Monday, August 7, 2017

Chinandega

Well I am all settled down here in Chinandega and things are excellent. In the change from Matagalpa I swaped long steep hills and cooler weather for perfectly flat streets, but unbearable heat. Oh well things can't be perfect. It has been nice to chill with an American comp though. 

As far as this past week goes... The week started off with some soccer in the blazing heat followed by a nice relaxing P-day afternoon. Monday night was super nice too because we got to have a good lesson with Tia Nena (Hna Magdalena) who is preparing to be baptized this coming saturday and she just recently moved in with the part of her family that are basically all members so they are all way excited for her and they are alll super strong members. Her brother in law was even recently called as a patriarch. After our visit with her, we went to Familia Mejia´s for dinner and family night. They are a super awesome family of recent converts and reactivated members and they absolutely love the missionaries because their son is currently serving a mission in Belize. The are also without a doubt the wealthiest family I have met in Nicaragua and always provide amazing meals. The family night went really well and was even complete with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies which I have not eaten in literally a year and a half. I could probably use this whole letter to talk about their family, but I won't in order to get to the rest of the week. 

Wednesday we had a multizone conference here in chinandega and it was a super good meeting. We had the privelege to watch a video of a tslk elder holland gave to all the mission presidents in the MTC a few weeks back and it was super good. We talked alot about the divine companionship and how every misionary companionship should incorporate the divine number 3 and always include the holy ghost in the trio. He also shared a touching story of a prodigals son, which I would recount if I could, but I am forced to just summarize it so I can share the part that called my attentiong. A youth from Pocatelo Idaho ran away with his friends and left the state to escape his parents and the church and then went 20 years without any contact with his parents. His parents prayed unceasingly in those 20 years with the hope that he was still alive and would one day come back. One day a pair of missionaries passed by this prodigal son in his house in California and were sure to stear clear of the house because of his angry expression and even angrier dogs that were ready to attack the poor missionaries. The missionaries however felt a strong impression to go back, which they follwed and turning back they aproached the gate and the snarling dogs. As they went to open the gate the dogs lowered their heads and retreated to the porch. The missionaries then entered and with a little bit of light talk learned that the man was originally from Pocatelo idaho as was one of the missionaries. After asking whether the man had known certain families one of the missionaries realized that he was talking to his long lost brother that he had never met. The younger brother then simply stated "God has sent me to invite you home". Then lots of things happened and the older brother did end up returning home as well as returning to the church and completely changing his life. what really stood out to me were how many people were involved in the salvation of one person and the role that the holy ghost played in the whole process. The parents listend to the holy ghost that invited them to pray unceasingly, The apostels had to follow closly the spirit when making the assignment of the mission for the younger brother, the mission president had to be guided by the spirit to put the missionary in the right zone, district, and area and the missionaries not only had to make their daily plans with the spirit, but also were responsive enough to act when they got the impression. It made me reflect on what would have happened if the younger brother had not been receptive to the spirit after all of the things that had been put into place perfectly according to gods plan. I'm certain that God would have been able tyo find some other way to accomplish his purposes, but the younger brother would have certainly lost the opportuniy and experience of participating in that great miracle. That is the difference between having the spirit in your life and not. Sure miracles will happen and the Lord will accomplish his work, but by not being worthy or choosing not to follow the promptings of the spirit you loose your opportunity to play a part in those miracles and lose the great change and eternal impact that those miracles can have on your life. It's like being in the championship game, but sitting on the sidelines the entire time. Spiritual food for thought..

To wrap up the rest of the week I absolutely have to talk about Walter and Myra who were Baptized on Saturday with there daughter helen. They are such an incredible family and it was a privelege to be able to visit with them and teach them these last few weeks. They were struggling with their scheduled date for baptism because the husband was working a ton and it was getting harder to find them and teach. The week before his baptism he got super sick, which gave us the opportunity to visit them, give a blessing, and to continue teaching him, but it also meant he was probably not going to be able to be baptized on his scheduled date because of his illness. Friday was the day of the interview so my companion and I decided to fast for his health and that everything would work out so the family could be baptized. In When we got there for the interview he was in a super bad state and hadn't been out of bed all day. His wife and daughter passed the interview first and then it was his turn and when he came out of the interview he told us he was already feeling way better, but wasn't sure how he was going to feel the next day. Saturday we started getting everything ready for the baptism with the faith that everything would work out and that's when we got a call from Walter asking Us if we could have the Baptismal service a little earlier because he was feeling great. The three of them were baptized that day and we even had the surprise visit of Elder Camey (of the seventy) who joined us for the baptism which was awesome. 

There is much more to talk about, like this english professor investigator we have that insists that we teach him in english, but his english is terrible and he barely understands anything. Also theres bishop cordoba or "sam" who helps us out a ton and calls my comp "frodo" and me "Legolas" and never fails to great us with pretty much the only english frase he knows "I Love you my brother". Also there is family Baquedano who are literally helping us baptize their entire neighborhood. And also a dope food place that sells swarma.. You'll have to ask me for details some other time. Anyways, point is things are great here in chinandega. I love you all. Hope things are going well back home. Thanks for the emails. Talk soon

Elder Hamson

Fotos 1. San Cristobol. Definitely gonna climb it at some point in my time here. 2. Swarma on the roof with my comp. 3. Baptism of Walter, Myra, and Helen with Elder Camey. 







Crazy week

This past week was pretty craz and also very tiring. I'll keep this update relatively short, but here is the brief rundown. Monday was a bunch of fun. We went as a district to a place called Peñas Blancas which has a pretty sweet jungle hike and an awesome waterfall. Up at the top we had a humble Nica snack of tortillas and cuajada that we had bought on the way up. We feed 9 people and only spent like $2... actually kinda similar to the jesus feeding the 5,000 miracle... kinda, jaja. Anyways it was way fun. Pictures attached below. Nicaragua is a beautiful place. Tuesday was a regular day of work that was really solid and succesful. On Sunday we brought 11 people to church and all enjoyed the experience and even some knew a bunch of people at church. For example Carmelo came with his kids and turns out he knows the bishop really well and was good friends with some other guy in the ward, plus they know Xiomara and her whole family super well! So yeah that was awesome. On tuesday we visited them with a member who used to be evangelical but now has 19 years of being a member to share his testimony with Carmelo because Carmelo has some very hardset ideas from his past pastors and has a hard time with certain doctrines. The visit went extremely well and it turned out that the member we brought was a business associate of Carmelo's wife! Everything seemed to be playing out perfectly as we kicked off the week. Then everything got flipped upsidedown when My Comp got sick. He was completely unable to leave the house and we couldn't get a hold of anyone to help us do divisions to be able to keep working. All day was spent in the house. The next day we had our regular zone interviews with president, so i took advantage of the fact that all the Elders in the zone had to come to matagalpa and I went on divisions with the missionaries in La Dalia which is almost a 2 hour bus ride out of the city. I like La Dalia because it is a pretty decent sized little town way back in the mountains that is just way tranquilo. It's nice sometimes to go work in other areas, but at the same time it meant abandoning my area because my comp was still to sick to do much work. Friday my comp was in better health but I had to spend alot of the day doing interveiws for other companionships and again we were starved of time to work in our area and the little time we did have noone was home! Saturday was extremely nuts because we had to move houses, which we had planned on doing in the morning, but there was atorrential downpour and the person who had agreed to help us out with a truck, first said he wouldn't be able to help until the afternoon and then fell through completely. We had to move houses that same day, so we were left frantically looking for someone we could hire to help us move the stuff and after a ton of time calling and walking in circles we finally found someone and were able to get moved despite the rain that never ceased, but almost the entire afternoon was taken up. Not to mention I also had to go to San Ramon to do another interview. By the time night time rolled around we were exaughsted but happy to be in the awesome new house that we had found, but then we got a call from president letting to inform me that I would be moving to Chinandega as ZL and that our area would be closed and all of our investigators would be left to the Sister missionaries! It was a huge shock and sucked because we had just moved and have so many awesome people we are working with, but oh well, thats how transfers go. It was sad to leave my brazilian son behind to have someone else finish his training, and to leave behind all the people that we had met in Matagalpa, but I know lots of great things await me in my return to chinandega! Sorry for such a short and simple letter, but more than anything it is just a quick update and I'll send more stories and details in the next one. My new companion is Elder Packard who is actually my first companion from north america haha, so that'll be fun. 

Hope you all are doing well. Thanks for all your prayers and letters! See below for fotos of Peñas Blancas. Until Next time!

Love,
Elder Hamson





Changes in Matagalpa

Hello everyone, yet another transfer has passed and my previous comp Elder Perez packed his bags and took off to Esteli!Lot's of things have changed in fact because almost all of the companionships in the zone had changes, plus we got our ward limits changed and a new bishop called! As for me I am still here in Yaguares, Matagalpa as district leader and I am training a brand new missionary from Sao Paulo Brazil! Changes are great so I'm excited to see what all these changes bring. 

With all the changes that have happened things have been super busy. Last Saturday We had the baptism of Benjamin, which was super awesome and his mom, aunt, and several cousins all came to support him and he is super happy to be able to have made these changes in his life and have a fresh start in a path filled with learning and blessings. Sunday we had a two ward conference to announce the boundary changes and the new bishop, Obispo Celedon. Sunday was full of goodbyes because lots of people were leaving. Incluiding my comp Elder Perez, Hermana Marquez who finished her mission and Elder Mendez who got sent to puerto, which basically means he drops off the face of the earth for the next 8 months. 

Monday I left for managua in the morning with everyone that had changes so that I wouldn't have to travel alone Tuesday morning. I spent Pday in Managua, which was fun, cuz in the afternoon I got to work in the Maximo Jerez and visit some converts and member families from my old area. It was good to see that they are all doing well and enjoy sometime with them. On tuesday we had the trainers meeting and then we met up with our trainees and I was pretty stoked to get put with Elder Maciel (pronounced like Masiou), who looks like he could be a utah boy, but is from Sao Paulo Brazil and speaks Portugues! I'm way excited to show him the ropes and also to learn some portugues now that I've got spanish down.

Wednesday-Sunday passed by super quickly, but we got a bunch of good visiting in and have lots of really cool people that we are teaching right now. Xiomara and her family are still doing great and she is just trying to work things out with here husband so that she can get baptized, but she is totally ready and even started paying her tithing last week! Marisol just started work in a new restaurant and it has made it very difficult to keep teaching, but this week her schedule should be more normal and we should be able top help her keep progressing. Claudia and her family are also all doing super well and on tuesday made a traditional Nicaraguan Dinner for my new comp to try for the first time. Unfortunately they weren't able to go to church because her husband flew in for mothers day and took them all around Nicaragua over the weekend. We also met a new family, Familia Centeno, that have been investigating the church for some time now, but are now in our area due to the limit changes. We just got to know them this week and on saturday they surprised us when they called us asking if we were home, because they were gonna stop by and drop us off a pizza they had bought. Such cool people.

It is setting up to be an awesome transfer here in Matagalpa and I wil surely have much more to report in the coming weeks. I had a bunch of fotos to send this week, but my cameras memory got a virus and almost all of the recent fotos that I had got damaged... Such a bummer. Oh well, I'll just have to take more. Until next week! 

Love Elder Hamson

Here are some older fotos... 1. Eating homemade pupusas with the zone. 2. Zone foto at the end of the change. 3. Pancha the Monkey eating icecream.








May: Matrimonios, Milagros y Mother's Day

We are already half way through the month of may and it is making for a pretty awesome Month here in Matagalpa! I recognize it's been a few weeks since my last weekly update, and I apologize, but its just due to lack of time. As such a brief summary of the people we are teaching will have to do to bring things up to date. I have now been in Matagalpa for a full 5 weeks meaning this change is already coming to an end and I will likely be getting a new companion. The last 5 weeks have been pretty awesome and in this month especially we have really started to see the fruits of our work and Matagalpa is growing on me more and more. 

To start the month we had the Wedding and Baptism of Noel and Elsa. The wedding was a bit of a headache on our part because we had to put ourselves incharge of the whole event planning in the church and trying to get members to help out. I don't really have much experience planning a wedding, but all things considered it went pretty well and they we so excited to be able to take those two important steps in there lives. They have both been warmly accepted into the ward and are having a hard time accepting the fact that they have to wait a whole year until they enter the temple together. Since their baptism, they got the attention of lots of friends and family and they have been inviting tons of people to get to know the church. We have already started teaching one of Noels brothers and his friend and two of Elsa's daughters from her previous marriage have been to church with them twice now. They have such a strong desire to share the gospel because they have such fresh conversion stories! I'll attach some fotos with them below. 

Other than their family we have been working with several other really awesome Families. One is a Family of 6 and they have been super solid. Xiomara and her three daughters have been to church every sunday for the last like 4 weeks straight now without fail. Xiomara and her oldest daughter, also named Xiomara and Liz are all preparing for baptism next weekend. They are all super awesome and love church so much. Xiomara is way excited to be able to be baptized and they are all ready, but her husband has been a little bit of a roadblock, because he is buddhist so he doesn't believe in God, nor does he believe in marriage. We have been working really hard with the whole family (except the oldest son who lives with his girlfriend and works from 6am-10pm everyday..) and we have really seen a major change in all of them including Jose the buddhist and he is now willing to get married to support his wife in her beliefs! His wife hopes he will continue to open his heart to the gospel and he really has been alot more receptive even though we have basically zero experience teaching atheists (very rare in Nicaragua). It also doesnt help that he studies every Sunday all day. We have really become close friends with the whole family though and it will be awesome to see them make these important decisions in their lives. 

A third Awesome Family we have been working with is a part member Family that is super big and is super close with their extended family. UNfortunately they live all spread out, but we have been able to teach Magdiel and Tatiana who are a newly married young Family as well as Tatiana's Sister, Mara. Each of them have been facing lot's of opposition, but they have been strong despite the trials and are preparing to get baptized the first weekend of june. 

Before concluding I must mention Benjamin who is preparing to be baptized this week! He is a youth who we found one day outside of his house and since then he has been to almost every activity we invite him to and we learned that his mom actually had met with the mission previously and remembered alot about the church. She has been difficult to teach though because she works in Managua all week long, so is never home. She fully supports her sons baptism though, so he will be baptized next weekend. 

In General things here have been really good and we are seeing tons of growth in the Yaguares Ward. We now have like 4 sundays where at least 10 investigators have come to church which has been way awesome and has really helped the members have a greater desire to bring their friends and several members even decide to just come support us in our Gospel Principles class on Sundays. As far as other news we are about to enter the rainy season, which will likely be pretty strong since we are up in the mountains. The good news is in my area, we souldn't have to much troubles with flooded streets, because none of the streets are flat haha. Anyways that's about all for now. I will try to get more updates out, but in the meantime enjoy some photos attatched below. 

Happy Mothers Day to all Mothers!

Love 
Elder Hamson

The first photo is with Noel and Elsa before the wedding at the church. The second is them right before the baptism and the last photo is of some of the Elders in the zone at Hermana Reina's house doing some grilling on Pday. 








Thursday, April 13, 2017

Impending Changes

Next week is transfer week and I'm leaving the office! Its been a fun and fast 8 months of financiero work, but now its time for me to pass all the responsibilities to someone else and go back out in the field full time. The last 4 weeks I have been training Elder Adams to be the next finance secretary and instructing him on all the things he has to do, so as each day passes he is feeling more and more overwhelmed and I'm feeling more and more relaxed haha. One thing I've really seen about callings in the mission and the church in general was also confirmed by Elder Uchtdorf in general conference, when he said that the Lord makes callings to build up his church AND build up his servants. God finds the perfect balance of the right guy for the job and the right job for the guy! That's also why there are always changes in callings in the mission and the church because in each calling we learn lessons and acquire skills necessary for our progression and development and well there are lots of things to learn. Speaking of Conference, Conference was great! There were tons of awesome messages and we managed to bring 10 new people to conference to listen and learn from the many messages and the messages did not disappoint! Among which was the message of Elder Costa who specifically addressed his message to none members and shared his conversion story and Yaritza took notes because she is pilas. We have been teaching Yaritza and here family for a good long while now, but she has progressed the fastest of all of them because she always is present for the lessons and always reads the assignments we leave her and has here questions ready for the next visit. She is awesome and know has all of the lessons and several church attendances, so everything is looking lined up for her baptism next week. They last time we visited she said the last prayer and and asked God to take away any fears she has, so that she could be baptized in his church! She will have her baptismal interview this sunday after church. Yader also is doing great. He gave us a call this week telling us he was really busy all week, but that we could come by Saturday to discuss the details of his marriage and baptism which he is planning on having this upcoming wednesday because it is Semana Santa and everyone is on vacation. Also at conference were Yessenia and her Mom Nubia who are both preparing to be baptized at the end of this month. They are also both super pilas and the only thing keeping them from progressing faster is their busy work schedules. They amaze me with how well they understand everything it almost always feels like that instead of teaching we are just reminding them of things they know are true, but have forgotten about. Another Miracle of Conference was that Reynaldo was able to come with his whole Family we have been visiting his family for a while because many of them are recent converts, but he had always been kinda cold and disinterested, but we were able to gain his confidence with time and he agreed to come to conference. Since then he has accepted a baptismal preparation date and has been eager to learn. Part member families have been the name of the game lately here in Waspan as we also like two weeks back found two sisters that are both less active, but want to come back to church and neither of their husbands are members. Both sisters came to conference as well as one of their husbands. Well I guess not technically husband because they still aren't married after ten years of being together, so we'll have to work on that with them. But both of them are super awesome and interested to learn more about the gospel. But I suppose that is enough aboput Waspan, because I am about to leave it all in the hands of Elder Chinchilla and Elder Adams.

I'll be going to Matagalpa at some point next week and getting to know my new home in the Mountain zone. It'll be nice to head north to escape the heat of Managua in the three hottest months of the year, plus I'll get to know one of the only cities in Nicaragua that I don't know yet, so I'm pretty stoked. I'll miss Managua for sure though and all of the cool people here!! It's looking like I'll be able to stay for Yader's marriage and baptism as well as the baptism of Yaritza though because president wants me to help Elder Adams with his responsibilities during Transfers. Anyways, that's all for now. Next time I write I'll probably already be in my new area. Wish me luck! Love you all and hope to hear from you soon.




Elder Hamson

Here are some fotos from the week. The fisrst is of the whole zone in the airport saying goodbye to Hermana Morales, who got diagnosed with Leukemia. Super sad, but it was way awesome to see the whole zone there in the early morning to see here off. The second foto is of my last Zone meeting here in Bello Horizonte. The third foto is me and Neilson cooking for the Last time at Presidents House and the last Foto is of Me Elder Chinchilla and Elder Adams eating Sopa de Frijoles at The Rocha`s. 









Birthdays and Scenic Waterfalls

Alright so I feel it's been a little while since I've sent out an update and it's been a few weeks since my last weekly, so this will accomplish both purposes. In recent weeks I have hit lots of new milestones. The biggest of which was completing 21 years yesterday! Which means I am well on my way to old. And I am grateful that I was able to spend almost the entirety of my 20th year here in Nicaragua, which is such an incredible country and in that year I know I have experienced and learned many things that I otherwise would certainly not have had I not come. It is exciting to think that in roughly ten months I will be on my way back home, but I am truly in no hurry to leave Nicaragua! 

Things are starting to heat up here Nicaragua as we move into the dry season and things are also starting to heat up here in Waspan as far as the work goes. We just had the baptism of Felipe, who is the son of a recent convert, Arlen, that we have been working with to help reactivate her in the church. She had been inactive for a few months and a few weeks back she started sending her kids to church because two of them were already baptized and she wanted them to keep learning, but she couldnt come because of work commitments. After a few Sundays of them coming to church Felipe who is 9 started asking about baptism and even mentioned it to his mom. So one day we were visiting with them we brought it up and explained to her that he could be baptized but he would need the support and example of his mom, to help him keep learning and going to church. She agreed it was time for her to come back and he was baptized and she is back in church with the entire Family! Its amazing how kids can sometimes be so interested in choosing the right and often are excellent examples for their parents. They are an awesome family and Arlen even presented us to her older sister Angela! Who accepted us and even went to church last Sunday! We hope she'll be able to come and afterwards we hope to start teaching her the lessons. We've actually been able to find a good number of receptive people this week despite not having much time in the area. We've been trying to put in practice the advice that Elder Rasband shared with us and really try to constantly meet new people. Sometimes we set so many appointments with investigators that we literally end up running from appointment to appointment trying to fit all the lessons in. Now we've spaced our lessons out a little more to be able to always meet new people between visits and we have seen some awesome results. Including from one of the taxi drivers I contacted we were able to discover a whole new part of our area! I normally don't get too many opportunities to contact taxi drivers anymore because we have the truck, but since we had to take it in to the shop last weekend we had some decent taxi time and we had the miracle of contacting a taxi driver that not only lives in our area, but was also happy have us come by one day and visit him (finding that combination in a taxi driver is so rare that lots of missionaries don´t bother contacting them). He actually wasn't home but we were able to find several new people while looking for his house, which is actually one of my favorite ways to contact. Because people are always more than happy to help some lost missionaries and more often then not once you get them talking they are happy to have you come back and share a message. One of the people we met, Juanita, was super interested and didn't hesitate when we invited her to church! It always makes a missionaries day when you invite someone to church and they just say "yeah, what time does it start?" or when you ask when you can come back to share a message and they say "come back any day, i'm almost always home!". And well Juanita responded like that to both, so we started of the day pretty stoked. Later in the day we met a family of five, a family of three, Marvin, Josue, and two "gangsters" who all accepted a return appointment with out saying anything about how busy they were or how they are rarely home or that they already have a church. Nicaraguan gangsters crack me up because I swear none of them are actually bad people. Even though they looked all intimidating with their chains, bandadas, earings, tatoos, etc once  we started talking to them, one of them started practicing his english with me and accepted a pamphlet and a return appointment. After the contact they accompanied us through an área that was supposedly dangerous so nothing would happen to us. Turns out they were just some soft hearted guys just looking to call attention. 

Its also incredible how we have continued to find inactive members that want to come back to church, but seemed to just be waiting for someone to give them a little push. Like this last week we went by an investigators house to see if he was going to be able to come with us, and we decided to meet his neighbor because we had heard that she was an inactive member of the church. Side note - They both live right by a beautiful waterfall that we didn't even know existed! (see photos below). So we went over to say hi and she lit right up when she saw us and after shaking our hands she immediatly turned to her son and said "hurry and go bathe yourself, we're going to church!". And just like that Lela and her son Enoc, showed up to church for the first time in 3 years with smiles on their faces! Almost the same exact thing happened when we met Hermana Nelly like 4 weeks ago and she hasnt missed a Sunday since! I have found that we never really know who needs us in any given moment, but God does, so as long as we are constantly doing our part to reach out to everyone, God will place the right people in our path.  

Not everything has been picture perfect however, because some of our investigators are encountering problems. Antonio y Angela are so awesome and so faithful, but Antonio is still struggling to give up alcohol. He doesn't drink too often, but his main problem is he doesn't want to get baptized until he is 100% sure he will never drink again, but he has a hard time convincing himself that he is capable of resisting the temptation when he is invited to drink. I know they will at some point be married and baptized, but it's hard to say when. Also another awesome investigator that we have had, Brenda, we have struggled finding her because she works until midnight and only has one free day, which usually ends up being our busiest day, so it's been way hard to meet up with her. We are constantly finding new families to teach daily so we are hopping to continue finding all the many people that are prepared to hear our message in the area. Everyone is at a different place on the path at any given point in their lives, so patience and diligence are the two biggest principles when it comes to finding the right people. 

That's all I have time for this week. I am doing really well. My Birthday was a Friday, so I worked, but we were able to go out to an italian restaurant that I have been wanting to try, so that was nice. Today President invited us over to celebrate my birthday with them, so we spent most of the day at presidents house and Hermana Poncio cooked an incredible meal as usual, which was followed by a delicious PriceSmart cheese cake. All and all it was a pretty nice day. The only thing it was missing was a trip to the beach. Thank you all for birthday wishes and for those that write I always appreciate hearing from you alll even when I don't have time to write back! Miss you all and hope to hear from you soon.

Con Amor
Elder Hamson

Fotos - 1. Waterfall (excuse the quality, it was taken with the phone.. although it doesn't look much better even in HD) 2. Waspan has tons of junk in the streets, so we have already had to get the tire repaired twice and president once. 3. Me, Chinchilla, Packard, and Carter at Italianissimo on my birthday. 4. Me and Elder Chinchilla with most of Arlen's kids (there are two older kids not pictured). I'm washed out, but oh well. 























Sunday, February 19, 2017

1 Year!!!

This week was actually a pretty exciting week. It started off with a bang because on Sunday we received a call from the APs about some emergency changes that would be taking place, one of which involved a new records secretary coming to replace my companion Elder Galo! so that took us way off guard and we weren't informed why but we found ourselves at mayoreo that night to pick up Elder Chinchilla who will be my new comp! Elder Chinchilla is from Costa Rica and therefore perfectly completes my Central American trick because I now have had a companion from every country in central america: Castro (Panama), Galo (Honduras), Cordova (El Salvador), Ramirez (Guatemala), and Chinchilla (Costa Rica)! Alright so I guess that just leaves out Belize, but no one really talks about Belize being part of central america, plus there aren't any missionaries from Belize in the mission, so as far as I´m concerned it doesn't really count. Elder Chinchilla only has 6 months in the mission which I used to see as being pretty old in the mission, but now it seems pretty dang young! He is super cool though, is a great missionary, and even speaks decent english because he worked in tourism before his mission. I hope we become good friends because that'll give me a reason to go back and visit costa rica post mish! This week and next we will be in trio (Me, Chinchilla, and Galo), because Galo needs to train him in his responsibilities and then at the end of february Galo will get sent off to who knows where and I'll stay with Chinchilla. It's probable that I'll be receiving the next Financiero to train this change because I'm at about 7 months in the office as Financer, which is a long time!

As exciting as it is to have a new comp, the highlight of the week still goes to the last minute visit from Elder Rasband!. I say last minute because the meeting plan was changed like a thousand times which was a bit of a headache for us here in the office, but all in all it turned out great! Elder Rasband was coming to Nicaragua to speak with President Daniel Ortega, who is the eternal President of Nicaragua. Apparently Daniel Ortegas Office didn't want to release the exact meeting time until the day before, so we had no clue what time the meeting would be at, nor what time it would end, nor exactly how many people would be coming, all we knew was that Elder Rasband and Christensen were going to be in Nicaragua and were going to try to meet with the missionaries. We finally got the call confirming the schedule of the conference with Elder Rasband on Monday at 6:30am and were faced with the task of getting everything ready for the meeting which would be the following day. The good news was that lots of the meeting set up was taken care of by Church HQ, but we were assigned by Elder Ochoa to set up a Lunch for all of the General Authorities and there wives (which number about doubled every 4 hours throughout the day), plus the normal responsibilities of setting up transport for all of the far zones as well as food for all the missionaries. Needless to say Monday was a rather busy day.

Tuesday was the least significant Holiday for a missionary ( Valentines Day), but it turned out to be a pretty significant day as we got the opportunity to meet with the south mission and get a personalized session of General Conference. We had the privelege to listen to Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the 12 and his wife, Elder Christensen of the Presidency of the 70 and his wife, Elder Duncan (President of the Area 70 for central america) and his wife, and Elder Ochoa (first counselor to Elder Duncan) and his wife.. Also in attendance were all of the stake Presidents in Nicaragua and there wives as well as Elder Maravilla, the area 70 over Nicaragua. It was a very spiritual meeting and there was a huge focus on the fact that Nicarguans are a chosen people and the our job to love them and to help them from the moment we find them all the way until they arrive at the temple. There was also a huge focus placed on the importance of the united missionary workforce of the church and how we should think of members as our companions in the work instead of just sources of references (and food lol). I don't have time to get into all the details of the meeting, but a lot was learned and we are all hopefully awaiting a temple in Nicaragua pronto. Later that afternoon they would be meeting with President Daniel Ortega, and Elder Rasband Promised us that he would preach the gospel to him! Here is the link to the article about it in Nicaraguas national news website. https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:52234-daniel-y-rosario-se-reunen-con-delegacion-de-la-iglesia-de-jesucristo-de-los-santos-de-los-ultimos-dias

As far as the rest of the week went things were relatively tranquilo and we were able to get a TON of work done in our area because we are 4 including Kevin, so we were able to do divisions everyday and cover all of our area! We had a few setbacks with a few of our investigators, because Joseling and her family suddenly dropped off the map and then a family member of Luzmara and Angela passed away, so they were out of town all week. Everyone else is doing really well though. Angela and Antonio are still working toward getting married and baptized at the end of February, so we will be visiting them constantly to help Antonio stay clean and put alcohol behind him. We were able to find a ton of new people this week as well like Carmen, Carolina, Javier, Joel, Cipriano, mykelin, Carlos and more! All of whom gladly listened to us and wanted to hear more, which is something that is really incredible about waspan. Everyone is so receptive to contacting! I can't get in to much detail this week, because I've gotta send this out, but more details are to come and we are excited for what is to come here in Waspan.

Love and miss you all, and see you all in less than a year!

Elder Hamson

Photos. The first is a picture of me and Elder Chinchilla in front of the mini version of the ancient cathedral. The Second is a picture of me in front of the full size version of the cathedral. And the third is a picture with Bishop Morales and his wife, who are actually from Ciudad Jardín, but we went to eat lunch with them today since Elder Galo will be on his way pretty soon. They are super awesome and also have an infinite source of food.














Here are some more photos. 1. Me at the replica house of Ruben Dario. 2. Me flashing back 1 years time in the airplane at salvador allende. The last photo is with Luis and Rafaela, wheo were two incredible investigators that Elder Galo and I found in Ciudad Jardin, they were baptized shortly after we left, but we went by today after eating at the Morales to felicitar them and say hi. 










Monday, February 13, 2017

Waspan, part two

This week went really well. We finally got the office moved over to Waspan which makes a huge difference to have the office in our area. We've had a bunch more time to visit people and we are falling in love with Waspan! For a quick description of Waspan and the people here see James 2:5. The members are awesome and have even set up a schedule for feeding us lunch and dinner everyday except pday which is pretty incredible. Also Kevin has been our Amulek here in Waspan because he works with us practically everyday and thanks to him we never get lost! He got his mission call like two weeks ago and will be heading to Guatemala on the first of March.

Another cool thing about Waspan is that there are tons of mototaxi/camponeras to get around on for super cheap and it's always an adventure because they don't really comply with any kind of safety standards. Lots of missionaries have flipping over in camponera stories and we got our first last Saturday. We felt something was off with the driver, but Kevin wasn't with us so we didn't know how to find the direction on our own, so went with it. But at one point there was a massive pile of dirt in the road and instead of going around he drove right up it and we quickly jumped out as the camponera rolled over backwards on top of the driver! He was fine and didn't even seem to care really and as we helped him right the camponera we realized he was really drunk, so we just went the rest of the way on foot.

We have found some more really cool families to teach recently as well. We are teaching two matrimonios were the wife is a member and the husband isn't. Well Yadder and Crystal aren't married, but are planning on getting married at the end of March and my last visit with them Yadder told me that he would like to get baptized the same day as his wedding and he's visited church a bunch with his fiance, so he is pretty solid and wants to make changes in his life! The other couple Anivel and Flor are already married, but Anivel is a skeptical guy and has lots of questions he wants answered, but we've become pretty good friends with him, and his wife is stoked that he is listening to us and actually looking into the church. She also introduced her to one of her neighbors, Katalina who is super awesome, but also super busy. She shared with us her interest in findint truth and figuring out what it is that God wants for her. We also found a family of 5 that was eager to hear us that remind me a lot of Saida and her Family from Somoto or Angela and her Family from the Maximo, who are both awesome converts, so we are pretty excited about being able to continue teaching Joseling and her 4 kids. Finally we met Angela (there are lots of Angelas here) and her granddaughter luzmara who are both tons of fun. They both gladly received us and we had an awesome plan of salvation message with them and they were both touched by the message and amazed at how everything fit together. Angela is hilarious but I can't even explain her funniness.

Anyways that's about all I have time to report today. It's been an awesome week of finding and teaching inactives and we are looking forward to seeing the progress of each of the people we have met! Hope everything is well back home, until next week!

Elder Hamson

Photos: The first photo is just to explain the difference between a camponera and a mototaxi. The motorcycle with the bench attached to the front they call a camponera here and is what we rolled over in. The little three wheeler car looking thing is what they call a mototaxi here. Both excellent means of transport. The second photo is of typical Nicaraguan fritanga (there is a whole pile of gallo pinto underneath. And the last photo is of my new office.








Monday, January 30, 2017

Waspan

This week flew by and was actually unexpectedly crazy. To start Sunday was pretty sweet because it was our first Sunday in Waspan. There are two branches and a ward that use our church building, so we start at 10 and go in reverse order, with sacrament meeting starting at 12. It went well and we got to meet a bunch of super cool members. But the big surprise was when we were waiting for sacrament meeting to start and were going around introducing ourselves we ran I to nonmember after nonmember and realized that there were 9 investigators at church, even though we had only brought three with us! A bunch of members had brought family members that weren't members and were excited to have us get to know them. Now granted a few of them live outside of the area, but it was still a huge blessing to have members already bringing people to church on their own! 

This week was a bit of a headache as far as money problems were concerned because after months and months of waiting, all missionary cedulas were approved all at once. Apparently it was because of the elections or whatever, but once elections passed a new guy was put in charge of immigration and he approved like 157 missionary cedulas on the same day. I went with President and his family to all get our cedulas the week before transfers, but now that transfer week craziness had ended all the missionaries had to come this week to Managua on different days. And after two meetings last week, there were tons of missionaries asking for travel reimbursements and people running out of money. The good news is I no longer have to carry around my passport with me to go to the bank, pay bills, etc, because now I am officially Nica after a year of waiting. Also it was cool because a bunch of my missionary friends had to stay in Managua two days because the new missionary training meeting and their immigration appointment were back to back. So that was cool because I got to work with Elder Perry and his trainee Elder Sanchez. We also got permission to visit a family of recent converts in the Maximo, so that was sweet to get to stop by and say hi to Angela and her family before heading off to work in waspan. Wednesday there was a broadcast for missionaries with some teachings as well as changes to key indicators and the missionary schedule, so that was pretty exciting. Last week President and the Assistants were working on the new schedule for our mission to incorporate the changes, so that'll be interesting to have some changes. Although it's likely that my schedule as Secretary won't change all that much. 

We are still working hard to find people to teach here in waspan, because we only have a handful of  evenings working here in the new area. It'll be so much nicer once the office is moved to Waspan next week because right now the office is about 35 minutes from our area and with traffic it takes much longer, but once we move we'll be able to start working the second we finish with office responsibilities. One of the families we are working with right now is a family of six and they are super awesome. Two of the older kids have already been baptized, and the mom, Angela, always comes to church and is totally ready, but she wants to get baptized with her husband who has been struggling to give up alcohol. So we will be visiting with them as frequently to try to help Antonio leave alcohol completely in the past. There are some really incredible humble people in Waspan and we are way excited to get to know more of the area and continue finding cool people.  

The big shocker of the week was the passing away of one of our converts from the Maximo Jerez. Juan Jose passed away on Thursday.  The only reason we knew is because one night driving past his house on the way back from Waspan we saw them loading his coffin up into a truck outside of his house. We always knew he was close, but figured we'd be able to visit him before he passed. We'll probably get permission from President to visit his family sometime soon. It's not too sad though because he has been suffering for a long time now with his condition and even after his baptism he told us that he felt ready to go. We know he's in a better place now though and now it's just a matter of working with his family to get his temple work done. We are just glad to have found him and helped him when we did!

I always love to hear from you all and I'll talk to you all next week! 

Elder Hamson

Here are some quick pics. The first is of these sweet lizards, aquí le dicen garrobos, that we always see. They are generally like a foot and a half long, but definitely get bigger. In the pueblos there are always niños walking around with a slingshot in hand and a dead garrobo hanging out of their pocket. The next picture is by the capilla in waspan of the motor-tricycles that are all over the place in waspan. And finally a picture of Diaz schooling some local chavalos on Pday. 









Saturday, January 14, 2017

Exhausting end to 2016 and fantastic start to 2017

Happy New Year!

Practically all of the last month we were swamped with administrative responsibilities, which coupled with the fact that we were opening an area, made for a very trying month. So many things happened in this month that it feels like 4 months ago that Elder Ochoa came to visit, when in reality it was only like 4 weeks. If I were to share all of the details that happened in this month it would be as Juan once said "las cuales si se escribiesen cada una de ellas, pienso que ni aun en el mundo cabrían los libros que se habrían de escribir". Here is a quick overview of the month in the fewest words possible: Elder Ochoa visit, meetings, stress, holiday traffic, mission Christmas activity, get lost in new area, skype family, Christmas with the Poncios, road trip to the Atlantic coast, Christmas in Puerto, reviewing expenses from 2016, fireworks. It was an incredibly hectic month and we were barely in our new area at all, but there were actually lots of fun moments and cool experiences with all the festivities of the holidays going on, but no time to dwell on the past... On to 2017.

This Year started off incredibly relaxed and incredibly well. Now that we are back to our normal schedule we were able to finally really start to work in and get to know our new area and it is awesome! Monday we did normal Monday stuff. Tuesday was Leadership council which was sweet and got us all pumped up for the new year. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we hit the streets at 3:30pm and have seen tons of success in such short time. We took out the list of all the members in the ward and started using that to ask for directions and contact looking for inactive members. It started out rough. We got stood up by the first appointment we had made which was a reference from the south mission, so we just picked a name on the list that lived close by and started asking around for directions. Every person we asked for directions we also contacted, but everyone was completely closed off. We ended up getting the information that they had moved and no longer lived there, but we were shown which house it was. We decided to go contact the house anyways despite feeling completely discouraged, but then everything flipped around when we met Rafaela y Louis! Out of nowhere the most escogido, golden investigators that I have seen showed up on the street full of grumpy Evangelicals and Catholics. They came out and we asked them if they new the members we were looking for and they said yes, but they moved forever ago, and then wasting no time at all they asked us if we would be willing to teach them the discussions! So that took as off guard, but the surprises didn't stop there because as we got to know them more, they explained that they were there when the missionaries had taught the couple that used to rent there and so they heard a lot of the lessons and had been impacted by the message. They also confided with us that at the start of this new year they had decided to pray to find the religious path that God wanted them to take, and then the first day working in our area of the new year we showed up on their door step. After sharing a few lesson principles with them we invited them to prepare for baptism and they accepted right away! Then they committed to go to church. It was an incredible lesson and we left with our spirits recharged and ready to go find more people. Around the corner there was a big catholic church and I remembered seeing a bunch of the addresses on the list referenced "de la iglesia Las Mercedes.." so i decided to ask a young couple passing by and decided to ask them the name of the church and turns out it was Las Mercedes and then we introduced ourselves and asked if we could come by and share a short message with them one day. They said that would be fine, so we set up an appointment for the following day. Their names were Donald and Yalquiris (not a clue how to spell her name) and when we visited them the next day they shared with us that when they saw us coming the day before Yalquiris told her husband that she had seen us pass by her house several times and had been wondering who we were and what our mission was and boom we crossed the street to talk to them and there we were at her house to answer her questions. They confessed to us that they had been raised in the catholic church and still go regularly, but there were many things about the church that they didn't agree with or didn't like, but it was what they grew up with, so it at least felt familiar. They enjoyed the lesson we shared and willingly accepted the invite to go to church even though Donald Just started a new job that is a night job and he will be getting out of work one hour before church starts. The day didn't end there because we ran into our ward mission leader and he mentioned that there was an inactive family around the corner that we could visit and when we went there, Evelyn who had been inactive for years told us she had actually been thinking about coming back, mainly for her two kids who were getting big and she wanted them to learn the right path while they were still young. She even asked us if we would be willing to teach the lessons to her two kids, Adreana and Jonny ages 13 and 10, so they could be baptized. We were of course happy to help. There are actually a bunch more people to talk about that we meet this week, like Yaconda and her son and Silvia, but I am out of time!

I am looking forward to what is set to be a great year here in Nicaragua and I wish all of you the best in this new year!

Love,
Elder Hamson

Pictures: 1. Christmas Activity, 2. Life Size Nativities, 3. Arriving in Puerto after crossing the entire country, 4. Christmas Activity in Ciudad Jardin, with the surprise visit of two members from my last area.