Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Letter #45, July 26, 2010

My dear family,

This week's email has to be very short. I'm sorry. Today, we got some big plastic sheets and made a slip-n-slide at the church. It was pretty wild. One elder even bought some detergent and we had a good foam going. We filled up the big yellow mop buckets with wheels to get it all wet and took turns slipping and sliding on our bellies, backs, and feet. Then we got a water fight going and every except two or three elders got super soaked. It was fun to play and laugh and not think about the problems of the week for a minute.

We had an interesting week, getting to know our investigators and their problems a little more in depth. It's hard to see them in their trials. Keep Hna. Coco and Shilo and José in your prayers. I know that the gospel can heal their hearts. I know it will take time, but I also know that it's possible. There are so many broken hearts, so many lives in tatters, and everyone is just trying to make it through to the next day. But without the gospel, what is it all for? What is the point of making it through one more painful day, just to wake up to the next one? Is it for the glimmer of hope of finding a brief sliver of happiness to aliviate the heartache and monotony? If that is all we can hope for, then what is the point?

Of course there is something more. Clearly we have a Father in Heaven who intends for our lives to be so much more than that. We are to have JOY, not just fleeting happiness, the kind of joy that gives us inner peace and assurance despite the natural circumstances of living a mortal life. And that joy comes from having Jesus Christ as our Savior, the lover and healer of our souls.

I know He lives. I know He knows us, and cares for us, and has our every care and worry constantly present before Him. He knows how to succor his people. He knows how to repair our broken lives. And as we learn of Him, and strive to do what he said, we will become like Him. I'm going to leave all of you the challenge of having a really good talk with your Father in Heaven this week. Converse with Him. And let Him show you the way.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we truly can make a difference.

Hna. Crosland

Letter #44, July 19, 2010


¿Cómo están todos? Sounds like you are busy doing a bunch of fun things. That's great. Hey, today is national Sandinista day. Viva la revolución...or not. We had a ward activity this morning so we got to stay in our area and hang out with the members, which was good because we wouldn't have been able to take a bus to meet with the other missionaries in the zone anyway.

All the buses are being occupied by the Sandinistas and all the major streets are full of people with red and black flags, doing who knows what. Supposedly is kind of a dangerous day, but we have successfully avoided everything. We spent the morning playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, potato sack racing, water relays and having a BBQ (super yummy shish-ka-bobs with rice and a tomato and onion salad) with the ward. We also had a few investigators there and it was really great for them to make some friends and get to know the ward members in that type of setting. I also washed the Medina's dog, Go-go. It made me miss Riley.

Yesterday I was hoping to have a lot more investigators at church than we did, but María Auxiliadora (Shilo) and her husband José came and also the husband of one the members came. We had another couple of really good lessons with them and started teaching their daughter and son-in-law, Mijaly y Yolanda.

We also had interviews this week and found out that the church is changing things a little bit. Instead of having interviews every change, they are every two changes as well as multi-zone conferences. But every change there is a leadership conference for the ZLs, DLs, and trainers. We talked a lot about the importance of asking good questions and listening to our investigators to teach them by the spirit and find out their real needs. As we've put this more into practice, we've had some really great lessons. Sometimes it feels like we don't get to teach very many principles, but we've felt the spirit more strongly in our lessons and that is always really good.

Well, sorry this is a short email. I hope all goes well with Leslie and Boston and give Grandpa a big hug and kiss for me. I'll definitely keep them in my prayers. Also give my best to Annett and Joerg.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we are called to preach the gospel BY THE SPIRIT.

Love, Hna. Crosland

National Sandinista Day

Potato sack racing with the ward.

Washing Go-go the dog

New Mission President, Carlos F. Arredono, his wife, daughter and Hermana Crosland

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Letter #43, July 12, 2010


You guys are too funny! I love the otis photo album idea. It really made me giggle to see the fotos and imagine the captions. I'm sure the Swindle's loved it to pieces. I'm glad you are all back safe and sound. It sounds like the fishing trip was fun and successful and that you're all busy again (especially mom) making everyone's lives a little better. That's the only way to be. I'm excited for Will to have some great experiences at scout< camp and EFY. I was talking with Hna. Tunche the other day about some of the greatest testimony building experiences we have had in our lives and almost all of the experiences came out of girl's camp and EFY. It's so important to have some really anchoring spiritual experiences in those teenage years, but even big spiritual experiences can't take the place of daily cultivating the spirit in our lives through scripture study and prayer, and just trying our best to be good.

We met our new President and his wife this week. They seem great. Pres. Arredondo has a degree in business administration and his wife in education administration. They have five kids 16 - 23 years old, one returned missionary (daughter) one married (daughter) one on a mission (son) and two that are here with them. We had a conference with them on Thursday and we< talked a lot about listening to the spirit and helping our investigators have spiritual experiences and recognizing the spirit when they feel it. Really, that is the key to obtaining a testimony - having your own experiences with the spirit, recognizing that it is testifying of truth, and developing a hunger to have more.

We had some great experiences this week. We are teaching a older lady named Silvia, who is the grandma of a recent convert. We went and started teaching her about eternal marriage because her husband has passed away and she is already familiar with the church. But not far into the lesson, she asked about the angel on top of the temple and I went with what the spirit was prompting me to say and ended up teaching all about the book of mormon and the restoration (which is pretty much my favorite). And then we challenged her to pray about the prophet Joseph Smith and be baptized at the end of this month and she accepted. It was a really good lesson.

Yesterday we also had an interesting day. It was a "yoyo" day, with a lot of ups and downs. We had 5 investigators in church although two came after sacrament meeting. Kester, Erwin (who came last week too but we can never find him at home so we have never taught him), Coco, Liliana, and Shilo (María Auxiliadora). I was sad that Sofia and Erlin didn't come and that Miguel and the husband of Shilo (José) didn't show up either, but we'll keep fighting for them. After lunch we started out right at the end of the world cup finals. The street was completely deserted and after a few minutes, cheers errupted from every house, people banging pots and pans and lighting firecrackers... seriosly, a grand cacophony started up. It was crazy andmade me laugh. But then we couldn't find anyone at home, seriously, every single person and plan B and plan C that we had fell through. So we ended up contacting and then finally we went to see if José was home. He wasn't, of course, but Shilo let us in and we started to chat. Pretty soon she was telling us all about her son that died and how her heart aches because her daughters don't talk to her, don't even look at her when they come over, just to visit their dad. She said she feels abandoned by the Lord and almost doesn't have any hope left. I wish I had more time to tell you the details, but basically, we sat in her little house and cried together for a while. Then I pulled out some scriptures (1 Ne 21:14-16, Alma 7:11-13, Ether 12:4, Alma 32:27) and tried to help her find the peace and hope she needed. I know that the Savior and his perfect gospel can heal her heart and the hearts of her family members. I'm anxious to go back and keep teaching her and her husband because I know how much their lives can change. Pray for them.

And also pray for Liliana. She is awesome but it's a little hard to teach her because of her living situation. She lives with< her kids and two grandkids, but they don't have a roof, just a sheet of plastic and since it's the rainy season here, they are having a hard time. She works in the school by the Medina's and she takes the grandkids there to sleep at night. Also, the Medina family (parents) was assaulted and robbed yesterday. Crazy story but I don't have time to tell it... sad. They are all shaken up but doing fine, with purses a little lighter.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - mourn with those that mourn and let the Savior heal their hearts.

Hna. Crosland

Letter #42, July 5, 2010

My dear lovelies in CALI,

I seriously loved your email this week. It made me miss being with you all, a whole lot, and with the fourth of July this week and all, but of course I know this is where I'm supposed to be. The Lord isn't done molding me as a missionary yet.

Wow, mama! I can't believe all your injuries! I'm so sorry you are so banged up. But at least you can relax a little bit in a very lovely place with all your family around. I'm sending you hugs and kisses though, so that you feel a little bit better. I want you to send me pictures of the new carpet and the house all fixed up nice. And of course, pictures with the Adlers when they arrive. I'm glad you are keeping track of the world cup a little bit. It's literally on in every house and as we walk through the streets we can hear people yelling and banging pots and pans whenever someone scores a goal. (Go Deutschland!) I feel bad for the Latino elders who are missing it (if they are being obedient... hahaha). It's kind of a big deal in this part of the world.

I got the package with Cactus Juice three weeks ago at the changes and so far it has helped but not eliminated the mosquito bites. In this rainy season, they are just horrible. We get bitten in every house we're in and when we're sitting there teaching a lesson they just feast on our poor legs. I'm still waiting for the other package to arrive.

Everyone in the office has been a little crazy these weeks with the mission presidente swap so we've felt a little neglected. We still don't have a desk or chairs or a cell phone so we continue to study on the floor or on our beds and the poor district leader and his companion have to stop by our house every night to get the numbers. And we still haven't even met the new president yet. Someone said we'll meet him this week though. We'll see about that.

So Erlin and Sofia didn't come to church yesterday and seem to be progressing really slowly and Dennis we haven't seen all week because he's been working a ton. We had a movie night at the Medina house this week and got some new families to teach which seem to be positive but they didn't come to church either. I was pretty disappointed on Sunday because when you don't have investigators in church, you don't baptize. We had one show up on his own who the elders actually contacted so we'll work with him. His name is Erwin. Also Miguel and Sandra are an older couple but really liked the Testaments movie and we taught them a great lesson about the Book of Mormon. And María Auxiliadora and her husband José Geronimo seem fairly positive as well. Hopelly we can get them to church.

Thanks for your spiritual thoughts and insights. I really love to hear about what you are studying about and thinking about in regards to the gospel. I liked Dad's thought about happiness or joy being directly proportional to our capacity to feel the spirit. I have been thinking about true happiness this week and I think Dad hit a key point. I made a big list of things I consider to be true happiness and what it all boiled down to was faith in Jesus Christ. True happiness is having faith in Jesus Christ and how do we obtain testimonies and grow our faith in Christ? Through the Holy Ghost testifying to our own spirits that He is the Christ. I think that the more we can cultivate spiritual experiences in our lives each day and as we get better and better at recognizing and following the spirit, our joy and happiness will grow. I love Ether 12:4 that talks about faith being an anchor to our souls. That sure foundation, the security in the face of anything that Satan can throw at you, for me, is real happiness. It doesn't depend on anyone or anything. And of course, cultivating the spirit comes through keeping the commandments and following each prompting received.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - happiness is in doing what's right and reaping the spiritual rewards.

I love you all more than my fan... which is a lot a lot.

Hna. Crosland

P.S. Will, we sure had some good times just the three of us livin' it up in Newport huh? Love your guts.