Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and the Process of Hope........week 102

Good afternoon family!

I hope Easter Sunday was good for you. I don’t know if you asked me last year about Easter in Nicaragua, but I thought I would remind you of all of the “interesting” things that I saw. Basically the week is Spring Break. Few people spend their time thinking about Christ rather they go to the beach or spend time drinking with their friends and family. It is kind of a sad sight for missionaries. We almost only talked to drunk people all week. But despite the challenge, we were able to find several new families, one of which came to church this week. They are great. The father was a little sick at first, a sort of hangover from eating too much Amibar (sweet fruit stuff that they make for the Holy Week). But they liked church a lot. They are getting ready for baptism the second week of May. As we wandered around empty, deserted cobblestone streets in Jinotepe we occasionally had to quicken our pace to pass in front of a Catholic parade of sorts. I would describe it as a mix between a funeral procession and a middle school marching band practice. I don’t know if you get the picture. Interesting would be about the only word I can use to describe it. Creepy might be the second word ha ha. But we were able to feel the spirit of the season despite all distractions. We also heard occasional fireworks Sunday as people celebrated the resurrection. I guess we need to let others worship in the way they deem right too. I think I will laugh about this stuff in the coming years.

April seems to have taken its course here as we near its end. We are already making preparations for May in Jinotepe. The zone has had a lot success. We ended up baptizing 15 people this last weekend in the zone. The missionaries have been working hard and we are seeing the fruits. I love the work. We ended up having a wonderful baptism too. Antonio, Socorro and their daughter Maria Mercedes made eternal covenants with our Heavenly Father on Saturday. It was a special service. Antonio took a second as he was about to enter the water…he stepped in and as he left the water he said that “only two more left.” He meant that only his older daughter and son were left to make the same covenant of baptism. My companion said that he would be able to baptize them. “Really!?” he asked. He smiled real big. Sunday morning they were there early with their Sunday clothes, Antonio sporting a new white shirt and tie. They looked great! I love baptizing families…it is the best.

We haven’t stopped having changes either in the zone. Today the mission sent us two more Elders. Now we have 26 Elders in the Zone. Wow! It is huge!! But at least they sent us a District leader so now that will help us balance out the districts. We had one district with 10 missionaries and the District leader was overwhelmed. But with 4 District Leaders there will be an even 6 per district. Thank goodness! The missionaries are really learning how to be better leaders. I have seen the District leaders step up to the plate in the last few weeks and I think we are setting us up for success in May. We work as if everything depended upon us and we pray as if it all depended upon the Lord. I have seen His hand in the work so many times.

This week I read a neat scripture:
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulationsalso: knowing that tribulationworketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4)

As I thought about this scripture I realized the divine process of acquiring hope.

In my mission, there have been times when I felt tried…seriously tried. I think in those moments I realized that I wasn´t patient haha. That is the “worketh” part. The trial exercises our patience making us more capable to support future trials...though we might be slow in getting over the present one. But when we finally learn how to overcome x or y trial, we have experiences that help us get through the future, more difficult ones. Our previous success gives us hope that we can once again triumph in trials path. We can succeed.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be tried by our Master, be molded and shaped, humiliated and torn apart…and then of course, put back together again. As I am patient with Him, he gives me experiences that let me hope for what is better. My hope for the future is better now, so much better than it was before.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

We realize our potential because little by little the Lord lets us know that we are on His path.
May the Lord always let us have more hope in the future…and may we have patience in the trials that come our way so that we might achieve this hope.

Elder Russell

PS- I asked Grant which missionaries were serving in his Zone, here is his response...

I will tell you the names of the Americans at least...
Ewell, Rodriguez, Ward, Sis. Rios, Fuller, Tonga, Taylor, Pugmire, Call, Keyser, Hinton, Fabricius
Wow, that is a lot of cheles...ha ha