Monday, October 27, 2014

Big Freaking Changes

Hey all!

So, this week was awesome! We baptized R______, E_______, E________ (jr.), C______, B_______, and H_____! C_____ is only 6, so he has to wait a couple years. But, everyone was baptized and confirmed! And R______ married E_________, so they're officially a family! It feels great to have success like this in the Lord's work.
Our AMAZING Family!!

R______ and E_______ got married!!

So, on Saturday I found out the changes for the next six weeks. Turns out, I'm going to Puerto Cabezas! [Mom note: That's on the east coast side of Nicaragua. Opposite of where he is now.] Elder Maughan from my group in the CCM is going to, and he'll be in my Distrito!
Me and Elder Maughan

When I heard the changes, I was a bit shocked. EVERYBODY wants to go to Puerto. I've talked with a few missionaries who've been there, and they said it's SUPER tough, but you baptize a ton of people. So I wasn't too sure whether I wanted to go, but obviously the Lord knows I can handle it.
I'm probably gonna be there for 8 months or so, so I don't know what I'll do about incoming packages.

Also, I can only take 35 Lbs. of stuff, so I've got some sorting to do. It'll probably be mostly clothes and another pair of shoes.

But! I have to wait a week or two until my Nica cédula comes through. So I'll be temporary compañeros with Maughan in Waspan until we're approved to go.

Lots to digest. I also found out that my Puerto compañero will be Elder Lawrence from Colorado. He stayed in the same house and area I'm in now (Waspan Sur) before he went to Puerto as well. I haven't met him yet.

So, that's all for now. Lots of craziness, as usual. Anderson heads home in two days with his group of older missionaries. Alfaro is going to be training another newbie.

Me and Elder Anderson

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, and Bree.

1) Do they have Daylight Savings time there? We switch this coming weekend.
Nope. No Daylight Savings here. That's a USA thing.

2) Did you get our package yet?
I didn't get your package but I did get a package from Lola and Lolo. I dunno if I've already told you that. It had a ton of food. I liked it a lot.

3)  Do you have a place you can play DVD’s? If we sent you some?
Yes, we have little DVD players with screens, so you could send a DVD if you wanted to.

4) How are your shoes holding up?
Shoes are doing fine. I'm using my boots much more than my church shoes just for the wear & tear and abundant water.

5) How are transfers done down there? Are they coming up?
Big announcement in the big email.

6) Anything culturally interesting things they do there? Do they celebrate Halloween? Or Day of the Dead?
They celebrate Día de los Santos (Nov. 2) and a few people here celebrate Halloween. For the most part, Nicaragua doesn´t have any sort of cultural holidays.

Monday, October 20, 2014

You WILL get wet! You MAY get soaked!‏

Hey all!

This week has just been one crazy day after another. We had two-day-in-a-row-divisions for the second time in two weeks. It's always interesting and super super stressful.
In the back of a Nica taxi.

Anyway, on Friday I had divisions with Elder Anderson. It honestly felt kinda weird. The dude has 8 days left on his mission today, but unlike other older missionaries who've already gone, he tries to keep his mind off of it at all times. I suppose that's a good way to go about it.

Our golden family (and as of today our ONLY family- we're having a drought of newer investigators) is still ready as ever to first get married and then to get baptized. I'm super excited. The oldest child, E________, is only 15, but she has a firm desire to serve a mission after having us over to teach several times. They're an awesome family.
Me with C_____, B______, & little sister.

Out on the town.

Today Alfaro and I visited the LDS Distribution Center for Nicaragua. It's actually in the South Mission, but we had permission, so we were good. There's definitely a different atmosphere down south. More relaxed. I suppose the harder-working type of climate up north spurs on the missionaries more, but I can't say for sure. All I know is we met a missionary down south who had 21 months but speaks Spanish like he has 2 months. It actually kinda motivated me to keep bettering my Spanish.
Nica art.

More Nica art.

Missionary art.

Glad to hear that Dad and Alex made it home safe. Hey Dad, have you heard of the Jadeite Cabbage in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan? There's an article about it in the October 2014 Liahona.

That's all for now. Sent a few pictures too.

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, and Bree.
1) How’s life after the earthquake? Are you still feeling rattled or okay? Anything major broken in your house? How are the members of the church? Did you get a “go bag” ready? With the family picture?

*Life is good ("good" doesn't really describe anything adequately, but yeah). Nothing's broken, and miraculously, nobody died in ALL of Nicaragua. That's amazing, given the composition of most of the houses here. Whenever there's an earthquake here or a big thunderstorm, all the Nicas freak out and start calling all their family members. We have huge storms just like this every afternoon in late summer in Colorado, so I'm not too worried. I just hope our house doesn't collapse or something.

2)  How’s your golden family coming along? Still ready for baptism? If so, that’s WONDERFUL!!

*Our golden family is doing great! Yes, they're all still ready. I'll say more in the big email.

3) Your Lola wants to know if you have an oven to bake brownies in? And a pan? She’s getting ready a package but won’t send that if you don’t have an oven.

* No, we don't have an oven, Sorry, Lola.

4)  Your cousins Corbin and Nathan want to know what is a cool candy there that we don’t have in the US? Anything good?

* Nope. There's really no type of cool candy here. To be honest, the majority of all consumer products here are imported from Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the US.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zach is Fine

[Mom's note: I heard from Zach today by email. Here is the reply he sent in response to my panicked one.]

Yes, I'm okay. Nobody was hurt; the ground and the whole house just shook around some. It really was pretty weird.

So, yeah. No need to worry, everything's fine.

I love you all.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


[Mom's note: I got this message on Facebook from Mission President Collado. The translation in English follows. Zach and all the missionaries are safe. I have not heard from Zach directly.]

Nuestras queridas familias, esta noche hemos sentido un temblor y antes de escribirles a ustedes primero nos comunicamos con nuestros misioneros y misioneras y TODOS están bien. También queremos comunicarles que los misioneros que se encuentran en la Zona de Puerto Cabezas no sintieron el temblor por que ellos están en la costa atlántica de Nicaragua ya que el temblor se registró en la costa pacífica de Centroamérica.

The houses or apartments where they live our missionaries are safe, although you know if they suffer any harm we move them immediately. No damage has been reported and all are very well. Here the houses suffered damage are precarious where they have antojadizas buildings not so that of the missionaries.

Our beloved families, tonight we felt an earthquake and before writing to you first for us to communicate with our missionaries and misioneras and they are all well. We also want to inform you that the missionaries who are in the Zona de Puerto Cabezas did not felt the earthquake since they are in the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, and the earthquake was reported in the Costa Pacifica in Central America.

The houses or apartments where they live our missionaries are safe, although you know if they suffer any harm we move them immediately. No damage has been reported and all are very well. Here the houses suffered damage are precarious where they have antojadizas buildings not so that of the missionaries.

[You can find out about earthquakes in that area here.]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh Pillow, You're My Only Friend‏

 Hey all!

So, this week was pretty stressful, not gonna lie. There was plenty of rain (plenty), but we had a drought of new investigators. This is stressing us out because in order to have continuous or accelerating success, we need to find at least one new family per week and bring another to church. Basically here if you appear to be less-than-gung-ho-let's-do-it-style, people think you're a lazy missionary. I disagree, but that's just how it is here.

Anyway, the family of 7 is progressing quite well. Of the 7, only 6 are baptismal age, but those 6 have all individually commited to baptism. We've also committed the parents, R_____ and E________, to marriage on the same day as the baptism, October 25.

Alfaro tells me that back before the email time cut to 30 minutes, he and his older compañeros took an average of 2 hours to email. How times do change.

We encountered a snake in the shower last Tuesday. I don't think it was poisonous, but we never found out. I've sent some pictures.
Another pet


When we brought it outside to leave it in some bushes down the street, our landlady immediately brought out her rusty old machete and wanted to kill it. Everybody has a machete here. They use 'em to cut grass, prune trees, chop fruit and other food, and kill pests.
I hope they take time to wash them in between.
I might get one for myself later on.

There are days when it serisously feels like gravity has intensified as soon as I wake up, and therefore getting out of bed is a Herculean effort. I dunno. My bed looks real friendly day or night.

Got a package today! I should explain, they're sent directly to the mission office since real addresses don't exist here. It's literally like "from the mango tree down the street, two blocks north."
Yeah, those are our directions on a regular basis.

Anyway, the package was from Lola and Lolo and contained Peanut Butter, protein bars, oreos, jerky, M&M's, and mentos. I liked it a LOT.

Also got a letter from Kim and Shane. Please let them know I got it and tell 'em thanks a bunch for me. Will send replies to Nathan's and Corbin's questions in a later email.

Well, that's pretty much it. Tell Dad and Alex I love them and I'm praying for them every day.

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, and Bree.


1. Do you ever eat at member’s houses?
*We rarely if at all eat at members' houses. There's very few active members here in Waspan Sur. We keep finding old members who've been inactive for years at the very least. It's like coming upon old ruins of temples or something. Like "here's the folks of the old wards and branches, from long ago."
Great food!

2. How big is your ward boundaries?
*Our ward's boundaries extend to all of Waspan, Villa Reconciliación, Miguel Guiterrez, and a few other small neighborhoods. A few miles' worth of walking.

3. How large is your ward congregation? Lots of babies? Lots of youth? Lots of old people? What’s the proportion?
*It's really a mix. The old people are all older converts, and almost all the young families are recent converts or were just baptized.

4. Do you invite any members to go teaching with you?
* We regularly invite R_____ to go teaching with us. Now that he's been baptized, he serves as the foundation for the rest of his family, who we plan to teach and baptize as well. He'll be getting the Aaronic Priesthood here soon.

5. Did you get any packages yet?
*Yes! I just got a package today from Lola and Lolo and a letter from Kim, Shane, and their family. I'll talk more about it in the big email.

6. Is whatever you are going through getting better? Or are you just getting better at adjusting?
* I honestly feel like both. There are still definitely hard moments.I'll say more in the big email.

Me and Elder Alfaro

Me and ??? (need a name)

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference of Legend

Hey all!

So this week was a little rough, but I'm so glad I made it to all 5 sessions of GC. I kinda regret not enjoying and anticipating it as much back home as I do here. I feel like there was a message that applied to me in each of them.

Me and the Bird

Bonus points: I got to listen to all sessions in English! They had this little room on the other side of the building where a TV broadcasting English was put. It was basically me and all the other gringo missionaries in the room.

One of my favorite talks this session was by Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy. His talk was all about which way we can face. In other words, who are we more willing to please? Heavenly Father, or man? He quoted C.S. Lewis:
"Courage is the form of every virtue at its testing point."
I thought that was pretty cool. Sooner or later it all comes down to how much you are willing to do something, for it is ultimately your choice.

He also mentioned that trying to save face with people will lose face with God. That made me think of Dad, and all the times he's talked about saving face.

Jorg Klebingat's talk reminded me of the Wandering Oaken Trading Post Guy from "Frozen." (You know, "Yoo hoo! Family!!") He talked about "6 Gud Steps to Impruv Yur Life".

Another talk that I liked was by Larry S. Kacher of the Seventy. He talked about the currents you follow in life and the examples you set. The question he kept bringing up was:

 "Who will you bring with you down the current? Rather, who will follow you down it?"

We can create currents in life for others to follow. Therefore, we must be careful in the steps we take and the actions we make.

That's pretty much all for this week.
Me and C____

Me and B______
Oh! We put a baptismal date for a family of 7 coming up here in October.

Good luck and have fun in China, Alex and Dad! Like you asked, could you bring me back a stone dragon or something like that?

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, and Bree.


P.S. Hey Dad, could you understand Chi Hong Wong's talk in Cantonese? Just curious. [Mom note: Darren (Zach's dad) speaks Mandarin, NOT Cantonese. Totally different.]


 1. Did you get to watch GC? All of it or just some? Where did you go? Was it in Spanish? What was your favorite talk? What did you do in between sessions? Did you use GC bingo?
*I did get to watch GC! I loved all of it. They had this little room just for the English transmission, so that's where I went. Along with all of the gringo missionaries. I'll say more in the big email.

2. What were your feelings about your baptisms? Did the converts listen to GC?
*I felt amazing during the baptisms. Both were intensely spiritual. However, only R____ has been confirmed. J___ didn't come to last week's sacrament meeting. We gotta get on his case to confirm him and make sure he is motivated enough to come to church on his own. Thankfully, both went to GC.

3. Did you buy a new umbrella yet? You should if you haven't.
*Will work on that.

4. What's your favorite thing to eat/drink?
*My favorite thing to drink here is called avena. Basically, it's just dry oatmeal, a little sugar, and tons of water mixed in. Not even cooked. It's mildly sweet, and it tastes good. I'm not totally sure why that one, though. I just like it.

5. What do you want us to get ready to send for a Christmas package? Start sending ideas now.
*A red santa hat and Christmas candy. I will email you if I think of anything else.