Monday, June 13, 2016
Today we got ready for the zone conferences, which we will attend the next several days. We also delivered a chair and a two burner hot plate to one of the companionship in Managua and then stopped at one of the malls on our way home, looking for more pants for Sister Bell. We didn’t find anything she liked.
We had a staff meeting this afternoon, getting ready for missionaries going home in a week and new missionaries coming to the mission. There is a lot of logistical actions that needs to be done just to get missionaries from the airport, to the airport, trained, getting companionships together, fed, housed… the list goes on and on. Running a mission is not a simple process.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
We had a very pleasant day. We left the house at 6:30am and drove up western Nicaragua to a multi zone conference in Estela, just outside of Chinandega. We don’t work in this area much because they are organized into Stakes. Our focus (besides sick missionaries and apartments) is within the Districts, where the Mission President has direct responsibilities.
It was a beautiful day for a drive. We passed several volcanoes and many farms. The western part of Nicaragua is very flat and hot, ideal for agriculture.
We gave a short lesson about mosquitos and passed out some insecticide, then sat down. This is the Collados last zone conference with these missionaries. Most of it was for the Collados to give their last council to the missionaries and for the missionaries to say good-bye. It was very heartwarming to see the love the Collados have for the missionaries and for the love the missionaries have for them.
Although it wasn’t planned for Sister Bell to have a “clinic” but she had a half dozen missionaries talk to her about medical needs. Then she had several phone calls from other missionaries, so it was a busy day for her. She is still charting all of her medical efforts today.
We drove home on a different road which took us along the western shore of Lake Xolotian. We liked this road as it was less traveled and very pretty. The only bad part was we got stopped by the police. Apparently I crossed a solid white line as I went around a rotunda in the middle of no-where. But there was a traffic cop there waiting for me. He was going to give me a ticket, but after I explained who we were, that we were only in the country a few short weeks and Sister Bell was the nurse, he must have taken pity on us and let us go without a ticket. In the 6 weeks we have been here, we have been stopped 4 times, twice while I was driving (both for crossing a solid white line) and twice while Elder Lee was driving. Fortunately, we have not gotten any tickets. I think our luck is running short.
Country side with the Momotombo volcano in the background.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Today we left at 6am and got home at 8pm. We attended a multi-zone conference in Esteli, 3 hours north of Managua. We know many of the missionaries in this conference because we work with them in Dario, La Trinidad, Semoto, Condega, Ocotal and Esteli. So it was good to see them, but most important, they seemed to enjoy seeing us. When we first told the Elders in the little towns that we had been asked to help them, they were supportive but not excited. But after spending time with them, teaching with them, taking them to dinner and just helping, they realize we can be of help and they want us to come back. That is very welcoming.
The zone conference was very enjoyable and a great send off for the Collados. After lunch, we looked at acouple of potential homes for the Koellikers, who will be coming to the mission in early July and living in Esteli. We looked at two, one is a three bedroom that has been lived in. The other is a two bedroom, which is brand new. Both are very nice but unfurnished. We took pictures and will send to the Koellikers.
Driving in Nicaragua during the day is a challenge, but driving at night is especially difficult. The roads are narrow, some are cobblestone in the cities and all have pot holes. The cities have speed bumps, some are smaller and some are big. They are not well marked and at night it is especially difficult to see them. There are slow vehicles, fast vehicles, trucks, buses (that stop anywhere at any time), horses, motorcycles, broken down vehicles, bicycles and people everywhere. It was very dark tonight and very difficult to see. It is amazing there are not more accidents and pedestrians killed. Oh, I forgot the dogs, cows, pigs, goats, horses… did I say dogs? I am just glad to be home, safe and sound.
We are beginning to document things we see in Nicaragua that we have never seen before. How do you get 6 people in a very small taxi? One in the front, 4 in the back (sitting on top of each other) and one in the trunk…. We saw this today and followed them for a couple of miles until they turned off at a small town… The young man in the trunk looked perfectly comfortable, sitting up with his feet dangling out of the trunk, holding the trunk hood up over his head.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Today was our third and last multi-zone conference with President and Sister Collado. It was in Managua so we didn’t have to travel very far. Again it was a sweet experience. The missionaries love and will miss the Collados, so will we.
Later we had a meeting with President Collado so he could outline the changes that will occur next week. He was a little late so the Elders (Assistants, Secretaries, Sister Leaders, the Lee’s and Sister Collado, wanted to see the zone leader pictures I took. So I showed them and the previous zone conference pictures. Then they wanted to see China, so I showed them as well. Then they wanted to see some of my mission pictures, so I showed them those. Finally, they wanted to see Sister Bell with red hair, so I showed them our historic family pictures. They got really excited when I showed them our wedding pictures, with her long red hair. Finally, President Collado came in and we started the meeting.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Happy Birthday Synnova and Isa. We talked to Synnova last night and Isa today. Sister Bell had a tutoring session today with the MTC. Afterward, we took a few hours to shop (since Saturday, our real PDay will be spent in Condega). Michelle would like to find one more pair of tan pants. But there are nowhere to be found (at least Cotton Dress Slacks). I did buy two ties and one pair of used shorts for father’s day.
We worked a little this afternoon from home as they were painting the Mission Office. Everything needs to look nice for the new Mission President. Whitney, Sister Bells MTC tutor has also been tutoring Sister Poncio our new Mission Presidents wife. She says that Sister Poncio is a wonderful person and that we will love her.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
We left the house about 8am this morning, heading north toward Condega. We stopped in Loma Verde and Esteli to drop off mosquito nets to the zone leaders. We arrived in Condega about 2 pm to work with Elder Scaggs and Elder Alfaro. We made our first stop at the city park to use the public restroom, which costs us 5 Cordobas each. We haven’t found a better deal in town. We picked up the Elders and visited a few members’ homes. Elder Alfaro knew he would be moving because Elder Scaggs was called by the AP this morning and told he would be training a new Elder. Elder Alfaro tried all day to tell me where he is going and I would always reply “afuera de aqui”. I am assuming he will be called tomorrow and told where he is going. The members love these two missionaries and they love them back. They are wonderful. They make everything fun and are constantly teaching gospel principles.
We tried to take them to dinner, but the only place open was a chicken stand. The chicken had been cooked earlier in the day, so it was well done but still hot.
We then went to an investigators house for a Friendshipping activity called a hermanomiento. Elder Scaggs, in his unique and fun way, reviewed the basic principles of the gospel, which are faith, repentance, baptism, holy ghost and endearing to the end. The members are all newly baptized so they need the basics. Then we played a fun game. I enjoyed watching the little girls sitting on Elder Alfaros lap and just having fun with the missionaries. The people will miss Elder Alfaro. He has been here about 5 months, his first area and he is greatly loved, he will be missed.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
We left Esteli at 7am, drove 1-hour south to Ciudad Dario to give piano lessons. The girls played two songs ( Abid with me and Jesus once of humble birth) they have been learning for prelude music. They are progressing well.
We left Dario about 9am and drove 1.5 hours north to Condega. Elder Alfaro went with a local mini-missionary and Elder Scaggs went with us. We picked up chairs, hauled them to the borrow clothing factory where we have church, set up the building, visited members and investigators, took a tour of their home, had lunch (P&J Sandwiches), picked up a few members for church, attended church and took the members back to their home. Then headed for Managua. We got back home about 7:30pm.
I have really impressed with how well these young Elders are leading this group. They have a lot of responsibilities and pressures on their shoulders. These members are young in the gospel and their activity is tied directly to the missionaries. I suggested a few things to Elder Scaggs that I believe will help the group move forward, at least some individuals. There were a lot of tears for Elder Alfaro, who is leaving for a new assignment tomorrow. He is a wonderful missionary and after only 5 months in the mission field, he is being assigned as a senior companion. He is ready. Elder Scaggs has done a marvelous job in helping Elder Alfaro be ready for this new assignment.