Sunday, February 18, 2018

Monday, February 12 to Sunday, February 18, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018
We went to the hospital with Sister Joyce and her companion. Her companion had a doctor’s appointment and Sister Joyce was learning how to instruct missionaries who have doctor’s appointments. She learned how to order a payment guarantee, how to check in for a doctors appointment, where to go for doctors’ appointments, and how to get medicine at the pharmacy. It was a morning well spent.

I went to the bank and shopped. I bought sister Bell red roses for Valentines day. She got me dark chocolate kisses.

Joycelyn Poncio left for the MTC in Mexico today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
We had our office meeting today. I worked with Elder Vaides on the house inventories. He has been calling all the areas to update our inventory. He found needs that had not been reported earlier, such as broken chairs, mirrors and closets. Sister Bell instructed Sister Joyce and Sister Poncio how to order a payment guarantee. They ordered one for a follow-up visit for one of our missionaries. We then took Sister Joyce, Puac and Fersola to their house. I had to get 4 chairs, a table and the last fan. I will give those out tomorrow at the multizone conference.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
We had our last multizone conference in Managua for the Bello Horizante, Villa Flor and Las America zones. We played our reverse Jeopardy game. We did it in the cultural hall because we were too rowdy. We shared our testimonies as we did in the other zone conferences.

Thursday, February 15, 2018
We installed smoke alarms at Rene Polanco, La Fuente, La Catorce and Ciudad Jardin. We then picked up the Helbergs at 2pm and we headed for Selva Negra, north of Matagalpa, for our last excursion. The Helbergs had not been there before. We arrived about 5:30, just as it was getting dark. Sister Bell and I  stayed in a little Bungalow. We ate dinner and then played 5 crowns. Michelle won, and I lost. The Helbergs were in the middle.  I had a hand of 272. That hurt…

Waiting for dinner

Home sweet home
Friday, February 16, 2018
We started with a short walk around the lake. It was very peaceful, but Sister Bell’s knee was giving her fits. We had breakfast with the Helbergs, then while Michelle rested her knee in the bungalow, the Helbergs and I went for a walk in the forest. We were hoping to see, or at least hear monkeys. But we didn’t hear any or see any. We did see a family of Coatimundi Racoons. The best compliment we heard today was when Elder Helbergs said, “I feel like I am really on a vacation”.

We left Selva Negra about 11:30am. We drove over the mountain (my favorite road in Nicaragua) to Jinotega. We met Elder Hodges and Garcia at the Church. We had a package for Elder Hodges. Then we went to lunch at El Tico in Jinotega. We then drove home, getting home about 5pm. It was an enjoyable little excursion. This will be our last little excursion here in Nicaragua. We are happy and sad about that. We have enjoyed seeing and experiencing the various beautiful locations in Nicaragua. It has helped us love this country even more.

Saturday, February 17, 2018
We had a good day. We started in Trinidad. Michelle said that Maria Clara had a good lesson. While she was teaching, I was across the street installing a smoke alarm in the missionary’s house. After lunch, we met Elders Ponce and Carico in Condega. We picked up Edgar and went to a small neighborhood outside of Condega to visit Edgars mother and sister. Edgar was baptized over a year ago. He has not been very active since his baptism. Today however, he was back to his old self, friendly, engaging and interested in the Church. We gave a lesson about the Plan of Salvation. Edger and his mother had a lot of questions. We enjoyed the lesson. 

Sister Bell and I talked with Freddy and Virginia about family history. We helped them begin to collect information about their ancestors in anticipation of their upcoming trip to the temple. We then attended the noche de hermanimiento. After which we drove to Esteli and checked into the Hex.

Sunday, February 18, 2018
We attended Church in Somoto. Pueblo Nuevo came because it was an area conference broadcast for all Central America. We had 64 attending; 29 from Pueblo Nuevo, 2 from the District (Pres. Herrera y Pedro Castillo, the District Secretary), Sister Bell and I and 31 from Somoto. We barely had enough chairs. We heard talks from Elder Achoa, Sister Eubank, Elder Christiansen and Elder Cook. Elder Achoa and Elder Christiansen talked in Spanish, but Sister Eubanks and Elder Cook talked in English. For some reason, the translations didn’t begin until half way through Elder Cooks talk. So Elder Charette got up and translated. His Spanish is excellent and he did a wonderful job. It was especially hard to translate for Sister Eubanks because she talked fast.

Elder Cook talked about the importance of helping the missionaries in the missionary work. He also talked about the importance of family history and temple work. Afterwards we counted tithing money and Sister Bell and I drove to the homes of Azaria and Sadia. We first went to the house of Azaria Perez. She had been sick. We had a nice visit with her and her mother. I was concerned about her because she had been called to teach Institute several weeks ago, but so far hasn’t taught a lesson. The Elders have been teaching Institute, to the few 2-3 that come. Azaria is also the Primary President and has started a new job. So I was concerned that she was overwhelmed. We found that she was sick and the doctor has told her to stay home and rest. She told us she received an email from President Poncio, telling her that he read her conversion story (I had sent her story to him to read) and was hopeful he could visit with her next time he is in Somoto. She also received an email from Sister Linda Reeves, from the General RS Presidency, asking out how she is doing. They met when she was in the US. We found her spirit and desire to serve strong. I was relieved. 

We then went by the President’s house. We had not seen Hermana Alaniz for several weeks. She was not at church today because she didn’t want to leave the house unprotected. We had a wonderful visit. Sister Alaniz and Sister Bell love each other and were so glad to see each other. After our visit we picked up President Herrera and Pedro and dropped them off in Esteli on our way to Managua. It was a long, full but very satisfying day. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monday, February 5 to Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018
Today was an errand day. We went to the distribution center to buy items for missionaries and our little groups. We paid for a hearing test that one of our missionaries will take on Wednesday. It is a good thing we went, because we found that the time of the appointment had been changed.  We also went grocery shopping at the store and found stuffed animals for future babies (one in Trinidad and the other in Wyoming).  Pretty light day.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - Happy Birthday Grandpa Thomas
We had our office meeting at 11am this morning. We went to the office a little early, but when we got out of the truck, we realized that we had forgotten Sister Bell’s bag. All of her things, such as computer, notebooks, etc. were in the bag. There was not much she could do without her bag. After the meeting, we found out that a suitcase for Elder Packard, was brought to Managua from a friend of his parents. They were going to be in Managua for just a short period of time. So we left the office and drove across town to pick it up. They were very nice people. They own a hotel in San Juan Del Sur, which brings them to Nicaragua regularly. They invited us to stay at their hotel, but I doubt we will go back there before we leave.

We went to the Helbergs for dinner; meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad and ice cream. It was a wonderful meal. We watched a few youtube video of some of our favorite songs. We went home about 8pm.  It was nice to relax with friends.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
We had our last new missionary training today, with those still in training (last two changes). There was a wonderful spirit as they sang the opening song and recited the mission purpose, the mission culture and D&C 4. Some missionaries have been here for 7 weeks others for 1 week. The trainers also came. It is amazing the difference after 6 weeks. Elder Basure, who has been here for 7 weeks said that the first new missionary meeting he went to, he understood about 20% of what was said. Today, he said he understood about 80%. 

Sister Bell did something alittle different this time. She talked briefly about items of comfort she keeps in her purse. I, as always, provide the color comments. She then had the old new missionaries (7 weeks in the country) to come up and tell the group one health thing they learned during their time here. Everyone knew something different. Then we had the trainers come up and do the same. Then the new missionaries. All remembered something. It was very encouraging to us that they are learning how to stay healthy on the mission. We gave everyone a chocolate, which is always appreciated. We had a lot of fun with this activity.

I gave out DVDs and chargers to those who needed them. I still have two functioning DVDs and several extra chargers. I believe all the trainers now have functioning DVDs.

Thursday, February 8, 2018
We had the multizone conference in Esteli today. We left early and arrived in Esteli about 8:45am. Our presentation was “Jeopardy”. We had three missionaries come up front and sit in three chairs, one from each zone. The first person who stood up could give the question. It got pretty wild. We gave chocolate at the end to all.

We were asked to bear our testimonies. Sister Bell did wonderfully, speaking Spanish. She only needed help with a few words and phrases. I too bore my testimony. I talked about how we were inspired to keep Michelle’s nursing license active. We thought for many years, keeping her license active was because it helped Michelle help John with his health issues, but we now know that it was also to serve our mission in Nicaragua. We began looking at what we have done, while here in Nicaragua. Sister Bell has dealt with over 1000 cases of missionary illnesses, we have helped 10 people go to the temple and the kids have helped 22 members go to the temple. We are helping another 6 or 7 members prepare to go to the temple in April. Two of the 4 units we have been helping, are now branches. We now have SS, YW, YM, Primary, RS, Seminary, Institute, in some of these units. There has been progress.

We felt alittle like celebrities after the meeting. Many of the missionaries told us thanks for our efforts and many wanted pictures.

Part of the conference was to agree on a banner, moto and scripture for the “north region”.

Friday, February 9, 2018
We held our Multizone conference in Chinandega. Since we stayed at the Los Portables motel, we didn’t need to get up so early and travel 3 hours. We only had to drive 5 minutes. The Los Portables is very nice.

We handled our game a little different. It worked a lot better. Sister Bell was at the podium with Elder Mendez, asking the questions and being the judges. Sister Fersola kept score and I keep it all going and added a little color. We had the three contestants on the stand so that they could not be influenced as easily by the zonemates. The only thing, is that it is still very loud that we will move it into the cultural hall when we have the multizone in Managua next week.

We bore our testimonies again at the end of the meeting. Sister Bell talked about how Elder Perry answered a minister’s questions at the dentist’s office. She explained that he did very well, and we were very proud of him. She also related how the Leon Stake President (who was at the conference today), helped the AMOSCA hospital accept our insurance again, after denying it for several months. This happened about a year ago and was very important in improving medical services to our missionaries in the West.

Sister Bell had several medical consults. We were treated like celebrities again, with many of the missionaries wanting pictures. Sister Harding told us something that really made us feel good. She told us that it was very comforting to have Gringos in the mission to greet them and to help train them that first day. It gave her confidence that she would be OK. We left about 5 and got home about 7:30pm. It was a good day.

Saturday, February 10, 2018
We had David and his family over for lunch today, his wife (XiOmara Morales) and two daughters (16-Obed Francella and Dariana Graciela-12). Sister Bell cooked a turkey breast, mashed potatoes, corn, happy jello and I bought a cheese cake. We played UNO afterward and then we gave them the game. They had not played it before. It was a delightful time.

Sunday, February 11, 2018
We left at 6am to attend Church in Trinidad. This will be our last Sunday visit there. We love the members and have seen a lot of growth in individual members. Three families have been sealed and 7 people have received their endowments. More are preparing to go in April. I was asked to talk. I talked about the parable of the 10 virgins and the need to keep the oil in our lamps full. We also gave them a picture of the Honduras Temple that they can display in their chapel.

We also presented Steve and Gingers gift to the primary, toys, color books and crayons.

We also gave Carlyes a stuffed monkey for her baby. We explained our tradition of giving a stuffed animal to each of our children and grandchildren to put in their crib.

We attended the setting apart of Jocelyn Poncio as a missionary to Mexico. We were honored to be invited to participate. Afterward, we were invited to have a light meal at the Presidents house. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monday, January 29 to Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018

We didn’t have our weekly office meeting as the President was touring with the missionaries that are going home this week. We spent most of the day at home. We did make a trip to the bank, store and distribution center.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

We had 14 new missionaries come in last night and today. We were supposed to have one more, but she got held up with a visa problem. We are not sure when she will come. There were 5 English speakers, 4 sisters and 1 Elder. One was from Australia. The rest are Latinos from Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador. 

We held our last new missionary training. We started the day talking briefly to the trainers, emphasizing the need to set the example and help them learn and follow good principles of health.  Since we began talking to the trainers, we have not had as many new missionaries get sick with preventable illnesses, especially stomach problems.

We then taught the 10 commandments of health to the new missionaries and Sister Bell had a private conversation with each one to discuss any health issues. We made a run to a local pharmacy to get medicine for one of them and gave medicine from Sister Bells med box to another. It was a full day.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I started by getting a new bed from Villa Venezuela (Sisters) and taking it to Los Laureles (also sisters). I installed new smoke detectors in each apartment. Sister Bell stayed home and did the wash.
After lunch I paid our rent and stopped at Pricesmart. I updated my housing inventory spreadsheet today and a few other misc. things. All in all it was a light day. Sister Bell talked to several missionaries and then updated emed. 

Our neighbor got home from the hospital today. She had surgery. Sister Bell made Chicken Noodle soup and we took it over to her. A little bit of neighboring kindness.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I took the car in for service this morning. Then we went with the Helbergs to Huembas and spent several hours shopping for gifts for the grandkids…. Sorry sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law… only the grandkids get gifts.

We then went to a Brazilian steak house, similar to Rodizio Grill in the states. But here you pay by the pound. It was very good, especially the pineapple and mint juice. The Helbergs then took us back to the dealer to get our car and we came home. It was a nice day out.

Friday, February 2, 2018

I started about 7am, (leaving Sister Bell at home to do wash) to visit 5 missionary apartments. Mostly to replace smoke alarms. We have about 20+ missionary apartments without smoke alarms. We find that they go off frequently without cause, so the missionaries deactivate them. Therefore, we are having to replace them regularly. Most of the apartment are small, dark and frequently will be dusty or the fumigators will fumigate and the smoke alarm thinks it is smoke. My first stop was to the Sister Leaders house. I needed to pick up a table, used clothes (the sister missionaries who are going home usually leave a lot of their clothes. We pick it up, sort it and take it to our little groups and branches for those who are going to the temple and need modest clothes) and a DVD player that doesn’t work. 

I then went to Bello Horizante. I didn’t know where their new apartment was located, so I met them at McDonalds. They (H. Orellana y Lopez) hadn’t eaten yet so I treated them to breakfast, then we went to their house. I was going next to the La Catorce but when I called them, they were already gone. I called Elder Baxter in Villa Flor but they too was gone. Finally, I got Elders Arias and Bashore home in Reparto Shick, so I went there and installed a new smoke alarm.

I went home, picked up Sister Bell and we went to the office. The leader counsel was going on and we wanted to touch base with the zone leaders during their lunch. I had asked them to bring me surplus DVD players. I got two. We have 23 trainers that need DVD players. The zones only have 17 DVD players that work.  So we are needing at least 6 more DVD players. I scrounged 7 extra DVD players and 6 chargers. But as I worked on them, I found that only two of the chargers worked and three of the players worked. We can’t buy DVD players in the country. No one carries DVD players because it is old technology. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

We bought donuts and gave them to the gasoline attendants in Sebaco. We also gave one of them a Book of Mormon with my testimony written in it. He accepted it with a big smile on his face. He helps us almost every time we stop there, which is several times a week when we drive north. 

We stopped in Trinidad so that Sister Bell could give a piano lesson to Maria Clara. Then we installed a smoke alarm in El Centrol in Esteli. Afterward, we took a table and broom to Elder Simpson in Rosario. We taught Freddy and Virginia more about the temple in Condega. We showed a short video about the temple and answered several of the questions. We taught about doing work for those who have died, why we do it. We taught from D&C 138 about how the Savior organized a missionary force in the spirit world, while we do ordinance work in temples. Next lesson we will help them begin to gather family history information to take to the temple in April.

We then drove to Somoto and attended the English class and the first institute class. Elder Charette taught English class. I enjoyed sitting in and participating. They had 6 people. The Institute class was taught by Elder Perez (Azaria did not teach). Three young adult sisters attended. It was a good class about the Book of Mormon. We found out tonight that Catalina is going to Spain next Monday to be a nanny to a Nicaragua family. We will miss her. She was one of the first members baptized in Somoto. She is a beautiful young woman. We wish her well.

Sunday, February 4, 2018
We visited Pueblo Nuevo this morning. Hilario conducted. He had been called as an assistant group leader. This was the first time to conduct and he did very well. He is very soft spoken, so it was a little hard to hear him, but since I was on the front row, I could tell he was doing fine. Elder Davidson was sitting next to him and helping him.

Javier blessed the Sacrament again today and Jose passed. We gave coloring books and crayons to the primary. The had two boys today, Areyls two sons. They began immediately coloring. Areyls is the primary teacher and gave a good lesson. Sister Bell went in to help with the music. So, they sang a couple of songs.

Elder Davidson is calling Javier to teach the Priesthood lesson. Hilario was the Priesthood instructor before his new calling. Things are progressing in Pueblo Nuevo.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday, January 22 to Sunday, January 28, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018
After our morning meeting, we met Elders at the hospital for a doctors appointment. We then went to Pricesmart and the store. We also went to the Church office to get another phone charger for Sister Bell’s I-phone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I got a haircut, then came home. We spent the rest of the day at home. Sister Bell looked up the health history off all the new missionaries that are coming, at least those that we know about. This will help Sister and President Poncio to know a little about the health of their missionaries, even after we leave.

We hosted the Helbergs for dinner. Elder Helberg has been having some dental work and his mouth is really sore. Sister Bell cooked chicken noodle soup. This was very appreciated. Then we played a few hands of golf. Elder Helberg won several hands so he was feeling a little better when they left.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We bought some medicine and then went to the office to make copies of things. We made a stop at distribution, then spent the afternoon at home.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

We drove to Leon this morning to give medicine to one of the Elders. Then we returned to Managua. We had lunch at Ole Verde, a nice restaurant in Las Colinas. Then we dropped off some refrigerators that we got from Leon to Jonathan. The missionaries said they don’t work, so Jonathan will take to the repair shop and have them checked. We went to Multicentral and bought new tennis shoes for me, Then home.

We got excellent news. One of the missionaries that is coming next week (from Australia) has had 1 ½ years of nurses training. She is bilingual. She is an answer to our prayers. Dr. Curtis thinks she will be able to help with the health workload after we go.  Sister Bell will be able to spend some time training her and another Latino missionary who has also had a year of nurse training.  They are companions, so together they will be very helpful to Hermana Poncio.  At least she won't have to try to do it all by herself.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

We held our change meeting today. Changes are Monday, with new missionaries coming in on Monday night and Tuesday morning. Sister Bell and I worked on our presentations for next week and for the next multi zone conferences.  This will be the last zone conferences that we teach in before we go home.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sister Bell gave a piano lesson to Maria Clara in Trinidad. Maria Clara is playing a few simple hyms for prelude music.  She has stuck with it, even though it is hard for her.  We also delivered a new debit card to Elder Guerra. Someone had withdrawn money using his card, so his old one was cancelled, and we gave him a new one. 

We then went to Matagalpa to give a replacement debit card to Elder Taulapapa. His old card was left in a taxi and lost. We then drove our favorite road from Matagalpa to Jinotega. It is a 34 km windy road through the mountains. It is beautiful. In Jinotega we delivered garments to Elder Price, then drove to Esteli, arriving about 4:30. We checked into the Hex. Sister Bell prepared her weekly medical report for Elder Curtis.

We got done in time to go to the Noche de Hermanimiento in Condega with Elders Simpson and Carico. It was held at Noe and Suyapa’s house We held it in their front yard as there is not room in their house. Elder Carico taught a lesson about holding on to the iron rod. He had a rope tied from a tree. I held the other end. He had everyone go to one end and walk toward me, holding onto the rope. They had their eyes closed. He and Elder Simpson had put chairs in the way and they called out to everyone to leave the rope and come to them. They offered candy and money. None left. All arrived at the other end. We then read Lehi’s dream and explained what it meant. It was fun and effective.

We then took the Elders to eat. They said something that made us feel good. They said that the young missionaries have been impressed with us. They see us, especially Hermana Bell, learning to talk and even though we may not talk all that well, they admire us for trying. They also said that my Spanish is the best of all the older missionaries. That made us feel good.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
We went to church in Somoto. We took the toys and coloring books for the primary and delivered them to Yanelys and Azaria. The kids loved them. We gave the note to Azaria, the primary president. Thank-you Steve, Ginger and the kids.

We have great joy when we see the members participating in Church. We had two new members give talks in Sacrament Meeting. The talks were wonderful. We also noticed that more and more of the women are coming in dresses and the men in white shirts and ties. Brother Norman, who is the Secretary of the Mission and the coordinator for the seminary and institute came and talked. He talked about seminaries and institutes. He organized the seminary and institute classes. He called Azaria to teach the Institute class and Cristian to teach seminary. President Alaniz will need to find another YW President (Cristian) and Primary President (Azaria).

We took Hermanas Pacheco and Pimentel to Managua from Esteli. Hermana Pacheco is going home to Brazil this week, finishing her mission. She is the only member of her family, having been baptized about 4 years ago. A good friend introduced the gospel to her. She is not sure what she wants to do after her mission. I explained how I was led to my career and I assured her that the spirit will guide her along the correct path.

Hermana Pimentel, from Salvador, is going to Puerto Cabeza. She comes from a broken home. Her parents are separated. Her mother, dad, brother and sisters are all members, but the parents are now separated. Her older brother served a mission and her two sisters are planning on serving. We are amazed at the faith and dedication that many of the Latino missionaries have. Many come from broken homes and are members for just a few years and yet they have wonderful testimonies of the gospel. We have great hope in the future as we work side by side with the missionaries. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday, January 15 to Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

After the office meeting, we spent the day helping three missionaries with doctors appointments, feeding 4 of them and taking 2 to the bus stop. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We listened to the First Presidency Broadcast and news conference this morning, when President Nelson was announced as the President of the Church with Elder Oakes and Eyring as counselors. We whole heartedly support and sustain them. We love these men and know they are men of God. It was interesting to watch how they interacted with each other during the press conference. It reminded me a little of Moses and Aaron; Moses the leader and Aaron the spokesman. Elder Oakes and Elder Eyring as did Aaron of old, helped President Nelson answer the questions and did so with a lot of clarity.

We spent the evening (until 11pm) at the hospital with another sick missionary. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

John skyped us this morning, telling us that he is going into the hospital for his transplants. We were not prepared for this. It came too soon. We ate breakfast then began a fast. We have felt peace throughout the decision and approval process and continue to do so. We hope that Heavenly Father's plan is for the surgery to be successful, but we know what ever happens is the will of God and we can accept that. John is our miracle son. He was not supposed to live very long, but has had a long wonderful life. We are proud of him and proud to be his parents. We have learned a lot from him and dealing with CF, that has blessed our lives and helped us grow. Life would have been much easier if we were inspired to heal him when he was first diagnosed, but we were not inspired to do so. Now after all these years, we see the wisdom in that. We are a stronger family and more dedicated disciples because of the experience we have had to deal with CF. We notified the President this morning. He is including John in his prayers today. He is having interviews with the missionaries in Chinandega and prays in each interview. We also called the Ogden temple and put his and Isa's name on the prayer rolls. Our thoughts and prayers are with John and Isa….

We kept John and Isa in our thoughts and prayers throughout the day. We talked to him several times as well. He is calm and positive and surprised with the love and support they have been receiving all day. They have dedicated Home Teachers, who took them to the hospital this morning and spent most of the day with them, until Isa's family began to arrive.  

We got a call from John about 11 pm. They found infection on the donor lung, so the transplant is off. We are relieved but also disappointed. Paul and Kim were preparing to fly to Houston, but John called them just before they were to leave. Both their flights were late, thus they were not in the air when John called them. Another tender mercy. We love our children. They have bonded together and are such a strength to each other.

We met with our landlord today about the electric bill. She came to our house and sat around our table. It was a very cordial conversation. She understood the problem with the light bill and was accepting of our proposal to her to pay a portion of the bill. We outlined the history, what was done and made a fair offer, which was accepted. She will write up a letter authorizing us to reduce the amount agreed upon from next months rent check.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Since John was home, we decided to continue with our P-Day adventure with the Helbergs. We picked them up at 6am and headed to La Dalia, about an hour north of Matagalpa. We were going to the White Waterfall and the Escondido (hidden) waterfall. Climbing out of the Escondido waterfall, I slip on the trail and slid about 30 feet down the side of the mountain. I started on my belly, but quickly turned on my backside. Fortunately, nothing serious was hurt, other than a little pride, a rip in my pants and my tailbone is sore.
Cascada Blanca

Cascada Escondido

Our guides. They cost us C$30 each. They took us to the edge of the trail, where it drops off. They did not go with us to the bottom.  Smart children.

Friday, January 19, 2018

We got up a little late this morning, about 6 am. I slept well, for which I was glad after yesterday’s adventure. My backside still hurts but not as much. We went to the office. Sister Bell needed to review reimbursement requests with Elder Howell. We made a quick stop at Villa Flor. Then we went back to the office so that Sister Bell could finish her task with Elder Howell. We got home about 2 pm, made lunch and then worked from home. I might even take a nap this afternoon (I did).

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sister Bell taught Maria Clara a piano lesson in Trinidad. We were pleasantly surprised to find Carelys and Marcos, the Cruz’s oldest daughter and her husband in Trinidad. They have moved back from Guatemala. She is pregnant and expecting a boy in March.

We then met up with Elders Carico and McCord in Esteli. They were on divisions. We took them to visit with a young lady (17 yr old) who is preparing to be baptized. Then we went with them and the Rosario Sisters (Hermanas Pacheco and Pozo) to Villa Cuba, a rural neighborhood outside of Esteli. While Elder McCord gave a baptismal interview, we showed a video about families and then had a wonderful discussion about how the Church helps families. The spirit guided the questions and discussion. I first talked about how the church programs help families. We then talked about the primary, RS and Priesthood. This led to the giving of priesthood blessings to two sick members of the family. Elder McCord and Carico gave wonderful blessings. When we arrived, there was not a very good spirit in the house. But when we left, there was a wonderful spirit.

We then took the 4 missionaries, all crammed in the back seat of our truck, to the Church where the other sister missionaries (Hermanas Aleman and Pimental) were decorating for a wedding. Elder Simpson and Elder Fankhauser had gotten back from Dario, so we took Elder Carico and Simpson back to Condega.

We first visited with Freddy and Virginia. It was good to see and feel the spirit back into the life of Virginia. She had been angry at another member for almost a year. Freddy and Virginia are planning on going to the temple in April. We talked about the temple. We also talked about Mormon Funerals, because Virginia’s mother had recently passed away. She was Catholic and had a Catholic burial. She said it did not give her much comfort. She was concerned that Freddy’s family would insist on a Catholic Burial for him and she wondered how that would affect his eternal life. I assured her that if Freddy was valiant in keeping his covenants, that if the family insisted on the Catholic Funeral, that this would not affect his eternal progression.

We had a Noche de Hermanamiento at the Elder’s house tonight. The familia Ramirez attended. We showed President Nelson’s announcement to the members of the Church, from last Tuesday. We talked about how a new President is selected. There was a sweet spirit there.
We stayed at the Hex… we miss the king size bed at the Koellikers.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

We picked up President Alaniz at his house and went to Pueblo Nuevo. When we arrived, everyone was quietly sitting in the chapel, patiently waiting for us. We quickly set up the piano and we began. Javier, Nubia’s brother was there in a white shirt and tie. I was very happy to see him walk up to the Sacrament Table to help bless the sacrament. He has been struggling for a long time with some habits. Repentance is a wonderful thing. I talked. I had Nicole read the parable of the 10 virgins. I then explained that the 10 virgins were members of the Church, but only 5 of them were ready when the Savior came. I explained how and why it is important to keep our lamps full of spiritual oil. Elder Ponce also talked. President Alaniz ended with his talk. He has really grown the past year as President of the branch. He gave a wonderful talk about the Priesthood, telling how he gave a blessing to a friend who was sick, who felt immediately better after the blessing.

For SS, we showed President Nelson’s message to the members of the Church. Only 2 or 3 had seen it. We talked about President Nelson afterwards. There were 25 people in attendance. Hilario was set apart as the assistant group leader and another recent convert was ordained a Priest.

We then stopped in Esteli and talked with Sister and Brother Acevedo. We asked them to help us get the deposit back from Claro for Koellikers internet service.

We gave another lesson to Yasser and Marilyn about communication. We gave them an assignment to spend the rest of the day together, just having fun and then to end the day with a family Prayer.

We got home about 6:00. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Monday, January 8 to Sunday, January 14, 2018

This week we ended up at the hospital every day except for Sunday. We had two missionaries that were admitted and several others with doctor appointments or emergency visits. We are grateful that both missionaries that were admitted were released on Friday and the others were able to get diagnosed and treatment completed. 

We also had two zone conferences; one was the Puerto Cabeza zone conference which was on Wednesday. The whole zone (18 missionaries) came to Managua on Monday (17 hours) to celebrate breaking the mission record with 82 baptisms in one month. They had a celebration with the President on Tuesday and then a zone conference on Wednesday. 

We never get to teach Puerto Cabeza because their zone conferences are usually in Puerto, so it was a pleasure to do so. When we start a zone conference, the missionaries stand up and say the Mission objective and mission culture. The missionaries know these sayings by heart and always say them with a lot of enthusiasm. However, when Puerto began to say these in Spanish, it was sloppy and without enthusiasm. Several were reading the words, as if they didn't know it. I began to be a little concerned that they have gotten lax, being so far from the President. However, after they said them in Spanish, they repeated them in Miskito, the native language spoken in Puerto Cabeza. This time they said it with enthusiasm and with great energy and feeling. It was great to hear them in Miskito. It was powerful. 

We got to work with Doctor Abdahla, who is our LDS doctor. She is a wonderful doctor and treats our missionaries well. When we have a question about a missionary or need to identify the right doctor to send a missionary to, we call Dra. Abdahla. We love her and appreciate all she does for us. 

We had the Managua three zone conference today. We gave the feet presentation again. 

They did some roll playing. Our three office Elders (E. Russell, Howell and Bennion) teamed up for this exercise.

Brotherly Love

We were back in the hospital most of Saturday, thus we had to cancel our scheduled activities up  north. One of our missionaries, serving in Jalapa (7 hours from Managua) came in with problems. Fortunately, once diagnosed it was something fixable with medicine. We fed them and took them to the Elders house. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018
Because the sick missionary was doing well, we decided to head north. We left at 6am and arrived home at 7:30pm. We attended Sacrament Meeting in Condega. Now that the Koellikers have left, we will begin to service Condega again. We spent a lot of time in Condega and have seen the numbers go up and down. Today, the group was very small. There were only 7 members, 1 investigator, and 4 missionaries (including Sister Bell and I) in attendance. We felt a sadness in those who attended. We are not sure why, but we didn’t feel the joy of the Gospel today. We stayed only for Sacrament Meeting, but on our way out of town, we stopped and visited with Freddy, the assistance group leader. He was sick at home. Virginia was not in the house.  Her mother passed away recently and she was visiting with her family.  They are preparing to go to the temple in April. The Koellikers have taught them the Temple Prep classes, but we want to stay close to help them be ready. 

We then made our way to Somoto. We arrived about 12:15 pm. The meetings were over and almost everyone had left. But we were able to visit with President Alaniz. We discussed the need to find a Secretary for the branch (He and I are the only authorized signatories for checks. Once I leave he won’t be able to cash a check), make arrangements to get their Patriarchal Blessings, and prepare for the April temple trip. We took him home and showed his wife and daughter the used clothes we brought from the Sister missionaries who had gone home. They had fun trying on clothes and picked several that looked good on them. President Alaniz and I just sat watching and laughing. They were so cute trying on the clothes and Sister Bell was enjoying helping them and giving them her comments.

We then went by Celia’s house. We wanted to see her new glasses and give her some RS lesson material. Her glasses look wonderful and the best part is that she hasn’t had headaches since she got them. She loves to read and these glasses will help to read without problems.

We then ended up at Azaria’s house. We discussed the temple trip, which she didn’t go on. We told her we loved her and that it was alright that she didn’t go and encouraged her to prepare to go in April. She told us about the new job interview that she had and is anxiously waiting to hear if she got the job. I also asked her for her conversion story that she is writing and told her I wanted to share it with President Poncio and the public affairs people in Guatemala. I think it was be a wonderful Liahona story. They asked me to give Cythnia, a young woman, a blessing as she prepares to go back to school, so I did.

We stopped on our way through Esteli to deliver a microwave to Sister Pacheco and Pozo. We then stopped at the Church to give Somoto financial reports to President Rivera. We also dropped off a few bibles to Elders Espinosa and Najera in Sebaco. Then we drove directly home. It was a long day. The best parts were the visits in members in their homes. Ministering to the one is always to best way to show our discipleship. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Monday, January 1 to Sunday, January 7, 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018 – Happy New Year
President Poncio invited us to lunch as a farewell to Elder and Sister Koelliker and Elder Hamson, all who will be going home tomorrow. We love these missionaries. Elder and Sister Koelliker have become very good friends. We appreciate their hospitality almost every Saturday night, when we stayed in their home in Esteli. They have worked hard to activate members and support new members in Esteli and Condega. Elder Koelliker served as branch president of the Rosario Branch for many months. We love them and will miss them.

We met Elder Hamson in Somoto, when we began working there. He was a brand-new missionary there. He then served as financial secretary for 8 months, so we worked closely with him then. He has been a zone leader since he left the office. He is a wonderful missionary. He is going home early to begin school at BYU.

After lunch, we were invited to join the President, his family and those missionaries leaving for an afternoon excursion. He first headed for Catarina, but the traffic was so bad, we turned around and headed for Granada. The traffic was bad there also, but we finally found places to park and walked around the main park. There were a lot of people, celebrating the new year, with music and dancing. The Catholic Church was holding a mass or concert in the main Cathedral, so the plaza was packed with people. The Koelliker and Elder Hamson bought a few gifts at the markets, then we headed home. With the Koellikers, we ate at Rosti Pollo before arriving home. We enjoyed our little outing, but most of all, we enjoyed being with the Koellikers and Elder Hamson, one last time.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Today we said goodbye to our good friends, the Koellikers. We took them to the airport arriving at 6am, helped them get checked in, took a picture and said our goodbyes. We love the senior missionaries we serve with. They have become good friends. We will miss them.

After going to the airport, we went back home. David and I went to INE to file a complaint about our light bill, but we were told we needed to file 2 complaints with Disurru, the power company. We had only filed 1 complaint for Novembers bill. So we drove to the Disurru office and filed a complaint for Decembers bill. Now we wait for more inspections.

We made it to the morning office meeting. We were greeted by several missionaries who were part of an emergency change. We learned who was transferred during our office meeting. We worked in the office for a couple of hours, waiting for lunch. The President took us to a Mexican Restaurant – Ajua. It is a lot like CafĂ© Rio.

We ran home to take laundry off the line, then we went to Sinsa to pay our rent. I talked with Yareny’s, our housing contact. I informed her that we would be moving out March 13. We talked about the light bill and how to cancel light, water and internet. Then we went to the office. We are working on how to get a package sent by the Church that contains 2 Epipens out of customs. Roger Perez from the Church’s administrative office has been given the assignment to get the package out of customs. I was afraid I would have to do it again. We started gathering some of the information he will need.

We had dinner at the Helbergs tonight. That is always enjoyable… but we are really tired tonight.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - Happy Birthday Kanika

We were really tired this morning, so we slept in until 6:30am. Michelle did wash before we left. We walked around a new park being built just a couple of blocks from our home. 

We were about to leave when the man from the power company and 3 men from Sinsa came to check the power. The power company man did a quick inspection, like he did before. He said more people will come by within 5 days to do a more thorough inspection. The Sinsa men (3 of them) did a much more thorough inspection. Apparently, the fix they did last week was still working, which is good. They couldn’t find any other obvious problem. But they plan to return several times to determine the usage.

We went to the office. The leaders were having their council meeting. I had distribution items for several of them and Sister Bell wanted to be available in case any wanted to talk about health issues. We got a free pizza for lunch, since they had extra and we were there.

We loaded up packages, so I can deliver them at the upcoming zone conferences and then headed for the Distrubition Center. We have more orders for garments, etc.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We started early, leaving the house at 5:30. We stopped at the office to pick up more packages and then headed for Esteli. Sister Bell gave a presentation about feet. I did the color commentary and then we gave them a test about the material presented, with chocolate being the reward if they knew the answer. We ended singing Ocho Vasas de Agua. President Poncio showed a short tribute to President Monson. We will miss him, especially his example of service and his stories. We look forward to the Presidency of President Nelson.

We stayed until after lunch so I could give out materials and Sister Bell could give council to sick missionaries. We left about 2:30 and drove to Chinandega. We stayed at Las Portales, a nice hotel next to Rosti Pollo. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

We had out multizone in Chinandega today. It was nice to sleep in and not have to drive 3 hours to the conference. Our presentation went well. Chocolate always improves a presentation. The fotos of bad ingrown toenails got everyone’s attention. Hopefully, it will help.

We stayed to the end as we had to give out packages, letters and materials. We also brought Hermana Fersola home because President Poncio was staying in Chinandega for the week-end to attend a stake conference.

After dropping off Sister Fersola, we went to the hospital. We had an Elder come from Puerto Cabeza on the noon flight. Elder Howell, stayed with him for most of this afternoon. When we stopped by, he was resting comfortably in his room. We taught Elder Howell how to order dinner, left them some money for food for his companion and went home.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

We were at the hospital a good part of the afternoon and went back again in the evening. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

We went to Church at the closest ward which is in the south mission. It is the same ward that the Helbergs go to. It started at 8am. There were very few people at 8am, but they started anyway. People began to come in before the sacrament and a bunch came in after the Sacrament was over. I was impressed that they closed the door during the Sacrament, so people had to wait in the lobby while the Sacrament was passed.

We left early so we could visit with our missionary in the hospital. We then left for Trinidad. We got there just after noon. President Cruz was still at the Church. So was Karen. So we went to the chapel first. We showed Karen the used clothes we got from the sister missionaries. She picked out several, which will help her upgrade her wardrobe. She is really excited and ready to go.

President Cruz told me that only three or four will be going; himself, his wife, Karen and possibly Dania. I also worked with the missionaries and President Alaniz in Somoto to help Azaria and possibly one other go to the temple. Azaria is all ready and excited. We thoroughly enjoy helping members get to the temple. That is one of the true joys of our mission.