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 cabrĂ­an los libros que se habrĂ­an 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!

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.

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