We had a wonderful day on Monday with the missionaries completing their missions and the Poncios! We had a nice breakfast and then took pictures at La Catarina, which overlooks Laguna Apoya, and Lake Nicaragua just behind the Laguna. Elders Carter, Neilson, and K, plus President Poncio, took some fun shots...posting on the blog. Then we went to the Masaya Market and did some souvenir shopping, as many of them hadn't had the opportunity while doing their missionary work. The boys bought much more than the girls. ??? Last, we went to a restaurant/hotel in Granada, where we had a lovely meal. Elder K and I gave a presentation/activity on dating and marriage, which we enjoyed doing and the missionaries got a kick out of it...and hopefully some food for thought! We were followed by the Poncios, who shared their thoughts and testimonies, and then each of the 12 bore their final testimonies in the mission field. We found out the extra 3 in the group were the AP's and the Poncio's daughter, who is putting her papers in to serve. Many tears were shed, and the spirit was amazing! They are so prepared to go forth and serve their families, their wards and branches, their districts and stakes, their employers, and the world. The growth, maturity, and Christlike qualities they have gained are immeasurable and will truly bless their lives, their families' lives, and the lives of those around them. I wish we could have bottled the energy and spirit in that room for a time when we feel lacking, but all we need to do to have it, is to serve, count our blessings, obey the commandments, pray, and study the scriptures. We don't ever have to be without the Holy Ghost, once we have received that gift. It's up to us!
Since we were in Managua for changes, we didn't get to "greet" the two new missionaries we get to work with now. We had actually met both of them when we went to Managua for our meeting with Elder Renlund, but working with them is going to be great! Both Hermana Gunn and Elder Hughes are happy, bubbly, hard working missionaries and leaders, so they are easy to love already! Elder Hughes celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday with 7 fechas, and of course a Koelliker b-day cookie! Love doing little things for these amazing young people, who truly bless our lives daily!
We met with an adorable 11 year old, who nailed her baptismal interview. Her mom gave her permission to be baptized and has attended the lessons and church with her. She wants to join as well, but needs to get the "not married to her compañero thing" taken care of. This young girl asked some pretty deep questions and learns like a sponge! What a delight! "My sheep here My voice!" Had a great visit with Marvin and Blanca! She's coming along poco a poco. She truly wants to have a strong testimony and is doing some of the things she needs to do, but she really needs to come to church every week to feel that spirit and partake of the Sacrament.
Got up early this morning to go pick up 2 young sisters (13 & 15), who were recently baptized, to take them to our District Mini Soy...like a Youth Conference or mini EFY. They were so excited! We'll pick them up when it's over at 4, along with the young man from Condega and take them all home. There aren't many opportunities for the youth here to have fun and spiritual times together, so it's really a big deal to most of them. They don't have weekly activities like we do, nor many of the other programs our youth in the United States enjoy. There aren't the numbers either, so there are very few in their peer groups at church. It reminds me of the great blessing of the amazing and strong positive peer groups each of our children had growing up, along with the parents of their friends, great leaders and teachers! We are sooo blessed to have the support and help in raising our children in this world today!
Life is good in spite of our challenges and sometimes because of our challenges! The Church is true and living by the precepts and commandments given to us by our Heavenly Father and Savior, is the only way to return to them. We miss the temple so much, especially the peace and answers we receive there. Please take advantage of the opportunities you have to attend the temple.
We love you all and so appreciate all you do and all you are to us!
Elder and Hermana Koelliker