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.

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