Monday, June 29, 2015

Ending June

Hey All!
Well, I'm feeling much better this week, thankfully. Some type of bug (other than the regular Chikungunya) seems to be going around Puerto. Those who aren't sick with one are sick with the other. Maughan, Crane, Pilling, Maradiaga, Choque, and a few others were sick or are currently sick right now.

Just another lovely day in paradise, I suppose.

In other news, we're nearing the end of this current transfer. This is Week 6, so next week kicks off the next transfer. I hear we're getting some big changes here in Puerto. Somebody (and their comp) is getting assigned to the community of Waspam, and we got a few of the "oldies" leaving Puerto either for home or for the Pacific. Right now, I'm the third-oldest of the 26 missionaries in Puerto. By this I mean I have the third-most time in this zone.

My birthday was okay. Presidente sent me a happy birthday message and stopped by during his visit to drop off a cake. So it went alright!

Still waiting for my package though. As it stands I have 2 1/2 pairs of shoes in my house.

I feel a year older; maybe more. Probably the stress catching up to me. Funny; this is the "normal" pace of life from now on. Once I finish the mission, I'll have other jobs to do & keep me busy.

Elder Maradiaga was joking around with me earlier, "Congratulations! Now you only have to do everything you just did all over again!"

Funny way to look at it. It'll be easier now that I speak the language.

Not much else going on here. Miss you guys a lot.
I love you all.
-Zach


QUESTIONS

1.       How was your birthday/hump day week? Did you get to celebrate at all?
*My birthday was fine; i didn't get to celebrate one bit because Presidente Collado and the AP's came down for a zone visit and we spent the whole week working with them (off & on). No room to celebrate.

2.       How are you feeling? Is your tummy better? What medicine did you take to treat it? Do you have worms?
* I feel fine now. Much better. I just took the stuff Dad gave me & rested for a bit.

3.       How was your meeting with Pres Collado? What did you learn? Did you tell him about your tummy?
*It was alright. Mostly just talked about goals and what my plans are for my district. We also had a few other short meetings about "trimestral goals" and whatnot. Nothing. Exciting. Whatsoever.

4.       Did you get your birthday package yet?
* Nope! Still waiting.


-Zach

Monday, June 22, 2015

Birthday Blues (and browns and greens)

Hey all!

Well, this past week, especially the last couple of days, have been a mixed bag of emotions.
On Sunday we had a record high for church attendance in my branch, so that was good.

We also baptized 5 people in my District. Also good.

Our baptismal dates (Maradiaga and I) fell through, which kinda sucked. Gotta start all over.

This morning I woke up with vomiting and diarrhea! Not fun at all. Everything I took to help the symptoms just shot straight through me and out the other end.

I've lost some weight.

I was able to keep some water and Gatorade down, but that's all I've had today. Hopefully my birthday will be better than this. I hope I can keep real food down tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we got the AP's and Presidente Collado coming to town tomorrow for a Zone Meeting. Not sure if I'll be able to celebrate turning 19 tomorrow, but oh well! I guess I'll find a way.

Thanks a ton for all the family photos! That's really awesome of you guys.

And Dad, Happy Father's Day! And Happy Birthday now, 'cause I'll be a day late the next time I get to say it to you.

I love you all!
-Zach

QUESTIONS & STUFF

1. We are starting to plan our trip down there to pick you up, (I KNOW- it’s EARLY!) but we gotta ask you one thing first: Do you WANT us to come pick you up? If no, just tell us a reason. (Totally fine, just want to get your feedback.) If yes, what would you like to see? Are there specific special families that you want to visit and for us to meet? Places you’d like to visit?

*I would love it if you guys came down to pick me up, The thing is, I don't know where I'm gonna be assigned to in a year (likelihood of leaving Puerto in 4 months or so), so we'll need to plan your visit out based on where I've served. As it stands, I've only served in two zones (Managua & Puerto). I've got families & converts in both zones I'd like to visit. Keep in mind that these two zones are on opposite coasts of the same country.

So, yes, I would love it if you guys came down to visit.

2. We got something for you on our trip and will be sending it next week. We also got some extra garments for you. Let us know if you need anything!
*Thanks! Could you guys send a roll of duct tape and some AAA batteries in any upcoming packages?

Love you!
-Zach

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What to do when the church has no water


Me and Elder M.
Well I gotta say, this week was a lot funner than last week.

The first half was normal, but towards the end of the week one of my recent converts (from back with Choque), A___, introduces us to her younger sister J_____. Both expressed the fervent desire that J_____ be baptized, as she had seen the changes brought about in A___'s life by her new commitment to serve Christ.

When we first discussed the baptism, we initially tried to put a date for the 20th of June, but J_____ refused.

She said it was too long to wait.



Then she requested that we baptize her that Saturday (the 13th) instead. We agreed, but it didn't end there. A couple days later one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Compton, calls us to inform us that all water has been shut down in the LDS chapel (the ONLY chapel that has a baptismal font in all of Puerto).

We weren't sure for how long, but we weren't about to let something as simple as that stop us from baptizing J_____.

So, we just took everybody down to the beach and baptized her there. It was a really beautiful moment and a really, really, awesome baptism.
J____'s baptism at the beach!

One of the best days of my whole mission.



I've been wanting to baptize somebody in the ocean my whole mission. Got to do it this past Saturday.

Not much else, just countin' down 'till I turn 19. Everybody thinks I'm super young here still.

I love you all.

-Zach

Only a kitten.

Pocket kitten.

QUESTIONS

1.  Are other guys from your group wrapping their minds around the idea that they have less than a year to go?
*They're pretty hyped up too. We won't be celebrating or anything 'till June 25, but it's kinda a relief. Like Friday Mornings- not quite the weekend, but you're still chill the whole day.


2. What is it like to be busy with other companionships and less with proselytizing? Are they good elders?
*We still proselytize (proselyte?) a lot, but it's cool to go around and see (and meet & help teach) other missionaries' investigators. It's refreshing in a way; it gives Elder Maradiaga and I the chance to see the teaching styles of other missionaries. This in turn helps me either apply these different teaching methods or help the other Elders with their own investigators. All of the missionaries in my district are very good teachers.

3. Pictures? Por favor?
* Sending now. Sorry for the wait; power has been going on and off unexpectedly.


Entryway to new apartment!

Front door and foyer.

Roomy living space-- a little empty of furniture-- but who needs chairs?!

Kitchen area. We keep it super clean and tidy!

Like the curtains over our wooden slats? A nice touch of home.

The ever-needed mosquito nets.

Dressing room / Closet

Bathroom. Running water most mornings. Bucket for when it's not running.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Only a year left!

Hey all!
Well, first off I gotta apologize to Mom and the family for not emailing yesterday. Internet all over Puerto was COMPLETELY down yesterday, so nobody could communicate via email or anything. Sorry to worry you guys there.

Everything's going great here. More stressful than normal, but then again, I guess this IS the new normal. Lots of checking up on the other areas. I've got five companionships in my district. Elders Crane, Maughan, and Shawcroft (from my CCM district) are in my new district, so it's nice to see them often.

As DL, I get to interview the other missionaries' possibilites to see if they're ready for baptism. That's usually really fun to do beacuse I get to see the developing testimonies that each investigator has. All, of course, are in various stages of growth. Just like a seed.

I have to go to a Leader's Council once a week, every Tuesday morning to discuss the status of my district and the zone. THAT'S not so fun.

Oh! By the way, my group (from the CCM & everyone who started the mission at the same time as me here) is scheduled to return home on June 9, 2016! That means I have less than a year left until I get to see you guys!

I'm still not really celebrating until June 23 & 25th. Then I'll actually have served a year here.
So, big stuff coming up!

I'd envy you guys in Hawaii but I'm enjoying the EXACT SAME WEATHER HERE so I'm no too bummed. I wish I could wear shorts, though. And go swimming. That would be just dandy.
Not in this water, but yeah.

Miss you guys. Hope you have a blast.
I love you all.
-Zach


1) How was this week for you?  Getting into a regular routine? What is a typical day like for you?
* This past week was hectic, especially towards the end of the week. I had to do some baptismal interviews for some of the members of my district, then try to place a baptismal date with one of our investigators. It didn't go well. The investigator, whose uncle and his family are recent converts, also wanted to jon the Church. But her father is very, VERY Catholic, and as soon as we entered the house he began yelling at us for "spreading false doctrine and lies." Seeing as his daughter is only 15, we needed his permission to baptize her. Needless to say, we didn't get it. Oh well. Not much else we can do there. For now we need to keep searching for new investigators.

2) Are you and your new companion getting along well? What is his family like? Any brothers and sisters?
* We are getting along great! We share a lot of the same interests, kinda like Lawrence though we don't have quite as much in common. He's the younger of two brothers. His older brother served a mission in Guatemala and has since returned. So it's just him out here.

3) Were you able to ask someone in the mission home to bring you your second bag to resupply? Will they be able to do it or not? Let me know so I can try to make arrangements if they can’t help you.
* I probably won't need anything from my second bag at the moment, but if I do, I can ask the ZL's (who travel to Managua once a month) to get something for me.

-Zach

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Broadening The Horizons

Hey all!
This week was a lot more interesting than recent others.
Being a DL is way different than being a regular missionary. I've got numbers, divisions with other companionships, and the whole zone as my area. I'd say it's definitely more fast-paced than the other transfers I've had.

Anyway, last week we had a "Consejo de Rama" (Branch Council), where we discussed the states of members who had left Puerto Cabezas for the outlying communities. Our research, contucted over a few weeks, revealed that the vast majority of the members had up and left for Waspam, the farthest-north community in Nicaragua. President Collado will be running some "test runs" of missionaries working in Waspam (the first EVER), with plans to open an area up there coming next transfer (early July). This is super important because we've outside of Puerto, Bluefields, and Corn Island, we've NEVER had LDS missionaries working on the Nicaraguan East Coast. With this new opening we are but one step closer to fullfulling the scripture prophecy of the "gospel being preached in every corner of the world." It's fun to take part in fulfilling scripture.

Also, we've been instructed by President Collado and Elder Duncan to build "capillas sencillas" (simple chapels) in Puerto for almost every branch. That's roughly five. Picture "The Other Side of Heaven" Tongan chapels (i.e. not really a chapel at all, but a roof held up by some support poles). Not very elaborate, but anywhere can become a holy place if it's done with the right intent. Anyway, we'll be building "little chapels" in Puerto, as well as one up in Waspam to hold meetings with members up north. The main point is to provide the opportunity for members to partake of the "Santa Cena" (sacrament), and renew their baptismal covenants. We've already got one built in Lamlaya (one of the branches).

That's about it for now. Lots of new and exciting changes, and new areas about to be opened. In addition to Waspam, there's also the communities of Rosita, Ciuna, Sandy Bay, and Rio Coco, as well as dozens of much smaller ones. As D&C 4 states, "The field is white, already to harvest."

My new companion and I get along just fine. He's from Copan, Honduras. Before he came to Puerto, he was a Secretary in the main office in Managua. He served as DL in my new district the transfer before I did.
He's got 15 months in the mission, and he can speak English very well, almost fluently.

Just a little note here, EVERY SINGLE comp I've had has spoken English, including the two Latinos I've served with (Alfaro & Maradiaga). Weird.

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

-Zach

QUESTIONS

1) How’s life as a DL? What is different (besides the language)? How has that impacted the daily routine?
* A lot more high-paced. A lot. Language study now has more emphasis in Miskito, but I have to worry about 4 other companionships besides my own (5 in total in my district). 4 of those I will be going on divisions with to meet their investigators (not the 5th because those are Sister Missionaries). Overall, just more high-stress.

2) How is your new companion? Give us details!
* I gave details in the big email, but his name is Victor Maradiaga, he's from Copan, Honduras, and he has 15 months in the mission.

3) Are you teaching now ONLY in Miskito? If so, what can we do to help you?
* Still a Spanish-Miskito mix, especially since I'm not fluent or even good at speaking Miskito. If you guys can find an English-Miskito grammar book, that would be fantastic. We got some books down here, but other than the English-Miskito dictionary you sent me, everything's in Spanish.

4) Who are you teaching? Tell us about your investigators!
* I have yet to MEET all of my investigators! They're spead all over Puerto, as the three Miskito  companionships have the entire zone as their assigned area. It gets tedious and confusing at times.

5) We noticed 2 withdrawals on the same day—I don’t have the exact date. But is this really YOU doing several withdrawals or is it someone else? We are just trying to avoid fraud. It would be easier if you took out just 1 time in a day. Again, please give us a heads up.
* Yes, these were mine. I will limit it to one withdrawal at a time, and it'll happen at the end of almost every change.

-Zach