Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Cats in a Birdcage: December 2, 2013

¡Hola familia y amigos!

I would just like everyone to know that dreams do come true.  Last week on the night before Thanksgiving I had an abnormally long dream about cake.  I was making cake, and eating cake, and walking around in bakeries full of cake...and when I woke up in the morning, well, I'm sure you can imagine, I wanted cake (shout out to Emily Pickett--your chocolate cake at 2 am is still the greatest).  Well, my dreams were fulfilled! The woman who makes our lunch, Iris, made four cakes (yes, four) for her daughter's birthday party that day, and I had to help make the cakes (mixing with my hands because they don't have a mixer), and was then given a cake for myself.  It was a fat, happy day for Hermana Najarro and I.  The cakes here kind of taste like twinkies held together by sweetened condensed milk, and that is fine by me.
I also had a dream that Bishop Joyner rented a whale for a ward activity (a Humpback, if you were wondering) and we all spent the day sitting on the whale and swimming around it and having a good time.  If that dream is realized, it will make my life, haha.

I would say "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," but that would be a lie.  I have zero concept of time here.  Seriously. It just feels like an infernally hot summer that never ends, except now people are putting up Christmas lights to decorate their porches and palm trees and I randomly hear "Feliz Navidad" being played from time to time.  I think I prefer the lack of season change, actually, mission wise.  Christmas will pass by and not actually feel like Christmas, and I think that will help the inevitable homesickness somewhat. This will be my first Christmas away from my family, which is a weird concept.  I also found out that Gigatonas will continue to be on the streets all of December as well.  What's weird is that it is no longer weird to find myself faced by a large 12 foot Barbie doll blocking my path. We just deftly side step them and that is that.

I still love Nicaragua, although I would be lying if I said their is not a fairshare of heartache associated with missionary work.  It's just...rough, to put it lightly, when you know someone knows the truth and for whatever reason falls away.  We caught Adalberto, for example (the man we baptized two weeks ago), smoking not even a week after his baptism, and he had told us that he didn't have any problems with smoking.  He hasn't gone to church in three weeks, either. :/ I don't really know what to do about it; we pass by his house every day, but lately he's been avoiding us.   It's hard, but I have faith that things will start looking up.

Mostly I just love talking with everyone.  I thought I would hate street contacting, just because you're awkwardly putting yourself out there to talk about God with random strangers all of the time, but I think it's my favorite.  There was one day when Hna. N and I passed by a man leaning on a store front drinking a coke as we were in search of another person.  Just as I was about to suggest to her that we turn back and talk to him, she said, "I have a feeling we should go back and talk to that man."  Holy Ghost say whaaat?  So we went back and talked to him, and he has been going to Church with us for the last three weeks along with his 23 year old son (they're both named Roger).  We have been teaching their entire family for the last few weeks, and they are golden. They're all super intelligent and charismatic, and so fun to teach--if they are baptized, it will be because they're not going to leave.  I have a lot of faith that that will happen, and I will let you know!  

Funny little blerb for you--Roger (the dad, who is blind in one eye from the Civil War Nicaragua had not too long ago, and always wears tinted glasses) asked us what our first names were.  Hna. N explained that we go by "Hermana" on our missions out of respect for the missionary title, and don't normally tell people our first names.  He told us he understood completely, because he used the name "Manuel" as a codename in the war to protect himself. He then took it upon himself to give us nicknames.  To Hermana Najarro, "Salvadora de los Almas" (Salvadora because she's from El Salvador, and the translation is literally, "Savior of the Souls"), which is quite the title. And my codename (drumroll, please..) is... "Anna." Why Anna? I don't know. Apparently it's his dead great grandmother's name.  The contrast between "Salvadora de los Almas" and "Anna" makes me laugh.  Couldn't I be Anna de los Angeles, or something?? Oh well. I'll take it.

I'm also amused by all of the crazies we meet here.  There's one woman I have dubbed "the bucket lady," because she always carries three or four buckets on each arm full of random things and one bucket balanced on her head, and she walks around the streets talking to herself and moving her arms in weird sweeping circles. I think she has tried putting a curse on us, but, no buckets have plagued my life so far. I'll keep you posted though.   I don't know if you recall the man I told you all about who was sitting on the street drinking his juice who said he didn't believe God loved him, but he now yells random things at us everytime we pass by.  We never know what to expect. Some days, he yells at us to get out of the country, shouting, "Orgullosas!" or (pridefuls!), and then other days he yells at us "May God bless you, you little Angels! I might just have to steal one of you away, you're so sweet!"  I am 100% positive that he is 100% insane.  But, it spices up my day somewhat.  We we also graced by a solo performance of a drunk man dancing salsa by himself in the street the other day, haha. His hips do not lie. 

Hna. N and I had a neat experience yesterday.  We have been fasting to find more people to teach, and yesterday seemed to be a bit of a failure.  We got lost for over 30 minutes trying to find a members house, and I think we power walked at least 5 miles in that span of time just trying to figure out where we were.  When we finally figured out where we were, we passed by a young couple in the street.  We had already passed by them and the ideal time for talking to them had passed, but an unmistakeable prompting told me, "Go back and talk to them." So, I told Hna. N we were going to turn back and talk to them, and she was all for it.  But they were a good 15 feet away at this point, so we had to awkwardly stalk them in the dark (I felt so creepy) until we finally caught up to them, at which point we just kind of silently walked behind them for two or three minutes until one of us had the courage to say something, haha.  They didn't stop for us to talk to them, so we kept walking with them and found out that they had both spoken with missionaries on several other occassions before.  We invited them to Church and left it at that, realizing that we had backtracked all the way back into the heart of the area we had been lost in not even 20 minutes before.  Here's the cool part.  As we were pausing in the street trying to figure out what we would do next, a man I hadn't noticed sitting in the shadows called out to us (in Spanish, but I'll translate), "Hey! What church are you from?" we told him, and, come to find out, he had been baptized four years earlier in Mormon church in Costa Rica! He has been living in Nicaragua with his family for three years and hasn't been to Church once, and turns out he's in our area! We didn't even have to invite him to church, he asked for directions and invited himself.  Then his non member friend came around the corner and we introduced ourselves, and he said he has decided he would like to come on Sunday as well with his friend! It was just neat because they both invited themselves, which never happens.  I hope they actually come this Sunday.

Tried the first thing I have genuinely disliked here: Chicha.  It's a bright pink fermented corn drink (there are lumps of corn flower in it) and it is bitter and sickly sweet at the same time and just disgusting.  It was hard to drink all of it (Hna. N straight up refused, actually), but I did it.  And I am still alive, so, it's fine.

Apart from that, there are millions of things I could tell you. I keep everything meticulously recorded in my journal so I won't forget it, but I don't have my journal today.   I love Leon.  There are two beautiful Cathedrals (the red and yellow one on one side and the iconic white one on the other--my favorite), and we got to take the tower tour of the white Cathedral of Leon today! We were able to clamber all over the ancient domes and collumns on the top of the Cathedral (which is huge) and had an incredible view of the city.  I took lots of pictures--I'll send em when I get the chance.

The market life here is crazy and wonderful, I'll write more about it next time.  I just love Nicaragua.  Okay fine, everyone can come visit me.

Thinking of you all and praying for you all!

Oh, and maybe I should explain the name of this email, huh? Haha. I never remember what I'm writing about.  While we were making cakes Iris put the two cats they own in a birdcage in the backyard to keep them from getting into everything.  It was so pitiful, watching them clamber over each other and mewl and try to escape.  I couldn't get the image out of my head...there's just something so ironic about it.  Bird cages are, stereotypically speaking, exactly what cats are always trying to get into, and here were two of them miserably trapped in one.  I feel that there are greater life parallels here.  Maybe a mission metaphor.  I'll think about it and let you know. Maybe I'll write an essay about it, because I have no life and I actually like writing essays (who says that, honestly?). Okay, love you all! 

Les quiero,

<3 Anna

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