¡Hola familia y amigos!
First P-Day in Corinto. A cruise ship pulled in today so we just kind of walked around and laughed at all of the tourists who were bumping into each other and taking pictures. I wish that they weren't so blatantly stereotypical, but they were. Several American men with pot bellies strutting around saying loudly in English, "We want BEER! and COLD!" and tiny little Asian men dressed in lime green pants and riding some sort of weird, modern looking bikes, covered from head to foot by clothing, including white bandanas attached to large sun hats to cover their faces (they kind of looked like futuristic Bee-keepers, haha). I think they'll probably be sunburned, but fingers crossed they make it out of Nicaragua okay.
Kind of sad that of all the places they could visit in Nicaragua, they're only experiencing the central of Corinto, but whatever. Tourist away, my friends. And buy many cheap things that you think are from Nicaragua but which are all, in fact, imported from Guatemala.
You guys. It is so hot here. But seriously, SO HOT HERE. Everyone told me Corinto was the hottest place in Nicaragua, and I don't think I believed them because Leon is only an hour away and is an inferno in itself. BUT NO. THEY WERE ALL RIGHT AND I'M GOING TO DIE. I don't even know how it is so miserably, incredibly, horribly hot here, but I wake up every morning sweating. I almost can't even fall asleep it's so hot, and I have a fan literally five inches from my face.
We also don't have running water here, which is cool. Turns out the last three weeks of water bottle showers left me well prepared for Corinto. In case you were wondering, two buckets of water is sufficient to bathe. I feel like I'm preparing myself for a life of extreme camping, haha. I decided I'm going on a road trip to the Redwood Forest in California post-mish, actually, so all who would like to join me are welcome.
We have a giant yellow bucket that we fill up at night when there's water, and that's that. The woman who does our laundry only has a well, so we stop by and help her draw out water for that when we can. It's hard work. And really hot. Did I mention that it is really hot? And humid? And gross and miserable and terrible? Why. Whyyyyyyyyyy.
So, as expected, we live right on the beach. I've decided that Chinandege is like the more rural, rustic armpit of Leon, and Corinto is like the glistening dab of deodorant on that armpit. And yes, I did just make that analogy. The roads in outskirts of of town are made of sand, and the buildings are all brightly colored and beachy and surrounded by palm trees. The main form of travel is via triciculo, which is just half of a bike welded to a cart with two benches and covered by a metal canopy decorated by blankets or sheets or whatever the triciculist chooses to use and costs 7 cordobas (about thirty cents). Was that a run-on sentence? Yes. Yes, it was. Our area is HUGE (it used to be two areas but they recently closed one and combined the two), and it's honestly kind of overwhelming. I feel like we're just running around from one side to the other, and when I get home every night I'm completely swamped. I haven't even had time to unpack yet, and I have now officially been here a week. We also have 35 recent converts, and of those 38, only 5 are active . . . so, we definitely have our work cut out for us.
As for the Bishop here, I will only say that "if you have nothing nice to say, you should say nothing at all" applies. He almost didn't provide transportation to Conference, and we live 40 minutes from the Stake center in Chinandega. It's a headache, but we'll just work around him.
Despite the awful, miserable heat, I love living so close to the beach. The woman who makes our lunch, Ana Rosa, lives in a tiny little house made of rusted tin and plywood right in front of the ocean, so we sit outside and enjoy a marvelous view. It's so . . . tranquil, here. Almost too tranquil. The majority of people either own triciculos or only have work when ships pull into port, which is only every 15 days or so. So, finding people in their home's isn't a problem, because the majority just chill out in their hammocks all day, and I'm not exaggerating. Convincing them to come to church, however, is the same story as Leon, which is the nice way of saying that they're all liars and I don't trust any of them and if I hear the words, "Voy a hacer todo lo posible," "vamos a ver," or "si Dios quiere," one more time, I might just go a bit crazy.
My first night here, there was supposedly a huge earthquake in Chile that was expected to cause a tsunami close to the coasts of Nicaragua, and it was predicted to hit at 12 am. So, that was a lovely "welcome to Corinto!" "Hey, welcome to Corinto! At midnight we might all be washed away by a giant wave, but in the meantime, here's a mango!"
Didn't happen, and I didn't die. So, breathe, mom. But in the event that there is a natural disaster, adios, amigos.
Tsunamis and heat aside, however, I love it here. The sun melting into the ocean's horizon, cool ocean breeze wafting through the streets . . . the moon and stars reflected on dark, choppy waves. The houses are much more humble here than they were in Leon, the majority hand-made by their inhabitants by random pieces of ply wood and tarp and sheet metal. Because many of the houses are on the beach, the floors are made up of sand instead of dirt. I suppose there isn't too big of a difference, but it's more welcoming somehow. Corinto is exactly what every kid dreams of when they think about going on a mission. I especially love the night time here, because everything is just so . . . peaceful. There's just a really profound silence . . less houses/street lights so the stars shine even more brightly and if we hear anything at all it's the sound of our feet padding on the sand and the waves crashing.
I love my new companion. Her name is Hna. Lopez and she is the most chill person on the planet. I seriously don't think we'll ever have problems, because she never gets upset about everything. Just really . . . relaxed. And patient. Doesn't talk too much, but when she does it's to say something really important or profound, and she is secretly hilarious. Really dry sense of humor which I love. I should probably be sad that I left Hna. Gonzalez, but I've gotta be honest . . . as much as I really do love her, I was more than ready to leave her, haha. I'm a terrible mother.
There's too much to say so I'll just save it for next week. But in short, Patricia's baptism was beautiful, and seeing Roger all dressed up in white to baptize her was one of the most special moments of my mission. Luis finished reading all of the Book of Mormon before I left, and Rosita, Luis, and Patri came and visited me this weekend to watch General Conference. It was such a fun surprise and I love all of them so much. It was, and still is, hard not being in Leon, but I know I'll be okay. I might not have had as many baptisms as some, but I am content to know that the ones I have had are active and converted. Being here, with 35 people who are supposedly recently baptized and now inactive, I've realized what kind of missionary I want to be . . . and it isn't like those who came before me. I'm not here just to baptize, I'm here to teach people that are going to stay. Lift up the hands that hang helplessly down and run around from one side of my area to the other every single day doing everything I can to make a difference here. I won't be able to bring them all back, but if I can leave with better results than I came into, I'll be content.
Conference was amazing. I love that we have a Prophet of God directing the church and 12 apostles today. It's always been the form of Christ's church, and it always will be. If I leave Nicaragua without a single convert, I have certainly converted myself.
Love you all! Make a salad and think of me. But easy on the ants, they're not as tasty as you think.
<3 Hna. Behan