Monday, August 15, 2016

August 8 to August 14

Monday, August 8, 2016
At noon, which all the mission leaders eat together (today the Elders bought McDonalds…. Oh boy). After our hamburgers, Sister Poncio brought in a three milk cake for my birthday and of course everyone sang happy birthday. So I had donuts, a birthday cookie and a cake…. All on different days but none on my birthday. It is nice to be loved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Happy Anniversary Kim and Dan. Sister Bell did some calculations about the illnesses in our mission. Three weeks ago there were 13 missionaries with stomach problems. Two weeks ago it was 6 and last week it was 3. Maybe our trainings are paying off.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
I have been working hard to get all the necessary items to each of the missionaries’ homes. We delivered the last closets to the last two homes without them, one in Matagalpa and the other in Ocotal. Now I am working on getting fans to each missionary. We ordered more fans about 4 months ago, but found out three months later that that order did not go through. So we have been trying to order again, unsuccessfully I might add. Finally, someone sent us the process and the format that the order needed to be sent in on. So I completed the form (for Elder Lee) and gave it to the President. He sent it on. I am not holding my breath on when we will get these items. So, I have been checking to see if any of the missionaries have extras and have made arrangements for some of those without get a fan from those who have extra. That took care of 2 or 3. However, there are 4 more (no wait, there are now 6 because I found out that one apartment, who had four fans, now have 4 fans that don’t work – missionaries can be hard on fans). Anyway, I found 4 extras, which we will pick up tomorrow and take with us this week-end (I found 2 more in Matagalpa on Friday).

We are also finished putting together a little paper on Zika. We believe we have had over 20 missionaries with Zika like symptoms. We can’t determine if the virus was Zika without a blood test, but the symptoms were sure like Zika. We want the missionaries to understand what Zika is, how it is treated, how they can protect themselves against it and what are the long term consequences of having the virus. Therefore, we prepared a white paper and sent it to President and Sister Poncio for their review (they asked us to review this information with the missionaries at the next multi-zone conferences in acouple of weeks).

Thursday, August 11, 2016
Happy 4-month mission anniversary….
Today was a “get ready for the week-end” day. We picked up extra fans from a couple of Hermanas’ homes in Managua and will take them north this week-end. Then we went to Nagorate, to give some sun screen to a sister missionary, but she didn’t need it. We are still wondering who needed the sun screen. We then went to the bank, PriceSmart and to the office. Sister Bell talked with the Elders in Ocotal about an Elder who had food allergies and had to go to the hospital. Fortunately, he is all right. We are all greatly relieved. We thought we might have to make a quick trip north, but didn’t. We have loaded the car with Book of Mormons, food, fans and misc. other items for the missionaries in Matagalpa, Jinotega, Esteli, Ocotal, Somoto, Pueblo Nuevo and Condega. We will have a busy week-end, beginning tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2016
Michelle started the day by scrubbing our bedroom floors. We have a lady who cleans our house every other week, but the floors needed a good scrubbing. So Michelle got down on her knees (with knee pads) and scrubbed. They look really good, but now I have to take my shoes off at the door. We left town about 10:30am and headed for Matagalpa.

As we were just outside of Managua, by the airport, Sister Bell got a call from a sister missionary that had blisters on her feet. Since we were close, we stopped by their apartment and Sister Bell fixed her feet, at least put mole skin on them and taught her how to take care of her feet.

We arrived in Matagalpa about 1:30pm and met Elder Hobbs, Diaz, Reyes and Rush and dropped off Libros de Mormon, a pillow, mirror and pamphlets. Then we headed to Jinotega. The road to Jinotega from Matagalpa goes through the mountains. It is spectacular.

 We were amazed that they could grow crops (beans, corn, coffee) on such steep slopes. But this is how they do it.

We arrived in Jinotega in time for a baptism, that was going to start at 4pm. So we waited and waited and waited. Finally, two of the sisters went to get the young man and they arrived about 5pm. The baptism went well and everyone was happy. There are 4 sister missionaries in Jinotega, Hermanas Barrios, Alfaro, Pehrson and Romero. The District Leader, Elder Royas and his companion, Elder Perry work in Matagalpa. Elder Royas is the District leader for 4 sets of sister missionaries…. 8 Sisters, plus him and his companion. He is a happy missionary, I am assuming because that is his personality, not because he is leading 8 sister missionaries…. But maybe it is.

While we waited, I visited with Yunior Gonzalez, a young man who I am helping prepare his missionary application. He had a lot of dental work done in preparation of going. The Church helped him pay for the work. Here are the before and after photos.

After the baptism, we took all 6 missionaries out to dinner.
They all ordered hamburgers. The Elders missed their bus back to Matagalpa, so we crowded them in the back seat with the Book of Mormons, fans, our luggage and a bunch of other stuff and took them back to Matagalpa. After we dropped them off at their house, we headed for Esteli, arriving at the Koellikers about 10pm.
A full day……

Saturday, August 13, 2016
Today was another full day. We were very glad we started from Esteli and not Managua. We started in Trinidad giving piano lessons to Carelys and Maria Clara Cruz. Sister Bell is able to give the lessons without any translation from me, although I keep hearing her talk in English. But they seem to communicate well enough. The girls, who are the branch president’s daughters, are doing great. Last Sunday they played acouple of hymns for prelude. They can only play the melody, but that is a major accomplishment realizing they have only had three lessons.

We then went to Somoto. We first had a PEC meeting with the President Alaniz and the missionaries. President Alaniz traveled all night to get back for the meeting. He was out of town on business for a few days. We reviewed the male members and found that two AP holders did not get recorded and there are several of eligible priesthood holders who have not been ordained. Keeping accurate records is so important. Missionaries know how to complete baptism information, but they are not trained about priesthood ordinations. Usually, these functions are done by the wards and branches, but in these cases, the missionaries are functioning as the group leaders. Therefore, I am training them.
After PEC. Emanuel and Angie, both AP age young men, came for the Priesthood preparation class. No others came, which was disappointing. I was planning on teaching a lesson about the Melchizedek Priesthood, but since none of the older men had come, I taught a lesson about the AP and the ministering of Angels. I took the information from a conference talk by Elder Oaks a few years ago. 
We had a wonderful discussion.

We then headed for Pueblo Nuevo about 45 minutes away. It started to rain while we were driving there. We really love PN. It is a very clean small town. We meet in the home of Hermana Nuvia. She was baptized 20+ years ago in Managua, but could not participate in the Church for many years because the Church was not in Pueblo Nuevo. So when the missionaries arrived about 8 months ago, they found each other. The Miracle is that she still had a strong testimony of the Gospel after so many years. Some of her family have now been baptized. They hold the afternoon Sacrament Meeting in her home.

We had three perspective Melchizedek Priesthood holders attend the Priesthood preparation class. Sister Bell, Hermana Nuvia, one of her daughters and the granddaughter of one of the perspective priesthood holders also sat in. I taught the first lesson which is about what the Priesthood is and the difference between the authority of the Priesthood and the Power of the Priesthood. I had to almost shout over the sound of the heavy rain falling on the tin roof of the house. Fortunately, the rain subsided a little and I didn’t have to shout so loud. The spirit was very strong as we talked. We thoroughly enjoy teaching the gospel.

We got back to Esteli about 9pm, having driven in dark, heavy rain the whole way. I was surprised to still see so many people out on the roads. But we arrived safe and sound to the Koelliker’s home.

Sunday, August 14, 2016
We left the Koellikers home about 7:30am and arrived in Ocotal just in time for Sacrament Meeting to start. This was our first time to attend the Ocotal Branch. When we walked in, the keyboard that we left acouple of weeks ago was being played by Sister Willes. The Sacrament song was played by one of their students (remember, they have had the keyboard for only 2 weeks, so this is amazing that she could play a hymn already). There were about 30 people in attendance. They have a second Sacrament Meeting in the afternoon and apparently have more people attend. I worked with Elder Baltimore, one of the zone leaders and the branch President to update some of the Somoto members records and move the Somoto members’ records to the Somoto Branch. They were tied to the Ocotal Branch until they were made a branch about a month ago.

But what was great about our time in Ocotal was to watch Sister Bell interact with the missionaries about health issues. She has a wonderful “bed side manner” with them. They just love her.
We then headed to Condega, eating our two-day old p/b/j sandwiches as we went. We helped Elder Spence and Thackeray clean the clothing factory and set up the chairs for church. We then had a short PEC, reviewing the membership list. We found members that had been baptized but the missionaries didn’t know and members who have been ordained but the record did not reflect the ordination. They have a list of things to do. We also discussed some of the organization things they would like to do. These young missionaries have never run branches before and really appreciate having someone close that they can counsel with.

Sister Bell gave a talk in their Sacrament meeting about the importance of prayer. I gave a Priesthood/RS lesson about the Aaron Priesthood. I started out by making a long line out of ties. I had several of the men take off their ties in order to have a line long enough to cross the room. I had two young men hold the line and I found a rock that I used to demonstrate the earth. I placed the earth a few yards from one end of the line. We discussed how short our lives are in relation to eternity, and how important the decisions that we make in this life are and how these decisions affect our eternity. We discussed the role of the Aaronic Priesthood in helping us progress, such as being baptized and partaking of the Sacrament. The members were very engaged in the discussion and there was a wonderful spirit there. Here is a picture of a portion of the Condega Group taken after Sacrament Meeting. 

We eat dinner with the Koellikers in Esteli. The Lee’s were also there with three of their branch members. They had a district training in Esteli.

We listened to the Mormon Channel from my phone all the way home from Esteli, which made the trip much nicer. We live in a wonderful time….. 

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