't read but is really humble and accepts the principles.

As the others we are teaching start to progress, I'll fill you in on a few more. We just usually baptize our investigators pretty fast so all the ones with a continual story are the ones with big hold ups. Anyway. There you go. I'll try to better about letting you know how they are all doing.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - especially when you get to talk to your family.

Love, love, love,

Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letter #33 - May 3, 2010

Hey Ma and Pa,

I feel like I'm writing just to you two today for some reason, and it's kind of nice. It's a smaller more intimate crowd. First of all, answers to your questions. My toe is feeling just fine, thank you :). This week was insane with all the planning. The church is new here and the district (stake) leaders are still learning how to do things on such big level. Basically we pulled off an activity that would have taken months of planning in Utah in just a week. And when I say we, I mean the missionaries. I don't really know how we ended up being in charge of mostly everything and actually I don't know if the district intended us to be either, but we spent a big chunk of the afternoon planning on Tuesday after the zone meeting, Tuesday night and Wednesday Hna. Juarez and I worked in our area and then Thursday morning we caught the first bus back to Matagalpa to finish planning and buy all the things we needed and set up for the activity which took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We butt heads with the district a little bit when it came to the budget and we found out that we had been planning things a little bit differently. I don't know how they were thinking to pull this activity off with trying to plan everything the day before.

It was a good thing that we took the initiative and had detailed plans for the activities and the decorations. Friday evening about 150 young single adults arrived and we had a brief spiritual meeting with a hymn, a welcome, a brief message from one of the district counsellors, a testimony, and I organized a last minute missionary choir (yikes). Then everyone went in to the cultural hall which we decorated with a huge net filled with balloons hung from the ceiling and big letters that said CONVENCIÓN JAS 2010 on the wall in back of the stage. We also covered the light on the stage with blue crepe paper and it looked really cool. The noche de talentos went really well but I don't know what happened with housing everyone that night because we weren't in charge of that part and I think a bunch of kids ended up sleeping in the church. The morning activity was a hike which also turned out to be terribly unorganized but the scavenger hunt that we planned for the afternoon was awesome and everyone had a really good time. Hna. Juarez and I left in the afternoon before the fiesta but they told us that it turned out to be really fun. They all had a testimony meeting Sunday morning at 6:00am as well and the Presidente of the district told us that it was really spiritual and he was really pleased. Well, all in all it was a success I guess. Now they will be able to learn from the mistakes to make the next activity like this much better. Phew!

As far as teaching and contacting this week, it was pretty sad. Like I said, we only worked in Jinotega for a day and a half and I am really worried about the area. Our church attendance dropped by about 25 people and we haven't been able to go back and teach a lot of our new investigators. And now I'm back in Matagalpa in a trio with the hermanas working here until the changes this wednesday. Hna. Juarez left for Managua to have her final interview this morning and she leaves for Guatemala tomorrow. I already miss her a ton. She taught me a lot about the kind of missionary I want to be. Always positive, and never doubting. That girl really knew how to get things done. She was not an excuse maker, just a do-er. Yep, I want to do that too. Well, I'm a little bit nervous I might train this change. I don't think I'll be leaving Jinotega since I'm the only one that knows the area right now, but we never know. I'm really excited to get back to a normal schedule though and work in my own area. As fun as party planning is, it really has been the strangest week of my mission.

Congrats to Will on making snare. That is awesome. It will be a fun summer for him on the drumline again. I'm sad I'll miss all the shows... but for his senior year I'll be there! How's good ol' Dr. Fullmer doing? How crazy that Will is going to be driving soon and have his braces off. Everyone is growing up, seriously. So weird. Help Will work hard in his calling. He can do a lot to strengthen his quorum. I never realized the importance of every member and every calling in the church. We are called to build the kingdom everyday in every calling that we have and the Lord uses us, very plain and ordinary people, to accomplish miracles if we are willing to work with an open heart and mind to heed the guidance of the Spirit.

I wish I could see Ali dance! Oh what I would do to have been at her final concert. I hope you recorded it so I can watch it when I get back. What a fun and exciting (and hard) time she is embarking on. I know she'll shine too, mama. She always has. Is Megan still up there at BYU-I? That will be such a great experience for her.

Well, my time is running short. Thanks for your beautiful words full of wisdom and gratitude daddy. I feel just the same. Being here has opened my eyes to so many problems that I never saw before. There is so much work to do. It's a lifetime calling. And it makes me tremendously grateful for my family and all that the Lord has blessed me with. It has also given me such a clear vision of what I want my future to look like. Thank you for being such beautiful examples to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, like nothing is getting through, like I can't possibly make a difference. But I know that I am here for a wise purpose and as I continue to do all in my power and then more with the power of the Lord, He will make up the difference.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - building the kingdom one nation-wide single adult activity at a time.

All my love,
Hna. Crosland