Friday, October 31, 2014

18 Wheelers and Goatheads

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                 

I just got the package from Vanessa yesterday, though with permission, I might open it before leaving the offices because changes are coming up and I may have to pack it into a suitcase. It might fit better once opened. I´ll wait for permission from you first though. I think I will call Vanessa this week to see about sending instructions and when she would be able to take it. I´m going into center of Lima today to buy a few things to put into it, so if there´s a charge on my card, then you´ll know why.  

I will likely go one, possibly two more times to the temple before leaving. I plan on trying to go sometime next week (before leaving the offices) and then maybe once more in January before finishing. I love going to the temple. Here, I have been able to put more emphasis on what´s said in the presentation because of the language, and being able to focus on the dialogue helps me to recognize some little things. I think of all the things that could happen in life, establishing a habit of going to the temple often is what stands out as the number one indicator of a strong church member.

I think that I actually prefer being in the field. Administering for the mission is good, and I can definitely feel that I have grown tremendously as a person since coming to the office. I know that I have tried to help a lot of missionaries and more than anyone President and Sister Erickson, but being in the field can´t be matched. I have been able to see that I am happiest out of the spotlight haha. If there is a mission assignment that is all of the analytics and the work visits and the responsibility of being an assistant without the trainings, I´m there. I feel a lot of the time like mom. I love learning and studying, and even the person to person interactions, but the actual training or the actual giving of the class "me es dificil". I know that God gives each of us weaknesses and talents and sometimes I feel like He wants me to develop some that I feel don´t come as naturally as to others. I will welcome the challenge of being back in the field and being able to work more seguidamente (subsequently) with investigators and members. That´s where I want to be, helping people to reach the spiritual progress that they need.

Congrats to David and Rylan. What´s Kenny think of the marriage? He must be ecstatic that they´ll probably stick around the Tri-Cities. Congrats as well to Josh and Tyler. The mission is the best thing that could ever happen to anyone, and I know that it comes to be a part of you. There´s things that I have learned here I will never forget and people I have taught here that I´ll never forget either.

I did a work visit with Elder D and Elder M this week, waaaaayy out in Los Angeles Zone. It was so great to spend some time with a couple of missionaries that I have known practically my whole mission and to go out and teach with power to a humble people. At one point, we stopped to buy some Gatorade knockoff at a tienda because it was actually a pretty hot day. We walked down the street talking about patriarchal blessings and the next lesson we were going to teach when from out of nowhere a glass bottle hit the street a couple of feet from Elder D´s foot. We kept walking but I could tell that a young man from the park had thrown it at us. We weren´t in any real danger, but it was a very real reminder that we are constantly in opposition. The gospel moves forward like a giant 18 wheeler, and the devil is doing his best to stop it. His problem is that the most he can put out there are a couple of goat heads before we pass him up and keep on down the highway. 

I love you all, I know that everyone is anxiously engaged in a good cause, but this week, try to think if all of the causes we engage ourselves in are as good as others. There´s a really great article about the science of happiness on the church website. Go and read it!


Elder Nelson

The other picture is of me and Elders C y W on a work visit in Canto Chico. That happened last week, but I wanted to send some photos :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bringing Them Home

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                             

First off yes I pulled S/. 100 out of my card and I may pull 50 to 100 more out this week in order to buy a few recuerdos (souvenirs)  before leaving the offices. I think I will coordinate with Inka Envíos (Vanessa) to send them home in a package before leaving. To do that, I may have to pull out an additional amount to pay the shipping. I´ll let you know when I send it so you can be expecting it. As for a Christmas package, I am absolutely fine haha not a thing I need for sure. If you still feel like you need to send me something you can send me a tie perhaps, in one of those bubble envelopes so it won´t cost anything. I was brainstorming with some of the office elders about what to bring down in that suitcase that we can give away. Winter does get kind of cold for people here, but I haven´t really seen many people use hats gloves or scarves unless they are the knit variety from llama wool they have, and to be honest those are probably better than we can bring. Then, Elder U had this great idea. He said that the majority of the people he knows only have maybe one white shirt to go to church in, or two ties max and they stay that way until they have been members a good two years. As well, the women usually don´t own skirts or dresses to wear to church. If we brought down a suitcase full of Sunday clothing to give away, I know it would get put to good use, and I also know that it would be a great subtle reminder for them to stay active in the church.

As for this week, we continued with the interviews and work visits, this time going to Independencia, Collique, San Felipe and Canto Grande zones. The week goes by super fast when we have mission activities going on, and even faster now that we do visits after the interviews. We usually get back to the offices around 9 or 9:30 now and have just enough time to figure out the agenda for the following day and then head home. One of the good things I have been able to do this week is head out into Tahuantinsuyo more often and try to drum up some member support for the sisters. I went out on Thursday night with Elder S because I decided not to do a visit to Collique that afternoon and we went to a couple of less actives houses that I know. Nobody was home, so we went to the Elders Quorum president´s house and asked if he could help us find someone to teach. He had actually just gotten home after work in the early morning when his dad told him one of the elderly members of the ward passed away in the hospital and they were going to have the viewing and the burial that day. So he went with his dad, and saw a lot of the members of the ward out to support the family of a really faithful member who had passed on. He had just gotten home and eaten dinner when we knocked on his door, and he was hitting maybe 24 hours of being awake still but he agreed to take us to a friend of the deceased who had actually been the one to invite him to church many years ago, now inactive. 

When we got to his house, he invited us in, mostly in virtue of that we had Hno E with us. We sat down and we started to talk about the plan of salvation and remind him that his friend Hno C (the member who had just passed away) was where all faithful members go to wait the second coming of Jesus Christ. We explained just that and invited him to come back to church the following Sunday, shared a glass of soda (very very typical) then left. I felt that we were supposed to have been there and shared exactly that during the lesson, that it was no surprise just after the passing of his friend whom he had invited to church, we should come to his door to invite him to church. We left and the days went by, I got the duty of staying with Elder Y, an elder who fractured his ankle playing soccer and now has to stay in the office while he recovers. Saturday night, after Pday, I asked Elder U to accompany me to one last appointment at 8:00pm to visit Hermano A. We got to his door and he welcomed us in, this time without Hno E. We came in and started to teach the plan of salvation from the beginning and were able to get to the atonement before I just couldn´t keep going with the lesson points. I looked at him and said "Hermano E, usted puede acercarse más a Dios solo por tomar el primer paso, yendo a Su Iglesia, este Domingo" he responded that he was in the proccess of that and that he eats breakfast at 8 on Sundays. I told him "Hermano E, Dios le está esperando con brazos abiertos, y no piensa que es demasiado tiempo que usted está tomando desayuno a las 8 en vez de la Santa Cena (sacrament)?" He looked at me with very changed and very sad eyes and whispered, "Hermano sé si me van a aceptar con tanto cariño si voy este domingo." Y en seguida nos compartió porque se había alejado de la iglesia. Estaba en la hospital hace años por una operación importante y había comunicado con varios miembros para que le donen sangre para la operación (no hay bancos de sangre donada aquí, simplemente tienen que pagar otros por donarla o traer amigos de su tipo de sangre) y cuando la hora de la operación vino, nadie estaba. El hermano tuvo que comprar sangre de otros ahí en la hospital y se sentía muy decepcionado con los miembros del barrio. Sentía que por ofenderse con los miembros no le iban a aceptar de vuelta después de sus años alejado. Le aseguramos con toda la certeza del espíritu que si le aceptarían y que aunque no, él va a la iglesia por su propia salvación y no por sus amistades, sean tan cálidos o no. Nos miró a los ojos y dijo "Hermanos, mañana voy a la iglesia...a las 8 de la mañana me parto por allá". 

(Brother E, you can get closer to God just to take the first step, going to his church this Sunday. He responded that he was  in the process of that and that he eats breakfast at 8 on Sundays. I told him "Brother E, God is waiting for you with open arms, and not think it's too long you are taking breakfast at 8 instead of the sacrament (sacrament)? "he looked at me with very sad eyes and very changed and whispered," brother Nelson ... do not know if they will accept me so fondly if I go on Sunday." And then he shared it was because  he was away from the church. He was in the hospital for years for a major operation and had contacted several members to donate her blood for surgery (no donated blood banks here, just have to pay others to donate or bring friends to your blood type) and when the time of the operation came, no one was there. His brother had to buy blood of others there in the hospital and was very disappointed with the ward members. I felt offended.  The members they would not accept him back after years away. We assure you with all the certainty of the mind that they will accept and if not, we go to church for our own salvation, not our friends, so they are hot or not. He looked into my eyes and said, "Brothers, tomorrow I go to church ... at 8 in the morning before I labor over there") (sorry, very rough translation from google translate)

We left the visit absolutely burning with the spirit after finishing out the lesson and I called the elders quorum president to make sure he knew the situation. Today they welcomed him with open arms and several members from before came and talked with him during the several meetings without having been asked to do so. Things are starting to happen here in Tahuantinsuyo, slowly but surely. The immense sadness is that I won´t be around to witness it unfold.

I love you all, I know that there has to be members of our ward that don´t go. Look them up, do whatever it takes and make a couple of visits to them this week. Seeing someone twice in one week makes a huge difference, and if a less active member sees two different friends from the ward during one week that both encourage them to come back, I´d be willing to say there´s a greater chance they come than that they don´t. 


Elder Nelson

Monday, October 13, 2014

Parable of the Sower

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                          

Well, about conference. The announcement went out and that was all the talk so that´s what I thought, that we wouldn’t be able to see it because the law is against congregating on that day. However, it isn´t congregating if the office elders get together to watch conference on a projector in president´s office, so we watched all 5 sessions in there in our office chairs. I loved it, and this weekend my goal was to watch it in English, but that didn´t work out too well today. I think maybe tomorrow I´ll watch them in English though.

This week we did a ton of work visits, trying to visit someone in each of the zones that had room revisions and interviews to try and see how they are doing in their area. This week it was Magnolias´ turn on Wednesday and I got to do a work visit to Buenos Aires. Wow. Things had changed but really not all that much. There are a few more paved roads than before, but the people are the same. It was an absolute joy to be able to visit them and see how they have progressed. The G family had been more or less active for the last couple of months so we visited them and we talked about the importance of going to church and being grateful for the blessings that they have received in the last year and a half of being members. They have progressed a lot both spiritually and temporally and they just needed a little push to remember to be grateful for the temporal blessings. The G family (S y C) have been married now for almost a year and their daughter L is already walking and babbling...she was born just before I left the area! They passed through some trials like S losing his job in the past year but C was grateful to have the perspective of the church and the eternal familia because she said before something like that would have been enough to separate for a couple of months. 

The bishop´s familia is doing great. I think I told you about Hermana V. Well she´s something like 65 but her dad was murdered in Cusco and they really don´t know what happened. She was in Cusco for the last three months or so taking care of her mom. She is an amazing woman. The whole family has moved forward. Bishop lost probably 20 kg and he and his wife are both in accounting school so that he doesn´t have to work as a taxista anymore. He has been a bishop for going on 9 years, but they just keep going at it. The L family is doing really well. They have been pensioning for the missionaries still and the youngest of the babies are now walking and talking.

I think one of the most impacting things that has happened in the last year and a half in Buenos Aires is seeing that the parable of the sower is being fulfilled. Sometimes we are those that plant, others we water, others we harvest, but what is important is that we are working. A lot of the people we had worked with in my time there that hadn´t accepted at the time have been baptized or are set to be baptized in the next month or so. Some of them were barely just a one time lesson that we didn´t continue teaching because we couldn´t find them again. Others were long time investigators that finally overcame their difficulties and were able to repent and be baptized. I absolutely loved seeing all of the progress. I know that there’s a time for everyone to receive the gospel, and sometimes it´s when I have been able to participate in the end product and other times no. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help them along even!

I love you all, congrats to Darci and Joe on their soon to be son (a nephew!!!) I hope you are all able to see the spiritual progress you are passing through and what the Maker is molding you into!


Elder Nelson

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Conference Highlights

Dear Familia,               
Well, I just finished watching the priesthood session of general conference. We have Pdays Saturday and well on Sunday there is literally nothing until 3 o clock, so I think we will actually watch conference here. If I wasn´t there with Dad in body I was definitely there in spirit. Conference was excellent. I can´t believe just how good and spot on these last conferences have been. I did what you suggested and came in with a couple of written questions and two of the three have been answered so far. Hopefully tomorrow I´ll be able to know what the answer to the third is and be able to recognize it more than anything.

Today, I especially enjoyed Elder Lynn G. Robbins talk about focus and not pleasing man but pleasing God and Elder Jörg Klebingat´s talk about achieving self-surety through the atonement. I can´t really not mention Elder Holland´s talk or Elder Perry´s talk...or the entire priesthood session. Ha I guess it all just rang really true to me and being able to watch it was a really pleasant surprise. (In Peru, this weekend was elections.  This meant that congregating for any purpose, even church, was illegal.  So they watched in the offices or in members homes when they had internet. Next weekend, the congregations will gather and watch at their buildings.)

First about Elder Robbins talk. Wow, it was like he had been listening to President Erickson for the last month and a half or something. President has had this HUGE focus on making sure we are direct when inviting investigators and not fearing but just completely losing that fear of man so that we can focus on being the best missionaries. Something else that was common between Pte Erickson and Elder Robbins theme is that Pte has said basically the whole mission that we cannot short sell or offer discounts on the price of salvation. There´s really only one way in and that´s through faith, repentance, baptism, following the holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Elder Robbins said something similar to (translating) lowering the standards or the doctrine to the level of personal conduct leads to the self satisfaction, but not to growth or spiritual progress nor repentance. I thought that was so important. We cannot become satisfied in the gospel, once we feel we are comfortable in the church it means we have stopped feeling the spirit because the spirit always urges us onward. 

Elder Klebingat´s talk came off as a little bit of a "quemada" like a lecture in Spanish, but I could really rescue that he detailed a self evaluation on how to attain success. It was supercomprehensive and something that honestly you could print off and use as an abbreviated life plan. It echoes a lot of personal philosophy and will help me continue to develop Christlike attributes here in the mission and afterwards. I felt a little like he might have been quoting something like 6 habits of highly effective people but I know that what he said was so applicable and true, I just have to do it (I have somewhat lost a good focus on the physical health what with the package and all haha).

All in all I just came away from conference (during which I never slept not once) excited. I can´t wait til next weekend when I think we will watch them again but in English so I can go from getting doctrinal principles to connecting them with the absolutely genius linguistics of the general authorities. That´s something that I miss and I know my English has died a little bit while here. I figure there´s time enough to figure that out later, and that it´s better right now to focus on being able to communicate the gospel clearly and with power that´s only possible through excellent language skills. I still learn more about Spanish every single day. I learn new words and correct my grammar a little bit more.

I love general conference because it gets me excited to participate in the whole gospel. In some ways, as a missionary, we participate in a very large part of it, which is the obra misional. I mean if we think about that in Peru it also means the Sunday school program ( a lot of times we are the teachers for classes) and also serving in ward councils and helping form the church. However, those that are living in their own ward or in their own branch have a very often overlooked responsibility to live the whole gospel. When I say that I mean to magnify their callings, establish good spiritually edifying habits that aren´t mandated by a schedule, make meaningful visits to assigned families for home or visiting teaching, and all the other wonderful parts of being a full-time member of the church includes. Being on a mission has taught me soooo much about the actual value of those things, especially as pertains to how important it is for the Aaronic priesthood holders to participate as much as Dad helped me. I remember that he was faithful to a T about visiting every single month, and that it was never an option to go to the priesthood sessions of conference. Being here, I realize that even if I wasn´t the type to resist very much those things, that´s because I saw that Dad just did it. He never really stopped to question if he had time or if there were other things to do, he would just go and do it because that´s what a priesthood holder does. I am so grateful for your example.

I have been hugely impressed in this conference with the tidbits of advice, one after another that show me how very blessed I am for living and having lived in the circumstances that I did and do. In short (because it´s late) I love my family because it´s the best and I empathize with those who haven´t had the awe-inducing familiar experience I have been blessed with.

I love you guys so much and I know that the rest of conference will be written just for the needs of each of you. Listen up and don´t doze off because you´ll miss something important for sure. I think the temptation to sleep comes right when we are supposed to pay the most attention!


Elder Nelson