Sunday, September 17, 2017

Monday, September 11 to Sunday, September 17, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

We had our weekly meeting at the President’s home. He was hosting a luncheon for two companionships that baptized every week this past month: Elders Simpson/Najera and Elders Rienoso/Galo. After our meeting (we didn't stay for lunch) we went to the store, then home for lunch. After lunch Sister Bell worked on a power point for the next multizone, while I went to the office to pick up supplies for Leon, Chinandega and Chin Oeste zones. We volunteered to take materials to them tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We left at 7am for Leon, arriving about 8:30am. We took rice krispee treats with us, which the missionaries loved. We then went to Chinandega and then to El Viejo to visit the other two zones. On the way, we listened to episodes of the Joseph Smith Papers on the Mormon Channel. These have been very interesting and informative. We have learned a lot about the early activities of the Church and especially about the Prophet Joseph Smith. Our testimonies have increased as we learned more about the things he did and the problems he faced.

On our way home, we got a call from one of our missionaries. He continues to have health problems, so with permission from Hermana Poncio, we sent him to the hospital. We stopped by the hospital on our way back home. He was just beginning to have tests. He will call us when he knows for sure what is wrong with him. But he is pretty sure it started by eating bad tacos last week.

We took the Helbergs to Asado Al Patio for a Gator but they were closed. I was really sad, until we saw a sign that said that they are moving, not closing. I was happy about that as we love the Gator, which is a choice Top Sirlion, cooked over an outdoor barbecue. So we went to another steak house. But as we walked in they had a large leg of pig sitting in front. It grossed Sister Bell out. The prices were also really expensive, so we left. We then tried a Peruvian restaurant that President Collado took us to when we first arrived. They were open so we stayed. It was delicious. We will probably have to go back there. We really loved the fresh fruit drinks. I had a passion fruit drink and Sister Bell had a dragon fruit drink. Both were delicious. 

After we got back to the house and we were beginning to relax, the spirit kept nudging me to go to the hospital. I finally got up, got dressed and went to the hospital. Sister Bell stayed home. The missionaries were still in the Emergency Room. The doctors had diagnosed the problem and was giving him IV antibiotics. But it is severe enough that the doctor wanted him to stay in the hospital for a few days receiving IV antibiotics. So he was checked into the hospital. I was glad I was there to help with that process, to give them support and to give money to his companion for food.  I got home at 12:30am. Sister Bell was sound asleep.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I earned my chauffer license today. We left the house, stopping at the pharmacy to get some medicine for one of our sister missionaries. We then drove to her house, which is by Villa Flor. Sister Bell checked her out and gave her the medicine. We then drove home for lunch and to take clothes off the line. We then drove to the hospital. Our Elder is improving and may be released tomorrow. While Sister Bell stayed with him, I took his companion to their house to get some clothes and other things to make their stay at the hospital a bit more enjoyable. While there, I checked for bedbugs (we had changed the mattresses about 3 weeks ago because they had bed bugs). We found some, not a lot but enough to be concerned (1 is concerning). We stripped the beds of the linen and took them to the lady who washes their clothes. Then we went back to the hospital. After that we went to the office. After working in the office for about an hour, we headed for home. The traffic was terrible (tomorrow is the beginning of a 4-day holiday – Independence Day) so we decided to take the long way home, through Tipitapa. That was a mistake as a one-hour commute ended up being two hours. We had to stop by the hospital to give more food money to the missionaries. Even though we passed the hospital the way we went, it still wasn’t worth the extra time and mileage. I think my late night last night is catching up to me.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A half day of running around turned into a full day. We first went to the office so Sister Bell could check on a missionary, who was at the office. We worked a little there while we were waiting for a phone call from the Elders in the hospital. He finally called about 11am, telling us he was being released. So we immediately headed for the hospital, thinking he was dressed and all the paper work was ready so he could leave. We had Elder Adams, the financial Secretary go up as well so he could pay for the mission’s share of the room bill. When we arrived, we found him still in bed with an IV still giving him fluids. President, Hermana and Jocelyn Poncio were there visiting. So we waited, and waited and waited (and played a few games). Finally about 1:30, everything was ready for him to leave.

We went to Pricesmart for lunch and to pick up a few items. The companion of our sick missionary had not eaten, nor had we. We had lunch and bought our items. We then dropped the things off at the house before going to the Elder’s house. We stopped at MaxiPali so the Elders could buy food. We finally dropped them off at their house about 4pm and headed for home. We are glad we are here to help the missionaries. Every time we can help them a little, is good. They appreciate it and we are sure Heavenly Father does as well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Today was a kick back day. Sister Bell didn’t leave the house all day. I left for only a few minutes to get a watermelon for this week-end. We needed a day of rest and relaxation, our P-Day.

We invited the Helbergs over for dinner so we could finalize our turtle excursion. It is always fun to have them over. We had cheese raviolis (from a bag) and a salad. Nothing fancy and very easy to prepare.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

We passed by the office on our way out of town to get a rent check for the Koellikers. Then we dropped some medicine off to the sisters in Sebaco on our way to Trinidad. Sister Bell taught Maria Clara a piano lesson. Then we taught a family relations class to Yasser and Marilyn. We felt good about the lesson and we hope it helps them. We gave them 4 challenges: 1) pray together each day, 2) read the Book of Mormon together each day, 3) Yasser is to call and keep his wife informed of where he is and 4) use the Proclamation of the Family to identify 1 thing each can do this week to show their spouse how much they care.

We attended the District Conference: Priesthood and adult meetings. Sister Bell played the piano for the adult meeting. She also played for a choir that sang during the meeting. She didn’t have an opportunity to practice with them before they sang. But it sounded good.

President Cruz from Trinidad talked in the adult session. He talked about Family Home Evenings. President Poncio also talked about 5 things that would strengthen families, 1) prayer, 2) read scriptures, 3) FHE, 4) Pay tithes and offerings and 5) attend the temple. We were really glad that Yasser and Marilyn were there as his messaged reinforced what we taught them earlier in the day.

Then we attended a baptism in the Centro Branch. A long and satisfying day. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We had district conference. It was held at the auditorium of a local University. There were about 400 in attendance, which is a little lower than who attended the last district conference. The difference is that we had seating for everyone in one room. Last time we held it in the church with overflow in some of the rooms. The audio/video feeds into the other rooms didn’t work well so many left. It was nice to have it all in one room.

It was wonderful to see so many members and missionaries that we love. They were happy to see us as well. Somoto/Pueblo Nuevo had over 60 people attend, which is amazing. Sister Bell played the piano for the choir and the congregational hymns. She said that they changed several of the hymns at the last minute. It was a good thing she is proficient enough to play the hymns without practice. The choir sang 4 or 5 songs, some of which were prelude songs. Sister Bell had not practiced with them before, but it turned out fine. It was interesting to watch her adjust to the choir. They tended to change tempo a lot or cut notes in half or hold them longer than normal. But Sister Bell adjusted just fine and the songs turned out beautiful…. Well at least as beautiful as 10 people singing off key can sing. The piano helped them a lot. Nicaraguans are not known for their singing abilities. 

The Koellikers hosted a luncheon afterward for us, the Poncios, Roger Perez (2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency), the zone leaders and Elder Mediero. It was delicious as always. We bought a watermelon on Friday, but when we cut it open, it was total mush. It was also full of seeds. We were told it was a seedless watermelon. I am going to stay away from that fruit stand. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday, September 4 to Sunday, September 10, 2017

 Monday, September 4, 2017

Today was President Poncio’s birthday. We held the office meeting at his house. While President Poncio, the assistants and Hermana Fersola had a planning meeting, Sister Bell and I went to the bank (deposit donations from Somoto) and to the store. After dropping off the groceries, we returned to the Presidents house for lunch and cake. It was a very pleasant day, relaxing and eating. 

Front row L to R: Hermana Gunn, Villeda, Fersola, Jocelyn Poncio
Back Row L to R: Elders Ruiz, Adams, Diaz, Campbell, Chinchilla

L to R: Elder Ruiz, Chinchilla, Adams, President Poncio, Campbell, Diaz

L to R: Hermana Gunn, Bell, Hermana Poncio, President Poncio, Joycelyn Poncio, Fersola, Villeda

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Today we spent most of the day with an Elder and 2 Sisters for doctor appointments. They both had their appointments at 11am. Sister Bell went with the Sisters and I went with the Elder. They were all done by 11:30 so we took them to Pricesmart for lunch. We bought a few items so we dropped by the house to drop things off. While there, the missionaries and I had a short discussion with Salvador, talking about of favorite parts of the Book of Mormon. We then drove back to the office to drop them off and Sister Bell and I came home.

Sister Bell did wash today, so she will have ironing to do tonight. We got a late-night call from another sister. Her companion was having symptoms that warranted her going to the hospital, so we met them at the hospital at about 8pm. She had tests for a diagnosis and treatment that helped her.   Doctor Abdala was the attending physician. She is LDS and a wonderful doctor. We took them home about midnight and got home about 12:30pm. One of the nice things about these late-night hospital runs is that the traffic is wonderful.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We slept in until 6:30am… I was hoping to sleep in much longer but it didn’t happen.

We planned to stay home today and work from home. But Sister Bell got a call from a Hermana about a health problem. She was at the zone meeting in Villa Flor so we went there to check her out. We bought donuts on the way. She took care of her and 2-3 others (whenever Sister Bell is around, there are always missionaries with health concerns). We passed by the Multicentral mall for a few things (white shirt, clippers, shoes, cell phone battery) and then went home for lunch. We stayed home the afternoon, but went to the airport at 7pm to pick up Sister Johnson. She finally got her visa and allowed to enter the country. She had been serving temporarily in California. The President was out of town so we were asked to pick her up and take her to the Sister Trainers house. We were happy to do that.          

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Kaidin

We got up early to fix breakfast for the Sisters, who live or were at the Sister Trainers house. There were 5 sisters, Sister Johnson, Sister Gunn, Sister Hernandez (who was on divisions with Sister Gunn), Sister Lopez and Sister Caballero. We cooked ham, blueberry pancakes and hash browns. We packed up the food and took it to them. After breakfast, Sister Bell taught Sister Johnson the 10 commandments of good health.

We then went to the hospital to be with a missionary who had an appointment for some tests and then to see the doctor. All was fine so we fed them and sent them on their way. We spent the rest of the day at home, working. We did have repairmen come over to recharge our air conditioner in our room. It is much nicer now.

Friday, September 8, 2017

We stopped at distribution, then to the store, then to the office and then to Pricesmart to buy a cake. We are going to Helbergs tonight for dinner.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

We left the house at 7:45am, arriving in Trinidad at 10:30am. Sister Bell gave Maria Clara a piano lesson, then we went to Yassers home to talk about the responsibilities of the Elders Quorum President. We reviewed the responsibilities of an Elders Quorum President. I suggested he focus on four things.
1.       Attend and participate in the branch PEC and branch Counsel meetings.
2.       Take charge in the Sunday Priesthood meetings. Teach, once in a while, especially the first Sunday lessons.
3.       Study and begin organizing Home Teachers. I gave him lists of the men in the branch and a list of all the members. We discussed who could be HT’s and possible assignments. I encouraged him to discuss this with President Cruz. We will review this next week.
4.       Help prepare prospective Elders. I gave him and copy of a seminar prepared to help teach men their Priesthood duties.

We had lunch at Rosti Pollo in Esteli and then drove to Somoto. We got there in time to practice with the branch choir who were preparing to sing tomorrow in the branch conference. But no-one showed up other than the missionaries.

We then prepared for Karol's baptism. Karol is one of Hermana Zaida’s daughters. She has been going to Church almost every week for 19 months, but has never wanted to be baptized. Recently, she decided the Church was true and the missionaries taught her the lessons again. She looked beautiful in her baptismal dress.  Sister Bell played the piano for the service and I talked about the Holy Ghost. We served cake that we brought from Managua.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We had a very busy day, but a very uplifting one. We left Esteli at 7:15am and drove to Pueblo Nuevo. The members were gathering together at 8:30 to go to Somoto for Branch Conference. When we arrived, they were all in the bus ready to go. We went to Pueblo Nuevo to get the chairs from the Church. We also got hymn books. There were 15 members going to Somoto. We took the missionaries, Elder Johnson and Ponce with us.

The branch conference was wonderful. President Rivera, the District President, came and brought the District YW President. There were 60 people there, including the 15 from Pueblo Nuevo and 10 investigators. I had the opportunity to confirm Karol. It was a privilege to do so, but one of the most difficult things for me is giving blessings. That is because I am trying to listen to the spirit, translate my feelings and do it in familiar tense. Sister Bell said I gave a nice blessing. 

President Alaniz talked, then Hermana Nubia bore her testimony. She talked about her experience of going to the temple. She explained that she did not know how she was going to get the money to go. She ended up selling her cell phone (she got another at a discounted rate three days after she got back from the temple – a tender mercy) but was still short of cash. She then explained that we (Sister Bell and I) offered to buy her temple clothes (I remembered that the spirit prompted us to ask if we could help). This allowed her to have enough money to go. She gave a wonderful testimony. One of the highlights was the branch choir. There were about 15, including the 4 missionaries that sang. They sang How Great Thou Art. Sister Bell accompanied. It was great and very spiritual.

I then had the opportunity to talk. I talked about the progress that has been made in Somoto and Pueblo Nuevo in the past 18 months. Somoto is now a branch, meeting in a church instead of in the Presidents house and Hermana Zaida’s homes. Somoto has a RS, YW, Primary, 2 SS classes, YM and Elders Quorum. Pueblo Nuevo has primary, SS, RS, YW and Elders that are being taught by members. I explained that no one in the church receives money to lead or teach and that the members do this. All are important in building the Lords Church. I read 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 where Paul refers to the Church as a body and all parts of the body are important. I emphasized that everyone there was needed and wanted. President Rivera was the last speaker.

Our regular Primary teacher was not there. Leslin, the back-up teacher was there, but didn't have the lesson manual and therefore did not have a lesson prepared. Arelys, the Primary teacher from Pueblo Nuevo was there but she hadn't prepared a lesson either. However, she was willing to teach the lesson she taught last week. Sister Bell took the piano in to sing songs. Leslin had a coloring activity for the children, so between the three of them, they had primary.

We took President Rivera and the YW President back to Esteli. We had to stop in Pueblo Nuevo to drop off the chairs. President Rivera wanted to know where they have Church so it was an opportunity to show him. We found out that the YW President was born in a little town outside of Pueblo Nuevo. We saw the house where she was born.

We also stopped at the Elders house in Condega so President Rivera could see where church is being held. We didn’t go in because we stirred up a bee’s nest outside the Elders house. We had bees everywhere; in the car, in our hair, on our clothes, and in our clothes. The neighbors probably thought we were on drugs or something, because we were all dancing around, waving our hands and talking wildly. Oh those Mormons….. We got out of there as fast as we could. Several of us got stung, but there were no after effects.

We arrived home at 7:30pm, very tired and glad to be home. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Monday, August 28 to Sunday, September 3, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

We celebrated Hermana Poncio, Presidente Poncio and Elder Diaz birthdays today in our office meeting. Sister Bell and I brought a cheesecake and the Elders brought flowers and candy. (We miss the Lees because they always remembered and brought the goodies).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We spent the day at home. Sister Bell washed 28 sheets from the Sister Leaders house. That was about 4 loads of wash. She had to wash a load and then hang them on the line. By the time the second load was done, the sheets on the line were dry… it was a hot day. Fortunately, it didn’t begin raining until she was done… a tender mercy.

I had plenty of catch-up computer work to do. We were busy most of the day… but I did get a short nap in this afternoon, after lunch. It was very needed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Today was a work day at the Sister’s house. Sister Bell and I went over this morning. They had gotten several items from the Lee’s house, such as a refrigerator, stove, washing machine, several tables and chairs. We set up the frig in their kitchen and the washing machine in the back.
Sister Bell got her haircut this afternoon, while I ran errands. We then made a pass by the office and then home. I was a light day.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

We started the day at the car dealer, getting a bed cover and roll bar installed on our truck. It will be nice to be able to put things in the back and keep them dry. My only worry, is that thieves might cut the cover just to see if there is anything in the bed.

We then went to the distribution center and paid our rent. Then home for lunch (I had corn dogs while Sister Bell had a ham sandwich). Fatima had come this morning so our home was clean. I have been trying to stop the little ants from coming in the house. I sprayed yesterday in one area. The ants stopped coming in that spot, but we found that they came in another area and made a different route to the kitchen. I sprayed at that entrance point, and at least for a few hours, it seemed to work.

We went to the office for a couple of hours so we have access to the printer. I finished and sent out our weekly medical newsletter about pink eye. We have been inundated with missionaries with pink eye the past three weeks. The south mission has had a lot of problems with this as well. While at the office, I had Elder Adams take my picture with the truck (above)…. And of course, he took a selfie.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Today has become moving furniture day. I picked up a bed and bedframe from the sister’s house yesterday and delivered it to Reparto Shick this morning. One of their bed frames was broken and the mattress was really old. I then got a haircut. After I was leaving I got a message from the Elders in La Fuente that they have bedbugs. So I went over and verified that in fact they do have bedbugs. They got rid of their mattresses and I brought them two new mattresses (I made another trip to the sister’s house). I gave them instructions on how to clean their house and then gave them insecticide to use. I had to get two new bedframes, as their bedframes were broken. The missionaries must jump on their beds as that is the third bedframe today that was broken. They also needed two new fans. Missionaries can be very hard on the equipment in their homes.

We went out to eat with the Helbergs. We went to a good Chinese restaurant. We had an enjoyable visit.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Meena

Sister Bell taught Maria Clara her piano lesson. While she was teaching, I sat on the front porch with President and Hermana Cruz. During the conversation, I came away with two new assignments. The first is to get white shirt and tie for a nephew that is going to be married and baptized at the end of the month. The other assignment is to help Yasser learn what an Elder Quorum president does.

We drove to Pueblo Nuevo next. We dropped off some packages and then stopped by Maybelline’s house to let her try on some clothes that the sister missionaries left. She found several skirts and tops. I have never seen her in a dress. She told me that doesn’t own a dress (and can’t afford buying one).

We finished the night in Somoto. We held a branch counsel training. After President Alaniz took care of the branch business, I taught the final leadership class, dealing with Welfare principles. I had ½ hour for the lesson. Actual teaching time was about 10 minutes because there was a lot of discussion. We counted tithing money after and then Sister Bell and I headed for Esteli, arriving about 9pm.

President Alaniz was very excited about the new sign outside the chapel. It is made of Brazilian Marble. L to r: Natalia, the RS President, Sister Bell and President Alaniz.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I went to sleep last night wondering where we should go to church this morning. I was leaning toward La Trinidad, but this morning I could only think of Condega, and specifically thinking of Rosa. Rosa is a young single mother who got cross wise with another member. To not create conflicts, she began going to Church in Esteli, but has not gone to either church for several weeks. Today, the Church meeting location was being moved to the Elders house and rumor was that Rosa would return to the Condega group today. I really wanted to greet her. So we decided to go to Condega. We got to the church early. The missionaries, Elder Espinosa and Elder Perez and turned their house into a nice meeting building. They had moved all the furniture out of the living room and put up chairs. They put sheets between the living room and the dining/kitchen. They moved from the front bedroom to the rear bedroom so that the front room could be another meeting room and cleaned the bathroom. They had a whiteboard in the front with “Bienvenidos” written on it and the hymn listed below. We were really impressed.

Their house is on the highway, but they have a literal jungle in front, which shields the house and some of the noise.

We took Elder Espinosa to get a couple of investigators (4 came, 2 mothers with their daughters). While we were out we stopped by a member’s house to invite her to Church (she had an excuse) but after we left she called Rosa and told her we were in town and were going to attend Church. When Rosa heard this, she got dressed and came to Church (she said she wasn’t coming until she heard we were here). We gave her big hugs and welcomed her. The Lord prompted us to come to Condega, for Rosa. He must love her a lot…. We sure do.

Elder Espinosa held a primary while we had the other meetings. That was the first primary in Condega. There were 20 people there including the 4 investigators. Their usual attendance has been about 10.

We then headed for Trinidad. We taught Hermana Dania and Wendy the third Temple Preparation class. They are preparing to go to the temple in December. These members have a lot of desire to go to the temple, but it is very difficult for them to come up with the $35 to go, plus they have to purchase garments, temple clothes, sometimes new clothes that they can wear with garments and food. Not an easy task for these poor people. But they have great faith that things will work out and sacrifice a lot to go.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Monday, August 21 to Sunday, August 27, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

We took our truck into a new dealer for servicing. We had to make an appointment, find the dealer, figure out where the service department was, find someone to help, pick it up hours later and pay for it. All went without a hitch. Maybe we are becoming Nicas.

We attended the office staff meeting, picking up a few assignments. Then we headed to the hospital. We drove the President's car since ours was in the shop and he was in meetings all morning. We helped the missionaries, bought them lunch, gave them money for taxis and wished them well. We also picked up some medicine for other missionaries and then went back to the office. 

A tender mercy happened while we were at the hospital. There was a returned missionary (of 4 days) who was in the emergency room. Her home was Nicaragua but was serving in another country. She came home needing medical attention. She needed to be admitted, but the hospital was not able to contact the insurance to change the condition of the payment guarantee. The admissions person asked if we could help. We talked to the missionary and her mother. We tried getting a hold of the Stake President, who would be the one dealing with the insurance. But he didn’t answer his phone. Finally, Sister Bell called the insurance, explained the situation and the lady at the insurance said she would call the hospital immediately. We were glad we were there to help.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We had our new missionary training today, 16 new missionaries with their companions. The unique thing about this group is that only 3 were Elders and 13 were Sisters. Because some of the new missionaries didn’t get our 10 commandments of good health when they first arrived, President Poncio asked that we incorporate this training in what we were going to do. Our topic was to be eating a balanced diet, but since this is part of the 10 commandments, we decided to expand the original 10 commandments presentation. We did this through asking questions about the 10 commandments and of course, we had a bag of chocolates to pass out for participation. The participation was excellent and it was a lot of fun.

We had Elder Alofipo, Bendeck and Chen for dinner at our house. We made enchiladas. I get more and more impressed with these missionaries as I learn about their family life. They are wonderful examples of disciples of Christ.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

We got up at 4:30 am, expecting to leave at 6 am for a zone conference in Chinandega. At 5:30, we got a call from Sister Poncio telling us the conference is being delayed until noon. So we skyped with Kim and left about 8 am. We took a new mattress to Sister Romero in Leon and then took her and her companion Hermana Orellana to the conference in Chinandega. 

Sister Bell taught a lesson on back pain. She showed the missionaries how to do exercises and then had a few missionaries do them. It was a lot of fun. We left the conference and drove to Esteli. We are staying at the HEX.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

We had our multizone conference in Esteli at the El Rosario Chapel. We love this conference because we see so many missionaries that we work closely with in Somoto, Pueblo Nuevo, Condega and Trinidad. Our presentation about back pain went well. The Koellikers baked cupcakes for everyone to celebrate President and Sister Poncio’s birthdays. We sang happy Birthday to them in Spanish and then in English.

Friday, August 25, 2017

We had our Multizone conference in Managua. Sister Bell did her presentation about sore backs having 5 missionaries demonstrate back strengthening exercises.

Elder Boaz showed us how to do one of the exercises.

We had a short 2-hour conference. Then we had the opportunity to listen to M. Joseph Brough, 2nd Counselor in the General YM Presidency and his wife and Tad R. Callister, General Sunday School President and his wife. Brother and Sister Brough spoke Spanish, having served as Mission Presidents in Guatemala. President Poncio was a Stake President in his mission when he was there. Brother Callister talked about the Atonement. We had read his book; The Infinite Atonement so were very excited to hear him speak on the subject in person. Sister Bell took about 4 pages of notes. One of the key messages from his talk is that the Atonement overcame 4 obstacles that prevent us from returning to the presence of God. Two are obvious: The Atonement overcame Physical death and Sin (Spiritual Death). But he also said that the Atonement helps us overcome our afflictions and our imperfections and weaknesses. He explained that if we feel the Holy Ghost, we are either forgiven of our sins or at least on the path to forgiveness. He also explained that we remember our sins because remembering can be a deterrent to repeating the sin. His example was Alma, who remembered his sins for many years, but could remember them without the guilt after he received forgiveness.

We had the Helbergs over for dinner. We cooked pancakes, eggs and hash browns. We were sad that the Lee’s were not with us.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

It was good to be back in the mountains. We are both tired after a very busy week and were not excited about getting back in the truck and driving 4 hours north. But once we started and especially after we got there and began to work, our hearts changed and we loved what we did today. Sister Bell taught one lesson in Trinidad to Maria Clara. The other girls were not around.

We then drove to Pueblo Nuevo to work with Elders Johnson and Medeiro. We visited members and investigators, all who lived way out of town. It takes them 1.5 hours to walk out to these homes. The first stop was to the home of a teacher. She was not home but her husband was. He allowed us to come in and the Elders taught him alittle about the restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. Apparently the Jehova Witnesses are visiting him also. He accepted the book and they set another appointment for tomorrow. We then stopped by the home of Hermana Jenny. Her husband was home so we got to meet and visit with him. He is not a member. Past missionaries taught him but he was never baptized. The Elder gave him a short message. Sister Bell passed out candy and we left. Both these homes are in San Antonio, several Kilometers outside of Pueblo Nuevo. I had to put the truck in 4-wheel drive acouple of times to get to their homes.

Then we went in another direction out of town. Again it was about 7 kilometers outside of town but in a different direction. We stopped at the home of a young family. The home is adobe but very clean (for a dirt floor). The Elders gave her (the husband was not home) a Book of Mormon and we all bore our testimony of the Book of Mormon. The two little girls were practicing putting buckets on their heads.

We taught another teacher improvement class in Pueblo Nuevo. It went very well. Each taught a mini lesson about Teaching by the Spirit. Dania and Maybelline were not there. Hilario, Nubia, Arylis, Elder Johnson and Elder Medeiro were there. We had a wonderful discussion focusing on being prepared and then being flexible so that the Spirit can guide the teaching.

 Sunday, August 27, 2017

We attended church in Pueblo Nuevo. Sister Bell took our keyboard and she played for Sacrament Meeting. The Elders had asked me last night to talk in Sacrament Meeting about Mercy. I of course, thought of Mercy and how it affects Justice. I had a talk all outlined in my head about the merciful act of the Savior in our behalf. But when we got to Pueblo Nuevo and began to visit with the Elders, I found that they had another idea all together. They wanted me to talk about Mercy and how we should be merciful to each other. So I had to quickly rethink my talk. That wasn’t hard because I had a wonderful example, Grandpa Thomas. I told how he was kind, considerate, patient and merciful to others. I shared two examples: the first was when I was visiting their home before we were engaged. Michelle had gone to pick up Roxanne. She drove through I stop sign and ran into a truck. Grandpa didn’t show any anger, only compassion and concern for the health of his daughters. He was very merciful. The other example was that he forgave any indebtedness to his family members in his will, another merciful act. He was a great example of putting others first.

Sister Bell helped in primary, playing the piano and teaching songs. The kids really enjoyed that. 

We then went to Trinidad and taught another temple preparation class. Only Karen was there, but we had the lesson anyway. We talked about the blessings of the temple, using D&C 109 and D&C 97 as the text. The spirit was sweet. Karen is very excited about going to the temple and has found great peace and happiness in the Church. We were not sure she was going to make the class, as one of her sons was sick. She had taken him to the Hospital. They found he had the beginnings of a throat infection and gave him some medicine. She took him home and then came to the meeting at the Presidents house. We offered to postpone the meeting (especially since Dania and Wendy were not there), but Karen wanted to come and have the lesson. She is a great example of faith and commitment. She teaches Sunday School and Seminary. They have been trying to have Seminary in the church every morning at 5 am. She lives across town so she must walk to the church and be there by 5 am every morning. Not surprising, the students haven’t been coming. I suggested that they consider home seminary and a class once a week on Saturday. She liked that idea and will talk with the Branch President. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Monday, August 14 to Sunday, August 20, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

We got up at 3:30am. The Office Elders picked us up at 5am and took us to the airport. Our flight left at 7:30 am. We arrived on time in Atlanta and after going to immigration and customs, we looked for new Elders who were arriving from the MTC on their way to Nicaragua. We found Elders Davis, Russell and Deere. We had lunch with them, explaining about the mission and answering their questions.

Everywhere we went, we found other senior missionaries, current or past. It felt like we were part of a fraternity. We met missionaries serving in Panama (Temple), Dallas and Hawaii. We met other members who would say “hi” to us. It was a lot of fun. We arrived in SLC at 7pm, got our car and drove to Idaho Falls, arriving about 11:30pm.

When we landed in Atlanta, we had a wonderful feeling come over us, telling us “we are home”. With all of the problems we have in the USA, it is still a wonderful place to live.  The first thing Sister Bell did was drink out of the drinking fountain and brush her teeth using tap water at the airport.  Those little luxuries!!!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We started the day at the temple. The Idaho Falls temple has been renovated and it is beautiful.  Michelle’s sister, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and a nephew joined us.  We miss the temple and it was like going home.  We felt close to Dad there as that was one of his favorite places to be.  He went to the temple weekly for most of his life and served as a veil worker.

We spent the day with family preparing for the viewing tonight and the funeral tomorrow. It was great to be with family. Everyone is working together to make grandpas funeral go well. We met the babies of Danielle and Marie. They are both adorable. Everyone wanted to hold and entertain them.  Michelle and her sisters helped put Dad’s temple robes on and worked on their talk for tomorrow. We had a luncheon with everyone that was there so far, about 25. The viewing was very nice. Several seminary teachers came that worked with dad.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Today was grandpa’s funeral. Paul, Addie, McKay, John, Steve, Ginger, Avery, Heidi, Dutch, Nora, Becky, Kanika, Kadin, Corgan and Meena all came. It was a wonderful tribute to a great man. Dad loved to serve others. He did things, not so much because he wanted to, but because others wanted to do them. For example, he went hunting with Kevin, because Kevin likes to hunt. Michelle, Roxanne and Jamie shared stories. It was a lot of fun. The grandkids and great grandkids sang “Give said the little stream”. Michelle shared a story that changed his life, it was during WW II. He was in an LDS church service. A young man bore his testimony and said that if he died in battle, he was ready to go. Dad felt the spirit strongly and he wondered if he had done things to build the kingdom. He decided then that he needed to do more to build the gospel. Michelle shared his testimony that he had written as part of his person history. It was very strong. 

Steve gave the doctrinal talk. He summarized the plan of Salvation in a simple manner. We were very proud of him. The graveside service was in McCammon. Paul, John, Steve were pall bearers, along with the other grandsons.

We went to Becky’s after the funeral. John, Paul, Addie and McKay went to Logan. The kids went swimming at Paul’s hotel. We picked up barbeque in Malad and took it to Becky’s.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Michelle and I took John to the airport. We were so thankful he came. He flew in on Tuesday night and drove to Idaho Falls with Paul. He stayed at Becky’s house on Wednesday night and then flew home today. We had an enjoyable time driving to the airport with him and had a good talk. Then we drove to Steve’s in Big Piney. Paul was there, too. We picked up fresh peaches and corn from Willard and cooked corn for dinner. We are having a wonderful grandkid “fix”.  It was especially nice to hug little Nora for the first time. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Ginger

We spent the morning in Wyoming. Paul left about 11am and Michelle and I left about 2pm. We enjoyed our stay with Steve and Ginger. They are very happy and the kids are growing fast. We are excited about their new one that will be born in March. We hope to be home for the big event.

We drove to Becky’s and stayed with her Friday night. It was good to be with her family too. We love and miss our children and grandchildren.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

We left Becky’s about 5:30am and drove to the airport. We flew to Atlanta and then to Managua, arriving about 8pm. Elder Adams, Chinchilla and Ruiz met us at the airport. All was well at our home.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

We got up at 4am and left the house at 5:30am, headed for Somoto. We wanted to attend the Branch Conference. However, when we were almost to Esteli, Elder Koelliker called and said that the branch and District Presidents had a meeting in Managua. We didn’t know if the conference would still happen, but we kept going to Somoto. We found out that they had postponed the Branch Conference. We still enjoyed the meetings. We stopped by President Alaniz’s house to visit with Sister Alaniz. Juanito was sick so she could not come to the meeting. We visited with her awhile and then left for home, stopping briefly at the Koellikers house. We got home about 7pm. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Monday, August 7 to Sunday, August 13, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

We had a lot of things to do today and we were not sure if we could get them all done… but we did. We first had our staff meeting at the Presidents House. He was preparing to host the Leon Zone for lunch at this house. He invites various zone to come to his house monthly to celebrate those who meet their goals. They play and eat. The missionaries love it and it gives them a reward for meeting their goals.
Sister Ingram (2nd from L) will be going home this week. She is a wonderful missionary, works hard and loves being here. Sister Menendez, her companion is of the same caliber of missionary. We love our missionaries.

Sister Galbraith (2nd from R) from Jackson Hole, WY is going home next week after serving faithfully for 18 months. She has served as the Lead Sister Trainer for the past several months. We have loved serving with her. She is always happy and smiling. Sister Fersola (r) will be the new Sister Trainer. 

We then went to the bank, Pricesmart, found a place to fix our tire, helped three sets of missionaries with doctor appointments, bought items at Distribution, went to dinner with the Lees and Helbergs at Pricesmart and ended up at the Mayasa Volacano at night. What a day…. The volcano is more impressive at night, than it is during the day.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today is was a day of highs and lows. We woke up to the news that Grandpa Thomas passed away at 12:40am. Jamie and Roxanne were with him as he took his last breath. They said he slipped away peacefully. He is now with Grandma, LaVoy and many other love ones and friends. When Michelle woke up this morning about 5am, her first thought was “Dad is with Mom”. She had a warm, peaceful feeling come over her as the Holy Ghost comforted her. Roxanne called about 6am with the news. Grandpa was a wonderful example of someone without guile. He loved everyone and had tremendous patience. I don’t ever remember seeing him mad, even when Grandma got after him for something. We will miss him, but know that we are an eternal family and will be together again.

We drove 4 hours to Somoto today to be at the baptism of Hermana Sadia Alaniz (President Alaniz’s wife) and Yanelis Lira, daughters of Hermana Zaida. We bought Hermana Alaniz a white dress because the Elders did not have baptismal clothes that fit her. The dress we bought her can also be used as a temple dress. The family has a goal of going to the temple in a year to be sealed. She looked beautiful and it fit perfectly.

Elder Diaz, one of the assistants, performed the baptism for Hermana Alaniz and Yanelis, the daughter of Hermana Zaida. She has been attending Church with her mother for almost 2 years and finally received a testimony. Elder Diaz served in Somoto at the beginning of his mission, taught and baptized President Alaniz, Cristin, Hermana Zaida and Catalina. He was able to come back and spend the day working with Elder Alfaro and then perform the baptism. President and Sister Poncio also participated. There were at least 25 people in attendance. The service was beautiful and the spirit was strong. Hermana Sadia and Yanelis radiated with the spirit. It was wonderful to see how happy they were. President Alaniz was very happy that his wife is now a member of the Church. We brought a cake and served refreshments afterward. It was definitely worth the trip. We drove home (back to Managua) after the service, getting back home about 11:30pm.

L to r: President Alaniz, Elder Asplund, Elder Alfaro, Sadia Alaniz, Elder Diaz, Yanelis,
Elder Gharring, Elder Garcia

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

We didn’t get much sleep as we got up at 4:00 am, in order to get a missionary to the hospital. We spent the morning there. 

We spent the afternoon in the house, preparing for zone conferences. Sister Fersola, the new sister trainer, will need to give the presentation (on back pain) in Puerto Cabeza. She will also need to give the 10 commandments of good health to the new missionaries on Tuesday, of next week (assuming we will be in Idaho for Dad’s funeral).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

We brought the recuperating missionary to our house to rest for a few days. We spent a few hours at the office and then took our Nicaragua ID, Passport and itinerary to Betty Castro. She will get our exit visa tomorrow (we got approval to go to grandpas funeral).

We got a call from a missionary in Tipitapa. We met him at the hospital and spent a few hours with him there. 

We cooked spaghetti for the boys tonight and played a round of 5 Crowns.

Friday, August 11, 2017

We had our change planning meeting this morning. Sister Bell and I actually had a change in our area. Every companionship is assigned an area. We were Maximo Jerez 3 and are now Maximo Jerez 2. We moved up because the Lees are leaving, they were Maximo Jerez 2. This is only a name change; we are still doing what we have always done.

Sister Bell instructed Sister Fersola and Hermana Poncio on how to teach the new missionaries, zone conference in Puerto Cabeza and what to do when a sick missionary calls.

We took crutches to Tipitapa and then came home.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I taught Elder Soares how to cook pancakes. They turned out pretty good. We then picked up the Lees and took them to Huembas. 

We cooked Beef Western for dinner. I bought a fresh pineapple and coconut. Salvador opened the coconut for me with his machete. The Lees came over for dinner and we played Golf (card game) with Elder Baxter and Soares.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

We went to Church at the Ruben Dario Ward that meets in the Waspan building. Elder Baxter served in this area for several months. The members were excited to see him. After Sacrament Meeting, we attended a baptism in the La Primavera Ward. Elder Simpson and Najera baptized a man (Victor). His girlfriend is a member (we think a returned missionary). It was a sweet baptism. Elder Simpson was excited to hear all the news from Somoto, where he served for several months at the beginning of his mission. He was especially excited to hear about Sadia Alaniz and Yanelis Lira getting baptized this week.

There are scorpions here, but this is the first time we saw a metal scorpion in the Church.

We went to the Helbergs for brunch with the Lees. We will miss the Lees.