Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday, July 24 to Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy Pioneer day. We celebrated by cooking breakfast for the Assistants (Diaz, Campbell), and the secretaries (Adams, Chinchilla and Ruiz). We ate blueberry pancakes, eggs, ham, watermelon and juice. They enjoyed the food and we enjoyed their company. We all went to the office for our weekly planning meeting. The Poncios went to Puerto Cabeza last week and came home with a list of things they need. Elder Lee and I will be sending 4 mattresses, 4 fans, 2 whiteboards and 6 telephones. Sister Poncio brought in a wonderful lunch of chicken, pork, salad, rice, watermelon and desert. It was delicious. Having eaten lunch and after having eaten such a big breakfast, we won’t have to eat much for dinner.

We spent the afternoon in the Hospital with missionaries that had doctors appointments. We got home about 6:45pm. I cooked grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Tuesday, July 26, 2017

We were back at the hospital for another doctor appointment. After leaving the hospital, we went home for lunch and to take clothes off the line. We worked from home for a few hours. Sister Bell had a lot of charting and follow-up to do and I worked on putting together an agenda for the Somoto RS activity and their VT routes which we helped them develop last Saturday.

We then went back to the hospital to get test results for a missionary and take them to the Doctors office. As modern as this hospital is, they don’t have an electronic system for test results. All the test results are hard copy and the patient is responsible to take care of them and bring them to the doctors’ offices. Not a very modern system of record keeping.

Sister Bell ironed after a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We spent a few hours with Hermana Silva from Brazil and Hermana Pozo from El Salvador. We took them to Huembas and then to Rosti Pollo for lunch. We love the missionaries. 

After dropping the sisters off at their apartment, we drove back to the hospital. Two other sisters came in, got fixed and returned to their area and another Elder had a doctors appointment. We have been at the hospital a lot this week. Fortunately, most weeks are not like this. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

We spent a few hours in Tipitapa paying for some lab tests for another missionary. The downtown streets in Tipitapa become an outdoor market. The cars can barely pass and some streets are totally blocked off, except for the bike taxis.

We stopped at Multicentral Mall to buy another white shirt and tie for a young man in Trinidad. Then home for lunch and out again after lunch. After lunch, we went to the distribution center, Pricesmart and Colonia. We were hoping to spend more of today at home working on a newsletter, but it wasn’t to be.

Tonight, we went to Helbergs for dinner.  It was a delicious meal with lots of vegetables.  It was nice to visit the Helbergs and the Lees with just relaxing conversation.

Friday, July 28, 2017
We picked up 4 mattresses and 4 fans from the sister’s house and took them to the office. It was nice to have the truck. The mattresses and fans all fit into the back of the truck. We spent the morning and early afternoon in the office. 

We left about 3pm for Trinidad. We taught a temple class to 3 sisters (Karen, Wendy and Nubia) and two young man who are preparing to go to the temple. The boys are going to be baptized for the dead. Most are preparing to go in December. One young man is going in September to do baptisms for the dead. The lesson, the Plan of Salvation, went well and was very spiritual. We love teaching the gospel.

After we left the office this afternoon, someone got into the Church lot and stole the side mirrors from 3 mission cars; the Presidents, Lees and the secretaries cars. The Church property is fenced and gated, but we might have to hire a guard.

We stayed with Koellikers.

Saturday, July 29, 2017
Happy Birthday Nora…. 1-year old today….

We slept all night waking up at 6:30am. I didn’t get up once. We love the big, soft bed we sleep in at the Koellikers. It is wonderful. We walked, showered and ate breakfast before leaving at 9:30 for Trinidad. Hermana Bell gave lessons to Maria Clara and Darisa. We took Elders Soares and Baxter to Esteli to get baptismal clothing from the Zone Leaders. We stopped at Burger King for breakfast and headed for Somoto.

We met with Natalia and Celia to finish planning their RS activity. We also reviewed the Visiting Teacher assignments we helped them develop last week. Celia was feeling better (she was sick last week). She smiled, laughed and talked more this week. Natalia is always happy and loves to talk. She visited inactive sisters this week with the missionaries. She is learning to be a RS President.

We then went to President Alaniz's house. His wife has a baptismal date for August 8. Elder Diaz, one of the assistants and the missionary who baptized President Alaniz will be in Somoto on divisions that day, which is why she agreed to be baptized. Even though it is a Tuesday, we will make the trek to Somoto. We wouldn’t miss this. She told us why she decided to get baptized. She had been very reluctant to get baptized because her family, especially her mother, were very Catholic and she didn’t want to disappoint them. However, the other day as she was pondering whether to get baptized or not, she heard a voice, which sounded like her mother, saying “you need to get baptized”. She decided then and there to get baptized and has been very happy since making that decision. This was tender mercy for her, letting her know that her mother, who has passed on, was supportive of her getting baptized. We suspect her mother has also accepted the Gospel and wants her to do the work for her in the temple.

We then went to the Church and taught another leadership class. We talked about reactivation and retention activities and how a branch counsel can help in these efforts. We discussed how visiting teaching and home teaching can help bring people back to church. We also talked about the need for every member to have a calling, a friend and be nourished by the good word of God. Elder Alfaro told about how when he was inactive, he was fellowshipped by a wonderful older couple and by a friend. That friend is Elder Martinez in our mission.

We then drove to Pueblo Nuevo and taught another teacher improvement class. We had given assignments to read about how to show our love for students in their classes especially those who don’t come, incorporate those principles into action and then share the experience they had. Sister Nubia told how she is talked with her young niece who is inactive and encouraged her to come back to Church. Hilario told how he went to visit Francisco, an inactive older man, and invited him back to Church. He also took the missionaries to Francisco’s house. The missionaries are now visiting with him regularly.

Hermana Nubia also told us of two faith promoting experiences she had since we saw her last. She has had some health problems, especially dealing with high blood pressure. One night, she was laying down and could hardly breath. She thought that she might die. As she sat at the side of the bed, she prayed and told Heavenly Father that if it was time for her to leave this life, she was ready to go, but if she had a choice she wanted to stay. She said that she then saw an angel in her room. As the angel passed, the sickness left her and she felt well again. Apparently, she has more to do in this life.

She then told us of a dream that she had. She dreamed that she was walking toward a building, being followed by a large crowd of people. She didn’t know the people. As she was walking, a storm passed by, with lightning very close to her. She was becoming very scared. She then heard a voice telling her, “you need not fear, you are endowed”. Instantly, she felt very calm and knew all would be well.

These Nicaraguan friends of ours are very spiritual and have great faith.  They are great examples to us and we are strengthened by being with them.

We stayed at the La Frontera Hotel in Ocotal. The Hex Hotel where we usually stay in Esteli was full. They had a concert in Esteli and all the rooms were filled. The Frontera had a pretty courtyard outside the back door of the room, below the balcony. The clouds were hanging low in the mountains surrounding Ocotal on Sunday morning. It was peaceful and beautiful.

Sunday, July 30. 2017

We attended Church in Pueblo Nuevo and then had dinner at the Koellikers house in Esteli. President Poncio and his family, the Lee’s, Elder Maravilla (Area Seventy) and his wife and the Zone Leaders were invited. Sister Koelliker cooked a wonderful chicken dinner with vegetables, salad, watermelon and Texas Sheet Cake with ice cream.

The men then went to a General District Priesthood Meeting at the Church in Esteli. There were close to 150 Priesthood Holders, Aaronic and Melchezedik. It was wonderful. There were maybe 30 Priesthood Holders at the last District Priesthood Meeting that was held as part of District Conference. Most in attendance had white shirts and ties, several that were given to them by our family. There were at least 8 from Somoto, 2 from Pueblo Nuevo, 6 from Trinidad and about 6 from Condega. Then we had all the missionaries there as well. I walked around shaking hands and giving hugs. It felt like a family reunion. I love these brethren and feel their love for me. I love being with friends and they are truly friends. Freddy and Catalino from Somoto were presented to be ordained Elders. This was a surprise to me as I thought they were waiting until the September District conference. Apparently, President Alaniz and President Rivera had other ideas. I support them in this decision and will work hard to help these two brethren understand the Priesthood and magnify it. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Monday, July 17 to Sunday, July 23, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

After the office meeting, we ran home to take the wash off the line before it began to rain, had lunch then drove to Lees and picked them up. We made a little road trip to Leon and El Viejo. Leon is 1.5 hours from Managua and El Viejo is another hour from there. Our purpose was to deliver packages, mail, phones and supplies to various missionaries in the West.  It was a quick trip but having the Lees with us made it more enjoyable. They have been to the West only twice before, once early on in their mission and the other several months ago when they went with us on another mercy trip. The Lees go home in a few weeks. They have been training Elder Ruiz and felt they could leave him for half a day. We got home about 8:30pm.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Today we had the 3-zone conference in Managua. Our presentation about colds and how to treat them, went well.

Zone Villa Flor

Zone Bello Horizante

Zone Las Americas
The missionaries that are leaving bore their testimonies. This will be a big group leaving. We love these missionaries and will miss them. They have been a wonderful influence in the mission, worked hard and made a difference in the mission. The leavers from these three zones were Hermanas Barrios, Rojas and Galbraith, Elder Cook and the Lees.

Hermanita Barrios from Guatemala. One of our favorites.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Today was a celebration of the revolution. People from all over the country came to Managua. We were told to stay home today, so we did… all day. We had plenty to do. I made lists for YW, AP, RS and MP for Pueblo Nuevo and Somoto. I also made a schedule for a 2.5-hour block of meeting in Somoto. It was really nice to have a day where we just sat in front of our computers getting caught up on our paperwork.

Thursday, July 20, 2017
It was a good day. We started by going by the apartment of Rene Polanco. The missionaries have moved out and I wanted to see if we had signs of bedbugs. We replaced the mattresses a few weeks ago because the old ones were infested with bedbugs. We are moving the furniture out tomorrow and I wanted to make sure we were not moving bedbugs that would infest other apartments. Fortunately, we didn’t find any. We then took the key to the zone leaders and headed to our next stop, which was the hospital. We needed to cancel a few appointments from missionaries, stopped at the bank and then the store.

This afternoon we spent the afternoon with Sister King and Sister Hernandez. Sister King is from the Dominican Republic and Sister Hernandez is from El Salvador. They are wonderful missionaries and we enjoyed spending the afternoon with them. 

Friday, July 21, 2017
Hermana Bell started the day doing laundry. While it was hanging on the line drying, we went to the Church offices so I could get instructed how to do financial reports in MLS. I have made arrangements with Elder Asplund to meet me in Somoto and we will try to do these reports. Sister Bell and I then went to Pricesmart and Portas (neighborhood store) before going home for lunch and take the clothes off the line. After lunch we went to the Office, back to the store and then home. I also put photos of the Temple in Honduras in frames as we will begin teaching some members in Trinidad the Temple Prep Classes. We want to give them each a picture so they can see the temple every day as a way to strengthen their resolve to go.

The Orange Jessamine is flowering again. It has the sweetest smell. We love walking past it and it is everywhere in our neighborhood. I wish I could put the smell in the journal.

We walk past this marvelous tree in our neighborhood every day.  A t one time it was a tiny little seed.  The seed fell on just the right kind of soil and as the soil was warmed by the sun and moistened by the rain, the miracle of this beautiful creation of our Heavenly Father came to be - one twig, one leaf, one branch at a time.  The missionaries here in Nicaragua are planting seeds of the hope of Christ in the hearts of the people.  As each convert, nourished by the good word of God, comes to the waters of baptism, the little nucleos or groups grow to become branches and then wards and the church grows.  As sacred ordinances are performed, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will fill this nation someday one convert at a time.  We are so blessed to be part of this great work.

Saturday, July 22, 2017
We left the house at 7am, stopping at the office on our way out of town. We needed to make copies for a temple prep class we are teaching tomorrow in Trinidad and pick up some scriptures that they also needed in Trinidad. Sister Bell only had one piano student today, the new girl (we don’t remember her name). But she had a 1-hour lesson, which Sister Bell said was greatly needed.

We went to Somoto and helped the RS President and her daughter/counselor plan a RS activity and begin to organize VT. They have two companionship with 4 sisters in each route. This covers about ½ of the branch. We then went to the Church and visited with the Branch President and Elders Alfaro and Asplund. We needed to do some financial reporting in MLS. We think we did it right, but we will see if we did when our work is checked. We had a lot to cover with President Alaniz. One thing was to show him a 2.5 hr block schedule. They have been doing a 2-hour block, which doesn’t leave much time for all the classes. After a few months at 2.5 hr. we will implement the 3-hour block schedule. Poco a poco.

We stopped at the Noche de Hermanimiento in Condega, arriving about 45 minutes late. There were only three members with the missionaries, but one was Erica, a young 15-year-old member who we had not seen at church for a few weeks. It was wonderful to see her back at church. She was so faithful and was full of the spirit. We hated to lose her.

We got to Koellikers early, about 9pm.

Sunday, July 23, 2017
We attended church in Trinidad. The Branch President's car was not working this morning so he came on his motorcycle with his wife, but left other family members at home. I took my new truck to get them. We squeezed 5 adults and 2 kids in the front and back seats (I left Sister Bell at the church). As I walked into the Church, President Cruz asked if I could talk, since one of the speakers ended up working and couldn’t be there. Of course, I agreed and then began praying to determine what I should talk about. One of the reasons we came was to begin teaching Temple Preparation classes. So, I decided to talk about the temple. I talked about 10 minutes. It seemed to go well and hopefully everyone understood me.  Sister Bell played the keyboard for all three meetings and after it was over, one of the Elders commented that it was the first time that he had heard the members sing on key since he came to this area - about three weeks.

After the meetings, Sister Bell and I met with Hermanas Dania, Wendy, Karen and Karen’s two sons. We gave introduction to the temple and then talked about whether each will be ready to go in September or December. Dania and Wendy (mother and daughter) want to go in September, but Karen wants to go in December. We handed out framed pictures of the temple, the pamphlet, “How to prepare to enter the temple”, a handout with scriptures talking about the various parts of the plan of salvation with instructions to read the scriptures and then we set next Friday night at 6pm to have the first lesson.

Here is a picture of Karen and her two boys. She taught the SS class today and teaches seminary every Monday through Friday. She says she is learning a lot. She is a single mother and has been a member for a little over a year. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Monday, July 10 to Sunday July 16, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

We are starting another week. Time is flying by. We started with our weekly office planning meeting. This is the first time we have attended for several weeks. Sister Bell took a bag of clean bed sheets to give to Sister Galbraith. Sister Bell also did another load of sheets this morning that she will give to her tomorrow. She has two more loads to do.

Sister Bell gave Joselyn Poncio a piano lesson, then after doing a few other tasks, we headed for home. Sister Bell needed to get the sheets off the line before it rained. We started working from home but took a break to talk to Steve, Heidi, Avery, Ginger and Nora. It is always good to talk to the family.
We went to the distribution center about 3:30. We have a long list of items the missionaries needed and wanted. We also expected to pick up our new truck, but it wasn’t ready. Tomorrow…. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Happy 15-month anniversary and Henry’s Birthday. It is also Grandma Bell’s birthday.

We had our new missionary training meeting. This is when the new missionaries (up to 12 weeks in the mission) and their companions come for more training. Sister Bell taught her “Umbrella of Comfort” presentation, showing items that can make their stay in Nicaragua more comfortable… basically the missionaries go through her purse. Then Elder Adams and Chinchilla took us to the Church O&M office to pick up our new truck. Pretty fancy… huh. It has 266km on the odometer.

Lees and Helbergs came over for dinner. We asked Lee’s about their mission, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t. They said that the thing they didn’t like was the traffic, especially the Motos, Taxis and buses. The thing that gave them the most satisfaction was working with the branch in Ciudad Dario. They had 14 members, 2 families go to the temple this month and one of the men was just called as the Branch President. They have worked miracles there.

Tuesday, July 12, 2017

We drove our new truck to Chinandega for a multizone conference. It was a pleasure to drive. It accelerates wonderfully so it was easy to pass slower vehicles. Sister Bell taught about respiratory illness and I talked about taking care of Baptismal clothing. I told the missionaries about my memories of my mother ironing her temple clothes before going to the temple. She did it with such love, respect and care. It made a major impression on me. I then told them that baptismal clothing is just as sacred as temple clothing and we should treat them with love, respect and care.

Sister Bell and I made a run to a pharmacy to buy medicine for a missionary. Then I set up tables and chairs for lunch. We looked all over the building for tables. We found 5, but 2 were broken and couldn’t be used. We had 60 mouths to feed and 3 tables was not enough. There was a young man at the church who made a few calls and got keys to an outside closet. He pulled out 5 brand new tables. We put them in the back of my new truck and drove them across the lot to the church. So every missionary had a place to sit at a table.

Sister Bell had several medical consults throughout the day and was the last one out of the Church because she was still helping a missionary. We loaded up and headed for Esteli. We decided to drive to Esteli tonight so we didn’t have to get up early tomorrow to get to the multizone conference in Esteli. However, on the way, we got a call from a missionary whose companion needed to go to the hospital. I was tempted to change our plans and head for home, but we didn’t. We got permission from Sister Poncio, gave instructions to the Elder of what to do, and got a payment guarantee. Now we are just waiting and hope all goes well. (It did)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

It was nice to sleep in, or at least not get up at 4:30am to leave by 6am. Since we stayed in Esteli last night, we were able to have a normal morning. The multizone conference went well. Sister Bell was able to get through her material in record time so that I had 3 full minutes to talk about how and why we need to take care of baptismal clothing. President Poncio gave all of us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 2 months and write down the impressions we get. Sister Bell and I have been reading every night, but we will need to increase the amount we read to finish in 2 months. This reminds me when President Hinckley gave the members the challenge to read the book of Mormon in 60 days. It was fun to see people reading everywhere;on the train or on a plane. There was a wonderful spirit everywhere we went. We then took Sister Poncio to Subway to order lunch, back to the conference and then back to Subway to pick up the sandwiches. Sister Bell visited with several missionaries that were sick. We left Esteli about 3pm and got home about 6pm.

This is the Ocotal Zone; Somoto and Pueblo Nuevo are part of this zone.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sister Bell finished washing the sheets for the Sister Leaders. She washed, dried and folded 28 sheets over the week. It took 4 loads and most of one week to do it. That is a labor of love.

We then made a trip to Pricesmart. Then home for lunch and to take sheets off the line. We then went to Multicentral Mall to buy 4 white shirts with ties, then to the office. The Lees invited us to go to Carl’s Jr. for dinner so we went to Metrocentral Mall, where the only Carl’s Jr. in the country is located. It was packed. Apparently a lot of people like Carl’s Jr. Hamburgers… just like home.

At home, Sister Bell ironed and we watched a movie.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I slept pretty good until about 2am. I kept thinking about how I was going to pack boxes of materials, a table, 2 whiteboards and our personal things in the truck so that they don’t get wet or stolen. I didn’t sleep very well the rest of the night.

We left at 7am (David helped me pack, using tarps that I had purchased about a month ago). We stopped at the office so Sister Bell could make a few copies of music sheets. We got to Trinidad early, about 9:30am. Maria Clara was still in bed, but her mother got her up. Karol Linneth came over, plus another young girl who wants to learn to play the piano. Michelle now has 3 students in Trinidad.

We then grabbed a bite at Subway in Esteli, before heading to Somoto. Our first stop was at the home of Natalia and Celia. Natalia is the RS President and Celia is the 1st Counselor and daughter of Natalia. The kids in the neighborhood love Sister Bell because she always has candy.

We took Natalia and Celia to the Church where we had a RS training. They have been the Presidency for several months, but are still needing to learn more about what a RS Presidency does. Sister Bell found a wonderful short video that explains the three primary purposes of RS. We showed that and then had a wonderful discussion about how to organize to accomplish the purposes. We talked a lot about visiting teachers. At the end of the meeting we had three action items. 1- Identify 2-3 sisters to visit and then to visit them. They came up with several in our meetings. 2- Plan an RS activity, identifying what they want to do and how much it will cost and 3- Elder Bell will develop a RS roster so we can help them begin to organize VT routes.

We then took Natalia to her cousins house and Celia to her house, but returned a little later to pick up Celia for a branch council training. Only President Alaniz, Celia and Elders Garcia and Gharring were there for the training. We had a great discussion about how to support the missionary effort in the branch.

We then drove to Pueblo Nuevo for another teacher improvement lesson. Everyone was there, including Hilario’s granddaughter. We continued the discussion about how to develop love for and prepare a lesson for the students. Again, there was a lively discussion, which went very well. By assignment from the week before, Dania, Nubia, Arelys and Hilario all taught a part of the lesson. At the end of the lesson, we discussed extending the 2-hour block to 2.5 hours to allow more teaching time for SS, Priesthood and YW. Everyone was in agreement. Therefore, starting in two weeks, they will begin their meetings at 9:30am. Elder Medeiro was appointed the time keeper to make sure everyone knows when to begin and end their classes.

We got to Koellikers about 9:15pm…. A long but satisfying day.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

We had a wonderful day in the service of the Lord. We started a 7:30am driving to Ocotal to deliver supplies. We got there just a few minutes before Church was starting. When we walked in, we noticed President Poncio and his family was visiting. We quickly dropped off the materials and left for Somoto.

Attending Church in Somoto was a delight. President Alaniz with the help of the missionaries have made some wonderful progress. Hermana Zaidas 12-year-old son came with his white shirt and tie so that he could pass the sacrament. Many of the other men came in white shirts and ties. They looked good. After Sacrament meeting, the members and investigators separated into several different rooms. There was primary, which was taught by Leslin, a recent convert.

The young women went into another class room. This class was taught by Cristin Alaniz. There was another SS class for young men. Elder Alfaro taught this class. There was a gospel doctrine class taught by Elder Gharring and Principles of the Gospel which was taught by Elder Asplund and Garcia. I was really impressed. At noon, these classes ended. Some of the members began to leave. However, the RS stayed and held their meeting. Somoto is growing. It is wonderful to be part of this growth.

We picked up Elders Soares and Baxter in Trinidad and took them to Managua with us. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Monday, July 3 to Sunday, July 9, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

We spent a good part of the day moving beds. We needed to pick up a bed and bedframe for Bello Horizante from the sister leaders house and then delivered it. We went back to the sister leaders house and picked up two more mattresses for Rene Polanco to replace mattresses infested with bedbugs. The missionaries cleaned, treated their apartment with Permethrin, had their clothes washed and replaced the mattresses. We had to time all these trips to when the missionaries were in their apartments, not an easy task.

We made a quick trip to the office so Sister Bell could say good-bye to Sister Gonzalez. She is going home tomorrow. We wish her well. We took her and Sister Galbraith back to their house so they didn’t have to go out in the rain to find a taxi or take a bus.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
We welcomed 7 new sister missionaries to the mission; 2 from the US, 2 from Honduras, 1 from Guatemala, 1 from Salvador and 1 from Panama. We had our training at the Mission Home. It was lovely. We met on the patio. It was very pleasant and with only 7 missionaries, we could train them very easily. Sister Poncio fed us a wonderful lunch before we went to the office to introduce them to their trainers. It is always fun to get new missionaries.

Several of the trainers have trained before; H. Rodriquez 4 times, H. Barrios 3 times, H. Baptista 3 times and Sister Staker has been a trainer several times. This is Sister Hernandez' first time being a trainer. She will be wonderful.

We went out to dinner with the Lees and Helbergs. Sister Helberg is from Salvador and loved pupusas. She found a good pupusa restaurant close to our houses so we met there for dinner. We were a little skeptical because the last pupusas we ate were not very good. But these were good. We eat a few tacos too. Afterwards we went over to the Helbergs, played a few games, talked and drank malts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Today was leadership council. The zone leaders and sister leaders are invited. We went alittle early to the office so we could visit and coordinate a few things with the zone leaders. We are excited about a few of the new leaders such as Elder Alofipo, and Elder Hamson. These are good missionaries that we have worked closely with in the past. They will make wonderful zone leaders. We were going to leave after we had a chance to visit with the leaders, but felt impressed to stay. We were glad we did because some of the Latinas who are going home tomorrow came in to take their English exam. We got to say good-bye to Elder Gonzalez, Hermanas Zamora, Cruz, Caispal and Martinez. All of them have had to overcome obstacles in their mission and have all done so admirably. These are wonderful young people who we love dearly. We will miss them.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

We slept in until 6am this morning. We were going to stay close to home, working from home, but that didn’t happen. I first got a haircut and then we went to Villa Flor. Sister Bell bought donuts, which we took with us. Missionaries love donuts. We needed to deliver some medicine to a missionary and then take Hermana Barrios and Flores back to their apartment to replace a fan. We then went to the hospital to help a missionary. We got her medicine and took them home. I think our service lightened their burdens some, especially since we brought food, took them shopping and gave them rides.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

First we went to the distribution center and then delivered mirrors to La Catorce and Las Americas. The Elders from Las Americas were at a zone meeting so we bought donuts and went to the Church. They are always excited to see us when we show up with donuts. We stopped by the office to pick up some materials for tomorrow and went home. I sent out our weekly newsletter and tried to find frig parts on line (I was unsuccessful). Sister Bell had several missionary calls through-out the day. We seem to be in cold and zika season along with the usual stomach problems.

Saturday, July 8, 2017
Today the Esteli District held a miniSOY (strength of youth). We stopped by to drop off some SOY bags. We estimated that there were about 100 youth. They were all outside playing games when we arrived. We saw youth from Somoto (11), Pueblo Nuevo (1-nonmember), Condega (1) and Trinidad (2). We also saw the youth leaders from Somoto and Pueblo Nuevo there. We were excited to see them, but they were also excited to see us.

We met Elders Gharring and Garcia in Somoto. 

We visited Hermana Ziadas family and gave clothes to them. We got the clothes from the sister missionaries who went home this week. They are modest, which is what the sisters in our little groups and branches need. They were very appreciative of the clothes. 

We then visited an investigator family. We showed them a video about the importance of the family and then gave them a copy of the family proclamation.

We visited another member family and then went by Hermana Celias home. We almost attended a baptism at the Church, but by the time the Elders and the sister got there, we needed to leave.

We taught another teacher improvement class in Pueblo Nuevo. Everyone was there except for Madeline who had gone to SOY and hadn’t returned yet. After our lesson (the importance to love those we teach), we got the clothes out and they had a chance to go through it. We in the United States wouldn’t think of wearing used clothes, but these humble people have no problems with used clothes. They were excited to get new things and we are excited that they have modest clothes.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

We left Koellikers about 7:30am. We drove to Somoto where we picked up President Alaniz. We briefly passed by the Church to pick up some materials and drove to Pueblo Nuevo. He had interviews to extend calls to Holario (Priesthood Teacher), Aries (Primary Teacher) and Maybelline (YW Teacher). They were sustained in Sacrament Meeting and then set apart after the meetings. We only had Sacrament Meeting and SS/Primary because we started late and everyone is used to leaving at noon. So our meetings were 1 hr and 45 minutes. We will talk with them next week about meeting longer.

It is fun to see our little group grow. President Alaniz loves his little flock and feels very strongly about doing the Lords work. After the meeting, we found out that one of our recent converts had been physically threatened last night by her husband. We stopped at her house on our way out of town to give her comfort and support. I did not follow the conversation very well, in fact I thought originally that she had tried to commit suicide, then I thought her husband tried to commit suicide. It wasn’t until we were visiting with her that I understood enough to know that her husband tried to hurt her. I don’t know if I will ever understand everything that is said. President Alaniz counseled with her and gave her wonderful advice. 
Sister Bell and I mostly listened, but did give alittle counsel.

We had dinner at the Koellikers house on our way back to Managua. We don’t usually stop but we had to stop to trade vehicles. They were celebrating Elder Hughes birthday. It was nice to have a wonderful Sunday dinner and not just peanut butter sandwiches.

We drove the mission truck home. The Koellikers will use our Rav4. We will get a new truck tomorrow and the Office Elders will use the mission truck. The Koellikers old Rav 4 will be sold.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday, June 26 to Sunday, July 2, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Our office meeting was postponed until this afternoon, so we went to the hospital to be with with one of our sister missionaries and her companion. After her appointment we went to the office to update the President and Sister Poncio about what the doctors said. We then returned to the hospital for a doctor’s appointment for another sister missionary. After this appointment we took them to dinner at the food court of the Galleria. Their eyes were really wide as we walked through the mall. I think they had visions of shopping. 

We thoroughly enjoyed being with each of these missionaries. They are all bright, beautiful young women, who love the Lord and love being missionaries. They were a lot of fun and they were appreciative of our service to them.

I made a 9pm medicine run to the Assistance house. It has been a long day….

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Michelle ironed white shirts this morning and then we went to the store. Afterwards, we stopped by the office to print some papers and then we went to Tipitapa to help the Hermanas move to the Sister Leaders house so that our two recuperating sisters can recuperate together. But first, we took them to lunch. They wanted to go to the food court at the Multicentral mall. They ordered food at Pizza Hut and McDonalds.

While we were waiting outside the Sister Leaders house, we began telling missionary stories. We discussed Elder Renlunds talk about the three things he wanted us to know (thanks from not only him, but also from the Lord, that we were called of God and that President Poncio was called of God). We talked about why some missionaries have to go home early for health reasons. I had related a little from Paul’s (our son) talk that he gave in Condega a few weeks ago. He talked about Lehi and why the boys needed to go back several times to get the plates and wives. They Lord knew they needed these things and yet, he made them go back to get them. Why didn’t he tell them to get them before they left? Paul answered that question, with a telling observation. He said they needed to experience the journey in order to learn, grow and show their faith and determination. I had told the sisters that they come on a mission for the same reason, to learn, grow and show their faith and determination.  We then talked about Zions camp, the parable of the seeds and the parable of the talents. Many thought that Zions camp was a failure because they did not free the saints in Missouri. But many of the future leaders of the Church participated in that march. They learned a lot about leadership from being with the prophet. They also showed their obedience and willingness to do whatever they were asked, and did so willingly and without complaint. They not only showed our Heavenly Father that they had these traits but they also showed themselves. We discussed that this is another reason why some missionaries come and go home early. 
We then talked about the Parable of the sower and the Parable of the Talents. In the Parable of the sower, we focused on the seed that was sowed in good soil, for our missionaries are growing in good soil. But some of the plants produced 100 percent, some 60% and yet others 30%. We sometimes think that these differences represent capacities, for some members/missionaries are more productive. But it could also represent time; for some missionaries served a full mission, some part and some even shorter time. But the plants grew and contributed. We then talked about the Parable of the talents, stressing that the individuals who received 5 and 2, received the same reward. We stressed that it is not as important how long we serve, but that we are dedicated while we are serving.

Sister Gunn, who was listening, then expressed her thoughts that missionaries that go home early for health reasons will still be serving in the kingdom, just in a different location and capacity. 

We have a great love for these sisters. They are wonderful. We love being around them. I love it when Sister Jimenez says, “Oh Elder Bell”, when I say something funny and when Sister Gonzalez yells “you who” when I tell them we are taking them to lunch and giving them a ride. They love the Lord, each other and being missionaries. This is truly one of the great blessings of being a missionary. We love watching them grow. We remember Sister Jimenez, when she first came into the mission field. We felt she was a little girl, lost in a big world. But she was really grown and matured. We are impressed with Sister Gunn. She has a wonderful heart and is very compassionate and inciteful. She will be a powerful sister Leader, but more importantly, she will be a wonderful wife, mother and Relief Society President. Sister Romero is also one we love. She is older, 27 years old, having only converted to the Gospel two years ago. Her maturity and dedication really shows forth. It is a wonderful day when we spend it with the Sister Missionaries.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We spent the day again with our two recuperating missionaries. After taking them to the hospital for another visit, we then took them to PriceSmart. We got wheel chairs for them. One of the wheel chairs was motorized and our sister missionary loved driving it around the store, stopping at all the sample stands to get samples of food. I pushed the other, but we also stopped at the sample stands. We bought them hamburgers and fries after shopping and then brought them to our house for a few minutes. Afterward we took them back to the Sisters house. Both are a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 29, 2017
Sister Bell taught Jocelyn a piano lesson today at the mission home.

Friday, June 30, 2017
We had our change meeting this morning at the mission home. We are moving out of 8 houses and moving into 5 new houses. This will require a lot of coordination.

We went by the Sisters house and Sister Bell to give a shot to one of the missionaries. On our walk this morning, we talked with Gabriela, one of our neighbors. She asked if Sister Bell would help her learn English.  We invited her to come in the evening to practice English but she didn’t show up.

Saturday, July 1, 2017
Sister Bell gave Maria Clara a piano lesson in Trinidad. While she was teaching I was calling zone leaders to coordinate moves.

We ate at Burger King in Esteli and bought a Subway sandwich to eat later. Then we took a microwave to Elder Vega in Ocotal and drove to Somoto.

We gave the last temple prepreparation class to President Alaniz. Hermana Alaniz listened in. President Alaniz loved the temple. He went through 4 sessions and participated in about 200 sealings. He said his testimony increased. He also said he received impressions on things he should do in the branch. We discussed the need to help his family prepare to be sealed. A major step is for his wife to be baptized. The family has been listening to the Book of Mormon on CD as Sister Alaniz does not read.  We asked Sister Alaniz if she would like the missionaries to teach her the discussions again. She said Yes. We are very excited and hope that as she relearns the lessons, that she will be receptive to the spirit. We told Elder Taylor and Asplund this and they were really excited to teach her.

After this we went by to pick up Natalia (RS President) for our training meeting, but she had already left. But the lady across the street called me over and told me she is a member (baptized in Esteli) and needed a bible. She had a book of Mormon, so I promised to get her one. The President got her name and will get her records. We suspect there are some unbaptized family members so we told this to Elder Taylor and Asplund so they can go by. We also encouraged them to go past Hermana Natalia’s house to give her encouragement and to invite the non-member family members to hear the lessons. Therefore, we gave Elders Taylor and Asplund three good references.

We taught another leadership class, teaching about branch councils. Those in attendance were President Alaniz, Cristian, Natalia, Azaria and the 4 missionaries. Sister Bell and I both felt good about the lesson.

We then headed for Pueblo Nuevo for a 7pm teacher improvement lesson. About 6:30, we got a call from Elder Meneses asking us if we were coming. Apparently, everyone (Nubia, Dania, Maybelline and Horario) thought it started at 6. There were all waiting for us when we arrived at 7. We showed 5 videos from “teaching in the way of the Savior”. It went so well that we scheduled a follow-up lesson next week, but this time it will be at 6pm.

Sunday, July 2, 2017
We went to Pueblo Nuevo. We sometimes wonder if we are making progress. Pueblo Nuevo is an example that we are making some progress. The missionaries still are conducting the meetings. But Jose and Holario passed the sacrament. Dania taught SS, Nubia taught RS, Holario taught Priesthood and Ariales taught primary. Maybelline is learning how to lead music. We now have two Melchezedik Priesthood holders, two endowed members and 3 members that have received their patriarchal blessings. We are making progress.

We brought Augustina to Managua to receive her Patriarchal Blessing. She lives several kilometers out of Pueblo Nuevo and takes a bus when she comes to church (which she does every week). She was baptized in 2001 while she was living with her sister in Managua. But she moved back to Pueblo Nuevo before the missionaries came to Pueblo Nuevo and therefore was not able to attend church for many years. She is endowed and has done a lot of temple work for her family. She is 70 years old, had 11 children, of which 6 lived to maturity. She has 17 grandchildren. We brought her to Managua, picked up her sister and took her to Villa Flor where she got her blessing. She was very humble and happy to have finally received it.  We are glad she will have a visit with her sister as well.  It has been a really good weekend.