Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Impressions of La Norte

Hello there!

Sorry that it's been a while. I know that a lot of you were waiting for a post - and by a lot of you, I mean like three of you. No worries, bros. I'm gonna fill this page up anyway.

But seriously, apologies. It's been an insanely busy month, as I'm sure this August has been for all of you as well! (Sidenote: I'm running out of ways to say it's been a busy month. I've done very busy, crazy busy, insanely busy, extremely busy...I'm gonna think of a more interesting phrase. Stay tuned. Just know that I mean it when I say it's been busy.) I've got a lot of things to catch everyone up on, but I'll do a few posts instead of trying to fit it all in one.

Settling into La Norte congregation has been a lot easier than I was expecting. Everyone has been very welcoming. I was a little nervous at first - making a good first impression in a new hall is tricky enough, and it's even trickier trying to do so in another language. A couple weeks in, though, I received my first invitation to a congregation party! To say I was excited is an understatement. I kept the invitation (no joke, it's still on my fridge). Is it obvious that I'm flattered easily?

Yes, it looks like either a Valentine's card or a birthday party invite, but it's the GESTURE, guys.
 On the night of the party, I was still excited, but I was only planning on staying for like half-an-hour. No offense, Nica friends. I've been to plenty of fiestas here, and after two-plus years, you've just about had your fill of trying to dance to music that you, as one of the whitest boys on Earth, simply will never be able to dance to. Just to prove my point, here's a picture of me at my first Nica dance party back in July 2011:

Me with Anna, an old friend from England. Look how coordinated I am! (And yes, the glasses, I know.)
 Anyway, I was planning on jetting out of there pretty soon...until I saw this:

 I asked Ladislao, the elder whose family was hosting, "Why did you have the cake written in English?" He told me, "For you! This is your welcome party!"

Okay, so I know this picture doesn't make it look like there was a ton of people there, but...wait, maybe there wasn't.
 Man, did I feel like schmuck! Of course, I stayed for the whole party. Turns out it was half my welcome party, half a going-away party for Ladislao's visiting family (who apparently went to the same international convention we did!), but hey, I'll take it! It was really nice of them, and it was a great way to break the ice. They told me (and have kept telling me) that they're really thankful and glad that I've moved in.

Any party is made ten times better with glowsticks!
After many failed attempts by others, this girl was the one who finally convinced me to get on the dance floor.
Another sidenote: The party was a lot of fun and it was a really sweet gesture...but, the cake was disgusting. I'm sorry!! Again...it's the GESTURE that counts, I know.

One thing I've really enjoyed is living so close to the hall and to everyone here. It's made it much easier to cultivate friendships. A couple named Erling and Rebecca, two regular pioneers, have been really cool and welcoming. Speaking of which, he was just appointed as an elder, making five elders in our hall! It's awesome, but also kind of ridiculous, right? Like I said, the need is in other areas.

Speaking of elders (man, I am on a roll with the segues here!), the elder body has been great. Each one of them has taken the time to get to know me, especially Elvis Acuña and his family. He's a really balanced brother. More importantly, he's hilarious. We've had some really good times out witnessing. He's been teaching me a few idioms as well.

This doesn't have anything to do with the post. I just wanted to show how we go about moving and selling a bed here...and I'm trying to fill space.
Speaking of idioms (seriously, somebody give me some kind of award for segues, please), that's been the only annoying thing so far. If you've been keeping up with me since the beginning, then you know that I didn't speak a lick of Spanish when I first moved here. I learned it purely by being in the congregation and studying the publications. Hence, I speak theocratic Spanish pretty well, but conversational Spanish, not so much. So during my first couple weeks in this hall, there were a couple of occasions when a brother or sister would use an idiom, I wouldn't understand it, and they would immediately conclude, "He doesn't understand!! He needs to learn Spanish!!" Anyone who knows me knows that I don't respond well in those situations. However, patience is the key, and I'm learning new things every day!

The territory is also very nice. It's one of the biggest territories in the city, so there's a lot of potential. I'll do a separate post about how this month's campaign has been going, but let me just leave this little tidbit: for the first time in all of my sneaky photo-taking history, a householder caught me taking photos of them while the brother was preaching to them today. It was humiliating...but I still kept the pictures.

Proof that I was able to get along with a group of kids long enough to get a picture of it.
 Speaking of pictures (my incredible segues are probably getting annoying by this point), sorry for the low-quality photos and lack of many. I've mainly been taking pictures with my smartphone and tablet instead of my good camera.

Overall, this has been a very refreshing change so far. It was a tough first couple of weeks, but I once I decided to embrace the change, things really turned around. I'm really looking forward to what the next few months have in store. Hopefully that includes a Tim Horton's being constructed in Chinandega at some point. Let me dream, guys. Just let me dream.

Talk soon,