Do you Speak Spanish fluently, moderately, or at all when you arrived?
I was fluent in Spanish when I came. I joined a Spanish congregation in Memphis, TN in February 2008 and then moved here in September 2011 so had a long time to practice :)
What is your favorite thing about living in Nicaragua?
My favorite thing about living in Nicaragua is how it makes me feel. There's a lot of beautiful vistas, encouraging friends, and adventures. But nothing beats being able to experience (for the first time in my life) really not having to worry about anything else than serving Jehovah. I truly am a full-time servant now because I don't work here and have very few worldly possessions to keep up with/maintain. I'm able to fill my days with study, service, and encouraging or drawing encouragement from Jehovah's international brotherhood.
What helped/hindered you make the decision to move to Nicaragua?
I'll answer both. It helped me to focus on a goal I made when I started pioneering in 2008. I came to the realization that I could give Jehovah so much more than what I was doing and became determined to serve him more fully. I told myself that I was going to arrange my life in such a way that whatever door to activity opened to me, I'd walk through it. So, when in March 2010, I got notice I'd be losing my job in July 2011, I saw it as my opportunity to save and arrange things to be able to meet my goal of serving where the need for Kingdom publishers was greater.
For me, unfortunately, my timing of when to go proved to be a hindrance. I actually was trying to communicate with Mexico's branch about Nicaragua right at the time the reorganization was taking place and my letters got lost time and time again. It was very confusing for me to know if that hiccup was just growing pains or Jehovah telling me I needed to make other plans in my life.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to people contemplating serving where the need is greater or in Nicaragua specifically?
I'd love to talk up Nicaragua, but the truth is that the world is full of areas where publishers are needed. So if you're thinking of moving to serve, I'd say, just do it! Yes, you'll be homesick. Yes, you'll be out of your "box" constantly. Yes, you'll be misunderstood. But, you'll have experiences that before, you'd only gotten to read about...but now you can LIVE it! We have very few opportunities in our lives to REALLY see Jehovah's hand in things and be absolutely convinced we played no part in how things worked out. Planning for and moving to where there's a greater need has been one of those opportunities for me, and it's really been a faith builder.
Thanks Shawn for answering these questions from the heart!
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