Monday, January 27, 2014

Missionary Pace

Dear Family,                                                                                                            

What a week! I get to the internet cafe every week amazed that the week has gone by so fast and searching for something extraordinary to share with the family and friends I have. Something that can be hard for a missionary to transmit can be the sheer incredibility of the missionary work. We honestly can´t describe what it’s like unless you have been in the ward as our companion. For example, this week we needed to get the baptismal permission slips for Kevin and Yaquelin so that we could go forward with plans for the baptism. The dad works in the neighborhood where we live, so we planned to go by there first. We passed by and thankfully he was there, we asked if his wife and kids would be coming down from their house to sign the slips and be interviewed for their baptisms and he said...uhhh can we move this to another day (this was Thursday) they are in Independencia (half hour drive) and I have to go get them probably tonight then if they need this interview. So we moved the interview and the permission slips to the day before their baptism, and then when they didn’t call us to set up the interview time in the morning we decided that this required a little more effort on our part. We practically ran up the hill (300 stairs and then a rocky ascent) to get to their house quickly and not lose the zone leaders’ time for the interviews. We got there, sweating hard but ready to help them come down with their kids for the interview. What we found was an angry she dog ready to bite my shoe (she’s the size of chika no worries) for coming too close to her last puppy. We also found the family, but they weren’t ready to come down, and told us they could come down after lunch to the bishop’s house for the interview. ...uhhh yeah okay we can figure out a way to make that work we said and then started the long trek down. We did all of that in the space of about an hour and a half.
 Angie and her Missionaries

Angie, her grandparents and her Uncle Eric
So that was our first exciting experience of the week, the other was the day of the baptisms. Saturday we got up and went to the church after studies and breakfast and started to clean the font and the room where the font is. The morning went by super-fast and we ended up cleaning until lunch at 1, with the baptism at 3, my baptismal pants being mended by a member in the hills to be recollected at 2 and a lesson to teach to the recent convert that was fixing us lunch somewhere in there. Needless to say it was a tight schedule, but we made it to the chapel at 3:05 and by some strange happening the family had come early. This is the family of Angie, who´s pictures are attached. They wanted the baptism  early in the day to keep it private because Angie’s mom is pretty sick (with the hat) and can´t see a lot of people. In attendance were the bishop, the primary president, Angie her grandparents and her uncle, Erik. 

From there, we returned home to hang up the baptismal clothes and set the fan on high so that they would be dry at 8 for the other baptism. We left the house after leaving everything ready and left for the other area (Retablo) so that I could interview their baptismal candidate 1hour antes de su bautismo.. Leaving our area, a lady stopped us in the street saying she was a member from another stake and wanted us to come to her sons house to give him a blessing (her son’s not a member). We called ahead to Retablo saying we would be coming in a touch late, but not to worry and then went to his house. His name is Jose and he has a tumorous growth in his nether regions...suffice it to say that the Peruvian people are really really direct, and I don´t plan on picking that up :) We talked about the priesthood and then gave him the blessing, we will be going back on Wednesday after the surgery.

After that we left our area and got to the other area, gave the interview and left again because we had a dinner appointment that had already started to pass (appointment at 7 and then it was already 7:05) We get to the appointment in our area and start to eat when we get a call from the zone leaders saying that the MJs (single adults)

had an activity and that they needed us to come to the church early before the baptism to help them convince people to stay for the baptism. On full stomachs we ran home and grabbed my baptismal clothing (thankfully dry) and hurried to the capilla. Basically all went well after that and we returned home to absolutely pass out for the night.

We go at that kind of pace for a couple of days and it exhausts us, then we have really slow days, when it seems like all of the appointments we thought we had fall through. All in all it’s an average or accelerated pace, but it’s a total rollercoaster. I love it. It teaches me that this life is up and down all the time and that if we are true disciples of Christ, we can take the super up and downs to make the ride a little smoother for others. Really that’s what I’m coming to learn is the mission work here in Lima Norte. We work super hard and take the good the bad and the ugly in hopes that we calm the waves for the people we find in storm tossed seas. One of my favorite hymns has always been Master the tempest is raging, more for the musical quality than for the lyric, but as I think about this week, I think we can all depend a little more on Him in this crazy crazy life, and in so doing he takes our troubles and tells us to give them up. The chorus in Spanish:

Las olas y vientos oirán to voz:
Sean los mares que rujan más, o diablos que bramen con fuerte clamor, las aguas al barco no dañarán del Rey de los cielos y de la mar.
Mas todos ellos se domarán.
“¡Cálmense! ¡Cálmense!”
Mas todos ellos se domarán.
“¡Paz, cálmense!”

Whatever this life throws at you this week, remember this: He is the Master, and this ship will not sink mientras el lo guia. Espero lo mejor por cada uno de ustedes y deseo que dejen sus cargas a Sus pies.  (I hope the best for each one of you and wish you lay your burdens at His feet.)


Elder Nelson
PS. Happy birthday to Kolby and Darci, there are letters on the way but probably won´t get there this week you two are the greatest, stay strong and never look back

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pink Sunrises and White Afternoons

Sunset/Sunrise over Ana Nuevos
Dear Family,                                                                                                   January 20, 2014

This week I wasn´t changed. As well as in my first area, I will be staying in this area 4 changes, the equivalent of almost 6 months. I´ve been able to meditate a lot on what that means, me being somewhat of a long term missionary while others are changed every transfer or every other transfer, and I still haven’t arrived at what it means but I know that it´s not President who makes the changes, it´s Jesus Christ, so there’s obviously something more that is waiting for me this change. (He wrote that none of the 4 Elders in the ward were changed...they have all been there 6 months.)

As for the climate, well, we are in full summer right now, and that means that it’s humid, and hot and really not conducive to the missionary uniform, but "All things I can do in Christ Jesus" right? The first missionaries of the church had to go through a lot more than just heat in order to serve Him, and so it isn´t such a difficulty to serve him as I do here in Perú. This week we had Kevin, a 9 year old we are teaching that has a phobia of water didn’t go through with the baptism. His mom forgot the baptismal date and time because she was finishing the equivalent of elementary school and planning a trip to the beach to celebrate. She was baptized a month or so ago and now we are teaching her kids. The family hasn’t come to church for two weeks due to trips to the beach :/ but her older daughter, Jaclyn (11 anos) chose to have her baptism with her brother this Saturday, the day we had reset his baptism. That’s huge and happened in kind of a funny way. She came in at the end of a lesson about the law of chastity (adapted to a 9 year old) from the neighbor’s house, and her dad is kind of a jokester. He said Jaclyn, your baptism is this Saturday, are you ready? Well this time she didn’t just run out of the room at the thought, so we ran with it, and I said Ya, are you going to be baptized this Saturday, we are going to fill the font halfway for your brother. She gave me a half worried look, so we did a baptismal demonstration with her brother and kept telling her how simple it is, we even have permission from the mission to have her parents stand in the water at the edge of the font, within view the whole time. At the end of it all she said yes! She will have her interview the same day as her brother and we will complete the family this Saturday along with another part family we are finishing.

Ana Nuevos Foursome
Maybe my letters end up being a little shorter than other missionaries because we are given exactly an hour and fifteen minutes to write in this mission, and I strive to give exactly that amount of time, but when the letter to president (15 minutes) takes priority and grows beyond that time because its necessary as part of my duties, I can´t help but shorten this letter to you all, just know that I love you, that these two years are a witness of my dedication to the Lord and through Him to having an eternal family due to His atonement. I love Him, and I love serving Him. His atonement makes it possible to start again every single week, and when we value that gift as we should, we find joy in this life, we find a purpose to get up every morning, we find motivation to sacrifice ourselves as we have promised to do since before this world and look to do His will.

Zona Comas
We are planning an activity in the zone that is starting to focus our efforts in each ward. It’s a White Afternoon, an afternoon at the end of February when we will baptize 45 people as a zone/stake. It will require a great effort seeing as the area in which I am is pretty dry. We are asking a great effort from the members to bring their family members to light and help us to find every person within the ward boundaries that has even the slightest desire to know the love of God better. It may seem a little strange at first, this kind of massive baptism, but when we think about it in terms of a desire to feel the spirit in greater power than we feel in a regular baptism, I feel good about it. It´s not about the number, it’s about creating a modern day waters of Mormon, or giving a modern day invitation to baptism as Pedro (Peter) did in Acts. We want this great quantity of people to be baptized in a quality manner (there’s a great quote from Elder Holland about missionary work and quantity/quality).

I think this is the quote from PMG that he is referring to:
““A convert’s new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice—a conviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows our desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement.
“Then comes baptism for the remission of sins. Yes, baptism is also for membership in the Church, but that isn’t what the Prophet Joseph Smith chose to stress in that article of faith. He stressed that it was baptism for the remission of sins—focusing you and me, the missionary and the investigator again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift Christ gives us. This points that new convert toward the blessings of the ‘good news.’” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 10–11).”

For that reason we are looking for this great quantity of people in the first two weeks of the transfer, then during the remaining 4 weeks we are creating a quality conversion by focusing all of our available time teaching them and preparing them for baptism. On the 22nd of February, three days before transfers, we will have a closed circuit camera beaming the baptismal font to the sacrament meeting screen and projector, where the entire stake will be able to watch and feel the power as the Nefites of old felt. We are excited to say the least.

I love you all, I am trying up the quality of the letters at the same time as the quantity of words in each letter. Know that I love you, know that I love this gospel and the atonement, know that Christ lives, and He loves us in a way that we will never fully understand, and for love of His family, He sacrificed His perfect life to save us.


Elder Nelson

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Putting the Gospel to Work

Comas Zone at a permanent style County fair on P-day
Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                    
Yes Beatriz got baptized! She asked us Saturday if she could talk to some sister missionaries about a few doubts she had and my mind started to spin. I almost lost a chunk of faith, but we said of course and called the sisters to come up on Sunday to talk to her. After the lesson we didn’t get to talk for a few days and on Tuesday we had an appointment with her and her family. We walked in and in the course of the conversation we asked her if she was ready for her baptism on Saturday and she said yes! When will it be? Wow, she was soo sure, soo excited and it made sense to her about the church, she has a testimony, and when she bore it after the baptism, she said how she was sad her parents couldn’t be there to watch, but she has faith that someday that they will understand that this is the true church like she does. She kept bearing her testimony and suddenly into the chapel walked her mom! Mid-testimony she came in and sat down in silence. We hope to be able to teach her this coming week. She didn’t make it to see her daughter baptized, but she heard half of her testimony and she has seen the positive change that has happened in her daughter’s life.

This week we were able to work on the home teaching program her in the ward and really try to help the elders quorum president understand how it works. He’s a convert of about 2 years and so its new to him and to the majority of the ward. He went out to visit some of the recent convert families with us this week and we showed him how a home teaching visit goes and how to make some kind of a report of what happened. He was really grateful with us and expressed how really even though his family has been going to church for 15 years or so, in his 2 years he hasn’t been able to learn much about how to exercise his priesthood in his home. I ended up giving him my ordinance card in Spanish and there was a talk about FHE this week in the sacrament meeting, so he is coming along. That is one thing we are finding is that many of the members don´t know what a functioning LDS family is, what are the "normal things" we do that all members should be doing.

That lead me to think about what are the things that we as members ought to be doing that maybe we aren’t so focused in doing. We are always striving to make our homes into temples, but what are the things that we should do inside of our homes to make them into temples? Because really what makes a temple a temple isn’t the beautiful paintings nor the whiteness of the walls nor the way we act inside, it’s the sacred covenants and the blessings promised there. In our homes, it’s the FHE, daily prayers and scripture study, in addition to the decoration, the mutual respect we show and the actions of love.

Well, I hope this is a good letter, I hope it’s been food for thought and a letter that isn’t just dead in the blog, but something that provokes action and a real difference in your lives. I love you all, and I want these letters to be like the New Testament, not just words in an old book, but words that work in the hearts of men, to their eternal benefit.


Elder Nelson

ps  We will find out about transfers after our computer time....

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year in Lima

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                  

This week was New Years, and a veritable war broke out in Lima, but not really. We went up to the 5th floor of our building and watched some fireworks and I took a pretty good video of 15 minutes straight of gigantic aerials. The smoke lingered for probably a couple of days and fireworks are a year round thing kind of and so the dogs didn’t really freak out too much. We also burned a muñeco which is kind of like a scarecrow/effigy. It’s a tradition here in Peru and represents burning the past and getting ready for the New Year. We named him Elder Shrek and he had a drawn on plaque and everything. After New Year’s was all over, we finally got to work and were able to get the people we are teaching to focus, until then, it was more like, appointments failing and people being generally flaky and not coming to church and not reading because the neighbors were up too late partying.

Now however, Beatriz is getting baptized this weekend and the next weekend we are starting to complete a family, baptizing one of the kids (Kevin 9 years old) of a couple we married and baptized a month or two ago. Beatriz is exciting, still a little bit wishy washy, but she was able to get through her baptismal interview and we are helping to put her doubts to rest. Especially she doubts why the prophet needs two councilors and that the Catholic Church which her father is in won´t help her get to heaven. That’s a hard doctrine, but it’s that they will help her get to heaven, the terrestrial kingdom, and that isn't where the majority of people really want to end up. She wants to have an eternal family, and the only way to do that is to be in the celestial kingdom, and before that obviously be baptized and go to the temple. I love talking about eternal families and the plan of salvation. It´s absolutely the root of everything here, and the most misunderstood that there is here on earth. 

If everyone just understood that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that He sent us here to be tested, that we came here to a have a family and progress spiritually for a period of about 80 years in which we will experience joy that we didn´t know before because we didn’t have bodies. That the death we know isn’t the end and that we are destined to become families for the eternities, there wouldn´t be quite as much sadness in the world. Also, there would be lot more respect for the law of chastity, that’s not something to be played with, seriously. Here, it’s a huge problem, and the people sometimes don´t understand, but almost all of the time they say they know it’s a sin or that they shouldn’t, benefits of that the Catholic Church at least teaches that. If they don’t enforce it, that’s another issue.

This week will be a good week, but at the same time a little up and down, cambios are a coming and I don´t know where I will be after next Monday. I think I am staying another change, but we really never know. Guessing doesn’t help, and so I will try to get my head down and work hard this week to make sure things go well with the baptism and that the area looks good into the future.

I love you all, I hope everyone had a safe and fun new years and that they can put time into dedicating this year to being just a little more diligent, a little more loving, a little more patient and a lot more happy. 


Elder Nelson