¡Hola familia y amigos!
So I thought it couldn't get any hotter here, and then it did. If I die here, just know that I love all of you. And that you won't really have to miss me because you can just google Justo Llamas and remember me in the version of my ugly Argentinan Doppleganger self. He sings and everything.
Also, to celebrate my official 6 months in the mission (wooooo!!) we went to a French bakery called "Pan y Paz" (or "Bread and Peace") last Monday, and it was sinfully delicious. A double chocolate mousse for dessert (dessert first, naturally) followed by a goat cheese sandwich on crisp freshly baked french bread. Worth the calories. If anyone is coming to pick me up in Nicaragua post-mish, we're going there. We're also going to drink Papaya Milkshakes, because they too are delicious and I tried my first one today. Or maybe we drank two.
Sometimes I think I'm being clever and then I read the email that I sent the week before and I don't understand what I was thinking. Like the words "maks", for example. Not sure what a "maks" is, but I used the word twice. [editor's note: I corrected this last week.] It's fine . . . everyone can just have creative license with what I might have been intending to say and go from there.
We named the pigeons that are now officially living inside of our house Laman and Lemuel (Book of Mormon reference), because they are always murmuring and contending one with another. But then Laman and Lemuel built a nest with little eggs . . . and I'm not quite sure what to say about it. Clearly, one of the two of Laman or Lemuel is a girl, or . . . well, engaging in a rather inappropriate relationship. Lemuel y Lamanqua maybe. Lamania? Lemuelshka? Lemuelkwisha? Let me know if you come up with something better. But it is just so adorable the way I wake up to them shrieking above my head at 3 in the morning. I love it.
Why are there even pigeons in the world, anyway? Or lice or mosquitos. Or cockroaches. Especially cockroaches. It is my personal opinion that Noah did not intentionally bring them on the ark, but the creeps snuck their own way in. There probably wasn't just two, either. If there's anything I've learned here from living in Nicaragua, it's that there's never just one cockroach. When one is seen . . . many follow.
Has anyone ever thought about the logisitics of Noah's Ark? I feel like being on a ship with a bunch of zoo animals would be a miserable, hot, smelly experience. And wouldn't he have had to bring more than just two of everything? What did the carnivores eat? How big was this ship, anyway? It also makes me think of one my favorite books, "Life of Pi." If you haven't read it, please do.
I'm rambling today because I once again didn't have time to write in my journal this week and it's just really hot in this cyber and I'm getting kinda tired of the whole waking up at 5:30 thing. Still waiting on everyone else in the zone to complete President's goal of having a certain number of lessons with members and finding new families we teach. We have now doubled the goal and are looking at tripling it this week. It's been kind of a miracle cambio, to be honest, even though I haven't seen the fruits of our labors just yet. My goal to baptize every week hasn't happened, but, if we keep working hard, we could potentially baptize four families the end of this cambio (March 31st. Aaahh! I feel like I'll be moving areas, but who knows?).
I think more than anything I'm at the point where I feel like Peter right now, trying to walk on water but trying not to falter on faith. The scriptures summarize the experience better than I ever could. Allow me to quote from Matthew 14: 24-31:
"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little afaith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
I feel like this at the present moment. We really could see miracles this change, and I feel like I have so many people beckoning me out onto the see, telling me to come. My District Leader, my Zone Leaders, my Mission President, God.. the invitation to just..believe. To have the faith. And here I am, walking here amidst all of the many trials and hardships and trying moments here, and I'm trying not to lose my faith and fall. To be completely honest with everyone, these last two changes with Hermana Gonzales have been great in the sense that I think I have learned more about myself in the last 8 weeks than I ever have in my entire life, as well as the most challenging and trying. I guess I thought by this point in our companionship she would be shouldering some of the weight and responsiblity of the work here, but so far it's just been a whole of me calling the shots and teaching and finding. I'm feeling...overwhelmed. Happy, but overwhelmed. If I am walking on water, I feel like I'm teetering.
I know that if I really can have the faith, I can do anything. I'm working on developing that faith, and keeping my eye on what Peter should have: that is, Jesus Christ. I don't know why he faltered. It might have been the waves lapping up against his feet, or the wind roaring against his ears, the shock of lightning on slick black water or a booming thunder overshadowing his thoughts and shaking his steps. For me, it might be rejection. It might be that no one wants to come to Church, or keep their promises, or pray. It might be the baking hot sun and the fatigue and the thirst. It might be that I miss everyone and have been feeling alone. It might be a lot of things. Peter fell, but I don't have to. I can keep my eye on Jesus Christ, who's arms are outstretched and beckoning me to come. He's beckoning all of us to come. I don't know what trials there are that you are facing in this life, but I would invite you to join me in this quest of pushing forward together. Keep focused on what matters, and have the faith to just keep walking. Even if we fall, I know He'll be there to help us up. Keep on keeping on, as they say.
I love you all, and I know that faith really is a force for good and for miracles. A goal without action is just a dream. A goal with action is not just faith, it's power. If we have been called to do something in this life, especially with God's help, we can do it. I have a firm testimony of that. There are people in the world who are pure in heart, who do keep their promises and who hunger and thirst after righteousness. I will do my best to find them, and keep on smiling while I'm doing it.
Have a lovely week and enjoy taking a nap in an air conditioned room for me, won't you?
<3 Hermana Behan