Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Letter #41, June 28, 2010

Dear Mom and Dad (and everyone else),

I'm so hot. And sweaty. And itchy because I'm sweaty. And because there are gazillions of mosquitos in Managua it turns out. But I'm happy and getting to know the area and the members here. The send off of Pres. Fraatz was really nice. All the choir numbers turned out better than we had practiced, the talks were good, my duet went well, and I think the Fraatz family really enjoyed the day. After the spiritual part wehad lunch together and the APs hired a Gigantona (a costume of huge lady that someone puts on and dances) and the accompaning folk band. It was pretty funny and we got a lot of pictures, but unfortunately I didn't have my camera. I told some of the Hnas to send me some but that probably wont happen. So maybe in a year they'll show up on facebook. We still haven't met the new president. He arrive in Nicaragua yesterday and is with Pres. Fraatz for three days for some training. I imagine we'll meet him soon, but they really never tell us until the last minute when we have conferences or things. Luckily I'm actually in Managua now so it's not so hard to travel last minute. I suspect that the mission will change quite a bit with the new leadership, so I'll keep you updated. Hey Hna. Medina told me that 60 people from the stake were sent to Guatemala to be trained as temple workers... hmmmm! They haven't announced anything, not even the terrain of where the temple might be but I think it is coming!!

Sounds like you are busy with house stuff and vacations. Aren't summers wonderful like that? What day do the Adlers arrive? And are all four of them coming? How fun, I'm sad I'll miss them. Maybe we'll just have to take a visit to Germany and stay with them when I get back. Thanks for all your talks last week. They were lovely and I even translated a part of Dad's talk because I think it is really poignant what you said about what makes a ward great. I think the ward here could benefit from your talk daddy.

So Axel was baptized on Saturday. He's the son of a member in the ward, but her husband isn't a member and when Axel was 8, he didn't let him get baptized. But we visited and taught him a lot this past week and the week before and even had a Family night with the Dad and he gave his permission for Axel to get baptized. It was probably the smoothest baptism I've had so far. Being in sort of the center of the church here in Nicaragua does have it's benefits as far as how things run for the most part. Axel is 15 and loves to play soccer. Sofia and Erlin are a family we found last week. The first time we taught them, both were there but after that we've only been able to teach Sofia and they haven't come to church yet. But Sofia is really receptive and I really hope they come to church and start really progressing. Dennis is the son-in-law of another member, although he and the daughter aren't together anymore. It's a little hard for him to understand all that we teach him but he's a good guy and he has a baptismal date for the 10th of July. I hope the testimony really arrives in his heart and that he can understand the importance of the gospel.

Well, I was reading Jesus the Christ this week (I started reading it for the second time but this time a little slower with my Bible side by side, looking up the references), and I really found one of the notes at the end of chapter 9 to be intrigueing. It talkes about all the missing scripture that is mentioned in the bible but not contained therein. And in conjunction with 2 Ne 29 where it talkes about how all the nations of the earth will write the revelations from God and one day we will have the words of all. It was really cool. Ah! I totally ran out of time today... Love you all and being a missionary is the best thing in the world - because of all the study time!


Hna. Crosland

Happy nine months to me!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Letter #40 - June 22, 2010

Dear Fam (and everyone who reads these... ),

Well the changes were a little less exciting this time because I already knew where I would be going. Ciudad Jardin (Garden City – although inappropriately named, haha) is an area in Managua. I am working with Hna.Tunche from Guatemala and we are actually not really opening an area, just splitting an existing area in two. So there are also two Elders that are working in our WARD, yes I said ward. We are in a real ward in a fully funccioning stake and it really does make a huge difference. Hna. Tunche is tiny and cute. Kind of quiet but super nice and I immediately liked her. The apartment is one small room with just enough space for our beds and a desk (although we don't have a desk yet, which makes studying a challenge... my bed now doubles as a desk and luckily, so far I've been managing just fine not falling asleep while studying.) There is a bite-sized closet which really only fits half the clothes of one person so I'm living out of my suitcase which is tucked under the bed. And we have a tiny bathroom which is only a mite bigger than the one I had in Jinotega. But the house is clean and comfortable and we have two fans the we run all night long to keep us cool. Hna. Tunche made a little sign that said ¡Bienvenida Hermana! And put it above my bed so I felt very welcome when we first arrived!

We eat all three meals at the house of one of the pioneer families of the church here in Nicaragua. Familia Medina consists of Maritza (mom), Jimmy (dad), Jimmy (son), Jennifer daughter), and the other daughter who is serving her mission in Uraguay (I forgot her name...) But all of them have served missions and Jimmy(dad)'s father was the first branch president and then later the first bishop of the members here. They are really great and open and warm and take good care of us. Jimmy-dad is the ward mission leader and the whole family is extremely invovled and supportive of the missionary work here. This area has it's own unique challenges and problems as well, but so far I really like it here. It's way hot and I feel like I'm going to get run over by cars all the time, but most everyone has a bit more money here and the houses are nicer. However, that also means that the people are less receptive and you can even tell within the members that they resent the poorer members. The ward feels a little less unified than the branches I've been in where everyone is on the same level. It's interensting what having money does.

It's really nice to be close to everything though and instead of costing about 5 dollars and 3 plus hours to get to the mission conferences, it only takes about 13 cents and 20 minutes. How lovely. Tomorrow we have our send off conference, the last one we will ever have with Pres. Fraatz. I am singing in the choir and doing a duet with Hna. Lee. We're going to sing FOR GOOD from Wicked. It reminds me of when we sang it with our little cuartet with Deb and Jenn Weiss and I think Erin was singing with us at that time too. Good music, good times.

So I got the package with the books of mormon and other necesidades. Thank you thank you thank you! I loved the pictures of China and the planned add on looks awesome. You have my approval! Haha. And I think you are going to have to take me back to China. How gorgeous that country is. Also, I'm a little embarrassed that you spent so much on that scripture marking pencil, even though I love it. That was like 550 córdobas, which is a stinking lot of money. But thank you thank you. You do so much for me.

We have some good investigators that I want you to pray for. I'll write more about them next week when I have a bit more time but for now, just pray for Dennis, Axel, and Sofia y Erlin.

And I also wish I had more time to give my DADDY a proper Happy Father's Day tribute. I just can't find words for how grateful I am for my Dad. I have taken the priesthood power and having a worthy patriarch in my home for granted all my life. It just doesn't seem fair that I have been so blessed to have my Dad, my earthly example of my Heavenly Father who leads and
guides us humbly and righteously. Daddy, I love you. I don't know what I would do without you.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even when your daddy is a world away.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Letter #39 - June 15, 2010

Happy NINE months to me this week! How weird to be about half way done. On one hand, I can't believe that I've been here that long and on the other, nine more months still seems like an eternity.

This week we baptized Idaida, the wife of Omar who was baptized last week. It felt so good to see them together after her confirmation, a new couple in the church. They both came to the District Conference on Sunday with their little daughter.

The conference was so good and Elder Duartes of the second quorum of the 70 spoke. He told us about the three siempres and the two nuncas that he and his wife promised each other when they first got married. The siempres are 1) always have family prayer, script

ures, and FHE. That is kind of three in one but we went with it. The second 2) always pay a full tithe and 3) always serve in the church. He talked about how every calling in the church is important and that is the beauty of serving in the church. The bishops of the wards next calling could be a primary teacher. It's not like a ladder in the church. He also spoke of the blessings of paying tithing in his and his families lives. The two nuncas were 1) never go to bed without resolving differences with your spouse and 2) never yell or abuse your spouse in any way. That is surprisingly a problem here. The way the culture does discipline is by yelling and hitting. These were all really basic things but it was interresting that as he was speaking I kept thinking, Yes! He is giving them the secrets to life, the keys of happiness. The whole conference was really good and fortifying for the members and the recient converts and I was glad that we had about 125 people there from Jinotega.

So other news is that because of a mistake on the APs part, I already know about the changes this wednesday... I will be leaving Jinotega and my new area is Ciudad Jardin in Managua. I'm excited and a little aprehensive because the elders told me that it's a new area we will be opening up. That means that things will be hard at the beginning but exciting. I still have no idea who my companion is or anything, but it will surely be another huge learning experience like everything is on a mission. Well, I am sadly out of time and I didn't even write anything very funny or interesting this week. Sorry for the boring email guys. I love you all a whole bunch though.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - bringing families to the truth.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Letter #38 - June 7, 2010

Hello loved ones,
Thanks for the great emails this week. And a special thanks to Willy-face. It was good to hear from you. :) So I think I've reached my maximum ugliocity here on the mission. Chubby, sweaty, bug-bitten, and sun-burned with damaged hair. Good thing there is no one to impress... although it does make sending photos a little embarrassing. So don't judge. Haha, I'm taking care of more important things than how pretty I look these days.
Me in my rain boots, which I've used three times.
(Editor's note: "maximum ugliocity? try cutesiosity)
Happy happy birthday ALI DEAR! Sorry I didn't mention it in the last email so the shout out is a day late. But I'm happy to hear that the package got there safe and in time. Did the jicaro cup break or did it get there in one piece? And you can just stash my journal and agendas somewhere where I'll be able to find them in 10 months. Of course you can use whatever part of whichever letter you want to use. If they can be of use to uplift another, please use them.

We had another "preparation day" where we just wore ourselves out and didn't prepare a thing. Haha. It was another "Super P-day" where the whole mission got together and went to the Masaya Volcano. I actually had already seen it (in December with Hna. Bustillos) but this time we didn't get to go into the cave. But it was really fun to be together will all the missionaries and see friends. We were all together last monday as well, looking at pictures of all the weddings from the activity on May 28, playing soccer, and eating pizza. I think Pres. Fraatz is just super happy to be finishing a successful mission and wants to celebrate a bit. But travelling was definitely less than comfortable. We had to leave Jinotega on the 4am bus to Managua to meet with the rest of the zone and get to Masaya in time. And to my utter dejection, the bus was standing room only when it pulled up so we were sardined in there and rode on our feet for three hours this morning. Needless to say, I'm little tired in body and mind.
The Masaya Volcano
A bug that Elder Speer found and decided needed to be in my picture. Thanks Elder Speer. :)
The Hermanas at the volcano
(Our favorite Hermana)
This week Omar Castillo was baptized. His wife Idaida felt unprepared and wanted to see a baptism first and there was nothing I could say to reassure her and convince her to get baptized this week with her husband. So we're going to work with her a lot this week and she'll get baptized this coming Saturday. Omar's baptism went really smoothly as far as baptisms in Nicaragua go. We had to make a few last minute calls to get enough priesthood holders there to be witnesses and there was a bit of a clothing crisis, but nothing we couldn't handle. The biggest lessons I'm learning this week have to do with patience and my companion, but I'm not going to say more on that subject. Just that I really am learning no to let outside circumstances affect my attitude. I've been happy despite a lot of interesting stuff this week.
Omar's baptism
Hna. Hernandez and I on a street in Jinotega next to a little fruit market
I'm excited for Dad to get all plugged in and started with his new ward. When is the first Sunday? Soon right? I'll think of good ward prayer ideas and hopefully have time to write more next week. Also, I think the mission is already essentially split and unless something drastic happens, I'll be staying in mission north. Our new president is named Pres. Arredondo from Guatemala. We'll meet him soon I think. The change conference is the 16th, and we have a sending-off surprize conference for Pres. Fraatz on the 22 and Elder Sanders (AP) asked me to sing a duet with Hna. Lee. We're going to sing For Good from Wicked and I think it will be really nice. So things will be changing, I don't know how much, but we'll find out. Elder Gomez, one of our zone leaders who is actually from Nicaragua, but has lived in the US a lot too and speaks perfect English, in fact we call him a fake Latino, pointed out the supposed plot for the temple as we were driving through Managua today but I don't know if he actually knows. They haven't said anything more than they are looking for terreno, so nothing new to report there.

Well there is actually not a whole lot to tell this week. I love you all mucho mucho mucho.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - even if you're an ugly one. :)

Love, Hna. Crosland

Me and Becky, the cutest thing in Jinotega

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Letter #37 - June 2, 2010

Sorry for the really late email. And thanks for the funny picture, I am feeling much better. Just a little bug. To be honest, I've only had diarrhea once on my mission... it's just lasted for 8 months now. Haha.

So we had some exciting news this week. President Fraatz let us know that in the month of May, as a mission we baptized and confirmed 621 people in Nicaragua and that number included 105 families. That is seriously incredible. We have a huge focus on families as a mission because that is the best way to build the church and retain converts. It is harder to baptize a mom and a dad than a single person and much harder than baptizing kids, which has been done in a lot of missions in central and south america in the past. But it is super hard to retain kids without their parents and children are not filling the leadership positions necesarry to build up the church in these countries. And a family with father and mother can support each other and are more likely to stay strong in the church. So that is our huge focus and baptizing 105 families in one month is almost unheard of. But the news was bitter sweet for me because for the first time since I got to Nicaragua, I went the entire month without a baptism. But, we did have a miracle at the end of last week and we have a family to baptize on Saturday. So here's the miracle marriage story:

President Fraatz let the whole mission know the second week of May that each zone was going to have a two day activity of marriages and baptisms the 28 and 29 of May. And that each companionship needed to have two families prepared to be baptized on the 29th. Well, Hna. Hernandez and I have been working primarily with families for the last few weeks and we had a bunch of potential families. Now everyone knows that in your big pool of investigators, there are a few who progress and a lot who don't. Well, with all the families that we were teaching we cried week after week as they gave us all the excuses in the world not to come to church. All of the positive families that we had seemed to be falling through. So the week of the activity we were without one single family to baptize, but at the zone meeting the AP's put the pressure on the ZL's and they told us to work miracles and to find the families to bring to the activity.

So we got home and I started praying, and I prayed a lot, a whole lot. And when I got up off my knees, I went to the area book and started looking through the list of past investigators. Within just a few seconds I found the teaching record of Omar and Idaida, a family who had been to church a bunch of times, had had all the lessons, but couldn't get married because Omar couldn't pay for a divorce from his first wife. So we took down the direction and set out to find them. That was the first miracle. The second miracle was that we actually found them and that they were both home. They had moved to a different house so it was kind of a wild goose chase to find them, but that's actually how it always is even with a good direction and people who haven't moved. The addresses are so vague here, "from where the saw mill used to be, one block to the lake and 25 feet to the north..." used to be? how are we supposed to find that? and that would be a pretty clear direction

So anyway, I said another prayer, upped my faith and proceeded to tell them that the Lord had guided us to their house because He is mindful of their situation and that He wanted them to be married and baptized in two days. Hmm... actually it went over pretty well. They told us about their situation and we went to work trying to find a way to resolve it. It was kind of a tricky divorce because althought it was written by the lawyer about 15 years ago, it was never registered. So we made a bunch of calls to the Elders who were working with the lawyers to get a bunch of their own families married and long story short, they made it possible. Then the day of the activity arrived and we found a place to rent a microbus for the evening/night so that we could travel to Matagalpa and back and then went to visit Omar and Idaida to make sure everything was a go. Well, Omar was in Managua with his police squad and wasn't going to be back until the evening and Idaida told us that her mother was really sick so she was going to visit her in a neighboring town and that she couldn't go to the activity either. Ahhh! So we talked to her a bunch, called her husband and found out exactly when he would be back and got them back on board. Then we went to some other appointments.

When we returned about an hour before the bus was supposed to leave, Omar had just gotten home and he told us that his jefe had just told them about a mandatory meeting for all the police officers in Jinotega that he had to be to in 45 minutes. Yikes. I had no idea how we were going to get out of this one. But there is another member of the ward who is a police officer so we called him, and long story short, he was able to get permission for Omar to come to the activity. Well all said and done, they went and got married and even though they coulnd't get baptized that saturday, they are going to be baptized this saturday and I am wonderfully happy, and really tired, but with strengthened faith in the Lord.

I am learning some hard lessons right now. I think I'm at a critical point in my mission where I am really figuring out who I am as a missionary and as a disciple. I gave my farewell talk on discipleship, but I've come to realize that I really didn't have a clue what that meant. I didn't know what it meant to receive counsel from leaders that I didn't understand or that seemed illogical, impossible, or even erroneous and then find the faith to sacrifice everything to do it anyway. I understand more personally the early saints of the church who were asked to make incredible sacrifices and follow a prophet in counsel that seemed ludicrous. I used to think that this mission was insane. When President Fraatz asked us to put four baptismal dates a day I thought it was impossible, but I had a companion who knew better, who had a lot more faith than I did and she showed me it was possible. I still fight with myself when the standards are raised to impossible heights or we are asked to do things that seem contrary to the way I think they should be done. But I am learning to have faith, to trust my leaders and not hearken to my own understanding, and then sacrifice more than I thought I had and do the impossible to accomplish whatever is asked of me. I think that is how the Lord has always worked, but I haven't ever really recognized it so harshly before. There is example after example of it in the scriptures, Abraham sacrificing his son, Nephi killing Laban (and doing just about everything else that he did), Alma and the sons of Mosiah's missions to the Lamanites, the army of Captain Moroni winning unconquerable battles, the brother of Jared building barges and finding light to cross the ocean... Joseph Smith said something to the effect of, a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things will never have the power sufficient enough to produce the faith necessary for salvacion. I am coming to understand that quote, even though I still fight against it sometimes.

Well long email and I didn't even get to a few things, but my time is up.

I love you all a whole lot more than I know how to express.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - learning lessons for forever.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Mom, I am damp a lot of the time, but Hna. Bustillos left me her rainboots and I've used them twice now, to my utmost delight. They make trekking through the rivers that used to be streets a lot more pleasant. Don't worry about me at all. The Lord is taking good care of me. Love you.