Monday, December 30, 2013

Beatriz sets a date!

Christmas Tree full of love!
Dear Family,

What a great way to spend Christmas, even though it never really felt like Christmas with he climate and the lack of traditions. I definitely will be looking to make a mission tradition the next year :) Wow that’s a lot of crazy changes that are going on at home. I guess I miss things that are going on, but at the same time I know that there’s a lot of things that I will be able to catch up on and if I wasn´t here, a lot of things wouldn’t change in the same way.

Advice for Kolby is that he start to leave behind electronics, not really as a part of conditioning for the mission, but more because I´ve seen that Satan uses every opening to attack pre-missionaries, even if they are completely righteous and clean, spending too much time disconnected from other people even doing good things can start to damage our ability to communicate effectively with our Father. I also wrote him a letter that ought to get there about February by the time I´m done writing a couple more to put in the envelope.

I love sweets, but I´m a lot more careful about what I eat now, because I have been able to see missionaries that get ulcers from all of the soda or gastritis from all of the fried foods (that’s the preferred method to cook things here ) and I´ve also seen how in the first time in 4 years since I started high school really, I gained 15 pounds in a year. That’s a healthy amount, I won’t lie there, but it’s a lot more than I normally gain in a year, so I am more careful with what I put into this missionary machine :)  I welcome sweets though...don’t take that for that I don’t eat them...I just eat an apple right afterwards :)

Sister missionaries have definitely changed or they send the good ones here to Peru. There still are problems for sure, but that’s normal for an elder or a sister really. The sisters I have been able to meet and work with (inviting to my area to teach single sisters or single mothers) have been really respectful of that I am younger than one and older than the other, and also of the line between appropriate and inappropriate missionary behavior. That more than anything could be the next problem down the pike: inappropriate missionary relations, but I haven´t seen it in my zone yet. We´ll hit 30 percent sisters in the mission by the next transfer I think and thats where it will stay for a while. 

Zona Comas!
Surprise delivery of fudge!
Next transfers are 12 de Enero (January) and I don’t know if I will go or not. It´s a swing transfer, either I go or I don´t now that I’ve been here for 3 transfers. Really though this week the big news is that Beatriz, who got married a little bit ago accepted a baptismal date! She had been a little iffy because her parents are both really Catholic, but she came to church even though her less active husband didn’t for a futbol game. As she was walking home with her kids she said a prayer out loud in the street "Padre mio, realmente esta es lo que quieres para mi? Esta es la iglesia que tu guies?" ("My Father, this is really what you want for me?”) She said all day in church she felt great and had felt like that before today but finally it hit her...something still and peaceful, and soft deep inside just said "yes". We read about Elias and the still small voice and then Heavenly Father presenting Jesus Christ in the Americas and she told us that she was certain, she wants to get baptized. Then we asked her to prepare for the 11 of January and she said yes. She has known for a long time and finally she is taking action. I feel proud of her, happy for her decision and really for the goal she already has to make it to the temple with Slander.

Other than that it’s been a crazy week with a ton of fireworks, that’s the big Christmas thing as well as New Year’s, fireworks in every neighborhood, and not really pretty ones for the most part, just loud dynamite types.. jaja.

Zona Comas...Merry Christmas!
I love you all, hope you had an incredible Christmas, and a prosperous New Years. Make your resolutions and stick to them. Choose things spiritually as well as temporally to better in your daily lives, then make goals to achieve and plans to meet your goals. When you do everything you can, the Savior steps in to finish the rest, as long as your purpose is righteousness.


Elder Nelson 

Christmas dinner Peru-style!
Elders Artero, Viza, Cordova and Nelson

Monday, December 23, 2013

Prayers Answered

Nativity at the Lima Temple
Nativity at the Lima Temple

Dear Family,                                                                                                                           

The first thing I wanted to do was apologize for last week’s letter. Things can get really stressed in the mission, and I guess it all just finally hit a boiling point. I left the internet cabin thinking "what a terrible letter, I felt really negative the whole time writing it", and I hope it didn’t affect you too much.

Elder Nelson and Papa Noel
Last Monday I participated in a miracle. We left internet and walked back to our area to save money, it’s about a 25 minute walk, but nothing too difficult other than that it is hot and sunny and I don´t like sweating haha. Well we got back to our room eventually and prepped our things to go eat lunch, but through a series of events we ended up in our room until dinner at 6. I didn´t like wasting the time, but that´s just how it went. Elder Viza sometimes has problems and so we ended up trying to help him out all day. (ps before I forget, he doesn´t speak English, like at all, and he will be calling Arequipa on Christmas)(Arequipa is the Texas of Peru, they tried to secede one time and it didn’t work out, and now about everyone makes fun of it. They use all white building materials and so the city is called the white city, they also live in the shadow of a volcano, kind of like Johnsons Ridge to Mt. Saint Helens, but more in the direct path if it ever wakes up fully for an eruption)

Bien, so we left the house an went to dinner, but that’s when I realized I didn’t have my USB card that is full of all the pictures of the mission and a few select letters that might help me through hard times when they come. It had to be back in the internet cabin, which we had left approx.7 hours before. Yep, so I asked the zone leaders if we could head back to the internet place to check for my drive. They basically said don´t hope for anything but sure if you’d like go back. I had been walking with a prayer in my heart hoping for a miracle the whole time. We took the bus back to the internet cafe and I asked the attendant if anyone had turned in a USB card. (The other two men at the counter looked at me pretty incredulously) she checked and said no, but then I asked if I could revisit the cabin, and she shrugged sure why not. I went to the cabin and lo and behold, my USB drive had been plugged in, visibly to this computer for 7 hours, and nobody had stolen it. I was audibly surprised and thanking my Father for listening  to my prayers all the way home.

Wednesday we will talk at 6 PM Lima time. I can´t wait to talk to you and see how much you´ve changed and the things that have happened to you all during this almost one year in Peru. 

A scripture for this time in the world that I read this morning: Jacob 5 61, 71-77 Its incredible to know that this time is prophesied and that we are literally known in a book older than anything else I´ve ever touched.

I´ve been writing what I thought were Christmas letters for  bunch of people, but now that I think about it, I will probably send them within a couple of weeks and they will arrive at February or March. It’s just that I have to save up letters to send so that I don´t pay too much to send them one by one. Just know that I am thinking of you all a lot and that I do have letters for you :)

Beatriz and Slander's wedding
Hna Beatriz got married this last weekend, which was a big step to her conversion and repentance. What she really lacks is that she has a few more spiritual experiences and that she really feel that the church is true. Her dad feels sad and demonstrates it to her that she is leaving the faith (Catholic) that he raised her in and choosing a different path. Her mom is a lot more accepting and only really wants to see her be happy.  We had a ward Christmas activity this last weekend as well, on the same day as the wedding and we went to see the play acting of each organization. Each organization was supposed to come up with  a short story to demonstrate the Christmas spirit and also prepare a hymn or musical number. That went really well, but we ended up having to leave early to make it to an appointment with Beatriz. 

Our Zone and Papa Noel
The stake did a Christmas activity and the elders and sisters served as ushers. We had a section of seats reserved for "amigos de ña iglesia” (church friends) and we gave out Books of Mormon and Liahonas at the end. The program consisted of the YSA choir singing an entire concert navideña (Christmas concert) and certain bishops and council members giving short testimonies of Christmas. It was really well done and as a zone of 7 wards we were able to bring more than 100 nonmembers to the activity. We know that probably about 20% will be baptized within the next few weeks due to the preparation of the activity.

Well that’s about all the time I have, it will be great to talk to you on Wednesday and really communicate well. Sometimes it’s hard to organize my thoughts in an email, especially now that I don´t have too much time in the nights to write in my journal and solidify things. That’s really turned into a source of de-stressifying for me, being able to write in my journal. 

I love you all, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, that you remember why it is that we celebrate this time of year and that you feel the love of He who came for each of us.


Elder Nelson

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hermana Reneè, Beatriz and Slater

Dear family,                                                                                                                       

I guess I do skip a lot of the details, and often. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been able to shake the feeling of needing to carry a mounted video camera around with me since I’ve gotten here. Honestly the majority of things that I want to share wouldn`t make sense if I shared them, or at least that’s how my thinking goes. Also I have less details because these last two changes its been really tough to write in my journal more than every three or 4 days, and at the beginning it was every single day. It helps me to cement the details of every day in my mind.

This last week we spent a lot of time looking for new investigators, because when we re-divided the area, it was re-divided differently and we didn’t have as many people to visit on a regular basis. We spend plenty of afternoons talking with members, stopping by their houses to teach lessons and see if they would be willing to help us out with a reference or two. We stopped by a less active sister`s house, Hermana , to share a thought with her and she really hadn`t had anyone stop by to talk with her in a while. She started with a brief (20 minute) description of her life haha and then I was finally able to get a work in edgewise to explain we were there to share a message with her. We talked about how the Lord expects us to work hard during our lives and also wants us to come to Him, especially coming to church. She thinks she`s an active member of the church still :/ We shared the lesson and she asked us to come back to put a new roof on her house and paint a room because she fractured her foot getting out of a moto. We plan to go back, but we are really hoping that this leads to something more, maybe presenting us to neighbors, or family members. 

The other we are working especially with is Beatriz. I think I have described her before, but she comes from a super Catholic family, she’s about 30 and she will be getting married on Friday to her husband who’s a member. Slander has been to church maybe 4 times in 10 years. The problem is that she believes everything and still doesn`t want to accept a baptismal date. She gives us food, prays like she’s been a member, embraces gospel principles as the best way we can influence our children (she has two little boys 7 and 5 Mattias and Lucas), and invited her sister to listen to us as well. I just don`t understand why she can`t bring herself to be baptized. 

Elder Viza is 19 years old, from Arequipa, he has about 4 months here in the mission.  He`s a good elder, wants to serve the Lord and that’s one of the first requirements there is to serving a mission. He`s somewhat quiet and shy, but he is learning to open up a lot more through the mission.

Good news!  This week I`m going to the temple for the "second time" during 2013 on Thursday morning. I`ll be able to see the new video, the nativity and the temple grounds for Christmas at 75 degrees out haha. 

We are self-pensioning for a while and that’s mostly because we are really far from any of the members that are willing to provide it and so we can`t really spend the time in the early morning to go over and start to cut into studies. We usually eat yogurt and cereal or bread...(sorry for the’s really spacey today) The sisters are good, we still eat lunch with members and that will be constant for the whole mission.   We are creative with members because they usually aren’t too excited about the mission work and that’s really hard.  I want you to know I am happy, and working hard and obedient. 

I love you all. I will choose a better computer next week and try to type better. I guess this week was tough, and so I try not to send details. Know that I struggle, but that it’s nothing I haven`t been able to handle. Keep the Faith, remember who we are, and our role in His grand plan.


Elder Nelson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Minimal Changes for the Holidays

Thanks for the Christmas Package!
Christmas tree...ornaments will be hung after
he reads the back of them
Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                    

Bethlehem looks good :) I can´t believe Laurel is already back, and I´m glad to hear that the mission isn´t staying in the mission. I guess I´ve thought a lot about that lately. If we go on the mission and then come home, but never really share it apart from with our families, I think that we haven´t really understood what a mission is. A mission is a lifetime calling with a two year short timer assignment. We are duty bound to stay in the assignment until the time comes to go home, but afterward, we are duty bound to pray and watch over our families that we have left behind. When I touch ground at home, I won´t ever be able to leave Peru behind, I will spend a life time thinking about the things I have done here, the people I have met, hoping to come back to visit, testifying to all I meet about the truths I´ve come to know here. 

Salad, fries and pollo a laleña that we had last
Pday as a special meal in a restaurant
Tacos Peru style
Christmas is approaching more quickly than I ever thought it could, and I know that this means right before, it will slow down in a dramatic way. Yes I can skype, we are still working on who we will go to to do it,but yes we will skype, I will need my info again because I don´t really want to dig through my old agendas to find it :) We will be able to have 40 minutes on the 25th to talk and then letters until Mothers day.The Christmas devotional from the First Presidency was really great. I don´t know that there is ever a big emphasis on that in our ward, but its better emphasized here, we went to the stake center and saw it together as a zone and all felt mildly homesick at the same time. Thankfully I´m better right now :)

Yes we have “Adjusting to Missionary Life”, it’s fairly new here, so we are just now starting to use it, but it’s basically a booklet that describes what companions have been doing for years to counsel their companions on stress, good diet, exercise, spiritual wellness. I guess I´ve noticed that the church did it better, with quotes from prophets and scriptures and better phrasing haha. We do what we can, but the church has a better authority with which to do it. 

Christmas Package
Christmas Package..not in the original packaging!
I opened the Christmas package, and did what I could to hang the tree. The duct tape from my suitcase finally put to good use. Also the only light I had was my flashlight, so sometimes you just have to make do. I loved it all, thanks for the goodies, I will probably hit 160 lbs haha (ps yes I’m currently at 150lbs or 68 kilos...not sure how it happened...but I hope it doesn´t continue like this. My clothes still fit, and I’m not fat...yet :) )

Well this week brought a lot of really crazy changes, all with the purpose of this letter from President to the whole mission:

President Erickson

Elderes y Hermanas,

Este Martes acogeremos 29 nuevos misioneros (11 hermanas y 18 elderes) a la mision. Este numero hará necesario algunos cambios. Sin embargo, he tratado de minimizar los cambios. Se darán cuenta de que algunos compañerismos que han estado juntos por dos cambios seguirán juntos. Otros que han estado un largo tiempo en su area seguirán alli. Deseo que los misioneros entienden que yo considero que no hay un tiempo fijo que pueden estar en un area o con un compañero.

Se pide que los misioneros que tengan un cambio lleguen a la oficina as las 11 de la mañana. Podrán salir antes de las doce para volver a su area a menos que les toque esperar un misionero nuevo.

El viernes a las 9 am tendremos dos capacitaciones. Tendremos la capacitacion de las doce semanas para los nuevos y otra capacitacion para todos los lideres de distrito.

Gracias por todo.

Saludos Presidente Erickson

Elders and Sisters,

This Tuesday will welcome 29 new missionaries (11 Sisters and 18 Elders) to the mission. This number will require some changes. However, I have tried to minimize changes. You will notice that some fellowships that have been together for two changes together will stay. Others who have spent a long time in your area continue there. I wish the missionaries understand that I consider that there is a fixed time they can be in an area or with a partner.

Missionaries who have a change are asked to reach the office at 11 am. They may leave before noon to return to your area unless you expect them to teach a new missionary.

On Friday at 9 am we will have two trainings. We will be training the twelve weeks for new and other training for all district leaders.

Thanks for everything.

Greetings President Erickson

Elders Nelson, Viza, and Artero
He tried really hard to minimize changes because these changes are right before Christmas, and can be super wrenching to be away from family and friends but then also to be in a new area and ward. As such, I stayed in Año Nuevo ,but Elder Viza came down to stick with me. Elder Artero enters his 5th change here, but as Zone leader, they gave him that assignment and made me district leader at the same time, shuffling the zone just a little bit more. I´m happy with the changes, I´m still working with half of the investigators we had before, and it just so happens that the Cotrina Paz family moved into the part in which we teach, so everything is chevre there. It definitely is balmy here, but i am in the cooler part of the mission, so for that im also thankful, I happened to pass the winter in the warmer part and the summer now in the cooler part, closer to the ocean...but still not in view.

Well, that’s the time I have. I love you all, I´m working a lot on being creative in working with the members. I hope that you are working with the missionaries in our ward. We can´t have this be the mission work of missionaries and the retention of the wards anymore, the Lord requires our combined efforts. I hope Kolby can find a sliver of time every once in a while to go with the missionaries, I never did, and I regret it now. I know that this is His work, and that it is the only way that we can really demonstrate we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have this duty as the few who know the truth: share it; share it like it all depends on the gospel, because it does.


Elder Nelson

the third to last photo is of tacos that a member made, that ones for braden, we don´t eat tacos here, but they were incredible!

the other food photo is of a salad, fries and pollo a laleña that we had last Pday as a special meal in a restaurant.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Agriculture Lesson

Dear Familia,                                                                                                               
Things are good, even great. This week we got an email from president saying he would be minimizing the transfers for this transfer, so it is really likely that two of the three of us stay in Año Nuevo, and that might mean that I go back to AN2 (the room is only across a main street in this part of Lima) If we do that I`m excited to be back in the lower area, without so many hills to climb :) This week I plan to write some Christmas cards of my own, just know that they won`t get there until later haha.

This week was kind of a prep week for all of the changes, less missionaries in the upper part and two new missionaries to divide the area, so we didn`t get as much done as we wanted to. We are working right now on two marriages for the end of December, the 20th exactly, and one of the families is already done with their papers. If you know what marriage is in Peru, that is some kind of a miracle to have it all done almost a month early. This couple is a part member couple. Beatriz is not a member, but she`s known that her partner is a member for a long time. They were high school sweethearts and now have been living together a good ten years. Slander has been to church 3 times in the last 12 years, so we`re excited he`s starting to come back. Even more, Beatriz used to send her kids to church with a member neighbor, and finally is starting to go with them. It`s exciting to see what reading the Book of Mormon does to change people`s lives. This book is more than a best seller, it’s more than some self help guide or bible commentary. It is the most correct book on earth and “a man can bring himself closer to God reading it than with any other book" (you can fix that quote right?)

In other news, we got Liahona`s from the ward the conference edition, and I`m super stoked to start reading it again. The other missionaries and I are all in agreement that this is an unprecedented time in the history of the world, and especially the church. We feel like something big is coming, something more than the age change, and we can`t wait to be a part of whatever the Lord has in His grand plan for the final sowing and harvest of the world. As missionaries, we plant seeds, we nourish them, sometimes we move on and somebody else gets to harvest, other times we are there for the whole process. As members, we have the opportunity to be the resident farmer, who sows nourishes and harvests and then gets to enjoy the fruits of the labor. The other step that we don`t always remember is that people aren’t plants, people are people and as such they need to be continually nourished by the good word of the Lord, they need a friend, and they need a responsibility. Sometimes they fall back, but it’s our job to seek them out, pick them up, dust them off, and watch them take the decision to get back on the horse. We can`t force them back to church, but we can love them, and show them that we need them. 

Yes they vote, and it is mandatory to vote, with an option to vote in blank. At 65 they don’t have to vote and they aren’t penalized for not voting. It`s a real vote, and the system is really interesting, but hard to describe, so I will just have to tell you later. The dog whistle must be in the Christmas package. One tradition I have already experienced is paneton (fruit cake...but better) and hot chocolate, but super rich (evaporated milk) and with cocoa `plant extract (100% pure chocolate!). There are movie theaters, but we don`t go in them ;) there are probably three or four movie theaters within 20 minutes or 30 minutes of our area, so yeah that’s available, but more people just buy pirated movies because the movie theaters here get everything about 3 or 4 months later than the US. Leisure time is spent drinking with buddies (Inca cola or beer) or sleeping to be honest, and Mormon standard time is Peruvian standard with the church its worse, like a half hour late. There`s a little dose of culture for ya :)

I am loving this work, I can`t imagine anywhere else in the world where I could be and be happy. I am looking to do His will in my life, more fully and truthfully than ever have I done before. I love the scriptures, they are true, they are the guide that our loving Heavenly Father has provided for us to survive the wiles of the Adversary. I know that Joseph Smith Jr was a prophet of God, he saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and he restored this gospel under divine direction. Thomas S Monson guides His church now, and has guided it through revelation directly from Him and will continue to do so until he has completed his mission. I know that through simple actions, we maintain ourselves progressing spiritual, but that they are conscious actions, choices we make with our own albedrio (will). Jesus Christ is my Saviour, my Redeemer, my Brother and Friend. His mercy sustains me, and the Holy Ghost maintains me in the course that my Father has for me. I know these things are true. If you don`t know it, seek divine assistance, help that will always be available when you sink to your knees with a question and faith.

I love you all, Thanksgiving there is a tender mercy of the Lord and I know that we are blessed when we see things as He sees them. Look for His hand in your lives, especially this time of year. Praying for each one of you,


Elder Nelson