Monday, October 28, 2013

A Temple Trip and Gemma's Baptism

Lima Peru Temple
The temple is in the Lima East mission.
Lima Peru Temple

The missionaries get to go 2 times a year...or if they have converts going for the first time.

Dear Family,
Tons of pictures this week, first of our view from the window of our apartment, then of the number of dogs that live in the street roving in packs, then of the temple and of us with Elder Uceda (more later) and then of the baptism. 

The View from Elder Nelson's Apartment
Neighborhood Watch dogs?
Elder Uceda, Elder Nelson and Elder Mariscal
So we went to the temple on Friday, just Elder Mariscal and I. We ended up riding a bus that if we didn’t get off, would take us to within 5 minutes walking of Elder Mariscal house. Well we rode that bus, standing for an hour and half but when we got to Javier Prado to get off, Elder Mariscal said no, and wouldn´t move towards the door. Luckily I had the cell phone and told him I´d call directly to president. Well I had to literally pull him off the bus by the leg...just like I’m pulling yours, Elder Mariscal didn’t even think about going home, we got to the temple around 8:10 and had the 9:30 session. We wandered around the temple grounds and the distribution center for the time in between and then entered to get dressed to enter the session. (It´s the old video by the way, but this time I understood every word) Upon entering the session, there sat Elder Uceda, Area Sudamerica Noroeste President. I was seated next to him by the Session leader. I looked across the room and there sat a couple of sisters that looked really familiar...Yep President Rosemary M Wixom and her first counselor Jean A Stevens of the general Primary Presidency. So that was pretty cool, they even greeted us by name after the session : "Hello Elders" hahaha. Well after taking a bunch of pictures, we took one with Elder Uceda as he was leaving in a van with the hermanas. We headed down into the temple store/distr, center and there was a whole zone of Elders from Lima Sur. One of them looked familiar, lo and behold, Logan Mickelson (brother in law of Chelsea Mickelson Strong) was there. Turns out we have about the same time in the mission and were in the MTC at the same time.
Gemma's baptism

Elder Nelson, Gemma, and Elder Mariscal
So that´s all my shoutouts for now. Maybe someday I´ll see Christian here and we’ll be able to talk about old Tri Cities stuff. The baptism went super smoothly, and I was actually a little surprised that nothing went wrong or opposition didn’t flare up, that’s kind of the usual here. Gemma came to the baptism with her birthdad as well and at first he was opposed to her being baptized, but when he got there to the chapel he didn’t say much about it. They came to church the next day and she was confirmed, then on Sunday night we taught her the plan of salvation again and things really clicked. She now has a goal to be sealed to her baby in the temple when she finds herself a good husband who is a member of the church.  The older sister bore her testimony about how much she has changed. Giannina said she didn’t cry, she fought with her mom and at times would go a week or more without talking to her, now it’s strange if she doesn’t come home give her mom and sister a hug and tell them how much she loves them. This all happened in a little over a month. They are incredible, and have truly become a shining example of what the work of salvation is. If you don´t know what it is, you ought to go to it’s an incredible site, and I know it took away from my writing just a touch today, but I went there to see if I could find a transcript for the worldwide leadership conference that I missed back in June or July, but it wasn’t there yet. It’s an inspired program, and it’s uniting families in a way that is almost unprecedented. Here in Peru the inactivity rate is about 2/3...that’s 33% going to church at least once a month. We are working to fix that, and it’s definitely a united effort of members and missionaries.

All in all, Elder Mariscal and I are doing really well. He’s constantly looking for a way to help our investigators progress towards real testimony and his personal experiences from before the mission and as a seminary teacher are really helpful. We have one investigator family right now that in four days have read all of the introduction, the testimonies of the 3, 8, and Joseph Smith, and 1 Nefi until chapter 17. They are incredible, already married and have come to church varios veces. They have a baptismal date for the 16 of November, and they will be so ready when it comes!  They are the family Cotrina-Paz. There are mama papa, Jerica their 17 year old daughter and Yael (7) and Eylin (5). They latched onto the church one by one and now they are so involved. Giovanna, the mom had spent about 8 months in the church (not baptized) as a youth of about 16 or 17 and now as an adult, she has really gained a testimony of the warmth of strangers who are becoming her friends.

That’s about all I have time for, but I hope that you´ve all had a wonderful week, Kolby looks like he had fun at homecoming. I got a letter from Grandma Nelson this past week. Melissa, thanks for your letter! If there’s room in the package, an English mini hymn book would be great, Elder Mariscal likes to put together bi-lingual musical numbers. His family is super supportive, his dad isn’t a member nor is his older brother, but he is starting to go to church or spend time with his (separated) wife and daughters on Sundays. Miracles Happen! How are Darci and Joe and the other Newlyweds?

Love you all, and I hope that the winter isn´t too rough, just think of me...sweating because the sun is coming out more often now. :)


Elder Nelson

PS the pizza is like a personal pan...we found a mini café in our area like Some Bagels that does fruit smoothies and pizza among other things.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Change of Seasons in Lima

Pday Service?
Dear Family,                                                                                                             

Wow, I about died seeing Melissa....she´s too old. Tell her to hop back in time a little bit, and Kolby too. Applying for BYU? You´d think he was graduating or something. I remember that time, and it was stressful, but mostly because I made it stressful for myself. I did that with a lot of things come to think of it. It turns out that its true, when we keep en eternal perspective, we are able to face the challenges of life without worrying about the outcome quite as much. We can trust in Him and His marvelous plan that help us to have purpose, and confidence in life.  I´m honestly losing a bit of my English, so you’ll have to bear with me. I´m teaching Elder Mariscal English, but even so, I forget words here or there, and I’m not so sure of my grammar anymore.

As for gifts, I´ve bought a usb speaker that can read music from my USB, so if you send a simple USB with music in it, I can use that. I´d love to have some John Schmidt or more acapella hymns or something like that. I listen to Christmas music year round here so don´t worry about that haha. As for seasons: Winter is foggy cold and cloudy, summer is sunny clear and hot. Spring is one day one of the two and then the other day or even the afternoon the other. There really isn’t a fall, it’s just a little bit cooler in the evenings. We are in spring right now, still wearing sweaters every night, but during the day it’s hot, so basically it’s just kind of a mix. I hope that explains the difference. The temp difference is minimal, but to us it’s a ton, because nobody has air conditioning or heating in their houses. They just deal with whatever they get from Nature.

The Portilla family is great, here’s an excerpt from my letter to president:

Our investigadora , Gemma will be baptized this Saturday at 6. We found her because we live in the same building. Her family is coming back to church slowly but surely. Her sister already is active after attending several meetings and an interview with the bishop. She now is enrolled in institute and JAS. They probably are our biggest success story. They had been inactive for around 7 years, and now coming back they ask why it took so long.

It’s so true. They took 7 years to come back, but they are really enjoying the church and their oldest daughter está provechando todas las actividades que tiene la iglesia para ella. The mom still has to divorce her husband in order to get married to her live in guy, and that’s going to take about 6 months, and I probably won’t be here that long. For now, they will start coming to church and meeting with bishop to fix things up.

Efrain not so much, we haven’t had a lesson with him for a week and a half because he only has mornings and its not really too great for us because mornings are for studies and also meetings and conferences. It’s tough to get a morning free, so we are trying to solution that for the time being. 

Pday Activities

We are going to the temple on Friday this week, because we asked to go to the temple. The new rule is that you sacrifice your PDay and go to the temple during the week with just your companion. We will go in a minibus (combi) for about an hour to get there, and likely wake up super early to make the trip in time for the first session of the morning. I can´t wait to go to the distribution center and see if they have the missionary library in Spanish. That’s one that I wanted to see. 

The other reason there aren’t too many photos of my area are that I’ve been counseled not to carry my camera in this area. Haven’t had any problems yet, but it’s possible so I don’t carry it. The photos are of a PDay activity, we had to eat the items as fast as we could...yes that is a raw egg. I didn´t get sick for more than a day,  and I’m totally fine now, so no worries there. On Pdays we aren’t allowed out of the mission now, so that limits our activities severely. We usually spend some time with the zone and then have the rest of the day to spend in markets or in our rooms relaxing, or sleeping. There’s not too many touristy things in Lima North.

I got the birthday package the 18th, super fast, and now I have to wait 18 days to open it. I hope there wasn’t anything perishable haha. Mom...I haven’t grown since sophomore year of high school. I don´t think I’ve grown, or at least my clothes still fit. The pants are a little tighter, but they still fit. With my pensionista now, I am losing a little bit of weight because she cooks a lot of natural or health foods with very little sodium and fat, so I’m getting back to normal. I´ve never weighed myself here, so I guess I´ll have to one of these days to see if I’ve gained or not.

Well I´m out of time, but I love you all. I hope you’re all making good decisions, and helping others to see your example. Ask dad about the Work of Salvation and then look for a way to implement it there in the ward as a family.


Elder Nelson 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Arm & Hammer

Goofy Elder Nelson trying to be
as short as the Peruvians!

Dear Familia,                                                                                         
 Wow, what a whirlwind of a letter that was. So many names and faces that I can´t remember so quickly haha, Yes I remember names but the faces lag a little in coming to mind. First off...I don´t know an Elder strange, but at least it´s for the good right? (there was a friend whose son is in the Dominican Republic CCM that said he knew an Elder Campos that knew an Elder Cameron Nelson serving in Lima…crazy small world) I hope that Christian can come down, and I will try to remember him in my prayers. My district leader damaged his meniscus playing soccer about a month ago, and he´s still limping a bit. The results from his MRI (which decide if he will need surgery) will come back this week.

I´m incredibly grateful to have had such good health all my mission. Being sick for just a day and only two times is really quite extraordinary when you consider what goes on down here in terms of sanitation. I love it, I still remember mom telling me "look Elder Nelson, you´re camping for 2 years, so just jump in and don´t worry about getting dirty." That’s been so true , there’s dirt absolutely everywhere, and it doesn´t matter if you sweep every single day, there will always be a small pile of dirt to sweep into the dustpan. Equally, in this world there is a ton of spiritual dirt, things that will stain us if we are not careful, it doesn´t matter how many times a day we sing a hymn or read the scriptures, the dirt will still be there to clear away, the important thing is that we do sweep every day, and often as we can, because if we don´t, it builds up until we are stained. Really though, we have someone whom we can call Mr. Clean or Arm and Hammer if you prefer. He comes to us and says...I know that your room is going to get really dirty, but if you promise to leave me the keys, I´ll come and clean it...but only if you trust me enough to leave me the keys. The Savior and his Atonement tell us we can overcome any challenge in the life, any special problem that seems to affect only us, He knows it, and works through His faithful servants to clean it up. There’s my allegory for today. I was reading the scriptures this morning and in Alma 34:38-41 it’s basically a formula for how to be happy even when life is hard-or dirty. I felt so incredibly grateful for Jesus Christ, for the Atonement, and the cleaning power it has. I´m a witness to it, every missionary is a witness to it, and every member of the church is a witness to it. I love Him for it, and will forever seek to do His will to pay for the debt that I will never be able to pay.

Thank you dad for everything you do. You´ve found the way in your life to be as Christlike as possibly with 5 super active kids, and the way that you go to work every single day without complaining, without asking for a return is a huge example to me. I can´t wait until I can come back home and talk to you in person and on the phone again, spend the time really thanking you for all you’ve done and will do.

As far as saints and traditions go. I guess Lima is pretty big on that. People have their birthday and the day of their saint, on top of that they celebrate a different saint every month and there are holidays really often to celebrate things like Señor de los milagros and Jesus Moreno (African Jesus) It´s pretty strange to be so immersed in the culture. One of the things I´ve observed is that Halloween and Dia de los Muertos isnt that big here though, the Testigos and other Christian churches have really put in an effort to label those holidays as evil pagan traditions that led us to devil worship, and I got quite a few jokes about that (being gringo) near the beginning of the month. Really it’s just a day to let the kids have fun and gain candy, I see nothing bad there haha. One strange thing is that when we ask people to have a prayer before the lesson, if we don´t explain that one person says the prayer and the others listen, they start to pray under their breath during the prayer, it’s a little weird but after the first or second lesson it usually stops, when they realize we are praying for them.
This week was really great, I was able to really be teaching, which is a little tough to do a lot of when you are opening an area. We are working with about 4 or 5 nonmember families and 3 less active families, working on getting them to church this next week is the goal, and we´ll count on the members to help out there. I love you all, I appreciate your support and all the prepares, encourage the missionaries heading out to read the Book of Mormon and review conference, it´s soooooo important!


Elder Nelson

PS yeah this week I got a letter from a friend from college, that had been mis-sent to Thailand...that doesn´t happen too often, but she sent it back in May and now is in her mission haha.

PS going to the temple next week, but still writing Monday, Love you!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Conference Muy Bien

Dear Familia,                                                                                                             

Well the computer shut down just when I was about to send my letter to president, and the church program doesn´t keep a draft of your this letter will likely be a touch short.

First, there are tremors all the time here in Lima, you just walk over to a doorway and ask the neighbors if they felt anything haha. I´ve been in a few minor earthquakes here, already and really it’s like someone walking past your chair accidentally bumped it. Nothing major, no worries. Apart from that there haven´t been any major accidents, I feel pretty blessed. I did meet Elder Young a few P-days back, and he and I actually share a few friends from high school even though he’s a year older in school than I am.

A happy birthday to Grandpa Andy, you´re the greatest, and I share about your love of woodworking every once in a while with my companions or investigators. Can´t wait to see what you make next when I get home!

Happy Birthday to dad! I think I´ll probably write a little longer to you next week, but just in case, and so you know I remembered haha. Love you dad! October 1982 conference Marion G Romney, just a tidbit to read :) 

I received letters by mail from Sister Grimmett and from Krystall Greenwell. Thanks to you both and I love to hear from you about all the things that are happening there.

As for this week, we are still looking for people to teach but we are having success from a member’s son Efrain and the Portilla family, they just need to be divorced first and then get married to their current partners. The bishop is a lawyer though, and is helping them to navigate the legal system. They are doing it happily, but it will likely mean the marriage will be in 6 months, when one of the two of us won´t be here :/ The good news is that Gemma will be getting baptized on the 26th of this month, and she and her sister are already inviting friends to her baptism. 

Conference was so incredible (and in Spanish), I especially loved President Monson´s talk in priesthood session. It´s so true that the Home teaching program of the church is something that we fail on, as evidenced by the role of Ward Elders Quorum president being the person that has to nag about doing it every month. Honestly it should be a joy and a privilege to do it every month and have our own personal missionary ministry here in the ward. I wasn´t the greatest hometeacher my last few years of high school, but I repented when I got to college and needed to motivate one of my roommates to go and do it. We visited each of our assigned people every month and knew when they were in a tough time (not too hard when were all in midterms). Just wanted to encourage everyone back home to do their home and visiting teaching and make it a priority. (How was conference for the Hill family and the new Nelson family?)

I hope you all had a wonderful conference weekend and that you were able to draw some things out of what was said in every talk, I know I did. I love you all and pray that you trust in the Lord with all of your heart might mind and strength.


Elder Nelson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Portilla Familia

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                       

No pictures this week, mostly because there wasn´t too much picture worthy haha Last week the same thing happened so we had to do the Pday photo shoot. That explains our pictures from last week, but well this one not so much.

Let Grandma Andy know I got her letter that she sent about a month ago, and that it was great to hear from her. She and Grandpa are near and dear to my heart and I was excited to see a card from Nampa.

About the new temple video, there’s a new rule here from the presidency del area que dice que no podemos visitar al templo mas que  2 veces al año incluso con conversos nuevos, entonces. (that says we cannot visit the temple more than 2 times a year even with new converts).  I’m saving one of the times to go close to my birthday, so if I miss writing you for a day or two, you´ll know why. I´ll be trying to let you know a week before though. 

I lost my voice around Wednesday and didn’t find it again until about Friday after noon this week. As a missionary that was pretty devastating. I had come to feel like I could talk to anyone anywhere in Spanish about the restored gospel that makes me so happy, but I was back to feeling like the gringo comp that can´t speak Spanish again. Every time I tried I fell into a coughing fit and had to pass off the conversation to Elder Mariscal. I spent a day in bed just resting, and that was frustrating too, but I am better now, teaching, but with a bottle of water in hand just in case. There was a harsh change in climate that got about half of us sick this week, but its warming up now. Staying in bed all day made me start dreaming. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t usually remember his dreams from the night before in the morning, but when I nap or when I wake up and then fall back sleep that’s when I dream.

Apart from that, we´ve been working with a less active family from Arequipa, the Portilla family, there’s Elizabeth, Gemma, Giannina, and the stepdad Fabian. The two daughters are 24 and 14 (3 days older than Melissa) and they each have a baby. Pick your jaw up off the floor please. Gemma has a baby from an Argentinian man whom she calls her pareja (partner) but they are very much separated right now. The mom and the older daughter are members, but the other two aren’t. Elizabeth the mom, has fibro myalgia, and so coming to church was a really big challenge for her. She sometimes can´t get herself out of bed until the afternoon but if she gets up early she’s disoriented and feels drunk. She wants nothing more than to help her daughters get back on the path before going the way of all the earth. She’s a little fatalistic, she thinks she’s got about 2 years to go before dying :/. 

Anyway, we had a really tearful lesson with them inviting them to come back to church, and they all accepted, but all based on Elizabeth going. Well, Sunday came and we picked up on investigator, and headed to the chapel. When we got there, there was about 5 minutes to go until 9 when church starts. We waited until the sacrament was about to start and then entered, disappointed and feeling a little discouraged because we had knocked on the door for their apartment (above ours) with an hour and a half to go before the meeting. Then a miracle happened. The hymn finished and before the priest could start saying the prayer, in came Elizabeth, and trailing were her dos (two) daughters and her husband. I couldn´t stop smiling and I knew it was a pure blessing and miracle that they had made it in time. Being in the chapel excited Elizabeth and she talked to bishop about activating her record. Her daughters say they are coming back every week and Fabian said it wasn’t half bad. WHEW! I was stoked all day long and still smile thinking about it.

Package stuff for E Mariscal, ya anything American is cool I think haha, he’s from here so he can receive things pretty readily. I’m out of time to add in this part, so whatever you send I’ll be grateful for!

There’s two sets of missionaries in barrio Año Nuevo, we are the new area set.

We will attend general conference in the stake center closest at about Universitaria and Micaela, it’s called the Retablo.

There are microwave ovens in most houses. We eat potatoes and rice and chicken prepared in a variety of different ways...that’s about 70 % of the food here. Then there’s spaghettis and sometimes beef, beans, but yeah rice potatoes and chicken for the most part.

Seasons are opposite here, so probably sweaters for March or April, and sunscreen for December haha. That’s a joke, I have a ton of sunscreen.

After a month of cold showers in my first area, I just kind of got used to it, but yeah here I got sick and then I didn’t shower for two days or so, I wasn’t about to make myself worse, there’s a guy coming today to install the shower.

I have the picture of the warrior, don´t worry. And the Ericksons I don´t think they have a blog, you could send a note to ask them if you´d like, they came for a baptism from the other elders here in Año Nuevo this week, but I won´t see them until October.

I love you all, I´m working hard and helping the Lord do His work. I love my time here, and this people, I honestly can´t imagine myself anywhere else. Please pay attention to conference and rewatch the parts where you might fall asleep. Every talk is important! Sometimes you just have to look for the why in your own time.


Elder Nelson

PS Hoorah for grape juice! Love that stuff.