Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter #67 - December 27, 2010

Hey everybody!

I feel like we just talked... oh wait, we did! How great it was to talk to all of you and feel like I was a part of you for a little while on Christmas. I started remember Christmas things and what it might be like to be there relaxing with family. But it acutally didn't make me homesick. It seems like a completely different universe, or like the pleasant dream of a far off place in a fairy tale that I someday hope to visit. I'm glad that you are all doing well and enjoying each other's company. It is so lovely to know that I have a family that loves to be together.

So to fill in those that I didn't talk to on Saturday, I had changes this week and I am now re-opening an area and training. We are in the port town of Corinto in the northwest of Nicarauga (if you wanted to find it on google earth). Corinto is a pretty clean town compared to Manauga and it's quaint, with few cars and a lot of tricyclos (three-wheeled bicycle taxis). They eat a lot of fish and clams and everything from the sea, and it just has that easy going, care-free feel of costal people. Our house is really close to the church and the beach is only two blocks away. It's fun to see the ocean even though we can't take a dip. And I found out that Corinto is actually where all the cruise ships come, so Grandma Donna will have to double check her cruise stops and what days she'll be in Nicaragua. It is actually hotter here than in Managua. I didn't think there was a hotter place on earth than Managua, but I was wrong. Well they threw me into the fire to finish my mission and I'm going to "echar fuego" (throw fire) here in Corinto and go out with a bang.

It has been fun trying to get to know a new place and contacting a lot of new people while trying to find ourselves. I've been carrying my guitar around and we had some fun starting our contacts with a christmas hymn. One time, we saw an old couple sitting in front of there house so we went over to talk to them. There was a fiesta just finishing up next door and it was
a little loud, but we started asking them how they were doing anyway. The abuelitos said that things were regular, not good, but not bad either and I told them that we brought them a song to lift their spirits. As we started to sing, the mańs face lit up, and the woman lifted her head and started to smile. Soon the people leaving the fiesta were shushing each other and
turning to listen too. We had a good crowd all quiet and listening to us and were able to contact and teach them a little, setting up appointments to come back later on in the week. The power of music to lift hearts is truly amazing and the way it facilitates so freely the spirit opens doors that otherwise wouldn't be available.

Hna. Winter has a really pretty voice and actually holds her own part pretty well so we've been able to have some fun harmonizing. She's the first companion I've been able to do that with. Hna. Winter is from Guatemala even though her name comes from Germany (great grandpa) and she is white with black hair. I'll have to send some pictures next week because I forgot my camera today. She is excited to work and to learn and she really wants to be a great missionary and follow the rules. She is a little on the moon sometimes, the scatter-brained type and almost too sweet, but we're going to have fun and I know she is going to be an amazing missionary. We are also living with Hna. Contreras from El Salvador and she is working with one of the members right now, María José, because we have an odd number of sisters. They are both great and it's nice to have them to help us and show us around the area. We actually have two seperate areas, both in the same ward. The ward seems pretty strong, with an average attendance of about 115, but the leaders seems a little tired, a little disanimated. But we're going to put in the batteries and get everyone charged up for the new year.

Mom, thanks for your sweet testimony. It brought tears to my eyes. I rarely cry now when I'm teaching or bearing my testimony. I remember this time last year when I really couldn't even open my mouth without tears, I was so tender. But it's not that I don't have tender feelings about the gospel anymore, really they are deeper and more profound. And they are accompanied with experience. I know that Christ lives. He suffered beyond human comprehension and took upon himself all the wickedness and confusion and darkness and pain that the human heart can experience. Then he rose from that abismal and triumphed over death and sin, freeing us all from their bondage if we will but humble ourselves before Him and seek His will. I know that in our darkest and most difficult hours, we are very close to the Savior and that as we reach out and up to take His hand, He will guide us into the light again. That is the plan, it is the good news. Christ restored his complete gospel with all that we need to achieve our exhaultation through the Prophet Joseph Smith. His is an extraordinary story of faith and perserverance, never wavering even until the end of his extraordinary life. Because of the diligence of that faithful man, the blessings of the priesthood are again available on the earth and the ordinances of the temple have been restored. We have a living prophet today who counsels with the Lord to guide His work on the earth. If we heed his words, we will never go astray.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - being a special witness of Christ during Christmas was never sweeter.

Hna. Crosland

P.S. I sent a package home and a few Christmas cards this week. Sorry so late. The package has a few articles of clothing, shirt for Will (light blue button-up) and shirt for Ali (awesome baseball jersey) and a nighty for Mom. I got Dad a machete but they wouldn't let me mail it. So he'll just have to wait a little while, along with Mike and Paige. Sorry. But I hope the Christmas cards get to you this week, even though they missed Christmas. LOVE YOU!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Letter #66 - December 20, 2010


I can't believe about the provo tabernacle! I am so sad!! I hope they can rebuild/remodel it. I have so many memories in that building.

This week was full of choir practices and performances for me too. We worked so hard with the ward members and were able to present our ward Christmas cantata friday night with about 8 differente himns and it turned out really well. I was really happy because it gave an opportunity to some of the choir members who have family members who aren't members of the church, to invite them and present something really nice and spiritual. The wife of Hno. Guillermo and the mom of Marjourie, a recient convert came along with a few others and they seemed to be really touched. Neither of them are very receptive to the church and mabye they still don't want to come on Sunday or recieve the missionaries, but I know a seed was planted and that they were able to feel the spirit in the chapel. That is a big step.

It was so fun to see the ward members get all prepared and coordinate what they were going to wear and buy red and green folders for the music. The bishop's wife even made beautiful christmas badges with ribbon, fake leaves and white flowers for everone. We were all unified and proud of the work we had done. Yesterday was the presentation of the stake and each ward choir did a number or two. We were all excited and sang two of our best numbers. It all went really well and even though the choirs were far from professional, the spirit was felt and you could really see the effort that every ward put into organizing and preparing their choir. All in all, it was a great experience that I will never forget and I am so grateful for the talents that the Lord blessed me with to be able to share a wonderful experience with our ward members. They were all so grateful and everyone felt so proud of what we accomplished and how nice it turned out.

The other good news is that Aldo came to church this week and Norlan stopped drinking. We had some really good lessons with Norlan and his companion about faith and repentence and he has been reading in Alma from 32 to about 39. I love that Norlan loves to read the book of mormon. We leave him a chapter and he not only reads the assigned chapter, sometimes twice, but then keeps reading and he always points out his favorite scriptures to us. The bad thing is that he couldn't come to church this week, but we also have the problem of his divorce, so his baptism is still out a little ways, but I am so happy that he is back on track.

Sorry to be short but today is a little crazy. I love you all so much!

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - sharing the best of ourselves.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Letter #65 - December 13, 2010

Thank you for your birthday wishes. My birthday was great. I had more fotos to send you but I forgot my camera.... oops, until next week. I got many birthday wishes from the ward members and even a few gifts. They are so sweet. And I was invited to a birthday lunch and dinner. Actually we've been invited to eat at members houses all week, which has been perfect because the Medina family was gone and with them, our normal food appointment. But the Lord has taken super good care of us. I also tried Mondongo for the first time this week. Mondongo is cow stomach and it is just as nasty as it sounds (fotos coming soon). But basically it looks like carpet and tastes nasty. I'm not quite sure why people eat it, but whatever.

News with investigators is not so great this week. After some amazing lessons with Norlan and Maryuri, they didn't show up for church last week and then on Tuesday, we found Norlan drunk. He has been drunk this whole week even though we've been stopping by his house nearly every day. The frustrating part is that his wife says that he hadn't had a drink in over two years and right when we found him and started teaching him and his family, Satan had to pull the rug out from under them. So frustrating.

We also weren't able to teach Aldo y Karla until Sunday night even though we also passed by their house everyday this week as well. After the great experience with them at the Chirstmas devotional, we wanted to follow up with them quickly and strike while the iron was hot, but no such luck. They were always gone or too busy to receive us.

The Purisima didn't help matters either this week. Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday the streets were full of people singing praises to the Virgen and each house hadconstructed a fancy schmancy alter with flashy lights and the Virgen María prominent. I wanted to take pictures of them and the people were thrilled to be asked if we could take a picture of their shrine. It's a tradition to give out things for the Purisima to those that come and sing at your shrine and after one of the pictures I took, the man gave us a little gift...oops, I was purisima-ing. Bad missionary. But the festivities made it really hard to proselyte and Tuesday night we even had to go in early. Elder Figueroa had part of a burning firecracker land on his head and it caught his hair on fire! I wish I had seen it. I was pretty much dying of laughter as he showed me his singed scalp. Crazy catholics. Hopefully this week we can help Norlan stop drinking so he can really start progressing and Aldo and Karla will get more involved. We invited them to a bunch of activities this week in the church and they are all in the evening when they are a little more free with time. They are always really positive when we teach them, they just can't stop being work-aholics. We really need to get some investigators progressing right now. Seems like the Christmas season should be the best season to find more open and willing people, but here it is just the opposite.

We had our mission Christmas activity/conference today and it was so good. Each zone prepared a hymn (the ones we prepared went splendidly) and the program was really nice. Then we played outside with a few big blow-up obstacle courses and water balloons and dodge ball. And I participated in the watermelon eating contest... and WON! Well it was only me and one other elder because they did a whole bunch, just two at a time. But I won. Yep, turns out that besides being a really good balloon player, I'm I really good watermelon eater. We couldn't use our hands and I had watermelon juice all over my face and up my nose. Salvaje. It was fun. Then we had a big banquet and swapped gifts and Presidente and Hermana Arredondo closed with a few words. It was really wonderful, especially when Presidente and his family sang. They have a singing family too and it was a good moment for me to remember singing with my family at Christmas.

This Christmas we are far from each other once again, but truly I am grateful. I can't imagine myself in any other place, doing any other thing this Christmas. The best gift that we can give the Lord is the very best of ourselves. I am not much. I don't have many talents or much charm. My spanish is far from perfect and my teaching skills are average. But this Christmas season, I am giving my all to the Lord, the very best that I have. And I am going to see what His hands can make of it and watch the miracles unfold. We are here to serve, not ourselves, but all those around us. There are so many looking for love and that is exactly what we have to offer, the pure love of the Savior that never runs out or wears out. I can't think of a more perfect and beautiful gift. And we are armed with it always. Don't forget what you have to give, it's everything.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - we have everything to give and nothing to lose.


Your favorite hermana in Nicaragua
Hna. Crosland

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Letter #64 - December 6, 2010

Hello dear family and friends,

First off, before I forget. I heard Ali has red hair. That is awesome. So does Hna. Cano. Well, it's not that red now because she had to darken it before her mission but she told me that she always dyes her hair red. I also saw aunt Ruth in the Christmas devotional and I'm loving her dark hair. I don't know if it's new, but it looked a lot darker to me and I just kept thinking how pretty it was. So congrats for having cool hair. You will all need to help me with mine when I arrive... yikies. Speaking of hair, my hair has been falling out in fist-fulls and I'm starting to get worried. I know I'm stressed but do you think that is all it is? I'm going to come home bald. Well, enough about that.

making a magic herbal hair treatment from a plant that grows on Hna. Medina's fence

Tony was baptized this week and it was really special. He is so awesome. The elders also had a baptism too and we bought a cake to celebrate with them. We have been fasting and praying to find and baptize a family this month. We just dropped Juan y Iliana. They just weren't progressing. And we could never find Aldo y Karla.

the baptismal crew and cake

me, Tony, Hna. Cano

Then on Wednesday, the office elders called with a reference named Norlan. We dropped our other plans and went to look for him that afternoon, finding him outside of his house talking to his friend Luis, who happened to be the member that referred him. How sweet is that? So we met him and his family and set an appointment to come back the next day. We brought Hno. Jimmy along and had a really positive lesson with him and his wife Maryuri, where we left him with a book of mormon and a commitment to read Moroni 10. We set another appoinment with them for Friday and when we arrive he had not only read and understood Moroni 10, but had started from the beginning and was asking us questions about Nefi and his family. Wow. We commited him and his wife to a baptismal date for the 18th of December and they were all excited to come to church with us this Sunday. Hno. Jimmy was going to pass by to bring them. Well, Sunday morning, they were nowhere to be found. I was crushed. We didn't have a single family of investigators in church. Lame, lame, lame.

But I was determined to take a family to the Christmas devotional so after choir practice we set out to find one. We decided to stop by and see if Aldo y Karla were home. I didn't have high hopes, but we went anyway. We found them. Both of them. And they weren't busy. That never happens. We had a slight problem because they had promised to take their kids to the little neighborhood circus but we sat teaching them and getting them excited to meet the prophet and go to the devotional and in the end they decided to come. At the same time, Jennyfer Medina called and said that her dad had just gotten back from Rivas and still had the mission car and would give us a ride to the broadcast. How perfect! Jennyfer had accompanied us a couple of times with Aldo y Karla so they already knew each other. We all packed into the truck and headed off.

Greetings from the missionaries of Ciudad Jardin (E. Pinzòn, Hna. Cano, me, E. Figueroa)

I couldn't help feeling in the clouds. And then the Christmas devotional was just so amazing. And all the members who came were happy and inviting and inclusive. Are all mormons like that? Karla asked. Yep, and you will be too, replied Hna. Medina. Haha. I just love that lady. When we dropped them off, Karla asked us when we could come back to teach them. She didn't want to wait until Tuesday so we made an appointment for tonight. I'm so excited for them. They really loved the experience. Now we just need to get them to sacrament meeting and put them in the water. They are a really special family. I still haven't given up on Norlan y Maryuri, and we're going to stop by tonight to see what happened to them and keep teaching them. Ah, teaching the gospel to families is such a beautiful and amazing experience.

greetings from Zona Bello Horizonte

Tonight we are having a birthday dinner with the Medina family. They are going to be in Guatemala for Jimmy Jr.'s wedding all this week. How awesome for them. Man, I miss the temple. I think I will cry when they announce the Managua, Nicaragua temple. These people are so humble and ready for the gospel, and even though the work seems slow at times, I know that the Lord is preparing many hearts. He goes with us always. I'm grateful for this beautiful season and for the chance to keep the Savior even closer to my heart and in my mind. Walking the streets and spreading His peace and joy makes me feel close to Him. It is what He did while He was here.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world - there is sunshine in my soul today.

Love, Hna. Crosland

Perro Sonpopo, our friend gecko