Sunday, April 27, 2014

Semana Santa (Easter)

Well, to be honest Semana Santa was not anything like I expected. The entire city spent the entire week on the beach leaving the streets as deserted as they are and 8 o'clock at night. It made it hard to find new people to teach, but we had some good lessons with our current investigators. It also brought new dishes to try. For Christmas/New Year's everyone makes their tamales and insists that we try them because clearly we haven't had a real tamale until we have tried theirs. For Semana Santa everyone has either papaya en miel or torrejas. They have basically the same kind of sauce that has a honey, mixed with molasses, super sugary sweet flavor, but the papaya obviously has papaya cooked in this sauce and the torrejas are these pancakeish things with an unappealing texture.

     Food is always the most adventurous part of holidays. I was just happy that they offered this instead of Sopa de Mariscos.

     As for really good news, if you remember a long time ago I told you about José Constantino. He's the one who was reading the Book of Mormon from the minute we gave it to him and the one who left for Yoro. Well long story short, HE GOT BAPTIZED!

     We also have set a baptismal date for Anita! In this lesson with her she made me cry twice. Her sister is visiting and though she didn't join us, her presence affected the lesson dramatically. We started out the lesson, shared a beautiful scripture, bore testimony, and asked Anita is she was willing to be baptized next Saturday. I was a little apprehensive, but remembering the change that's taken place in her I didn't truly expect her to reject the date, but she did! She reverted to the old Anita with a million excuses and I started to cry. I didn't understand how this could happen. We tried to probe and figure out what the underlying fear was and finally she shushed us pointing to her sister in the other room. We all fell relatively silent, Hna. Calpa and I thinking long and hard about what we could possibly say/share that would change Anita's mind. I was trying hard to keep tears form completely overflowing because it literally hurt to think that after all that had happened she was going to reject the gospel.
      After a good 5-10 minutes the sister left and once she was a good distance down the road Anita changed the topic back from the weather to her baptism. Her whole attitude changed and her face lit up. She told us that her sister doesn't like it that Anita is listening to us and that she wants to get baptized. That's why she didn't want to talk about it with her within earshot. Anita told us how in everything we've taught, our visits, our service, attending church, and getting to know the members, she's seen true love. ''There's love in other churches,'' she said. ''But in other churches I haven't seen true love like in your church and I want to be a part of that.'' At this point I cried again. This time for pure joy. She's found the truth, and she recognizes it. Anita is going to get baptized and she is going to do great things. It has been a great week, and we've continued to see miracles. It is beautiful what the Lord can do when we let Him work in our lives!

Hasta la proxima!
Hna. Thacker

PS I missed our Easter traditions. I tried to explain the Easter Bunny to my companion and she just looked at me and asked, ''What does a bunny have to do with Holy Week?'' I had a hard time answering that. What does a bunny have to do with Easter? Where did that start?
     They advise us not to mail anything because it is very costly, but if I could I would. I'm not sure if customs would allow me to bring any of my caracols. I need to find out. Also, I would like to know if I can bring cheese home too. The cheese here is... one of a kind... and you all have to try it to understand the meaning of Honduran cuisine.
(Answer to a question) I'm not sure about how the whole season thing works here. It's felt the same since I've gotten here, but they tell me we are in summer now. I really don't know what to expect from here on out. Everyone kept telling me, ''Just wait until Semana Santa.'' or ''You haven't experienced hot until you've experienced Semana Santa.'' Semana Santa didn't feel unusually more hot, and now it's passed...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

6 Months! I love it!

      Four of the Misquitos we have been teaching got baptised! We began teaching them at the beginning of the transfer. They showed me that there really are prepared people waiting in this area. It is such a blessing to have had the opportunity to help them get to this point!
     Another miracle... Anita came to church again! She told us Saturday that she was probably not going to be able to come because with the cold weather we've been having with the rain her bad foot hurt. My companion looked her in the eye and told her, if she made the effort to come to church her foot wouldn't hurt and she would be able to make it to church. Sunday when we passed by her house she was ready and waiting, pain free.
     This week we had divisions again with the Sister Training Leaders. I had the opportunity to work with Hna. Tajiboy again for a day. Wednesday is her last day in the mission, and also cambios for us. Tonight we find out if one of us has transfers or we get to stay.
     And cambios means that I have hit 6 months. I can hardly believe it. I have seen many miracles and am so very grateful for this opportunity to see them daily. Sometimes they are not so dramatically noticeable. Really the most remarkable miracles are changes in people. The change as they make covenants, the change as they are brought to a remembrance of their covenants, and the changes that are always evident as someone comes closer to Christ. I love it! I love the role I get to play in it as a missionary!

Hasta la próxima!
Hna. Thacker

 Part 2
     The latest seafood I've tried is ceviche. It has onion, tomato, spices, and caracol all chopped up into little pieces. Then they squeeze lime juice all over it and let it sit for a few minutes before serving. We used the little freshly made corn tortilla chips to scoop it up and eat it. No fork. No cooking... We've had it twice and I realized that I am getting to the point that I don't mind eating it. If I had the choice I'd still choose not to eat it, but it is much easier to eat when I'm given it.
      I finally found caracoles to bring home as evidence that I truly ate the creature that lives inside... The really big one I'll probably leave behind because it is the same size of my head, but I found some pretty, smaller ones too.
     Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that the no beach order was a misunderstanding on the part of the elders. What was really meant was no touching the water. So, we still go to the beach sometimes, and that's where I found the conch shells. :) Also, we didn't have cambios, so today I start another transfer here with Hermana Calpa :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Beautifully Perfect Tapestry

     When I wrote last week I was under the impression that we were not going back to visit Anita, and I didn't share the part of the experience that changed both Anita's heart and my companion's mind. We were wrapping up the lesson with her and I felt like I needed to share a scripture with Anita. As soon as the thought crossed my mind I got really nervous and worried. I was terrified that I wouldn't have the words to explain what I felt I needed to explain, so I kept quiet. We closed and stood to leave, but the feeling was still there and I knew I needed to share. I did it. It was a lot scarier than it should have been, but letting faith take the place of fear. I was crying, my companion was crying, and Anita too. She looked up at us and said, "I didn't realize that you guys cared so much." She told us she wouldn't be able to come to church that week, but she was going to try to make it the next. Honestly, I didn't believe her until we saw her this week. She was soooo happy to see us and assured us that she would be ready and waiting Sunday morning if we would come to pick her up.


     She was ready and waiting just like she said she would be! I was on the verge of tears because I was so happy! Anita was happy to be there and the messages of General Conference touched her heart. She told my companion that the messages about covenants and baptism gave her something to think about and that she's already got plans to come next week! We still have a ways to go with her, but at least she is making progress! Conference was fantastic! We got to watch all four sessions, and I got to watch them in English.

     Side note: All of the North Americans and anyone else who wanted to, all watched in a separate little room. This little room had the air conditioning on full blast and I was positive that it was no more than a balmy 45 degrees. Turns out it was 73... 73 is supposed to be room temperature, but it felt like a freezer. I guess that gives an idea what the weather is like here...

     Back to conference... I heard a lot about how important it is for us to strengthen our faith and be prepared to defend the truths we stand for. It was all exactly what I needed, and brought answers to prayers! I heard messages meant for the investigators that we brought, and I know that it was so very inspired. I know that the Lord always weaves every talk and every song into a beautifully perfect tapestry that is exactly what we need. It never ceases to amaze me how perfect His plans are! He knows us so perfectly on a very individual level and is able to use the Spirit to touch our hearts in ways not expected. Heavenly Father loves us! And I am more convinced now than ever that ''The gospel is beautifully simple and simply beautiful.'' It really always comes back to faith, hope, and charity.

    Well, that leads to today. For the last p-day of the transfer we went with our zone and la Zona Miramar to Pico Bonito. The real thing!

      It was truly hiking through the jungle. Well, at some times it felt a little more like rock climbing, but we made it! I think knowing that I made it was worth more of the 45 lempira entrance fee than the actual falls, but it was pretty masizo!

     Then as a district we visited a butterfly museum. Also quite fascinating.

     And I held a tarantula... in case you have doubts that I actually did, here is a picture...

     It was terrifying, not going to lie. Between the giant eyes and giant fangs...I was glad the guy didn't make me hold it for long. As ugly as they are, turns out they eat cucarachas. My respect for them grew today.

     Well, I think that's all...

 Hasta la próxima!
 Hna. Thacker

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Planting Seeds

    Here in this area we have planted a lot of seeds. Seeds that are taking their own sweet time growing. Sometimes it is frustrating not being able to see the fruits of our labor. We talk to a lot of people, and with most of them from the beginning they show a disinterest in hearing the gospel. So we leave them with a pamphlet, trusting that eventually they will accept the fullness of the gospel. The hardest by far is when we are working with a person for months, they've received a witness that this is true, and then in the end they use their agency to reject the message we've brought.

     This week we had to say good bye to Anita. She has been receiving visits for as long as there have been hermanas in this area. She is sweet, humble, and we always feel the spirit strong in lessons with her. However, she hasn't made real progress in reading the Book of Mormon and doesn't come to church because of her bad foot. She knows she needs to be baptised and every time we visit she describes how she got an answer to her prayers, however she insists that she needs to learn more. Finally my companion said this week that we need to stop visiting her if she is not willing to progress. We had one last lesson with her to explain why, and by the end we were all crying. In her case it didn't feel like we were leaving a planted seed, but rather she was using her agency to choose not to progress. That she was letting her fears rule and doubts overcome. I cried for her, and I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father feels every time one of His beloved children uses the gift He's given them to reject the invitation to come closer to Him. It's made me reflect on how I have used my agency to accept or reject opportunities He's given me to grow.

     Little by little we are finding the prepared people--the seeds that have been planted long ago that are ready to be harvested. Yesterday we had a large family of Misquitos join us for church! They are always so happy to receive us and are beginning to open up more and more. It was probably one of the highlights of my week when one hermana in the family brought out the pamphlet we left and her bible, explaining that she had been looking up the references in the back of the pamphlet and studying the questions. We just have to learn misquito and todo cheque. :)

     The greatest success we have seen here is the change in the members. We've been helping them form their own Family Mission Plans, and as they have begun to see how crucial they are in this work the more excited they have been to help us out. They have begun to feel the responsibility of helping their friends, family, and neighbors come unto Christ. They are willing and excited to help, and that is the greatest miracle I've seen here!

Well, until next week! I hope you have a great week!
Hna. Thacker

p.s. La Mosquitia is an area on the farthest east part of Honduras and there live a people called Misquitos who speak Misquito. It sounds really cool, and it would be pretty neat to learn.