Hi, everyone! I'm back!
I do realize this blog has been dead for 2 almost 3 months, and I apologize for that. The easy excuse for that is that my camera broke. If I'm more honest, though, I have to say that I had some disappointments recently and a nasty case of homesickness, and frankly, didn't want to make a negative blog. Those of you who REALLY know me know that can come pretty easily for me when I'm in certain moods. Sorry. But the reality of the situation is that just because I'm here and you're there doesn't mean life stops for either of us. There's a reason someone came up with the saying that "you can never go home again." Sad, isn't it? However, the point of this blog is to document my adventures in serving Jehovah more fully in another country, and unfortunately, this is part of the deal. I knew from the start that the beginning would be hardest when there's distance with my friends from home but hadn't made close friendships yet with people in my new home. My Mom told me something from her recent assembly, though, that is so true....a sacrifice isn't a sacrifice unless it's a sacrifice. I am starting to understand more fully that word...sacrifice...and just praying for the faith that Jehovah will not only take note of these small sacrifices I'm making but reward me for them in the near future.
Good news, though. I just got a two week visit from my family, and it really recharged my batteries. I got to see this country through a tourist's eyes instead of a publisher's eyes and have come to realize that this is truly an amazing place. I got to see a volcano up close and personal, a breaching whale, a white-face pet monkey, and Las Isletas in all their glory. Did you know there's a water lily here that's called tripe flower or flor de mondongo? Why such an ugly name for such a beautiful flower? As it turns out the underside of the leaf looks JUST LIKE raw tripe. Did you know there's a bird here who makes a nest like a beehive? It just swings from the highest height of trees. Did you know that the chocoyos who've been living in my house this whole time have a natural habitat inside volcanos? Jehovah made them with the ability to filter those toxic gases to live in a safe place from their predators. It just made me think that once the trash and pollution and hate is removed from this world it is going to be aaaaaamazing!!
And the things I've seen through a publisher's eyes haven't been anything to shake a stick at. I love that the Nicaraguan people have such a respect for the Bible and anyone teaching from it. I can't count how many times I've gone to a door and the householder has just burst into tears....so relieved for the visit. They honestly see our visit as a chance to heal themselves of whatever problems they may be experiencing and draw encouragement. Right before my family came, I was offering the Bible Teach book to a corner-shop owner. He picked the question about "Why do we suffer?". While reading the #1 reason (Satan's influence as a resident of Earth) he started crying, explaining they're having problems in the house as his son is letting himself be guided by this evil influence. I shared some comforting Scriptures with him and left the book. Well, two weeks later I went back, and it seemed things had gotten better in the household. He said he and his wife had started reading the book and the Bible together, and even though their son has left home, they feel more at peace. Isn't that beautiful?
Over the past few months, things have been good. I went back to visit Esteli in the north of the country. The drive up there was really pretty--all hilly and green like home. I also had my circuit assembly and got to participate in the baptism. Yes, I was the honorary towel girl and loved EVERY minute of it. Some of the candidates were just crying and crying...it really touched my heart and made me reflect on the seriousness of that step in life. We've also gotten to welcome all the Mexicans who've come for the pioneer route. Almost ALL of them are young, single, pioneer sisters. It felt good to put the shoe on the other foot, and welcome someone else to a strange, new environment. We really are a large army, aren't we :)
I've also gotten to see how Nicaraguans celebrate Christmas and the New Year. By the way, the ENTIRE month of December is a big party for them, but not for Jesus. For Mary! They are OBSESSED with her. The weeks leading up to December 25th is called La Purisima. Do you know what it's celebrating? The immaculate conception....of Mary! Does ANYONE read their Bible? Anyway, that celebration consists of Mary statues being paraded around town in processions. Also, "good" Catholics have a private celebration in their home where they set up an altar with candles, invite all their neighbors, recite not a few Hail Marys, and have a mariachi belt out Mary-related songs while kids set off fireworks and eat candy. Fireworks were definitely the theme of the month, and I'm surprized Ollie made it through alive. What fireworks have to do with Jesus and Mary are beyond me. But I'd like all of you to remember, as many householders have explained to me, that this is not worship. Oh, no! How could you suggest such a thing? This is veneration.
I've also had an opportunity to check out our rural territory. We have 30 kilometers worth of lakefront territory. The first half of it, El Guayabo, gets worked about every 4-6 weeks. But the last half of it, Los Cocos, hadn't been worked in over a year. Normally we have someone's truck we pile into to go or rent a bus for Los Cocos, but for some reason yesterday was all on foot. I was fairly positive I was going to die. For those of you who are metric-system handicapped like I am, that would be NINE MILES of walking one-way. We're supposed to do the other half of the territory next week. The good part, though, is that the householders are very receptive and basically let you talk as long as you want. They're really good about pulling out a few chairs so you can rest while you chat, so that helps.
I've also been doing some reading and HAVE to recommend a fabulous, thought-provoking book to you--Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It put me in a very nostalgic mood and have to also recommend a fabulous song. It's a Paul McCartney classic that's not well-known. However, I have to venture to say that if someday I manage to get married, THIS will be my wedding song...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ0WIQpONjA