!Hola familia y amigos!
Allow me to say a belated Feliz Navidad, Prospero año y Felicidad.
They made all of the missionaries in my zone put on stupid little elf hats and sunglasses and sing that to the entire stake of Leon, and whomever was supposed to turn off the music after "Feliz Navidad" played three times forgot. So, we ended up singing it SEVEN times (yes. I'm being serious), and by the end of it I couldn't even sing because I was laughing so hard. We just really, really, really wanted everyone to have a Merry Christmas from the bottom of our hearts.
It was a weird activity as a whole, honestly. It started off with really loud and dramatic Christmas music and four middle aged women pretending to lip sync (badly) and half-heartedly banging on tambourines in the wrong rhythm. Then we watched a mini-play of the Nativity Scene, in the which Joseph was initially morbidly obese in the 1st act and then replaced by a much skinnier anorexic version. The "angel" was also wearing someone's temple dress. I'm 85% positive. Ah... Nicaragua. Never fails to entertain.
Comical things that have happened in my life recently:
--The annoying "semillas por sol" basket woman has been replaced by a man who yells out what he's selling like the beginning of "The Lion King" movie. Hna. Najarro and I both thought of it at the same time--he has the same intonation of voice. "Laaaaaaa Tortillaaaaaaaa.... come-la-con-pescado...cada mañana.."
--We passed by a big group of men sitting around on a street corner, and one of them yelled out to me as we passed by, "You have now found the love of your life in Nicaragua." I laughed; I couldn't help myself. What a relief. I've finally found the man I've been waiting for and dreaming about.
--Last week an elderly member of the Church bought us hamburgers from a store advertising "hamburguesas y sandwishes." Sandwishes. All of your deepest dreams and desires come true with every bite.
--Texting and driving is a bad idea. Texting and bicyling? That shouldn't even BE an idea. Tell that to the guy who almost hit me today.
--The crazy "drinking juice" guy we pass by everyday stuck his tongue out at me and said "Yo soy el Rey," or, "I am the king" yesterday. You just never know what to expect from him.
--I made one of my worst Spanish mistakes this week. Viento = wind. Ventoso = fart. So when the wind blows really powerfully through the taxi window and completely destroys your hair and you try to say, "Dang it! A huge wind blew in through the window and messed up my ponytail!" but you don't say wind...you will be laughed at.
--I killed a cockroach the size of a playing card house last week. It was classic dramatic irony. Hna. N started telling me about this HUGE cockroach she saw the night before, and what should appear IN OUR HOUSE but said beast?? Hna. N ran away, so it was up to me to save the day. It's fine, though, because poor Hna. N has had a rough go this last week. One night a gecko jumped on her shirt on her way to the bathroom, and another she opened the door and a bat flew into the house. The animal kingdom is out to get her.
This Christmas was, without question, the weirdest I have ever had. Mostly it just didn't feel...real. Surreal is the word. It was Christmas but it wasn't Christmas. I wore a short sleeved shirt all day and was dying of heat. On the 24th we just stopped by various member's houses and went with the Bishop to visit the Centro all lit up at night (because it's a Leon tradition). I've never seen the central so full! (when I say Central, I mean the huge area in front of the beautiful white cathedral that never fails to amaze me every time I see it). It was a fun atmosphere--that pre-Christmas anticipation, the Cathedral lit up from below and lights strung onto the angel resting on the very tippy top. Street vendors and glow in the dark contraptions being shot up into the velvety dark sky, couples holding hands and music and smoky food stands. I bought myself a respado to make up for the lack of fruit soup in my life (a Christmas Eve tradition at home, for those who don't know).
We woke up absolutely exhausted, because the fireworks and loud music from the 24th didn't let up until 5 am. I think around 3 am I was able to doze off, but woke up again at 5and the alarm went off at 6:30 and I wanted to shoot someone. With my nerf gun that I still don't have but decidedly need.
Hna. N and I had a peaceful morning. Took our time getting ready, setting up for Skype that afternoon, and I was able to Skype my family at 5 that day! Even though you couldn't see me (so lame, I know), that was the best Christmas present I could have asked for. It was harder than I thought it would be to hang up (really, 40 minutes is nothing), but I'll be seeing you guys before you know it. After Skyping, we played games at a members house and then headed back to our casa. But it was still so early and I was so hungry! No way was I going to let Hna. N and I go to sleep on Christmas Day without an adventure. That just isn't my style. So we escaped to the Centro again and I treated her to Siembras y Cosechas (milkshakes. Yum), and then to Cafe Rosita's for a delicious panini and cake. We were both ridiculously full by the end of it, but it was lovely. We sat on the second terrace by a huge open window, a view of all of the rofos of the houses and the stars twinkling above as our backdrop. It was really great to spend the last hours of the day in that way--I didn't really feel like a missionary that day, but I did spend a lot of quality time with Hna. Najarro. I'm really going to miss her when she leaves.
Speaking of which....Cambios (changes) are coming up on the 7th, and I am anxious. The last meeting we had with President with all of the newbies (self included), he kept saying, elusively and repeatedly, that many of us would be called to serve as trainers in the upcoming weeks, because we're getting 12 new hermanas--which will officially divide our mission 50/50 with Elders and Hermanas. I don't know what's going to happen..but I have this deep sinking feeling that they're going to make me train even though I've only been here for three months. Mark my words. At any rate, we'll all find out next week.
Also! This might just be hearsay, but apparently they might be sending norteamericana hermanas to Puerto Cabezas for the first time ever.This is HUGE news, if it's true. Puerto is on the Caribbean coast (reason 1 why I want to go: Cara Behan in the Caribbean say whaaat?), and it is apparently gorgeous. We all want to serve there just because it's the most exotic part of the mission. You take a tiny little plane to get there and can only bring one suitcase with no more than 30 pounds in it (which is practically nothing, when you consider the weight of scriptures and all of the books we have). You live in the jungle on the coast and take bucket showers and are pretty much estranged from everything. You speak Mesquito (an extreme dialect of Spanish--a mix of several languages), and if you're called there, you stay for awhile. It's hard and challenging and exotic and awesome: an adventure. And I'm always up for an adventure.
So, we'll see. My dream areas in the mission besides Puerto are Matagalpa or Jinotega, because they're both in the mountains. Hiking every day through the mountains to get to appointments?? I think yes. If President loves me, he will send me there, haha.
In completely trivial news, I tried a new fruit that I'm in love with. It's called "Calala" (so fun to say, right?). It's a yellow fruit the size of a mango, and the inside is filled with tiny seeds encased in little citrusy juice pockets (seeds kind of like a pomegranate, but orange and edible). We had it in juice form and it was delicious.
So to finish up I'm going to be 100% honest here: December was pretty terrible, as far as missionary success goes. I had more than one moment where I thought, "Okay..why is this happening? Am I even supposed to be here?" but I know that God has a plan for me here, which was made manifest this week. After weeks of zero results and rejection and lessons that never resulted in anything (one particular lesson that was awful.. a man who told us that women can't pray, and then proceeded to preach at us for an hour about how God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are all the same person and how he feels obliged to teach us the truth because he doesn't want God to hold him responsible for our "almas perdidas" = lost souls. Thank goodness Hna. N has an inhuman amount of patience, because it took all of my self control not to smack him upside the head with my umbrella.), we're beginning to see the fruits of our labors.
I read a scripture that week that pretty much sums up what I'm feeling in Alma 26:27: "When our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said, . . .'Bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." And you guys....it happened. It finally happened. ROGER ACCEPTED A BAPTISMAL DATE AND WILL BE BAPTIZED THIS FRIDAY!!! I realize I haven't really given you much background information on him so this means practically nothing to you, but it is truly a miracle. We have been teaching him since the second week I got here, and of everyone we have been teaching, he has been my favorite (you probably shouldn't pick favorites..but I did. So.) since the beginning. He was a Jehovah's Witness for 12 years and even preached in the streets with them, until one day he realized that it was wrong and didn't know what to do with his life. A few months later, we contacted his dad in the street. And while looking for his dad, we found him.
Roger is a perfectionist. Or "meticulous," as he puts it. Always dressed perfectly, color coordinating, confident, smart. It's fun to watch him with the members at Church, because he's the social one and reaches out to them before they come to him. All of the members love him and have been asking us when he's getting baptized for weeks. It was a process, because if you know anything about Jehovah's Witnesses, it's that they rigorously study the Bible and have much of it memorized. Every lesson was good but a challenge--because he knows his stuff. Particular verses, all of the doctrine...everything. It took awhile for him to accept everything, when he started reading the Book of Mormon, it changed everything. And yesterday after a powerful lesson with some members, he agreed to be baptized.
I can't express to you how happy I am, honestly. Roger isn't "a number in my planner" to say I baptized this week. He's going to be an amazing member and a leader in the Church someday, I am sure of it. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the process at all.
God loves me and has a plan for me, and that was made evident this week. He loves all of you as well, I can testify of that.
Anyway, time is out, as always. My sandwish for each and every one of you is that you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was...unconventional, but good. If anyone had told me Christmas of last year, "Well, next year you're not going to be home because you're going to be in a little Cafe in Leon Nicaragua with a short El Salvadorian woman drinking a rather delicious milkshake," I don't know that I would have believed them. Life can take you to some pretty crazy places.
!Les quiero muchisimo!
<3 Hermana Behan / Anna / Dr. Meow / Gatita / Chelita / Reina / Gringa / Caribbean / Your favorite missionary