Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016
Today, we spent the day in the office. We had our office meeting this morning, then worked on medical, housing and Spanish. We had a meeting with President Poncio at the end of the day about our work in Trinidad, Condega and Somoto. With the Koellikers now in the mission and their focus on the Esteli District, we wanted to know what the President wanted us to do, as we had also been working in the Esteli District. He shared with us his vision. He would like to create two Districts, one in the Esteli area and another in the Ocotal area. The District President has been in place for 12 years. The district has been growing so there are now a lot of units (8 branches, 4 groups) for him to cover. I don’t thing President Acervedes has much help. He has counselors, but I have not seen members of a district council. He seems to be very tired and discouraged. Anyway, President Poncios idea is for the Koellikers to work the southern units and for Sister Bell and I to work the northern units. This will not be much different than what we are doing now a we have been going north most week-ends. The blessing is that we can stay with the Koellikers in Esteli instead of having to pay for motels out of our own pocket. This will help the finances considerably. Hopefully, the Koellikers won’t get tired of us very soon.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Today is the Day of Liberation in Nicaragua, a National Holiday. The streets in our area were empty and there were very little people in our office building. We spent the day working in the office on Medical issues, housing and Spanish.

The Lees invited us for dinner and games at their house. We played 5 Crowns…. Michelle won and I lost. Nothing ever changes…… 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
We had another day very similar to yesterday, Medical, Housing, Spanish…. Except we stayed home in the evening. We did take the car in for service…. $150 worth.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
Got a haircut this morning…. That’s exciting. We also went to the bank…. We are rich again…. Worked on medical and housing in the office. We are looking forward to tomorrow when we hit the road again.

Friday, July 22, 2016
We spent the morning shopping and then after lunch we left for the north country. We went to Matagalpa (about 2 hours from Managua) to deliver some Books of Mormon. Matagalpa is in a beautiful mountain valley. It is cooler there. The missionaries tend to have foot problems here because of the many hills they have to climb. Mostly the sisters have problems because they don’t have good walking shoes. Style over function, when will they ever learn…..

President and Sister Poncio were there giving interviews, so we got to visit with them about a couple of missionary health issues.

We then went to Esteli (about 1.5 hours from Matagalpa). We are staying with the Koellikers in their new house. It is nice not to have to pay for a motel. As soon as we showed up, they left for a meeting with a member of the branch presidency of the El Rosario Branch and the full time missionaries assigned to that branch. They will be working in this branch for 6 weeks and then work in another branch. There are three branches in Esteli. El Rosario has about 600 members but only about 50 attend any meetings. So they have a lot of work to do.

We have two options for sleeping; a king bed in the spare bedroom or twin beds in the maids room in the back. The spare bathroom is attached to the maids room in the back. Our choice is the king bed but use the maid’s bathroom, so we don’t have to share a bathroom. We will have to see which choice our hosts give us. (We got the king bed and the maids bathroom. We sleep straight through the night, we haven’t done that in years….)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

We went to the Salta Estanzuela, a waterfall outside of Esteli this morning. We paid C$25 per person
to get in and then we walked about a quarter mile to the bottom of the falls. It was very pretty and peaceful. We saw acouple of girls at the top of the falls, so when we were leaving we talked to them and they told us how to get there. We climbed a mountain, without much of a trail. We finally got to the top and made our way down to the creek. It was very beautiful with pools and small waterfalls. We found an easier trail out to the road and our vehicle. We were grateful we found an easier way out because none of us were excited about climbing the mountain again to get back to the car. We bought a small vase at a store across the street and then drove through the small town of Estanzuela before going back to Esteli. 

After a shower and lunch, we went to Somoto for the first priesthood meeting in this newly organized branch. We held it on the porch of the Branch Presidents house. There are three Priesthood holders, one is the Branch President and two boys that were deacons. The missionaries are going to sustain and ordain another man and 15-year-old boy to the Aaron Priesthood tomorrow. I taught the lesson about what is the Priesthood, the difference between the authority and power of the Priesthood, and what it takes to use the Priesthood appropriately. I plan to teach 8-10 lessons to these small branches/groups to help the brethren understand the Priesthood and prepare to lead these newly formed branches.

We then went to Condega for the Friendshipping Meeting. Elder Scaggs taught a lesson about the Sacrament and then played a game. He comes up with the most entertaining games. This game had two people standing facing each other, with the arms stretched up, touching each other, forming a church. Then one person stands underneath them, being a member inside the church. There was one person that was out. This person yelled Iglesia, Santa Cena or Apostacia. If they said Iglesia, then the persons who were the churches had to move and create new churches. The person that was out tried to become a church, therefore leaving another person out. If the person yelled Santa Cena, then the people in the middle had to move, with the person who was out, trying to find a free spot inside a church, leaving another person out. If the person yelled Apostacia, then everyone had to move. It was a lot of fun. Where does he come up with these games…. He is amazing.

We visited the home of the grandmother of some of the new members. She has been investigating the church for a couple of months but has had a difficult time stop drinking coffee. She had not been feeling well, so we gave her a blessing. Elder Thackeray anointed her in English and Elder Scaggs sealed the anointing in Spanish and gave her a wonderful blessing.

Sunday, July 24, 2016
Happy Pioneer Day…. We started with a baptism in Condega. A young 11-year-old girl was baptized in the River. We started with singing “I am a Child of God”. The members that were there did not know this song, so Sister Bell and I sang it for them. Then Elder Scaggs had us sing together all the verses. They seemed to pick up the song very well. Then Elder Thackeray found a deep spot without any rocks and performed the baptism.  She was confirmed that afternoon in Sacrament Meeting by Elder Scaggs. 

After the baptism, we picked up the chairs at the store where the Elders rent them and helped set up the sewing factory for church. While the Elders went to their lunch appointment,

Sister Bell and I found a quiet spot outside of town and eat our lunch, P&J sandwiches prepared by Sister Koelliker. It was such a nice spot that Sister Bell and I had short naps.

Sister Bell talked in Sacrament meeting and related her experience with the Elder in Puerto (see our narrative of this about a week ago). After Sacrament meeting, I gave a short lesson about the Priesthood to the whole group. I was going to give this lesson only to the perspective priesthood holders after Sunday School, but the SS teacher had to work and couldn’t give his lesson, so I gave my Priesthood lesson to the whole group instead. This was the same lesson I gave in Somoto on Saturday. I am always amazed how easy it is to talk when I am teaching the gospel. Well, I shouldn’t be amazed…. We just receive more tender mercies when we are doing the Lord’s work.
After we took the chairs back, we headed for Esteli. Sister Koelliker had dinner ready for us, so we eat, packed up and headed for home. We got home about 9:30pm. The Koellikers have been such nice hosts. We enjoyed staying with them much more than staying at a motel. We just hope we don’t wear out our welcome.

Although these week-ends trips are long, we love being in the mountains and visiting/helping in these small branches and groups. This is our favorite part of our mission.  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 11 to July 17

Monday, July 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Henry and Great Grandma Bell

We took our Brazilian Elder to see the doctor today. The doctor’s office is at the Hospital. He checked him over and didn’t think he had Lupus, which is a good thing, but needed to keep him in the hospital overnight so he could run some tests. So he (and his companion) were checked into the hospital.
We had a progressive dinner tonight with the Lees, Koellikers, Poncios and us. We started at our home for appetizers, then to the Lees for a spaghetti dinner, then to Poncios for dessert and a short lesson. The Poncios gave us ties that were made in Guatemala.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We took Koellikers to Esteli to look at homes. We looked at the duplex, and the white house. We went to Rosti Pollie for lunch. The waitress that waited on us acouple of weeks ago remembered us. She was genuinely glad to see us. We didn’t realize we had that kind of impact on her. But it was fun to see her again and we had a good visit.

After lunch we went to a real estate agent that we meet a few weeks ago with the missionaries. She had a house to show us but said we wouldn’t like it because the neighbors drank and would create a problem for us. But she had another house to show us. We went back to La Rivera and looked at the blue house that we have driven by several times. We actually had asked about it but it was too big and a big yard. The owner said he had another smaller facility out of town. So we followed him about 5 km north of town. We stopped at a big wall and gate. He opened it to a big yard, with large trucked parked inside. It had acouple of rooms, a large outside kitchen and separate mens and womens bathrooms. It was an old outdoor restaurant or a bunk house type facility. We had another small apartment with bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom on another side. It was all very dirty, poorly built and overall disgusting. We politely told him it was not what we were looking for and left.
The Koellikers decided on the duplex, so we went by the owner’s house and gave them information to begin putting together a contract. Success…. We have a house for Koellikers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Today, we did three things: we went to the hospital acouple of times to check on our Brazilian Missionary. Fortunately, he does not have heart problems, but unfortunately, we still don’t know what he has. Sister Bell also took calls all day from sick missionaries and we shopped with the Koellikers. We were supposed to meet Wilbert Navaues, from the Church Facilities Department today, but he cancelled. So we shopped for things the Koellikers needed to buy and not for things the Church will buy. He rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

We invited the Lees and Koellikers for dinner. But while we were eating, Brother Navaues called and asked if the Koellikers could meet him at the store tonight in about ½ hour from the time he called. So we quickly finished eating and the Lees took the Koelliker to the store while we cleaned up.

Thursday, July 14, 2016
We spent the day with the Koellikers shopping and moving things to Esteli. We are spending the night at the Hotel Hex in Esteli, the only building with carpet that we have seen in Nicaragua. We moved some small items into the Koellikers duplex and visited with the owners. They are an older couple who has lived in Los Angeles for many years. They are a delight to visit with and very accommodating.

Our Brazilian Missionary got out of the hospital with no restrictions or medications. He is back in Chichigalpa working. A tender mercy….

Friday, July 15, 2016
This morning we found out that the Koellikers furniture will not be delivered today as planned. So we talked them into going to Ocotal with us to deliver a package to Elder Baltimore, one of the District Leaders. He had told the Lee’s it was very important. We also wanted to show the Koellikers some of the country, as the drive to Ocotal is one of the most beautiful parts of Nicaragua. On our way we stopped in Condega to deliver a post card to Elder Scaggs. Then we found Elder Hirschi, the zone leader, with Elder Baltimore in Ocotal.
The missionaries enjoyed meeting the Koellikers.
When we got back to Esteli, we went to the bank, Claro (internet) and Rosti Polli for lunch. Every time we have eaten there, a young waitress has been our server. Her name is Klely. She is married to Luiz and has a little girl named Brittany Natalie. She was so glad to see us again today, she came up and gave us all hugs… even me. After lunch, Michelle gave her a pass along card. She asked when the church meetings were. We told her her ward started at 9am but that there was another ward that began at 2pm, in case she had to work in the morning. We called the sister missionaries and asked them to watch out for her.

The traffic in Managua was terrible, the worst I have seen since being here. However, the sunset and electric trees were beautiful. Several of the main streets in Managua are lined with these trees. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016 (Michelle)
I would like to share a miracle that happened this week.  I know that Heavenly Father watches over each of us and that he knows our needs very personally and that he cares about what happens to us.
At 4:00 am on Saturday an elder called us.  He was in horrific pain and said that his shoulder was dislocated.  I said, “What?”  He said that before the mission he had injured his shoulder and it had been dislocated and repaired in the hospital.  Previous to the mission the shoulder had dislocated, but he had always been able to put it back in place himself.  This morning, he had tried, but he felt like it was swollen and he didn’t know what to do.  He asked if I could do something to help him.  As I tried to clear the sleepiness from my head, my heart dropped to my toes when he told me he was in Puerto Cabezas.  It is clear across the country on the eastern coast and the only hospital is a public facility that is a frightening nightmare to say the least.  You go there never knowing if you will get out alive.  I told him I needed to call our medical adviser in Guatemala and that I would call him back. 
I telephoned Elder Lynn and explained the situation to him.  I naively asked him if he could call and talk the elder through the relocation process and he chuckled and said that the person performing the action needed a much higher skill level than a missionary companion and a doctor specializing in pregnant women.  He then wished me good luck and we hung up. 

Elder Bell and I knelt at the bedside and I talked to our Heavenly Father.  In plain language I explained the situation to him – an elder in extreme pain, the problem of extreme distance for transport, and a hospital from an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  We asked for wisdom in our suggestions to this elder and His help to provide care for the elder.  We both immediately felt that he should go to the hospital, which surprised us both. 

I called Sister Poncio to discuss the situation and to ask for her permission to send the elder to the hospital in Puerto Cabeza.  After listening, she said that we really had no other choice and gave her permission.

I called the elder back and said, “I can’t believe that I am saying this to you, but we believe the best course of action is to send you to the hospital.”  I then gave him some cautions about refusing anything he did not feel good about and that I felt strongly that he should have a priesthood blessing.  We then hung up.

For the next two hours I lay in bed and prayed that our elder would come in contact with people that could help him and that his pain would be minimal.

About 6:00 we got up and I called the elder.  He did not answer.  His companion had his phone.  He said that the elder was sleeping like a baby.  They had given him IV sedation, reduced the dislocation, and put him in a sling-brace and he was totally comfortable.  He had to wear the brace for the next eight days and then he would be fine.  He was to take Ibuprofen for the pain and I suggested that he wear the brace when he sleeps for the next 6 weeks.

Just the right kind of doctor “happened” to be at the hospital that the elder needed.  He was able to receive good care and in a very short time, at a place where I never dreamed that could happen.  Happenstance?  I think not.  Our prayers were answered and a missionary who was doing his best to serve was given a miraculous blessing.  My testimony is that our Heavenly Father watches over us with the loving care of a parent and that he will intervene in our behalf when we have the need.  I thank Him for his love and care.

Sunday, July 17, 2016
We woke up this morning wondering where we should go to church. We have been in the north so much that we feel alittle lost. We could have gone to Jinotega, about 3 hours drive from home to deliver medicine and talk to a perspective missionary that I have been helping, but we just didn’t feel very good about that. So we looked on a map and found a church not far from us, that we hadn’t been to. The ward was Los Laureles. Google Map said it would take 30 minutes, so we left 45 minutes early, following the directions very carefully. However, we found a large wall built across the road we needed to take. We were stuck. It was getting close to 9am and we knew we couldn’t go around and make it in time. So out of frustration, we found the closest chapel and headed for it. We got there right at 9am. It was the Shick Ward in the Villa Flor Stake. We walked in and it was apparent they had already begun, which surprised us because none of the meetings start on time. We sat in front of Elder Lopez and Elder Boche, the two missionaries assigned to the ward. They leaned forward and told us they started at 8am. We were disappointed we missed the sacrament but they also told us there was another ward that started at 10am. We went to the gospel essentials class taught by the Elders and then went to the Rene Polanco Ward.

The Elders in the Rene Polanco Ward were Elder Garcia and Elder Zeron. None of the four Elders we knew very well, so it was good to attend to get to know them better.   They confirmed a lady who had been baptized the day before. After the confirmation, she sat down all by herself so Sister Bell and I went and sat next to her. Afterward, we went to Gospel Essentials and again sat next to her. Then Sister Bell went to Relief Society with her. At the end of the meetings, the newly baptized sister asked if Sister Bell was going to be in their ward again next week. She was disappointed when Sister Bell told her no.  We helped a newly baptized member enjoy her first Sunday as a member and made a friend in the process. We had just found out why we were lead to the Rene Polanco Ward.           

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 4, 2016 to July 10, 2016

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday the United States of America… we miss not having July 4th celebrations today.
Tonight, we were invited to President Poncio’s home along with the Lees for FHE. They are very corgial and welcoming. Their son, Keneth, conducted the FHE. We sang, had a lesson by President Poncio, had a light dinner (we had already eaten so it was good it was light) and just had a nice time getting to know each other.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

We had the Multizone conference for the three zones in Managua (Villa Flor, Bello Horizonte, and Las Americas). It was a get to know the new president type of conference. President and Sister Poncio talked with each missionary for a minute, then gave a slide show presentation about their family, telling us about themselves. Then Sister Bell and I had our 15 minutes of glory. This morning we taught about heat related problems. We had Sister Ashcraft and Sister Coello do a role play of a missionary suffering from heat exhaustion. Sister Ashcraft really hammed it up, falling to the ground and acted as if she was dying. We talked about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to prevent it. The missionaries really liked my sombrero, sunglasses and Sister Bell’s parasol.  We had a good time doing it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

We had our first all-nighter. Late afternoon, Sister Bell got a call from an Elder in Chichigalpa, a little town about 2 hours northwest of Managua. He was having severe stomach pain. He called several times needing help. Finally, Sister Bell told him to go to the AMOSCA Hospital in Chichigalpa (which was actually just a clinic). They gave him a shot for the pain and told him he might have appendicitis and told him they couldn’t help him further. He went home, but the pain didn’t go away so he went to the local public hospital, which we had told him not to go to. They too told him they thought he might have appendicitis but didn’t have a lab to confirm this. So in consultation with Sister Poncio, we left Managua about 10:30pm to go get him and his companion and bring them to the hospital here. We got there about midnight (one can make good time when there is no traffic on the road). The local hospital was terrible. There were tons of beetles on the floor of the emergency room. The toilets didn’t even work. We loaded them up and took off for Managua. We got to the Hospital Metropolitano about 2:30am. They ran several tests and determined that he didn’t have appendicitis, but had passed a small kidney stone. We were greatly relieved he didn’t need surgery. We bought them dinner/breakfast and took him to the Secretaries home, where they got a ride back to Chichigalpa with the Mission President. The Poncios were going to Estela for a multi-zone conference, which we were supposed to go to but we needed sleep instead. So we went home, had breakfast and went to bed.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

We left at 6am this morning and drove to EstelĂ­ for a 3 zone conference. We had our 15 minutes of fame. It went well. Elder Scaggs and Elder Thackeray did a role play in which Elder Thackerary pretended he had heat exhaustion and Elder Scaggs was trying to help him. They did a great job. They had everyone entertained, laughing and having a good time. We went on to talk about heat exhaustion and things they needed to do to prevent problems from being in the sun all day.
Afterward we took President and Sister Poncio to look at a couple of possible houses for the Koellikers, who will be here on Saturday. They liked both but liked the duplex, which is the one we liked the best as well. We will bring the Koellikers next week to choose the one they want to live in for 18 months.

Sister Bell dealt with several missionary health issues during the day, in person at the conference and via phone. We got home about 7:30pm and are heading to bed about 8:30pm, worn out….

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This morning we went with the Lees to the Plaza de La Revolution. It is located by Lake Managua. On one side is the President’s House (which isn’t used by the President), on another end is a Catholic Cathedral, which is closed, apparently damaged in an earthquake. On the other end is the Palacio de la Cultura and the other side is the graves of some of the military leaders in the last revolution.

We then went to Walmart and PriceSmart. In the evening we met the Koellikers at the airport. They are from Las Vegas and will be member and leader support missionaries in Esteli. We all (Poncios, Lees, Koellikers and us) eat at the Zocalo Mexican Grill for dinner. We are very excited about them being here and will be a great help up in Esteli.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

We had a “all dayer” today. We left at 7:30, headed for Trinidad. We stopped in Sebaco to visit two sick sister missionaries and dropped off some ginger ale and soup. We found them feeling a little better, which relieved our concerns greatly. They both were feeling pretty bad on Saturday, with fever, aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

We arrived in Trinidad about 11am. We picked up Elder Worden and Schoenfeld at their home and then visited Yasser Vanega and his wife. He is the house builder we met the first time we were in Trinidad. I felt a strong impression he was going to be a leader in the branch, but he hasn’t been very committed. His wife is a recent convert but he has been a member for several years. We had a good visit and learned a lot about them. I told him about my impression and encouraged them to become more committed, assuring him they would receive blessings, be happier and find great joy in serving in the Church. They did come to church that afternoon, so hopefully our visit made a difference.
We then had a short visit with the new Relief Society President, Sister Cruz, the wife of the branch President. She had already been to a District RS training. Sister Cruz seems to be learning her assignment and beginning the task of being a RS President with dedication and enthusiasm. They were holding their first RS meeting tonight at 6pm.

We then went to Sacrament Meeting. There were a few less members attending today than in the past. Elder Worden told us that the attendance has been down the last few weeks. This is not surprising as the members were all excited about becoming a branch, and once they did, the excitement went away and some of the members with it. Also, 2 missionaries were moved out of the area so they are spread a little thin. The Branch Presidency is trying hard and are committed to making this branch flourish.

After Sacrament meeting, we went to Jinotega, 1.5 hours east of Trinidad. We have a sister missionary with parasites that needed medicine. She was not able to find the pills she needed in Jinotega, so we found them in Managua and took them to her, along with soup and Ginger Ale. (I think we need to buy a case of each to have as we minister to these sick missionaries.) We found them without difficulty and got back on the road about 5:30, headed for home. On our way out of Jinotega, we got a call from Sister Poncio, telling us that one of our missionaries was in great pain. This Elder is from Brazil and has a disease that was not listed on his mission application, but is cropping up here. So after a lot of discussion between Sister Bell, Sister Poncio and I and after prayer, we felt impressed to go get him and bring him to Managua. He lives in Chichigalpa, which is on the western part of the Country (sound familiar? We went there last week to bring another Elder to Managua). We were in the north central part of the country. Fortunately, there is a road going from Sebaco to Leon. Chichigalpa is north of Leon, a few kilometers. So we took off, driving an unfamiliar road at night. Despite all the problems rural driving at night in Nicaragua has (horses, people, dogs, etc.) we got to Chichigalpa about 8:30. We loaded them up and brought them to Managua, dropped them off at the Office Secretaries house and went home. We tried to read the scriptures, but I fell asleep in verse 3…. while I was reading. So we turned out the light and went to sleep. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Monday, June 27 to Sunday July 3, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

After a busy week, it was nice to have a slow day in the office. We had our last office meeting with President Collado, mostly going over the schedule for tomorrow when President Poncio arrives. We gave the Collados a beautiful hand carved box with letters from the missionaries inside. Sister Bell and I are going to the airport along with the Collados and the Lees. We are looking forward to it.
L to R: Elder Neilson, Sister Leon, Elder Lee, Sister Ramos, Sister Lee, Elder Knight, Sister Collado, Elder Gonzalez, President Collado, Elder Ramirez, Sister Bell and Elder Bell. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Today we started to the airport early to be there when the new Mission President was supposed to arrive, but half way there, we got a call from President Collado telling us there was a change in his flight and he won’t arrive until late tonight.

So we went to the office, did some work there for the morning. In the afternoon, we delivered some medicine to a missionary in Ciudadela a little town about an hour north east of Managua. We meet them in Tipitapa and then drove them to their area. Their area was a subdivision of Ciudadela. The roads were terrible, all dirt, with deep pot holes. It had rained so the roads were muddy as well. I am glad with have a vehicle with clearance. We needed it today.

On our way home, we decided to try a different route to try to avoid the traffic. It took us further south away from the city and then we got on another highway back to the city. The traffic was definitively less but some of the roads were gravel and in back shape. I don’t know if it saved us any time. However, in the middle of our trip back, we came to a junction in the road and Sister Bell was not sure which way to go. She said google did not provide her with enough detail to determine which way we should turn. So we pulled over to the side of the road and I took the phone. I enlarged the screen and could tell immediately which road to take. As we continued on, I thought a little about this experience and related it to many of the people of the world who either didn’t have the tools or didn’t know how to use it fully to tell which way to go. We are surely blessed to have the tools (scriptures… not just the Bible which is an incomplete record, modern prophets and the gift of the Holy Ghost) to know which way to go.

Tonight, we hosted a discussion with Salvador, one of our guards. Elder Lopez from Guatemala and Elder Casejah from Honduras, were the two missionaries who came and taught. Since we live in the south mission, they are from the south mission. But apparently the church is true in the south mission because they taught correct principles and taught with the spirit. There was a sweet spirit there as they talked about the Plan of Salvation. We have another appointment set for Thursday evening.

President Poncio and his family finally arrived at 11 pm tonight. They seemed to be very happy to be here. He is younger than I thought, probably in his late 40s. They have two children, a girl that is 17 and a son who is 16. The son will return to Guatemala for school but the daughter will stay in the mission field. She speaks a little English, for which we are grateful. President Collado was especially glad and happy. We could see the mantel (and the pressures of the mantel) leave him. We gave the Collados hugs as we left the airport and promised to see them in Pleasant Grove when we return in 20.5 months. We will miss them. Not only have they been our Priesthood leaders, they have become our friends.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We met with President Poncio for 10 minutes today. We told him briefly about the medical situation in the mission and then told him about a problem we have with AETNA and one hospital, discussed our training plans and discussed what we were doing for the Koellikers. Our time was up.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

We worked in the office this morning and then took mosquito nets around to the zones in Managua. It was a pretty quiet day.

David is having another lesson today in his home. He said it went well and he likes what he heard. His wife and daughters have not been part of the lessons but he said they will join him on Friday. We had another lesson with Salvador and the local missionaries here. They talked about the rest of the Plan of Salvation, including the spirit world, resurrection and the three degrees of glory. We talked specifically about eternal families, since his wife passed away about 2 years ago. He was very interested and said he was going to Church on Sunday. The missionaries at his home, the same ones that are teaching David, will continue teaching him. They had talked to him at his home on Wednesday.

Friday, July 1, 2016

We had a zone leader conference with the new President today. We went because we had to get some items from several of the zone leaders and distribute some items to others. Unfortunately, all but one had forgotten to bring the items to the conference. We left for a while and went shopping for Sister Bell. She didn’t buy anything, but I bought a new hat.
We then went back for a little while and then home. Sister Bell had a language tutor session. We went to the Lee’s for dinner and a game of Phase 10….. I won.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Today we had an adventure. We left Managua about 7am this morning, heading for Matagalpa. We met with Ruddy Perez, a perspective missionary, to help him complete his missionary application. We spent almost 2 hours helping him and the Branch President complete their portions of the application. The only thing he lacks is his medical and dental exams.

Our next task was to drive to Somoto, which was north of Matagalpa a couple of hours. On the map, there is a highway that goes from Matagalpa through Jinotega to Condega, where we hit the Panamerican highway to Somoto. I tried several times to get google map to plot this route but it keep telling me to go back the way we came to Sebaco and then go north from there. Well, we wanted to see new country, and it was a National Highway, so we thought it would be OK. And it was….. until we got to San Rafael del Norte. Then it turned to gravel for the last 50 kms. It was rutty, rocky and very slow. I was just glad we didn’t get a flat tire. It took us 1.5 hours to go the last 50 kms. But the country side was beautiful, with a lot of farms, mostly on the side hills, as there was not a lot of flat land.
Most of these farms we hand planted and harvested. We saw beans, corn, bananas and several other crops we didn’t recognize. I was amazed how many people lived back in the hills. There were small homes along the whole route. Mostly made of bricks, mud and mortar, with mud floors. However, all had electricity and many had satellite dishes.

We got to Somoto in time to do some visits. We found out that Somoto was formed into a branch two weeks ago. We knew that it had been approved, but the last we heard was that the District President went there, interviewed two perspective Melchizedek Priesthood holders, didn’t ordain them because they weren’t ready and didn’t form the new branch. But apparently, President Collado, worked with the missionaries, I am assuming with the knowledge of the District President, called and set apart a new branch President. He is the only Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the branch. He doesn’t have counselors yet. We discussed principles of leadership and talked about how to lead a basic unit of the Church. We then visited two other families, one an investigator and another a member. Then we went to the Fellowshipping meeting they have every Saturday night. All was very enjoyable, even the pizza we bought the Elders before we left for Ocotal for the night at the La Frontera hotel. All was well… no flats and not police stops. Life is good (except I am getting a cold).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our first task today was to deliver supplies to the zone leaders, Elder Hirschi and Elder Familia in Ocotal. They needed to leave about 7am to pass by their investigators and remind them to go to church which starts at 9am.

We arrived in Somoto about 10 to pick up and take to church an investigator which is crippled. It is very hard for her to walk the 4 blocks to church. We also took her daughter and 2 grandkids. The first Sacrament Meeting was at the Branch Presidents home, actually on the porch of his home. We had 35 people there, which is a record for Somoto.

Sister Bell bore her testimony, telling about our family and why we went on a mission. I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon, telling about the time on my mission when I was reading the Book of Mormon around a kerosene heater. While I was reading, I felt the spirit really strongly witnessing to me that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.

We attended the second Sacrament Meeting which is in a Sister’s home on the other side of town. They have two Sacrament Meetings because they don’t have a space large enough to accommodate all the people. There were about 60 people in attendance in the two meeting. The Church is looking for a building they can lease so both groups can meet together. Sister Bell spoke again, giving the same testimony she gave before. I also bore my testimony talking about aspen clones and they are all connected by the roots. I then told them that when the two groups get together, they should be like aspen roots, connected together. We sure love the people and the missionaries, and they seem to love us. I encouraged the members to bare their testimonies and 4 did. In the first meeting, only the Branch President, his daughter and the missionaries bore their testimony.

We got stopped by the police for the 6th time, 4th time while I was driving. I passed three slow trucks crossing a solid line. Two other cars came with me and all three were stopped. We know that one car was given a ticket. I don’t know if the third car got one or not. We were number two. The policeman said it will cost us C$1500 and when I told him I didn’t have a visa, he said it would cost me another C$1000. I told him we were missionaries, that Sister Bell is the nurse, that we were in Somoto helping and heading home to Managua. I also told him we had been in the country for 2 months. I think they don’t know how to deal with us, so they let us go with a caution. Someday my luck will run out…