Monday, July 29, 2013

Blessings from a Missionary

Dear Family,                                                                                                                                         

Mom, there is no such thing as the worst Mom ever award, and there’s no way in the world for you specifically to earn it. Don´t let me catch you down on yourself again, and I type that with as much love in my voice as I can. You are the best mom, the only mom I have, and irreplaceable in my personal plan of salvation. In regards of Braden and Ashley, thank you for sending the announcement, I’ll await its arrival, also I wonder about Braden´s side of his engagement story still. I have a word document with each account, and I´d like to hear his.

The story of Darci and Joe finally getting pregnant is as follows from Peru:
From the time my mission started I knew that the families of missionaries receive special blessings, but also that Heavenly Father doesn´t just give blessings without us asking for them. Every fast Sunday from the start of my mission, I have fasted for two things: for Braden to find his wife, and for Darci and Joe to have success in their efforts to get pregnant. At first I didn’t think it was working, and then Braden got engaged, surprise! Then I didn´t think I was fasting right for Darci and Joe and I fasted for comfort to withstand this trial and for them to be eventually blessed with a family even if it means adoption or otherwise, surprise!

Our Heavenly Father loves and looks out for each of us in an individual form. He wants what’s best for us and for us to know true happiness at the end of this life. He knew that if Darci got pregnant before she did, she wouldn’t have gone on the trek, or she wouldn´t have had some other experience. The same applies for Braden meeting Ashley when he did, and we all know she had a direction to go as well. He loves us. He wants us to understand and know him more than we can even comprehend.

Arturo´s Catholic marriage doesn´t count because as a church, we respect the law of the land as regards marriage, not the law of other churches. That’s as best I can understand of that situation. His wife is very very Catholic and wants to know absolutely every reason why there should be a restoration and the Book of Mormon. We´ve given her some more scriptures to read, and it scares her a little, the change. I personally hope she has the faith necessary to accept them as true, because I know that without faith, she won´t remain active in the church even if she gets baptized. Faith is the power that keeps us clinging to the iron rod, even when our own family is in the great and spacious building, mocking us for choosing to be righteous. She needs that kind of power, and I hope and pray she gains it.

The Gonzalez Family: Juan, Ericka and Joyce
The Gonzales family got baptized this weekend. The dad told his boss that he will be traveling into Lima to come to church every single weekend until the end of the 4 months even though the project is already 20 days behind schedule. He has that kind of faith. The mom went under the water two times and the daughter three times. It scares people to have that kind of trust in the person baptizing them, but really that’s symbolic of the trust we need to have in the Savior as the redeemer of the world. Elder Gaibor baptized the couple and a youth from the ward baptized Joyce. They were confirmed the next day, and now they are a complete family as members of the church. They will be sealed next year in the Peru Lima temple if they keep their baptismal covenants. I have no doubt they will.

There are mainly services here for work, and the majority of people work for small businesses. There are big chains for things like ice cream or sweets, but those are sold by individual vendors. The most valuable jobs to train for in college are engineering type jobs, trades like electrician, but the jobs that give you the most time flexibility are as taxi drivers with their own cars. The majority of drivers rent a car and that means 16 hours a day driving to pay off the car and gain enough for a family.

I love you all and continue to fast and pray for you as individuals. Keep reading scriptures and conference talks, and praying as a family. Family night is super important as a tool to unite families.


Elder Nelson

Melissa's Letter

Elder Nelson and Gaibor in Centro de Lima
*(Because of technical difficulties, mostly my ineptness, Cameron only got a letter from Melissa this week.  She used the right email address.  Wish I had thought of that.)

Congrats Melissa, you get to receive this week´s letter. Mom must be really worried because her letter didn´t get through, but tell her not to worry, I´ll just read double next week or really I have a couple of letters from Cody Bake and Elder Cazier too.

EFY is a great program and just starting to get down here to Perú. The youth that go have an incredible week and their planners are filled with photos of youth from EFY in the US, so smile big whenever there’s a photo op, there could be a Peruvian on the other side of the lens!

What you said about the plan of Salvation is so true. It´s incredibly important for us to value our siblings and our parents when we´re here. I realized that too late in high school and really I wish I had a few of those weekends back so I could spend some more time at home. It´s never going to be important how many times you go to a party or hang out with your friends during your time growing up, but you´ll remember the times that you stayed home and spent time with Mom and Dad. They have so much to teach you and they love you so much. They value your agency and so they let you go to activities on the weekend, but they wish you would spend some time every once in a while bonding as the small family that´s still at home.

We don´t regularly teach people the plan of salvation until after they have a baptismal date, mostly because the message of the restoration is so important, but occasionally when we start with that lesson it´s really something special.  If you want to learn anything about our Heavenly Father and the infinite love he has for each and every one of his children, read 2 Nephi 9 and pay attention to how he treats Adam and Eve even after they disobeyed his commandment. 

Elder Dansie
We taught a family starting with the plan of salvation thsi week. Arturo is a mechanic and operates a garage with his wife Giovanna (yes like Pokémon).  Our bishop gave us his name and address as a reference and we visited them a day or two later. We found the whole family home (Nicole 13 and Bryan 8 as well) at night and taught them the plan of salvation in two lessons, one with the family proclamation and the second with a pamphlet. The mom had a pretty heavy battle with depression a few years back, and still looks a little depressed every once in a while, but really this lesson brightened her face like nothing else could. She asked us about what happens after this life and then told us how she wants to use her experience as a positive thing to help others know that depression doesn´t have to be the end of it all. They are married in the Catholic church, but that’s not enough, so we are getting them married civilly this next month in the mission offices in a massive marriage.

The other family were going to baptize is the Gonzales family. They are married! They have a date set for next weekend to be baptized with their daughter that is 9, Joyce. Juan and Ericka also have a son who’s been a member since last November. He´s 15, and super strong, singlehandedly helping the Ramos familia to come to church. His dad took a sudden interest in why his son has changed so much in the past year and now he´s told us he wants to get invitation needed. They are an incredible family, and this week he even traveled 5 hours from his work site (he’s working on a site 5 hours from home for the next 4 months) to come to church and he’s planning on doing the same thing next week. We are so proud of them and can´t wait to help them join their son in the church. We are planning on having Juan Ramos do the baptism,  their families are super close friends.

Peruvian money
The photos are one of me and Elder Gaibor in Centro de Lima, one of Elder Dansie, the other gringo in the zone (he’s from Las Vegas and a convert of 3 years), 1 of an interesting story I found in a members class manual, and two of the types of money that we use. Almost all of the money we use is in coins. If you use a bill it’s usually just to get rid of it so you have coins to use, pretty opposite the states actually. I walk around with probably about $6 in my coinpurse, but it’s enough to eat breakfast for half a week and also transport myself to the offices and back by bus. Yeah, livings pretty cheap.
More Peruvian money

Well, I love you all, I hope you had a great week like Melissa did. I pray for edifying experiences for each of you and I hope you are learning about the gospel. If you don´t learn something new about the gospel every week, look for a solution, you will always learn something new.


Elder Nelson

Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Your Nametag Out

Dear Dad,                                                                                                                                         
This week I´m choosing to reply to your letter individually as well as mom´s so she knows why the other might be a tad shorter. We´ll see how much I can type in my hour haha.

It´s already Twin Lakes time! That’s really wild, and I´m glad Kolby is starting to get into the boating spirit. I know it was when Braden left that I finally decided to get into it, and I’m not sure why that was. This will be a perfect year for a triple ski: Kolby, Melissa and you of course! 

I baptized the young man and the one with her suit all rolled up. We had plans for member relatives to baptize them, but it fell through and so they had me perform the baptism. At church the next day they did all three confirmations, one by Daniel´s uncle with terminal cancer at 40 years old. It was incredible to be  a part of that one, the spirit was thick in the air and I couldn´t hold back a tear or two. He has a lot of opposition from his parents, so we are really praying hard for him.

We usually have a teaching pool of about 30 people at once, but about half are progressing, the others are just beginning or are recent convert or less actives. The ward is like home, but on average in this mission we stay for 4 months to 6 months in each area, so I´ll know each area really well. Every week we teach about 20 or 25 discussions, sometimes up to 30 or 35. It’s really busy, usually about 100 discussions a month for each companionship. About 20 years ago, this area was baptizing 200 people in the stake every month, now it’s more like 15, but it’s still incredible to think that 15 people start the journey to the temple every month.

There’s definitely an inversion here in the winter, so lots of people get sick from the climate change and the air quality, but I don´t notice the air quality change too much personally. The typical pday is a day playing soccer and a trip to the super market to get breakfast foods for the next couple of weeks. Men rurally cook, but most know how to do a few  things, they don´t eat too many desserts after meals, but occasionally we get jello or flan or jello on top of flan, mostly if there’s dessert it’s an orange or a mandarin or an apple. A typical work day is more like 12 to 16 hours, really incredibly hard working people, but that explains why they’re a little wish washy on commitments like coming to church. Everybody does something, even if it’s just man a gas station type shop all day, that’s more typical than a Wal-Mart type store.

Well that’s all I have time to type, I hope it paints a picture, this one can go on the blog too if you’d like. Just know that I love you and look up to your righteous example. Elder Christofferson said to get out your nametag...have you done it?


Elder Nelson


Dear familia,                                                                                             

As regards to prayers. I pray for each of you individually, and I’m firmly convinced that the only way that a missionary´s family is blessed during his mission is when he really recognizes how much he loves and appreciates each member and prays for them because of that love.

When you forget that you have supposed needs and begin to fill the needs of those around you, you will find that your needs disappear or that you have someone else filling them for you. That’s the challenge this week; fill the needs of someone else....also visit grandma and say hi to Aunt Judy if she´s around.

Thanks to Brother Larsen making sure I’m not forgotten around there :) Really he was a good teacher and really helped us to see too the teaching program of the church before the recent changes could be utilized in a more updated way. We don´t use facebook here or the Mormon messages, but that’s incredibly effective in the USA. 

I had a funny experience this week in the hill in our area. We had climbed to the very top and knocked on the door of a part member family who we had an appointment with, Luz and Edwin. They weren´t there, so we started to go down, but this voice came from behind us ´´gringooo´´.....we turned around, nobody.  ´´´gringoooooo´´´we turned around, nobody. Two more steps down ´´´vas a morir gringooooo´´ we turned around and Elder Gaibor caught the corner of a head ducking inside the window of a house super high up on the hill. ´´vas a morir gringoooo, voy a matarte gringoooo´´ we turned around one more time and didn’t catch him. Really it was just a super drunk person, no worries. Following that, we had a family that we hadn´t been able to contact for a while come to church and we had a member give us a reference for her daughter in law.

The daughter in law is pregnant, but not married to her boyfriend. They are living together in the girl’s mom’s house and she gave birth to a baby girl just two days ago, so we haven’t had contact since. Oh yeah, she’s 16 and he´s 19. That little detail was incredibly shocking, but then not, because missionaries from the jungle have told me that sometimes 14 year olds have two or three kids. So basically that was my first personal experience with a teen pregnant here in Peru. I did notice however that this sister, in spite of the situation she is in, has a strong desire to get her family back on track. She wants to get baptized soon and she’s working on convincing her husband to get married.

Elder Gaibor is from Ecuador, he’s 22 years old and only has a year of school left after his mission before he can be an electrical engineer. He wants to come to BYU to finish up schooling or get his masters. He’s Jewish descent, but from Ecuador for generations, and he´s definitely got the knowledge to back it up. He reads constantly and seriously knows a lot of deep things about the gospel. He meditates in place of exercises, and has served a year and two months now. He knows a ton of English, just misses how to pronounce things occasionally, and needs help to start talking faster. We complement each other well, and I hope we have a while longer here together because I have been learning a lot from him. He does believe in evil or wicked spirits and that can be a little strange. We are teaching a schizophrenic and Elder Gaibor says after the lesson to me that it can be something mental or a wicked spirit. I lean towards the mental imbalanced opinion haha.

Well, Dad received the other half of the letter for this week, so you can ask him about it when you get together for lunch. I mentioned about Elder Christofferson’s talk about the plaque or nametag to him. I hope that all of the ex missionaries have followed that counsel. They have more or less here and it’s incredible to know how much the church is helped by RMs.

Love you all, and as always I’m praying for you.


Elder Nelson

Monday, July 8, 2013

Baptism Fotos!

Dear Family,                                                                                                                      

This week you get baptism fotos! The YM is Daniel, the one with her suit rolled up is Briseyra and the other one is Narda. That was all last Saturday though, so I won´t comment more on that one.

This week we had a couple of experiences contacting that were kind of interesting. We contacted the father of a murder victim, and he told us the whole story, how his son was murdered was pretty brutal, but he was strong as he told it. When we told him about the plan of salvation, it didn’t affect him too much. It seems like that would be new doctrine to a lot of people, but the truth is that a lot of churches preach that nowadays, or more accurately, that they will return to see their families again, but not necessarily all of the details in the restored gospel that we know. We are returning to teach him again soon, but really we just hope that he can find the peace that he’s been looking for. When he opened the door to let us in, he was pretty surprised because he said that he had had MMM (Lutherans) knock on his door, as well as JW and Adventists, but never Mormons. He’s really a good man, just with a rally heavy load on his back.

The other experience was on the same street, the man opened the door and basically said, ´´finally!´´´ He had been contacted about a week and a half ago by elders from a different zone, but they forgot to pass us the reference, so he just waited and waited for missionaries to pass by. He borrowed a Book of Mormon from his sister’s friend and started reading from the beginning. He read the introduction and the witnesses, and the first few chapters of first Nephi. How incredible! So we taught him where the Book comes from and about the Restoration for the first lesson. We are returning for him too, but really its incredible what the gospel does when someone puts their effort into learning it. 

The other one was a reference from a relative that was leaving the house. He told us about his relative that was an inactive member and so we knocked on the door. Out comes this woman and she invited us in without too much of a wait. She told us she had been inactive for 16 years but wanted her son to be raised in the church. She still prays our way, but she’s been baptized catholic to avoid conflicts at work. Her Book of Mormon actually had a few words different it was so old, actually that was kind of weird.


Yes it’s cold even though it’s like 60 degrees out. It’s pretty humid, but I don´t notice that anymore, just that it’s really cold. We proselyte in sweaters or coats every day.

We had a conference with the mission president and his wife this last week and will have interviews tomorrow. They are really two incredibly prepared people and I felt immediately that they will affect the way that I live my life from here on out. She served here in Lima North and he served in Chile. He’s a convert from 18 years and older who had parent trouble when join the church. He waited for her after being in a serious relationship with her at BYU. While he waited he studied law and they married when he got back. He wants to participate in the work with us, attending sacrament meetings and baptisms and even teaching lessons with us when possible.

Transfers next is at the end of the month, but here it’s usually 3 to 5 transfers, so I’m in the target zone to get transferred, who knows? We have a transfer meeting the day before where the zone leaders announce who has transfers immediately after writing home, then who ever leaves has the Pday to pack and the next day it’s a bus to the offices to wait for your companion.

I haven´t received a handwritten letter from grandma yet, but it could be here soon I think.

Yes I went to Camp Easton.

Melissa is the best, she´s incredibly strong willed and really her testimony in the Book of Mormon that I have is impressive. She´s a spiritual giant housed in the physical body of a little girl (she hates it when i call her that) and she´s righteous to the core.

We saw just about 15 minutes of the conference while we were eating dinner, it was broadcast via internet, Magdala Stake isn’t in my mission, but they broadcast the feed to all of the stakes. The facebook thing hasn´t been implemented here and I hope it doesn’t happen. It takes away a big part of being a missionary in my opinion and to be honest I don´t think a lot of missionaries can behave themselves with it. It´s sad but really true, the best way to do missionary work here in Peru is through the members.

I love you all, I know my letters aren’t very long, but really it’s because so much happens in one week I can only remember two or three days’ worth when I am writing. There’s no way I can say it all, but know that I’m safe and happy and praying for you all. 


Elder Nelson

PS still waiting on the personal account from Braden of his proposal ;)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Dear Family,

How incredible, I loved that story so much! Next week when I am on a faster computer I will print it and keep it with my other ¨´special letters´´ 

(Here is the story Cameron is referring to:
It is super hot here, too.  Summer just decided to show up with a vengeance, no easing into it at all!  Yesterday, there was a thunder and lightening storm here.  Between 3 and 4 am there was enormous claps of thunder...I have never heard it so loud!  Along with it there was a fierce show of lightening.  Then Saturday morning, we were getting some things done around the yard before the heat of the day set in.  The clouds rolled in and the thunder started.  I was watching the lightening show over Badger mountain thinking that the antennas might get hit.  The thunder and lightening were pretty simultaneous.  Then the lightening struck the side of Badger Mtn.  The fire spread quickly across the moutain.  Then another spot was struck and it merged into the first fire.  Thunder and lightening all around us....we were all standing in the yard watching the hillside on fire and counting how far apart the thunder and lightening were when there was one at the same time.  We could almost feel it in our bones.  I screamed and we all ran inside.  Chika was the only smart one that was found hiding under Melissa's bed!  I guess it wasn't so smart to stand in the middle of our open back yard to watch the storm, but that was the only spot we could see the mountain on fire.  Within about 10 minutes of the mountain catching fire, the rain began.  It rained soooo hard.  We couldn't even see Badger.  It flooded the cul de sac and pounded the house like a thousand hooves.  Then just as quickly as it came, it left.  And the fire was completely put out.  Now there is just a black eye on the side of the hill. It was a miracle.  The rain never even touched Richland proper...just around Badger mtn and where the lightening had been striking,near our house.  It made me realize how powerful the forces of nature can be.  It also made me think of when the Savior was crucified, how terrific the thunder and storms must have been.)

Most of my internet time this week has been spent in waiting for it to load. I drew the short stick this week and have to use the notorious slow computer. Just a quick story and then I will answer all the the questions I can before times up.

Daniel this week told us Thursday that his dad forbade him to be baptized, or required that he would be baptized Catholic first and then Mormon. Daniel knew better and wasn’t having any of that (ps he’s 15) and because of this conversation he had with his dad, we weren’t able to contact him all week for his final interview. his phone was turned off and we couldn’t get anything through to him. Then on Friday we finally found him leaving his apartment to go to school and he told about what had happened, he was in tears. This baptism has been his dream for 4 years and it finally looked like he might make it because his dad hadn’t said anything about it for a while. Well, we told him that his member mom had signed the paper for his baptism and he could get baptized but really only if he wanted to deal with what his dad decided later. Very much like Casey Garland or Bridgette. Well he showed up for the baptism twenty minutes late with tears in his eyes, but when he came up out of the water I felt his relief pour into me. He came to church in time to be confirmed by his member uncle with terminal cancer and I just felt the love His Father has for him even if his earthly father doesn’t understand yet.

I love Lima mom, I couldn´t think of being anywhere else right now. The jungle is pretty, but it’s more of a vacation than a mission for me, so I’m stoked to be right here. The 100 stakes has all happened in a little over 60 years from one branch, that isn’t mentioned, but it’s incredible. One companionship from each zone went, but not me and Elder Gaibor, it was in a huge soccer stadium with Elder Christofferson.  (*They celebrated 100 Stakes in Lima this past weekend.  We saw it from Braden's former companion who is in Peru on his facebook page and asked Cameron about it.)

I love you all, and will send photos and a much longer email next week.

Love, Elder Nelson