Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday, December 4 to Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017
Happy Birthday Dutch

We had our office meeting at the President’s House. They had invited Hermana Hernandez and Hermana Orellana for lunch to celebrate the fact that they baptized every week in November. That is a wonderful accomplishment.

We went by the bank, grabbed a bit to eat at home, paid our rent and then took Sister Fersola and her companions (Perez and Lopez) to the hospital for Sister Fersolas appointment. This time we dropped them off at the front door and went home.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I took the truck in for service and took a taxi home. It was a wild ride. The driver did everything I have complained about taxis. He cut in front of people, honked, honked and honked, he went around waiting cars (even driving in the other lane), and cut traffic off in the on coming lane. It was as good as Mr Toad’s wild ride at Disneyland. Fortunately, I got home with my life still intact. The ride back in the afternoon was much better. While I was waiting for my truck to be ready, a man sat next to me and asked if anyone was welcome to come to our Church. I assured him, it was and asked if he was interested in learning more. He was so I got his information. He lives in the south mission, so I gave the reference to Elder and Sister Helberg.

We went downtown with the Helbergs to see the Mary Alter displays. They were large, bright and the music was loud. It reminded us of Mainstreet at Disneyland. We walked several blocks, turned around and walked back. You would think that with a religious theme, we could feel a little spirit, but we felt none. It was obvious that many people love Mary, we think more than they love the Savior. I suspect Mary is very sad to see so many people worshipping her and not her son. Mickey and Minnie were there as well as several Santa Clauses.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Today was errand day. We started at Villa Flor. I needed to visit with President Poncio about a young man in Ocotal that had submitted his missionary application. I had some questions about his dental work. Before I visited with the President, Sister Bell reviewed the forms and answered my questions. She truly is a helpmeet. We then spent several hours at the office, then to the hospital to check on a missionary who had a dental visit. Then home for the evening.

Thursday, December 7, 2017
Today we went to Leon and Las PiƱatas with the Helbergs. Our primary reason for going was to see baby turtles released to the sea. We first went to an Art Museum in Leon. It is one of the largest art museums in Central America. It was housed in an old Spanish home that was built in the 1600s. It was beautiful and large. It went on and on. There were 5 or 6 patios with rooms around each patio. They had paintings from the 1600s and even had a few Picazzos. Ray and I walked through pretty fast, but Michelle and Ana took their time and loved every minute of it.

We had lunch at a local restaurant, after walking around the Cathedral. We wanted to go inside and up into the bell tower, but today was Las Purisma (Celebration of Mary) so it was closed in preparation of the evening festivities. We did get to look into one of the small side chapels.

 We then went to Las Pinetas where we took a tour up a river and then helped release baby turtles. It was beautiful. The river vegetation was mangrove trees, 3 different species. We saw many birds. It was a pleasant trip. Wilbert was one of the guides. We don’t remember the name of the second guide but both were very knowledgeable of the environment.

At 5pm, we went to the beach where they have a turtle nursery. About 40 Olive Ridley turtles had hatched that morning. We helped release them into the sea. We had carried one turtle with us that Wilbert had. We named him Teddy. We released him as well. We waited until dusk so that the babies were not as visible to predators, such as birds. We loved watching and encouraging the babies into the sea. We stayed until the very last made it into the water.

Teddy in Michelle’s hands

The Purisma was in full swing when we drove through Leon on our way home. Families create an alter to Mary in their front parlor. People will come in and apparently the family will give the guests candy or food. There were all sorts of people in the streets. It was difficult to drive past them at times, we had to drive very slow and carefully, especially because the teenagers tended to run from house to house, not caring about cars in the street. But we got by without killing or injuring anyone.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I picked up 2 fans and a metal closet at the sister leaders house early this morning. After breakfast, we took the fans to Villa Flor. I fixed one of their fans and left a new one. We then spent several hours at the office before going home for lunch. Then we made a quick trip to Walmart to get two memory foam contour pillows for missionaries with neck pain. 

We talked to President Rivera, Esteli District President, today. Only 22 people went to the temple this week. We had hoped they would fill the bus with 40 people. Our kids paid for the bus, so it was an inexpensive trip. There were 40 signed up to go when it was scheduled to leave on Monday. But because of the political unrest in Honduras, the temple closed a few days and our trip was postponed. They finally left on Thursday, but several were not able to change their schedules to go. None from Trinidad went. We had worked hard to get Hermana Dania and Wendy ready to go. Maybelline from Pueblo Nuevo didn’t go either, but Nubia, Dania, Jose and President Alaniz went. We are anxious to hear about their trip.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

We started early. We passed by Las Americas to give a missionary a pillow. We then headed to Trinidad, but when we got there, Maria Clara was sick and Yasser was working so we didn’t stay very long in Trinidad. In Esteli, we dropped off a closet to the sisters in El Rosario, ate lunch, went to a pharmacy to buy anti-bacterial soap and made a reservation at the Hex for this next week. We then went to Somoto and visited with Hermana Celia about her glasses and reviewed with her the teaching schedule for Relief Society.

We stopped briefly at the Church to talk with the missionaries, then back to Esteli. We ate dinner at Pizza Hut (the deep dish supreme Pizza was wonderful) and were at the Koellikers house at 8pm.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

We made a quick trip to Ocotal to get some information from a prospective missionary and drop packages off to some of the missionaries. Then we went to Somoto. President Alaniz gave us an update of the temple trip. He was really happy and excited about the trip. We were happy listening to him, not because we could understand all he said, but because he was so animated as he told the story of the trip. All went well. They did have a little problem at the border getting into Honduras. For some reason, three people on the bus needed to pay $100 each to enter the Country. Something about not having their names in the system. They gathered what they could from the members on the bus, which totaled $200. President Alaniz had donated $20 of the money we had given him for the trip. This was still $100 short of what they needed. As they were trying to figure out what to do, another customs agent came along. He wanted to know what was going on. When it was explained to him that this was a temple trip, he identified himself as a member, took $100 out of his pocket and paid the rest of the bill. A tiny tender mercy. Jose did fine. President Alaniz took good care of him.

I talked in Church. Elder Davidson had asked me on Thursday night to talk. Friday morning early (about 2AM) I awoke and the spirit told me what to talk about. I got up, wrote the ideas down and went back to bed. The following morning, I added a few scriptures to the ideas. I first explained why we don’t worship Mary (the country just celebrated “La Purisma”, which is a celebration of Mary), then transitioned to Charity (the pure love of Christ). Then I discussed ways that we can show our love to the Savior, such as Keep the commandments, serve others, magnify callings, serve as HT and VT and be forgiving. I had Elder Martinez read the scriptures for me. I felt good about the talk.  Michelle practiced with the primary children for their program on Christmas Eve and for fun, they learned once there was a snowman.  They had a hard time understanding snow and cold because it just doesn't happen here.

I helped Hermana Natalia finalize the VT routes and then we left for Trinidad. We went to Karen’s house to teach her the 5th temple preparation class. When we arrived, she was setting a table. She had cooked lunch for us and her family. We met her 19-year-old son (the other two sons we already knew). He doesn’t come to church and wasn’t baptized with the rest of the family. We talked about basketball and baseball. He loves the Dodgers and the Cavs. He stayed for the lesson and participated. Karen is planning on going to the temple in January.

We then went to Yasser and Marilyn’s house and taught another family relations lesson. 

We got home about 8pm.  We are especially thankful for the opportunities we had to teach this weekend and for the safety we had in our travels.  Missionary life is good here in Nicaragua.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Monday, November 17 to Sunday, December 3, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

We had four missionaries go to the hospital for doctors appointments today. We first went to the office so we could attend our weekly staff meeting, but the President was late coming back from Puerto Cabeza so it hadn’t started when I had to leave to go to the hospital. Sister Bell stayed for the meeting as President Poncio wanted to talk with her about several missionary’s health. I  helped three of the four missionaries with various things, including buying 4 of them lunch at Burger King. I then hurried back to the office to pick up Sister Bell and another missionary and drove back to the hospital for another appointment. Monday's are really busy days, mostly because we try to have the doctors appointments that day because it is preparation day. 

We went home and spent the evening there. Sister Bell had a lot of appointments to make, charting to do and request for insurance payment letters. She had a really busy week this past week, having helped 17 missionaries. This is the most she has dealt with in a long time. On top of that she was not feeling well. Fortunately, she is feeling better.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Today was wash, shop and clean the house day. Fortunately, Fatima came today to clean the house so we only had to do the laundry and shop. We stayed at home this morning, working on a newsletter about how to better manage weight on the mission. Sister Bell made doctors appointments, requested payment guarantee letters and charted. She also did the laundry this morning and the clothes were dry about 11:30am. We eat lunch and then left so that Fatima could have the house to herself.

We first stopped at the bank. I got $1000 US dollars out of our account. The kids (Kim, Paul and John) had donated $650, which will pay for the temple bus next week to Honduras from Esteli. We will pay the bus driver on Saturday. The rest of the money will go toward Christmas presents for some of the people we work with. We then went to Pricesmart, then we stopped at a Libreria (bookstore). We purchased $72.00 worth of school supplies for Azaria Perez in Somoto to use as she works with abused girls. We hope to deliver these supplies on Saturday (one of our lasting memory Christmas Presents). We then stopped at the store for groceries and then back home to a clean house.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We went the Sisters house in Bello Horizante to get their surplus furniture. There used to be three sisters, now there are two. So we picked up a frig, a bed and a fan. We then went by La Primavera and picked up two cocinas. Then to Los Laureles to drop off the frig. Their light bill was really high. Sometimes the frig is the cause of this. If the motor doesn’t shut off when it gets to the right temperature, it can keep running, making the electric bill go sky high. We also took an old bed frame that was not being used. We made a quick stop at the office to pick up some letters for the south mission. Then we went to the Sister leaders house in Ducuali to drop off the extra bed frames. Then we went to the store and then home. Sister Bell treated me to a Carl’s Jr. Hamburger at the new restaurant at the Galeria mall. It was excellent. She had an oreo shake, which she shared with me.
At home, I put together a furniture order for next year and made some phone calls, trying to firm up this week-ends travels. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

We got a late-night call last night from Hermanas in Leon. Their frig gave up the ghost. So we made a trip to Leon today to take them another frig. We needed to go by the Sister Leaders to pick up a used frig and then we headed to Leon. We got there about 11am. We dropped it off and then headed home. We went straight home so Sister Bell could take the wash off the line (sheets). I then took our passports to Betty’s house, so she could renew our cedulas. I made a quick stop at Walmart to pick up some colored pencils for another Sister (there are special pencils), then I took the bad frig to Jonathan's house so he could have it checked and repaired if need be.

Sister Bell stayed home to start dinner. We are hosting the senior missionary dinner tonight with the Helbergs. She is cooking chicken noodle soup. It smelled really good when I walked in the door.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Our light of the world project was to take a pile of wood that Salvador had cut up in the neighborhood to his girlfriend’s house in Las Colinas. He was very appreciative of our service.

I then got an haircut, and then made a trip to distribution and to the office. We got a call from an Elder in Cuidadela. He had been sick for several days and Sister Bell was concerned that he was dehydrated. We got permission and took him to the hospital. We went and got them as it is difficult to get to the hospital from where they live. We then went home to have dinner while they worked on him at the hospital.  He was diagnosed with a virus. They gave him fluid, some pain medicines, took some blood and sent them home. I returned to the hospital about 10:00 and took them back to Cuidadela, getting home about midnight. Sister Bell, who stayed home, was sound asleep when I got back home. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Today was graduation throughout the country. We saw a lot of youth dressed up in pretty dresses and mothers dressed up too. We had to wait for 10 minutes in Ocotal for a long line of graduates and mothers walk in front of us going to where they are going to have their graduation ceremonies.

We delivered our second light of the world service project. We brought Azaria in Somoto school supplies. She helps about 20 abused young girls with their school work and life skills. They needed a lot of school supplies, so we bought them a box full of school supplies and a large whiteboard. This brought tears to Azaria’s eyes.

We also delivered a mattress, cocina and packages/letters in Ocotal. Then we spent several hours in Somoto working with President Alaniz and the missionaries. We counted tithing, reviewed temple recommends, and talked a whole lot of issues. We made a quick pass by the house of Hermana Natalia and Hermana Celia, the RS Presidency, then back to Esteli for the night. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Our gift today was to Jose de la Cruz in Pueblo Nuevo. He is 85 years old and tomorrow is his 1 year anniversary of his baptism. He is preparing to go to the temple this next week. Our gift to him was garments, temple clothes, the cost of going to the temple and we took him to and from Esteli for his final interview with President Roger Perez, 1st Counselor in the Mission Presidency.

We love serving the one….

The yellow trumpet flowers are in full bloom in the mountains. They were everywhere along the Panamerican highway.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Monday, November 20 to Sunday, November 26, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

We had a full day planned out. Our day was still full but it didn’t happen as we had planned… but that is OK. It is good to be flexible. Our office meeting was delayed, but we needed to go to the hospital to be with one of our missionaries. So we spent an hour at the office and then had to leave before the office meeting began. When we arrived at the hospital, one of our Elders was just getting done with his doctors appointment so Sister Bell got him off in a taxi. We then helped the Sister missionary get some lab work and xrays done. We then took them home for lunch and then to the distribution center before returning to the hospital to pick up the test results and visit again with the doctor.

We had to wait for more than an hour to visit again with the Doctor. I stayed with the sisters while Sister Bell was with another missionary and his companion who had a doctor appointment. We all got done alittle after 5pm. They all needed to go across town to the Israel Bus station. We were very concerned because the last bus to Leon and Chinandega left about 6:30. The traffic across town was terrible. It took us almost 1.5 hours to get to the bus stop. They literally jumped on the bus while it was leaving the station. We then shopped at Walmart and then stopped at La Colonia on our way home. We got home about 8:30. We eat cold cereal and listened to the face to face broadcast with Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - Happy Birthday John

We ran a few errands this morning; hospital to pick up lab results for one of our missionaries that had lab tests done yesterday and made a doctors appointment for another missionary for next week. We then went to Pricesmart for Thanksgiving pies and a Liberia to check prices for school items for Hermana Azaria in Somoto. Then home for lunch and to take off the laundry off the line (Sister Bell washed the sheets and a few other items this morning). I then made a run to the office to get a few things while Sister Bell stayed home and took a nap (she is coming down with my cold that I had last week…. Sorry Michelle).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

David went with me to the electric company computer service store to make a request to have our connection check. This month’s bill was $60 dollars more than our normal bill. We would like it checked. They will come out and check the meter and give us an answer in about 5 days.
We then renewed our Cedula. We had to go to a local police station to get a record from the police, that Betty will take to immigration. We then went to multicentral to get passport pictures. Elder Howell went with us and helped us get to the right place and ask for the right papers.
We stopped at Walmart to get a contour pillow for a sister missionary with neck problems. Then we went home, had lunch and I worked on next weeks newsletter… how to manage weight in the mission. Many of our missionaries are gaining weight. So we are suggesting they reduce their eating portions, stay away from sugar (soda pop, candy, etc.), reduce fried foods, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink plenty, eat a balanced diet and regular meals.

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - Happy Thanksgiving. 

We hosted a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, happy jello, stuffing, rolls, corn and pie. We invited the office missionaries, the assistants (only Elder Diaz was here), the Bello Horizante zone leaders and David, our guard.

L to R: Elders Hughes, Diaz, David, Martinez, Ruiz, Bennion, Howell, Sister Bell

Elders Howell and Diaz came over a little early as they needed to get the truck serviced. So they dropped it off at Casa Pellas and then came to our house. So we put them to work.

Everyone got really full

We had three types of pie: apple, pumpkin and cheesecake… all from Pricesmart.

Friday, November 24, 2017

We returned to San Juan del Sur with the Helbergs today. We stayed at the HC Liri Hotel, the same place we stayed last time. Tonight, we had an upstairs room. The bed was not as good, but the room was a little better. The upstairs balcony was very relaxing.

We eat a late lunch at the Restaurant. Michelle had steak and lobster and I had a tenderloin steak with an onion and jalapeno sauce. Both dishes were excellent, but they should have been for $44.00.

The sunset was beautiful.

Mauricio, our guide picked us up at 6:45pm and we left for the beach La Flor. We wanted to see the sea turtles lay their eggs. We found about 20 Olive Ridley turtles on the beach. They would come out of the sea, and crawl up the beach using their flippers until they found a nice sandy spot. They would then dig a hole about 18” deep with their hind flippers. They would then drop eggs into the nest. Michelle counted 94 eggs from one turtle before the mama scooped sand back over the eggs with her hind flippers. She packed the sand down with her flippers and body, then she made her way back to the sea. This took about an hour. It was amazing to see. The eggs were like a ping pong ball. The army guards the beach from egg poachers. It was very hard to take pictures because we had to put red cellophane over our flashlights so as not to disturb the turtles.

An egg nest under the turtle. The turtle was still dropping eggs into the nest.

Mauricio told us that they have seen the males waiting for the females to return to the sea after making their egg nest. However, we were also told that the female could be fertilized by several males so the babies in a litter could have different fathers, so I am not sure which father would be waiting in the ocean. I guess we will never know.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

We wanted to see the release of some of the babies. Some of the nests are gathered and put into a incubator. We had visions of lights, heat and sanitary facilities, but we saw a hatching facility. It was bags of sand with eggs in them sitting on a porch. So much for high tech hatching facilities.

Mauricio checked around the area to find an area that would be releasing baby turtles today, but none were so we headed home. We dropped the Helbergs off and spent the afternoon at home. Sister Bell had a cold, and she is enjoying a relaxing afternoon.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Michelle is still sick and decided to stay home today and rest. So I went to Church in the La Fuente Ward. The primary put on their Primary Program. There were 14 children in the primary. One of the older boys conducted. They sang, gave short talks and recited all of the articles of faith.

 I visited with Elders Chen and Spears and with Hermanas Swanson and Elquist. The sisters are in the La Catorce Ward, which meets in the same chapel. We rested in the house for the rest of the day… well that is our intent. Hopefully, we will not have an emergency that requires us to leave. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Monday, November 13 to Sunday, November 19, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

We started by picking up a table at the Sister Leaders home. We then took Sister Fersola with us to the office for our meeting. We left right after the meeting, so we could be with an Elder when he saw his doctor. 
We took the Elders to Pricesmart for lunch, then we dropped them off at the galleria, so they could find a taxi back to the area. We did our weekly shopping, then we went to the distribution center and then home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
We had the new missionary training meeting at Waspan. We have 20 new missionaries who are still in training (2 changes) with their companions. Some have been here for a week, others for 7 weeks. As Sister Bell goes to the pulpit, I ask how many glasses of water they should drink a day (8), when they are sick, taking medicine or a really hot day (16), what types of drinks they should drink and what they should not drink. This time I also asked if anyone knew what yesterdays health message was. Only 2-3 knew, which means that most don’t read it. I rewarded the three with candy bars. Sister Bell talked alittle about chiggers because several sisters have been bothered with them. She then did her “umbrella of comfort” where she walks around and has the missionaries take out items from her purse and talk about what it is and how it can make living in Nicaragua alittle more bearable. I provide a little bit of color. We then sang 8 vasas al dia. It is always better when we have a larger group of singers, than just one or two.

We sat up tables and chairs for lunch (Pollo Estella Chicken) and then took them down and cleaned up. The Cultural Hall was much cleaner after we were done than before we started. Elder Howell and Bennion helped with the set up, but Sister Bell and I did all of the take down and clean up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

We left home at 6am this morning, headed for Chinandega for a multi zone conference. I quizzed them about water and asked who knew the topic for the last newsletter we sent out. Only three missionaries knew. I treated them with candy bars. Hopefully, that will motivate the rest of the missionaries to read what we send them. It is frustrating to prepare and send out these newsletters and not have them read.

We left about 11am and headed for Ocotol. It is a 4 hour drive, so we left the conference alittle early. Normally we like to stay through lunch so if any of the missionaries want to visit with Sister Bell, they can. But I asked how many wanted to visit with her and only a few raised their hands, so they talked with her at break.

We took a bed frame to the sisters house in Ocotal. Their bedframe was all broken up. We find that a lot, especially in Elders homes. They tend to wrestle or fall hard on their beds, which breaks or bends the metal cross braces.

Hermanas Noyola y Tejeda with Sister Bell
We then dropped a few boxes of supplies with the Zone leaders and then headed for Esteli. We are staying the night at the HEX. We drove about 9 hours today…. We are tired and ready for bed.

Elders Garcia y McCord with Elder Bell

The sunset was beautiful as we were leaving Ocotal.

Thursday, November 16, 2017
It was nice to sleep in and not have to drive 3 hours to Esteli from home. We got up, walked, had breakfast and got to the church about 8:30. Our presentation went well. However, when I asked if anyone knew what our message was for this week, nobody raised their hands. Apparently no one reads our health messages.

We took Sister Poncio to pay for the Subway sandwiches, which we ordered last night. Then we went back at noon to pick it up. We ordered 51 sandwiches, 51 chips, 51 sodas, 7 salads and 7 waters. They were supposed to have it done by noon, but they didn’t finish getting it ready until 12:40. They need to started a little sooner next time.

This afternoon, President Poncio showed a video about the “Light of the World” Christmas Campaign. He invited the missionaries to participate and present this presentation to members and investigators. The missionaries are to encourage them to do a daily service from December 1 to Christmas.

We took Elder Spears back to Managua. He is going to La Fuente in an emergency transfer. We had not dealt much with Elder Spears and enjoyed getting to know him better. He has been involved in a couple of emergency transfers, which tells me he is the type of missionary that can fill gaps. I told him he is like a Major League baseball relief pitcher; one that comes in during the game to keep control of the game. He may not have the glamour of a starting pitcher (AP, ZL) but his role is just as important. The President must have a lot of confidence in him, knowing he can pick up and move, fill a hole and do it well. We picked up Elder Chen, his new companion, at the office and took them home. We got home about 8:30pm, tired and ready for bed.

Friday, November 17, 2017
We have the final multizone conference today in Managua. We did our usual presentation, helped set up and clean up lunch, talk to sick missionaries and distribute packages and mail. We then took Sisters Flores and Johnson to their house to fix a few things. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sister Bell taught Maria Clara a piano lesson in Trinidad. We then went to Esteli and picked up Sister Magdalena Perez, the District Relief Society President, and took her to Somoto with us. When we got to Somoto, we went by Hermana Natalia’s house to see how they are doing with the preparations for the RS meeting tonight. They were busy cooking. We then went to visit Hermana Zaida, who spent three months in Costa Rica with her son. We went by a few weeks ago, but she was not home. It was good to see her. We then went to the house of Hermana Gloria. We received from the Whittiers, the Humanitarian missionaries in Guatemala, a wheel chair. Hermana Gloria is disabled and needs crutches to walk. President Alaniz, Hermana Perez (district relief society president) and the missionaries helped us give her the wheel chair.

We then picked up Hermana Natalia and the food and went to the Church. After dropping them off, Elder Davidson and I picked up Hermana Zaida and Yanelys. He loved being in a car with air conditioning.


The Relief Society activity went well. Sister Perez taught about the Relief Society and visiting teaching. Then ate a lovely meal that Hermanas Natalia and Celia had prepared. The missionaries ate all the left overs. During the meeting, I worked with President Alaniz and Elder Davidson on financial issues. We stopped to get smoothies in Condega on our way back to Esteli, dropped Sister Perez at her home and got to Koellikers about 9:40pm.

Sister Perez showed us that she could still carry things on her head.

Sunday, November 19, 2017
We went to church in Trinidad. Sister Bell played the piano and I gave a talk about Tithing. I asked Maria Clara to come up with me. She read the scriptures and stories and helped me occasionally with words I didn’t know or couldn’t pronounce. She also played prelude (only with the right hand).

We were able to talk with Jasser and Marilyn and schedule another family relations lesson when we come up in two weeks. We also talked to Karen and confirmed that she still wants to go to the temple in January. So we will also continue with the temple classes when we come back up.

Karen paid Sister Bell a wonderful complement today. She told us that the first time we met her, Sister Bell gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek and treated her like old friends. She really felt love from Sister Bell. It really made a big impression on her and helped her gain a testimony of the Gospel and the Church.

We got home at 3pm, looking forward to a relaxing Sunday afternoon/evening at home. However, when Sister Bell looked in her bag for her computer, she found that it wasn’t there. We had left it in Esteli. So we jumped back in the car and headed north. We expected another 6 hours of travel, but the Koellikers offered to meet us in Dario, so our 6 hour bonus travel ended up only being 4 hours. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday, November 6 to Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

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

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

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

President with the new missionaries
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

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

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

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monday, October 30 to November 5, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

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

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - Happy Halloween

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

More errands.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

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

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

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

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