Sunday, July 27, 2014

First We Work, Then We Play

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                      

What great news about Jason! Is it against the rules to go see him on that kind of mission? I´d love to see him all dressed in white someday. I remember back when he went to bear his testimony in Hillview Ward back in the day and it makes me so happy to know that he is still growing and progressing in the gospel thanks to caring priesthood leaders. One interesting thing happened hear related somewhat to Jason that actually meant that before this letter I was thinking about him. We went on a work visit to the second to last zone that we had interviews and revisions at and I ended up with a fairly disobedient missionary and his North American companion. We had just hauled away some things he had been keeping in his room from the last time he was caught with things he shouldn’t have that morning, and I was sure he would be frustrated with me during the whole visit. The good thing was that he wasn´t too bad, we loosened him up a little trying to talk while we walked between appointments. The second appointment we had was with a man named Roberto. He´s 33 years old and probably the closest thing to an aspy that I´ve bumped into here. He had a few definite similarities, one being that the first missionary to have contacted him in the street was his "favorite" he was very attached and liked to hug a lot. He was slight of frame and talked in various voices just like I remember Jason doing, the monologues. He had his favorite thing to do, draw and do sketches in pastel oil paints. The biggest thing that surprised me was -- he lived alone. His dad is a widower and lives apart with his stepmom and visits about every weekend. He owns a dog, which isn´t something I see Jason doing, but he was independent. He gave us quaker (not oatmeal like we make it at home) at the end of the lesson and had chosen to be baptized on his own, after understanding the implications. It was incredible and inspiring to see that it wasn´t strange for him to live alone at all. I hope Jason keeps on becoming more and more independent, it´s empowering, and that’s something God wants for us, to be empowered by the way we use agency to progress.

Other than that we finished up the interviews and yesterday in the morning we had the last two: Elder Barrientos and I. I went first and we talked about the mission and President´s vision for the mission (more about that later), then we talked about his days in law school and what made the difference then and in his career. That was really interesting to talk about because he really doesn´t mention that kind of stuff to us often, even in trainings, he usually talks about his days growing up in Washington. Then we started to talk about things for after the mission, he asked me when I was planning on starting back at BYU and when I should mention the recommendation forms and what I had plans for afterwards. It was definitely definitely strange. I have been really pretty focused for a long time, and when he asked me about some of those things it was like a bell went off in my head and somebody said "hey, this has to end sometime, buddy". 

I mentioned that I don´t want to finish early, that I am not too keen on the idea of 1) finishing early or 2) getting home and then turning around to get down to Utah. I told him I´d like to spend time at home getting used to speaking English again (I struggle some days) and then head down tranquilamente to start spring term. He mentioned that the class registration deadline shouldn´t hit while I’m here, but that if it does then I can ask him for permission and go sign up. That one was weird to hear too. 

When we were talking about his time at school it was because it’s part of what his vision for the mission is. He said that really his main focus has never been on the numbers, more on the missionaries themselves. He wants each and every missionary to have a good experience and to progress. He looks for the potential of the missionaries within the first while and when he sees there is more, he tries to help them dig deeper and progress more. One of the focuses lately has been on having a firm mind. That means when things happen and you end up in a bad situation or things didn´t go well, you have the self-mastery to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to trying with everything you’ve got. He mentioned that he had some sort of farm job from the time he was 11 and always worked more or less everything. He moved pipes, pulled weeds next to migrant workers, plowed, planted, canned, you name it. Then when he got to college he said he was a studier, he would get out to campus and study. he said he was a lot more diligent in law school but that in undergrad he would spend from 9 to 5 on campus as an undergrad and as a grad student he would go to a class at 8 and then stay on campus until 7 at night during the week, studying or in class. He packed a lunch and brought it with him and then ate a late dinner when he got home. On Fridays and Saturdays he would spend until 4 or 5 in the afternoon and then go out or go to ward activities on the weekend nights. He was incredibly diligent and focused. 

He said that he carried that kind of attitude into his early career as well. He would get up at 6 and be at the office by 7 something like that and then work one shift until 6 pm. A few times a week he would pull double shifts. At first he pulled double shifts to get ahead. That was always his goal, just be ahead of the game so that things are okay when they don´t go as planned. He said that the clients started to ask that he manage their accounts -- as an associate lawyer and not a partner it didn’t happen very often, but for him it did because he showed he was diligent and he worked hard. Next thing that happened he had a friend that did more or less that same kind of things from another firm that convinced him to go out to Las Vegas to start a new firm. When he got there he did the same thing but he was ahead of the curve still, he bought himself a computer for his house, also something not common, and used it to create forms that you could fill out to save time. He had a deal with Sister Erickson that they would go on a family vacation every quarter for an entire week. He took half days some Fridays and was doing less of the actual paperwork and more managing the associates while working on his own clients. He was able to go on overnight campouts with his boys and also go golfing on the weekends. He said that they made money like popcorn and then they learned to play hard after having shown they could work hard for a long time. 

The point of this whole story is to show that the missionaries need to know that if they are able to work extremely hard their entire missions and then maybe afterwards they will be able to enjoy the things that they have prohibited from themselves, music, movies, their families, whatever it may be. They need to have firm minds to be able to keep themselves up, be diligent in order to gain a greater reward, and be obedient above all else. In regards to the last, we sent a talk to the entire mission that’s called the fourth missionary that´s really incredible. I have been studying it this week and it really changes how you think about the mission. 

I love you all, that´s all I’ve got to say this time, but I want you to read the fourth missionary and try to apply it to how you are living the gospel right now. You´ll see what to apply when you read it, I promise.


Elder Nelson

PS The photos are of the trip we took to Center of Lima on Pday. Right now it’s getting close to the fiestas patrias, like Independence Day in Peru and so there was a parade going on the whole time we were there. I took a couple photos and a policeman there took a couple photos of the group for us. The others are of Elder Barrientos and I in our office. We share it with the secretaries, but we have our own computer and we are allowed to use President´s laptop for projects. 

Come Join With Us

Dear Familia,                             

I hope you didn´t worry! Sorry things got a little carried away yesterday and then today we finally finished our part of it at 3, at least for a couple of days. The most I could share is just that it´s just best to be obedient always.

This week we continued with the interviews and room revisions. On Wednesday we went to Comas and we did a work visit to where my old district was. I didn´t end up in Año Nuevo because Elder Barriento´s son was there and so I let him go instead. I went to Retablo with Elder Ruiz who has about 20 months in the mission. We knew quite a few of the same people and we actually did end up visiting one of the recent converts that I had interviewed for baptism there, so that was cool. 

We taught one man that came out as an interesting lesson. His name is Roberto and he´s a less active member. He is probably 70 or 80 years old and was baptized at maybe 40. We started the lesson off talking a little bit about faith, and he had already been more or less combative, or at least I felt like he was questioning my desire to be on a mission and blaming it on that my family are all members. I explained it wasn´t the case, that I was there for my own free will and choice, but he still seemed unsatisfied. We kept talking a little about the church and we invited him to come back, which I´m sure a lot of elders had done before, as he seemed to know quite a few. Well, this time the lesson took a different turn and he said "look, I haven’t told the regular elders this but I go to church every once in a while in Año Nuevo and in Tahuantinsuyo". I didn’t really believe it, but he also claimed that the bishop in his ward had problems and that he couldn´t go back to a ward where the bishop is disorganized and doesn´t do house calls. 

We tried to explain a little about church organization and how the bishop is the shepherd and if the shepherd goes to feed every sheep when it bleats for food, he wouldn´t be able to help all of them. That´s why the bishop has an executive secretary and is in the chapel for interviews. It´s like showing the fold of sheep where the best grass is instead of carrying the grass to them when they are off the path. We also tried to relay a bit about the talk President Uchtdorf gave last October called “Come, Join with Us”. The best quote to me from that talk is about how if you choose not to go to a church because someone from that church is a hypocrite, then you won´t ever end up attending church because we are all hypocrites. It´s like in Romans where Paul says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". What the King James Version adds though is interesting. It says that while that’s true, it can be rectified by a true repentance and that´s only possible through the grace of Christ. He didn´t take any of it (a little bit set in his ways) but he promised to come to church. That’s the only thing about work visits: I get to teach like there is no tomorrow with investigators but that’s only because there is no tomorrow, I don´t get to see the follow-up.

On Saturday for P-day we went to Centro de Lima, which is now approved after president explained to the presidency of the area that there aren’t any landmarks or museums to visit inside of our own mission. We ended up going to the Plaza de las Armas again, but this time there was a giant parade of typical dress and dances from the different regions of Perú. We think it was a first exhibition of the Patriotic Parties (fiestas patrias) leading up to the Peruvian Independence day on the 28th. It was pretty cool to see and I took a few photos so I’ll be sending those.

As for the questions you asked: we don´t get to proselyte very much outside of work visits and maybe a couple of times a week at night just due to the regular workings of the mission. For example, if we aren’t in a work visit we can always go visit to verify that the missionaries are finishing the day on time, and in order to do that for the far reaches of the mission we have to start out at 8. At 7 we have dinner with members, and until 6 we are in the offices working. It can be a little tough to fit a regular investigator on that one to two hour slot, so we are trying to help the ward get stronger because right now, there’s a regular attendance of maybe 80, when a ward is something like 120 minimum in the South America Northwest area. We should finish with the interviews this coming week and then it´s on to just work visits and visits to the district meetings. President also wants us to start visiting during studying hours to make sure that the missionaries are studying from 8 to 10 or 11 as the schedule goes.

I love you all. I hope it was a good week for all of you and that everything goes well this coming week!


Elder Nelson

Ps There’s virus problems here in the office, so I’m not plugging the camera in until I have it fixed. Maybe photos later on :/

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Balancing Act

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                      

Mom´s in a boot again? I guess the rose bushes just have to have their yearly vengeance, right? Well, I hope you are obedient to the doctor and keep off of it for a while. I know it´s tough, but maybe Melissa can go with Dad to get blizzard´s for just a little bit ;)

Going to do room revisions isn´t the crack down you would think it would be. The thing is that we advise that we will be there about a week and a half early and everyone that is disobedient enough to have things is also tricky enough to hide it well or lend it out for a week. The majority of the things that we take from the rooms are things like extra books of Preach My Gospel or language study books that previous elders or sisters have left behind, as well as clothes. Mostly what I have seen this past week has been a lot of really inspiring rooms. Rooms that invite the spirit by cutouts from the church magazines or quotes from church leaders, things that motivate missionaries to go out and do the work of salvation. Some of the rooms are huge and others tiny, but the thing we find is that the missionaries are happy as long as they spend very little time in their rooms. As long as they are teaching and learning, developing and growing, they are happy. 

I think that´s true of almost all of us. We crave progress. We need change in order to keep ourselves occupied and bettering. We are creatures of habit it´s true, but it´s the changing and rectifying of those habits that makes us children of God. He made us and sent us here, to a state of probation, where we are expected to change and morph, grow and progress. When we don´t, we are stuck. We get uncomfortable, we feel antsy just for the small differences, then we try to look for things to change in the routine. It´s also true as missionaries that our routine is fairly set. The difference is when a missionary begins to take full advantage of the time given in order to benefit others. They focus less on the same and try to live in the very moments that are different or make it so that the moments we pass every day aren´t just passing, they are being there.

The missionaries in this mission are so incredible. Though there are a few that haven´t fully realized their purpose in the mission yet, they know that the Lord has entrusted them with a lot of responsibilities, and expects them to carry them out completely.

This week we finished San Juan de Lurigancho with the room revisions but we still have about 2/3 of the mission to go. Next week we´ll keep going, but now we won´t have to get up so early, just right around 6 ish:)

I hope Melissa´s nose isn´t broken, but if it is, she can just tell the guys that it´s how they will be if they mess with her after her big brother is around :) Also in family news, you can let Darci know that the email is still marked as an email to reply to, I just haven´t gotten around to it. Maybe I will try tomorrow in between informes, but I can´t promise anything, sorry. 

Love you all, sorry it´s a little short this week. I am writing on the computer that doesn´t have my photos on it, and so I can´t even add a few of those to make up for it. I went on a little bit of a writing spree up there in the letter, so I hope it gives a little food for thought. I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to make my life into a fulfilling part of me, full of individuality but at the same time submissive to the will of He who´s given me the right to find that individuality. That was a really weird way to state that I have been thinking about the balancing act again haha. Love you guys!


Elder Nelson

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What it means to Assist

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                      

That´s a little bit smaller now, but I know that however spread all over the globe we are, we are still united, and we are all still striving to do our best to live the perfect life plan, the gospel. Don´t worry about thinking about when I come home, just try not to mention it too much to me ;) Share with me how your lives are, what your doing, whenever my friends start coming home tell me about that. My group is very small, but the zone leader that is over the stake that houses the offices is from my group, Elder Bullock. He tried to tell his zone at the welcome meeting at the beginning of the transfer that he had 17 months in the mission (this was last month) had to correct him, feeling old, and trying not to rush the time by. 

Well, my companion has 14 months in the mission, but had been a zone leader from a couple of transfers before me. He wants really badly to learn to speak English sufficient to go to the US and to BYU and so he initiates conversations in English all the time. We probably talk 60-70% Spanish and 30-40% English daily. He speaks very well and understands a lot more. Together, we are the assistants, which means we do what the presidente wants, when he wants it done, and in the way he would want it done. More specifically, we analyze the 12 zones of the mission to see that what presidente has put forward as principles key to our success are being put into action. We do that through work visits, through morning visits called ammonitas, studies visits, and the mission schedule of events like interviews with presidente and multi-zone conferences.

This month we are doing the interviews with president, that means that Elder Barrientos stays with president in the stake building, giving a training on a topic assigned by presidente, while I go with Hermana Erickson and Hermano Ortega to do room revisions. The zone leaders for the zone that we visit during the day do divisions with us and we go see how clean the elders and hermanas have their rooms. It’s also a chance to see if the living situation fits the standard that Hermana Erickson has set, revise their suitcases for contraband things, and verify their language studies.

The first zone we visited was Magnolias, where I was "born". We visited a lot of the rooms that I already was familiar with and mid morning we visited the elders in Buenos Aires. They still have Hermana Francisca as their pensionista and they live closer now, in a building owned by her daughter and son-in-law. I asked Sister Erickson for an opportunity to knock on my pensionistas door and she said yes! I was nervous as all get out but I knocked on the door and she came out with this giant smile on her face. She remembered my name right away and started calling her family together to see me. It was a crazy get together and only lasted a few minutes, but seeing the progress in the family -- their oldest grandson is ready to leave on the mission and sent in his papers last week, the baby grandsons are talking and walking respectively and she (the pensionista) still is working her 15 hour days (we tried to get her to repent of that, but she enjoys the work and feels the need to be doing something) -- surprised me. 

Apart from that we gave a training to the ward council members this week on the conversion and truly being a disciple of Christ, being a shepherd of lost sheep, and receiving revelation to find out where they have descarried themselves to. The ward is very very mature, and sometimes it makes it seem a little like a piece of the US, in that the members are second generation and have a ton of knowledge of the gospel but aren´t applying it fully. That´s something that´s been a big theme as of late. We need to move past just having a testimony and try to be fully converted, members who will sacrifice what is necessary to achieve eternal life. 

Yep, I received the grad announcement and now as I read about Kolby going into the field I know I´ve missed a huge phase of maturing in his life. I remember that time, and I know Braden missed it for me, but I know that the changes I went through had to happen when I was ready to make them. Kolby will be an incredible missionary, he has the tools, he has a testimony, and he´s about to gain the knowledge.

I love you all and hope that this week we can focus on being just that little bit more converted that is missing to being true disciples of Christ!

Love, Elder Nelson

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Into the Fire

Dear Familia,                  

Okay, so now I can tell you the big news. It was a tragic week before changes in the MPLN. Due to a change in the agency that covers incoming and outgoing missionaries´ paperwork (visas and national residency) the area had to send 9 missionaries to other missions outside of Perú in an emergency change. The 7 elders and 2 sisters went to surrounding missions in Ecuador and Colombia the week before regular changes, the majority with only a few days of notice, even though we knew from the beginning of the month. These were friends, missionaries that already had time in the mission, leaders, and near-future leaders, and President Erickson was fighting it all the way to the last minute when they said there wasn´t a possibility of reversing the decision (there were around 75 missionaries total leaving from all of Perú, mostly because they don´t have visas to be here). The missionaries that left were Elder Rivera (from zona magnolias when I was there) Elder Carrera (Guatamalteco from the same city as Elder Oliva) Elder Artero (my companion, the other assistant), Elder Martinez (a friend from Zona Comas) Elder Sevilla, Elder Menjivar, Elder Valenzuela (a good friend from Comas, Collique) Hermana Cruz (a sister from Comas) Hermana Sauceda. 

This means that the mission will need a new assistant and within 1 change of being assistant I now need to train a new one.  I don´t have my new companion yet, and can´t reveal his name yet because of confidentiality.  It´s heartbreaking for them to have to leave, and then on top of it, the mission is left with very little leadership. We will have to trust a lot in missionaries that haven´t proven their ability to lead righteously, and really, we will spend the next few changes in fervent prayer for the good of the mission. Usually if there are projects to do it´s things that President needs typed up or edited for the next conference or for his next speaking opportunity. 

Well, sorry to cut it short, but I don´t have more time tonight. I might end up writing an expansion letter tomorrow, especially to answer about Kolby´s mission things that you sent that other email about. I love you all, and hope that things are going well for each of you. Wish Kolby success on his talk!


Elder Nelson

Here´s the expansion letter. The electric outlet converter isn´t always necessary, but I always use it on the things I don´t want to fry just in case. When I was in Collique, it was a really variable current, and in saying that, I mean the lights went out probably once every three weeks or so. Just becomes a part of life to have candles at the ready and a box of matches on the window sill. I´d recommend bringing one, just because I don´t want to experiment with a camera that I can´t replace haha.

Bring electric just because it´s reliable for the whole mission. I definitely prefer manual because it´s a cleaner shave. I am currently using my manual razor because I now have enough replacement blades to last me to the end of the mission, and I like the closer shave, but all of the mission before, I used my electric razor. There are disposable razors in literally every store (think of them like little gas station stores) but it´s an extra cost every month when you could be spending on more food or whatever else you need.

There are elders that use both contacts and glasses. Those who use contacts have a higher risk for corneal disease, though I haven’t seen it happen here. Most North Americans use glasses, and those that use contacts a lot of the time use daily disposable contacts, receiving a package every 6 months with 200 contacts and also have their backup glasses. Whatever works for you, but glasses definitely don´t worry me at all.

My companion is Elder Barrientos. He´s Chilean, from Santiago, has two transfers less than me and is really excited to get to work. President brought him in because he knows how to train other missionaries to be master teachers. The biggest focus in the mission right now is for the elders and sisters to teach well, to know the doctrine and present it in such a way that the people understand and gain a testimony.

Any other questions you can ask me any time before Wednesday. I´ll try to find time to answer them before the big check in day if I get a minute or two!


Elder Nelson

PS I sent a package with the elder that went to Guayaquil Norte with a llama tie and a tie pin of the Ecuador and Peru flags and a letter. It will wait there in the offices for him until he gets there. May be you could write him a letter his last week in the CCM to tell him about the mystery package that’s in the offices so he knows to ask?

His name is Elder Menjivar. He´s one of the centroamericanos that was sent to Ecuador. It´s a manila envelope with the things inside and Elder K Nelson and Elder C Nelson on the outside. I don´t know if they will keep it in the offices indefinitely or not, but they should know from the church system that he is on his way!