Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wow a lot has happened in a week!.......week 7

Hello from Las Colinas! Yeah, let me explain ha ha.

So as you read in the title, this week (and especially the last 24 hours) has been a HUGE change! I am now in Las Colinas (or that is to say the ward Las Colinas). I am really in the city Ticuantepe. It is absolutely beautiful and huge (the ward boundaries) and well, I don't much about it yet but I will give you a briefing...

So we had a multizone conference last Thursday and we had interviews with the President. It was great! I always learn so much in the conferences with the President. He is changing the way the mission is being run. He said in the meeting that there was going to be emergency changes the following Monday (yesterday) and that we needed to be prepared with everything including the area book, etc. Also, the President decided to create two zones dedicated to training. So all the future trainers were transferred to Chinandegas and Leon to get used to the area before the 14 new missionaries arrive in two weeks. It was all kind of confusing.

But Sunday night both my companion got a phone call. I was just sitting there and then he paused...he was shocked. We were both going to be transferred out of the area. He knew nothing more. We were both leaving.

So we spent the night packing and finishing all of the notes and stuff. We didn´t get to sleep until 12...unfortunately. But it was really a blessing yesterday though because we had time to say goodbye to our recent converts and less active members. That is not normally the case. It was a bitter sweet experience. It is amazing to me how much love you can have for a person only after 4 weeks there.

So we got to the transfers and we found out that our companionship was going to stay the same, but we were both moving to Las Colinas (the area of the APs) and that the office would now be working in our old area. Weird, but exciting. So we spent pretty much the whole day yesterday just getting stuff ready. A member drove us around and we got to see most of the area.

Now about the area...IT IS HUGE. REALLY HUGE! Our area, just me and my companion, is bigger in size than all of the other areas in our zone put together. It is about 30 kilometers from Managua but it feels completely different. It is very green and a bit cooler than Managua. It also has a volcano and zoo in the area...pretty sweet. I took some sweet photos yesterday but I didn´t know I was going to write today so I will send them soon.

So about my old area, Montserrat is in Managua. It is one of the wards there. I was pretty much in downtown Managua.

The photo problem is that the computers here don't have jacks for my SD card. I want to buy a cable so I can upload them and then send them...I will keep you updated. I can receive photos as far as I know. I did have an extra card but I was looking for it yesterday during the changes and I couldn´t find it. I don't know where it is...

About the money, it seems like most missionaries have a problem keeping a hold of their money. It is easy to waste it. We get a set amount from our credit card each month that is allotted for each expense. I received mine late last month so Ï have a lot of extra. I will figure it out next month. As far as the debit card goes, please take off all but about 100 dollars. I don't want to carry around a ton of money in case someone steals it. But President Fraatz said that we could use the cards in emergencies...

My health is fine. I have been trying to drink lots of water and I eat a fairly balanced diet. Though my body is still adjusting to the food here...I wont burden you with the details.

Mailing is safe as far as I can tell. I have received about 3 or 4 letters from Elder Minor and a few from friends. It only takes about a week or two I think and I get the mail on Pdays. It might take longer for the zones really far from Managua, but I am still in the same zone as Montserrat so it should be pretty quick.

Elder Menendez is great! We have our differences, but I think we work as well together as any other companionship and better than some.

Weather, HOT! But like one of training movies said, the two hottest places known to man: the Sun...and Nicaragua. I have accepted that I will just be one sweaty kid for 2 years. Ticuantepe isn´t as bad thank goodness. I have used my boots a few times and they work great!

I do get to play the piano occasionally...

About the recent converts: I don't know how I forgot to tell you last week in the email, but we had another baptism. And then this last week we had another one, the man who had a problem with smoking =)

The one two weeks ago was a woman named Sandra. Really nice lady, had a big change in her life. David is the man who quit smoking, but not without some fighting. In a district meeting we were talking about his challenge and then another elder suggested we use this method to stop smoking. He suggested that we take 3 cigarettes and empty the insides into a glass of water. Then we made him drink half of it right then and the other half the following morning. We did it and it WORKED! He said the next day he wanted to smoke but couldn't because it just tasted so gross it was revolting. Ha ha. By Small and simple means are great things brought to pass.

So...more about my new area. Like I said, we are switching areas with the office and so really, we are opening an area. The APs work very different than most missionaries. They don't live in the area or work every day, so we are going in as two new missionaries blindly. My companion said that he felt like it was his first day in the mission all over again. I thought. "oh great...now we have two lost missionaries."

But really, I feel so lost and inadequate. I think I feel more lost than I did my first day because I cant rely on my companion and his knowledge of the people or area. He doesn´t know either. It is also really intimidating to follow the APs in the area. Even though they don't work all of the time in the area, they still teach, etc so we have BIG shoes to fill, and I have 4 weeks in the mission ha ha. Oh and it is the ward that the Mission President´s family attends too. Ha ha.

But I have been comforted already with this new assignment. I know that we can do it despite the huge pressure we both feel. I want to work hard and it seems like the members are going to help us do it too!

We live in this super sweet house that has three rooms and a toilet that flushes!!! And a fridge. Wow my perspective on things is already changing. The lady who lives in the house is really nice and she is a member with desires to serve the Lord if I do say so myself.

So now time for the cultural differences for the week!

Goats, I saw about 10 of them dart out from behind a house one morning and it didn´t bother me a bit. They are just trotting along next to me.
They have these little cart things that aren´t quite rickshaws but definitely not cars. They have three wheels and they drive people around for about 5 cordobas a piece (25 cents)
Las Colinas has hills filled with pineapples. It is my first time seeing a plantation where they grow pineapple. It is pretty cool looking.
Not enough could be said about the dogs.
Women here have no problem nursing in public...it is really different.

Anyway, I will cya next week. I just want you to all know how much I love you! I am growing spiritually and I really do know that this church is true. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share the gospel here in Nicaragua. It is probably the coolest thing in the world to be completely dedicated to do the most important work there is: the work of the Lord.

I will write next week.

Elder Russell

PS could you send a picture or two of the family via email whenever you get a chance here and there so I can see everyone! Thanks-