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 timewith 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 untiland 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.
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.