Monday, April 21, 2014

Spiritually Soft

Dear familia,                                                                                                                                       

At the Bishop's house
I´m not sure how exactly it happened, but Easter snuck up on us and then went without too much fanfare. The problem is that they don´t celebrate "Easter" like we do. They celebrate "Holy Week". Part of the tradition is that the Catholics make pilgrimages to the crosses that are mounted on the tops of the hills around the city. Other than that, the televisions are chock full of Programming about Christ´s life and especially His last week. The people even tend to start to insert details from the movies and not from the Bible when they talk about events of the week in a doctrinal setting, sound familiar? I think mom might have heard that a few times being in the Stake Primary haha "I saw the movie!"

We don´t eat ham here, or very rarely and never in the giant spiral cut ham style. For example, we had a lonche, which is like a light meal that we eat around 8 or 9 if we are in a house visiting, and they gave us bread with fried eggs in the bread, like a sandwich. The egg had pieces of what I think was ham or hot dog fried into it, omelet style. They also served an herbal drink that I think translated is chamomile. For the record, the people don´t use packets that have the tea plant in it, they buy chamomile in the market place, clean it up and then boil the same plant. It´s been approved, I think almost because there really isn’t anything else to drink.

WOOHOO for Kolby´s scholarship, 4 years full tuition? That´s a great security to have coming back from the mission. The other day a member asked me if I could help for 5 minutes of geometry homework and I totally said sure of course, I’m a math whiz....I couldn´t answer the most basic questions about trigonometry in spheres. I do believe i will be toast when i get back to academic learning. Best just to focus on what I’m doing here and not worry about that until later.
(Misunderstanding:  Kolby's scholarship is one year tuition, renewable just like yours.  NOT a Monson scholarship.  But still pretty good :)   Eh, an older brother can hope right? I’m still proud of him, he´s awesome

I’m not sure how the missions are in Ecuador, but I do know that since April 14th, the South America Northwest area has had a focus much like Gordon B Hinckley´s before the years end Book of Mormon Challenge. If he starts reading the Book of Mormon for minimum 15 minutes every day he will likely be where we all are in the Region when he gets to the mission. As for food, the Ecuatorianos say that the food is the same, less bananas and with different names for the food, but it’s essentially the same: chicken and rice, potatoes, spaghettis, beans only occasionally. But you have to understand, when I say rice, it’s not just your average portion of rice. It’s about three times that amount or more. Get ready for half a plate of rice in every meal haha. Here we don´t have a pensionista, but we do have laundry service, so I don´t eat quite as much rice, but we don´t really take time to prepare food, normally things like bologna and bread sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, yogurt. The members here and the investigators almost always give us food at night, and a popular one in this season is mandarin oranges. They´ll give us two or three just to carry home, and so I get more than enough vitamin C!  Honestly, in the missionary schedule there isn’t a lot of time to be spent cooking or looking for recipes, so I’d recommend bringing a knowledge of basic cooking techniques, especially with basics like eggs, sugar, flour, salt, potatoes. Also, if he wants to practice, look for a gas stove or oven, because no one has electric.

The worst bugs that happen here are when the apartment in which you live has bed bugs. That’s only happened one time, and it was a major pain, but other than that, I only get occasional bites, that really aren’t anything new, we don´t have to use repellent, nor is it necessary. We are on the outskirts of the city, but it’s still house to house to house without spaces in between, that’s just how Lima is.

Really spiritual experience this week. Elder Oliva and I were on our way to an appointment about 4 weeks ago when a woman stopped us on the stairs to talk. She said she was a member that was baptized in Tumbes (the border with Ecuador) with her husband and her two oldest children. She said they had lived in Lima for a while, but they had lost contact with the church when they got here. Well we tried to contact her in her house for a couple of weeks without any luck, and then finally found them, but her husband had heard some anti-Mormon family members talking about polygamy and decided he didn´t want to come back to church for that. On top of that, he’s a carpenter that works in Chorrillos, two hours away in Lima, and has a crazy schedule that makes it extremely difficult to find him. Well in Holy Week, the majority have vacations and the majority either go to the beaches to get wasted, or just go ahead and do it right here in their own front porches. 

Wilson didn´t do either, and we find him and Raquel (esposa), with Emili (16), and Viviana (12) at home on Sunday night! We talked about a few things, and then started in on the lesson about the restoration, and I could tell it was different, because we asked him what he remembered about Joseph Smith, and he told us the whole story like a missionary, he just didn’t quote the first vision to us (by the way Kolby could work on memorizing that in Spanish if he wants something to do). Most inactives tell us weird stories like two angels appeared to Joseph Smith, or that he went to the jungle and saw aliens or that he was trying to fight the other churches, but he remembered it all, how it happened. He was spiritually "soft". We had the whole lesson and only at the end he asked us about polygamy and how it can be that if marriage is eternal that an apostle whose wife died could get married again.

At the end of the lesson, we asked him to give the last prayer while we all kneeled down. He gave a prayer of pure gratitude, for sending the missionaries, for the opportunity to come back, for showing him that he still loves him and his family. WOW. I teared up mid prayer and now we know that he and his family are going o come back. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has had experiences in the last week or so to prepare him for this decision.

Question of the week: What are we doing now to be spiritually "soft", i mean really malleable, teachable and humble? The Master needs soft clay to be able to shape and mold us and if we let ourselves dry out, we end up breaking on our own stubbornness, or "kicking against the pricks". 

I love you all, I hope things are going wonderfully there and that this week has given you the chance to re-center your lives on Christ and remember the infinite gift of His atonement.


Elder Nelson

PS I will try to send pictures, but I won’t promise anything, it’s that there are various missionaries who have lost their memory drives to a virus in this cafe and so I don´t want to risk plugging mine in here. Maybe later today or next week we will be looking for a different cafe for the zone.

Stake Activity


ps mother’s day is around the corner, I already have a place to skype too. The owners of our house will let us use their den to host the zone for skype calls.
Aqui algunos fotos de Pday hoy. We played Jenga and spoons, made French toast, and enjoyed a little bit more laidback pday than we normally do.

The other pictures are of us in the bishop’s house and the tacos the high councilman assigned to missionary work prepared for us. The other foods are a plate of mole (brown stuff, ask Braden what it’s like, Guatemaltecans make it with bananas) and Pollo con crema that we also prepared at a members house (guatemaltecan food)

The one of the congregation is from a stake wide activity we organized about the tree of life. The people watched Mormon messages while they waited for everyone to finish the rope line to the tree. About 180 people showed up, huge success!
P-day Jenga

Pollo con  Crema

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