Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monday, April 24 to Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

We started at the office meeting but then went to the hospital to get our missionary released. 

We went to the Lees for dinner. The Helbergs came with us. We always have a nice time at their home.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We became grandparents again today. Our dove gave birth to a chick. 

We got up at 4:30am and left at 6am, headed for Chinandega and the 3-zone conference. Sister Bell taught about how to take care of feet. Sister Bell talked to several missionaries about health problems and I passed out a few smoke alarms, a fan, spray bottles and Permetherin. The missionaries are practicing teaching investigators.

We then drove to Esteli, where the zone conference will be tomorrow. We got a room at the Hex. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2017

We had a long day. We are very glad we decided to stay in Esteli instead of getting up early and driving to Esteli. The multizone conference in Esteli went well. Sister Bell taught the missionaries about how to take care of their feet. We have about 8 missionaries that have ingrown toe nails. Several have had to go to the doctor to get them fixed. A few have followed Sister Bell’s instructions and have gotten the toenail out from under the skin.

We left about 4pm. When were almost home, we got a call from a sister missionary from the Dominican Republic. She was having several headaches. So we turned around and went back to Tipitapa (about 15 km from Managua). We took her and her companion to the hospital. They checked her out, gave her some medicine and sent her home. We took her back to Tipitapa and got home about 1am.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

We had the 3-zone conference with the zones in Managua; Bello Horizante, Villa Flor and Las Americas. Since it was at the Waspan Chapel, where the office is, we didn’t sit in for most of it. Sister Bell taught how to take care of your feet and I taught how to carry a backpack. 

There was something very special about this zone conference, at least at the end. Sister Vasquez, bore her testimony. She will be leaving the mission in about a month. She is one of our heroes. She has overcome great obstacles before and during the mission. She has had health issues that has impacted her but she has worked through them and is finishing strong. Here Sister Vasquez (middle)  is with Sister Bell and Hermanita Barrios, another of our wonderful sister missionaries.

There are other missionaries that have had to overcome physical and emotional obstacles, but have been persistent and are completing their missions. We are so impressed with them. 

There are many missionaries that have great capacity, are strong and are dedicated missionaries and leaders. They are very productive missionaries and will be wonderful leaders in the Church. We love them dearly, but our heroes are those missionaries that are still working hard, amidst trials.

Sister Gunn and Hanson sang a duet at the end of the meeting. They have wonderful voices and blended beautifully together. The spirit was strong as they were singing.
Sister Jimenez, from Guatemala also bore her testimony at the invitation of President Poncio. She has really grown from a timid little girl from Guatemala to an outgoing, hardworking missionary. We love seeing the growth in our missionaries. 

When we got home, we found that David and his friend, had completed our benches. These benches were made from an old bunkbed set. They are made of wood and have “Mision Nicaragua” carved in them. They turned out beautiful.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Anniversary. Today, we have been in Nicaragua for a year….

On our walk this morning, we saw a pair of Guardabarranco birds, which is the National Bird of Nicaragua. Officially they are the Turquoise-browed motmot bird. They nest in the ground.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Today was a missionary day. Sister Bell gave Maria Clara a 1 hour piano lesson in Trinidad. She had not had a lesson for several weeks so they took their time today.

We spent the afternoon with Elder Howland and Elder Russell in Condega. We had some wonderful visits. First we went by Edgars house. He wasn’t home but his daughter was so we gave her a lesson about faith. We testified that she can receive revelation and read Moroni 10:3-5. Edgar came home so we visited with him a little and then left. We went to an investigators house. The mother was home with her 3 children. Unfortunately, her husband had left shortly before we arrived. We showed a video about the importance of the family and then read the family proclamation. She was in accord with the principles taught in the family proclamation. We then visited with Freddy and taught him about Patriarchal Blessings. We are putting together a list of members ready to receive Patriarchal Blessings. 

We took the Elders out for dinner and then went to Noe’s home for the Noche de Hermanimiento. It started almost an hour late, but we ended up with about 14 people attending. Elder Russell taught a lesson about Patriarchal Blessings. Then we played a game.
I have not seen Elder Russell as happy as he was today. He is really maturing as a missionary and his language is really improving. He is always smiling which is something we have not seen much. We are really happy for him. Elder Howland is a great missionary.  They seem to work well together. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

We had a great missionary day. We started by teaching a temple preparation class to the familia Alaniz. President Alaniz is preparing to go to the temple in June. But we are teaching the lessons to his whole family (wife and daughter). Sister Alaniz can’t read so we gave her a CD set of the book of Mormon and a DVD player. She has been listening daily. 

President Herrera, the 1st Counselor in the District Presidency came with the District YW President and District Primary President. We had a wonderful Sacrament meeting (sister Bell played the piano and I said the closing prayer). I helped a couple of investigators follow the hymns in the hymnbook. Elder Alofipo conducted. There was a smooth transition to SS/Primary and another smooth transition to Priesthood/RS/Primary. The district officers helped our new primary president and YW president, which was greatly needed and appreciated. There was a sweet spirit at Church today and we left feeling spiritually uplifted.

A new investigator came today. She had a wonderful experience in SLC, that introduced her to the gospel and to President Monson personally. She was the representative from Nicaragua to a worldwide child abuse conference. She helps abused children. While attending this conference, she had the opportunity to come to temple square and meet with Sister Linda Burton, the General RS President. When she came into the building she was met by the RS presidency and President Monson. He gave all of them hugs. She didn’t know at the time who he was but she felt his love. It changed her life. The Somoto missionaries were called by missionaries at temple square, who gave them her contact information. It took a little time to find her, but they finally did. She is still glowing from that experience in SL and is listening intently to the missionary discussions. She has tremendous capacity to be a wonderful leader in the Church and a wonderful support to abused children in the community. She also brought a 14-year-old girl with her, who came from an abusive home. This girl is living with her. She loved Church too, especially young women’s.

When we began going north, a year ago, there was a tree that was in bloom. It is the Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant tree. It is in bloom again.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monday, April 17 to Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

We went to the hospital twice and to the office twice today. We started at the hospital with an ingrown toenail. Sister Bell went in with the missionary and held his hand while his toe was worked on. She said he about squashed her hand off. We took them to Burger King for lunch, then we went to the office (the first time) for the office meeting, dropping them off at the bus station on our way. We then rushed back to the hospital to meet another set of missionaries, one of which was having severe body aches and a rash. We then went back to the office to talk with President and Sister Poncio.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We had new missionary training this morning, for those missionaries and their companions that have been here for less than 2 changes (12 weeks). Sister Bell taught a presentation called the umbrella of comfort. She invited Elder Cook and Orellena to come up and pull items out of her purse, such as comb, toothbrush, bug spring, etc. Then we sang 8 vasa de agua.

During lunch,  another missionary showed sister Bell his ingrown toenail. There are a lot of ingrown toenails in the mission now. So in this weeks newsletter we sent a diagram how to cut toenails... again. We ended up taking him to the Emergency room. But the doctor gave him some medicine and told him to see another doctor in a week to have it fixed. We then stayed for another doctor appointment with another Elder. So we stayed at the hospital all afternoon.

We hosted the senior missionary dinner tonight with the Lees and Helbergs. Elder Quinonez and Elder Vogt were our special guests.  We had beef stroganoff. Then we had a FHE with the Elders giving the lesson about prayer. We must have been a good audience because Elder Vogt asked one question and we talked for 20 minutes to answer it. We ended the night playing golf. I then took the Elders to the Assistants house.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
We went to Matagalpa to talk about cleaning apartments at the Matagalpa zone meeting. We left at 8am so we could stop at La Colonia and buy donuts, but they were out so we bought Hostess type cupcakes instead. The traffic was terrible. We expected to be in Matagalpa at 10:30 but arrived 11:30. We still talked with the missionaries. I approached the subject a little different this time. I talked about the difference between Priesthood Authority and Priesthood Power and how a clean apartment (among other things) helps us prepare to have Priesthood Power.

After the meeting, we went to the Santa Fe Hospital in Matagalpa. This is one of the better medical facilities in central Nicaragua. It is a private facility. Now when missionaries go to this hospital, we have had to pay in cash. This is sometimes difficult because the missionaries don’t have a lot of money and the office staff, including Sister Bell and I have had to drive to Matagalpa to pay the bill, otherwise they won't let the missionaries leave. Sister Bell has felt impressed to talk to the administrators and ask if they would accept our insurance. We arrived there about 1:30 and offered a prayer in the car before we went in. The administrator was out to lunch, so we waited about 45 minutes for her to come back. To our joy, she was very receptive. We got her contact information and sent it to our contact with AETNA. AETNA responded and assured us it would be a top priority. Now we have to wait and pray.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

We spent most of the day in the hospital.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Today was a day of serving the one… well actually two. We started by picking Elder and Sister Lee up at Casa Pellas. They dropped off their car to be serviced. Then the four of us went to the distribution Center where we purchased garments, hymnbooks, and manuals for various missionaries and members.

We then went to the office where Sister Bell helped an Elder with a plugged ear. She gave them the equipment necessary to remove the ear plug. Then we worked alittle at the office after having lunch at Tip Top (a chicken place). We spent the afternoon at the hospital playing UNO. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017
We took Elder Vogt to San Ramon, about 15 km outside of Matagalpa. We stopped in Sebaco for lunch. We invited Sister Ingram and Knowlton to eat with us. We eat at the Buffet at the local gas station we normally stop at. The cook is one of their investigators.

San Ramon is a beautiful little town. The streets are mostly paved with pavers and it is very clean (a lot like Pueblo Nuevo). The Elders live in a little house. 

The other big event that occurred today is that we crossed the 100,000-km mark on our car.

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Sister Bell and I crossed over this morning. That is, we went to a Sacrament Meeting in the South Mission because it was closest to our house. Afterward, I repented and attended the Reparto Shick Ward (which is in our mission) with Elder Vogt. When Elder Vogt and I walked into the Chapel, we were asked to share our testimonies, which we did. Elder Vogt had served in this ward for 4 months about 2 months ago. The ward members were glad to see him. We then attended the Gospel Principles class and then headed back to the hospital.

We spent the afternoon in our air-conditioned rooms (at home), getting caught up and preparing for next week’s zone conferences. I needed a day like today. We are on the go so much, that it is difficult to keep up with the paper work. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday, April 10 to Sunday, April 16, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

We didn’t have our normal office meeting today, because the President was with the missionaries that are going home. They go on a little excursion. So we stayed home. I slipped out to get a haircut and did alittle grocery shopping. Other than that we stayed in our air conditioned rooms, working. This is the hot season. We have been in the upper 90's in Managua. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Happy 1 year anniversary. We went into the MTC one year ago today. We had 5 new missionaries come to the mission today. Three were from the US, 1 from El Salvador and 1 from Honduras. Sister Bell taught them about the 10 commandments of good health. She is teaching more and more in Spanish. Her language skills seems to have really improved the past couple of weeks. It is wonderful to see.

We went to dinner at the Helbergs tonight. Afterward, we just sat around the table and talked…. Well I should say that the wives talked, while us men sat and listened.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We started the day visiting the Bello Horizante and Villa Flor zones at their weekly zone meetings. Both zones are in Managua. We brought them donuts, the ones with yummy icing, which we can buy at Pricesmart for C$100 for a dozen (about $3.50). We bought 4 dozen, so we had a few extra to share with David, Salvador, Hermana y Elder Lee and Sister Bell and I, plus the 36 missionaries in the two zones.

We taught them how a clean apartment can make their apartments be like the temple, full of light and the spirit. We hope they got the message. We also made the assignment to the district, zone and sister leaders to conduct house inspections when they are on divisions.

We then went to Nagarote, about 50 kms out of Managua, to help the sisters (Pehrson, Nova and Palmer) set up bunkbeds. They are in a 3 some now so they needed bunkbeds set up and another fan, chair, table. They had three beds already, so we went expecting to just help them put one bed on top of another. But what we found was 3 bed frames for the top bunk. There were no bottom bunk bed frames. Therefore, we will gather 2 bottom bed frames tomorrow and go back. They are in a new apartment, which is very nice. They live upstairs, where they get a nice breeze, which is very welcome because it is very hot in Nagarote. I am glad I don’t live in a purple house though. I am ok with my yellow house, but purple is a little too much. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

We went back to Nagarote today to put the bunkbeds together. But this time we had all the parts that we needed.

We spent the afternoon working from home. I got a lot done. I updated my housing inventory spreadsheet, studied for my talk on the resurrection that I will give on Sunday, translated the line of authority for Freddy in Condega, completed a sample agenda for a YW class for Cristian in Somoto and drafted my weekly newsletter.  This week we included information on how to cut toenails and a salsa recipe from Hermana Speas. We realize these don’t go together but oh well….

We have an Easter lily blooming in our back yard and it is blooming at exactly the right time.

The miracle of the day though was that Sister Bell hung the wash on the clothes lines without scaring our nesting dove out of the nest.

Friday, April 14, 2017 - Good Friday

Today, approximately 1984 years ago, Christ atoned for our sins and was crucified. We are very grateful for what he did for us and our testimonies of the atonement. I have felt his redeeming power in my life and have seen it in the lives of so many other people. We are here in Nicaragua because of what he did many years ago.  

It is a major holiday in Nicaragua. Almost every store is closed, including Pricesmart and La Colonia. In the states, all the stores would be open with sales going on. Not here, for which we are grateful. The traffic was wonderful because everyone seems to have gone out of town (the rumor is that they all go to the beach). We got across town in record time. We wish it was a holiday here all the time.

How many people can you fit in the back of a pick-up? We see this a lot. At times a large truck is packed with people, mostly on Sundays. When your only option is walking, you tend to find ways to get to places faster. The people who have vehicles are really good about picking people up and usually don't charge them. Hitchhiking is very common here. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We left the house about 7:30am and got to Trinidad at 10am to teach Maria Clara a piano lesson. But when we got there, we found that Maria Clara and her mother had gone to the beach for spring break (along with most every other Nica). Only President Cruz was home. We had a nice visit with him, then left. We stopped by Freddy’s house in Condega to take pictures of his house. The group is now meeting there. They have Sacrament meeting, SS and RS in the back and Priesthood on the front porch. They had 16 in attendance on Sunday. We are trying to get the Area Presidency to approve renting a house before they are made a branch.

We then took supplies to Ocotal (pamphlets mostly), then we went to Pueblo Nuevo and gave the after-temple lesson to Hermana Nubia. Dania, her daughter, also participated. She normally is in school on Saturday, but this is holy week and all the schools, banks, etc. are closed. We had a wonderful discussion, asking and answering questions.

We then went to Somoto. We counted tithing money and stayed for their English Class and Piano Lessons. Sister Bell taught a piano lesson to a young girl because I needed Elder Tax (who usually teaches the lesson) to help input the tithing money into the computer. We had a nice time. Sister Bell said it felt like a small mutual activity, with several things going on and a lot of mingling.

We needed to watch out for drunks on the road, not drunk drivers, but drunk pedestrians. We saw a few, one lying on the side of the road, sleeping. He was riding his bike home and fell over. Drinking alcohol is a major problem here, especially with the men. There are several new members or investigators that have this problem. When these men are sober, they have a lot of potential, but they can’t seem to stay sober. It is a real problem.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter…. We are celebrating the most important event in the history of man, the atonement and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ. Sister Bell and I had the opportunity to talk about the atonement and resurrection in Pueblo Nuevo. We both talked in Sacrament Meeting. Sister Bell also played the piano (we brought our keyboard).

This is what Sister Bell said (I didn’t write my talk out so I don’t have notes, but I talked about the resurrection).

These are the words of Elder Bruce McConkie in 1984.
  Two thousand years ago, outside Jerusalem’s walls, there was a pleasant garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and his intimate friends were wont to retire for pondering and prayer.
  There Jesus taught his disciples the doctrines of the kingdom, and all of them communed with Him who is the Father of us all, in whose ministry they were engaged, and on whose errand, they served.
  This sacred spot, this holy ground is where the Sinless Son of the Everlasting Father took upon himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance.
  We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. 
  We know he sweat great drops of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. 
  We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.
  We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden cause him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.
  We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.
  As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies – this suffering beyond compare – continued for some three or four hours.
D&C 19: 15-19
I would like to share an experience that Elder Bell and I had in Denver, Colorado prior to our mission. We went for a walk early in the morning in March. It was cold, cold enough to see our breath in the air. We started down in a valley in the shadow of a hill. As we climbed the hill out of the valley, the sun came up over the horizon. As the rays of the sun touched us, the warmth spread over our bodies. I likened this to the light that can enter our lives through repentance. The lower ground with the frost, darkness and cold is like our lives before we repent. As we climb higher and take advantage of the Savior's atonement, we are warmed by His redeeming love and have the joy that comes after changing our lives. It is like the journey from a sinful life to a life with Christ.
Alma 5: 7, 9
I love the Spanish language.  I would like to apply one of my favorite Spanish phrases to the Savior's atonement.  The expression, “dar a luz”, in Spanish means to give birth.  It literally means to give a light.  When we are baptized, we are born again.  Every time we take the sacrament we celebrate anew that birth and every time we repent, we can literally become a new person.
Alma 5: 12, 14
The verb arrepentirse means to repent.  It is a reflexive verb which means that you do the action for or to yourself.  This verb is always used in the reflexive.  No one else can repent for you.  The Savior opened the gate to repentance through his suffering, but we must do the work ourselves.  We must feel sorrow and change our hearts and actions.  We can do this, but only through the gift of the atonement will we be forgiven or our sins.
This applies to everyone.
D&C 18:10-16
The blessing of the atonement is what we need to tell the world about.
D&C 18:10-16

We brought Dania Ramirez, Sister Nubia’s 21-year-old daughter to Managua with us so she could receive her Patriartical Blessing. Dania is in her final year of law school. She is working in an Attorney’s office in Condega and attending classes on Saturday. She is interested in family and criminal law. She has been a member for alittle over a year, but is very mature in the Gospel. She is a very outgoing young woman, a great teacher and very dedicated to the Gospel. While she was in with the Patriarch, we met a young LDS woman who is an attorney, specializing in family and criminal law. She served a mission to Honduras about the same time that Steve was there, but she was in the other mission. Dania had an opportunity to meet her and visit with her. She had graduated from law school, then served a mission. Dania is in the same place in life, about ready to graduate, but is thinking about serving a missionary. It was a little tender mercy that they met. I believe she will be a wonderful mentor to Dania.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday, April 3 to Sunday, April 9, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

We broke a record today, 8 missionaries with Dr. Appointments. Five were in Managua and 2 in Leon. We had 3 see an ophthalmologist (including me), 2 saw a dermatologist, 1 neurologist, 1 physical therapist and 1 in the emergency room. We spent most of the day in the hospital, helping them get registered, taking care of the insurance papers, finding the doctors, getting medicine from the pharmacy, and taking them to bus stations. We took two sisters to the sister leaders house to spend the night. We fed 4 hungry Elders and 2 hungry sisters; some at Pricesmart and some at the food court at the Galeria. We love serving, even if it only one missionary.

This morning we had our office staff meeting at the President’s house. This was Sister Willes last office meeting as she goes home in a week. She has served as the Lead Sister Trainer for several months. We first met her in Ocotal at the first of our mission. She stayed in our home with her sick companion. She is a wonderful missionary; hard working, full of faith, obedient, positive, loving and caring. We (and the mission) will miss her when she is gone.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We left the house at 6am and headed for El Viejo, which is about 3 hours north west of Managua. We attended part of the Chin Oeste Zone meeting. They were just getting started when we arrived. Of course, they were excited about the donuts we brought and ate them quickly. We talked about places where the spirit is strong, such as the temple, chapels, our homes and in ourselves. And how cleanliness is an important component in welcoming the spirit. We gave the leaders the assignment to do an inspection when they are visiting the various apartments in the zone. We then went to Chinandega and did the same thing to that zone. We ate lunch at Rosti Pollo and got home about 5, after stopping at the store.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Happy Birthday Dad (Grandpa Bell)

Today we had a real p-day. We went with the Lees to the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua.  Two of their daughters and 2 grandsons were visiting for a few days and went with us. We left at 6am, arriving at the ferry about 8:30am. We took a boat out to the Island. The lake was very choppy, so it was a rough ride. We were not very sure we wanted to get on this boat as it didn’t look very sound, but it made it ok. We hired a guide to take us around the island. It only cost us $10.00 each. We paid for it on the mainland and the whole time we were on the boat, I was hoping it wasn’t a scam. But a driver was waiting for us when we arrived at Moyogalpa (which relieved my concern).

Ometepe is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua. It was made by two volcanos, one is active and the other dormant. Here we are standing in front of the Concepcion volcano. This is the active volcano. It last erupted in 1958ish. Our driver said it would erupt again at 2pm today. I was really disappointed when it didn’t because I wanted to take pictures….

We first went to a nature preserve. While the boys went kayaking, Sister Bell and I went to a butterfly house. There were hundreds of butterflies and beautiful flowers. We really enjoyed walking through and taking pictures.

We then went out into the preserve and came across a few monkeys in the trees. This is when I wish I had my good camera.
We then went to the north side of the island and eat at a restaurant at the Villa Paraiso Hotel. There were a few urraca birds around. We looked them up and found that they are related to our magpies. After a while, we realized why. They were annoying and scavengers, just like magpies.

We had a great lunch, then went to El Ojo de Agua. The water was crystal clear. The boys and the Lee’s daughters went swimming while Sister Bell and I, along with Sister Lee soaked our feet in the water. Supposedly, this is the fountain of youth. We looked at our feet after soaking for a while, but we couldn’t tell much of a difference. Maybe we needed to spend more time there. We did notice that everyone else at the springs was young… could it be that they were old when they arrived?  I doubt it… but who knows?

We headed back to the ferry and took the 4pm ferry back to the mainland. This was a normal ferry boat that hauled cars and trucks. It was a much smoother ride, which we appreciated immensely.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Savior’s and the Church’s birthday.

We took the car into Casa Pellas today to have it serviced. It has 97,877 kms on it. It had about 40,000 when we got it a year ago. We worked from home most of the day. After I got the car, I went to the bank and then home. Our internet was out this evening. A tree branch had broken and broke the line. Claro came and saw what happened but couldn’t fix it until someone came and cut the branch. We are always disappointed when the internet is out… we rely on it a lot.

Friday, April 7, 2017

This morning we had our change meeting. We have 5 missionaries leaving and 5 coming. We will close two areas and open 2 new areas. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

On our way north, we dropped a few things off with the Hermanas in Sebaco (Martinez y Ingram) and then went to Trinidad to give a lesson to Maria Clara. But no-one was home. 

We then went to Hermana Nubias in Pueblo Nuevo. She told us a little about her experience in the temple. She explained that when she got on the bus, she wondered why there were so many suitcases but so few people. She later found out that the others on the bus brought food. She did not and only had a little money with her for food. This concerned her greatly, but soon was relieved when a sister from Esteli came up, gave her a big hug and reassured her that she would have plenty to eat. They shared their food with her and she never went hungry. She had an opportunity to visit with the Temple President and his wife, which she felt was a great honor. She loved the temple and felt the spirit very strongly.

When she got home from Honduras, Dania, her daughter, was able to request her Patriarchal Blessing which she got when she was 17 years old. And in a day, the Church found it and sent it to her. She was very excited to get it and read it again. She said that many of the blessings had occurred but that there was still a few blessing that she is still waiting for. One was being sealed as a family. 

We then took Dania and the missionaries to Nubia’s cousin's house, which is about 10 km out of town. Sister Bell, Nubia and I had given them a book of Mormon about 3 weeks ago when we visited them the first time. We wanted to know if they had read any of it. They reluctantly welcomed us. They were waiting for family to arrive and I don’t think they had much time for visitors. But they invited us to sit on the patio and we visited. We talked about the Church, the gospel, the Book of Mormon and some of the differences of our Church with other churches. Marvin, her cousin was receptive but we don't think his wife was very happy to see us again. She goes to another Church and isn't interested in changing. We also think they have talked negatively about the Church. Well, maybe we can dispel some of those myths. The missionaries asked if they could come back and he said yes. So we shall see what happens next.

We then went to Condega. We picked up the Elders (Martinez and Russell) and went by a house that is for rent. We are looking for a place to meet. But since they are a group, we need special approval by the Area Presidency to rent a building for the Church. Usually, they don’t rent a building until they are a branch.

We then went passed Freddy’s house and I gave him his line of authority. He was very impressed with this.

Then we went to Edgars house for the Noche de Hermanimiento. Edgar was baptized several months ago but hasn’t been to Church since. He was in a serious motorcycle accident and needed to recover. He had been drinking when he was in the accident. The missionaries and the Koellikers have been visiting him. He sat in through the lesson and game. He said he would come to Church tomorrow. His family, mostly young nieces and nephews, were very interested in the Church and several had been baptized. His mother was listening to the missionaries for a while, but couldn’t give up coffee. Now most of the family is inactive.
We then ended up at the Ramirez home for another Temple Prep lesson. They have decided to wait until fall to go to the temple, which will give them more time to prepare. They are still trying to find their marriage certificate and begin paying tithing. We talked about blessings we receive from temples as outlined in D&C 109 and 97. The lesson went very well and there was a sweet spirit present.

We got to Koellikers about 10pm. Late night….

Sunday, April 9, 2017

We had a good day. We stopped by President Alaniz’s home early. Presidente wasn’t there but Sister Alaniz, Cristian and Juanito were. We visited with them and gave Sister Alaniz an old DVD player so she can listen to the Book of Mormon. We gave her a set of CDs several weeks ago, but she didn’t have any way to listen to them. We found an old DVD player and gave it to her. She was very happy. Sister Bell and Sister Alaniz have a wonderful relationship. They truly love each other and are always glad to see each other.  She promised that she will begin to listen to the Book of Mormon (she can’t read) and will hopefully gain a testimony of this wonderful book, which will lead to her baptism. Our goal is to attend her baptism while we are here. Sister Alaniz’s goal is hold off her baptism until the day before we leave. Hopefully, listening to the Book of Mormon will help her have a desire to get baptized much sooner.
We attended Church in Somoto. Sister Bell played the piano. 

Elder Simpson and Elder Melenciano will be leaving tomorrow. The members knew they are leaving so they wished them well and took a lot of pictures. Elder Simpson has been here from the beginning of his mission. This is his first area. He progressed from a trainee to a district leader. He has matured a lot in Somoto and has a lot more confidence as a missionary now than when he came almost 6 months ago. We have enjoyed working with him.

Elder Melenciano, who is from New York City, has been here for only 1 or two changes. He has been the secretary of the branch and has learned MSL well. We will miss his skills but he has been training Elder Tax and Williams.

One sister brought a Cake, which was quickly eaten.

After the meetings, the missionaries held a baptism for a 16-year-old boy. His 11-year-old sister was baptized a few weeks ago. It was a very nice baptism, with a sweet spirit present. Elder Tax performed the baptism.

On our way home, we stopped in Trinidad and gave the 7th Temple Prep Class to Presidente Cruz, his wife and Yasser, the second counselor. This lesson is to be given after they go to the temple, and encourages them to return and to take family names. Sister Bell gave them each a family group sheet and family pedigree chart and explained how to complete them. We are so impressed with the Cruz’s and with Yasser. They have the potential to be great leaders; are learning their responsibilities well; and are magnifying their callings. We have not had to provide much mentoring as we must do in other areas. Presidente Cruz owns a mechanic shop, Sister Cruz is a nurse at the hospital and Yasser is an ambulance driver. In the areas where we are working, most of the new members are very poor, with limited leadership skills or experience.  Therefore, it is very refreshing to find a new member with such wonderful skills. 

Sister Bell got a grandmother fix today in Somoto. The mother has a testimony of the gospel, comes to Church regularly but can’t get baptized because she is not married. This is a major problem in Nicaragua.

We have a dove building a nest in our back yard. We will see if they abandon the nest when Sister Bell hangs out the wash

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Monday, March 27 to Sunday, April 2, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Today is our midpoint of our mission. It is hard to believe we are halfway through. We feel good about our service so far. We are learning patience with each other. I have been amazed at how well Sister Bell is helping the missionaries with their health. She has known what to do and what to prescribe (President Langevelds blessing to her has been evident in our service). The missionaries have a great love for her and she has a great love for them. It is frustrating if they don't follow instructions and then call back with worsening conditions. 

We brought our sick missionary to our home today. Joselyn Poncio stayed with our sick missionary while Sister Speas and Sister Jimenez went to their house to begin packing and cleaning. I went to pick them up about 5pm and brought them back to our house.  We fixed dinner for the four sisters and then left to have our senior dinner at the Lee’s. When we got home, the 4 sisters were playing Phase 10 and having a great time.  It was good to have laughing young people in our home. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We took our sick missionary to the airport this morning. Her companion went with us. When we arrived at the airport, we found that the whole zone was there to greet her and say goodbye. It was very touching for her and for us. We took some pictures, bought a few souvenirs and said goodbye. 

We then took Sister Speas back to her apartment and helped her pack and clean. Then to our house for lunch and to gather the rest of her things. Then we took her to the Sister Leaders house. She will work with them for the next two weeks before she goes home. The four sister missionaries (Speas, Willes, Jimenez, Apen) will work both areas.

We then went to the office and worked a few hours. We are tired. This has been a long 10 days. We are hopeful we will have some relief sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sister Bell did some wash this morning, mostly sheets from the spare beds. Then we ran some errands, going to Walmart, Pricesmart and office. This afternoon, we took another Elder back to the hospital for a doctor appointment. We have been in the hospital almost everyday for two weeks. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

We started the day at the hospital again for another doctor appointment with one of our sisters. 

We then took Elder Frenzel back to Corinto, which is about 3 hours north west of Managua. It is a beach town outside of Chinandega. We met Elder Torrez and Ruiz at their apartment. Elder Frenzel is glad to be back in his area. Then we left for home, stopping in Leon for gas and chicken at Tip Top.

Friday, March 31, 2017

We spent most of the day at the hospital with another set of missionaries. One of the missionaries has a skin rash and body aches. The doctors ran some tests and gave him some medicine. Hopefully, he will be doing better in a few days.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

We woke up this morning to find that our internet was out. So we ended up going to the office to watch conference. 

I enjoyed President Eyring's Saturday morning talk about family history. This is something that we can encourage and help those that went to the temple this past month. Sister Bell and I have decided to take on President Nelson’s challenge to read every verse about the Savior listed in the Topical Guide. He said it changed his life and I hope it will change mine.

We got the internet fixed before the Priesthood Session so we watched it at the house. Elder Lee came by to watch it with us. David, our guard, watched it in Spanish on our porch using my phone and our internet. We had a great conversation afterward, talking about why we don’t have all the ceremonies around Easter like the Catholic Church, how and when we repent, how are Prophets and Apostles called and how is the next President of the Church determined. He has a great faith and sincerely wants to know. His current employment makes it hard to him to attend Church as he is either here on Sunday’s or on his way home when his Ward meets. He would be a wonderful Priesthood Leader someday, and we hope that he will continue to progress. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

We were very disappointed that the Managua Nicaragua Temple was not announced this morning. The Church has property for the temple. It is along the Masaya Highway, not far from the Metropolitano Villian Pellas hospital. It is protected with a large wall and guard, with private property signs on the wall. Every country in Central America has a temple but ours. So, we were hoping ours would have been announced.

There were some powerful talks in Conference this morning. I loved Elder Rasband’s talk about the Holy Ghost and Elder Oaks talk about the Godhead. President Uchtdorf talk about fear as a poor motivation, is something I have talked to the missionaries about at times.

Salvador, our guard, listened to the second half of the morning session and all of the afternoon session. He used my computer in our living room, listening to it in Spanish, while Sister Bell and I were in the bedroom listening in English. He seemed to like it very much. He especially liked Elder Costa’s talk about his conversion story and went away wanting to visit more with the missionaries and read the Book of Mormon. I particularly liked Elder Palmer's talk about dealing with difficult missionaries and the story of the Savior with the rich young man and how that changed how he dealt with them. This scripture can help us with relationships in our own family. 1. See them as the Lord sees them, 2. Love changes lives, not anger, 3. Love should not be withdrawn no matter how them react and 4. The Lord expects a lot of us and them.