So then I arrived in Nicaragua at about 7 pm local time. And, well, let´s just say it didn´t take me long to realize that I was in another country! Ha ha. It is really different. I was really in shock when I got here, I couldn't´t do anything but laugh and ask questions. I met my mission President and his wife and the APs and secretary. They are really nice and welcomed me in with open arms.
So the traffic! Crazy. I was scared out of my boots (is that an expression?) when the APs were driving in the streets that first 15 minutes. But I got used to it. What is so crazy is that the pedestrians don't use crosswalks, or common sense, to cross the road! They simply just cross when they want to. Also, there aren't really lane rules or blinkers, or police. Ha ha. It is pretty exciting. I thought we were going to kill some people that first night. But I have adjusted. I am now like the Nicaraguans. I just cross when I feel so inclined (with my companion of course)
But before I get ahead of myself, I spent the first night in this super nice hotel (pretty nice by American standards...like a Hilton level but like Donald Trump nice in Nicaragua). It is the same hotel that Elder Cook stayed in a few months ago, if that gives you an idea. I didn´t really appreciate it considering I am from the United States, but I think I am beginning to understand how nice it was now.
So we woke up and then went to the mission office to have orientation. That first night it was just me. I was the only Provo MTC Nicaraguan missionary to come this last week. I met up with 4 native speakers who were at the Guatemala MTC the next day. So anyway, we had our orientation and then the APs and President threw a birthday party for me! It was also one of the APs birthdays.
Later that night, we went contacting (in Nicaragua we don't knock on doors, or have house approaches, unless the spirit directs us to. The president wants to spend our time with less actives, recent converts, and investigators to establish the church here in Nicaragua rather than just get a lot of baptisms. But we do that too.) It was great.
In the morning, we had changes and I was given my companion, Elder Menendez from El Salvador, and we went to work shortly after that. That first day was pretty long. I am still getting used to the heat and humidity here, but it is getting gradually easier to manage. That first day, not so much. I think I was the least productive studying and such.
Since then I have had some great experiences. I have been able to teach parts of many lessons, find many investigators, and feel the spirit. Already, I am beginning to feel a love for the people, but I just feel so inadequate as a missionary. I guess it is just the way we are supposed to feel as missionaries. When we finally feel up to the task, we are on our way home...
The language is coming along. I only really can speak in Spanish seeing as my companion doesn't speak any English. I definitely have room for improvement. But the people here seem to think that I speak pretty well. I did kind of had an advantage coming in. But their accent here is so different. I have heard that if you can understand Nicaraguan Spanish you can understand any Spanish. I believe it. I sometimes only catch about 50% of some people´s Spanish. Others I can understand just fine. But my accent needs improvement big time! It will come in time.
But yeah, I have really enjoyed it here. The food isn't so bad either. I think I am kind of liking rice every meal, at least for now anyway. We have an inactive lady cook and do our laundry for us. It is really helpful and makes it so we can focus on the work.
My living conditions are pretty good for Nicaragua. I mean we have a floor and running water. I have really appreciated the things I use to have since being here. It is really a humbling experience.
I appreciate all of your prayers and thoughts on my behalf. I pray for you and hope all is going well. As you might have guessed, Monday is my Pday and I will be writing then for here on out. About the money in my account, there is plenty! I don't really need a music player, because as soon as I get home, I plan, get ready for bed, and hit the hay! I try to get to bed as soon as possible because I am just so exhausted by then.
Oh, I forgot to tell you! HA ha, I am in Managua in a zone called Montserrat I think. I am still getting used to it all. I am going shopping today and I should be fine. I think the secretary is working out my finances in the next week.
I love you all and I will keep you updated with more stories about Nicaragua and my spiritual experiences. One thing I have learned so far is that God really does prepare His children for the message and that we just need to seek them out. They are all around us! Keep your eyes open! Until next week,
Love, Elder Russell