Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mountain Climbing: 27 January 2014

¡Hola familia y amigos!

I woke up this morning thinking about how amazing the women are here with balancing things on their heads. Huge baskets laden with bread, fish, tortillas, tamales packaged in banana do they do it? I've seen women get on the bus with their giant baskets on their heads and nothing happens. I tried walking around the apartment with my journal on my head and it fell after 30 seconds. Sad.  You should try it and let me know if you have more luck than I did.

I ate cereal with real milk today as well, which I haven't done since being here. We also had a Zone Activity and made waffles!! Reminded me of home.

With Hermana Gonzales

This past week was quite possibly the fastest week of my entire life.  I can't even believe that I'm sitting here writing this, to be honest.  Seriously...what happened to the last seven days?? We went to Managua three times, and I'm guessing that's why.  But before expounding on that, I need to tell you all about the amazing BAPTISM we had this weekend!

So his name is Luis and he's 18 years old, and I met him in my English class (which is where I met Roger as well. All of my students thought that was pretty funny and were arguing about who would be "next"..two down....four to go...haha). I'll try to send pictures next week so you can get an idea of what he looks like.  He's what everyone refers to as "morenita," super dark skinned, dark hair, dark eyes, and he is always, always, always wearing shorts (convincing him to wear pants on Sunday was a hard won battle).  Honestly, everything with Luis has been a hard won battle. He is so incredibly skeptical about everything, and we taught him every little detail of every single lesson, catering to his favorite word, "Apparentemente."  It's been neat, however, to see his usage of that word lessen.  "Apparently" denotes doubt, and doubt and faith cannot coexist. He learned that the hard way after weeks and weeks of teaching and setting new baptismal dates and nothing happening (he was one of the two baptisms that fell through last week, actually).  And honestly, I don't know what changed with him. He was in an interview with our district leader (the Elder who conducts the baptismal interviews) for TWO AND A HALF HOURS, and at the end of it, came out and said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not ready." So, we respected that decision and gave him some space, as heartbreaking as it was  (it was so hard to keep my face composed and not cry in front of him right then and there).  After a few days of not seeing him, however, we received a text message: "Hermanas? Do you think you could stop by for me this week?"   So, naturally, we stopped by.  And I don't know what changed in the four days of not seeing him and since his interview, but he was different.  More ..  humbled. Less skeptical.  I put my palms out and told him sincerely, "Luis, what are you hoping to gain from us passing by and teaching you?"  He paused and said.. "I have been thinking a lot more about my baptism."  We definitely perked up to hear that.  So I said, nonchalantly, "Yeah? What have you been thinking?" "I think it would be a good idea."  (at this point my excitement level is sky high, but, keeping calm..), "Really? And when would you be thinking? Like ... months? Weeks?" Luis: "Well ... days."  And then we made plans for his baptism for Saturday.

And he was baptized!!! It was glorious. There were several complications, including someone losing the keys to the baptismal font and Luis having to scale the glass (which is as high as the ceiling) and hopping over (I took pictures, and it was hilarious. At one point he was just clinging on to the top of the glass by his fingertips), but he made it out alive and we were able to fill the font (although I suppose if you had to choose a place to die, a baptismal font isn't a bad idea).  I felt similarly about Luis's baptism as I did Roger's.  He still has miles to go and things to learn, but I know that his choice to be baptized was a huge act of faith on his part.  And "apparentemente," a good one, because he seems much more peaceful now and excited to start a whole new life in the church.

He lives in a tiny little house underneath a canopy of banana trees, and it's exactly the type of location I imagined I would be teaching before coming here.  They don't have furniture so we just sit on rocks behind his house and a small platform of plywood.  I love the talks we have with Luis--especially when his cute little grandma and mom and sister join in.  We all talked for a good ten minutes last week about "garrobos", which are huge black iguana like beasts that apparently live here and that will chase you if they see you. Luis is terrified of them, haha. But they're also apparently "delicious," and are sold here in the market. Luis's mom said they'll buy one and make me try it sometime. I'm...less than excited at that prospect, but I'm down to try anything.

I realize the transition is weird, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about mountains. So we're currently teaching a lovely woman named Rebeca, who is the single mom of five little kids.  We passed by for her this week like we always do, and when we stopped by, something was clearly wrong. She was upset, but wouldn't say why and we didn't know what to do.  I was grateful for Rosita being there (the awesome member who is always out working with us), and she shared a personal experience about climbing a steep mountain, and how at one point she wanted to stop and turn back, but her sister helped her make it through. It's obvious Rebeca has trials. I don't know what they are, but I can imagine they're not easy (5 little kids by yourself?? No, thank you.). She's trying to do good, but the mountain is steep. Sometimes, it's too much. Our backpacks we're lugging around are too heavy, and we reach a point when we think, "You know what God? I just can't do it anymore. There isn't a point anymore. I need to turn back." But it's at THAT point, wondering if we can even go on, when Jesus Christ steps in. He's climbed the mountain. He's carried our laboriously heavy backpacks up to the very top and he's waiting to help us up with His hand outstretched. It's up to us whether or not we take that hand, but it will never withdraw. He will always be there.

I don't know why I felt so strongly that we needed to share that with Rebeca (it wasn't anything that we were planning on teaching her),  but I think I realized in that moment just how incredible the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in its power to heal. I testified to Rebeca (with what Rosita later told me was perfect Spanish), "Any problem we are having, anything at all, be it emotionally, physically, spiritually, with ourselves..our doesn't matter, can be healed through the power of the Atonement. Any and all problems in this life here on earth and fixed by the atoning power of Jesus Christ. There is NOTHING that he cannot heal." And in that moment, I felt that. And then we invited her to be baptized for this week. Not because I want to "complete my goal," or make my District look good, or write to my mission President that we had "success" for the week.. but because I want Rebeca to feel clean and whole. I shared the scripture in Isaiah 1:18:  "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." I don't even know if she has serious sins that are weighing her down, but it felt right to share. Sometimes we feel like we're just too stained. Too red--it's permanent, not even bleach can remove it. We feel like we're better off discarded.  But bleach holds nothing on the power of the Atonement.  And Rebeca can be healed. Take off the backpack.  It's the moments when we feel the most alone that He is there for us. I know this is true. I've seen it time and time again. And you know? She accepted a baptismal date for this coming week. And I have the faith that it will happen.

Fun fact about backpacks--I literally feel like mine is a part of my body. I've been wearing a backpack since backpacking around Europe and I feel weirdly exposed without it.

Anyway, time is short as it always is, so I will expound more on the adventures in Managua and other fun things next Monday.

Les quiero a todos!

<3 Hermana Behan

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