Monday, November 25, 2013

Elder Nelson meets Elder Nelson

Dear Family,                                                                                                                        
Why in the world did you send my letter at 2 AM? Just been noticing the time stamps on some of the letters I get...thinking what mom is doing in her scrapbooking room at 2 in the morning writing a letter :)

Well as all the missionaries that know me in the mission put it, my "Grandpa" came to the mission this weekend. If you follow church and world news closely, Venezuela rejected a visit from Elder Russell M Nelson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband probably for some political reason. They asked the area president, Elder Uceda where they could go to visit on Saturday morning, and well, Elder Uceda must have a soft spot for the Mision Peru Lima Norte, because he said right here. Yep, we had a visit from the three of them as well as our Mission President on Saturday morning. We had to wake up at 4:45 to get there on time because it was held in the Limatambo Stake building, which is pretty far from the mission. There was a plaque there so I took a picture of that, hope you can read it, it’s a piece of Peru church history. Anyway, we got there and in the course of things after greeting old companions and being seated, in walks Elder Nelson, Elder Rasband, ELder Uceda, and Presidente with their wives. They requested that all of us come and shake their hands (He said I know to take care of the name). Then started the training or discourses. Wow! I´m still in awe at it all. They were all in English apart from President and Elder Uceda. 

Elder Rasband talked about how the mission work has changed from the mission work of missionaries and mission work of members to the mission work in general, and that as such, we have to leave old things behind, in order to learn the new way of doing it. Like when they changed from memorized chats to PMG, it wasn´t gradual, it was a complete change, nobody was giving half and half lessons. He also emphasized that the missionary purpose with the obra de salvacion, extends until the families are sealed in the temple, not just until they are baptized and confirmed.

Sister Nelson talked about how Jesus Christ has changed each of our Lives, and there were two suggestions in order to help us make sure that they didn’t change back.1) fall in love with the scriptures as the source of answers in our lives. For 30 days, before studying say a pray in which you thank our Father for the scriptures, ask for the Holy Ghost to guide you, and then ask a question that weighs on your mind. Then she said open your scriptures and read, using footnotes or just reading until you find the answer. In a notebook in four columns write the date, the question, the answer, and the scripture reference. Suggestion number 2: increase your understanding of the atonement using a plan, like Elder Scott said in his April 2010 conference talk. She said to read Tad R. Callister´s "Infinite Atonement". Prayerfully study and search one page every day, it ought to take about a year. (Please buy it for me in English for my cubby :) )

Then Elder Nelson spoke about the necesidad for a real conversion, and that its true we ask people to be baptized in just three weeks sometimes, but in reality, the conversion takes place in little time or lots of time, and we should never baptize someone who hasn’t exercised faith and repented. He also talked about why it’s so hard to find investigators when we have the truth, like really they ought to line up to hear us right? He taught from Judges chapter 7 and said the ratio (1:500) of the battle that they fought after God fixed how many they had in their army (you can fix the pronouns in this sentence right?) is almost exactly the ratio of members to nonmembers in the world today. God knows His vineyard, and He knows exactly how His laborers should be working.

Jerica Paz's Baptism
He then called a sister from our zone up, asked her where she lived, and proceeded to describe the nearby lake to her, and that across the lake is Liberty Jail, then he asked her to give the scripture reference for what God told Joseph Smith when he was in the jail under inhuman conditions. It just confirmed to me that he is a prophet of God. He told us he has seen who we were in the pre existence ( see DyC 138:48, 55-56), who we will be in 50 years, and who we will be in 50 million years. He told us to save the fact that Peru now has 12 missions, 100 stakes, and 1 temple with two on the way to tell our grandchildren because it won´t seem like anything when you really know His plan for the world. He taught us that we are protected, like Dad said in his letter, and that He fights our battle for us, but lets us suffer to gain experience. He left an Apostolic blessing on us that I felt from my ears to the deepest recesses of my heart. 

Right after that we came back to the area, ate lunch and headed to the church to have a baptism. Jerica Paz was baptized to join her family, and the bishop gave permission to confirm her (I did it!) the same day because there weren´t church meetings due to voting on Sunday (voting in Peru is mandatory and any reunion by any organization earns an automatic fine from the police).

My Companion hard at work....
Letter to President Excerpt:
All in all things are going really well. We know what it is we are expected to do, and we are focused in making sure it gets done. We work hard, and come home absolutely matados, but we feel good, we are working in His work, and trying to find a way to work better with the members in our ward at the same time. His blessings are upon us, and we feel them on a daily basis.

The Members stand as witnesses constantly because they are a minority. Those who expect that someday the church will be a majority are sadly mistaken. The true church, according to prophecy in the scriptures will always be a minority, and that´s okay, we are strong in our position because we know that God has confirmed our prayers.

Work hard, sleep hard....
As for promptings I have received and things to say, we can use the example that we have points to teach in the lesson, but I honestly don´t have a detailed plan to teach it, just the points, a bunch of scriptures that I can pull from and the spirit. Examples come to me in the moment, and I usually use examples from their lives of my investigators. There are two investigators that are sisters, almost twins but not quite, I used them to say that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are similar, but different, that example hit home better than a more general example like they are similar to my hands, left and right but performing functions to reach a goal.

Well that’s all I had time to write, but know that I love you, I pray for you, congrats to Melissa on her Young Womanhood Recognition award, you´re the greatest, little sis! I got a letter from Brooklyn Hirschi and the wedding announcement from Brooklyn Dyck, Thanks guys, love to hear from you all!


Elder Nelson

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weddings, Baptisms and Power Walking

Elder Mariscal and Elder Nelson

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                      
Lidia's Wedding
I heard the news about Carrie, and I was actually really sad, but she wrote me a letter explaining her perspective, and she´s always so accepting even when it’s something heartbreaking. I know she has the will to get back out there if that is what He wants for her, and if it´s not, she´s willing to accept that as well.

Okay I am still in the same zone as Elder Mariscal, so I ended up giving it (a BYU shirt we sent on his birthday) to him on Pday, therefore we took a picture with our shirts, but the computer is being mas o menos with loading the pictures and reading my card reader, so I can´t promise anything. I just don´t want to lose any more time messing with it. I´d much rather write a letter than send pictures :)
Wedding in Independencia

Did anyone celebrate your birthday with you?  
Yes of course, I got two cakes and the whole zone sang happy birthday in our zone meeting this past week. No birthday goes forgotten here, including when you have to tell investigators that it’s important to teach a lesson before they can celebrate your birthday. Yep that one happened too.

What is your apartment like now?...did the mission keep the other purple palace apartment?
Yes, they kept the other apartment rented because this next month they are hoping to reopen the area with other missionaries. Right now I live in the apartment upstairs from the bishop, so that’s pretty nice. It´s about half finished, but the majority of our time is spent in the finished part, so no worries.

Where are your companions from?  They look like they are both natives?
The companion with the spikier hair is Elder Artero, he is the district leader and he’s from El Salvador. He´s 25 and was baptized at 22, so he has a lot of identification with investigators and their individual problems. The other is Elder Viza, he´s from Peru, Arequipa. He´s quieter, and was Elder Mariscal´s comp from the CCM.

Will you stay in the threesome until transfers now or what?

All in all it was a crazy week, but I think it will be like that until we are in companionships again. The area is ginormous and so we spend a lot of time power walking. This weekend we baptized Jesus and Giovanna, and Lidia. Jesus and Giovanna have a daughter that will be getting baptized next week so we are preparing for that. Jesus was talking to me in the bathroom before we had the stall to change in after the baptism and he told me that he didn’t know if it was the cold from the water or something else that he was feeling but he felt different. I love that new members can feel it, they know when it’s true, he bore his testimony about how from the moment we knocked on their door, his life changed.

Also this week we were at a massive wedding in Independencia for Lidia. She came 3 hours late...her husband came 3 and a half hours late. To say the least we were stressed, and that probably was a contributing factor that Elder Artero and I look so burned in all of the photos. 

This week also, Elder Oceguera came to do a work visit and divisions in our area, and I went with him, while the other two went with President. He finishes his mission in March or April, and it shows. He´s incredibly focused, knows the book of Mormon, and loves people from the moment he meets them. I learned a ton from him on the visit, and was amazed when it was over.

No time left, I love you all, I know that life is hard, but that’s because He knows we can make it through. He is our creator, our older brother, and our saviour, and He is the one that tells us when we have given enough. 

Baptism day for Lidia

Elder Nelson
President and Sister Erickson, Elder Nelson, Elder Artero,
Giovana, Lidia, Jesus and Elder Viza
Jesus and Giovana, Elder Nelson and Elder Artero

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Lesson of the Currant Bush in Peru

Elder Nelson with his new Companions
  Elder Viza and Elder Artero
Happy Birthday, Elder Nelson!
Dear Familia,                                                                              

Bien well the first thing I can tell you is that it’s true, being in a triple is hard, especially when you already know the other two missionaries, or think that you know them. I ´ve learned a bit this week about Elder Artero and Elder Viza, and it turns out I didn´t know them well enough to make some of the judgments I had made. The good news is that we are nearing the end of the longest week of the mission and things between the three are completely normal, even working super hard together. I think what caused a few waves could be that we didn’t just get put in a trio, we had to merge the two areas at the same time. I started the week way too worried about My investigators, My area and My old companion, and through the passing of time, was able to realize that as of the moment Elder Mariscal and I received that phone call, it wasn’t like that, it was Our investigators, Our area, and We were companions. I know that the Lord sent me to Ano Nuevo 2 for a reason, and that I was with Elder Mariscal for a reason, but also I was sent to Ano Nuevo combined area for a reason, and that little by little I’m gaining the experiences I will need for the rest of my life. For more on this type of learning experience look up the talk on the current berry bush, extra points for watching the Mormon Message as well. (Mom if you can post a link to the blog on that, it’d be great) 

With the two areas together, we walk a ton, and it’s more like walk jogging, or trotting if you will, because just normal walking would make it so you cross our area in about 40 or 50 minutes, and well, we have 10 minutes max in between lessons. We are working incredibly hard and finish exhausted every night. I think as well that I’m finally getting in shape.

The Cotrina Paz family will be baptized this next week, after what really was a conversion that I´ll never forget, they were sold from the minute we said we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The only problem that exists now is that their 16 year old daughter prefers to be baptized on her birthday in December, and we prefer to show them the importance of making these important decisions as a family. I really am not worried about that. They are a Book of Mormon family; they read all of the introduccion and first Nefi in two weeks from when we gave them a Book of Mormon, so basically we start off the lesson with  a question and answer session from what they read. 

This week I have felt more than one time when the whole room goes silent as I´m teaching and everyone listens, I feel like the spirit is almost tangible in moments like that and the people we are teaching notice too. What’s even more incredible is that this isn’t a normal family or house, where when there are visitors, everything stops: there are giant backhoes and other vehicles passing the house constantly, two kids that aren’t older than 8 that start to bother their mom as soon as we knock on the door, and various neighbors you can hear from inside the house. But for two or three minutes, it all stops, and It feels as though we are in a temple, where all of the outside noise is gone, and only that peaceful silence exists.

About receiving long letters, I honestly can read quite quickly, and if it’s something I won´t reply to until the next week I try to read or skim that letter and then put it in the folder for next week. The majority of the people understand that I have a very limited time to write, and don’t expect an immediate reply. Also, if it’s a letter where someone gives spiritual advice or something important happened at home, I print those letters or save them on my flash drive. No worries, I dedicate 80 percent or more of the time to reading and writing family members :) 

Well, that was this week. The mission life is crazy, but the time passes way too fast to believe it sometimes. I love Peru, I could live here forever...if my family and friends were here as well. I have my friends here, and some feel like family too. I love you all; I hope that You are depending on the spirit in everything you do, not only in the church related things.


Elder Nelson

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Birthday Transfer!

Dear Family,

Well, It`s been a while since I`ve wept so much at the keyboard, but I`m getting used to the crying in public deal, you just have to let the tears fall down, not worry what it looks like, and your companion understands it all, even if the cashier for the internet cafe doesn`t. Thank you all for your birthday letters, I am printing them and will keep them along with the letters I`ve received in the mail. Like I mentioned in my response to Braden, there`s a lot of things here that I`m trying not to let numb me from being me, from seeing the situation of people or from the sensitive whispers of the spirit. I don`t want to let that kind of thing become routine or unspecial. I want it to be a wonder or a tragedy, or be what it is, but that it might all be something new, raw and real. Life isn`t to be live just passing through, you have to let yourself feel. For so long when I was at home, I was numb to what was going on around me, I tried to show empathy and sometimes it was real, but other times, it wasn`t, and that`s not how we should be. I guess what I`m trying to say is that I was really touched by what you all wrote, I cried like a baby, and now I won`t have a ton of time to respond, but that I love you all in a way that`s much much deeper than when I was at home, or at BYU.

As for the clock at home. Mom, I had to do a catwalk because we forgot the keys to our third story apartment. The building next to ours has a window close and so we asked our neighbors if we could put a plank from their window to ours to get in...and I made it, super easy: no giant clock to heft this time. (We switched off of Daylight Savings time and our super big clock has been wrong since Cameron one else changed it :)

So there were emergency transfers this week, kind of like a merry go round in just our zone. Elder Mariscal and I were notified Saturday night at around 11that he would be moving to another area in our zone, and that I would be heading to the other half of the ward to form a trio. This was probably the hardest change. We worked so hard to open this area and at the end of everything, the area will be closed for 4 weeks until the next change or more. We have two families that we will baptize from ano nuevo 2 this month, and we will be doing everything possible to maintain the area. Just yesterday, we had 11 investigators come to church, of which there were 4 families. That constitutes a miracle in my book, and I know that the area is about to explode, the only problem is that we need one more missionary to make two companionships. The morning of the changes Elder Mariscal told me that he was pretty torn because he won`t be here for my birthday. He was being pretty sentimental, and then he hit me in the head with an egg...totally planned out. So that’s that photo. It’s a tradition here in Peru but he didn’t hit me with a bag of flour, so that part was good. 
Excerpts from letter to president:

This week was incredible, the families we have for this month and beyond finally started to all progress and gain testimony of the Book of Mormon. We were able to teach almost every other day with the Cotrina-Paz Family and their 17 year old daughter finally came to church. She bore her testimony in the lesson yesterday afternoon and it was so incredibly strong. She had doubted about everything until she walked into the church and felt a tranquility enter her heart.

As for Elder Mariscal, he will be an incredible missionary in wherever he ends up. I can see him training next transfer or after that. He`s loving with investigators, knows how to work smart, hard and enthusiastically. He puts his whole heart on the line in every lesson, and shows people that this Gospel is REAL, it matters deeply to him that every person, no member or member, receives the same opportunity to hear the Restored Truth.

Anyhow, that’s all I have time for this week. I love you all, I`m so grateful for your support, for the birthday wishes, and for the love that you express. I pray for you specifically and hope that you are all happy, living in the way that our Heavenly Father wants us to live.


Elder Nelson