Monday, November 24, 2014

Family: That's what it's all about!

With my companion, Elder N

Zona San Felipe

With Elder P

Centro de Lima

Before and after "sweeping" the shoes
Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                                    
So this time, I was a good American and remembered about Thanksgiving the day of the holiday! Sad to say, but the 4th of July passed me by these last couple of years and I remembered halfway through the day. I was thankful to be here. Sometimes members mention (I hope exaggerating) some of the strange and worrisome changes that are happening in the states, and it makes me grateful to have that anchor, to be able to look to the gospel plan and know that all of the other "afanes" en esta vida are temporary, passing, and that they won´t affect the big picture if we are faithful to the covenants we have made.

I don´t think I can accurately describe the levels of poverty that I´ve seen here, but yes, that´s the well off part of my area in the pictures. Some of the people we teach hardly have what you could call a house, but they are willing to set aside a part of their day to listen to us. We are so incredibly grateful for them. Our apartment by comparison is middle of the road in terms of the people that go to church with us. The owner wanted to charge us more for the hot water heater we have and so we disconnected it...summer is coming (we hope). Just one more motivation to do exercises in the mornings. haha. Our apartment is large, but like you said, unfinished. It´s very normal not to have more than just a concrete floor. If it´s your own house, you might save up and put in tile, but if you are just renting it out, no. The last assistant to finish out in the field actually came here to finish, and he ended up buying an electric pan like the one you use for chicken patties, so we use that to cook just about everything.

Before I forget, thank Grandma A for the birthday card, they are so great and I´m glad they are in good spirits!

I haven´t received a Christmas package yet, but that doesn´t mean that it isn´t in the offices right now waiting for delivery. I sent a package the day of changes, November 4th. I sent it with the contact that you sent to me, I think his name is Pedro? Yeah, I paid the shipping and everything, so it shouldn´t require any extra charges. Go ahead and ask Vanessa if she sent it on after getting to SLC.

This week we kept going with Hermano L and Hermana R. I don´t know if I´ve told you about them. Elder N found them with his other companion and they have a big family that lives nearby. They are a young couple and all of L´s family lives close, all young families. R and L listen really well to all the things we teach them and have been slowly getting ready to get married in December. They are fun and different and have two little daughters, F and M (10 and 3).

This week we taught them all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and we started working on helping them to recognize the spirit. One of the things that has been most emphasized recently is that the investigators should be truly ready for their baptisms, not just have a more or less desire, but to understand the doctrine and be willing to take that step to follow Christ not for the next 3 months, not until I lose my job, not until there is some sort of crisis, but until the end of my life. We have been preparing them for that kind of covenant, and they are gaining a little bit of an understanding. They aren´t 100% ready yet, but they say that they want to continue listening, and they came to church again yesterday without us passing by to pick them up, so I´d say they are taking a liking. We are so excited and happy to have a family coming to the branch and to prepare them for this decision! I think if more missionaries knew what it was like to prepare an entire family, there would be a lot more families joining the church.

I love you all, I know that the family is the center of this plan and that if we dedicate the time to make our family celestial here on earth, then eventually we´ll get to the other side of the vale in family again. Have a great week, and look for ways to strengthen the family!


Elder Nelson

Monday, November 17, 2014

Strengthening the branch...

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                    

I´ll start with the urgent things first, many of the missionaries who went home while I was in the offices had their parents pick them up. That´s absolutely fine with President and Sister Erickson. The email you are using is the office elders´ email I think (I never memorized the number) but they should be able to help you. The pick up would be on Monday evening or Tuesday morning and you can come to the offices from the airport to pick me up. From there, President basically tells the missionaries that they are free to go, but not to break any commandments on the way home. I would need you to bring a couple of pairs of cargo shorts if you could fit them in. The only shorts I have are basketball shorts haha. You will need to coordinate with the personal secretary, about the return flight. Would it be possible to stay in Lima 2 days and 1 night? I promise I can entertain you the whole time!

Now for the questions, I think Elder N has something like 17 months in the mission, so we both have a lot of experience between the two of us. The challenge is not letting our knowledge get in the way of revelation. I know that that is one of the things I am working on a lot lately, trying to feel for specific revelation that will help the branch grow. Trapiche is a branch, we are missing 5 Melchezidek priesthood holders to be able to become a ward, and the four elders here are working super hard to be able to make that happen by the end of the year. That´s either baptized or activated so we are working hard on both sides of the court. We attend a church building about 10 minutes away by combi/bus and then 5 to 10 minutes walking. I have been blessed to live close to the church all my mission and now it´s my turn to pay to go to church! The branch is going through some transformative steps to revitalize the member work, but we do have some good support in the form of regular members who band together to help each other.

This week a family of recent converts, familia L was evicted illegally from their adobe house. It´s really tiny, but there´s a land dispute between her formal in-laws and the mom. She has two early teenage kids and you can tell that they don´t eat enough in the first place, and on top of it all, the president of the housing association sends robbers in the night to throw rocks at their house and steal the water pipes that extrude from the wall. They got to the end of their rope and now the sister doesn't even want to leave the house because that would leave it open to the robbers. The branch president got together a huge group of the members and they all went to help her move, but then the new apartment owner said no....after she had moved all of her belongings in and at 8 o clock at night. Now they are back in the house, the branch president is trying to find legal support and also is sending members with carpentry skills to go secure her house so she can come to church. That´s how a ward council works.  It´s incredible to see the members sticking up for one another just months after the family has started to come to church.

We cook for ourselves, but that Costco style store is in our area now, so we can go out there to get bulk foods every Pday. We have an electric skillet, an electric kettle and the fridge, so this last week I bought chicken nuggets and a big bag of frozen peas and carrots.  That topped with the fact that we get up every morning at 6 to go play basketball with some youth and the other elders and I think that I might be able to get pretty fit here in Trapiche.

Elder N´s family is super supportive. He has been a member practically since he was 5 though he went through an active but mentally and spiritually turned off phase, and now he´s really really awesome. There´s 10 sisters and 8 elders in the zone. The elders are the three district leaders and their companions and then me and my companion. Therefore, there’s a lot of diplomacy going on. I am working hard to unify the zone with Elder N.

I love you all, I am working hard and more focused than ever, I love the work, I love the branch and I know we have more than just a few people praying for us!


Elder Nelson

Office Missionaries

San Felipe Stake

The "Rich" area of San Felipe

Happy 21st Birthday!

My Companion, Elder N

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hitting the dirt...

Hola Familia,                                                                                                                                         

Yeah, so I think I may have all of 30 minutes to write today. President gave me my change on Sunday afternoon and since then I have been super busy. I am in Trapiche Branch, in the San Felipe Stake as a zone leader. Elder N is my companion, he´s 19 years old I think, and he´s from Piura, Peru. Ummm, yeah basically that´s all I can think of to tell you about him haha. We get a long really well, and I´m glad that the zona doesn´t seem to look at me as the big scary asistente. This week has been a ton of fun, getting to know the area, and the zona, trainings, and just jumping in headfirst with the work.

We met a 27 year old man named J this week and started teaching him. He is a member’s nephew and lives in the same house. He has had such a dark difficult past, but he says that he has tried a lot of times to pull himself out of it. He battles with depression and at the same time, he has been unemployed for a few weeks. We started our first lesson with him talking about the plan of salvation and especially what our purpose is in life, and why we have trials. He is really quiet and really thoughtful. He listens to us teach, and when we ask a question he ponders it and then responds after 10 or 20 seconds of silence. It´s such a spiritual experience to teach him. Well, we challenged him to be baptized in the first lesson and he accepted for the 29th of this month, then we invited him to church and said that maybe this is the time when he really will change. This Sunday, we passed by a couple of investigators houses before church and while we were walking about an hour before the first meeting (2 pm sacrament meeting) he passed in the street with a couple of soccer clothes. We reminded him about the church and that we would pass by his house, but he wasn´t there when we got there. We passed him again in the street after the church meetings and he just kind of hung his head while we passed. He wants to do better, but he feels a lot of pressure to fit in with his friends and he doesn´t have a good connection with the branch members yet. We´ll be working with him a lot this week.

There are so many experiences I can´t even begin to tell them all, but that´s why I have thrown a little bit more effort into writing in my journal, I was able to write at least once this week, and it felt great. I´ll be writing more this next week so that I can remember all of these experiences. The branch is out on a corner of the mission and goes out to a river that’s called Rio Chiyán. I haven´t seen it yet, but my area definitely has a small town feel. We run into our investigators and the members practically every day in the street, and it seems like everyone knows everyone. The streets are all dirt and so we get back to the room with white shoes from all of the dust. Also...there´s got to be more dogs than people out here haha.

Well, I´ve gotta go, but I love you all, I hope it´s been a great week, and I´ll try to write more next week. Anybody I didn´t respond to know that I´ll try next week, but no guarantees!


Elder Nelson

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Love the Temple!

Hola Familia,                                                                                                                           

Elder Y has a really awesome camera, so we typically take pictures with his, and since they are such awesome pictures, they would take absolutely forever to load, so that´s why I don´t send many. I did play in the second biannual world cup of the MPLN but I played defense, so maybe I didn´t get a ton of action shots. No worries, still the "Boot it" kind of defensive player, just like Coach Boring always told us to do. Also, I find that when I play a lot, my foot hurts, and that would affect my ability to go out and teach, so I prefer to enjoy the defensive line and try not to get too tangled in the game.

I know Kolby will do great training. He has such a good focus on being able to help families and dedicating all of his time to the work that I can´t imagine that he would have difficulties outside of what´s normal. He is a missionary full of power because of the way he chooses to live and I couldn´t be more proud. We could actually use a few more missionaries like him in Lima, I wouldn´t mind anyway!

Halloween in Perú is a mixed holiday. On one part, you have a couple of the Christian denominations handing out leaflets in the streets and putting up posters that say how it´s a pagan holiday centered on devil worship and that those who participate end up terrorizing their children to a psychologically damaging point. On the other there´s the church that has a Halloween dance and the general population that goes passing by the business sector to do a trick or treat type thing. There were definitely a lot more costumes this year, and a lot of assimilated costumes as well: headbands with the knife on either side or cat ears, a witches hat, or a little face paint. Most of the full costumes were for the little kids, but as well there were some adults roaming the street. A lot of drinking happened, like any major holiday, and this morning when we went to do the move-in for the areas that are opening this change we lost one of the truck drivers because he had spent the night drinking. We went down to the area where a fleet of them hang out waiting for work and got a different one in no time though.

This week I got to go to the temple! Yesterday after a very busy week, Elder U, Elder Y, Elder M and I got to go to the temple. I think President let us go because three of the four of us aren´t going to be in the offices anymore and likely this will be the last chance to go before the temple gets even busier leading up to Christmas. We got up early and headed out on the Metropolitano, arriving at the station closest to the temple around 8:45. After, we hopped on another bus that took us to the same block as the temple by around 9:20 (morning traffic). One of the wards close to the offices had a ward temple trip, so one of the members treated us to breakfast in the temple cafeteria, then we headed into the session. I had prayed before to know some things and just really felt that I was answered immediately. I noticed this time several phrases in the presentation that lead me to exactly what will be my teaching focus for the last few months of my mission. I felt answered, and loved and a huge desire to go back and soon, but that won´t be as possible as I would hope. 

As for the rest of the week, we had the mission council and started to get ready for changes. I know a little, but honestly not much at all about what will happen, but I am ready for the challenge and especially for the other rhythm. I know that using my faith to confront the unknown will strengthen my character, and I am ready to work more closely with Peruvians, and not just missionaries. I am happy and willing to accept whatever assignment President Erickson sends my way, I just want to know what it is!

I love you all, I am sending a package home with Inka Envíos on Monday. They said the price went up to $7 a pound due to demand, but I am talking to them on Monday to see if paying for it here or there is cheaper. Either way, I pulled out 150 nuevos soles today to cover the cost of sending it if I end up paying here. It should get there in time for Thanksgiving. When it gets there, you can open it, but I haven´t exactly figured out what is for whom. If you keep it shut, I think I may use them as late Christmas gifts haha.


Elder Nelson

Lima Peru Temple
Lima Peru Temple

Spanish Inquisition Museum