Sunday, May 15, 2016

Third Week in Nicaragua

Monday, May 9, 2016
Tonight we went to the airport with Elder and Sister Lee to pick up Sister Golding and Elder Alophepo. They were our two missionaries at the MTC. We promised them that we would be at the airport when they arrived. They seemed very glad to see us, in additional to the Lees and President Collado and his family. WE took their luggage back to where they would be staying the night (the Aps home and the Sister Leaders home), while President Collado took them out to eat.
On our way out of the airport, Brother Lee who was driving, was stopped by the police because he left the parking lot without turning on his lights. It was 8:30pm and dark. However, after a few tense minutes and discussions with the police officer and his police leader, they let us go without a ticket. I have now been stopped three times in two weeks, once while I was driving and twice with Elder Lee. Fortunately we did not get a ticket for any of them nor did we have to bribe the officers, although I tried.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Today we participated in our first new missionary training meeting. Five additional missionaries came in from the Guatemala MTC this morning. All of them are Latinos, mostly from Guatemala. We met at the mission home, which is where the Collados live. It is a beautiful home up above the city. They have a beautiful view from their large porch. While President Collado gave interviews to the new Elders and Sister Golding (she was the only sister), Michelle gave a health presentation…. The 10 commandments for staying healthy. She had the presentation in Spanish and talked in English. A few times she wanted help explaining things in Spanish. Elder Lee or Elder Neilson, the Financial Secretary did the translations. Her presentation took about 45 minutes.

In the evening, we went shopping with Wilbur Naravious, who is the P&M Manager for Nicaragua, for a couch. We found a dark Brown love seat that fits well in our home. The Church purchased it for about $350. We still want to buy acouple of chairs for the living room; chairs that we can put on the front porch when it is nice (I am writing this from the front porch, where there is a nice breeze and cool temperatures).

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
This morning we went to our zone meeting. Apparently, we are in the Bello Horizonte zone (well technically we are not in any zone, but the office Elders are in this zone). I think they invited us so we would bring them treats, which we did. Next to our casita is a donut factory. It smells good at our house. We bought 4 boxes of 6 donuts from them. The Lees brought chips and dip, so the missionaries loved us. They also asked Sister Bell and I to give a short lesson on miracles. Sister Bell talked about her blessing that she got when she was set apart and how that blessing has helped us in the mission so far. I related my experience that I had as a missionary in Melo. This is what I said, except I said it in Spanish.

Focus on me now and I will care of your love life tomorrow

I met Sister Bell at BYU. We were in the same ward as freshman, both living at Helaman Halls. Michelle was part of that group of ward kids. We became very good friends. We tended to run into each other a lot on campus. I always thought it was just coincidence, but later found out she looked up my class schedule and purposely waited for me to come out of class. I realized that I loved her the last week of school, during finals week. I didn't tell her that I loved her because we were going our separate ways. I was going on a mission, so it was going to be several years before we would see each other again. However, I did take her on an official date, held her hand and got a good bye kiss that last week of school. I went back to California and Michelle went back to Idaho. We did write that summer and during my mission. I knew she was the one for me, although I never told her that at this point in our relationship.

During my second assignment in Uruguay, in the little town of Melo, I began to get concerned about Michelle's feelings for me. I always thought that she had similar feelings about me as I had for her. So I was surprised, frustrated and a little angry when I started sensing that maybe her feelings toward me were not as strong as I thought they had been. I am still not sure why I began feeling that way, other than it must have been things she was saying or not saying in her letters. So I thought I had better take this concern to the Lord. I knelt by my bed and told Heavenly Father about my concerns. I told him that I loved her and felt that she was my eternal companion. I asked what I should do. I got a strong impression to "Focus on your mission now and I will take care of your love life after your mission."  Along with those thoughts, came a strong spiritual calmness that comes when the spirit is present. I was at peace.

Well as it turned out, Michelle was dating another boy at this same time. She had gone to his house in Northern California, meet his family and even went to girls' camp with his sisters. He then went on a mission. Well, I got home first and Michelle and I were married before he ever got home off his mission.

I learned that if we do our part, Heavenly Father fulfills his promises.

Thursday, May 12, 2016
As we were walking this morning, we came across a beautiful tree in full bloom and a horse drawn cart in our neighborhood. We see the carts all over town but this is the first one we have seen in our neighborhood.


Friday, May 13, 2016
Friday the 13th started out by us having to go to the National Police Office. Our immigration specialist, Betty Castro, asked us to meet her at a bank at 8:30am. We didn’t know why, but thought we had to do something at the bank. Apparently, my immigration process has hit a snag because all my documents show my name as Scott Woodruff Bell except for one document which shows my name as Scott W. Bell. So I am having to do additional stuff that Michelle does not have to go through. We got to the bank about 8:15. There was already a line formed so we got in it. The line started into the bank at 8:30, but Betty had not gotten there yet so we stepped out of the line and waited for her on the front steps. At 8:45, Betty’s assistant showed up and told us we had to walk a few blocks to the National Police station. We asked to meet us at the bank because it was a secure place to leave our car. We met Betty at the station. Michelle and Betty’s assistance waited in the lobby, while Betty and I went into the mail building. We went to a door with the name Interpol on it. We waited a few minutes then were invited in. I had to complete a form with name, birthday, passport information, parent’s names, spouse’s name and passport number (which I didn’t have), our address in the states and our address in Nicaragua (de polisal de la UNAN, 2 cuadras a sur, 15 vacas arriba, porton blanco which means from the guardhouse of the National University of Nicaragua, 2 blocks south, 15 varas (I have not found a good definition of vara) up, white gate….  Now try to find our house with that description). They also took my finger prints. Later in the day, the officer called my contact phone number, which is Michelle’s mission cell phone number, to verify it was my contact information. I hope he understood that it was me on the phone because I didn’t understand him very well and I doubt he understood me very well. He said he would call back later in the day but we didn’t hear back from him. Things must have gone ok because they didn’t put me in jail…. Yet.

We had a birthday party at the Presidents home for Elder Neilson, the Mission Financial Secretary, with fajitas and birthday cake. Then later in the day, I got a call from some Elders in town telling me their frig doesn’t work. So Elder Neilson, Elder Robles and I went to Elder Neilsons apartment (which keeps the extra supplies), picked up another used frig and took it to them. That took about 1.5 hours in rush hour traffic. Well these are things that need to get done…..

Saturday, May 14, 2016
Today was supposed to be our P-Day but instead it was a missionary day. We spent the day in La Trinidad, a small town about 2 hours north of Managua. President Collado had asked us to help prepare the Priesthood brethren in three small towns to be ready to lead the church. Each area, La Trinidad, Somoto and Condega have been open to missionaries for only about 8 months. All three groups are meeting in homes. The President said that they need at least three Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are worthy, including being full tithe payers before they can be made into branches.

We had a wonderful conversation about the gospel, focusing on how the gospel makes us happy. I was able to contribute a lot and Michelle bore her testimony.

We then went to the home of a man who is the only member of his family. His wife, daughter, and son are not members. He was baptized in December. He seems to be excited about the gospel and would pay tithing is he had an income. His son sat in our little discussion. We invited his son to attend church tomorrow and he said he would. We talked about the plan of salvation and how the commandments help us become like our Heavenly Father and the Savior, which help us receive exaltation. Again I was able to contribute a lot to the conversation and Michelle said the closing prayer.

We then attended a baptism of a mother and her daughter. She is the sister of a member. The baptism was in a pool, which was next to a partially build home. The owner lives in Miami but her mother was there. There were about 20 people in attendance. The missionaries gave the talks, conducted and performed the baptism.

We were a taxi service to and from the baptism. We made four trips to the baptism location taking 3-4 people at a time. Fortunately, we only had to go about a mile. All the roads off the main highway are very rocky and rough. I am glad we have a SUV with some clearance, although we did hit bottom a few times.
After the baptism we visited two homes in a small part of Trinidad called Villa Trinidad. These homes were very basic, mostly made a brick with tin roofs. The first was a young couple with a little girl. The little girl liked the little candies that Sister Bell had. The wife was asked to bear her testimony in Church on Sunday, but she was very scared about doing it. We offered to give her a blessing, or help her husband give her a blessing but she declined. They are a very humble family.
We next went by another home of a member in the same neighborhood. We found him building a new house for his wife and 12-year-old daughter. He has been a member for 22 years and said he probably was the first ordained Elder in Nicaragua. He has been inactive for many years, but started going back to Church recently. His wife has been baptized recently but his daughter has not been baptised. 

We then took the Elders (all four of them) out to dinner. We tried several places before we found one that was open. We were their only customers. We had hamburgers and burritos, with fries.  It was all good. They had one item on the menu that was called “gringas”. I asked the owner if a gringo like me could eat a “gringa”. She thought that was funny.

The last home was another recent convert, of about 4 months. He is a mechanic and she runs alittle store in the front of her house. They have two daughters, 21 and 15. She is the sister of the women who got baptized today. Again we had a wonderful gospel conversation, talking about what Heavenly Father has in store for us if we keep his commandments.

In four of the homes we had the opportunity to read scriptures, talk about the gospel and pray. I was able to understand fairly well and talk better than normal. The spirit was at each home. They all seem to be happy and doing well. I believe our visits were well received and we strengthen testimonies and commitments. At least, Sister Bell and I were edified and felt like real missionaries.

We stayed in Esteli at the Hotel Hex, which is where we stayed last week-end. We pay $50.00 for a clean room with carpet, air conditioning, and a warm shower. It is fairly new. We can’t ask for much better than this.

Sunday, May 15, 2016
Today was a very special day. We started the day by driving back to Ciudad Dario for Church. Elder Lee, one of the office staff and good friends is the Branch President. Their branch does not have a keyboard nor a keyboard player. However, two young sisters in the ward want to learn. So we ordered them a keyboard, which we got this week. The Lee’s brought it to church today and we came so Michelle could begin giving the sisters lessons. Michelle played the keyboard for Sacrament Meeting and then gave the girls their first lesson after church. Of course, most of the branch stayed to watch and get in the way of the lessons.

Then we went back to La Trinidad for Church. We got there about 15 minutes early and no one but the missionaries were there. They meet in a garage type structure with plastic chairs donated by the local Catholic Church.
There were 33 in attendance, 22 of which were members. Several of the nonmembers were ones we invited yesterday. I was asked to stand in the circle when the missionaries confirmed the two women who were baptized yesterday. We feel like we are best friends with the people in La Trinidad. Elder Worden talked first, he is the District Leader and the only English speaker of the 4 missionaries working in La Trinidad. Then one of the new members talked. We visited him and his family (wife and 2yr old daughter) yesterday. He has a wonderful, humble spirit about him. His wife was also asked to bear her testimony but she couldn’t muster enough courage to do it. So Elder Worden read her testimony as part of his talk (anonymously of course). I looked at her while he was reading it knowing he was reading her testimony, smiled and winked. She smiled back. Michelle talked about our family and shared an experience about paying tithing early in our marriage.  She mostly talked in Spanish which she prepared from Google translate. She ended with her testimony.

I was the last speaker.  I had prepared a talk about pioneers and how they were pioneers in La Trinidad. Then this morning, I prepared another using President Monson’s conference address about decisions. However, when I stood up, I talked briefly about pioneers and decisions, but spent most of my time about the role of the Holy Ghost to sanctify us. There was a wonderful spirit there. After the meeting I asked a couple of the investigators if they felt the spirit and they said yes. It was a wonderful day, but we are both very tired. We drove back to EstelĂ­ and will stay in EstelĂ­ tonight before we drive to Ocotal, about 40 km from the Honduran border, tomorrow morning to go to the doctor with a sick missionary. Then we will drive back to Managua tomorrow afternoon. 

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