Monday, November 21, 2016
Happy Birthday John… we got to sing to John this morning while they were waiting for Gustavo to buy snow chains just in case they needed them on their trip to Utah.
We hit the road again today. After the morning office meeting and piano lesson to Jocelyn Poncio, we loaded two mattresses in the car and drove to Jinotega, a little mountain town three hours north of Managua. We have a sister missionary who has been struggling with chiggars and bedbugs, thus the need for new mattresses. After unloading, we took them to dinner and then drove home.
One of the missionaries is Hermana Amado. Her grandfather is Elder Amado. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by him about 15 years ago in Spring Creek, Nevada. He was the visiting authority assigned to reorganize the Spring Creek Stake. I was serving as a Bishop and was interviewed by him. It is a small world.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
We have started to get instructions on dealing with Hurricane Otto, which is projected to hit Nicaragua on Thursday. The instructions include to have food and water for a week in our homes and be prepared to stay in if we need to. The chapels can be used for emergency shelters. Our biggest concern is with the 20 Missionaries in Puerto Cabeza. However, all the current projections are that Otto will go south of us, in southern Nicaragua and Costa Rica. However, we should have a lot of rain.
We decided we wanted to do something a little different for Christmas this year. So we asked John to send $100 to each of our children (we transferred money to Kim) and have each family use the money to create a “lasting memory” and then share that experience with each other. We worked on our “lasting memory” today, but can’t disclose it yet…. More to come on this.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
I got a new computer for Somoto. It was delivered to me and I will take it to Somoto when they have internet at the Chapel and an office that can be locked. I can’t leave it though until they have an office that they can lock. We also went to Pricesmart to get groceries. We were instructed to have a weeks’ worth of food and water so we stocked up a bit.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Happy Birthday McKay and Happy Thanksgiving. Sister Bell made 7 pies this morning: 2 banana crème, 2 chocolates, 1 strawberry, 1 cherry and 1 apple. She had to make the crust without shortening as we couldn’t find any shortening here. She used butter instead, and it turned out wonderful. We took the pies and ice cream to President Poncios home. We had thanksgiving dinner there with the Lee’s, the leader missionaries and the Poncios. There were 16 for dinner. We had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, salads, relish tray, rolls, corn and squash. It was delicious. The Elders showed 5 videos of dancing elves with faces of the Poncios and all the office and leader missionaries (including Sister Bell and I). The missionaries can be very serious and focused on the work when they are working, but when they have down time, we realize they still are young people that like to goof around.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Hurricane Otto hit us while we were sleeping. We had about 3 hours of light steady rain. That was it. We watched White Christmas…. So the Christmas season can now officially start.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
We drove about 8 hours today. We started from home and first went to Trinidad. Only Carelys was there for the lesson. Maria Clara was in Managua with her mother. We delivered a box of donuts to Elder Hatch and Elder Nonu. They had the cleanest apartment in the Esteli Zone.
Then we headed for Matagalpa, an hour to the east.
We delivered donuts to Sister Jenson and Sister Sanchez, two more
We then headed to Jinotega, an hour north over some of the most beautiful country in Nicaragua to bring a package to Hermana Amado. (Remember we had just been to their house on Monday) We then took a road we had not been on through some beautiful mountain country. It was really enjoyable driving on a new road. We arrived in Pueblo Nuevo about 20 minutes late for our Priesthood Preparation Class. We found the missionaries and a recent convert walking just on the outskirts of town. Apparently, they gave up on us. So we loaded them in the car and went back to the Elders house. However, they didn’t have any lights, so we talked with candlelight and lights from our cell phones. The new convert is getting the Aaronic Priesthood tomorrow, so we focused on the basics: what is the Priesthood, the history of the Priesthood through the ages, the restoration and the difference between power and authority. We ate dinner in Condega on our way back to Esteli to stay with the Koellikers. We are glad to be out of the car….
Sunday, November 27, 2016
We started out in Ocotal, 1.25 hours north of Esteli. We arrived about 15 minutes late (we stopped in Condega to give Elder Spence some materials), but they were just starting. The missionaries were happy to see us (it was a surprise because we didn’t tell any of them that we were coming). After Sacrament Meeting, I visited with the Branch President. He has been serving for 3 weeks and is a little overwhelmed. He doesn’t have counselors or a secretary. (I got permission on Monday to authorize the branch president to use the missionaries as counselor, secretaries and other branch leaders). The missionaries are doing a lot now. They blessed and passed the sacrament (Elders Valle, Bendeck and Hodges), played the piano (Elder Packard), led the music (Sister Barrios), gave talks (Elder Valle and Sister Silva) and taught three lessons during SS (Gospel Doctrine, the youth and gospel principles). The Elder’s Quorum President left after Sacrament meeting and didn’t return. He was supposed to teach the priesthood lesson, so I volunteered to teach the class. I noticed that one of the sister missionaries (Sister Silva) was teaching the RS class. President Poncio has a goal to prepare the Ocotal Zone to become a district. It is now part of the Esteli District. However, for that to happen, we need a lot more Priesthood holders in Ocotal, Jalapa, Somoto and Pueblo Nuevo.
Sister Bells SS experience: I had an interesting experience during Sunday School class. The teacher was a missionary and or course he was speaking Spanish. I usually don’t understand much of the lesson, but he was using the whiteboard very effectively, and I could follow the scriptures and the lesson because of that. The lesson was about milagros (miracles) and the scripture references were from Mormon 9. Anyway I began thinking about the miracles in my life and that I have small miracles happen all the time and that I need to recognize that what I sometimes think of as coincidences really are small miracles. The thing that was unusual was that I was thinking in Spanish and making sentences in my head in Spanish. Well, the teacher called on me specifically and asked me a question. I could not understand what he was asking, but with his patience and a few English words, and with help from the sister missionary sitting beside me, I finally figured out what he was asking. The answer to the question was exactly what had been going through my mind in Spanish a few minutes before and I was able to answer in Spanish easily. I just repeated the words that had been going through my head. Hermana Silva looked at me in surprise and said, “Usted es una misionera.” (You are a missionary.) I smiled and agreed, “Soy una misionera” (I am a missionary). It was such a unique and personal experience, but it helped me realize that I really could have the gift of tongues and the help of the Holy Ghost when I needed it.
Now back to Elder Bell’s narrative.
I talked with the Branch President about how to help prepare some of the men to receive and magnify the Priesthood. I explained that we are teaching Priesthood Preparation Classes in Somoto, Pueblo Nuevo and Condega and gave him copies of the lesson manuals we are using. I also gave him a list of members of the Somoto branch whose records are still in the Ocotal branch records. Somoto used to be part of the Ocotal branch before it was made a branch and many of the Somoto records have not been transferred yet. He said he would work on it. Ocotal needs strengthening. I don’t see how we can help them much unless we begin to come up on Friday, which we are not prepared to do yet.
We finally got out of Ocotal at noon. We eat our P&J sandwich on the way to Somoto. We arrived in Somoto at 12:30pm. Elder Santizo and Elder Simpson were in the Church waiting for us. Cristin arrived shortly after so Sister Bell gave her her first piano lesson. Afterward I talked with her about YW (she is the new YW president) while Sister Bell gave Elder Santizo a piano lesson.
One of the frustrating things about Somoto is that they are always very late to everything. Church was supposed to begin at 2pm, but didn’t start until 2:40. Even the missionaries show up late. It is very frustrating to me. However, the highlight of the Somoto Branch meeting today was when Hermana Celia taught the RS lesson. She is the 40-year-old daughter of the RS President and serves as the RS Secretary. She is extremely timid, doesn’t smile a lot and doesn’t look people in the eye. She appears to me to have been treated badly for most of her life. So I was extremely happy when she accepted the assignment to teach RS. She was well prepared and taught a wonderful lesson. She showed pictures in the lesson manual, had others read portions of the lesson, and asked questions. I was very proud of her and she seemed to be very proud of herself as well. She wants to teach again next week in order to finish teaching all of the material in the lesson.
Another side note; during Church in Somoto, the community had a parade that went right in front of our little chapel. There were a lot of horses, but also bands and loud speakers with music, which was very disturbing to our meetings. Some of the people have beautiful horses in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the parade because we were in Church, where we were supposed to be.
We arrived home at 9pm and were in bed by 9:30pm. We are getting too old for this …..