Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016 to Sunday, November 20, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

We started the day with our office meeting with the President, Sister Poncio, the assistants and sister trainers and all the office staff. We primarily review the week’s schedule and discuss any issues we might have. It was a short meeting this morning.

Sister Bell then gave Yoselyn Poncio another lesson. She is doing really well. Then we went back to the office for lunch (the mission buys lunch for all the office staff on Monday). Then we ran home to take the laundry off the line (Sister Bell put a load of wash in the washing machine this morning and hung them up before we left). Then we went shopping for Drugs… that sounds pretty bad but we have a missionary who has severe stomach problems so the Church Doctors (in Guatemala and in the States) developed a treatment plan. It is a little complicated so we decided to get all the medicines here and take it to him tomorrow. He is in Chinandega, about 2.5 north west from Managua. It took us awhile to find the medicine, but we finally got it all. We did a little shopping on our way home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What a day this has been. We left this morning for El Viejo, which is a few kilometers north of Chinandega, to give our sick missionary the medicine and make sure he understands how to take the medicine. We got there about 11 am. The whole zone was there so it was good to see Elder Scaggs, Elder Mendez and others that we have worked with these past several months. I was able to update them on what is happening in Somoto and Condega. They were excited and disappointed when we talked about those that were still going strong in the gospel and those who are not. We then went to Chinandega to find a place to give a Hepatitis vaccine to one of our Brazilian missionaries. We headed for the AMOSCA Hospital in the middle of Chinandega. We ended up driving down one of their market streets. People had set up their markets on either side of the street. There was barely enough room to drive down the street. But we finally made it to the hospital. We met Dr. Lara, who has been instrumental in getting AMOSCA to accept our insurance again, after not accepting our insurance for more than half a year. However, he couldn’t help us with the vaccine but told us to go to the local center of health. We didn’t know where that was but we found a bicycle taxi outside the hospital and the driver knew where it was. So we hired him to take us there. We got in the front and he started pedaling. It was really enjoyable, but he had to work hard with us two old and fat people. We went to one Center of Health office but they couldn’t help us, so we went to a second and they could. So we got the information we needed and our driver pedaled us back to where we started. He was all sweaty when we got back. We gave him his money and a big tip for his efforts.

We then had to drive to El Realejo where our Brazilian missionary is stationed to give him the prescription and instructions. This was about 15 minutes west of town toward Corinto, which is on the coast (Pacific Ocean). We wanted to see the ocean so we drove to Corinto after we left El Realejo. The town is a port town so there is not a real developed beach front. It is old, dirty and not very appealing. We did find acouple of places to get to the beach and walked on the beach alittle. Sister Bell gathered a few shells. 

We then drove to Managua, stopped at our favorite Hamburger restaurant, then to the store to get groceries and then we went home at about 8pm. However, this was not all we did today. Sister Bell was on the phone with sick missionaries most of the day. We seem to be having a lot of missionaries with the flu. She even had to send one missionary to the hospital for an ear infection. I don’t know what we would do without cell phones.

While we have been driving, we have been listening to Elder Bruce and Marie Hafen’s book, “The Contrite Spirit.” It is a powerful book about the Atonement and the Temple. One chapter talks about missionary work, and makes the argument that the focus of missionary work should not only be to baptize people, but to get them to the Temple. Baptism is only a step toward that goal. I have been thinking a lot about our low activation rate and what we can do to help our converts stay in the Church. Helaman 15: 5-8 tells us why the Ammonites were so committed to the gospel. Helaman tells us that they were taught truth, they understood why their past ways were unrighteous and they studied and believed the scriptures which led them to faith and repentance. And it was through faith and repentance that made a mighty change in their hearts.  I have been thinking and reading a lot about the importance of real repentance before baptism. I think we get in too much of a hurry to baptize people, before they truly have repented and have felt the redeeming love of the Savior in their lives. If they had an Ammonite experience before they were baptized, they would be better committed after baptism. I also agree with Elder Hafen that the ultimate goal should be to lead our converts to the temple. This is not an easy task, because we don’t have a temple in Nicaragua and the people are so poor that going to Honduras or Costa Rica is financially improbable. And yet, miracles will happen if people truly focus on the temple.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

After such a day yesterday, we decided to work from home today. Sister Bell had a tutoring session with Whitney Allen at 10:15 anyway, so we each spent the day in our studies. Sister Bell worked on Spanish, charting and talking to sick missionaries. I prepared for a YW training in Somoto this week-end, found several talks from Conference that can help the missionaries in Condega and Somoto, tried to find a missionary that may know the attorney that married Noe and Suyapa in Condega, updated the missionary housing spreadsheet, and a few other odds and ends. We stayed in our casual clothes all day. It was quite peaceful.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We spent the morning in the office and the afternoon running errands. We ate dinner at the Helbergs home. They live in a gated community next to the Galeria shopping mall. It is very nice. The bonus is that they have air conditioning in their living room, something I wish we had. We played 5 Crowns…. I lost miserably.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Anelca, one of Betty Castro assistants, came into the office today. She was sick with pneumonia. It was about lunch time so we offered to take her home with us and feed her lunch. She was very appreciative of this. So while we fixed lunch she sat on the couch, with her feet up, relaxing a bit. She almost went to sleep. We probably should have taken a few more minutes fixing lunch and she could have had a short nap. We tried talking her into going home, but she said she had too much to do. So after lunch, we took her to Betty’s home where she has a small office. Their office is across town, near the Walmart. At least she didn’t have to take a bus. She told us that she and her 10-year-old daughter are going to her Aunt’s house in Costa Rica for a week. She will get a much needed rest break there.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

We started today in Trinidad, teaching piano to Carelys and Maria Clara. We have developed a great love for these girls. They are very patient with Sister Bells limited Spanish.  They always begin and end their lessons with prayer.  The Spirit is a wonderful teacher and prayer invites Him to come to the lesson.  If Hermana Bell forgets the prayer, the girls lovingly remind her.  That tells you what kind of young ladies these girls are.

We then went to Ocotal, after having lunch in Esteli at Burger King. We went put a dust strip around a door in one of the Hermana’s house, who gets congestion when there is a lot of dust and sealing the door, hopefully will reduce the amount of dust in the house. Her companion wanted chocolate, so we took them Hershey candy bars. When we got there, they were going to a baptism, so we took them there. They have their baptisms at a public swimming pool. When we got there, we saw Elder Packard and Elder Hodges. They are companions, one being the country for about 2 weeks and the other about 5 weeks. It wasn’t planned that way, their trainers all got sent home early for various reasons, so the President put them together. They seem to be doing find, learning to be missionaries together.

We then went to Somoto for the Noche de Hermanimiento and Elder Santizos birthday party. We had gotten a chocolate cake at PriceSmart on Friday with funny birthday glasses, balloons and candles. The kids had a fun time with the balloons and glasses and everyone devoured the cake. 
Elder Santizo showed a video about living above the world. Elder Baez also talked and Elder Nelson bore his testimony. Sister Bell said this about Elder Nelsons testimony, “He poured his heart out”. He has a strong testimony that touched Sister Bell’s heart (and mine). While the other missionaries were singing and playing with the members, Elder Simpson was helping Sister Bell get the refreshments ready. He is a good missionary, who told me he is adjusting to missionary life well, he loves his mission and is doing better with the language than he thought he would. When Sister Bell had 20 candles lit on the cake, we took it out and everyone began singing “Las Mananitas”. Steve taught us this song before the mission. The boys got cake all over Elder Santizo.

I am realizing that many of the Latinos don’t understand me. I tried explaining a few things to Hermana Natalia, the RS President. I asked her if she understood and she politely said she did, but I could tell she didn’t. So I tried explaining the same things to Hermana Zaida, the 1st counselor. I asked her if she understood and she sheepishly looked and me and said no. Oh well, hopefully, I will be talking more like a native before we go home….

Sunday, November 20, 2016

We attended our first meeting in Pueblo Nuevo. Elder Esquival and Chinchilla asked me last night to talk for 10 minutes on a subject of my choosing. I have been thinking a lot lately about repentance, tithing and the temple. Last night, my focus and research and preparation was about tithing. In order for PN to become a branch, they need at least three Melchezedik Priesthood holders that are worthy and the worthiness issue that is affecting them the most is tithing. But this morning, when I woke up, I felt strongly that I should talk about the temple…. So I did. I first told about our experience losing LaVoy and how the temple sealing gave us great comfort. I also related my experience of entering the Celestial Room in the Los Angeles temple when I got my own endowments and being met by my parents, family and friends. It was a little taste of what the Celestial Kingdom will be like, being there with our families. I encouraged them to set a goal to go to the temple. I wasn’t sure why I was impressed to talk about the temple until during SS when an older sister, who is a member of another branch told how she lost a son to death. I realized why I was impressed to talk about this subject. Temple ordinances are a comfort to her.

We then went to Somoto. We arrived early to give Cristin her first piano lesson, but she didn’t bring her father’s key (she is the branch Presidents daughter) to the Church so we sat in the car and talked about Young Women. She is being sustained today as the new (and first) young woman’s president in the Somoto Branch. I brought her copies of the YW handbook, lesson outlines, For the Strength of Youth, Personal Progress books and various other YW materials. Finally, the key came but we never did give her a piano lesson. We will try again next week.

I was very proud of Sister Bell. She led the discussion in the RS class after showing Sister Oscarson’s talk from General Conference. Sister Bell asked several questions that generated a lot of discussion. I was truly amazed that she was willing to do this and did such a good job of asking questions and responding to answers.

We arrived home about 9:30pm, tired and ready for bed.