Monday, December 5, 2016
We spent the morning at home, catching up from this week-end. While Sister Bell talked to a few sick missionaries, I contacted most of the zone leaders to make sure they had DVDs for the new trainers. We spent a few hours in the office and then went grocery shopping. We enjoyed watching the First Presidency devotional tonight. We will be showing it at our northern branches over the next few weeks. It is always a strength to the members so participate in devotionals and conferences.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
We had the new missionary training today. We had 4 north Americans and 14 Latinos. The Latinos arrived this morning. Hermana Bell taught them the 10 commandments of good health. While she was teaching (with Sister Amado interpreting), I took Raudy Padillo from Puerto Cabeza to the Distribution Center to buy him garments. Raudy is leaving tomorrow for the MTC in Guatemala. He will be serving in Honduras. Then we went back to Villa Flor to get Sister Bell and then to take Raudy shopping. We bought him (the Church actually bought him these items) 10 white shirts, 5 pants, 2 pairs of shoes and a suitcase. He comes from humble circumstances and needed help to enter the mission field. We had a fun time with him. He is a humble young man, who has been planning to serve a mission for 8 years. He will be a good missionary.
Then we returned to Villa Flor and had the opportunity to help President Poncio set apart Elder Padilla and Hermana Madeline from Matagalpa. Madeline lived in our home for one week a sick missionary. She was serving as a mini missionary in Ocotal. Raudy is going to Honduras and Madeline is going to El Salvador. Sister Bell gave the opening prayer. As she was praying I felt the spirit come into the room and filled the room with a wonderful peace. President Poncio asked me to bear my testimony which I did. He then gave each wonderful blessing (I got to assist). We truly love these people. They are truly sons and daughters of God.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
We went to dinner at the Lee’s with the Helbergs. Sister Lee had decorated her home for Christmas. Then after dinner, we tried making gingerbread houses with rye crackers and strawberry lemonade frosting. I tried building a tower without success. However, everyone else built very simple structures that stayed together long enough to take a picture.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Today with had a 6 zone conference with Elder Adrian Ochoa. He is the first counselor in the Area Presidency and is a general authority. During the conference, Elder Ochoa had a Q&A session. One Elder expressed concern for his family, who have not embraced the gospel. in responce to this Elders question, Elder Familia, another missionary, shared a personal experience about his family. He said that he was the only member of the Church in his family, when he left for his mission. When he got baptized, none of his family were supportive, in fact they were hostile about the Church. But he got baptized and is now serving a mission. In October, his Bishop sent him a letter telling him that his father was getting baptized. His father had only written to him one time during his whole mission, so it was a total surprise to him. His experience helps us all feel alittle more hopeful about our families. They are being blessed from our service.
President Poncio taught about the importance of repentance. This has been a subject I have been thinking about a lot lately as I have tried to understand why so many new members fall away here. I have felt strongly that new converts need to understand more about the principle of repentance and sincerely repent before baptism. This principle is passed over too quickly as missionaries try to get baptisms. I have read and pondered the experience of the converted lamanites that were firm and steadfast in the gospel. Helaman 15: 5-8, describe how they were “brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them – Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.”
I believe our investigators get baptized because they feel the happiness that comes from the Gospel, but they should also recognize and feel remorse for the “wicked and abominable traditions” of their past mistakes.
Elder Ochoa talked a lot about faith, what it is and why it is so important. He suggested we write down scriptures that have real meaning to us (which I just did above) and miracles we experience during our mission (we have tried to do this as well).
I came to the conference trying to understand why the brethren stress baptism so much. Well, I understand why… it is a requirement to enter the Church and the Celestial Kingdom. But I have been concerned that we are so focused on baptizing that we baptize people before they are ready, thus we lose a lot of our new members. So I have been wondering why there is still so much focus on baptism and not more focus on conversion, retention and activation. In fact, I have been praying to “catch the vision” of the Brethren. One of the missionaries asked Elder Achoa this very question. As part of his response, he talked about the Parable of the Sower, how some seeds fell by the way side, some on stony soil, other seeds fell among the thorns and other seeds fell on good soil. While he was talking about this, the spirit whispered to me, “this is the Lord talking. He knew this was going to happen, even so, he expects us to keep sowing”. If the Lord knows and accepts this problem, then I can too. We still need to do all we can to help prepare the soil so the seed can grow and flourish. But it is still up to the new member to determine what kind of soil they are growing in.
Friday, December 9, 2016
We left Managua about 11am, stopping to get a cake at the Colonia, a memory stick at Radio Shack, to drop a mirror off with the Elders in Ciudadela. When we got to Cuidadela, we found that one of the missionaries had an ear infection so we then took them to Tipitapa to get medicine. Sister Bell had told this missionary to get medicine for an ear infection, but when we saw him today, he had not even looked for medicine. He said he didn’t have money. So we took him to a local pharmacy, but they didn’t have the right medicine. Therefore, we took them to Tipitapa and found the medicine at a pharmacy there.
Sister Bell gave piano lessons to Carelys and Maria Clara in Trinidad. While Sister Bell gave the lesson, I talked with her father who is the Branch President. We enjoy being with this family.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
We went to Condega for their Noche de Hermanimiento. We showed the first Presidency Christmas Devotional. We then talked about some of the things that stood out to each of us. I talked about Presidency Hinckley’s quote that said, "There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection." I also assured them that they are a part of a large family. Even though there are few members in Condega, they are not alone. There are over 17 million members of which they are a part of.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
We started today in Pueblo Nuevo. Sister Bell gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament Meeting. She used the “Light of the World”, 25 days of Christmas program. She is getting much better with the language and visiting more with people.
Pueblo Nuevo, Dec. 2016
Somoto Dec. 2016
In Pueblo Nuevo, I taught the Priesthood Lesson, while Sister Bell attended Relief Society (the first RS meeting in Pueblo Nuevo) and the missionaries taught primary (the first Primary meeting in Pueblo Nuevo). I reviewed the same material that I taught last week, because most of the brethren that were in church today, were not in the lesson last week. I taught about the Ordinances of Exaltation.
In Somoto, Sister Bell played the piano and I gave a Prayer. Other than that, we sat back and enjoyed Church. After Church, I helped process tithing and then left for home, arriving about 9:00pm.
We have been in the mission eight months. We took stock of our experiences so far and realized that in that short time, we have seen two of the four groups that we work with become branches and establish meeting houses. We have seen all groups progress in the gospel with baptisms, priesthood ordinations and leadership callings. We have seen relief societies, primaries and priesthood groups organized. Little by little the church is growing in Nicaragua. We feel so blessed to be a small part in that progress. The gospel will continue to grow until it fills the earth and we are seeing happen before our eyes. What a privilege to be part of this holy work.