Monday, February 24, 2014

A Joyous White Afternoon

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                          

Wow what an awesome week for receiving letters. With this week being transfers, I´ll have to apologize if this letter is short, I have to give a final report on how the other missionaries in my district are, just in case they are transferred out. I loved getting letters from everyone at home. Now that I think of it, it could have been kind of funny seeing mom and dad with their laptops, Kolby and Melissa with either an ipad or their ipods, all writing on Sunday afternoon; I doubt that was how it happened, but the thought is amusing.

As for supplies, two pair of pants is perfect, maybe another sweater, I have two that fit well, with the one you sent, and one that makes me look a little bit paunchy (it’s a small haha) I got the shirt you sent and used it to baptize in in the white afternoon because it was closest to the color of my baptismal pants. The man in CTR clothing was so right. I’m glad I didn’t reserve anything and that I’m rotating all the time because if I had, I would have good clothes days and dirty clothes days. By the by, the socks are absolutely atomic, they don´t fade, and they don´t get used up, definitely worth the higher price. Also my feet haven´t had any of the normal Elder feet problems. My journals are good, but I might need the blue one if I can get back into the habit of writing more regularly. The sad experience of becoming a leader is that my journaling has tanked, and knowing how important to me my journal is, I hope that I can get back  into the habit.

The white afternoon went really well. The spirit was felt incredibly strong. The video feed didn’t have audio, so we ended up putting the player piano on prelude for the whole meeting to keep the congregation from the murmuring that usually happens to prolonged silence. I helped with traffic control in the hallway and our grand total I think was 23, with members and some of the bishops baptizing as well. The fotos I am sending are of Ronald and of Jean Paul. They both chose me to baptize them and the witnesses to all of the baptisms were the stake president and President Erickson. The other missionaries were mopping and helping keep order during the service, but really even doing things like that, we all felt how incredibly special the even was, and every companionship had at least one person there to be baptized, so everyone felt good.

Ronald who had asked me about the Book of Mormon a couple weeks back, looked up at me a few minute before his baptism. Having watched one of the other missionaries pass me his nametag before entering the font, he asked me, "¿Hermano Nelson, cuando voy a recibir mi placa?" (Brother Nelson, when will I receive my badge?) I explained to him how in 9 years, he will get to wear a nametag and that he has to write me about it as soon as he gets it. This kid is absolutely golden. I hope he serves some day and I hope that I will know when he starts to serve.

Well that was the week. We will know about changes in about a half hour, and I will let you know next week. I love you all, I pray for you and hope that you are making correct decisions :)


Elder Nelson

PS: had to send you my iguana pic from the miniature zoo we visited the last p-day, thought it was a good coincidence that I as well got to see an iguana!

Monday, February 17, 2014

And Little Children will Lead them...

Dear Familia,  
So I guess I won´t ask the investigators’ grandpa for caoba, but he made it sound super exotic and unique to here. I´ve always had that a little bit in mind, looking for exotic woods for Grandpa Andy. I always remember his story of the muebles (furniture) he made from the Hawaiian wood he and Grandma had, and then the pens he makes for us and their unique origins. If you do end up getting pants or shirts, short sleeve shirts, with maybe one long sleeve, and I have about all of my pants that go with browns and greens for ties and only one pair of grey pants. I´d like some gray pants and maybe a few different colors now that the mission guidelines have changes, lighter colors are totally okay now and that’s intriguing to me, especially right now when its super hot out. 

I did get the package on the 12th, the day before hump day, no worries. The tie is great, the tootsie rolls don´t exist here, so Elder Viza didn’t know quite what to think about them. The music is great, it´s always good to mix things up. Elders here are big fans of the Nashville tribute albums, even though they don´t know what it says until they have a gringo to write down the lyrics during language study time. Also, any idea why there are two new films now in the temple?

Our zone in this next transfer will be growing to 20 missionaries, 8 of which will be sisters. Just thought I´d mention that because you had mentioned there are a lot of sisters heading our way. As well, the mission received a couple of married missionaries from you wouldn’t guess where: Nampa Idaho. They knew what Wheeler Circle was and at least know what stake grandma and grandpa are in. They are great and will be serving a regular proselyting mission, currently in the Independencia zone.

As for the hymns in church, some of the other north American missionaries and I had had this conversation during the week. The hymns carry the same power, but only when you think of it as a devotion to God. The hymns aren´t sung in parts in sacrament meeting, I remember that in our sacrament meeting their was at least a good group of members that sang in parts and when men and women divided it was very distinct. Here, 100% of the people sing the melody, even if it’s too high for them to sing it well. When there is a great difference in the tone, they do gigantic slides to get there, and generally the hymns are sung at a different timing than in English, sometimes on a minor tone as well. It´s very different, but they sing with all of their heart and so it doesn´t matter that it’s not like it was written. I honestly can´t think of the English lyrics to quite a few hymns, even ones that I thought I would never, even forget, but sometimes the Spanish lyrics makes more sense, or brings added meaning, the same as when I think about the Spanish scriptures, though many of the visiting authorities tell us the English Book of Mormon is exact and we ought to learn English to study it, reading the Book of Mormon in another language deepens your knowledge of what happens, what it means and that its true. I finished reading it for the second time in castillano on the 13th, hump day and every time I read it I know it’s true, I feel impulsed to testify point out the details I´ve noticed, show the doctrines I´ve learned. Now my project is to read the New Testament, something I honestly haven´t done since my freshman year of high school. I´m now in Marcos and reading about the Savior´s life changes you. Coming to know Him on a more personal level can´t be just through scripture study, but through an honest search to understand His divine mission and how we can exemplify him, we start to change who we are. I feel energized, ready to leave behind bad habits, and more fully obey his call, Venid y Ved. (Come and See)

White Afternoon is in full swing. The plan was that during the first two weeks of the transfer we would focus completely on finding a massive amount of people, through members, previous investigators, part families, less actives, and contacts. Then the next 4 weeks until the last week of February (this week) we would teach them and prepare them to be baptized. This is a zone push, and the final number of people we are baptizing arrives at 25 I think, and it’s been not quite true to schedule. It’s been a test of faith, we didn´t find hardly anyone that had a true interest in the church for the first two weeks. Then we found Jean Paul, he’s 9 years old and the grandson of active members. His mom has to work on her partner so that he can get divorced from his first wife and then married to her so that in the future they can be baptized, but Jean Paul will show them the way. Lots of couples we meet are in that situation. The husband or wife is married, but hasn’t seen their spouse for years, and without getting divorced the two are already with a different family. 

The other investigator we have is Ronald who comes from a similar situation, His grandparents are active members, his mom is less active and his dad works until 10 every night of the week. We are activating his mom and workings on plans to help her get married to her husband, as a door to start teaching him on Sunday afternoons. Ronald is the one that came up to me in the church last week.

The last one we met last week, her name is Susana and she´s the second councilor´s daughter-in-law. We had an absolutely amazing lesson with her on Monday night. She´s already come to church twice, but we couldn´t ever find a way to meet with her during the week. Finally on Monday night we were there talking with her about Tacna, where she´s from. It’s a lot quieter, safer than Lima she says, and the people are different. We talked to her about the family, how important it is a good environment to raise your family. I told her about the Tri Cities and how lot of dad´s generation came back to raise their families. Then we talked about how in both Lima, and the Tri-Cities, and in Tacna, the church exists, which gives us eternal principals and a strong foundation on which to build our families (Helaman 5:12). We invited her to be baptized on the 22nd, the tarde blanca, (White Afternoon) and she said yes through tears. She knows it’s true, she feels different in the church. Normally we wouldn’t have challenged her for a date so soon, but she goes back to Tacna for  a long term work trip at the end of the month, and so the schedule got moved up quite a bit. She is full of faith, and ready to make this decision that her husband has been nudging her about for years.

I think our total comes to 7 families that we are baptizing and when we count families that’s also completing families (baptizing one of the parents and the kids that are of age).

I have to finish this letter, but I have more things to share, miracles abound and the insights that I gain from the people that I interviewed this week were golden. Scanty on the details, but I interviewed a man who will be getting baptized on Saturday, he said that he and his wife have always been pretty good, problems happen but they don´t get derailed from being okay in the family situation. The night before the elders arrived at their house he and his wife were talking about their future, he asked her if she wanted to be happy with him forever, and she said yes, as well as did he. They agreed that night to start working seriously on fixing a few problems they were in. The next day, the elders knocked on their door and from that moment, the brother says he can´t stop thinking about how he had a righteous desire, and God saw that, and sent him the elders to make it a reality. It´s true, when we want to do something righteous, God will give us the way to make it a reality.

I love you all, I think of you often, I have one more year here, and I plan on wearing it all out, completely and wholly.


Elder Nelson

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Book for Ronald

Getting Wet with Zona Comas!

Dear Family,                                                                                                             

The package must still be coming through or in the offices waiting to be picked up, I received a letter from Sister Grimmett this week, thanks for the animos and also for the great analogy. I was a little weird in the stomach this week but all in all I recovered and now I’m fine, just a little topsy turvy from a beet salad.

Apart from that I wanted to mention a couple cultural things that I never seem to send in my emails that will help you to visualize a little more about what things are like here. There’s little kids that run up to us in the street that say "hellow" but literally like that is spelled haha. They want to practice their English and shake the gringos hand. The shady characters on the corners of the street wave and shout "Elderes!" when we pass and tell everyone else not to mess with us. Other people, it depends on their religious affiliation if they will say hi back to us or not. 

Something that’s going on this month and next month because of summer is Carnavales. It’s basically a free for all water fight that goes on all month long. For example, about every three houses there’s an above ground pool, and usually a bunch of little kids just sitting in it to keep cool. Every 3 pools or so there are groups of teenagers that have water guns and water balloons to throw at people, strangers, other teenagers from the neighborhood, whobeit, they get them wet. A few years back they made it illegal, but the people keep at it. Nobody has tried to get us yet, mostly because the people have a profound respect for "preachers" anybody that has a bible and so they try to teach their kids it’s not okay to splashing us with little buckets of water. It´s actually really funny to watch because the jovenes start to fight with water and then somebody shows up with water with shoe polish in it (black) and then another shows up with paint in a bucket and they just finish like Christian Burrup after more than a few of his dates. It´s even better to watch their moms not let them in the house and tell them to go hose off in the dirt patch in front of their houses :). Good old fashioned fun.

The spiritual experience of the week award goes to Sunday. We are teaching a lot of kids, which while fun and a lot easier, isn’t exactly our goal as a mission, but well they came to church this Sunday and I had promised Ronald that if he came to church I would have his very own Book of Mormon for him. He is the grandson of a super active member who’s about 75 or 80. He’s a carpenter, and he has Peruvian wood that he’s willing to gift to me because grandpa’s a carpenter hobbyist as well.  It’s called caoba, maybe you can check with the internet and see if its something grandpa has worked with, it’s a hardwood from the jungle. Back to Ronald, he came up to me after sacrament meeting, 9 years old, and he taps me on the side...Hermano Nelson, me dijiste que si vine a la iglesia tendría un libro de mormon para mi. SO I smiled huge because he’s 9 years old and wants to read the Book of Mormon, and pulled his Book of Mormon out of my bag to give to him. He hugged the book and ran back to his mom, who is a member who is returning to activity. I love experiences with kids because sometimes they teach us to live the gospel more purely than we have been. When was the last time you hugged the Book of Mormon because you knew it was the word of God, or pulled it out to study it really and truly. I love this book. It´s true, the events and people in it are real and they really saw Jesus Christ when he came to the Americas. Read it every day, and I promise you´ll see more of God´s hand in your life.

I love you all, take care of  each other!


Elder Nelson

A Call to the RMs to Join in the Work

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                            

(hello from dust and dirt to the sand and the sun )
Melissa told me to guilt trip every once in a while, so here’s number 1, love ya sis. Go ahead and let it extend to Kolby too. He looks great in the dodge ball uniform, we actually had a tourney here in Peru during the mission Christmas party, so tell him to keep practicing for the international league :)

In answer to the questions, yes you hid that letter in my suitcase, but I already read it once, something like 8 months ago. I´ve resealed it and I think it will probably wait until I get home to be opened again. You mentioned the new new film at the that different from the new film that I saw a month ago?

They have national sports here but I think all three national teams are based in Lima: (all three are futbol) Alianza Lima, La "U", and Crystal. Then there’s national volleyball. That’s it for sports, soccer and volleyball. They know what basketball is, but they don´t really play it. Oh that’s right winter olympics. I doubt there are any Peruano athletes, there really isn’t the infrastructure or the climate for winter sports here in Lima, or for Peru in general.

As for the civil unrest part, the worst I have heard of was that there was a signboard protest outside of Tottus, a Chilean based superstore in the other part of the stake, but that’s just because there is a gigantic push to buy Peruvian right now. It was completely non violent. Other than that, a good sign for those worried moms out there is that the Peru Lima North mission should end up 40/60 sisters to elders by June or so...that means it´s super safe here, and it means the elders are being sent into the hills at an ever increasing rate. Hooray for a fantastic workout every day. That’s something I´ve actually found to be grateful for, the fact that my area right now is huge and full of hills has put me in the greatest physical shape probably since the BEAST days. I feel good in the mornings when I wake up, and I focus more of my exercise on my abs and arms, because my legs are fine. Just working off the little chub I’ve got going from all the rice and bread :) Also, yes we are still autopensioning, mostly because at this point I know that I eat better when I am providing my own breakfast (mmmm… fiber doesn´t really exist too much in the Peruvian diet, so I eat a lot of fiber cereals) As for dinner, we eat lunch at 1 and they feed me enough to count for lunch and dinner, so I usually just have a supply of juice or flavored waters and crackers, and sometimes I buy bread to go with my jam that I have. It´s almost always something light to keep the energy until the morning.

That (my diet or the chub) is not the reason I had to get my baptismal pants mended. What happened was that I lent my pants to another American elder in my zone because his pants had gotten fungus from the font water, the Saturday before changes in my first zone, 6 months ago, but then I got changed and the elder had sent them to wash, he gave them to the zone leaders to pass along to me, but they got lost somewhere in the exchange. Since them I have been borrowing from other elders, but back in December I went to the temple and bought myself a new pair of white washable baptismal pants...but they come in infinity length so I had to send them with a member to shorten. 

Other general announcement: I took out 100 soles from the bank at a rate of about 2.83 soles to the dollar, just so you know. I used some of it to buy a tie during p-day today and the rest will stay in my wallet as my personal emergency fund. Also, I turned the page on my Calendar and found out that February is the last month that I have...are you planning on sending me another calendar? I´d love to have one, This calendar has been a permanent fixture of my desk space and something that I can look to quickly to figure out baptismal dates and budgeting of the assignment of money I receive from the mission. Basically I´d just like to have a new calendar for this year and I am rambling to give you a few reasons haha

This week we met a few new investigators and kept preparing a few others, but we are noticing a pattern in how the new investigators are. They are almost all children/youth from 9 to 14 years old. We don´t get as many new investigators from strictly contacting because that isn’t the focus of the mission. We still contact, but our main focus is in activating members who haven’t come for a long time, and helping them to complete their families. The problem is that the majority of the less active families we find are all members except for those children that weren’t old enough to be baptized when they were members. It´s interesting to teach kids because they are innocent of a lot of things. They believe right away what you are saying if you can say it in a way that they understand and it´s incredible the effect that a child can have on the rest of his family. If he gets up on Sunday morning and tells his parents he wants to go to church, they first want to know why, and so they come to church as well and start to remember what church was to them, they remember the process of listening to the missionaries when they were little and a lot of the time remember "their" missionaries. 

Joe wrote me this week and mentioned how the mission is a big or small part of every single day of his life since coming home. It ought to be true of every returned missionary. I hope the returned missionaries who read this letter take time this week to contact their converts in some way. Let them know that as they are spiritually begotten of you (Pablo spoke a little bit about that in the opening of several of his epistles) you remember them, you love them, and hope that they remember the covenants you helped them to make. If they haven´t remembered, maybe hastening the work is also a call to pass the references of your converts to the mission where you served, so the full time missionaries can go on a rescue mission, to find this family and bring them back to the fold of God.

I know that this work is His work, He guides it and Hastening the Work of Salvation is His program designed to find the lost sheep and in so doing share this great gospel message. As His representative, I testify that His Son, Jesus Christ, came to the earth on one purpose, to save his brothers and sisters. I love Him, He is my example in all things, and the love I have for Him motivates me to work even hard every time things get me down. Keep the faith, He will strengthen you if you find yourself lacking.

No specific stories this week, but I promise I will write more this next week. I love you all, I hope that you are making correct decisions and trying to mend the incorrect ones. The atonement works, but only when we try. Pray for missionary opportunities, and then act on them with valor when they come to you.


Elder Nelson