Sunday, October 30, 2016

Area time is precious

This last two weeks have been extremely busy. Tons of little things added together to make these transfers extra busy, but the main thing was the fact that transfers week was the last week of the month, which is generally my busiest week anyways. We ended up getting something ridiculous like 7 hours in our area this week. It's rough now too because now Elder Galo and I are a separate companionship because the APs have a special assignment. Like 7 zone leaders finished their missions this week and there weren't a ton of missionaries that had the leadership qualities president was looking for, so he felt inspired to call two really young missionaries  to be Zls for Bello Horizonte, which is the zone that includes the office. They only have a few changes in the mission, so president put them together with the APs in a foursome, so the APs are effectively running the zone while training them to be good Zone leaders. It's kinda cool because now we have 6 missionaries in our house and in our area, but the hard part is now Elder Galo and I have to find a way to accomplish what normal missionaries get done, but in less than half the time... We'll see how it goes, but starting this week with only 7 hours in our area it was a rough start. Nonetheless we are ready to take on the challenge. 

In other news we baptized our first convert who lives in Los Robles, which is a super rich neighborhood in our area. We rarely work their because the people work all day long or are all closed up in their houses and are not very receptive at all. We met her from a member from the states that was visiting on business for a few weeks and he ran into in his work and brought her to church. From there we took over, but it was slow going, because she was always working and never had much time to visit, but she was coming to church every Sunday, and then a little ways back she lost her job, so these last two weeks we were able to visit her frequently and teach her everything and since she already had a testimony forming from the times she was able come to church, plus she always asked a bunch of questions during the gospel principles class, so in these last two weeks she was able to understand everything and felt ready to be baptized. It goes to show that there are people who are ready to hear our message everywhere, so if we don't work in all parts of our area we won't be able to find the people that God is preparing. It's still difficult for me to find the animo to go contacting in Los Robles, because we have so little time that I'm afraid of wasting valuable time with investigators and converts in other parts of our area. I'll have to think of an intelligent way to go about it. We'll start with getting references from her if we can.
Another unexpected blessing we received this week was that several missionaries had to come to Managua  from Puerto Cabezas to get their residencies, but there weren't any return flights until today, so they stayed with us yesterday, which was the one day in the week other than Sunday that we were able to work, so we were able to take advantage and Elder Galo went with one and I worked with the other and we were able to visit all the people that we hadn't been able to visit in the week.

Two of our most positive investigators right now are Romulo and Juan Jose. Romulo is in the intelligence division of the police and his wife is actually a member of the church but she has been inactive for a long time.  I love teaching him because he has a ton of good questions and also he's just a cool guy to talk too. We've only taught him a few times, but he has been receiving the lessons really well and has been reading the book of mormon and the pamphlets. His work schedule is pretty rough, and in general he works two 24 hour days and one 36 hour day in the week and then he studies  at the university on Sundays. Last Sunday he decided to sacrifice some study time and came to church for the first time! This week we have only been able to visit him once because of our conflicting schedules, but he should be coming to church again and he is preparing to be baptized towards the end of November. Juan Jose and his wife Bernarda are a tiny old couple of like 70 years or so. The are the nicest people and Juan is good friend with the first counselor in the Villa Flor stake. His biggest struggle is he can't walk and doesn't have a good wheel chair. So he still hasn't been to church, but his wife went last sunday and his friend found a wheel chair to lend him, so we'll be wheeling him o church this sunday. He is also preparing to be baptized towards the end of November. 

Anyways things ar good here and it felt really good to finally get a few hours of time in our area yesterday after a long week of having to do other stuff. Nothing beats some good time in the area meeting new people and teaching people about jesus and the book of mormon and see their faith and desires to follow christ. There are so many incredible people here!

Ok talk to you all next week. 


Elder Hamson

Here are some pics. Me and Elder Galo in the airport saying goodbye to my dad (trainer) in the mission, Elder Castro. Crazy that he already finished his two years, seems not too long ago that he was just completing 17 months. Who knows if I'll ever be able to make my way to Panama and see that guy again. Great Missionary. The next pick is me with David Chamorro who was our ward mission leader and will make one heck of a misisonary in Guatemala. He helped us out a ton, and I am stoked to hear how his mission goes. We were in the airport on other errands, so it was cool to cross paths with him and get to see him off. The last picture is a picture of our zone in the last multizone conference we had. 

Getting friendly with the local wildlife

Ginormous dead bat

What inevitably happens when you stop for a red light--los motos squeeze to the front

Monday, October 17, 2016

Never a normal week

Last week and the start of this week consisted of lots of time in the office, which isn't much fun. Last week Elder Galo had his first big deadline as Records Secretary and was stressing to get everything done and calling missionaries to send records so Tuesday and Wednesday we were in the office almost all day. I spent a good portion of the time helping him and let me just say I don't think I have shared enough about Nice addresses. Addresses in the states are so boring. Two of my favorite addresses that showed up on baptism records were, "de la palmita 35 varras al sur, Tipitapa, Managua" (from the little palm tree 35 rods to the south) and the other "detrás del muro de los mormones, Puerto Cabezas" (behind the wall of the Mormons). Hahaha good stuff.  Quick Nica vocab lesson: "Varras" are frequently used in directions and it took me a while to catch on, but essentially one block equals 100 varras, so saying something like 35 varras tells you, that you need to go roughly one third of the block. Anyways continuing with my week.. Thursday I had to do all my errands since Elder Galo had been busy the first part of the week. So we spent most of the day driving around to the bank, sinsa, disnorte-dissur, etc. Then Friday it was looking like we were going to get some solid time in the area, but things ended up coming up and we didn't get to the area till late. And then Saturday was pday, which was also extremely busy because a pipe broke under the concrete of our side porch, so I had to call the owner to get permission to have someone come cut the concrete to fix the pipe. So that whole fiasco took most of the morning. Then we had a few hours of solid pday time which we used to play soccer, eat, and write, but then our writing time got interrupted because we had to go to the hospital to pay a bill so they would let a missionary leave and from there we just ran to price smart to buy some food and that was our pday.

This week was supposed to be the Audit, so all day Monday and Tuesday I was in the office with Elder Neilson going though all the documentation we have archived and resolving all the other little things, but then Wednesday afternoon we got a call saying they were going to have to postpone the audit... That was good and bad news really. Bad because we spent a bunch of time preparing and good because it meant we no longer had to be in the office and could go work in our area. The only problem was when we got to the area we had zero things planned because we had planned to be in the office all day, so it was kinda a lot of visiting people who weren't home or just passing by to set up an appointment for a different day.

Thursday however we were able to plan and we had a great day in the area that started with the baptismal interview for Johnny who is super awesome and was a member reference. Members have such an incredible ability to find the people that are most prepared. All of the baptism we have had in my time in Managua except one have been member references.  Generally I think members are constantly consciously or subconsciously preparing all people in their circles, whether it's through little conversations or just through an example, so all it takes is a receptive heart and open mind really and boom you instantly have a perfect investigator. It seems like just yesterday that I was invited by Hermano Ramos to come over after work to meet Johnny and in the last month Johnny has progressed extremely quickly and has been going to church faithfully and his Baptism will be today in the afternoon! Also thursday afternoon we were able to meet up with David Perez who we have been struggling to run into. He was the last person I contacted with Elder Ramirez and after our first visit he went to church and then got a job that has him working almost 24/7, so when we have come by he has either not been there or its late like 8:30 and he's just getting back from work all tired because he's like 63 and his days of manual labor should be behind him. Anyways he had gotten home early, so we were able to talk to him and he let us in for a short visit. He wasn't sure if he is going to be able to make it to church this week because his granddaughter is turning one and the whole family is going to celebrate all day. He was sure to invite us to the party Sunday afternoon though to come eat with them. He is just the nicest guy. I always really enjoy our lessons with him because he is so excited to learn and he just gets it. I like his wife too because she just has an endless list of brewing questions for us that come to her mind at random points during the lesson and she doesn't hesitate to ask them in the same moment they occur to her. We were talking about keeping the sabbath day holy with them and out of nowhere she asks us if we smoke or drink. We said no of course and gave her the short reason why and then this evangelical lady that was listening in adds that we don't drink coffee either, in an attempt to make us look weird. The lesson was actually great until she showed up. The last time we had a good lesson with David and his family she showed up as well. She is like a fellowshiper or missionary of sorts for the neighborhood evangelical church and I think God doesn't want us to leave the family alone with her haha because both times she's come there we've been almost leaving, but each time a sudden torrential downpour of rain kept us stuck inside the house. She is always kinda looking to compete with us, so this time after we decided we would wait out the rain she casually explained to the family that we believe that jesus was a prophet. We just kinda shrugged and said well a prophet is someone who talks to God and then teaches the people Gods will, so then yeah Jesus was definitely a prophet, but seeing as he was the savior of the world and the son of God he was also much more than just a prophet. So from that she then said oh yeah that's another thing you guys believe that prophets have seen God, but that's not true because no one can see God. Elder Galo shared a scripture in Matthew that says that the clean of heart will see God, but that then sparked an argument about whether that was talking about after death or in dreams etc and I just said nothing because she was just trying to pick a fight, so then after going back and forth with my comp, she asked me why I was speechless and I said I just didn't want to argue with her, to which she got all defensive saying that's absolutely right, arguing is of the devil. I've kinda learned that when people start getting argumentative or heated it's generally best just to say nothing and wait. I then asked if I could share a scripture if she wasn't going to argue. So I just went to exodus 33:11 which is extremely clear and straight forward. Most importantly that was enough for the doubt to be resolved for David and his wife, and even though the evangelical lady didn't give up her position the discussion basically died down and David offered us a soda and a donut, which we gratefully accepted and by then the rain had slowed down enough, so we took off to get to our next appointment. Even though the rain had slowed down a bunch, the streets were rivers and after looking for a good place to cross we ended up giving in and getting wet up to the mid shins to cross the street, which is always good fun. Overall the lesson ended well and I think everyone was able to feel the spirit despite the spirit of contention that wanted to make a presence. The spirit of contention and the spirit of God can't be present at the same time! A lesson I learned from a different family in the same week who told us since we had started visiting them she and her husband hadn't argued at all which she drew the conclusion must have something to do with the messages because normally they argue all the time! 
The big disappointment of this week was that Julieta was stuck in Masaya all week. We were hoping to get her interview done on Tuesday because she is completely ready for her baptism. When we called her Monday night though she was in the hospital because her daughter got sick, so she wasn't gonna be able to leave Masaya until her daughter got better, but then whatever virus her daughter had passed to her granddaughter and then towards the end of the week she got it, so she ended up being stuck there all week long, so we'll have to move her baptism to next week.

Today we had pday with president and we all went to chocoyero which is a wild life reserve here in Managua and consisted of a short hike to a waterfall and back. It was a pretty nice jungle hike and we took a bunch of fotos together. Then we went to laguna de apoyo for lunch which is a giant lagoon that is in the crater of an ancient volcano and is a really beautiful spot. We grabbed lunch at one of the many restaurants there overlooking the lagoon. It was a great Pday, but took most of the day and we have Johnny´s baptism tonight, so we're in a bit of a rush! 

Until next week,

Elder Hamson. 

Photos: The street we had to cross after leaving Davids house. My family in the mish (My dad Elder Castro in the middle and my only brother Elder Vaides). Some of the sites on our hike. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Busy Conference Week

It's October! September just flew by, and all things considered it was a good month. This week was kind of hectic though.

Sunday we saw a bunch of miracles, undoubtedly resulting from our dedicating more time in the area. We had one of our most positive investigators, julieta, finally get over her biggest challenge (coming to church), because she goes and visits her daughters everyweekend in Masaya which is several hours away. This Sunday however she made the sacrifice and we all lit up when we saw her walk into church. Also the dad of a big family that we contacted last Friday, showed up to church on his own! And was super interested in the whole thing. We also had two members bring non member friends with them, so we got lots of surprise visitors along with the ones we brought ourselves. All in all it was a nice Sunday and awesome to see the additional blessings added on top that we received for our diligence in the week. The sucky thing is after such an awesome week and a ton of new investigators at church we had a ton of stuff come up this week and struggled to find decent time to work in our area and visit all the people that came on sunday.

Monday we were in the office until very late because Elder Ramirez had to teach Elder Galo everything he possibly could about being records secretary because he was leaving Tuesday.

Tuesday we had consejo de líderes, which is always nice to hang out with all my friends. This time we had basically my entire Somoto district there so we all took a picture together. Elder Castro, Diaz, Galo, Méndez, and Reinoso.  It was cool being with all of them for the last time because my dad (trainer) in the mission, Elder Castro, is leaving at the end of this transfer among with a whole hoard of other awesome Zls. After consejo we had to go drop off Elder Ramirez at the bus station with all his luggage, but due to traffic it took about two and a half hours to do that and get to the office. Elder Galo had to get a bunch of forms ready for the interviews on Wednesday, so that took up the rest of our night.

Wednesday was setting up to be a normal day, and even though I was booked with end of the month stuff, we were planning on getting to the area at 4pm, but plans were changed because there was an earthquake in León! Here in Managua we got a decent little shake, but nothing too strong, it just lasted a good little while and since we were in a giant office building we felt the movement pretty strongly. But over in momotombo it was the strongest and the walls of the house the missionaries were living in got cracked all the way around, so they had to move out immediately. Which basically meant we no longer had much hope of spending much time in our area because we had to help them out. We ended up getting about 2 hours of time in the area.

Thursday we were finally able to get to our area at 4 and we got a ton of bendiciones, or blessings, which is how we refer to contacts that are presented to us by members. Alma, who is a super pilas young woman went with us and our ward mission leader to meet two of her friends. The first one wasn't home and the second one was working and didn't have time to talk. Despite starting off not so well, we asked her if she knew anyone else that we could visit and she agreed to take us to one other family who ended up being decently positive and accepted a book of Mormon. From there she she recommended a house to buy donuts from, so we went to buy donuts and started talking to the lady who sells donuts and she turned out to be super positive and even insisted on giving us her number so we could set up a time when she wasn't working. She also accepted a book of Mormon. Then a friend of hers showed up, so we also talked to him and set up a day to go visit him in his house as well. Then Alma had to go to seminary, so we thanked her for her help and continued to our appointment with julieta. After julieta a man on a motorcycle pulled over to talk to us and totally took us by surprise by saying he was a member from Rubén Darío, but he has family in our area who aren't members and just live a block away, so he told us he would go ahead and when we passed we could go act like we were passing by chance and say hi to him and then he would introduce us to his family. Sounded like a good plan to us, so long story short we meet Jorge and kennith who seem interested in talking to us and we have an appointment to meet with them next week and left them with a part of the book of Mormon to read. The blessings didn't stop there because later in the night while our Zls were doing a baptismal interview, we went out to invite David Perez, who came to church for the first time last week, to conference this weekend and on the way back we passed by a member named Martha who offered us Jamaica and tacos and then proceeded to introduce us to two family members and two friends that we visiting her and aren't members. Then to finish off the night perfectly, Sinai passed her interview and is all set for her baptism. All in all it was a great day and honestly felt like God was compensating us for the fact that we haven't had any time to work in our area.

Friday we had our interviews with president which went really well. Interviews are a little different in the office because we are in constant communication with president so theres not a whole lot to be discussed. President ended up finishing the interviews early so he decided to accompany us for Sinai's baptismal service. The baptism went really and we are hopeful that she can be the key in reactivating her mom and helping her dad join the church. I don't know if how much I've talked about Sinai in my emails, because pdays always sneak up on me and I just write what ever comes to mind (this pday being an exception because it got postponed due to conference). But anyways she was actually investigating the church when I first got to the Maximo and for my first 2 weeks she was pretty positive, but then things got complicated because her boyfriend is super evangelical and   wouldn't let her go and so she wasn't going to church and stopped progressing. So we dropped her for a few weeks and then picked things up again and she has been super awesome now and has even been going to seminary most days. She'll be an awesome addition to the ward and like I said will hopefully help her family along the path.

Saturday was just a lot of alternating between being in conference and inviting/bringing people to conference. Which of course meant pday was out of the question, but weeks go by so quickly it'll be no time at all before our next pday. Conference was awesome though and today we added up the weekly numbers and as a mission we were able to bring 669 investigators to conference! A nice testimony that the work is hastening and the words of the prophet are reaching the ears of new people every 6 months. 

All in all it's been a good week and I'm looking forward to the meeting we have tomorrow for all trainers and trainees which add up to 96 missionaries, which is about half the mission! And someone has to buy food for them all, oh wait that's me.. That'll be fun. 

Until next week!

Elder Hamson

Here´s a few photos. The first two are photos of one of the stranger fruits that I have eaten here called licha or mamón chino. The third photo is of Sinai´s baptism.