Do you guys remember how I used to have to BEG, I mean BEG, Claudia to make me plantain? Well, here, they're a staple of everyday life. When you fry them (either green or ripe) they call them tajada. The other day, I offered to make them for lunch and look how they turned out!! I fried and lived!! Take that, Claudia :)-
This is me after the meeting Saturday night. Mom wanted a full body shot :)
I know this blog has been a lot about my new congregation and my new city/country, but I haven't talked a lot about my personal experiences in the territory. After a full 2 months here, I can say it's good! I have 2 formal studies and after this week (their 3rd study) I should have 2 more. We work our territory about every 3 weeks and yet the householders are SO receptive. It's very easy to get r.v.'s and place literature. Service can be very tiring because it's a lot of walking in the heat of the morning, but it seems like the householders can see when we need a break and are great about pulling out a couple chairs for us to chat for a while. The other pioneers here have also been really supportive about making plans in advance to go out in the afternoon together to do studies and r.v.'s.
If you'll remember, when I first came here to Granada Este I spoke to the elders and they explained they didn't really need me. Well, this week we had our C.O, and I talked to him about where I should go. He asked how my budget was here (Granada is the most expensive city in Nicaragua), how I felt with the family with whom I live, and how the territory/congregation seemed to me. I told him all was good. "Stay," he said. He said although the congregation is big and has a lot of pioneers there's a couple things they really need help with and to which I can contribute:
1) return visits
2) meeting attendance
Plus, they haven't had anyone serve here in 5 years and he thinks the experience would be good and encouraging for them.
He said that when he/wife were special pioneers they were assigned to a territory that was worked every 3 weeks also, and he wondered why? The issues were the same there....the congregation loved to preach but wasn't so great at return visits. He told me the key wasn't working the territory MORE, it was working the territory BETTER. The majority of our territory probably thinks our purpose is giving a brief message and leaving a magazine or brochure. They probably don't even know about our Bible study program because it's never been offered to them. I think he's right because the couple times I've just up and offered it, the householder has accepted it. One time I left magazines with a young lady named Tatiana and asked her if she owned a Bible. She said her Dad had just given her one as a gift, but when she showed it to me it looked new as if she'd never opened it. I asked her if she wanted to learn how to use it and find out what's inside and she said yes! We had our first study Thursday and when I asked her when to do the next study, she said "tomorrow!" She's proving to be a great student, and I think maybe her husband will study too.
So he wants me to do return visits and especially in the morning when the big group goes out so that everyone can see that they're important. I also think that's important because before, when I tried to cut out early to make return visits my partner was VISIBLY upset and gave me a lecture enumerating (I kid you not, #1, #2 etc) reasons why house-to-house was important.
Meeting attentance is the other thing. We have 103 publishers with about 30 students w/kids attending. However, our average is 99 Wednesday night and 110 Saturday night. You can do the math. Even during the C.O. visit which usually produces huge numbers, we had a peak of only 140. He wants me to set the example in meeting attendance and encourage others to do the same when possible.
He said that in a few months if I feel like I need some excitement I should check out 2 congregations south of here--Cardenas and Rivas. Cardenas is on the south side of Lake Nicaragua really close to Costa Rica. It has 8 publishers. It's mainly rural and the town has no running water but apparently is beautiful and shows a really good response to the ministry. Rivas is the big city close to Cardenas. It has a couple congregations, but 1 of them only has 3 pioneers. I met a sister at the English conv. who's serving in Cardenas, so I'll have to pay her a visit and check it out.