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. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Monday, September 18 to Sunday, September 24, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

We started the day at our weekly planning meeting. After lunch (Tip Top), Sister Bell gave Joycelyn a piano lesson, then we headed to the hospital. One of our Elders had a doctors appointment. After the appointment, we them to the Galleria Food Court for dinner with the Elders of course. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

We bought 7 boxes of donuts and took them to the Villa Flor and Bello Horizante zone meetings. Sister Bell needed to check on several missionaries.

We then went to Pricesmart and then spent the afternoon at home. Sister Bell had wash on the line drying.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Two things happened today that are noteworthy. Sister Bell and I ran some errands. We went to the bank, the store, the distribution center and a pharmacy. As I was leaving the store, a t-shirt caught my eye. It was worn by a man getting into an old beat-up car. Many of the Nicas wear used USA clothes. Most don’t know what the T-shirt says, since the writing is always in English. It is fun to translate their shirts for them. Today, the t-shirt that caught my eye said, “Jerry Taylor, re-elect as mayor”. I know a Jerry Taylor that was the mayor of Escalante, Utah. I worked with him on several occasions trying to bring wood businesses into Escalante. So I spoke to the man and asked to see the other side of his shirt. The other side said “Escalante”. What are the odds of seeing one of Jerry’s re-election shirts in Managua. I explained to the man about the shirt and that I knew Jerry. He thought that was fun and waved to me when I saw him later.

When we went to the distribution center, I found a manual for the “strengthening Marriage” class. I thought it was the SS class but it turned out that it was the Family Services class, that many of the Stakes are teaching from. I was excited thinking that this would be a better class to teach in Trinidad. I spent the afternoon studying the lesson, but I just couldn’t get into it. I felt more and more uncomfortable with the lesson plan. I decided to pray about it and afterward, I began reading the SS class. I felt peaceful and calm. It seemed to fit my abilities and what the family needs. So I will continue with the SS lesson material, at least for now.

I have had a sore throat for the past couple of days and Sister Bell started me on an antibiotic today, so hopefully I will start feeling better soon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

We spent the day with Elder and Sister Curtis. Elder Curtis is the area doctor from Guatemala. We picked them up at the airport at about 8:30am. We spent a little time at the office so they could update us on a few items and provide some additional medical material. We then checked them into their hotel and went to lunch at the little buffet next to the Hospital. We walked them around the hospital and they got to meet Doctora Abdalha, who was working in the ER. We then went to the Masaya Volcano and Catalina. We enjoyed being with them and appreciate the assistance they give us.

Friday, September 22, 2017

We had our change meeting this morning. We have a few new areas and apartments to get situated. I will also need to make sure that the trainers have DVD for the 10 new missionaries coming to the mission.

On our way home, we stopped at the Grand Mall and bought a new white shirt for a young man getting baptized tomorrow in Trinidad. We also went to Pricesmart to pick up a few things for the Koellikers.

We went out to eat with the Curtis and the Whittiers. We took them to the Peruvian Restaurant. The Whittiers are the humanitarian missionaries that covers all of Central America. They have a couple of projects in Nicaragua. One is teaching, with partners, baby and mother care. A doctor from Logan has been coming down for several years to teach doctors how to properly care for babies and mothers. The church also has helped a facility in Jinotega that serve disabled people. They have provided wheel chairs, walkers and upgraded their kitchen. We are impressed with how the Church is helping in so many ways.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sister Bell had two piano students in Trinidad today, Maria Clara and Darisa. We got a quick bite at Burger King in Esteli and then drove to Somoto. We had a branch council training. Everyone was a little early, other than Cristin, so we took advantage of the time and reviewed the RS roster in preparation of setting up VT routes for west side of the city. We already have VT organized on the East side. Hermana Zaida and her 3 daughters are about the only active sisters and there are 13 households that need visiting. We gave this information to Hermana Natalia. She will begin putting together a tentative plan for us to review in two weeks.

When Cristin arrived, We worked on developing a list of members who are undernourished, pregnant or breast feeding. Apparently, the District has a program to provide some supplemental nutrition to these members at risk. 

We then drove to Pueblo Nuevo to teach a teacher improvement class. Hermanas Nubia, Aryles and Maybelline came along with the missionaries. We taught about the importance of teaching true doctrine, using the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. It was pouring rain. There were acouple of leaks in the roof so the Elders had put out a couple of buckets to catch the water. The house has a tin roof so we had to almost shout over the noise of the rain. All in all, we felt really good about the meeting.

We spent the night in Esteli with the Koellikers. I am feeling a little better.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We decided to attend Church in Trinidad. We had scheduled a temple prep class and a family relations class with members there. It rained most of the night. The church is on a dirt (today it was a mud road). When it rains, very few people come, so the numbers were pretty small. However, we enjoyed being with the members and enjoyed the lessons. We cancelled the temple prep class because 2 of the three members we at home with a sick child. We will reschedule for the week after General Conference. We still had the family relations class. We held that at the church after the meetings was done. We taught about the potential of eternal marriage, being equal, being loyal and becoming one. There was a sweet spirit there. 

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.