Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016 to December 4, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016
We decorated the office today for Christmas (after our office meeting and piano lessons for Yoselyn). Elder Galo and Hamson helped Sister Bell, Sister Lee and Yoselyn. I took a few pictures and tried to stay out of the way.

We have an uninvited guest in our home.  His name is Oscar and he is a small lizard.  On Friday he zipped into the house and I enjoyed watching Elder Bell chase him around the kitchen and the living room.  He was very fast and he finally jumped on the couch and disappeared.  Elder Bell turned over the couch, but Oscar was not to be denied his new home.  He is now our roommate and is happily eating bugs at night.  Since his arrival, we have noticed very few bugs around the house.  I guess he is earning his keep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Today we had our change meeting to review and prepare for the new changes that will occur next week. We have 14 missionaries leaving and 18 coming. Four are north Americans and 14 are Latinos. They come Monday night and Tuesday morning. With this change we are closing one apartment in Managua and reentering another and finding a new one in Jalapa. Jalapa is a small town about 6 hours north of Managua, past Ocotal.  The work is progressing there, because they are adding another set of missionaries. We have not been there yet but would love to someday. Maybe this will give us the chance to go.

We helped the Sister Leaders put up their bunkbeds, then did a little shopping before we went home. We hosted our Senior Missionary Dinner tonight with the Lees and Helbergs. We made crepes, then watched Christmas with the Kranks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We spent the day in the office because our car was in the shop getting serviced. This was the 80,000 km service and it cost over $400. Fortunately, the Church pays for most of it. We only pay for the oil and filter service. While I was checking in the car, a young man came up to Sister Bell and began talking with her. He was a return missionary from Panama, having been home for about 6 years. She carried on the conversation very well, understanding what he was saying and talking back in Spanish. She felt very good about the experience.

I worked on our next newsletter. I included a recipe for potato chips made in the microwave and information about back pain, mostly a result of carrying heavy book bags. Most have fanny packs that have shoulder straps and a waist cinch. Many of these fanny packs are made in Guatemala. We have had several missionaries, mostly Sisters, complain about back pain. When we have talked to them in person, we find that they are wearing their packs wrong. They don’t cinch up the belt so that all of the weight is on their shoulders. Their packs are really heavy causing the pain in their backs and shoulders. So we included some suggestions on how to remedy that.

Sister Bell had her final tutoring session with Whitney Allen. It ended with both being in tears. Whitney has been helping Sister Bell with her Spanish for about 9 months. She not only helped her with her language but they have become wonderful friends. Whitney is getting married this month (December). We wish her well…..

We began to decorate our home alittle for Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

We invited the sister leaders, office secretaries, our zone leaders and the assistants to breakfast this morning. Elder Gonzalez and Sister Walborn are leaving next week. We wanted to invited them to breakfast before they left. We fed them blueberry pancakes, eggs, juice and fruit. They ate heartily. Elder Gonzalez is a serious, obedient and dedicated Elder from Honduras.  He will be a great leader in the Church. Sister Walborn is a fun missionary. She is happy and creates enthusiasm with everyone around her. She is from Michigan. I tease her that she would be a great farm wife. I tell her this, but emphasize that this is a real complement, because farm wives are down to earth, hardworking, and loving people. They are the salt of the earth, just like she is. Sister Bell says that she will be a wonderful Young Woman Leader. We will miss both these missionaries. 

From front left: Sister Walborn, Sister Zafra, Sister Martinez, Elder Hamson, Elder Neilson, Elder Perry, Elder Galo, Elder Mitton, Elder Gonzalez, Sister Bell.

After cleaning up the kitchen, we bought a box of donuts and loaded up 2 mattresses in the car and headed north. We dropped the donuts off with Hermana Knowlton and Hermana Jimenez in Nagarote. They had the cleanest apartment in the Leon Zone.

Then we continued north to drop off the mattresses in Grasca, a little town a few miles south of Chinandega. We met the zone leaders, Elder Lopez and Elder Rendon. The missionaries were taken out of this area about a month ago, but the Church kept the lease on the apartment because President Poncio knew we would reenter the area again. With the changes coming up next week, the President is putting two sister missionaries in this apartment. The old mattresses were dirty so Sister Poncio wanted them to have new mattresses.

One the way home, we took alittle detour to Puerto Sandino and Miramar. They are cities on the ocean (Pacific). We were looking for a nice resort to take our kids when they come. But neither of these towns had anything that we would be looking for, but there was a beautiful sunset.

Friday, December 2. 2016

We spent the day catching up on things and preparing for the week-end. Sister Bell had several calls from missionaries, mostly colds. We might have one case of Zika. We thought we were out of the Zika season, but maybe not. I am working with our contractor and the missionaries to get furniture to the correct apartments to be ready for the changes on Monday and updating our furniture inventory. We are running out of a few items like fans and cocinas. They get used a lot and don’t last very long.

 Saturday, December 3, 2016

We had a long day, starting at about 7am and arriving at the Koellikers in Esteli about 9:30pm. We stopped in Trinidad, Matagalpa, Ocotal, Pueblo Nuevo and Esteli, mostly to drop off packages and supplies. The missionaries are getting Christmas Packages. A long day.

Today, we passed 5 accidents on the highway. Normally, we don’t see too many accidents on the highway, which is surprising because of the way people drive here. We see a lot of accidents in Managua, mostly minor accidents involving motorcycles and cars. However, today was different. A couple of these accidents were very serious, one at least included fatalities. It sombered us and brought tears to Sister Bell's eyes. I drove very carefully after that.

We have been listening to a book, The Contrite Spirit, which is about the relationship between the temple and the atonement. The book is written by Elder Bruce Hafen and his wife. They wrote a chapter about missionary work and the temple, which emphasized that our missionary goal should not be baptisms but getting converts to the temple. We have been pondering this for several weeks and have felt inspired to emphasize going to the temple in our work up north. The Esteli District is having a district temple excursion this week, but none of the people in our branches are ready to do. So Sister Bell and I are approaching several of the branch members and inviting them to prepare to go to the temple next March. This is when the District is hosting another temple excursion. So this week-end we approached Hermana Nuvia in Pueblo Nuevo, President Alaniz in Somoto, Noe and Suyapa in Condega and the Branch Presidency members in Trinidad and invited them to prepare to go to the temple in March. Everyone accepted the challenge. We gave them a copy of the Liahona Magazine from 2010 that was about the temple and told them we would begin teaching temple prep classes beginning in January. We coordinated this with President Acevado, the District President. He is very appreciative of our efforts.

Saturday Evening, I taught a Priesthood Preparation Class in Pueblo Nuevo. We only had two men there. One of our regular attenders is still struggling with drinking and another was sick. We taught about ordinances. After the class, we talked with the missionaries teaching these classes during the third hour of the block on Sunday. They are in agreement. I suggested they call Hilario as the Priesthood instructor and to call Sister Nuvia to teach RS at the same time. Pueblo Nuevo is progressing, little by little.

Afterward we stopped by Sister Nuvias home and talked about the temple. She is very excited, but will need to save her money to have enough to go in March. Her daughter, Dania, wants her Patriarchal Blessing. So I will help President Alaniz in Somoto (PN is part of the Somoto Branch) complete the recommendation. She will need go to a Patriarch in Managua as we don’t have a Patriarch in the Esteli District.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

We started in Somoto with a leadership training with President Alaniz and the missionaries. Elder Santizo got a call Saturday night from President Poncio informing him of his new assignment as a Zone Leader in Chinandega. He is really sad to leave, but will be a good zone leader. The members will miss him; he has a lot of enthusiasm which is contagious. Sister Bell and I will miss him as well. In our training, we talked how to improve our Sacrament Meetings, Patriarchal blessings, temple preparation classes, renovations of the chapel (which began over the week-end) and ordering next year’s materials (which President Alaniz had already done).

We then went to Condega. We met the missionaries, took chairs to the factory and helped set up for church. There were only about 15 people there. Elder Spence and Elder Sanchez are discouraged because of the low Sacrament Meeting attendance. But even though our numbers were few there was a real strong spirit and there is a lot of love with those that were there. Sister Bell and I both bore our testimonies. Sister Bell did it without notes. I talked with Noe and Suyapa about preparing to go to the temple in March. They accepted the invitation. The Elders asked me to teach the SS class. Rosa usually teaches but she said she didn’t feel comfortable teaching it because it was about the priesthood (she had also had an argument with her brother the night before and didn’t feel she could teach because she didn’t feel the spirit). So I taught it. Then Noe taught Priesthood (about setting good examples as fathers) and Suyapa taught RS (Faith). I am happy to report that Rosa felt much better after the Church meetings and was back to her usual happy self. 

The missionaries have been praying and pondering how they can get more members to come back to Church. They have come up with a few inspired ideas. The missionaries, Freddy and Noe are planning a day to visit the inactive priesthood holders and invite them back to Church. They are also planning a Christmas Party for the group. (Elder Spence’s father is wanting to pay for the party.) They have found and are teaching 4 families (unfortunately none came to Church this week-end). We scheduled being in Condega Saturday night for the Noche de Hermanamiento to show the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. These are all reasons (except for the fact that none of the investigators came to church) to be optimistic about Condega. 

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