Monday, May 16, 2016
We were up and out the door early this morning. We left Esteli about 6:30am and drove to Ocotal. Ocotal is only about 30-40 km from the Honduras Border. It is a beautiful drive through the mountains. The town is nestled in a small mountain valley. It is very beautiful, peaceful and cool. I could live there and be very happy. A week ago, many of the trees had yellow flowers, while this week the flowers were brilliant red. In several spots, the trees created a tunnel over the road. It was spectacular and a pleasant drive.
We left early so we could be in Ocotal by 8am. Sister Bell needed to go to a doctor’s appointment with one of the Sister missionaries. We left Ocotal about 10am and headed home. We needed to stop in Sebaco to deliver a package to the sister missionaries, otherwise we came straight back the office. We needed to be back by 2:30 because Sister Bell was expecting a delivery of medicine that she needed for the upcoming zone conferences. When we got to the office, the person that was putting the packages together called and said he would be an hour late. He finally arrived about 6pm. We were tired, hungry and not very happy.
Fortunately, Elder and Sister Lee invited us to dinner at their house. We enjoyed sitting on their patio looking at the lights of the city. It was very relaxing.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Happy Birthday Michelle. We celebrated her birthday by getting up at 4:15 and leaving the house at 6am. We picked up Sister Ramos, one of the sister leaders and Elder Knight, one of the assistance. We then drove to Estela, which is about 3hr up the western side of the country. We found that there is a lot of agriculture in this area. The terrain is flat and it is warm. We participated in a 3 zone conference. Sister Bell gave a short presentation about medications and passed out a back of medications so that each companion had things like bandaids, Advil, Tylenol, etc. These are the packages she was waiting for yesterday. The missionaries sang Happy Birthday to Sister Bell and all the other May, June and July birthdays. They each received a birthday muffin. Sister Bell visited with about 10 missionaries during the day. It was like she had a little clinic in the back of the Chapel while the conference was going on. I got to take pictures, which was really fun. The mission has a Nikon 7100, which is the camera I would like to get. I had fun taking pictures. The conference got over about 5:30 and we got home about 9pm. Sister Bell is inputting information about all her visits into the Church’s medical site, while I am writing in my journal. It has been another long day.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
We had another multi-zone conference today. This one was for the 3 zones in Managua. It was held at the Villa Flor building. We had been there 2 or 3 times before, but we still had to rely on Google Maps to find it. We expected to get done early enough to go back to the office before quitting time, but we are finding that zone conferences are really busy for Mission Nurses and her assistant. Sister Bell saw at least 10 missionaries for various things, 5 of which she is sending to the doctors. I had to interpret a lot and Sister Collado stayed close by to answer questions, give back-ground information and explain things in more detail to the Latino missionaries. We also helped prepare and clean-up lunch. Even though it was close and we started at 9am, we still got done after 5pm and back to the office by 6:30pm… although that is another story all together.
As we were leaving the church, it started to rain. It thundered, lightening and rain heavy. I was surprised how quickly the streets flooded. I was glad we have an SUV to get through the flooded streets. It got dark really fast, but we had confidence in Google maps. Google seems to always want to take us on the back roads, which were full of running water, rocks, potholes and people. It seemed just as if we were making progress we would get to a dead end road. What should have taken 30 minutes took over an hour. Our nerves were pretty shot when we got back to the office. It is 9 pm and Sister Bell is still charting.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Well, we hit the road early again today, leaving at 6am. We picked up Sister Leon and Elder Boice at their apartments and headed to Esteli for another Multizone conference. We have one more next week in Puerto Cabeza. We are finding that multizone conferences are very long days. We got home about 10:30pm. Sister Bell gave her medical presentation and we did get to tell alittle about ourselves and bear our testimonies. Then we spent the rest of the day helping Sister Collado fix lunch, clean up, help the missionaries with medical issues (about 8-9 today) and take pictures. These are all things that are important to keep the work going and I am glad we are here to help, but I miss teaching the gospel.
We did see Elder Alophipo today. He is one of our missionaries from the MTC. He is doing great. We are also getting to know more and more missionaries. We don’t feel quite like “newbies” anymore.
Friday, May 20, 2016
We used today as our Pday because we will be in Condega over the week-end. One of our primary needs was to get more money. We had set up an account through Wells Fargo and a local bank so that we can transfer money from Wells Fargo to the local bank. We do that once a month. I had made the request last week, so when we went to the bank, I was surprised that they did not have a record of the request. So we came back home empty handed. I then got on the WF website and looked for the request. It was not there (I must have not completed the request process). So I made another request and then went back to the bank. We went back to the same teller, a cute girl who was very helpful. But they still couldn’t find the request, we even waited for a while thinking that it just needed time to get through the system, but still no success. The manager even called WF in the States. They said that our request was not in the system. I tried calling WF but kept getting a busy signal. However, at least this time, I could see our request on the website, so I was thinking it just needed time to go through the system. After another hour or so, we got a message telling us the transfer had been made and we could pick up our money, which we did. I think the bank was just as happy about us getting our money as we were. Our little teller had a big smile when we finally walked out of the bank with our Cordobas.
Going to the bank three times during the day, we got to know the guards outside the bank. So we had a conversation with one of them, an older man with very little teeth. He knew alittle about the Church, even some of the names of the prophets in the book of Mormon. I asked him if he would like a book of Mormon and he said yes. We had put two BofM in the car so I told him we would give him one when we got out of the bank. When we got out he was by the car waiting for his book. I gave him a book and began getting his address so the missionaries could visit him when Elder Robles, the missionary who came with me this trip to the bank, asked if he knew English. I looked down at the book and realized I had given him an English copy of the BofM. I apologized and got the other copy, but it was in English too. Apparently we had gotten two English BofM from the office storeroom. So later in the day we purchased a Spanish BoM from the Distribution store and will go back to the bank to give it to him.
We got our new phones today, but new is not always better. Instead of using a new cheap phone, I put the sim card in my Samsung. I can now call on the phone I brought from the States and should have internet today. Sister Bell also got a new phone. We had to go see Hermano Roger Perez who is over purchasing for the Church in Nicaragua. Their office is by the distribution center on the West side of the City. They had to cut the Sim Card down to fit into the new phone. But for some reason, the phone went loco. We could not get it to work. We were getting really frustrated. It was late in the day and it was hot in the office which didn’t help. Finally, Brother Perez got an used Iphone, put the sim card in it and gave it to Sister Bell. However, the contacts did not carry over to the new phone. She could call and text but has to use the old phone to look up phone numbers and email. So now she has to use two phones, not a good solution. We were told this is a temporary fix, until they can get the new phone to work properly. We are finding that things don’t work very smoothly in Nicaragua.
We went out to dinner with the Lee’s to a gourmet hamburger restaurant. Then we went back to their house, sat on the porch overlooking the city and played 5 crowns. I won….. At least the day ended well.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
We gave a Book of Mormon today to Salvador, one of our guards. We have him a Liahona about a week ago, which he read. This morning he asked for more to read, so we gave him a BoM. When we left, he was reading it.
Today was another teaching day. We drove to Condega, about 4 hours north of Managua. It is a little mountain town. The missionaries have been working this little town for about 5 months. There are about 35 members, 21 of which are active. The two Elders who are serving here are Elder Scaggs and Elder Alfaro. Both are wonderful missionaries. We met them at the Central Park at about 2:30pm. Our first visit was to a sister who was baptized a few months ago. Her daughter was also baptized but the rest of her family was not. Her husband came in and listened to part of our message. We invited him to church tomorrow and he said he would come. We talked about how the gospel blesses our life and how the Holy Ghost can help us become better people. There was a sweet spirit while we were there. We then visited another sister who was baptized a week ago. We also meet several young men, a couple being her sons and other friends and family. The sons are getting the Priesthood tomorrow so we talked about the Priesthood, quoting from President Monson’s general conference talk last April. Again the spirit was strong and we felt a real connection with this family. We then visited with her mother. President Collado had given me a special assignment to meet this woman and determine if she was ready to be baptized. She lives with her ex-husband, but has not had sexual relations with him for years. She has been trying to get him to move out but he does not have any money or anywhere to go. The missionaries had been told to not baptize her until the ex-husband moves out, but Elder Scaggs and Elder Alfaro approached the President about allowing her to be baptized before he moves out. So President Collado asked that I visit with her, which we did. Sister Bell and I fasted today before our visit. We found her very prepared and worthy to be baptized. The spirit witnessed to us that she was ready and should not delay baptism because of her ex-husband. So I authorized them to move forward. We talked about how the Savior blessed and healed the sick and the children while he visited the Americas. Again the spirit was very strong…. It is great to teach.
The members meet every Saturday Evening for a group social, like a Family Home Evening. It was supposed to start at 5:30, but it didn’t start until after 6pm….. Nicaragua time. The Elders reviewed the Plan of Salvation, making it a game. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves. The Elders have a lot of energy, work well together, love the people and the people love them, especially the youth. There was about 18 of us there, with about half 10 being youth.
We drove back to Esteli and are staying at the Hotel Hex. It is becoming our home away from home.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Tonight we are extremely tired. It has been a long day. We left Esteli about 7am, drove 1-hour south to Dario so Michelle could give a piano lesson to two sisters. She is using the Church’s program for learning the keyboard. It seems to work well.
Sister Bell needed to deal with acouple of missionary health issues while we were eating.
There were about 24 people at church, 17 members and 7 investigators. Sister Bell bore her testimony and I talked for about 15 minutes, without notes or a prepared message. I quoted President Monson from General Conference about the importance of making good decisions. Then I related the experience I had on my mission when prayed about Michelle. See my story “You focus on your mission now and I will take care of your love life later”. We are amazed how we can give talks in Spanish after only a month in the mission field.
After the meeting we meet with a member family. They have been a member for about 4 years, but when they moved to Condega about 8 months ago, there were not any missionaries or a group meeting. So they were very excited when the missionaries came to town about 5 months ago and the group was organized. He is one of two Melchezidek Priesthood holders in the group. Unfortunately, he lost his job on Friday. We talked with them about a goal to be sealed in the temple. We reviewed the requirements for getting a temple recommend and then talked about the blessings from paying tithing. The Elders and I gave him a blessing and promised him that he would find better employment than he had, be able to take care of his family and find the means to go to the temple.
We left Condega about 5pm and arrived about 8:30, dead tired, a little irritated because of the Nicaragua drivers, but safe and sound. This has been a long week. Both of us are falling to sleep while we are reading the scriptures. I have fallen asleep in the middle of reading a verse. I would stop talking and my phone would drop out of my hands. That would normally wake me up, but at times, Michelle would have to wake me up to finish. This has happened to her as well, but she mostly falls asleep while I am reading.