Monday, February 13, 2017
We started the day at the hospital… no surprise there. We had two missionaries (4 actually, counting their companions), one in Physical Therapy and the other in Emergency. Sister Bell went with the sister to the Physical Therapy and I went with the Elder to the Emergency room. Both left feeling better and having had treatment and medicine to help them. In the Emergency room, the doctor was Doctora Abdala. She is a member of the Church and a very good doctor. When we have a question about who to see, we call her. She seems to enjoy helping us as much as we enjoy bringing patients to her.
We then went to the office. On our way home, we passed by the Distribution Center, then the store (to buy flowers for Sister Bell) before going home.
She is my eternal
valentine and the best thing about that is that she still wants to be.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Happy Valentine’s Day…
Today was a wonderful day, not only because it was Valentine’s day, but also because we met with an Apostle of the Lord. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked with all the missionaries in Nicaragua, both from the North and South Missions, almost 400 of us. He brought with him, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, our Area President, Elder Adrian Ochoa, 1st Counselor in our Area Presidency and Elder Maravilla, our Area Seventy. They all brought their wives. This is probably the first time that 4 General Authorities were in Nicaragua at the same time. They had also invited all of the Stake Presidents and their wives to attend. Elder Rasband mentioned that the reason they were all here was to visit with the President of Nicaragua and his wife, which they would be doing later this afternoon. He said that because they had some extra time, he wanted to meet with the missionaries.
He took the time to have every missionary come up and shake his hand (and the hands of the other general authorities and their wives). When Sister Bell and I shook his hand, he asked where we were from and then thanked us for our service. We both felt he really meant it and that he was speaking for the Lord. That was a choice experience.
He had each of the wives and General Authorities bear their testimonies. Everyone of the Seventies and their wives spoke Spanish. Elder and Sister Rasband did not and had interpreters. We were very glad his talk was in English as we were able to understand all that he said. Some highlights:
· Hermana Christensen told us we should be “professional Repentors” meaning that we should become very good at repenting…. Even on a daily basis.
· Elder Christensen told us that the Apostle charge is found in Matthew 28:19, which is our charge as missionaries, to go into all the world to teach and baptize. He then taught from D&C 20: 37 which is the standard for baptism. Our investigators need to have a desire to be baptized, have a broken heart and a contrite spirit and witness before the Church that they have repented and have manifested by their works that they are willing to serve Him and have received a remission of their sins. He also told the missionaries that they too need to be converted.
· Hermana Rasband told us that she didn’t marry an Apostle, but she did marry a valiente returned missionary. She also taught that the success missionaries see their investigators as Heavenly Father sees them; as sons and daughters of God and then loves them into the Church. She encouraged the missionaries to Smile. She also told them that they should try to be obedient.
· Elder Rasband said he wanted to raise the standard of obedience, to not only try to be obedient, but to be strictly obedient. He wanted each of us to express President Monson’s love for each of the members of the Church and to tell them two things; 1) that he loves them and 2) to thank them for all they do. He invited the Mission and Stake Presidents (9 of the 10 SP were there) to come up with him. He had them link their arms together. He explained that all the key holders at the Stake and Mission level in the Country were present (except 1). Then he brought up the Area Presidency (2 of the 3), the Area Seventy and Elder Christensen and explained that these men were there to build the kingdom of God in Nicaragua and that the missionaries needed to work unitedly with the Stakes to carry on this charge. It was a powerful sight.
He talked about Valentine’s day and said that President Hinckley had said on many occasions that the most important day in our lives is when we were sealed in the temple as a husband and wife. He encouraged the missionaries to prepare for that day and to help the members prepare as well. Our work in the North is right in line with this counsel.
He taught us from D&C 109: 22, 23 and 39. He said that even though this section is the dedicatory prayer for the Kirkland Temple, it gives wonderful direction on how the missionaries and the Stake should work together. Verse 22 tells us that “thy servants” (the missionaries) should go forth from the temple, with Christ’s name (our name tags) upon us and as verses 23 and 39 explain, we should bring the converts to the Stakes. He said that at the time of this prayer, there was only one Stake in the Church, the Kirtland Stake. The revelation talks about Stakes, plural, which is a prophetic statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
He also quoted Alma 26:5-6 and indicated that the Sheaves were converts and the Garners with Church leaders. He said that the missionary efforts do not end with baptism but that missionaries should be helping with the work of helping the Stakes get people to the temple. Missionaries should be helping with reactivation, strengthening members and helping prepare members to go to the temple. He said that the secret of missionary work is in the finding and that missionaries should always be finding, including asking members for people to teach. He said it is appropriate to ask a member if there is someone the member thinks would want to hear the Gospel Message. He even suggested that when the missionaries get a rejection on the street, that they should ask that person if there is someone else that would want to hear the Gospel message.
We were very uplifted. They spirit was strong. We felt Heavenly Father’s and the Savior’s love. We felt appreciated, even though we were just two of almost 400 missionaries. Of course, the spirit was really strong when we sang “Called to Serve”. We noticed that Elder and Sister Christensen knew the words by heart…. In Spanish.
When Elder Rasband was leaving, he told the missionaries that he was going to give them the only kiss they would get this Valentine’s day…. And then he blew them a kiss.
We invited the Lee’s and Helberg’s over for ice cream and strawberries tonight. We normally don’t find good fresh strawberry’s but we did yesterday….
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Today there was a good article about Elder Rasbands visit with President Daniel Ortega, the President of Nicaragua and his wife who serves has the Vice President. Elder Rasband told the President that the Church is a Church of peace, which was very important to the President. Evidently, after the civil war, they established a commission of peace to bring peace to the country, so this resonated with President Ortega. Elder Rasband talked about the early history of the Church where we had to leave the United States to find refuge from the persecution. Elder Rasband also talked about how the Church is blessing the lives of the people of Nicaragua.
Elder Rasband told how some of the Mormon Pioneers came through Nicaragua on their way to Utah. They would leave the east coast on a ship, stop on the east coast of Nicaragua take a smaller boat up the San Juan River to Lake Nicaragua, then finish the trip over land. This was as early as 1852. I was not aware of this.
We now have over 100,000 members of the Church now with over 75 different congregations. Elder Rasband gave the President a Christis. It was reported as a very productive meeting.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
We spent the morning with two of our sister missionaries who had an appointment at the hospital. We picked them up at the Sister house (they are from Esteli) and took them to the hospital for a 10 am doctor’s appointment. We got out of the hospital about 11 am. The sisters hadn’t eaten breakfast so we took them home and cooked them pancakes and eggs. We then took them to the bus station on our way to the office. We got there about 12:30 pm.
Friday, February 17, 2017
We visited with Elder Maravilla, the Area Seventy for Nicaragua today. He works for the Church. We went by the Church offices to pick up a mission call package for Michael Castro from La Dahia and while we were there he came out. We asked him about the meeting with Elder Rasband and President Ortega. He was very happy about the meeting and said that the Church was received very well by the President and his wife. He said the spirit was very strong, so much so that President Ortega said he could tell that we were a Church of peace. After being introduced to Elder Rasband, Elder Christensen, Elder Duncan, Elder Achoa, Elder Maravilla and others, President Ortega asked who were the leaders of the Church in Nicaragua. Elder Maravilla was identified and was asked to come sit next to the President Ortega and Elder Rasband. He said that was a real honor to sit next to an Apostle and to the President of his country. He also said that Elder Rasband was very pleased with the meeting. This is the second time the leaders of Nicaragua have had a conversation with an Apostle. The first time was with Elder Scott, after the Nicaragua Government had seized 3 LDS chapels, in 1982. After the meeting with Elder Scott, they turned the chapels back to the Church, that same day. Relations have certainly changed over the years.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Sister Bell gave Carelys and Maria Clara piano lessons in Trinidad. We then went to Pueblo Nuevo. We oriented Elder Wight and Elder Baxter in Pueblo Nuevo as to the things we are doing, such as helping Hermana Nubia prepare to go to the temple, help Dania get her patriarchal Blessing and prepare Hilario to receive the Melchezedik Priesthood. We gave them a pair of dress pants for Hilario, as he only has levis to wear to church. We hope they are the correct size. We then went by Hermana Nubias home and helped her to begin documenting her family history. She is trying to gather a few names to take to the temple when she goes in March.
We then headed to Condega, eating our Subway sandwich as we drove. Sister Bell was helping a missionary in Chinandega, who was passing a kidney stone. He ended up going to the hospital but passed the stones shortly after getting there. A little miracle happened in relation to this incident. He is serving in an area on the west side of the mission, outside of Chinandega. He would need to go to the AMOSCA hospital, where they will take our insurance. We have had problems with them in the past accepting our insurance and at times they don’t have someone that can get their email, so even if we send them a letter guaranteeing payment, they can’t get it. Usually if they can’t get this paper, they require payment in cash. Today was one of those times when they couldn’t access their email. But today, they accepted the insurance based on the assurance of Sister Bell (on the phone) that the paper had been sent and they would receive payment. With this assurance, they treated our missionary. A tiny miracle.
We met the missionaries, Elder Martinez and Elder Russell and gave a priesthood preparation class to Isaac, Noe and Suyapa’s son in law. We talked about the Aaronic Priesthood, which he is preparing to receive. We then visited with Freddy and Virginia. We gave Freddy a white shirt we purchased for him and a used tie. We talked about the requirements for receiving the Melchezedik Priesthood. He is working hard to be ready. He has changed a lot since we first met him. He was living with Virginia, his ex-wife, because he had no other place to stay. President Collado asked me to visit with her to determine if she was ready and worthy to be baptized, even though her ex-husband lived in the same house. This was about 8 months ago. The spirit testified to me that she was ready so I approved her baptism. When I first met Freddy, I was not very impressed and a little angry with him because he was stalling in leaving the house and finding another place to stay. He eventually moved out. He also began taking the discussions, and over time gained a testimony and was baptized. He has been very active and has changed a lot. He has the potential to be a good leader in the Church.
We attended the Noche de Hermanimiento in Condega. It was at Noe and Suyapa’s house. The Elders gave spiritual messages and then we played a game. It was fun. We arrived at the Koellikers about 8:30pm.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
We spent the morning in Somoto. President Acevado and President Rivera attended as well. President Acevado brought his family. His wife is the District RS President. President Acevado, his wife and President Rivera talked. President Rivera conducted a financial audit after Sacrament Meeting. We did a few things wrong, but the money was all accounted for. President Rivera helped us input ordination information into MLS and to get a Patriarchal Blessing recommend printed off for Dania.
We met with President Cruz, his family and his second counselor, Yasser in Trinidad at 3pm to give them another temple prep class. We taught lesson 2 about being worthy to enter the temple. It went well.
A side note: the mountain country is coffee and tobacco country. That is one of the major agricultural industries in Nicaragua. There are lots of tobacco farms around Esteli. We are amazed with how fast tobacco grows. In just a few short weeks, the plants go from newly planted to almost as tall as a man. It is amazing. It is a beautiful crop… if only it wasn’t good for man. All the tobacco goes into making cigars. I think a lot of the Cuban cigars are actually Nicaraguan cigars.