August 15, 2011

Greetings from Rivas!

So I am in Rivas now. It is about a 2 and a half hour bus ride from Managua. We are closer to the beach and San Juan del Sur. It is nice and warm here. There is a thermometer here in the internet place that says it is about 90. What Elena said about sweating the most in her life in the mission is true here. I keep drinking water and am learning my way around this place. It is quite a bit bigger than Masatepe. There are 2 branches but we are hearing that they will be combining them soon. We are the only missionaries in our branch and there are 4 elders in the other. We don`t see them much since we don`t eat with them. We eat at a lady´s house and she does our laundry and the elders’ laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. She is really cool and the food is good. She kind of reminds me of Grandma Olive but as I thought about it yesterday she is probably more like your age. My companion said she is like 54. My companion is from Panama. I think her family has been members for about 8 years. She has been out 15 months. She is pretty quiet and doesn`t say much. I am getting used to how she works and things like that, which I think are what`s hard about changes - nothing bad just different. We just get in our routines and then we have to learn new ones with new people, but I am enjoying being her companion. So, bad news - on the bus ride from Managua to here someone got into one of my suitcases and took the tub of my meds and vitamins and the other tub with all my random stuff - like scissors, nail clippers, moleskin, retainer cleaner, sewing kit, and sunscreen. There was a random guy that told us to sit here in the bus and I think that was so we weren`t so close to my bags. But at least all the stuff can be replaced and we are going to go to the store after this to get some of it. My companion had her wallet in the side pocket of her backpack and somehow that was gone when we got off the bus. She wasn`t so concerned about the money, but her camera card with all her pictures was in there. She is bummed about that. We talked to the police that night but I am about 99% sure that they can`t do anything and the stuff isn`t going to come back. Anyway, so that wasn`t super fun, but I am doing fine and when I was telling the district and zone leaders what stuff they took and one of the biggest disappointments was the ziploc bags you sent I realized that it wasn`t that big of a deal. I am going to try to buy as much of the stuff here as I can. I’ll go to the pharmacy today and get my vitamins and the other stuff they have there. It shouldn`t be more than about 30 dollars and I think that will be easier and cheaper than having you mail that stuff to me. So, not the funnest way to start the change but I am doing good and I guess this is one way to get rid of some stuff in my bags. Next time I will buy little locks for my bags. At least they didn`t get into the bag with my cd player or important documents, so these little things I need to buy are no big deal - just money and annoyance. I am doing fantastic. Anyway, I have a good story to tell you from Friday when we went to the zone and district meetings. One of the other sisters came to me right when they got there and handed me the phone and said to talk to the person. The lady is someone that works for the church and speaks English. I said I would translate (I wouldn´t call it high quality translation, but whatever). Anyway, the lady told me who she was and that she was in the DR offices and she helps with the Central American and Caribbean missions. I said my sister is in the DR MTC. She said that was why I sounded familiar and she knows Lenny. I got to talk to her and pass a little message on to Lenny. The lady is going to call back again on Friday to talk to this sister so she should have a message from Lenny to me. The lady said how it wasn`t a coincidence that I was translating and that the Lord knows us all so well and our situations. I was so grateful to talk to her even though I didn`t know her, but just knowing she knows Lenny made me happy. That was definitely a tender mercy. Anyway, so I was proud of myself the other day because I made a joke in Spanish. We were talking to a lady in the street with her two daughters. She described them as coffee and coffee with milk since one had lighter skin than the other. I said that I was just milk :) They thought that was funny and she said, pure milk. Then she said my companion was cocoa. I don`t know if my companion was as entertained by this as I was, but I was proud of myself. Really my companion is very dark skinned. Anyway, I am doing well and trying to get to know the members and investigators here. We have a little kid that just turned 9 that is really excited to get baptized so that is good and we have some other people too. Oh, and we have bunk beds in the apartment, so Brownie and I are excited to be on the top bunk. The apartment is small, but nice and the water situation is good here and we have water almost all the time so that is an improvement.  So I should still get mail fairly regularly at least on Fridays at the zone meetings.  I haven`t got anything this week but most likely on Friday. I have some letters I will mail today to you all.  I can`t believe Elena is done at the MTC tomorrow and that I will have 5 months tomorrow. The time I think will keep going by faster and faster. Crazy! I am doing well and excited to get in a groove here and figure this city out. It is bigger than Masatepe and has more than one bank and there is a big ice cream place that we will have to try (but no chains like McDonalds). Oh, at the change meeting the mom of an elder was there who was going home. He is Tongan and from Hawaii and she brought leis and stuff for them and the mission president and his wife and the elder was wearing a Hawaiian skirt deal. It was good and fun to remember Hawaii. All we needed was a good Aloha oe. So I guess parents do come to pick people up but I am with Tanner's thinking on that one. I feel safe here but it would be more challenging to have to keep track of other white people who don`t know Spanish and especially in Managua people will take advantage of that. Anyway, I am safe and well taken care of so don`t worry about me. You guys are the bestest and I know that I am always taken care of.  Well, I hope all is well at home and I look forward to your next letters. The gospel is true and I am happy here. I am enjoying being a missionary. I hope you don`t worry about me from my other emails. I am happy and healthy and safe. I love you tons and can`t wait to hear from Lenny in the DR. Well, my comp is ready to go. I am doing fantastico and so is Brownie! Love you tons and tons! Love, Alexis
Masatepe Branch President & family

...last pictures from Masatepe

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