Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finishing Strong!

Happy Halloween everyone!  I spent my halloween going to managua for our monthly leaders meeting woohoo. It was a good meeting though so I'm not to put out.  We did carve a watermelon with the zone though on the 30th because they don't have pumkins here haha. Sounds like everyone had a bunch of fun celebrating back home though. Here people have heard of halloween but not many people really understand the concept. I think it would be an excelent holiday to introduce here because their equivalent of halloween is La Gritería where everyone goes door to door singing to peoples Mary statues and collecting treats... every year members of the church, especially ones with kids ask us if they are "allowed to go". We might just have to mention to the stake president to start up trunk or treating as a stake activity to satisfies the kids needs for candy. Problem is the lack of trunks.... it may have to be modified a little haha. Apart from Halloween the other problem with the holiday season here is that thanksgiving doesn't exist so there is nothing keeping people from getting all decked out for christmas already. I do love christmas, but it is more special when it is the focus of just one month i think. 

Things have been really great here these last few weeks and this past weekend was the end of another transfer! Unbelievable how quickly they fly by! I was surprised by the new assignment i got this transfer because it is not very common, although not unheard of. President asked me to train a brand new missionary while remaining zone leader here in Chinandega. So I am now separated from the other zone leader who is with a different companion. We still live in the same house so it shouldn't be too difficult to still coordinate all of the zone plans and activities together, but it will certainly mean a lot more work! Looks like president wants me to finish strong, with my hands full of responsibilities. Should be a good opportunity though especially since I'll be jumping right back into school when i get back and should be able to keep up the busy schedule. My hijo (new Comp) is named Elder Mendoza and he is from Guatemala, same as my last comp. Should be a fun last two months. We visited Raúl yesterday after coming back from managua and had an awesome lesson about the role of the holy ghost and he shared with us a recent experience he had where he felt god was guiding him. Raúl could be an awesome missionary! He is looking to be all set for his baptism this Saturday

In other news I got to try Mondogo for the first time which is a really common soup here made of cow stomach. I hadn't tried it before because it sounds disgusting, but i figured I may as well try it and pluss the Mejia family was offering and i trust them to cook things well and idk, not buy the cow stomach from the street market for example. It wasn't terrible all things considered, but i don't have any plans to eat it ever again. The Flavor isn't great and the chunks of cow stomach are texture wise just a little too much. Oh well it's still always interesting to try new things. Alright that sabout all i have for now. I hope everything is good back home! Talk to you all soon! 

Love Elder HAmson

Photos: 1. Watermelon Jock o Lantern. 2. Jorfran (Raúl's little brother) with his kill for the day: 5 doves  and a garrobo. All kids here have little slingshots and go out hunting for birds and lizards. 
3. Sopa de Mondongo 4. My new comp!

Mission tour and beach time!

Hey everyone, things have been great recently in chinandega and time is just soaring by! I was very happy to get some beach time recently because we did a zone service project in Corinto following some winter storms that washed away a bunch of houses including some member houses. The mayors office gave them a new spot to build, BEACH FRONT PROPERTY, so we showed up in the morning to help them build their new house. It's funny because beach front property is not very valuable at all here because it is the most likely to wash away, but if they were in california they would be sitting on a goldmine! Anyways that was good fun. Cutting the weeds with machetes, Setting the treetrunk polls and making fences out of giant sacks. We didn't get all the way finished but they were very thankfull for the help and it was nice to help out. It also didn't hurt that we were at the beach. Then the bishop in Corinto said he was going to invite us all to ceviche the next pday, so we came back on monday with the whole zone and played some volleyball in the morning and them ate some fresh ceviche. I love the beach! 

another fun thing this last week was on sunday hermano Alfredo had a nice surprise for us and prepared us fried garrobo for lunch! Garrobos are these big iguanas that are all over the place here. I was stoked because i hadn't gotten the opportunity to try garrobo yet in my time here. It was pretty good. Basically just a darker, tougher chicken, although the tale is kinda like a fish texture. Fotos attatched below. 

This week we also spent two full days in managua because Elder Cordon came to our mision and we had a general meeting with him on thursday and then a leaders meeting on friday. He is a pretty interesting guy and I really enjoyed listening to his teachings. He talked alot about how to establish the church. The church is established through stong and sealed families. He invited us to focus our work in helping families be strengthened and helping them go to the temple. He also talked alittle about companionship issues in the questions and answers part and taught that being right or knowing the truth doesn't matter, but rather how you use that truth. Because there are lots of things that may be true, but we can choose whether we will use the truth in a way that builds others up rather than tearing them down. He used the example of "you are a sinner" and "you are a child of God" as examples of two truths, one of which elevates the other degrades. THis teaching really can be applied to many things because any truth is power and how we use that power is what is really important because power can be used to degrade and oppress, or it can be used to up lift and build up. Another thing he taught in relation to the way we should teach is that people aren't always in a good position to be taught. In order to teach it is often necessary to lift the person up to a teachable position with love and then teach. This can be seen in numerous examples of the way that the savior taught because he often had to correct or admonish, but he always lifted the person up to a position where they could receive the teaching without resent. A finally subject eh touched on that i would like to mention is lying. He talked about how easy it is for us to lie and asked teh question if we could go a whole year without lying..or a month? or a week? or even one day? We often don't releaze or don't give importance to all the little lies we tell, but he taught the importance of being honest in all things and building our character by eliminating all lies. All in all it was an excelent conference and on top of the teachings I also got to work one afternoon in Waspan with the secretaries which was coolm because I got to go visit some of the families i taught. 

To finish the week we had two baptisms in the ward and two families completed. We baptized Hermano Carlos and Elder Martinez and E Russell baptized Dionisio. Carlos is so happy to be making changes in his life and finding a new light and motivation to organize his life and do what is right.

Things really are great here in chinandega. I hope everything is well back home. I wish you all the best and am excited to see everyone in roughly ten weeks!

Love Elder Hamson

Photos: 1. Beach House! 2. Garrobo 3. Beach Selfie with part of the zone


It's transfer day again and there were almost no changes in the zone except I received my new companion Elder Estrada, from Guatemala. President must be happy with how things are going here in the zone because literally everyone else stayed the same. I'm stoked about that because we have a really good rhythm in the zone right now and after finishing a excellent month of September we should be able to see even more miracles rolling into this month of October, especially since the month is starting off with general conference which is always an awesome opportunity for learning and spiritual growth of investigators, recent converts, ward leaders and missionaries! My new companion has the same amount of time in the mission as Elder Packard so he's coming with some experience, but i'm still much more of a veteran in comparison. He will likely be my last comp because i only have about two transfers left. He seems like a cool guy, so i'm sure we will get along great and should have an awesome change or two ahead of us in the area chinanfire (chinandega).

As far as other recent updates go... things have been very rainy here which is normal for this time of year yet somehow people seem unable to function when it is raining. Saturday for example it rained super hard all night long and all morning which left the great majority of people unable to leave there houses and go to church. There were probably less than half the number of people that normally show up and at least half of the people that did show up showed up nice and late.  The thing is it normally rains in the afternoon so I guess people weren't ready for the morning storm. We seem to be the only people willing to get wet. In my opinion the rain is great because it usually means the temperature cools down. Another part of this season it appears is playing "Trompo". Everywhere we go all of the kids are outside in the street playing trompo. Trompos are little wooden or plastic tops that are wound up with a small rope and released at impressive spead and then can be pisked up and keep spinning in your hand or a series of other tricks. Definitely not as easy as the little kids make it look. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of it. It is funny though because it appears to be part of everyones childhood because even the old people still have the touch. Like one night we were at Hermano Alfredos house and i took out a trompo to practice with one of his grandsons and he asked me if he could see it and without even getting up from his chair he sent it flying and scooped it right up and then passed it back to me still spinning in his palm.. even a fancy old man like alfredo still has some street kid in him haha. Another fun cultural adventure this week was when we were visiting Alejandro and Alexandra out on their farm and they introduced us to some classics of la vida campesina and gave us some steaming hot sweet tamales made with fresh corn from their farm. super tasty. Then they offered us some homemade Chicha de Coyol. Chicha typically reffers to a fermented drink, but they assured us it was very new and therefore wasn't alcoholic at all, we trusted them because they are strong members of the church, but it did seemed to have a pretty strong flavor to it.. We politely denied a second glass haha. 

As far as people we have been teaching we have been visiting a ton of couples lately and it has been cool to help them see the blessings the gospel provides for families and help many of them put their lives a little more in order. Karla and Chilo for example had been separated for a long time, but not to long ago got back together and have realized that for their sack and their kids sack it was definitely time to get things in order and get married. They have completely embraced the message of the restored gospel and we are helping them plan their wedding and baptism for the start of october. Speaking of people who have completely embraced the restored gospel. Vilma, who was recently baptized has been helping us teach her boyfriend Carlos who seemed kind of cold at first, but now is progressing incredibly quickly and now has two sundays in a row being in church and learning a ton in all the classes. He is also preparing for baptism in October and hopefully they can get married soonish as well to continue helping them progress. We have also met a number of couples that live close to Hermano Silvio with guys that are feeling ready to leave their bad habits behind to better provide for their families. They all went to the ward priesthood activity we recently had and loved it, but it is still a matter of helping them find time on Sundays to get to church. There really are a lot of people out there that really want to make changes in their lives, just most people don't have much of an idea how to go about it. The good news is regardless of the things people want to change, the message of the restored gospel always seems to be the perfect solution. I invite all of you to go into conference with that same attitude, and look for the way to change the things that needed to be changed. 

Ok that's all I've got for now. Have a good week.

Love Elder Hamson

1. Karla's Son with all of the trompos he has one. This guy is like the neighborhood champ. 
2. Fresh Tamales
4. Elder Packards going away party and Hermano Alfredos birthday

Ending August Update

Sorry I haven't been able to get an update out recently, but no worries things are going great and always staying interesting here in chinandega. We have been kept on our toes by some crazy lightning storms, ash clouds, and a super contagious conjunctivitis, but the work goes on and our zone is as animated as ever! 

The volcano activity was like three weeks back now so I'll touch on that first. Right next to chinandega is the tallest volcano in nicaragua (I think) called San Cristobal which we have being trying to plan a day to climb as a zone. Well the volcano decided to wake up a little, but didn't do much more than puff out a ton of ash that slowly rained down for about a day. Noone seemed to concerned, so we decided not to let it bother us either and went out to work like normal, but with bandanas to keep out the ash. It turned all the scenery a dull gray color, but other than that we had a great day of visits and came back to the house filthy. turns out ash and sweat aren't the best combo. As far as more news concerning mother nature, now that we are fully into winter we have had some gnarly winter storms. Heavy rain i'm used to by now but I have never seen such violent lightning and thunder storms in my life. I'm almost positive the steeple of the chapel got struck at least once during a stake priesthood meeting last week and later in the week i'm pretty sure vilma and Antonio's house got struck while we were finishing up a powerful lesson and cut the power. In fact in both cases there was a pretty powerful lesson being shared so maybe power just attracts more power haha. For the last bit of nature nuws there has been a eye infection thing that has been spreading like a wildfire through all nicaragua. It is basically just pinkeye, but lots of people don't really know how to treat it and just start touching their eyes alot it can get pretty bad. It's been about two weeks now and has passed to every single person we have been visiting, but somehow we have managed to steer clear. The main problem it has caused is people not wanting to go to church with swollen red eyes. Most people have dubbed the sickness "la Llorona". Ok that's is for nature news... moving on to other updates. 

We have been kept busy as ever with meetings, divisions, and endless references from some really cool members. The Baquedano family for example is still pumping out new references and are always willing to go visit with us and help take people to church. Silvio Baquedano is probably one of my favorite people here in chinandega. The guy is such a typical Nicaraguense and is just such an all around great guy. Like any good Nicaraguense he loves eating, especially gallo pinto, and is lazy as ever, but has the best heart and a powerful desire to follow christ. ONe opf the biggest reasons he has been such a big help in mission work is because te gospel completely change him and all of his friends and family have noted the difference. He fulfils the commandments in Matt 5 to "let your light so shine" and in Timothy 4 to be an "ejemplo de los creyentes". Something that many members struggle to fulfill.  Divisions have been pretty fun because I have lot's of my friends in the zone now and I was even able to work with my brazilian son again which was fun to see how quickly he has learned and talk about people in Matagalpa. 

We also had a multizone meeting like a week back wich was good as always and what really stood out to me was a video of a training session for mission presidents. They talked alot about how to read the scriptures and how we can find so many hidden jems and new understanding even reading scriptures we know by memory in the right way. The emphasized the importance of going slowly and analyzing word choices and definitions to better understand the true meaning of the scripture. Also when sharing the scripture with others the importance of helping them connect the scripture and context to their own lives. It wasn't anything crazy, but it was a good reminder to really go slow and analyze things rather than just skimming and expecting something to jump out at us. We put it into practice in a lot of the lessons we taught in the week and saw excellent results just reading a few simple verses in the book of mormon or bible with investigators. 

Just to wrap this up with some more recent stuff... Last Saturday we helped some members make soup in the morning as part of a fundraiser for a ward temple trip this month. Nica soups are generally a less than enjoyable experience, mainly because of the oppressive heat, but making it was definitely an effective way sweat out of every pore and cry due to the smoke from the wood fire. We made sopa de pollo con albondiga. It came out pretty good despite the fact that it seemed that there method of cooking was pretty halfhazard and basically just through an a little of everything. below i attatched a foto of the soup when it was just starting. Also on saturday was the baptism of Brenda who is from Mocoron and even though here whole family has been progressing and going to church, she is the only one that has been able to recieve a firm answer to her prayers, so she made the decision and almost here whole family was able to come and support here on the day of here baptism. (pictures Below). They are an awesome family and they have not ceased to invite anyone and everyone close by their house to listen to our message. the will be a key family in the growth of the church in mocoron. To finish of the week we had fast sunday which gave us an opportunity to do a fast with Vilma and Antonio who are both preparing for baptism next week and are progressing really well, but just need a little help getting over some addictions. It was a really special fast sunday and I really do feel that they will both be ready for their baptisms next week. 

Alright that's about all I have time to share for now. Things are great. I cannot believe we are already into september! Now it is really time to buckle down and make the most of my last few months! Thanks for all your emails and prayers. I hope all is well back home. 

Love Seth

Fotos... 1Soup. 2snake on the rat trap. 3Brenda baptism

Things starting up wonderfully in August

It has been a real busy first two weeks of august, but things have really been going so well. This past saturday we had an activity called a "Tarde Blanca" with the zone, where we have all the baptisms in the zone in the same place. We worked with the stake president to have it at a beach in Corinto. The baptismal service was at the Church in Corinto which is right on the beach and then the baptisms were performed in the ocean in front. Despite some setbacks due to lack of church leadership support in Corinto (Missionaries in Nicaragua are used to doing all the work themselves anyways), everything worked out just fine in the in and it was an incredible experience to see all those people take that first step in the gospel at one of my favorite places on earth (The Beach). I will send pictures below. 

Things here in our area in generally have also been really good. We find so many people everyday without even trying! They seriously find us. We have been working occasionally in a community called mocoron that is like 20min from the church and we are literally getting more references there from the few members than we have close to enough time to actually visit! The bishop and our ward mission leader are also really excited about the progress we have been seeing in this community and they went with us to have a small family nigh type activity and it was likie a little flashback to my days in Somoto! It has been way cool to have those little community activities and having so much support from the Ward. we are teaching a family of 6 there in Mocoron and they are seriously one of the most incredible families I have worked with. They just want everyone to hear the messages we share with them and everytime we show up they invite different neighbors and cousins to come over and listen to us. It makes things so easy and is inspiring to see people that are so humble and so open to listen, learn, and share. 

Another Family that has been awesome is Familia Baquedano. They are so incredible. They were baptized like two months ago and they both dedicate a ton of time to their callings and are constantly inviting their neighbors and family members to listen to us. They have no fear or shame to share what they know and everyone recognizes the huge changes they have made in their lives. They recently introduced us to another family who they invited over to a family night and this family looks to be extremely prepared to hear the gospel. They came to church for the first time this week and are so happy to be hearing our message. Also We baptized one of Silvio Baquedano's Nephews, Freddy, in the Tarde Blanca last week and he will probably be on a mision in a years time. 

I could go off on the great difference it makes when members work in la obra misional, but there is just no time. Hopefully those short example are sufficient. As far as other news. A new change just started and I am staying with the smae comp, but there were abunch of changes in the zone. 

Thanks for all your emails, and sorry for lack of updates and details, but I'll be able to share a bunch more with time once i'm back. Hope all is well back home and god bless you all. 

Love Elder Hamson

Fotos 1y2: tarde blanca. foto 3 spaghetti with part of Familia Baquedano (we helped make it)

Monday, August 7, 2017


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!

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!

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.