Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday, November 6 to Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

We had changes today. Seven new latino missionaries came today. Usually they come on Tuesday, but because the Area Presidency is having a mission president training in Panama this week, the Latinos came a day early. Two were sisters and 5 were Elders. Two more North American Sisters come tonight.

We first taught the trainers about the importance of drinking pure water. We used the same powerpoint presentation that we used last week at the leader training. We had several zone leaders and sister leaders in the group who already heard our presentation, so I invited them to make the presentation, using my powerpoint. They did pretty well.

We then trained the new missionaries about the 10 commandments of health. President Poncio would take one of them out so he could have his interviews, then they would be allowed to write home. Therefore, we would have 3 to 5 of the 7 in our class at any given time. That’s not the ideal, but we made it work. Fortunately, Sister Bell had given them written versions of the presentation.

President with the new missionaries
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The two North American sisters arrived late last night. President Poncio, Sister Poncio, the office secretaries and their companions came to the airport to greet them. They stayed at the Sister Trainers house last night. So Sister Bell and I took breakfast over to them; French toast, fruit, ham, yogurt, bananas, whipping cream and syrup. There were 7 missionaries (2 new missionaries, their companions, Sister Fersola and her two companions), plus Sister Bell and I. They ate everything we brought. They emptied a whole can of whipping cream.

L to r: Bottom row: H. Lopez, Aleman, Lord
Top row, L to r: H. Bell, Fersola, Hawkins, Grigg, Perez

After Breakfast, Sister Bell taught the 10 commandments of health to Hermana Hawkins and Griggs. She enjoyed teaching in English. We then loaded the new missionaries and their companions (H. Lord and Aleman) and took Sister Aleman and Grigg to the Israel Bus station and then Hermanas Lord and Hawkins to their house in Las Mercedes.

We stopped at the office for a few minutes, then went home. I began updating my housing spreadsheet with all the changes. Sister Bell ironed.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We worked from home until about 11am. I finished updating my housing spreadsheet during this time. We then went to the office and then to the hospital. One of our Elders had a follow-up appointment with his doctor. We then came back home.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

We took a mattress to Corinto, on the west side of the mission. We met Sister Gunn, Sevilla and Inestroza at their district meeting in Chinandega at noon. We then took them to Corinto, dropped off the mattress, gave them another used DVD player and headed home.

As we got close to Managua, we got a call from a Hermana telling us that one of our missionaries had walked into a thorny tree and got a 2-inch thorn in his leg. It broke off when they tried to remove it. So, we sent them to the hospital. We met them there. The doctor was able to pull the rest of the thorn out and send them on their way.

We got a late night call from another Sister. They found a snake in one of their suitcases. I suggested that they call the Bishop. He came over and with the help of a few others, they found the snake and killed it. They said it was a coral snake, but pictures indicated it was a Black Banded Cat Eye Snake. This was the first snake report we have had - at least in a suitcase.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Today was errand day. We picked up 6 fans from the sister Leaders house and a used frig from La Fuente. We passed by Villa Venezuela to fix a closet and talk about the snake they found in their house last night, then we went to the office. We left the office early in the afternoon, went home for lunch, then bought an ink cartridge for the Somoto printer, cold medicine for me (I have a cold) and to Pricesmart. Then home. We spent the evening at home. I didn’t sleep well as I was stuffy and coughing.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

We stayed home from going North so I could rest. I had to call and cancel several appointments or make arrangement for someone else to teach or talk.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

We ventured out to attend Church in La Rotunda ward. Sister Bell wanted to check up on a Sister. We found her in great health, not having the pains that she was having. We talked briefly to other Sisters, who are in the Bello Horizante Ward. I thought they needed a fan, but it turns out they have an extra fan. We spent the rest of the day recuperating at home. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monday, October 30 to November 5, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

We took medicine to one of our Hermanas and then made our way back to President Poncio’s house for our weekly planning meeting. The traffic was terrible. We got there about 10 minutes late, but the President hadn’t arrived yet, so I guess we were early.

We then went to the hospital with an Elder and his companion to have his ingrown toe nail fixed. Sister Bell met two other Elders as one of them had another doctor appointment. We took two of them to Pricesmart for lunch. We had to buy a few things there anyway. We made a stop past the house to pick up a few things (and drop off a few things), then we went to the office. We got home about 5pm.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - Happy Halloween

We taught the leaders this morning. This is the first time that we have been invited to teach health at the Leaders meeting. I presented a powerpoint about the importance of drinking clean water. Here are the key points:

  • ·         In a given year, approximately 616 missionary illnesses will be reported to Sister Bell
  • ·         The top problem is stomach problems; almost 150 missionaries will have stomach problems this year.
  • ·         The primary reason is drinking bad water.
  • ·         In Costa Rica, where they have clean tap water, their stomach illness rate is about a third of ours.
  • ·         We need to treat water by adding cloro, or boiling. We can buy pure water and we can use the filter bottles.
  • ·         We lose approximately 200 missionary working days due to stomach illnesses.
  • ·         We asked the leaders to be good examples, teach these principles and help change a culture of relaxed health.

We then went up to the hospital. A sister missionary had a test and a doctor’s appointment. We then went home for lunch and then to the bank and store. We are now home (4pm) relaxing.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Today was wash the sheets day and errands. We started at the office, preparing for new missionaries and sending a newsletter about eating healthy. We bought a bulletin board for Trinidad, paid our rent, went to the store and ate lunch at a pork barbeque restaurant. We had a pulled pork sandwich which reminded me of Bucky’s in South Carolina, except we drank natural fruit drinks. Fatima came today so we had a clean house. This afternoon, Sister Bell ironed and we watched a movie. Pretty laid back day.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

We went to the sister’s house to pick up two closets and two fans. The Office Secretaries came over to help load them into the back of my truck. We took them to the office so Jonathan Estrada could pick them up tonight and take them to Leon. He is helping move the Sisters in Villa Universaria into a new house.

We didn’t stay long at the office. We came home. I worked on contacting missionaries who still need to test their smoke alarms this month. Smoke alarms don’t last long here. They go off unexpectedly for no reason. The missionaries get tired of this and deactivate them or take the batteries out. When they move, the SA tend to get lost. We are constantly replacing them. Since we don’t have gas in our homes and the homes are made of brick, fires and carbon monoxide gas problems are non-existent. But we keep alarms in the homes anyway.

Friday, November 3, 2017

We made a quick trip to the hospital to give a hymnbook to a missionary who had a doctor’s appointment today. We then went to the distribution center and then home for lunch. We had a change meeting today to plan next week’s changes. We then came home, and I made a lot of phone calls to zone leaders to organize a few moves.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

We left a little early, so we could take a few things to La Primavera. We have stored several extra furniture items there. Jonathan Estrata was going to pick up a few things for Chinandega this morning, and we needed to get these things there before he picked them up. We then headed for Trinidad. Hermana Bell taught a piano lesson to Maria Clara. Then we went to Somoto. We met with Hermana Natalia and the Elders in Zone 1 to organize VT in zone 1. We then sat through a branch council meeting. Elder Davidson had prepared a written agenda and President Alaniz followed it pretty well. It got alittle long, but not as long as some I have attended and conducted. We had scheduled a temple prep class after that, but since no-one showed up, we left for Esteli, arriving early, 7:45pm. The missionaries had been told to go home early as tomorrow is election day and some places can become a little crazy. Fortunately, we are safe and sound in the Koellikers house.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

We went to Church in Pueblo Nuevo. Hilario came with a new dog. His old dog, who died about a month ago, always came with him. He would normally curl up under his chair, occasionally get up and walk around, go outside or just sit watching. Today he came with a new dog (not a pup). When Hilario got up to pass the Sacrament, his dog came with him and while Hilario stood while the prayer was given, the dog sat down and stayed there while the prayer was spoken. His eyes were fixed on Hilario. He followed him while he passed the Sacrament. It looked like he was hoping he would get a piece of bread or a drink of water. But no such luck.

Sister Bell went into Primary for the last 45 minutes. She taught “Nephi’s courage”, plus I heard “give said the little stream”. She is getting really comfortable in teaching music in primary. The kids (and the teacher) loves it.

We met with Nubia, Dania, Maybelline and Jose, who will be going to the temple in December. We talked about costs, dress, food and interviews. They are all excited about going. Elders Johnson and Ponce are teaching Jose the lessons. They taught 3 lessons last week and will teach the last three lessons this week.

We got home early today, about 4:30pm.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monday, October 24, 2017
We went by the Sisters house to pick up a frig for La Fuente and then took Sister Fersola with us to the office. Today was Sister Gunn’s birthday, so we sang happy birthday to her. Her companions, Fersola and Perez had already celebrated her birthday. Sister Fersola got up early and cooked a wonderful breakfast.

We attended our morning staff meeting. Everyone was concerned that Sister Bell was in a sling but were glad when they found out that there were no broken bones. After the meeting I took the frig to Las Fuente while Sister Bell stayed at the office making doctor appointments. After lunch at the office (popcorn chicken from Tip Top), we picked up two Sisters and took them to a doctors appointment at the Hospital. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
We went early to pick up Sister Perez and Romero and took them out for breakfast. 

L to R: Sister Perez, Sister Romero and Sister Bell
Sister Romero is going home tomorrow. She has been a wonderful missionary and will be missed.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

We started this morning taking a sister to the Dentist. We met two other Sisters at the Hospital for another doctor appointment. 

We worked from home this afternoon. Sister Bell did laundry today, so we had some ironing to do. I helped with that because Michelle’s arm was still hurting her. The Helbergs came over tonight and we went to Asado al Patio for a Gator (top sirloin). The restaurant had moved to a new location and are still renovating, but the Gator was as good as ever. We then came back to the house for a game of 5 Crowns. The final score was Scott-48, Ray-49, Michelle 118, Anna -129. It was a man’s night tonight…. Steak and winning scores…. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

We slept in until 6:30 am this morning. It felt good to sleep alittle longer. I got a haircut this morning. After the initial cut, they wash your hair. The girl that washed my hair today, gave me a head massage. It felt good, I almost went to sleep. We then went to the President’s house to give Jocelyn a piano lesson. Then home for lunch. The rain, which we had all yesterday and last night, created an internet outage for a good part of the country. Our internet was affected. David called Claro for us but they said they are working on the problem. After waiting for several hours without results, we were getting frustrated because we have things we needed to do on the internet. We had David call Claro again and this time, a young woman spent about an hour on the phone working on a solution. At the end of the hour, we had renamed our internet account, put in a new password, and updated all of our devises. We are back in business, thanks to Sister Bell’s persistence, David’s patience and the technical help of a young lady from Claro, our internet provider. I provided support and encouragement.

Friday, October 27, 2017

More errands.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Maria Clara called and cancelled our piano lesson. She had a school activity. So we didn’t get up quite so early. We stopped at the office to pick up a few packages, letters and make copies for this week-end. Then we stopped in San Benito to give a new pillow to Elder Cuesta. He has been having neck and back problems and Sister Bell thought that a memory foam contour pillow, like she uses would help him. They live in the upstairs of a big house and have a lot of room. 

We then drove to Somoto. We met Elder Davidson and Gharring. Elder Davidson, who is the Secretary of the Branch and I wanted to make up an agenda for today’s Council meeting and see if we can get the calendar function to work (we couldn’t). When President Alaniz and the other missionaries (Elder Alfaro y Silva) came we started the branch council. We discussed the temple trip, patriarchal blessings, HT and a schedule for PEC and Branch Councils. 

We then went to Pueblo Nuevo in a rain storm and taught a Temple Prep class. Hermana Nubia and Hilario came. 

We stopped in Condega to eat. We passed Elder Espinosa and Bassett on our way to the restaurant and picked them up and took them with us. Missionaries are always hungry.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

We made a quick trip to Ocotal to deliver tables, chairs, mirror and fans to the Zone Leaders, Elder Ward and McCord. These items are needed in Jalapa. We then went to Church in Somoto. I talked and Sister Bell played the piano. Everyone was concerned about Sister Bell's arm but were relieved to know she didn’t break anything. I talked about tithing. I told them that Heavenly Father wants to bless his children. I then read D&C 130: 20-21 which states that if you want a blessing, one needs to obey the commandment that the blessing it tied to. I then talked about tithing, what it is and Malachi’s promise of blessings. I related the story of Mary Fielding Smith, who when she wanted to pay her tithing, even though she was very poor, was told by the Bishop that she didn’t need to pay. She scolded him and said she needed to pay to receive the blessings. I then related the story of Elijah and the widow in Zarephath in 1 Kings. And how she was blessed only after the trial of her faith. I promised them that if they paid their tithing, they would receive great blessings as promised by Malachi.

Sister Bell helped with the music in Primary. She was teaching them “Give said the little stream”. Of course, in Spanish.

We took President Alaniz with us to Esteli so he could attend a District Leadership Meeting. We then went to Trinidad and taught a Temple Prep class to Dania and Wendy. Karen was not there. Then we went to teach Yasser and Marilyn a family relations class, but Yasser went with President Cruz to Esteli. We visited with Marilyn for a few minutes and left for home. 

We drove home in a rain storm and drove through several places where water was flowing over the road. But we made it home without incident. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Monday, October 16 to Sunday, October 22, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Emmet….

We divided and conquered today. Two Sister missionaries had doctors’ appointments. I dropped Sister Bell off at the hospital and I went to our mission staff meeting. 

After the meeting, I met Sister Bell and the 4 missionaries at the hospital. One of the missionaries and her companion needed to go to the distribution center, then to an internet store to write their families, then to sister leader's house to get their things (they came in last night) and then to the bus station. While Sister Bell stayed at the hospital with the other set of missionaries, I took one companionship  to distribution and then to an internet store close to the sister leaders house. Then I headed back to the hospital. The sisters with Michelle had already left in a taxi, after Sister Bell took them to lunch at the little restaurant next to the hospital. I ate a hamburger at the hospital cafeteria and then Sister Bell and I went home.

We were all settled in for the night, when we got a call from Sister Poncio, telling us that a Sister missionary was having severe stomach pains. Sister Bell had already been communicating with her earlier in the evening. Sister Poncio gave permission for her to go to the hospital. We went up about 10:30 pm, in time to help them get their medicine and take them home. We got home about midnight.

We had been studying about Charity. One of the characteristics of Charity is serving others, even when it is inconvenient, when we have other things we want to do or we are just too tired. At times in our mission, we have had to do things when it wasn't convenient or late in the day when we were tired. Tonight was one of those nights because we were settled in for the night and did not want to go to the hospital. But our Charitable natures won out. We served, even though we were tired… and we were glad we did.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today was an errand day. We first went to Walmart. We wanted to price water bottle dispensers in an effort to help the missionaries drink clean water. They cost C$215 or about $6.45. We talked about purchasing one for each missionary apartment. They can buy a 5-gallon bottle of water for C$60 or $1.80. They would need 4-8 bottles every month depending on how much they used this source of water. I will present this to the President next week and see what he says.

We then went to the office. We made copies of handouts that we will pass out this week at the multizones and in our lessons this week-end. We had lunch at a Crepe Restaurant, then we went to the bank, store and Pricesmart. We were home by about 4pm, which is about 2 hours later than we expected. We are both pretty tired from our late night last night, so getting home early was nice.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

We got up at 3:30am so we could be on the road by 5am. We headed for Matagalpa for a 3-zone conference with Elder Valeri V. Cordon of the Area Presidency (1st Quorum of Seventy). About 7:30am, when we were about 30 minutes from the Church, we got a call from President Poncio telling us that the conference had been postponed until noon. So when arrived at the Church, we parked in the parking lot and took alittle nap until the missionaries began showing up about 9:30am.

We had a marvelous conference. Sister Bell and I had 5 minutes to make a health presentation. While Sister Bell talked about Pinkeye, I passed out a handout that explained what it is, how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Elder Cordon talked about how the Lord called Moses to gather Israel, a daunting task. He showed a video depicting the events recorded in Moses 1: 6-12. After seeing the galaxy in vision, Moses knew that the mighty Egyptian Empire was really a small adversary. So when Satan approached him, Moses could tell the difference between him and God. He explained that we have a choice to be children of God and be in the similitude of His only begotten son. Or we could choose Satan’s depiction of man being a “Son of Man” and becoming nothing. It is our choice, but if we choose God, he will help us become all we can become and do all we need to do. After seeing God’s glory, Moses could tell the difference between Him and Satan. If we choose God's vision of man, we can accomplish many and great things, with the help of the Lord. He said that our goal as missionaries is to establish the Church. He also suggested that we focus our prayers, study and planning sessions on individuals. For us, that would be the people and units we work with.

This is the Ocotal zone. We stood in because we work in Somoto and Pueblo Nuevo.

This is the Esteli zone. We stood in this picture because we work in Trinidad and Condega.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

We had another marvelous conference with Elder Cordon, this time in Managua. Six zones, Bello Horizante, Villa Flor, Las Americas, Leon, Chinandega and Chin Oeste zones were invited; almost 100 missionaries. Here are a few other thoughts from Elder Cordon:

·        Elder Oakes taught, the missionaries need to understand who they are and what their calling is in order to be successful missionaries. He then defined that the calling of a missionary is to grow the Church, not just baptize. In order to grow the Church, we need to strengthen and seal families. I believe what Sister Bell and I are doing is exactly what Elder Oakes taught and those missionaries that work in our areas, are helping us build the kingdom of God, not just baptizing people.

·         President Monson said that the value of a person is the capacity to become like God.

·         Our goal is to be good enough to make it to the millennium, where we will have 1000 years to finish perfecting ourselves. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

We first stopped at a local pharmacy to get some medicine for one of our sister missionaries. We then went by the sister Leaders house to help a sister missionary with a foot problem. Then we delivered the medicine that we had purchased earlier, to a sister’s house in Villa Flor. As Sister Bell was leaving the house, she forgot we were standing on steps and as she began to leave, she stepped as if she was on the ground, but there was no ground. She just fell over. The tender mercy was that as she was falling, she was putting out her arm to catch herself, but the spirit told her to tuck the arm back next to her body.  She did this, so she landed on her side, but not her hand. If she hadn’t tucked her arm and landed on her wrist, she probably would have broken her wrist. Her right arm is sore, but don’t think it is broken.

We then went to the office to make a few copies and pick up supplies for this week-end. Then we went to the hospital to help two sister missionaries with appointments and tests. By then it was about noon. Sister Bell had washed the sheets this morning before we left so we needed to take them off the line before it rained, which it usually does in the afternoon. I then went to Walmart and Pricesmart, while Sister Bell stayed home. She did some charting in the computer and rested, putting ice on her sore arm.

Tonight, we hosted the Senior Missionary dinner with the Helbergs. We cooked turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and key lime pie.   We shared our impressions of the conferences with Elder Cordon and then we watched the face to face program with 4 young musicians; Patch Crowe, Lexi Walker, Nicole Luz and Madilyn Paige. They not only sang wonderfully, but they are also very mature for their young age. The answers they gave to the questions, were very inspiring. We have some wonderful young people in the Church, who know who they are and are motivated to make a difference in the world.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sister Bell woke up to find her arm swollen and very painful. So we decided to go to the hospital to have sure nothing was broken. We have been to the hospital many times, but this is the first time we went as patients. The doctor checked her out and had her get an x-ray. They determined that she did not have any broken bones, but the doctor told her to not work for a few days and keep ice on it. He put her in a sling. So we cancelled our Saturday and Sunday appointments up north and hunkered down in our air conditioned rooms.

Another tender mercy happened at the hospital. President Poncio had asked Sister Bell to make an doctor's appointment for a missionary, but she was not sure which doctor to take her to. So she asked the orthopedists that helped her. He said he had helped many people with this type of problem and could help our missionary. A tender mercy....  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

We went to Church in the Ducuali Ward, here in Managua. This is where Sister Fersola, Sister Gunn and Sister Perez work. We were welcomed with open arms, as usual. We enjoyed Sacrament meeting. The sister of Hermana Augustina in Pueblo Nuevo attends this ward. They just had a temple trip and Sister Augustina’s sister was asked to bear her testimony about her experience in the temple. The missionaries also had a baptism on Friday, baptizing a middle-aged man and he was confirmed in the meeting. He was also asked to bare his testimony. He did a wonderful job, thanking the sisters and the Lord for helping him change his live. The missionaries were all in tears. We then attended the Gospel Principles class and then came home. We talked to Becky and even got a Sunday Afternoon Nap. Life is Good in Nicaragua… 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Monday, October 9 to Sunday, October 15, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

I woke up this morning about 4am thinking about things I should do to help Somoto, mostly ideas to help organize, such as help them put together a calendar so they can schedule PEC and branch Council meetings, organize VT and HT in the system so they can better track accomplishments, help put together a template for council meetings and help them focus on the 5 things President Poncio taught in the last District Conference Meetings: prayer, scripture study, FHE, tithes and offerings and Temple. I got up and wrote these things down.

In our office meeting today, Sister Bell and I led a discussion about the importance of drinking safe water. This discussion was a follow-up to last week’s discussion. We felt we needed to educate them why drinking pure water is so important and how it will help achieve the mission goals. I showed the missionary count chart, which tracks the kind of illnesses the missionaries call Sister Bell for. From January 1st to September 30, Sister Bell received 462 calls from missionaries about various health problems. Out of the total, 110 were for stomach problems. In contrast, in Costa Rica where they have clean water coming from the tap, their stomach illnesses are about a third of what ours are. When you estimate the number of lost work hours and days from stomach problems it comes out to about 200 missionary days lost over a year’s period of time. That is a lot of time lost. From this discussion, we got a commitment for the leaders to be an example and for us to be able to teach this in the missionary leaders meeting in early November.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon with Sister Elwood and Chali. We helped them with some medical issues. We then took them to the distribution center and to Carl’s Jr. for lunch. The missionaries love to go to Carl’s Jr. because they can’t afford to go on their own and it is usually out of their area. They are especially happy when we tell them we are paying. They are both delightful missionaries. Sister Elwood is from the States and Sister Chali is from Guatemala. Sister Chali has been in the mission field for 2 weeks. Sister Chali was baptized with her family when she was 13 but was inactive for many years. She began going to Church just a few months before going on her mission. She says that the mission is much harder than she expected but is happy to be a missionary. I am sure her testimony will grow stronger while serving and her family will be blessed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We ran a few errands this morning, going to the bank, store and buying pills for the missionary pill boxes. We returned home about 11am and worked from home the rest of the day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We went to the office for a few minutes this morning after going by the hospital to help a couple of missionaries. We needed to make a few copies. The office secretaries (Elders Ruiz, Bennion, Howell and Adams) were working diligently. There was a sweet spirit there. We enjoyed the few minutes we were there.

This afternoon, we worked from home. I have been working on a tithing talk. During Conference, I felt several times that the members need to pay tithing in order for the Church to grow in our little towns. So I have been thinking and putting down on paper some of the thoughts and ideas. I have been writing it in English and today, I translated it into Spanish.

We finished eating the turkey breast that I cooked yesterday. It was a nice change from our normal diet.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We found out last night that we can’t get to the Las Flores beach where the turtles lay their eggs. The Tropical Storm Nate, damaged the roads into the beach. There are several little communities without water, electricity and food. Our guide, Maracio, is helping with the recovery efforts. So we talked about postponing, but when Hermana Helberg called our hotel to cancel, we couldn’t cancel without forfeiting the rental fee. So we decided to go see San Juan del Sur.  

We stayed at the HC Liri hotel. It wasn’t fancy, but it was clean. The breakfast was fantastic; fruit, scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, Maracuya juice, gallo pinto and toast.

There is a beautiful Christus overlooking the city and bay. We walked up to it. It was a steep climb. We were tired and sweaty by the time we got to the top, but it was worth it. We got a wonderful view of San Juan del Sur.

We then went into town. It was too early for dinner but not for ice cream. We found alittle ice cream shop that served gelato. It was wonderful. I had a chocolate and Michelle had a Nutella gelato. We then walked around the city, watched the sun set and ran across a returned missionary from the South Mission who was visiting with her family. She was excited to see Hermana and Elder Helberg.

We eat at a local restaurant named G&G, after the two owners Gabriela and Gabriel. The food was wonderful. The drinks were fantastic. I had a orange and ginger drink and the rest had lemonade with basil leaves. They were so good we ordered a second round. Gabriela was our server and was very delightful. It was a small restaurant, with only 5 tables… all filled with gringos. Everyone was speaking English, including Gabriela.

Friday. October 13, 2017

Since we couldn’t see the turtles, we decided to see a volcano instead. About 1 ½ hours north, on our way back home, is the Volcano Mombacho. One needs to park close to the highway and take a truck up the steep, one lane road to the top.

This volcano is unique because it created a tropical rainforest around the top. The two top craters, were created when the mountain collapsed on itself. Usually the craters are formed from an explosion. We hired a guide, Estela, who spoke excellent English and knew a lot about the ecology of the mountain.

During Tropical Storm Nate, a tornado touched down on a side of the crater. It ripped part of the forest apart, causing parts of the ecology to dry. We got to compare the rain forest with the tornado damaged area. The ferns and moss are drying up.

This is in the tornado damaged area. Estela told us that there are 150 species of Orchids on the mountain. She said that one of them is endemic only to this volcano. It is named Maxilaria Mombachoensis. We walked just a little distance and found one.

We saw some beautiful views being able to see the Masaya Volcano, Momotombo Volcano, Laguna de Apoyo, Granada and Lake Nicaragua.

After the volcano, we drove to the Laguna de Apoyo for lunch at the Apoyo resort. The Helbergs had not been down to the Laguna. They have only seen it from the viewpoint at Catarina.

We had a very enjoyable 2 days. Sister Bell and I both had several phone calls while we were traveling, as did Sister Helberg. But all in all, it was a refreshing mini-vacation… one that we all needed.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

We got up early so we could drop some money and supplies off in Matagalpa. Then we headed for Trinidad. Michelle taught two piano lessons. One to Maria Clara and the other to Carol Linneth. Carol Linneth has not had a lesson in months, but she has natural talent.

We then went to Somoto and worked with Hermana Natalia and Celia, the RS President and Counselor (mother/daughter) to help them rework the Visiting Teacher assignment for Zone 2. We added another companionship with 4 new sisters. We still need to work on Zone 1, but now that Hermana Zaida is back from Costa Rica, they can complete Zone 1. Hermana Zaida, the 2nd Counselor lives in Zone 1 and knows the sisters better than Hermana Zaida.

We went by Hermana Zaida’s house, but she had gone to visit a friend. We found Elder Gharring and Silva there visiting with Yanelys.  We stayed and visited with them. We talked about going to the temple to do baptisms. We left her with the Liahona Magazine about temples.

We taught another teacher improvement lesson in Pueblo Nuevo. Hermana Nubia, Arelys and Hilario attended with the missionaries. They had assignments to read a section of the Teaching in the Savior’s way manual and to give a mini lesson. Elder Ponce taught about how music can be used in the class room. Elder Johnson taught about using stories and art in lessons. Sister Nubia taught about how to deal with difficult questions and Arelys taught about how to teach children. We had a wonderful discussion and learned some wonderful principles of effective teaching.

We ate our subway sandwich on our way back to Esteli, arriving early… about 8:30pm.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

We attended church in Pueblo Nuevo. We took our keyboard with us and left it at the Elders house last night. When we arrived about 30 minutes early, the Elders had set up the piano and a cute little 7-year-old girl was sitting at the keyboard. I found out that she and her 14-year-old sister were investigators. So Sister Bell and I taught her 3 little songs. She beamed with delight. Because the missionaries were conducting the meeting and Sister Bell was playing the piano, I sat next to them and showed them how to follow and sing the songs.

After Sacrament, we took the piano into Primary so Sister Bell could help teach songs. I heard them singing I am a child of God, Give said the Little Stream and the Prophet song. Sister Bell said Arlys was well prepared and Primary went well. Hilario also taught a good Priesthood Lesson, asking a lot of questions. Maybe our instructions about how to teach in the Saviors way have been helping.

We ate our 3-day old peanut butter sandwiches on our way to Trinidad. We first taught a family relations lesson to Yasser and Marilyn. I had been stewing about this lesson all week since Yasser did not show up for last week’s lesson. But he was here today and seemed glad to see us. We taught a fun lesson about showing appropriate affection and being loyal to our spouses. There was a sweet spirit there.

We then taught another Temple Prep class to Dania, Wendy and Karan. Sister Cruz, the branch Presidents wife was also there. We taught about ordnances and covenants. This lesson also went well. They are preparing to go to the temple in December.

We got home about 7pm, tired but happy for a productive week-end. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Monday, October 2 to Sunday, October 8, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Today was a long day of running errands. We began at the Presidents house for our office staff meeting. He had invited 3 companionships for dinner. Each of these companionships had baptized every week last month so they were invited to the President's house to celebrate. That is why we had the meeting at the Presidents house. We discussed the calendar and then Sister Bell talked about the need to purchase pills to put in the pill boxes (Each apartment has a pill box with a variety of common drugs. This was started before we arrived. The missionaries are supposed to buy a replacement pill when they use one, but very few do it, so once a year, we buy replacement pills). She also talked about the need to have a few filter bottles on hand for those missionaries that arrive without one. Only the missionaries from the Brazilian MTC don’t receive a bottle. During the discussion, the office missionaries and assistants told us that many missionaries don’t use them. This is very disappointing and alarming since the most common health problem is stomach issues. A quarter of all health problems is stomach problems. Costa Rica, which has treated tap water, has a third of the stomach problems that we have. This is why we were so disappointed to hear that many missionaries are not careful with the water they drink. President approved purchasing 10.

After the meeting, we went to SINSA to pay our rent, then to Metrocentral to find a missionary there that was having ear problems. Sister Bell held a little clinic at the Mall, which entailed looking in his ears.

We then went home for lunch. After lunch we went to the distribution center, then to the dentist office next to the hospital to make an appointment for a missionary, then to the office. We didn’t get home until about 7pm.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I took the truck in for service this morning. After dropping the truck off, I caught a taxi home. In talking with the taxi driver, I asked him if he knew much about the Mormon Church. He said that the missionaries had passed by his house in the past and gave him a pamphlet. I asked if they gave him a Book of Mormon. He said no. So I explained a little about the Book of Mormon and told him if he would drop me off in front of my house, I would give him a copy. So he did. I ran into the house and got him a book. He seemed pleased and interested. I showed him where the story of when Christ visited the Americas and marked it so he could find it again. Then off he went to find another customer.

After getting our car back, we went to the office. Sister Bell wanted to visit with a few of the leaders. They were having their Leader Council today. While we were waiting for the meeting to end, we tidied up the bunker. Elder Lee kept this bunker pretty tidy, but since he left, it has not gotten very much attention. The mission has a goal of baptizing 130 new converts this month. At the end of the leaders’ council, President Poncio had all the leader sit on the floor in formation to make the number 130.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We had the new missionary meeting today. There were 20 companionships in attendance. We had 5 new Elders and 15 new sisters. Sister Bell taught the lesson about healthy diets. We also had a quiz at the end; showing a food, and the missionary who knew the food group and how many portions they should eat each day, got a mini chocolate bar. Treats are always well received.

Sister Bell had several consultations with the missionaries. We also got a few doctor appointments set up. We also made a run to a local pharmacy to buy medicine for some of the missionaries. We felt good about the day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017 (by Sister Bell)

Yesterday one of the missionaries had the complaint of not being able to hear out of one ear.  He had no pain and had not been sick.  When I looked in his ear, I could see a cerumen (ear wax) plug that was completely blocking his ear canal.  I told him that to get better, he needed to put baby oil in the ear for 30 minutes and then flush out the ear with a syringe of tepid pure water until the plug washed out and that it would be like a miracle and he would be able to hear.

This morning he called and was discouraged.  He still could not hear and had flushed his ear 20 times.  I told him to be patient and continue as directed and that it really would work.  About an hour later, I received this text.  “Ya salio muchas Gracias!”  (Now it has left, thank you) I texted back to him “Esta
bien.  Puede oir?”  (That is good.  Can you hear?)  He replied per text “un milagro”.  These missionaries can be pretty cute.

Tonight was our play date with the Helbergs from the Nicaragua Managua South Mission.  They picked us up and we went to dinner at Ole Verde which is a very healthy Mediterranean restaurant.  The food was good, the music was good, the art work left something to be desired, and the company was great.  We then came to our house and played a few rounds of golf (card game) and then home they went.  It was lovely evening.  It was my lucky night – I won every round.  I usually lose, so it was a fun experience.

Friday, October 6, 2017

We picked up bedsheets and checked for bed bugs in one house this morning. Then we went by another to check the ears of another missionary. Then to the office. We then went home for lunch. Afterward we went to a local pharmacy to order pills for the missionary pill boxes, then to the bank to cash a check and pay our internet bill. Then home. I spent the afternoon preparing lessons for tomorrow and then sorting clothes. The sisters, when they go home, will leave some of their clothes. We collect them and give them to some of our sisters up north who can use them, especially those who are preparing to go to the temple. Many of these sisters don’t have modest clothes and can’t afford to buy them. So they are happy to get hand me downs, especially those that are modest.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sister Bell had a good piano lesson with Maria Clara. While she was teaching, I visited with President Cruz. We had a leisurely lunch at Rosti Pollo en Esteli. Then we picked up Pedro Castillo, the District Secretary and took him with us to Somoto. We met Elder Gharring and Davidson at the Church and Pedro gave them instructions on how to process funds and membership information. President Alaniz and I talked about several things, including who might be ready to go to the temple in December and how to call members to callings.

We ended up at Pueblo Nuevo where we showed the Women’s session of Conference. Hermana Nubia, Dania and Arelys attended with Sister Bell, Pedro and myself.

We ate dinner in Condega (Smoothies all around) and got to the Koellikers about 10pm. It was a long day, but we love these days where we are working with the members and missionaries.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

We made an early morning run to Ocotal to give money to an Elder who needed to pay for a dentist appointment tomorrow. We then went to Somoto. We picked up Sister Alaniz and Juanito at their house and took them to Church. One of the highlights was that they started on time. I couldn’t believe it and was very proud of President Alaniz for doing that. There were a few members and investigators in attendance when the meeting started. By the end of the meeting, we had about 45 people that attended. Sister Bell and I bore our testimonies in fast and testimony meeting. There was a sweet spirit at the meeting. Another highlight of the meeting was when Sister Bell went into the primary with her piano and taught them “El arroyito da”. She said it was like a little bit of Heaven. She loved it and the kids really responded to her and singing this song. Azaria is the primary president. She appreciated having Sister Bell come in. She had already taught them a lesson and did an activity. Singing was the next perfect thing.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Monday, September 25 to Sunday, October 1, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

We met two Elders at the hospital this morning for a Doctors appointment. After the appointment, we took them back to the office and dropped them off. We spent the rest of the day working from home.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

President Poncio told us that Sister Morales passed away last night. We are so sad. She went back to Guatemala at the end of March because she was diagnosed with Leukemia, after having her appendix removed here in the mission. We fell in love with her while we were helping her through her hospital stay. We were with her, I was holding her hand, when the doctors told her they thought she had leukemia. Sister Bell spent several hours with her during this time, talking, crying and visiting. We are grateful that we know she is continuing her mission in the Spirit World. Our prayers are with her family and friends.

We trained 10 new missionaries this morning. Four sisters were from the US. One Elder was from Brazil and 1 Elder from Guatemala. The remaining 4 Sisters were from Central America. We taught the 10 commandments of good health. Sister Bell talked with each individually to discuss their health. 

We got a sweet note from Hermana Golding. She went home today. She was in the MTC when we were there and we have a special place in our hearts for her and for Elder Alofipo. He was also in the MTC with us. She spent most of her mission in Puerto Cabeza, so we didn’t see her much. Sister Bell helped her several times with health issues and we saw her a few times when she came back to Managua. Even though we didn’t see her much, we will miss her.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today was a fix missionary apartment day. We started in Villa Venezuela. Our primary reason to go by was the check their clothes closet. The closets are wood closets, with four drawers on the bottom. A couple of the drawers were hard to open. They had asked for a new closet. I checked the drawers and make some repairs so that they open fairly well now. However, while we were there we checked for bed bugs. We had problems in the apartment several months ago, right after the sisters moved in. Fortunately, they don’t have bed bugs.

We then took a new mattress to Ruben Dario. But the missionaries were not there. So we left the bed (the old mattress was supposedly really bad) with the landowner. Then we went to La Rotunda. The sister missionaries needed a bar for their closet. This is a new apartment and furniture was delivered on Monday. But the closet didn’t have a hanging bar. They had a shower Curtain rod, but they couldn’t get this to work. So we went by. I was able to use the shower Curtis rod. I had to put a couple of screws in the closet to hold it in place, but it seemed to work just fine. I hung their smoke alarm on the wall.

We gave two fans to another set of missionaries, who also moved into a new apartment. While we were at the office. We also made a stop at Simons at Metrocentral to check for memory foam pillows. One of our missionaries is having neck problems and we think this pillow might help. Simon usually carries them but they haven’t had any for several weeks. While we were at Metrocentro, we eat at Carl’s Jr. We love their hamburgers. Then we stopped at the Colonia for food, a pharmacy to check prices for pills to put into the missionaries pill boxes and then home. Fatima had cleaned our home. It is always nice to come home to a clean house, especially one we didn’t have to clean.

We are going over to the Helbergs for dinner tonight and to continue planning our Turtle Excursion.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I ran to Sinsa to get a mouse trap and a knob for a drawer for Villa Venezuela. Then I stopped to get a haircut. We spent the rest of the day at home. Sister Bell worked on her quarterly report for SLC and I worked on Visiting Teaching in Somoto. I put together a couple of sheets to help the RS Presidency organize and then keep track of VT statistics. All in all it was a quiet day.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sister Bell worked on finding a filter bottle for our Brazilian missionaries.  Most of the missionaries come with a filter bottle. But the last two Brazilian missionaries didn’t come with a bottle. Sister Bell, through her SLC contact, found that the Brazilian MTC doesn’t give out bottles any more. So we bought a case of pure water and a small container of Clorox and took it to our Brazilian missionary. We then went by the sister’s house in Villa Venezuela and put the knob on the drawer and to try to clean the bugs out of their microwave. We spent a few hours in the office, then came home. We were out of power for a while so we couldn’t do much without the internet. But I am working on the next newsletter using Elder Curtis's handout on exercises.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Today we stayed in the house and watched all three sessions of General Conference. We find that we need the spiritual lift from Conference. Here are some of the messages I took from Conference:

·         When we lose our lives in the service of others, we find ourselves. We need to be selfless.
·         We all have unique gifts and accomplishments that we covenanted to do in the pre-existence. We need to find out what those gifts and accomplishments are and do them.
·         WE should not be discouraged, but try to do our very best. Be gentle with ourselves.
·         Heavenly Father is the master planner. He is helping us and directing us. There are no coincidences.

We also watched the face to face with Elder and Sister Renlund in Africa. He said something that struck home with me. He said in one of the African airports, there is a sign that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.  I liked that. 

In the mission field, you make do with what you have… even using a nut container as a flower vase.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

We were sad to hear about the passing of Elder Hale. He was a wonderful Apostle.

We enjoyed conference. We stayed in our air-conditioned bedroom most of the day. I left to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we eat in the bedroom. There were several talks about the Book of Mormon. We have been reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish everyday of our mission. We have read it 1 ½ times. For my personal study, I had been reading in Spanish, but I was not understanding it very much. So I began reading it again in English. We enjoyed Elder Swicks talk (probably because we know him. He released our Stake Presidency). He said that what we sometimes see in others is usually only a small part of the picture. The Holy Ghost can help us see others the way the Saviors sees them. He gave the example of the missionary who came into his mission not wanting to stay. For several weeks he gave council to this missionary, but it didn’t change his desire to leave. Finally, he asked why. The missionary said that he couldn’t read. Understanding that, Elder Swick was able to help the missionary, not only to stay but to read. We sometimes judge people and situations, without understanding the whole situation.