Saturday, November 18, 2017

EMAIL... Week 72

Hola All!

Time is flying by and we are enjoying being anxiously engaged in a good cause! Last Sunday, Marra Jones was born to Lacee and Daniel! We are so happy to have been blessed with our 12th grandchild! We are sad not to be able to be with them to welcome this little angel and help, but we know that this is where we need to be at this time. We are so grateful to Malia for flying up with her two youngest daughters to help and support the Jones family at this special time. We are especially grateful for our knowledge that families can be together forever!

Sunday, after our Temple Prep lesson in Condega, we drove to the river there for the baptism of Ever. It was a beautiful setting and Elder Bassett did a great job. They changed to dry clothes in the tall bushes and we took them back to the Elders’ house, where they meet for church. It was a sweet reminder that we need to be witnesses of Heavenly Father and our Savior, at all times, and in all things, and in all places.

We had some wonderful visits this week with members who are truly trying to be “all in”. Many struggle with attendance due to work conflicts, the weather, sickness, and no desire, due to lack of faith or having been offended. As we talk about how much our Heavenly Father loves us and knows us, and that if we do the small and simple things to the very best of our ability, He will not only bless and strengthen us, but He will help us find the way to accomplish all that He wants us to do. As we reflect on the perfect life of the Savior, and of His perfect example of love and service, and His fulfilling His role in Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness, suffering and dying for all of us, we are humbled and want to do our very best to follow Him and keep the commandments. The Gospel is for all of Heavenly Father’s children. We each need it to become the person we have the potential to become, and prepare to return to our Father and Savior.

The fun highlight of the week was traveling to Managua to surprise Barton and JoAnne Foutz, and the Bryans at their clinic for prospective missionaries. It was great to see their faces when they saw us. We had been trying to figure out how to get back down there with our crazy schedule, and the “Red Sea parted”, and we were able to go down. The timing was great, as they were all about ready for their lunch break. We got a tour, chatted with a few of the youth there for physicals from our mission area, met lots of the volunteers (who pay to go and serve these youth with love and sacrifice), and had lunch with these dear friends. We told our Mission President that Bishop Foutz had been our bishop, and had also been our home teacher for the 19 years before we came and never missed a month...so he came all this way to check on us. Talk about a faithful home teacher! Oh how we love these faithful examples and friends!

Our Multi-Zone on Thursday was great! The Poncios are great speakers and presenters. The missionaries love to get together and there is a powerful spirit in their presence. We all feel the spirit and gain an enhanced commitment to do our best!

I get to teach the couple we are working with to prepare for their Temple marriage, how to make chocolate chip cookies today. Nabill speaks a lot of English and he wants his fiancee to learn, so he’s coming along to make sure she understands. They are adorable! This is one of my small contributions to the work, but I love these people and serving them however I can.

We love you all! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Have a great week!

Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nicaraguan Fun with Friends...

We said goodbye to two of our favorites; Elder Hughes and Hermana Elías.

 Tuesday we picked up the Bryans in Managua, dropped off their things in Estelí and had lunch, and then headed up to Condega. We picked up Elders Bassett and the his new companion, Elder Simpson, who is from Las Vegas. We met him months ago and are excited to work with him. Fun fact, his brother recently moved into the Bryan’s ward, where Mike is serving as bishop. Small world.

Another trip to the waterfall. We had to show them one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua. None of us got wet or fell over the edge from the top.






We picked up the Hermanas so someone had to sit in the back. Mike won! I guess that was a good thing because Hermana Koelliker would have had to drive. Scary!
¡Feliz Cumpleaños Hermana Donaire!



EMAIL... Week 71

Hola All! 

We had a very busy and memorable week! Sunday we finished Temple Prep with the Rosario Branch, and Condega had number 5. Because of limited space in the temple housing, some may not get to go until January. The temple trips are for 3 days, so it’s nice that the temple in Honduras has housing for the patrons. We will continue to follow up with those preparing to go, and hopefully their Branch Presidents will get their interviews done before the mission president or his counselor comes up to interview them. 

We had changes Monday, and Elder Koelliker put almost 80 km on the car with driving missionaries to and from the bus stations and to and from their houses here. It was fun to greet the new ones, and sad to lose Hermana Elías and Elder Hughes. We are so grateful not to been moved!

Tuesday we got up early to go to Managua to pick up Mike and Sandra Bryan. They came early for their Smiles for Central America trip, so they could work with us here in Estelí. It was so fun to spend time with them and to work with them. We did visits Tuesday in Condega after we got back from Managua. Of course, their Spanish is excellent and they did an awesome job commenting and adding to each discussion and lesson. We had a visit back in Estelí that evening. The waterfall on Wednesday morning was spectacular and the weather was great! We did visits after lunch and we went with the Hermanas to one of their new investigator families. There were 6 of us meeting with 6 of them in a tiny room of their wooden house, with the wood burning “stove” cooking dinner. They and their circumstances were so humble, but the spirit was strong. We all shared parts of our testimonies of the Gospel. It was a great experience. The Bryans were able to meet several of the people we work with regularly as well. Thursday we showed them a few places of interest and took them to meet Sofia, one of our favorites, then headed back to Managua so they could join their group flying in that night. Their group does complete physicals, dental check ups and work, and eye checks for youth preparing to serve missions, leaving within a year. When these Nicaraguan youth finish their time with them, the whole health section of their mission application is complete. What a blessing for these potential missionaries. We are hoping to get down to see them and Barton and JoAnne Foutz in action. This service is not only very generous, but so needed by these poor people. The Bryans will be fabulous missionaries, when they retire! They also brought 100 pounds of church clothes for the people and missionaries here, which was Jacob Hofer’s Eagle Project! Huge thanks to them, Jacob, and to all those who contributed to this amazing gift for the people here.

We had a wonderful lesson with Carlos, a 21 year old orthodontic student, who is planning to be baptized next Saturday. He loves every concept and tells us how this gospel answers all of his questions. He actually bore his testimony last Sunday during testimony meeting and it was powerful. He asked the missionaries why everyone in the congregation wasn’t up there bearing theirs. Profound question! He will be a wonderful addition to the branch and wants to serve a mission himself in a year.

We are so blessed to have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. We are so grateful for our testimonies, leaders, the scriptures...especially The Book of Mormon, prayer, temples, and eternal families. We are thankful to be able to serve here and now with these precious people and share what we know and the blessings we enjoy! 

Thank you for your examples, love, charity, and prayers! We love you!

Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Saturday, November 4, 2017

EMAIL... Week 70

Hola All!

Fun week celebrating the birthdays of Elders Bassett and Fankhauser! (Pictures on the blog.) We are so blessed to be able to work with such amazing young people! They are happy, dynamic, and good, and very patient with us viejos! With changes coming Monday, we start to miss them even before we know which of them might be transferred, but then love the new ones who come. Go figure! Change day is usually hectic and early! Gearing up!

Great opportunity to drive down to Dario to do a Noche de Hermanamiento for their branch. Elder K gave a great lesson, and then we played the water game (details not to be disclosed until after we have played it with our grandkids) and served Galletas Americanas (Homemade chocolate chip cookies) and soda. Such a fun group that we met our first Sunday in Nicaragua. They also had 5 investigators and several less actives attend. They send their love to the Lees, who helped build and strengthen their branch sooo much!  Elder K also did a great job for our Branch Hermanamiento on Thursday, as he was called up from his seat to do it. That's Nicaragua! We really have to pay attention to the person conducting, because he just calls people out of the group or congregation to lead the music, pray, and sometimes speak. Never a calm moment. Always have to be ready to participate!

Had a wonderful visit Friday with a man we have been working with to get his life in order. He has been working a lot of overtime at work, so we haven't been able to visit with him for a few weeks. The Hermanas didn't go with us because they were having a Zone Project, so it was only the 3 of us. He told us how much happier he is, now that he has overcome most of his weaknesses. He thanked us for visiting him, being interested in him, and for helping him to see the things he needed to change and for giving him ideas of how to succeed in making those changes. The spirit was strong, and we were truly humbled that we had received the inspiration to keep visiting and of what to say and do with him. He gave a beautiful and heartfelt prayer before we left. You never know when something you say or do is going to touch someone's life for the better. We pray regularly to be instruments in Heavenly Father's hands. Definitely a tender mercy for us!

We had Branch Consejo on Tuesday, and the new Branch President read John 21:15-17, about one of Jesus' visits to his disciples after His resurrection. After dining together, He asked His head apostle, Simon Peter, "...Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." 

The BP was trying to encourage the leaders to visit and show love for those they have stewardship over. This is a new concept to some. As latter day disciples of Christ, He has asked us to feed His sheep and His lambs. These sheep and lambs are our brothers and sisters, especially those in our families and in our wards and branches. If we truly love our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will love, serve, help, forgive, and teach those around us, His sheep and His lambs. Each one of us can make a difference for good in the lives of those around us, and in doing so, we are demonstrating our love, not only for them, but for our Savior. We are so grateful for all of you who have served us and our family, as lambs and sheep through different phases of our lives! Thank you for your examples, goodness, and love! We love you all!


Love,                                                                                                                                                   
Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Friday, November 3, 2017

Birthdays... Bulls... Waterfalls... Flowers... Noche de Hogar

Celebrated two birthdays this past week; Elder Bassett who works with us in Condega and Elder Fankhauser who is one of the ZL’s of the Estelí zone. Both are exceptional missionaries we enjoy working with and love dearly.  






Another trip to the waterfall in the mountains of Estelí with Elders Hughes, Fankhauser, and Najera. It was a gorgeous day! There was more water than ever, but we were still able to hike to the top. We had to keep a close eye on the boys so they wouldn’t do anything crazy.









The jungle is lush and beautiful this time of year with so many colors including the spectacular flowers.



We were contacting a family the other day and I received a warm welcome. He was anxious to hear our message. The others?  Not so much.
We spent a wonderful Monday evening with the members of the Darío branch teaching a Noche de Hogar. We had a wonderful experience teaching the gospel to people we love dearly.





Saturday, October 28, 2017

EMAIL... Week 69

Hola All!

Just kidding...the rainy season is still upon us, partially because of a tropical storm, so we’re continuing to experience unbelievable downpours. They are responsible for lots of mud and some flooding, but also the amazing green everywhere and a spectacular waterfall trip with the Estelí Elders. This trip to the falls provided the greatest size and force we have seen yet. We were happy that we could also take the Elders to the top. So beautiful! The boys were well behaved and didn’t try anything crazy at the top, plus they got some great photos to email home.

President and Hermana Poncio came up with an AP and the Sister Leader to do interviews. Hermana Fersola stayed with us. She is amazing. She is from the Dominican Republic, where her mother is from, and her father is Italian, but likes life in the DR. She looks American and speaks a bit of English and Italian on top of her Spanish. We enjoyed having her stay and getting to know her. We had a nice lunch together for the Poncio entourage, the ZL’s and Elder Najera. Our interview is during our conversation at lunch and we all laugh a lot. President Poncio is a tease and quite funny, so he and Elder K get along really well.

Last week we met Hermana Dyal from Salt Lake City, who is serving in another zone that participates with us in our Multi-Zone Conferences. This is her first change in Nicaragua and her trainer is one of the Hermanas we served with previously, here in Esteli. Our nephew, Elder Tyler Davies, was her ZL in the MTC and she was the Sister leader for their zone, all learning Spanish. He told us to look for her, and of course we were happy to meet her last week. She played a beautiful piano solo at the conference and I was able to get a few pictures to send to Elder Davies. My brother, Brady Davies, sent me an email this week to watch for Hermana Dyal, as she is the daughter of a man he works with, and he and his wife are their good friends. It was fun to be able to report back that we met her, that she is doing awesome, and to be able to forward the pictures to him to show her dad. Such a small world!

We had our final Temple Prep lesson with Mauricio and Claudia and their 3 kids, ages 12-17. They are slated to go to the temple in Honduras December 5th-7th. We will continue to visit them each week and share messages and experiences to help them keep their focus and strengthen them. They have come a long way! The kids will be able to do baptisms while they are there, and while their parents are doing endowment sessions. The most important part of their trip is that they will be sealed as an eternal family. The members preparing in the Rosario Branch have one more lesson, and the Condega group members have 2 more. Poco poco!

One of the men in our branch struggles to stay active. We talked to him yesterday about how happy he is when he is active in the church and obeying the commandments, and how miserable he his when he is not. Elder K drew a line in the dirt and talked about the 2 sides of the line...one side represents Christ, obeying and following Him, and happiness. The other side represents Satan, not keeping the commandments, and misery. Every decision is a choice, and sometimes we need to really think and recognize which side of the line we are choosing, and the consequences for each choice. Hopefully that little parable/object lesson will help him! 

We love these precious people. We hurt when they don’t hold fast to the spirit they have felt, keep their covenants, and continually progress. We recognize who they really are and the unlimited potentials they have, and the blessings that are theirs IF they will just hold fast to the rod and do the small and simple things. We are so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and for the opportunity to share our testimonies and experiences with others. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our Heavenly Father and Savior in this great work of building up Their  Kingdom here on the earth and in helping to prepare the world for the Second Coming of our Savior!

We love you! Have a great week!

Love,

Elder and Hermana Koelliker

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pancake Breakfast... Ducks... Vistas... Conferences... Baptism...


We had a pancake breakfast to celebrate the birthdays in the Estelí District. Happy birthday to Hermana Elías and Elder Bassett. We then had a special b-day lunch for Hermana Elias and her companion, Hermana Donaire.



 Visited Virginia and Nubia and watched them bag crema. Yummy! We also got to see their new baby ducks. Quack. Quack. When they get bigger they will be sold for meals.



Hiking the hills in Condega and on up to the old airstrip on top used during their civil war. Awesome views!






Multi-zone Conference in Matagalpa. Notice the lighted cross in the background that looks like it’s floating.



Baptism of Estivan. Luis Armando at work building a house by himself. A beautiful sunset on the way back from Dario.