Monday, July 25, 2016
At office all day. Talked to John and went to Hawaii (via Skype and drop Box).
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
We had new missionary training today. It is always fun to be with the missionaries. We are getting to know them better, having dealt with many of them now for over 3 months. We truly love them and are beginning to know which are the valiant and which are not. However, we love them all. Sister Bell talked with missionaries on and off all day, many conversations were to check up on past or ongoing health issues and a few new ones.
President Poncio showed a couple of videos of President Eyering and Elder Holland. They were powerful testimonies of the importance of working hard. Elder Holland talked about how miracles happen when we have done all we can and then give just a little bit more. He talked about feeling just alittle bit of what the Savior felt in the Garden as he prayed and bled for us, as we give our all to the work. All the videos were powerful and very spiritual.
Sister Bell gave a little presentation about health. At the request of Hermana Poncio, she taught principles of good eating and then shared what she has in her purse that helps her stay healthy and comfortable. Elder Gallo and Nogueira helped her with this. Elder Gallo reluctantly pulled items out of her purse and told everyone what it was in English and Elder Nogueira told what it was in Spanish. Elder Gallo didn’t want to stay going through her purse, but at her instance he did, much to the delight of the other missionaries. We work with Elder Gallo and Nogueira in Somoto so we know the very well.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Office…. Games and Dinner at Lees…. Michelle won and I lost. Nothing changes.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Spent the morning at home. Sister Bell had a tutoring session with Whitney. We went to the distribution center to pick up some things for the Elders in Somoto, then after lunch we went to the office. Sister Bell is working on short talks about the family in the Guide to the Family, the short church publication. There is a lot of good basic information about how to incorporate the gospel into our homes. Today she prepared a talk about family scripture study and gave an example from our family experience when we first started studying together as a family when President Benson asked us to and the blessings that we received from following that counsel.
Friday, July 29, 2016
We spent a couple of hours at the office, then went shopping. We went to the distribution center to get garments and scriptures for the missionaries in Somoto. We then went to Walmart and PriceSmart to buy things for us and also for the Koellikers. The Koellikers, who live in Esteli, can’t get certain items in Esteli, so we get a list each week of things they need, mostly from PriceSmart. We deliver them when we go north and stay with them. It is a little service we can give them for allowing us to stay in their spare bedroom. After we got all this done, we received a note that one of the Sisters in Esteli needed garments so we went back to the distribution center one more time.
The Office Secretaries invited us to a wedding and baptism Friday night. We got there at 5:30, when the wedding was supposed to start. Of course no one was there. The wedding was at the Maximo Jerez chapel. They have a keyboard to Sister Bell began to play. She quit after playing for 1.5 hours (they still hadn’t started, waiting for the attorney who was to perform the wedding…. He was stuck in traffic). She stopped playing, but then Elder Ramirez asked her to keep playing so she did. The wedding got started about 8pm. Apparently only Attorneys can perform marriages in Nicaragua. Fortunately, he was LDS so he gave them LDS approved advise.
After the wedding, the bride (who was in her 40s) was baptized. Her husband, was already a member. Another Sister was also baptized.
Sister Bell and I had a conversation with President and Sister Poncio after the Baptism about the Zika Virus. We have had a large number of missionaries get a virus that lasts about 7 days. It includes a low grade fever, muscle and joint pain and a rash. Sister Bell sent a note to Elder Lynn, our Area Doctor in Guatemala, asking him about this virus. He wrote back that these symptoms are very typical of the Zika Virus. Sister Bell read up on Zika and found that although the researchers don’t know everything about the virus, they have found the Zika virus in men for up to 6 months after getting the virus. With the concern about birth defects in new borns, we wanted President and Sister Poncio to know about this and talk to the missionaries who will be leaving next week. Some have had it. He will encourage them all have complete physicals when they get home, testing for Zika, among other things, such as parasites.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
We left at 8am, headed for Trinidad. We had two new Yamaha keyboards with us. We gave the first keyboard to the Branch President in Trinidad and gave his two daughters their first lesson. Trinidad was made a branch about 6 weeks ago. They still meet in a garage next to the missionaries’ apartment.
They have not had a piano to accompany the singing. One of
the daughters leads the music. She will sing the first line to demonstrate what
the hymn is and then they begin singing. The first lesson went very well. Both
girls are committed and excited about learning. They will keep the keyboard at
their house until the Church finds them a Chapel.
We stopped in Esteli for lunch at the Koellikers and then continued on to Somoto. We had a Priesthood Lesson at 3pm at the Branch Presidents home. We arrived about 3:05 to find only the Presidents family at home. We called the missionaries and they said that they were holding a baptism and would be late. Well they showed up about 1.5 hours later. We had visited with the President and his family while we were waiting. The President talked to us about some experiences and frustrations he was having. I understood some of what he was saying, but not enough to really feel I understood what he was saying. It was very frustrating. When the Elders finally arrived, we were just leaving to go to Ocotal. So we reset the Priesthood meeting for tomorrow and left. I encouraged him to talk to the District President and he said he was feeling impressed to talk to him as well.
We met Sister Willes and Sister Gould in Ocotal. We first took them to dinner at a nice restaurant, El Viejo. It was the best food that the Sisters had had for some time and they kept telling us that. Then we went to their apartment and got out the keyboard (this was the purpose of our trip to Ocotal). Both play the piano and have committed to give lessons. They were really excited. Ocotal has a branch that meets in the morning and a group that meets in the afternoon. They haven’t had a keyboard until now. So they are very excited.
It was very dark on our way back to Esteli, we went through a little town. There were people walking down the middle of the road, mostly in dark clothes. Fortunately, I saw them in time to swerve but they had to run to get out of the way. That was a close call.
Sunday, July 31, 2016
This was a long and fulfilling day. We left Esteli about 8:30, headed for Church in Somoto. We made a quick stop in Condega to give Jade, a young 11-year-old girl, a picture of her baptism that we had taken the week before and framed. She was very excited and showed the Elders later in the day the picture. They said she was very excited to have it.
We arrived in Somoto at President Alberto Alaniz home (on the front porch, with dogs and chickens walking through the meeting… at least the cats stayed away). It was a very touching meeting as this is Elder Diaz’s last day in Somoto. He has been there for 10 months, his whole mission. He has seen this area go from a few members to a branch and has progressed from a junior companion to a district leader. President Alaniz invited Sister Bell and I to talk. Sister Bell was prepared but I was not, but quickly pulled together some remarks about the gift of the Holy Ghost. We had a confirmation of a 15-year-old young man, who had been baptized yesterday (during the time when we were supposed to have our Priesthood training meeting). Sister Bell had prepared a short message about the importance of family scripture study, taken from the Guide for Families that the Church publishes. President Alaniz and Elder Diaz also talked.
Afterward, Elder Diaz taught about Exaltation for the Gospel Principles class. It was a wonderful lesson, which I believed helped the members understand why we do what we do. Afterward, Elder Diaz took pictures with each member (Just as we were leaving Hermana Alaniz pulled me aside and gave me a lovely costume ring that she had bought just for me. She said it expressed her love for me. It touched my heart to the core and made me so humble. It was a big sacrifice for her to do that and I was so surprised and moved by her expression of love. Mom) and then we loaded up the hymn books, gospel principle manuals and sacrament trays and drove across town to another home where the afternoon Sacrament Meeting meets. We took President Alaniz and his 7-year-old son with us, along with Elder Diaz. The other missionaries had already left to perform another baptism. This baptism was supposed to be done before the second meeting started, which was a 2pm. But as always in Nicaragua, things do not always work out as planned. For some reason, the baptism took longer to get going and they didn’t show back up until after the meetings were over. But since most of the members were still there, the Elders confirmed the two young people who had just been baptized. Not quite Church policy but I guess it worked.
We did get to have another Priesthood meeting at 1pm, but there were only 3 branch members there, President Alaniz, one Deacon and one perspective AP holder. It is very frustrating to try to prepare priesthood holders when they do not show up. I suspect that most of them had not been invited. We set another time for next Saturday, and I specifically asked all the missionaries to get the perspective priesthood holders there AND to not schedule a baptism or other discussion over the meeting….
We took Elder Diaz to Ocotal (he is being transferred to Matagalpa as a new zone leader), stopped in Esteli for dinner at the Koellikers (we were an hour late… we are turning into Nicaraguans), then headed for home, arriving at 10:30pm… dog tired and ready for bed.
There was a huge change this week-end as we have 28 missionaries going home and 27 new missionaries coming. We will miss many of these missionaries who have been leaders in the mission. But we are excited to see many of the missionaries we have been working closely with receive other assignments. Elder Scaggs from Condega is headed for Chin Oeste as a new zone leader. His personal touch will be missed in Condega but his enthusiasm is needed in Chin Oeste. Elder Diaz is going to Matagalpa as a new zone leader working with Elder Hobbs. Elder Diaz is a lot more serious than Elder Hobbs, both will benefit from their different personalities. Elder Alvarez from Chichigalpa is headed to Puerto Cabeza as a new zone leader. We got to know him two weeks in a row when we took midnight rides to Chichigalpa for medical reasons. He is a good missionary who will enjoy the challenges of PC. Elder Spence is coming to Condega. We brought him a package from his parents when we arrived 3 months ago. We look forward to work with him. Elder Hamson came into the office to train to be the new financial secretary. We know him from Somoto. Also Elder Neilson, the financial secretary is now the new Assistant to the President. We are also excited that Elder Howland a new missionary who was one of Paul’s Priests when he was the YM president is coming to the mission on Monday and will be assigned to Somoto with Elder Galo. Don’t anyone tell either of them because they don’t know this yet.
We also learned something that gave us great joy…. The branch and group in Ocotal loved singing to the keyboard we brought them yesterday. Three sister missionaries play the piano and all three took turns playing.