¡Hola familia ya amigos!
Note to self: don't leave two giant knives in your backpack. You'll try to get our your journal and slice your hand open.
Anyway. Did ya miss me?
I didn't have the opportunity to even check email last week, let alone write, because my entire life was flipped upside down. So, my apologies. I received a call at 8:30 pm Sunday night that I would be packing up and staying in Managua for the next two days to prepare to be a TRAINER. In other words, I'm psychic. I'm the only gringa who has been here for only 3 months who was called to be a trainer, and it might be a good thing that you didn't get an email from me....because I was so overwhelmed it was unreal. But, I'm fine now and life is good.
But where in the world do I even start? Blah. I don't know. Sometimes (all of the time) I wish I had the magical pen from Harry Potter's Rita Skeeter and it would just write out all of my thoughts for me. New Christmas idea, mom. If you send it to me now, I might just get it next year.
Firstly, the entertaining things in my life:
We ran into quite a few drunks last week (after effects of New Years), which led to several interesting street encounters. One drunk man called out to me, "Adios la alemana mas preciosa!" (the most precious German girl), and another who yelled out, "Bye Bye lady! I like it the weay you wear the backpack!" haha Backpacks. So sexy, you know. Another man sitting by himself on the street corner (no houses in sight) said, "Hello. God to bless you. Please come in." and another yelled out to Hna. Najarro, "Adios, Elder!" haha. Elder Najarro and his purple skirt and shirt. A bit gender confused, unfortuntely.
I don't know why, but everyone here thinks I'm German. Or from Holland. ?
I don't know if it's the post-Christmas season feelings or what, but everyone has been giving us food lately. I just can't find the balance! I'm either starving or I never want to look at food ever again. This week, there was a lot of, "Here, you poor darlings, eat this heaping plate of beans and rice. You're walking around all day and need no less than five rolls. And here, eat this slab of fried cheese bigger than your face, love." You know what happened to my New Years resolution to lose weight? It died. It died and is now living in my thighs. Whatever. Dad, I want a Gym membership when I get back.
I was also given hairy pig skin to eat this week (I almost gagged...fortunately, my new companion likes it, and I was able to sneak it to her), and tried a new "fruit" called "Grosseras." True to their name, they're gross. They're the size and color of green grapes, but pumpkin shaped, and they're bitter and disgusting. Not a fan.
So, in more important news, first I need to tell you about the worst day of my mission, followed by the best day of my mission.
Worst day: There was a point last week when everything just hit rock bottom. We were all waiting for Roger to show up for his baptismal interview, and he never showed. We waited for an hour and a half...no Roger. We STILL don't have a phone, either, so we had no way of calling him. So, feeling sufficiently discouraged, we decided we had waited long enough and needed to leave. One of the Elders was looking through the photos on my camera, and in an attempt to erase one embarrassing photo, I erased ALL the photos on my memory card. Awesome. My only baptism, my birthday, Hna. N's birthday, Christmas pictures, photos taken at the perfect moment...all of it. Gone. The Elders said there might be a way to get them back, but I was feeling pretty skeptical. So, we left, and I just felt so...discouraged. Changes coming up, Hna. N probably leaving, Roger not being baptized, all of my pictures are gone.... I just wanted to sit on the street corner and cry. But, seeing as that wasn't an option, we walked to dinner.
While at dinner, the members whom we were eating with (awesome couple named Luzmaria and Alberto) received a phone call. "Hola? Oh, Elders? What do you need?" my heart was racing so fast, hoping for the best. Elder Romero had somehow figured out where we were and wanted to talk to me. "Hermana," he said. "We have good news for you." Roger had arrived at the Chapel super late because he missed the bus, which only comes once every hour. But when he got there and realized no one was there, he didn't stop there. He walked to a member's house, called up Elder Reed (our District Leader who gives the baptismal interviews), and then met them at the Church for his interview. Then Elder Romero miraculously located us and told us about it. So, naturally, we thanked Alberto and Luzmaria for dinner (both ex-missionaries, so they understood) and BOOKED it to the Church. The difference in the walk to dinner and from dinner was almost comical. On the way there..gloomy, neither Hna. N or I said a single word, and everything just seemed dark and depressing. The way back? Classic disney scene. Little kids laughing, birds singing, people laughing, everyone smiling. Hna. Najarro was euphoric. She said, in Spanish, "I don't even have the words to express the alegria (joy) I feel right now." I felt the same. The camera things was less than ideal, but honestly? I would have traded all of the photos on my camera to see Roger baptized.
And you guys...Roger was baptized = best day of my mission. I realize I'm writing more details about it than you probably care to know, but I just can't write enough to express how life changing that day was for me. I'm going to quote what I wrote in my journal because I can't think of a better way to re-word what I was feeling:
"Roger was baptized. My joy is...full. I don't even know if I can describe it,really. The Church is true. It's all worth it. And seeing Roger experience that for himself today..I don't know. It was a little taste of heaven, I think.
"Roger said he was feeling kind of nervous, but the moment before his baptism, standing in the font, he felt a sense of peace. The way he described it was, 'I don't know how to explain it. I felt something I have never felt before. I feel...tranquil. Emotional." I was just as nervous for him and was praying silently that all would go well, and I know Hna. N was, too.
"It was everything an more a baptism is supposed to be like. I just felt so much love for Roger, and for the mission, and for being here. Seeing him come out of the water was one of those moments I will never forget.
"After his baptism and after changing, Roger shared his testimony with us (he says he isn't good at public speaking but the truth is he's a born leader and excellent speaker), and his testimony made me cry. He shared how he first met us about two months ago, and how it was either a thing of chance or meant to be, because he was about to leave his house when we knocked on the door looking for his dad. We invited him to English class and that was that. Well, he came to class, and that was just the beginning. He bore testimony that he knows the Church is true. It was..perfect.
"Roger is just so special. I know he'll be a leader in the Church someday, and today was just the beginning of a whole new life. I had a tiny vision of what it would be like to see him in heaven someday, and how much joy we'll feel there, knowing the experiences we had on earth. I will never forget Roger Jerez. My life has been forever changed by him.
"I don't even know what else to say. I'm...content. And grateful. And also convinced I have the best investigator (now member) in the world. He told Hna. N that he's looking for a job, but if they try to make him work on Sunday, he won't accept it. I know there are other people in Nicaragua like Roger, and I'm determined to find them."
My district leader told me that we shouldn't be discouraged about the lack of results in December, because most missionaries would kill to find someone as amazing as Roger. And it's true. We're teaching his girlfriend now, too, and he's thinking about serving a mission. (!!!!!!)
I love being a missionary. This is what people mean, when they say that the mission is 75% rejection and hardship and disappointments and 25% of the most fulfilling joy it makes it all worth it.I have met people here who have changed my life forever. I'm supposed to be here. If I ever doubted that, I can't know. God delivered...He always delivers.
I feel that I should share a part of my patriarchal blessing with all of you, because it was really neat for me to see it come to fruition. In relation to my mission, it says, "You will be a great missionary. . .There will be young men that you bring into the gospel who will become bishops and high counselors and stake presidents and patriarchs." I do not doubt that Roger is one of those young men.
1 Cor. 2:9, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, neither have entered into the heart of men, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I love God, and I have desires to serve him. I want to give all I have to my mission. I know that any "sacrifices" I make here will turn out to be the best investments of my life. Sometimes I joke that 14 more months is a reallllyyyy long time and I'd like to be home (I completed four months last week), but it really isn't,and I don't want to leave. If this is just the beginning,and I feel this much peace and love and spiritual confirmation and the desire to change and be better? If I've met so many great people that I love and seen and felt things that I never imagined I would be feeling? Then how much more does God have in store for me? I do not doubt that the next 14 months will be some of the very greatest of my life thus far. My life has been so blessed.
Also! Alberto was able to re-upload all of the pictures on my camera!! It was a week of miracles.
Anyway, time is short, and I have to go, but I have much more to write for the next time. For one, Hna. Najarro has left me! :( She is serving in Managua, and I know she'll see miracles there. She was so darling and spiritual and fun, and I couldn't have asked for a better "mom" on the mission. (Mission lingo is funny. If you're training, you're a parent, and your trainee is your child. If you're completing the mission, you're 'dying.' So, it's common to hear, "Good luck picking up your kids! You guys are going to be great moms!" Or, "Yeah...I just want to die in Matagalpa." haha). But my "hija's" name is Hermana Gonzales, she's only been here for 5 days, and she too is an El Salvadorenian. She's a cute girl with a lot of enthusiasm for missionary work, and I know we're going to see some miracles this month.
More on all of that later. Love you and praying for you!
<3 Hermana Behan