Monday, March 5, 2018
We had our last office meeting at the Presidents house. Then we headed to the hospital for 4 doctors appointments for various missionaries. Hermana Joyce was at the hospital with her companion, so she was able to help get the missionaries checked in and to their appointments. Hermana Joyce will be helping sister Poncio with the health issues until the new nurse comes in April. Sister Joyce is from Australia and is a nursing student. It was good for her to do that. All got done about the same time. We took the Elders with us while the 5 sister missionaries found taxis. I felt bad driving pass them on the highway, giving the Elders a ride but not the sisters. We needed to take the Elders to our house so Sister Bell could check one of their knees. But first we stopped at Carl’s Jr and bought lunch. After the knee inspection, we took them to the bus stop and then came home.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Today, Fatima came to clean the house. We talked with her about deep cleaning our house after we leave and agreed on a price. We felt her suggested price was low and we offered to pay her more. She was pleased with that. We then went to the office. Sister Bell needed to review reimbursement requests with the financial secretary.
Our landlady came by at 4pm this afternoon to inspect the house. Everything was in order, so we should get our deposit back. She has been very kind with us. When we needed something fixed, it got done in a timely manner. We are very pleased with our experience here in our little home.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Began packing… 1 suitcase down… 3 to go. I also took the paintings off the wall, took them off their frames, rolled up the big one and put it in a tube to bring home. We took several bags to the garbage.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
We had our final interview this morning with President Poncio. He asked us how we felt about our mission and how our mission strengthen our testimony of the Savior. We told him that we loved our mission. We saw the hand of the Lord in everything we did. We felt guided and directed. We loved serving and helping lighten his load and that of Sister Poncio. We loved helping the missionaries, even taking them to the hospital, out to eat and giving them rides. We expressed our love for the people in the little groups and branches we served. We will miss them. Even though the numbers may not have increased a lot, we have helped several people go to the temple, helped organize RS, SS, Priesthood, YW, YM and Primary. We have taught temple preparation classes, teacher improvement, priesthood preparation and leadership classes. One of our greatest fears in serving a mission was being together all the time. Although we still have our moments, we have served well together. We are closer together, understand each other better, accepted each other’s faults and weaknesses, recognized each others strengths and love each other more. We have both increased in patience and tolerance.
President Poncio expressed his love and appreciation to us, for all we have done. He said we will be missed and taking care of the health of the missionaries will be much more difficult. We love President and Sister Poncio. They are truly dedicated servants. The spirit strengthens them as it has strengthened us. We read Matthew 11: 28-30 together. He told us that rest in this passage means comfort, that when we are doing the Lord’s work (his yoke…not ours), that we will have peace and comfort in the work. We found that to be true. Although we were dead tired at the end of the day, we felt good about the service we gave and had health and strength to carry on the next day (or in the middle of the night, which occurred time to time).
We went to the Peruvian Restaurant with the Helbergs and afterward, went to their house for malts. We love the Helbergs. They have been wonderful friends.
Friday, March 9, 2018
We went to the Change meeting today. There are 8 missionaries leaving (10 with us) and 10 coming, so we are opening a second area in Somotillo. They expect to make this group a branch within the next few weeks. Having 4 missionaries will help strengthen the fledgling branch. We then picked up an Elder, who is here from Puerto, and took him to the dentist. He got his filling and we took him back to his area. We then went back to the hospital to help an Elder. We eventually took them home.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
One of the blessing of serving a full-time mission is that we receive visits from General Authorities. Today, we had a joint mission meeting with Elder Quentin Cook, Elder Wong and Elder Zebellas and their wives. We were able to say good-bye to most of our missionaries. When the missionaries lined up to shake their hands, I felt a great love for our missionaries. It has been a wonderful experience to work with them. They have a lot of enthusiasm. They are a lot of fun, and yet they are dedicated and hard-working missionaries. At times they can be very frustrating, but we have to remember that they are still “kids”. It has been rewarding to see them grow and mature. We feel good that we have had a little to do with their growth. They were gracious and said they would miss us and appreciate our service.
Elder Zebellas had us turn to D&C 50:13 & 14. He stressed that our mission is to teach HIS gospel, not ours and to bring the spirit into the learning process. Obedience is essential to bring the spirit into the teaching.
Sister Gong talked about a Navajo Indian who came to live with their family for two years. She said that she had a hard life and didn’t always live the gospel like she knew she could. However, recently, her “sister” repented and went to the temple. She got to go through the SLC temple with her and felt the love she had for the Savior. She said that repentance is an act of love for it changes people’s lives and bring joy into their lives.
Elder Gong taught the importance of being good friends with your companions. When you have unity you can teach with authority. He encouraged the missionaries to continue to do the good things they have been doing during their missions. He used the example of the Sons of Mosiah (Alma 17:2-3) and how they became powerful men by searching the scriptures, fasting and praying so that they had the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of revelation and taught with power and authority of God. He said that sometimes we have to “change things up”, using Alma example (see Alma 8: 14, 18, 4)
Sister Cook got us to stand up and sing “La luz de la Verdad”, with part of us singing another melody as back-up. It was fun. She was very enthusiastic and fun. She referred to the missionaries like the fans in the church buildings. She said that some of the fan run very fast and occasionally some as mostly dead. She encouraged us to be like the fast fans and not like the mostly dead. She read Alma 7:23, which talks about the characteristics of fast fans. She knew no one is perfect but we ought to keep working on perfection and that we can be perfect in somethings.
Elder Cook told us that the people in Central America as more open to spiritual things than in other areas of the world. He assured us that our calls come from God. He said that on a rare occasion when he makes a missionary assignment that is not in keeping with the Lord’s will, the spirit will not let him move to the next name until they change the call. He related an experience with a Tongan family, whose son was assigned to the Washington DC North Mission. His mother had a dream about a week before he got his call that showed her son in DC teaching. His father had another dream where he saw his son’s mission president and knew he was Japanese and therefore thought he was going to Japan. When the son opened his letter, he read that he was assigned to Washington DC and his Mission President was Japanese.
He told not to underestimate the spiritual side of our callings. This is spiritual work. He also encouraged us not to skip commitments. He said that if we skip steps, the converts won’t have sufficient strength of testimony to continue in the church. They need to sincerely repent, develop habit of prayer and daily scripture study, commit to live the word of wisdom and pay tithing. He referred us to page 221 in Preach my Gospel that talks about this concept. “It is not enough for people to simply come into the Church. They must come to stay. All your teaching and invitations must be directed toward this end. In order to receive all the blessings that our Heavenly father has in store for them, members must continue to live the gospel and be active in the Church.” This is a major problem in Nicaragua. We baptize almost 2000 people a year, but the average Sacrament Meeting attendance is almost static. This means that people are leaving almost as fast as they are coming into the church.
He gave us an Apostolic Blessing that our mission will bless us and our families. We will have an understanding that what we are doing here is so important to the Lord that this mission will bless everyone we love. We are loved and appreciated by the Lord. He testified that he knows the voice and the face of the Savior.
After the meeting, we went to Ole Verde with the Helbergs for lunch. We love them and will miss them. They have been a blessing to us here in Nicaragua. They have been fun to travel with and have become dear friends.
We then went home, packed and headed for Esteli… our last night at the Hex.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
We had a wonderful day. It was our last trip up north. We attended Church in Somoto. I gave President Alaniz my Spanish Scriptures and Sister Bell Hermana Alaniz her cactus. There was a good turnout, about 30. Hermana Zaida came as well as Hermana Alaniz. Sister Bell and I both talked. I talked about the 10 virgins and how we can fill our lamps. Sister Bell talked about the things she learned from the Saints in Somoto. It was basically the same talks we gave last week in Pueblo Nuevo. We gave them the picture of the temple. President Alaniz ended with giving us a wonderful thank-you for all we have done for him, his family and the branch. It was very kind of him.
Sister Bell went into Primary and helped with the music. We had a wonderful time. Azaria taught a lesson before the music. She is a wonderful young women with great capacity.
Hermana Celia gave us acouple of presents, a water gourd and a painted plate. After we left Somoto with great heaviness of heart knowing that we would probably never see them again, we drove to Esteli. We picked up Sister Aleman (she is going home too) and made a quick stop at the Acevedos. We then made our way to Trinidad. We stopped at the Cruz’s house and met Nicolas, the baby of Marcos and Carlyes. Sister Bell got a grandbaby fix.
We had cake and they gave us some gifts, mostly wall hangings. We love the people of Nicaragua (not because they have us gifts, but because they are so loving and kind).
President Alaniz and President Cruz spent 4 hours with Elder Cook yesterday afternoon. They were both very uplifted, learned a lot and were inspired to keep moving forward.