Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tuesday, October 25 to Sunday, October 30

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
We had the new missionary training this morning. We had 11 north American missionaries, 2 from Guatemala and 2 from Brazil arrive last night and this morning. We held the training at the mission home. The Mission Home is a couple of miles above the mission office in a secluded housing section. It is a very nice home with a wonderful view. We held our training on the patio. We showed the 10 commandment of health powerpoint to the North Americans. We planned to do the Latinos and Brazilians later in the morning after the Brazilians arrived. But they didn’t arrive until noon, so we had about 10 minutes to go through an hour of material. We basically gave them the handouts and told them to read them. We had Pizza Hut for lunch. The trainers came for lunch but they didn’t know who their companions were. After the President completed his interviews, he announced the assignments, and as usual, there was a lot of clapping, cheering and overall excitement.

The President has called several new missionaries to be trainers. Some had just completed their own training and are now training new missionaries. He also called several new missionaries to be leaders, both District and Zone leaders. He has great confidence in some of these new missionaries, as do we. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Sister Bell had her tutoring session this morning with Whitney Allen. She really loves Whitney and their sessions and her advise has really helped her. She has been learning 8 words, 4 phrases and 4 verbs. She has been very dedicated to study these words every day. We go over them during our walks every morning. This has given her a lot of confidence. She is speaking more and more.

We took Sister Lee to lunch as Elder Lee had to fly to Puerto Cabeza to take the missionaries their passports. Several of them had to return to Managua to go to Immigration. We took Sister Lee to Rosti Pollo and had fajitas.

We ended up at the Emergency Room with one of our sisters. It was about 10 pm when she could leave so we took them home.

Thursday, October 27, 2016
We got a refrigerator from La Primavera and took it to the Sisters in Rotunda. But when we got to Rotunda, I was able to fix their existing refrig. so I didn’t have to leave the one I brought. I also had finances training from Roger Perez in preparation of helping President Alaniz count tithing money in Somoto.

Friday, October 28, 2016
We left Managua early so we could drive to Somoto and meet with the missionaries and President Alaniz. Our goal for the day was to count and deposit the tithing money he had been collecting for several months… since Somoto was made a branch. I have been very anxious to do this. But when we got to Somoto, we found out that he had another commitment and wasn’t there. So we met with the 4 missionaries, 2 of which are new, and discussed their responsibilities in the branch. So it wasn’t a total waste of a 4-hour trip. Then we got a call from Carelys from Trinidad, one of Sister Bells piano students. She had to cancel her piano lesson that we had scheduled for 4pm.  So we checked into the Hex Hotel and are relaxing. We are not staying with the Koellikers this week as the Lee’s are staying with them. We are all participating in the Esteli District Conference Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Saturday, October 29, 2016
The Lee’s, Koellikers and us went back to the Estanzuela waterfall outside of Esteli. There was a lot more water this time than there was when we went the first time. There was so much water that we couldn’t get to the drop off at the top of the water fall like we did before. We still have a good time and enjoyed having an outing.


We had the Esteli District Conference today. At 3pm (which started at 3:30pm) we had the Priesthood Leadership Meeting. The Branch Presidency from Trinidad all came. It is really difficult for members from the outlying units to come both Saturday and Sunday. Most are working 6 days a week and don’t have money for bus fares for both days. The Church pays the outlying units to rent a bus using Church funds for Sunday, but not for Saturday.

The evening session was also wonderful. President and Sister Poncio again talked. President talked about the importance of being humble. Sister Bell played the keyboard for this session.
Afterward, we went to the Koellikers, with the Lees for dinner. Then to the Hotel.

Sunday, October 30, 2016
We started with a choir practice that began at 8am (actually at 8:30am). Sister Bell is accompanying the choir. We recruited the Lee’s and Sister Poncio and her kids to sing with us. We ended up with about 20 singers. The song turned out pretty good. It was a medley of Sisters in Zion and Armies of Helaman.  We also sang a prelude song.  It was Josph Smith's First Prayer sung to the melody of  Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,

The Conference was well attended, over 400 saints came. We loved seeing the saints from Somoto, Pueblo Nuevo, Condega and Trinidad and they were glad to see us. Even some of the members from Ocotal and Ciudad Dario, where we have attended a few times came up to us to say hello and ask when we were going to visit them again. It is great to love and to be loved. 

Afterwards, I was invited to sit in a meeting with President Poncio, the District President and all of the branch Presidents. We discussed how we could work together to help converts stay active in the Church. The Branch Presidents expressed concern that the missionaries were baptizing people too fast, that they weren’t converted enough before they were baptized. I have had this same concern.

Sister Bell and I were asked last night, why we “volunteer” for so many things. I have thought about this and here is my answer. We are here to help build the kingdom, primarily by helping keep the missionaries healthy. But there are many other ways to do help. Some of which we are assigned and others we find, such as playing the piano for conference, teaching piano, taking missionaries someplace or hauling supplies around. We are here to serve any way we can. There are a lot of things we can do to help the work move forward and we find joy in finding those things and doing them. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016 to Sunday, October 23, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

We spent the morning in the office, attending the office meeting and working on the application from a young man who is preparing for a mission from La Dalia, which is outside of Matagalpa. He had a few problems with his application so I provided feedback to the missionaries who will pass it onto him. We spent the afternoon in the hospital. We plan to go back this evening to play games. Fun… I hope I win (but as usual I didn’t win).

I had another small piece of Utah Truffles that John sent us. I am trying to spread it out as long as possible. It was sooooooooo good. Thanks John.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We were going to go the multi-zone conference in Estela to teach about feet, but our sick missionary who has been in the hospital was released today, so she and her mini-missionary companion came to our house to stay for a few days while she gets her strength back.  She is doing well and we are happy to have two sparkling young people in our home.  They make us feel young.  We got batteries for the new otoscope which John sent.  Thanks, John.  The light went on when we put in the batteries and it works great.  Now all is needed is some sick ears to look into. 

We made microwave lasagna tonight. It was really good. We are learning microwave recipes so we can send good and easy microwave recipes to the missionaries. We have been stressing good diets for about 6 weeks now, trying to get the missionaries to eat better. We didn’t think any were interested in the recipes until one of the sister missionaries mentioned she was printing copies and trying them. So we began to send them again. Maybe we are making a difference.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We had a multi-zone conference in Managua today. Sister Bell and I taught a lesson about taking care of our feet. We then had a test of which I gave out small chocolates for correct answers. Then we showed the “8 vasos de aqua video” and everyone sang along. We had fun. The rest of the conference was about obedience. President Poncio talked about many of the inappropriate things that the missionaries are doing, such as facebooking, talking to each other, going outside their area without permission, and the Elders and Sisters doing things together without permission. The President then talked about how to be better missionaries and by the end of the meeting everyone was uplifted and rededicated. Sister Bell had a few missionaries that needed to visit with her. We then took a missionary to the hospital to have a boil taken care of. Now we are home. The mini missionary is cooking a traditional dinner of galo-pinto (rice and beans), chicken and fried bananas… delicious.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016
We left the house at 6am and arrived in Esteli a little before 9am, just in time for the Multi-zone conference. These are the three zones we work with the most, Ocotal, Esteli and Matagalpa. We have developed a great love for this area and the missionaries that serve here. We brought white shirts and ties for Condega, a small hymn book for Yunior in Jinotega, several English Book of Mormons for the latinos that want to learn English and a lot of Off.

Sister Bell and I did our presentation about feet and drinking 8 glasses of water. It went well. After lunch, the President asked several of the missionaries that are going home next week to bear their testimonies. Two we have worked with a lot and have a great love and respect for them; Elder Hobbs, one of the zone leaders in Matagalpa and Elder Baltimore, one of the zone leaders in Ocotal. They both bore wonderful testimonies. They are both very hard working Elders. Elder Hobbs told us he expects a lot of his missionaries, which is why Matagalpa is one of the top zones in the mission. Elder Baltimore really cares for his missionaries. He calls and checks up on them when they are sick and shows real compassion for them. His missionaries really love him. Their zone is usually the top zone, partly because he cares so much. We will miss them. This is a small group leaving next week, about 12 missionaries, but 7 are leaders and will be missed.

Our sick missionary took us out to dinner tonight to thank us for helping her through her illness. She goes home on Saturday. She took us to the “Asado del Patio” restaurant and we eat another “Gator”. This is fast becoming our favorite place to eat.

Friday, October 21, 2016
We started out with our change meeting. We have changes this week-end. There are about 14 missionaries leaving and 15 coming. We reviewed all the changes. We are closing three apartments and opening one new apartment, which I need to coordinate. I will begin doing that on Monday. Several of our younger missionaries are serving as leaders. I have been impressed with how dedicated they are, and apparently the President has been impressed with their progress as well. He is calling the obedient and hard workers as leaders, not just those with the most time in the mission.

An exciting thing happened today. We found out that the South Mission is renting the casita next to ours for the new couple that is coming to their mission next week. That will be really fun having them next door. Also, we found out that their mission nurse is leaving in two weeks and their new nurse won’t be coming until December. So Sister Bell offered to help Sister Brown, the Mission Presidents wife when she has medical issues she can’t handle.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

We started the day taking our sick missionary to the airport. We left the house at 5pm, having gotten up at 3:30am (although I woke up at 2:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep, so my day started really early). We were sad to see her go but she was feeling really good about her time in Nicaragua and was at peace. She is committed to go home and heal.

We then took her mini missionary home to Matagalpa. She lives with her aunt whom she lived with most of her life. Her mother lives close to her and she has a wonderful relationship with her, but for some reason (I am sure she explained why she lives with her aunt but I didn’t understand a lot she was saying) her aunt raised her. We had the opportunity to meet her aunt when we dropped her off at her home. She seems like a wonderful woman. The mini missionary is waiting for her full time mission call to come. She was hoping it would come while she was in Managua, but unfortunately it didn’t. We will have to get it to her as soon as it comes.

We then headed for Trinidad to teach piano lessons. The girls are progressing. After that we headed for Somoto. We met with President Alaniz and talked with him for an hour, mostly about holding only one Sacrament Meeting instead of two. Now they have a place big enough to combine the two groups into one, they didn't have enough chairs to bring both groups together, so last week they held two Sacrament Meetings. But they got chairs so he wants to begin tomorrow. We also decided to hold all three meeting. So we then went to Hermana Natalia, the RS President, home, to talk about holding a RS meeting. This will be the first RS meeting in the branch. Sister Bell will show one of the talks from the Woman’s General Conference meeting. We taught her how to conduct a meeting. Most of these members have never conducted a meeting or attended a RS meeting, so we have to train them.
We then headed for Pueblo Nuevo where we had a Priesthood Preparation Class scheduled at 5pm. The sunset was beautiful. 

 The area has a lot of brick makers. The pour the mud into forms and lay them out to dry.  Then they fire the bricks in a big outdoor oven and cook them and then lay them out to cool.

When we got there, the Elder’s told us it was at 6 pm so we took them to dinner.  We had fried chicken, rice and a salad. The salads are made with cabbage, not lettuce. After dinner we had three men come to the class. We reviewed what we had learned previously because one of the men hadn’t been to a lot of the classes. Then we talked about the oath and covenant of the Priesthood. We identified our responsibilities and the blessings promised if we live up to our side of the covenant. Then we talked about the warning. That concerned them. I thought they would all get up and leave, but they stayed and we talked about how Heavenly Father and the Savior are forgiving and want to help us be successful. They seemed to be more comfortable about getting the Melchezidek Priesthood after that discussion. Elder Arias will be moving to Matagalpa to be a new zone leader. He will do great but will be missed in PN. His companion also is new, having been a senior companion for only one change. 

We arrived at the Koellikers home about 8:30 pm and visited with them until about 10 pm. I began to fall asleep while we were sitting on the couch visiting, so it was time to go to bed. We had a sweet spirit today as we did the Lord’s work.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

We had a very long but enjoyable day. We started by going to Condega to show the Woman’s General Conference session to the Relief Society. We held it at Rosa’s house, one of our stronger members. She is a young single mother who teaches the gospel Principles class. We only had a few people there, two women, one man, one boy and one young woman, plus the missionaries and Sister Bell and I. But those that were there enjoyed the session very much. Elder Thackeray is going to Puerto Cabeza. He is tall, white but the people love him in Condega and the people will love him in Puerto Cabeza. The people will miss them here. They moved Sacrament Meeting up to 11am so that Elder Thackeray could catch an early afternoon bus to Managua. So Sister Bell and I stayed for Sacrament Meeting. It started ½ hour late (as usual). The Elders are pretty discouraged because the attendance in Sacrament Meeting is down and several of the members have been having problems. We assured the missionaries that things will improve. I got to talk and talked about the blessings of repentance.

We then went to Somoto. We attended the first combined Branch Sacrament Meeting in their new building. It was wonderful. After we had a gospel principles class and then we split to have RS and Priesthood. Sister Bell showed Sister Binghams talk in the General Womans Conference Session and I taught the Priesthood class. It was an historic occasion and we felt very blessed to be there with all the members in one location. 

We are sad because Elder Howland and Elder Noguiera are leaving. We love these missionaries but they will be a real asset to Chinandega, where they are going. Elder Howland is going to be a senior companion. He too is new but ready. We had dinner at the Koellikers on our way home and arrived home at 10pm.

We gave two Book of Mormons away this week-end. The first was to the neighbor of the missionaries in Pueblo Nuevo. We have talked with him several times, as he seems to be out rocking in his rocking chair every time we are in PN. This time we had a longer conversation. He owns a farm outside of town and is usually at the farm in the early morning to mid-afternoon, therefore he is usually home when we come by in the late afternoon. He said he went to church (Catholic) for a long time but hasn’t gone much recently. He has also been a leader in the community. I invited him to Church and we gave him a Book of Mormon. He seemed very interested.

The other Book of Mormon was given to a gas station attendant in Condega. We have stopped there several times to use the restroom. This time we asked him if he liked to read. He said yes, so we gave him a BofM and explained a little about it. He was looking through it as we drove away. We will see if he is reading when we stop again in two weeks. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Monday October 10, 2016 to Sunday, October 16, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

We took our sick Hermana and her father to the airport, early this morning. She gave us a sweet note thanking us for all our help. She is in great spirits and we feel will recovery completely and quickly. Our hearts and prayers go out to her.

Well I got my driver’s license back today. After our office meeting, Anelca, one of our emigration helpers came and went with Sister Bell and I to the National Police Station. There were about 50 people crowded around the booth trying to get their licenses. Some still had their ticket and payment receipt, trying to get the official’s attention at the booth. There was not organization at all. When they had someone’s license, they would shout out the name and the person would have to work their way through the crowd to get to the front and obtain their license. Fortunately, Anelca, went to a side door and gave my information directly to the boss. Then we waited an hour before they called my name and I worked my way through the crowd. But when I got to the front, the person told me that my license was at the post office. Apparently, they have a new program that after they receive word that the fine has been paid, they send the license to you… that is very progressive, but they didn’t have my mailing address here and no phone number to call me. The policeman did not ask for it and the address on my license is our Ogden address. I was hoping they didn’t sent it to the States. So we drove across town to the main post office. Fortunately, the line was short and in about 15 minutes, I had my license. We took Anelca to lunch at Pizza Hut to celebrate and then took her to her office. About 2 blocks from her office, we say Betty, our emigration officer and Anelca’s boss walking to catch a bus to the emigration office. So we offered to take her there. We really appreciate all the Betty and Anelca do for us. Taking them around town occasionally is a simple way to show our appreciation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy 6-month anniversary. We celebrated tonight at Asados Del Patio, a little outdoor restaurant down the street from the office. We went with the Lee’s and shared the “Gator”, a 27oz piece of beef cooked over an open grill. It was goooooooooooooood.  Sister Bell thought it was the best we have had in Nicaragua for sure and maybe the best beef ever.  It was melt in your mouth tender.

We gave a book of Mormon to our cleaning lady today. She comes once every other week. We love coming home to a clean house and she does such a wonderful job. David, our guard and her brother, told us tonight that she was very touched with the book. He plans to tell her about the Book of Mormon as he travels with her. An investigator teaching an investigator… how cool is that.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

We had another all-nighter. One of our sister missionaries in Ocotal was having severe belly pain, had a fever and was vomiting. Elder and Sister Koelliker went to Ocotal on Tuesday night about 9 am to get her and her companion. We drove to Esteli and brought them to the hospital. We got there about 3am.

The doctors basically took all day to rule out a lot of potential problems and eventually settled on Irritatible Bowl Syndrome. They prescribed some medication and sent her home about 5pm. We had gotten about 4 hours of sleep from 10am to 2pm. We took them to Rosti Pollo, a local restaurant and then took them to the sister trainers home. We will take them back to Ocotal on Friday when we head north.

We are becoming friends with many of the hospital staff, particularly in the emergency room. We had many smiles, waves and greetings from staff members when they passed by our room. It is hard not to miss old north American missionaries….

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Well our Ocotal Hermana is back in the hospital. The pain medicine was not working and Sister Bell was always uncomfortable with the initial diagnosis so we took her back to the hospital this afternoon. They admitted her and have begun more testing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We have been in and out of the hospital all day. Fortunately, we now have a diagnosis which is treatable. Hurray…..

Saturday, October 15, 2016

We decided to head north while our sick missionary stayed in the hospital taking her new regiment of medications. We left about 7:30 am. Our first stop was Trinidad for piano lessons for Carelys and Maria Clara. Sister Bell had not given them a lesson for a couple of weeks, but they were prepared and the lesson went well. I talked with the branch President, who is the father of the girls and their mother, who is the RS President. I downloaded a copy of the Women’s conference onto their computer. They met in their new chapel (an empty house) the first time last Sunday. They said it was wonderful not to meet in a garage. They are anxious to get chairs, white boards and the other items they need to make it a functional chapel.

We grabbed a Subway sandwich in EstelĂ­ on our way to Condega. We stopped briefly in Condega to give a few items to Elder Spence and Thackeray. Then we drove on to Pueblo Nuevo. We got there just in time to attend a baptism at the river. We had to walk up river a way to find a pool big enough to baptize a grown man. We found a secluded place and had a nice baptism. One of the problems we have at river baptisms is to keep the atmosphere spiritual because the kids want to go swimming, which in this case they did, both before and after the baptisms.  The young boy also did a few Bruce Lee poses when he put on his baptism shirt.  If you look at the picture, you can imagine why.

We then held the first RS meeting in Pueblo Nuevo by showing the General Woman’s session of General Conference. We had one sister and one young girl come, along with Sister Bell. That was disappointing, but Sister Nuvia and the young girl enjoyed it very much, so it was worth the time.  She also downloaded it so she could show it on her computer.  Technology is the universal language.
While the sisters were watching the conference, I was with Elder Arias and Elder Chinchilla with all three of the adult Aaronic Priesthood holders in the group in another room of the house to hold a Priesthood Preparation Class. We had been focusing on the Aaronic Priesthood the past several weeks. Tonight we discussed the Melchizedek Priesthood focusing our discussion in D&C 107. I am always amazed how easily I can speak and understand when I am teaching the gospel. I truly have the gift of tongues. I suspect the Lord doesn’t give it to me all the time so I can recognize the difference between when I have the gift and when I don’t.

We were planning on staying the night in Esteli with the Koellikers but the doctor of our sick missionary called and wanted to do a laparoscopy. This kind of procedure requires permissions from the Mission President, the Missionary Department, the parents, and a recommendation from the area medical specialist. So while I drove back to Esteli, Sister Bell began making phone calls (we couldn’t function without cell phones). We did have to park on the side of the road for a little while because cell phone coverage was alittle spotty in places. We stopped at the Koellikers to drop off a few items we had for them. While there, Sister Bell was on a conference call with the Mission President, the parents and our sick missionary. Again, modern technology helps us with the Lords work… we do live in a marvelous time. We got all the permissions by about 10 pm (we started getting them about 8 pm). Sister Bell called the doctor and we headed for home. As we were getting close to Managua, I got glimpses of the Masaya Volcano. I could see the glow of the lava in the crater and the steam coming out of the cater. It was very beautiful. We arrived home about midnight (almost an all-nighter) and crashed into bed.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Birthday Emmet

President Poncio and I gave our sick missionary a blessing this morning before going into Surgery. We stayed pretty much all day as she had the laparoscopy and then we stayed to talk to the doctor. We did get to skype with Paul and the Cambridges and watched Emmet cut and eat his birthday cake… it sure looked good.  You can’t get good chocolate cake here.  Paul’s cakes are always so fun and creative.  It is great to see that artistic outlet in him.  We skyped with John.  He has been in the hospital this week and we have talked with him almost every day.  He had a rough time for a while, but he seems to be improving.  We teased him that maybe he needs to apply for the bishop job because due to special blessings, he was never hospitalized during the time he was bishop.  Tender mercies – they are all around us. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

We spent most of the day at the hospital waiting to talk with doctors. Our hermana is recuperating but the doctor thinks it will take up to three weeks for the inflammation to go down.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

We had training for new missionaries, almost 45 missionaries and their companions. It was fun to feel their enthusiasm. Sister Bell and I gave a 20-minute presentation about drinking enough water and eating a good breakfast. We showed a short video of a glass of water singing with a bottle of water about needing to drink 8 glasses a day. It was a fun little Latin tune. We played it once, and then again and got the missionaries to sing along.  Then we showed a PowerPoint about eating a good breakfast. It was in English, so we got the missionaries to help with translation. We had a minute left so we showed the water video again, everyone was excited and happy. It was a fun way to start out the training.

President Poncio made the decision to send our sick sister home to fully recover in the United States. Our church doctors recommended this even though the Nicaraguan doctors had a game plan all lined out. So Sister Bell and I went to the hospital to talk to the doctors. We were a little apprehensive how they would react to her leaving, especially because the neurologist felt that an airplane trip home could make her inflammation worse.  Before we left the church for the hospital, we prayed. When we arrived at the hospital, the floor nurse told us that the neurologist had just left the floor so I had to talk to him by phone. He was very agreeable to sending her home (another tender mercy) if she could stay another 2-3 days to recover more and complete more physical therapy. She had a little set back this morning and was beginning some physical therapy. We agreed that she would stay in the hospital until Friday and fly home on Saturday. Her GI Doctor came into the room and was also very supportive of her going home and told us she would put together a copy of all the tests and reports. Again another tender mercy. Our missionary is also comforted by this decision. Now we just have to work out the details.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

After dinner at our house - Game night… We and the Lees went to the hospital and played 5 Crowns with our sick missionary and her companion. Our sick missionary won…. It was the first time she had played 5 Crowns…. Goes to show 5 Crowns does not take much skill… mostly luck. We had a good time and it improved our missionary’s spirits.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spent a little time in the office, hospital and home….  Not much to report.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Change in plan, our sick missionary will stay in the hospital one more night, and then travel home with her father on Monday. It took a lot of calling and working with Doctors, MP, Church medical people to have her father to come and travel home with her, but I believe we were guided to make these changes.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

We took a little road trip, stopping at the Waspan Church, Tipitapa and Loma Verde (outside Tipitapa) to drop off a package, a fan and a cocina. Sister Bell did a little medical counseling while we visited with the missionaries. In the afternoon, we brought our sick missionary to our home, after being the in hospital for a week. Her dad arrived from the US this evening. We hosted (and fed) him, President and Sister Poncio for a little while before we took her father to a motel for the night.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

We took our Hermana and her father to the Ducuali Branch this morning so she could see her “mission mother” one more time. The mission mother or father is a missionary’s first trainer. We attended Sacrament Meeting (where the branch was made a Ward) and the Gospel Doctrine class. We took father and daughter for a short drive around the city on our way back to the house. Her final interview with President Poncio was at 4pm and then her mission mother and her companion came over for dinner, to look at pictures of Ocotal and to talk about their experiences. It was a lot of fun and a great way to send a sick missionary home to recover. Her father especially enjoyed hearing and seeing pictures of Ocotal. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016 to October 2, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Last night we were told that one of the sick missionaries in Ocotal was coming to Managua to go to the hospital. We expected them to be in Managua already and we were to take them to the hospital. But we shortly found out that they were still in Esteli. The Koellikers had driven to Ocotal last night and brought them back to their house in Esteli. We called the Koellikers and agreed to meet midway between Managua and Esteli. So off we went, heading north again. We picked them up at San Miguel and took them to the Emergency Room at Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas. The nurses and doctors are getting to know us pretty well. Our concern is that this missionary, who had been treated for parasites and bacteria in her stomach, had bloody emesis. The doctor thought that the antibiotics she was taking were hard on her stomach and were the cause of her vomiting. The vomiting was irritating her esophagus, which was bleeding from all the vomiting. This is what our LDS doctor in Guatemala felt as well. But to be sure they wanted to do an endoscopy, so the doctor kept her in the hospital for the night. Once in her room, we bid them farewell and went home…. Tired but satisfied that we had done all we could do.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sister Bell and I made a presentation to the leaders of the mission. Once a month, all the zone leaders and sister leaders assemble to be trained. We usually take a little time to talk about health issues. Today, we introduced a little contest. Sister Poncio (and Sister Bell and I) have been very disgusted with the cleanliness of the missionary homes. So we decided to have a contest, giving points for various cleanliness items. We had put together an inspection checklist, so we used that for a scorecard. We showed a short PowerPoint, outlying the rules and rewards. It seems to be well received. At the end, I shared some thoughts that the importance of cleaning the homes, but also to do it regularly. Here is what I said, except in Spanish…..

Let me share with you the secret to winning. Sister Bell and I love to garden. We have a large garden at home and grow corn, tomatoes, beans, peas, strawberries and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. We love harvesting them and eating fresh foods.
However, weeds love our garden space as well and we have to weed the garden regularly. But we have three choices on how to deal with the weeds.
1-        We could not do anything. But if we did this the weeds would eventually get so big that they would kill the vegetables that we want to grow and eat. They would eventually destroy our garden.
2-        We could also let the weeds grow and when they get big, try to pull them. However, this would require a lot of work and we would need others to help us. It would be very difficult to pull all the roots and invariably we would leave some roots and the weeds tend to grow back rapidly.
3-        We could regularly weed the garden when the weeds are small. Doing this, we find that the weeds are easily pulled out, but it takes regular weeding.
We have found that it is much easier to keep a healthy garden where the plants thrive with frequent weeding so the weeds never have the chance to overtake the garden. This principle of taking care of problems when they are small also pertains to repenting. It is much easier to repent when the problem is small than to wait until the problem is big, requiring help from a Bishop to repent of the sin.
This principle also pertains to cleaning your homes. It is much easier to keep a home clean if you do a little every day.
It is not only a good idea; it is an eternal principle. D&C 64:33 States, “… out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Prayer is an example of this. We have been commanded to “Pray always” (1 Nephi 32:9), in fact prophets have been called to repentance when they have not prayed often (Ether 2:14). Why is that? I believe it is because much easier to maintain a relationship than to build one. Also, our Heavenly Father wants to inspire us daily, not just once in a while, when we get around to pray or repent or clean our apartments. Remember to keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you” (D&C 90: 18)

Later in the morning, we started getting emails from SLC with concerns about the Endoscopy that was scheduled for today. We didn’t realize that this kind of examine needed to be approved by SLC. We had conversations with SLC, with our doctor in Guatemala and President Poncio. We also got permission from the parents of the missionary. After all the discussion, President Poncio made a decision on what we should do. It was to wait a few days to see if a change in medications would relieve the vomiting.

So Sister Bell and I went to the hospital to try to stop the procedure, which was scheduled for 1pm. This was about 11:30am. We prayed before we went asking for direction on where to go and who to talk to. We were very concerned that it was too late to change the procedure and that changing it might hurt the good relationship we have with the hospital. After the prayer, we both thought that we should start with Doctor Perez, who was the emergency room doctor. But when we got to the hospital and checked in Emergency, we found that she was not working. We were alittle puzzled, because we both felt we should start with her, so we decided to go upstairs to the room. When we walked down the hall toward the sister’s room, we walked past the GI Doctor that was going to do the procedure. We were able to tell her about the concerns of our US doctors and asked if she wouldn’t mind talking with Doctor Lynn in Guatemala. We got him on the phone and she talked with him. Based on this conversation, she postponed the procedure as President Poncio had asked. A little miracle had occurred. She (and we) was in the right place and was flexible enough to make modifications. She was not upset and was more than willing to consider the suggestion of our doctor.

So they began to feed our sister soft foods, hoping that she would not throw them up, but she did, both lunch and dinner. So President Poncio authorized her to have the Endoscopy tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We spent most of the day in the hospital, waiting to talk to the doctor or for the endoscopy to happen and then for the doctor to tell us what they found. Fortunately, they only found irritation, no other problems. Hurray…

We had an earthquake today centered in Momotombo, north of Managua. It is right next to the Momotombo Volcano. We felt it in the hospital. Two of our missionaries who are stationed in Momotombo, lived in a hotel and the wall collapsed in their room. Fortunately, they were not in the room at the time and were not hurt, but they are now looking for a new place to live.

Lees invited us over for chili and games. I won at golf…. Another miracle.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Our sick sister was released from the hospital today, but she is still throwing up after eating. Having a bacterial infection and two parasites is having a toll on her. The lesson, don’t drink the water…..

Friday, September 30, 2016

We took our Ocotal sister back to the hospital today because she still could not keep food or liquid down. We spent most of the day in the Emergency Room being taken care of by Doctor Abdala, an LDS doctor. She is really good. Our missionary ended up back in the hospital.
While we were in the Emergency, another Sister came in with severe pain in her lower back. She ended up with a kidney stone. Again Dra. Abdala attended to her needs. We finally took these sisters home about 11:00 pm (they live out of Managua about 20 km) and arrived home about midnight.
The Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas has become our home away from home. We know the guards, nurses, administration and doctors pretty well. Everyone seems to be happy to see us…. Maybe it is just the business we are bringing them…. But maybe it is our spirits we bring to the hospital… I hope it is the latter.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

After taking our tablet to the hospital so that the sisters could watch general conference, we hunkered down in our air conditioned bedroom and watched all three sessions of conference. They were wonderful. However, the best part of the day, was that David, one of our guards, watched all three sessions of conference in Spanish, using my phone. He sat on our front porch (because he had to be close to the gate just in case someone wanted in or out and close to our internet), and was totally absorbed. After each session, we would visit a little and I would explain a few things he didn’t understand. But I was impressed with how much he understood and he liked what he heard. We have seen a real change in him the past couple of weeks. He is getting a testimony of the Gospel. We can see the light grow within him.

I related well to Elder Hollands talk in the Priesthood Session about Home Teaching and then taught the principle of service; to touch lives not just check a box or get credit for completing HT teaching for the month.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Our sick missionary was able to keep food down last night and this morning. She is beginning to feel better; we are very happy and beginning to feel optimistic.

The sister missionaries from Naragote forgot their phone in our car the other night. So this morning we took it to them, about a 40 km drive.

We have been in our air conditioned room watching conference. We have been very spiritually uplifted. I was particularly touched by President Eyring’s talk in the morning session when he said the Lord is quietly building his kingdom. Then he gave examples of small branches mostly in the eastern United States that have grown into wards and stake. I look at our little groups and branches and wonder if they will ever survive, but then I remember how the church as grown during my lifetime and know the Church will quietly grow in Somoto, Ocotal, Condega, Pueblo Nuevo and Trinidad too. It gives me hope and a desire to continue working hard to help any way we can.