Monday, April 25, 2016
Monday is planning day at the Mission Office. President Collado started the planning meeting at 9am. Michelle and I, Elder and Sister Lee, Assistants, the financial clerk, the records secretary, Sister Perez (the temporary nurse) and her companion were all involved. President Collado started by showing excerpts from a training from various members of the twelve to the rest of the general authorities from 2015. Most of the rest of the meeting dealt with preparing for the next transfers which will occur in about two weeks. I didn’t realize all that had to be coordinated prior to sending missionaries home and transferring them to various place around the mission. President Collado had this outlined in a spreadsheet with specific assignments and time frames. He is very organized and can run a meeting.
Michelle and I met with Gabriel Barcenes, who is the regional coordinator for the Seminaries and Institute program in Nicaragua. He told us about the various seminary and institute classes being taught within the Esteli Branch. This is where President Collado would like us to focus our attention. There are various classes, but like in the States, many of the youth are not going or are not registered. Our assignment is to help get more youth attending seminary and Institute and to be registered. I keep thinking about visiting these sites, but we do have limited overnight budget so we will need to go and come in the same day.
We (MP, Lees and us) then meet with Jonathan Estrada who is the purchasing agent for the facilities management group. This meeting didn’t start until after 6pm and ended lose to 9pm. I was impressed with his understanding of technology. We talked cell phones, vehicles, missionary supplies, tires, our housing needs and many other topics. President Collado kept us on task. The church will purchase a lot of items we will need to furnish and stock our new house (we call it our bungalow). But we will also need to purchase a lot of items the Church will not buy. We got back to our hotel late, having picked up some burgers from Burger King. We again relied on the Lees for our transportation. Michelle will get her mission cell phone tomorrow. I will get one sometime but don’t know when. I think I will beable to have internet on my phone as well (Michelle’s will have internet). We don’t know when we will get a car; it could be two weeks or two months. In the meantime, we will need to be hauled around or borrow a car. We are also waiting for keys to the office.
There is so much going on. We are trying to understand our responsibilities, get settled into a house and find our niches. We feel alittle over whelmed so far but know that things will begin to fall into place as time goes by.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Today, we signed the papers for our house tonight. It is a small two-bedroom apartment in a closed compound with 3 other houses in the compound. The compound has a tall block fence around it, a big gate and a full time guard at the gate. Two single ladies live in two of the small houses and two are currently vacant. They are clean and everything seems to be working. We are in house number two, which is yellow. There is a little living room, two bedrooms, a maid’s quarters, three bathrooms, a small patio with grass, a kitchen and a
We attended briefly a zone and sister leaders training. We arrived with the Lees just before lunch. President Collado invited us to introduce ourselves. Michelle and I went up together. I expressed how happy we were about being there (all was in Spanish) and told alittle about ourselves. I asked is an Elder Spence was there (he is a district leader, not a zone leader so he wasn’t there) so I invited his zone leader to come up. I gave him a hug to give to Elder Spence and told him it was from his mother (we brought a small care package from his mother with us from SLC). I then asked if Elder Clark was there (he too is a district leader not a zone leader so he wasn’t there) so I asked his zone leader to come up. I gave him a hug and told him to tell Elder Clark thank-you for doing a blog about his mission which helped us understand what the mission was like. Both these hugs got a welcome reaction from the group. Michelle then told them about our children (In Spanish) and she bore her testimony. I gave her a kiss, which got a welcome reaction from the missionaries. I then expressed my love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior, bore my testimony and encouraged them to make the most of their mission. I believe our introduction was well received, at least I felt very good about it. It was fun and our testimonies were spiritual.
In the afternoon, the Lees and us decided to go shopping, at least go look at things for our home. We were told to go to the Metrocentro (which is a mall on the north end of town) where they have a store where we can buy furniture. We had just gotten there (through terrible traffic), when we were called on the Lees cell phone told the mission president needed us back at the office in order to sign our lease contract with the owner. We had about 10 minutes to get back to the office. We were sure we wouldn’t make it because it took us almost an hour to get to the mall because of the traffic. So we headed back, going a little different way. We made it back by the time the mission President wanted us there…. A little tender mercy. It was fortunate because the owner came before the Mission President got there. If we had not gotten there in time, the office would have been closed when she arrived. So we welcomed her, introduced ourselves, and got acquainted. She is a classy, upper class lady. We met the Mission President and his wife at the house. We inspected the house, met the neighbors and signed the papers. We will get a key tomorrow and can move in any time. We have an appointment with Jonathan Estrada on Thursday morning to go shopping. He will purchase those items that the church will purchase and we will purchase the rest.
The Lees took us to Priceline (the Nicaraguan version of Costco) for pizza. We then walked around looking at things we will need. We might go back another day when we are ready to actually purchase items.
Wednesday, April 27
We got our mission car today. It is a Rav 4 made by Toyota. The only problem with having a car is now I have to drive. Driving in Managua is an adventure. The roads are rough; some are made from pavers instead of pavement. The busses and taxis are crazy. Bikes and motorcycles go anywhere at any time. They have speed bumps on many of the side streets and sometimes I don’t see them in time. The roads go all over the place. The only way I can get around is using google maps or a navigation system called WAVES. Michelle has become a pretty good navigator.
Friday, April 29
Today we went on a road trip with President Collado. The purpose of the trip was for President Collado to meet with each of the Branch and District Presidents in the Matagalpa District to determine if there is enough Active Melchizedek Priesthood holders that pay full tithing. If there is 120 or more, they can make the District into a Stake. We went to Jinotega and Matagalpa. Both are north of Managua and in the mountains. They are beautiful and it is cooler there. The meetings got behind so we didn’t get home until 2:30am. The President said they counted 122 active MP holders that pay a full tithing, but he was skeptical of this number. While he was in his meetings, Michelle and I visited with missionaries, perspective missionaries, attended a baptism and took 2 missionaries out for a late night snake.
When we got to Matagalpa, we found that they had just had a wedding in one of the chapels for a young couple. They had a little baby. After the wedding, she was baptized and ended up being baptized in her wedding dress. Apparently she had forgotten to bring a white blouse to be baptized in so decided to get baptized in her dress instead. I had never seen that before and probably will never see it again.
While Michelle slept in the back seat of the car, President Collado and I talked; he in English and I in Spanish. He wants to attend BYU to get his master’s degree in Business. He will be released at the end of June. I asked him what things he was pleased with during his tenure as President. He said he loved to see the growth of the missionaries. Also, he was pleased that the Tipitapa Stake was organized during his tenure and hopes that the Matagalpa Stake will be organized before he leaves. He said he was pleased with our progress after only one week in the Mission Field. In fact, he was so pleased that he gave me another assignment.
He said there are three groups that have been formed recently after these areas have been opened. They include
Somoto, Condega and La Trinidad. The members are meeting in homes under the direction of the missionaries. Once they have three active MP holders who are full tithe payers, they can be made a branch and the church can find them a place to meet. This sounds like a fun assignment.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Today we went to three different chapels to find a doctor and a dentist. We were only partially successful. We started at La Maximo Jerez Ward to meet Dr. Flora Lopez. She is the Doctor that gives missionary physical for free or for very little money. She leads the music in her ward. When we met the Bishop, I mentioned that Michelle plays the piano if they needed someone. Apparently they did because he announced that “Sister Bell” will play the piano for the songs. Michelle also bore her testimony. I was going to bear my testimony but there were so many members that wanted to bear their testimonies that I didn’t try to squeeze in. After the meeting, we went to the Villa Flor Ward to meet a Dentist. We need a dentist to give a dental exam to a young man in Jinotega who wants to serve a mission but can’t afford to see a dentist. We found out that he was in the Las Laureles Ward which meets in another building. The Bishop asked a young member (19) to show us the way. So we first went by the Dentists home. His car was there so we thought he might be there, but only his wife was there. We then went to the chapel, but found he had left because he was sick. We did get his contact information and the Bishop said he would give him ours.
We spent the rest of the day at home. We cooked dinner for the Lees, then talked with Paul, Steve and Becky (we had talked with Kim and John yesterday).