Sunday, December 8, 2013

Taxi Mishap: November 4, 2013

Hola familia y amigos!

Story time!! I have so many stories for you this week, I hope I have time to write them all down.  The smallest of which is that, for the first time in my life, I saw a chicken cross the road.  It was an oddly pensive moment for me.  All of those "why did the chicken cross the road" jokes took on a whole new meaning.  And, if you were wondering, the chicken actually sprinted across the road to avoid being squashed by a motorcycle.  Now you know.

Okay, first of all, for whatever reason this week I have had two rather interesting encounters with taxis.  The first happened on our way back from a Zone Meeting in Managua.  We had to squash 6 of us into 4 seats, so I had Hna. Hawkins on one knee and Hna. Howell on the other.  It was only going to be a ten minute car ride to the terminal....but then the taxi randomly sputtered and died in the middle of the street.  We all looked at each other wondering, "What in the world is going on?", our taxi driver mumbled something about gas, didn't say ANYTHING to us (for example: "I'll be back soon, hang tight"), and he literally hopped out of the driver's seat, immediately got into a different taxi, and drove away.  I busted up laughing because it was just so ridiculous. The worst part is that all of the doors have some weird child-lock and he took the keys. So...the six of us were trapped in a hot taxi in the middle of a 4 lane street in Managua (aka, chaos central), stranded like sitting ducks in the middle of the highway! Horses and carts almost hit us, school buses almost hit--all we did to pass the time was take funny pictures of ourselves and speculate what we would have done with the taxi had he left the keys. I believe our plan involved driving to Costa Rica to visit Hna. Salinas (she's hilarious).  Anywho, he eventually returned 25 minutes later, bearing gas for the car.  When we finally got moving again, we passed by the same crazy vendors in the street as before, and were witnesses of a man casually pilfering a live chicken from a stall. I can't say I've ever been tempted to steal a live chicken, not entirely sure what  I would do with it, but I suppose you have to be pretty desperate to resort to those measures.

Taxi Story Numero 2: At the Zone Meeting, I was given a big fat manilla envelope full of letters from my family.  I was so excited--the next day was my birthday (21 woo woo), and I was waiting to open the letters for the morning. is the sad part of this story. In the chaos of changing taxis and handing my backpack to another Hermana to make room for Hna. Hawkins on my lap, I placed the envelope on the back of the seats behind us.....and forgot about it completely when we left to get papusas (more on those later. Yum) for dinner.
I didn't notice right away.  But then I did and quite frankly I was devastated.  I had so been looking forward to reading them on my birthday, and it seemed like a lost cause. There are hundreds of taxis in Leon, and they can go anywhere and everywhere. I've never had the same driver twice.  I doubted I wold ever see the taxi driver or envelope again, and, I couldn't help myself, I started to cry.

Here is the cool part of the story.  I don't usually initiate conversations with taxi drivers, but with this man, I did. I asked him his name, where he lived, about his family and religion, and he gladly answered before we left the taxi.  I didn't realize it at the time, but by talking to him we were able to remember all of his information and write it down.  And here is the miracle!! Two of the Elders that were with us at the restaurant called that very night and were able to find it! I have no idea how they did it so quickly, especially because he didn't live close by to us, but I am so grateful. It really was a mini miracle, "Hey, God loves you" moment for me. There are just so many taxis here, and it so easily could have been jus another taxi ride without talking to the driver.  But miracles do happen and it was the best birthday gift I could have asked for.

So, apart from that, my birthday was great, and I am old! Fun day in another Zone Meeting (we had two this week, kind of weird), and I CAN'T BELIEVE I AM 21 WHY IS THIS HAPPENING.  I was feeling slightly homesick, just wondering what everyone was up to this Halloween, Sammy and James trick-or-treating, the fall weather...all of it.  Honestly if I didn't have a watch with the date on it I would have no idea what day it is, because no one (apart from Hna. Howell) even mentioned Halloween.  So, no, I didn't dress up.  Although I was tempted to cover myself in nutella and parade around as a Nicaraguan. Maybe then they would stop whistling and blowing kisses at me all day long, haha.   Anywho, just as I was feeling a bit homesick, I was pleasantly surprised by a beautiful birthday cake from a woman in the ward who does our laundry, Yohanna, and the Elders in our District.  We all enjoyed the cake (Elder Ayala shoved my face in it, in fact. I'll send pics later), and it was good to feel like I have people here who care even when I'm so far away from my family.  The greatest part was Yohanna only had two old dilapidated number candles, 8 and 5. So, we celebrated my 85th birthday! I'd say I look pretty darn good for my age.  It's the Word of Wisdom, my friends. The secret to eternal youth.

I'm getting darker and darker every day.  And, in contrast, the parts of me which never see the sun (which are many) are getting whiter and whiter.  When I saw Hna. Howell for the first time after a week, she commented, "You're a black man!" Not sure why man had to come into that, but whatever.  Now everyone we meet asks if I'm Italian, haha. They also tell me I have cat eyes, whatever that means.

And now for some fun Nica facts and stories:

--We were teaching Adalberto (our investigator who is getting baptized this week...we hope. He cancelled twice on us which is why I haven't written about it yet) in his house and all of a sudden there was a loud smacking sound--a little gecko had fallen from the ceiling about two feet away from me onto the floor. What made me laugh is that no one else in the room reacted or said anything. There was the gecko...just chillin.  In any other situation I feel like people would have freaked out. But nope. It just slithered away and that was that.

--Yesterday we saw a really skinny man carting around an abnormally large woman on a spindly bike that looked like it might fall apart any minute.

--Nicaraguans casually refer to people as "Gorda," or fat. We were looking for the house of one of our investigators, and so asked several of the neighbords for directions. The conversation went like this:

"Do you know where Nadiri lives?" They reply,

"Si, la gorda?" Or, "Yes, the fat one?"

"Um....yes. The fat one."  I hope I don't get fat here or I'll probably be called Hermana Gorda.

--While looking for that same woman, you know, the fat one, we chanced upon a really old woman standing by her front door. Classic old lady. Apron, hair pulled back into a granny bun, no teeth--lips that curve over her gums, faded, watery eyes. 100% deaf. We tried talking to her, and asked her, "Hola, como esta?" literally (no, seriously), five times. After each time, she loudly shouted, "HUH?!" so we kept repeating the question, and she kept replying HUH. We went back and forth several times in this fashion until we gave up.  I guess it was one of those "ya had to be there" moments, but we thought it was so funny.

--We walked up to three people standing on the side of the road and discovered their names were Domingo (Sunday), Jesus, and Angel.  I thought that was really funny so I introduced myself as Hermana Iglesia (or, Hermana Church), you know, so we could have Church on Sunday with Jesus and the Angels.  I got a pity laugh but that was it. No one thinks I'm as hilarious as I do.  

--Never found the Gorda, by the way. Just a couple of Evangelicos who wanted to Bible bash for an hour. I hate it when people talk AT you and not with you.  Sigh..we need more faith. We just haven't had luck finding new people to teach lately.

--Tried to teach a man sitting in the shade on a lawn char earlier this week that God loves him, and it was so funny. He definitely wasn't mentally all there. He didn't believe that God loves him or that we know Him because we haven't seen him, even though he goes to Church every Sunday.  We asked him, "If you could change anything about your life right now, what would you change?" and he said, "I just like sitting in the shade and drinking my juice."  "So, you wouldn't change anything?" "No." "Well, hermano, we just want to testify that God loves us and knows each of us individually---" (he interrupts) "No no no no no, mentiras." Mentiras = lies. He kept saying no x5 and muttering mentiras.  Hna. Najarro almost started laughing. I've never met someone who goes to church every week who has such a hard time with the concept that God loves us.  Oh well. He'll find out someday.  In the meantime, he has his juice.

--Nicaraguans say Pepsi as "Pexi", and, as mentioned previously, they LOVE ketchup.  When you order pizza here (we got some at the zone meeting), it comes with packets of ketchup in place of garlic or marinara or something normal. They squirt it all over the pizza and eat it.  Shout out to Tiffani Emery--I have found your people! (Tiff loves ketchup on everything).

--Nicas drop the "s" on most words. Adios = Adio. A man told us, "Adio a lo do!" the other day (Adios a las dos).  he said it so fast we nearly didn't understand him.  They also say "buenas" as the customary greeting at the door or gate to someone's house, in place of the full "Buenas dias, buenas tardes...etc."

--Tried several different new foods this week:
-Cherry shaped "fruit" (kind of looks like a more oval version of a cherry) called coyolitos, that kind of taste like...sweet olives, if that's possible. It had a pit like an olive and the same saltiness, but it was also a fruit? I don't know, I've never tried anything like it before.
-I tried a raspada this week too. It's pretty much just a bowl of shaved ice (I watched the man shave the icea and handle the ice with his own hands after he touched our I'm praying I don't get sick) topped with a thick, dulce de leche/evaporated sweetened condensed milk type of cream, topped with a dollop of a sweet purple marmalade type of fruit/syrup something or other that was good but also new.  It was quite good! Dad, you especially would love them. I'll buy ya one when you come to visit me, from a man who washes his hands, no worries.
-Bunuelos--I don't even know how to describe them. They're kind of the consistency of hush puppies, and they're a fried yuca plant. Kind of spongy interior and crispy golden brown exterior, which are then fried and steeped in honey and lemon and rolled in sugar. Really oily.  I ate three and felt like I might hurl, but they were good to try.

I'm running out of time and this email is really long, but I just want everyone to know that I love my mission.  I really do.  I love the Nicaraguans and the crazy, gross adventure I am having here (seriously, when I get back, I'm taking an hour long shower. Don't try to stop me, you can't).  It hasn't been easy, especially this week. Adalberto cancelling his baptism a second time (font was filled and everything), no one keeping their committments to come to church..struggling with the language.. it all kind of piled up at once.  But we're going to work hard this week, and I'm praying we'll find new people to teach.

 There are people everywhere waiting for the gospel.  We met a 16 year old boy named Daniel whose mother died when he was young and whose father, whom he lives with now, is an alcoholic.  He lived in Miami when he was younger, and speaks a little bit of English. We asked him if he knew who we were and he did. Turns out he used to go to the LDS church every Sunday until his dad found out and forbade him from doing so. We were sitting outside on the cement ledge in front of his house, and when I asked if we could talk to his dad, he flinched and motioned for us to "shhh," and whispered in broken English, "He is inside the door. I do not think you want to know him." We asked why, and he replied, "He is always drunk on Fridays." "So...he is drunk right now?" "Yes." "'s Thursday."  Turns out his father is always drunk.  Daniel says he wants to be baptized but has to wait until he is 21 to be freed from his father.  He told us hurriedly, right before his dad yelled for him to come inside, "I read from the book every night." We asked, "What book?" "The Book of Mormon. I know it is true."  And my heart was just..touched. His situation is so tragic, but he has a testimony throughout it all. It made me grateful to have the freedom that I do have to act on what I believe.

I think I was nervous about talking to people I don't know so upfrontly about the Church and the need for baptism, but I am getting over that. I'm here for Jesus Christ.  He is the reason why I wake up every day exhausted and go to work and come home just as exhausted having given the day my all.  We watched a devotional at the Zone Meeting that talked about how Christ, after suffering all of the pains of the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross, immediately spent the three days after being crucified teaching and serving those people in the Spirit World. It never struck me what an incredible example He is. If anyone deserved a three day rest, it was Him.  Every single temptation, affliction, sickness, pain..He suffered for all of it, not even going into everything he suffered physically on the Cross.  If He can do that and then go to work every day, then I can wake up and teach people all day when I am tired.   We will never experience even a part of what He did.  He has "graven us upon the palms of His hands," and He knows us.  Please know, whomever you are reading this right now, that you are never alone. He will never abandon us.

Anyway, that is my novel of the week for ya. Thinking of all of you and praying for you!

Les Quiero,

Your favorite 85 year old,

<3 Hermana Behan

No comments:

Post a Comment