Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Mexico

Hola Familia!

It was soo good to talk to all of you, I loved hearing all of your voices. I felt a little bad that there wasn’t enough time to talk to each of you individually, but I had my picture of the family and I was thinking about all of you. Talking to all of you made me think about all the things we do together as a family for Christmas, and it made me realize how much I love all of you. I really missed hearing the Polar Express, but there will be plenty of time for that when I get back. Thank you sooo much for the Christmas package, I loved everything in it. Music will be nice, it really does help bring the Spirit, I listened to Donny Osmond’s Christmas music and it reminded me of home. I listened to Go Climb that Mountain too and it made me think of Mom. This week was a little hard just because of all the Christmas things I was thinking about, and all of the things we do on Christmas involve my family, and that’s really the only thing that I miss. A special thanks to Melissa for the muddybuddies.

Mom asked me what I like in care packages, and the truth is my favorite candies are tootsie rolls, chocolate covered raisins and star bursts, and muddybuddies. In relation to the pants that I said I needed, I want non pleated, pleated are hard to iron everyday...also there’s no rush because the truth is I have everything I need for now. At about the year mark it would be nice to have a few new shirts and garments because the one’s I have are already starting to be not so white. The truth is the best thing that you can send me are letters. I don’t know if I haven’t been getting them because of pouch or what, but Cameron you asked me to tell you if you missed a week and I haven’t gotten a letter from you for a while. I prefer that you (my immediate family) use email so that I can respond quickly, and so I know more or less when you wrote them.

Ok, to answer the questions this week, no I don’t carry PMG with me everyday, my bag isn’t big enough and we only carry the things that are essential to proselyting. I carry my triple and bible in Spanish, but most days I just carry my triple. I also carry pamphlets on the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and some of the commandments. I also carry my hymn book and a flashlight. Sometimes I take notes for my emails, but I don’t really use the little notebook, I should though, I think I’m going to start carrying it in a bag so that when something happens that I want to write about I can write it down.

Speaking of things that I want to write about I thought you would like to hear about how Christmas is in Mexico. For Christmas Eve, I ate Mole Rojo, I took a picture. It is really not good, but there isn’t really a choice so I ate it. There is a lot of drinking around Christmas, and a lot of drunk people in the streets. It is really sad, Christmas is the time when people should be with their families enjoying their company, but so many people get so wasted that they can’t find their way home for days, and don’t spend any time with their families at all. But on the upside, there are Christmas lights, not so many Christmas trees and Christmas music. I saw my first Mexican Santa in the plaza in San Juan the other day, it was kind of weird for me. On Christmas Day (it didn’t really feel like Christmas because I was wearing short sleeves) we had a Zone Activity where we went to a Retirement Home to sing and give gifts and visit with them. It was sooo cool, but soo sad at the same time. There were about 25 residents and all of them were so lonely. Some of them started crying when we started singing, and it wasn’t because we were singing well. Their families just kind of left them there and don’t visit them. Their teeth are decaying and their nailed are crusty with infection. They just can’t take care of themselves anymore and there isn’t really anyone there to take care of them. We sang Christmas hymns and them visited with them. I felt the Spirit really strongly, they are sons and daughters of God too. He loves them just as much as he loves us. Some of them have been there for 20 years. I felt sad, but at the same time happy that we could give them a gift on Christmas day.

As I was saying of the phone, we do not realize how blessed we are. We have a family that loves each other, we have our relative health, we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have carpet, and heating, and an oven. I never realized how materially blessed we are in the US, but it is incredible. I can’t describe how blessed we are after some of the things I have seen. We don’t have to worry about our kids playing outside, we don’t have to worry about our house getting robbed or our husbands being held ransom. We have been given sooooooo much.

Another thing I wanted to write about will make Mom smile I think. On Sunday we were walking down the deserted street when out of nowhere Simon and Garfunkel started playing, the Sound of Silence. (Note from Peggy: How ironic...when Braden first called us on Christmas Eve we were cut off mid-sentence and all we heard was the sound of silence! That was the end of the phone call. We were blessed when he surprised us on Christmas day and called back to finish the call!) It was awesome, it was coming from the bell tower of a cathedral, and it made me think of Mom. I love Simon and Garfunkel. It also made me think of Casey.

Mom, sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I am sure you will love your new calling. Maybe this will make the time that I am gone pass more quickly for you.

I am so glad I got to hear Grandma’s voice. Grandma you have to keep doing all the things you are supposed to, I want to see you again when I get back. I don’t know if you can, or if you already do, but go to the temple every week. You will find answers and comfort there. It will make life easier.

Darci, Mom told me a little bit about your job success, I want to hear more because I was praying for that like you asked. I love you so much. Congrats on graduating, keep doing what your doing because you are obviously doing things right.

Dad, thanks for your email. I love you, thanks you your example. Children learn from their parents and the reason your kids are doing the right things is because they saw you do them first.

Melissa, I love you too. I loved hearing your voice, sorry I didn’t get to talk to you very much, but there will be more time later.

Kolby don’t waste all of your Christmas vacation on the computer. Practice your piano, read your scriptures, say your prayers, and do something nice for Melissa this week. Computers and friends will still be there after the break, enjoy the time you have with the family because it is short.

Cameron keep choosing the right. Be like Captain Moroni, bold and daring in keeping all the commandments because of an intense love of Christ. You are an awesome kid, just keep going.

Well, I love you all, I hope you had a merry Christmas because you deserve it.

Love,
Elder Nelson

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simba and Mufasa

Querido Familia,

Well, it´s almost Christmas here and I´m still wearing short sleeves. It is usually 70 or 80 during the day here, but in the nights and in the mornings it is pretty cold. I sleep with a pair of shorts, my long pajama bottoms, socks, two shirts and my sweater. I use 4 blankets, it gets cold because here in Mexico we don´t have heating or cooling, and the heater that we have doesn´t work very well. But we make do. To answer Cameron and Kolby´s question, I am the same weight as when I left the MTC, 145 pounds, but I am getting fatter because we don´t really have time to exercise, my gut is growing instead of my muscles. Not that I´m obese, just not as defined. My bronchitis is doing well, I´m taking my pills and I feel normal again. I knew when we had to go get it checked out when Elder Llanos got tired of not being able to sleep because I was coughing all night, also my mucus was yellow and I just didn´t feel good. Yes there are farmacies here where I can get cough drops, but I don´t buy them...the cough syrup here is 96 pesos, I know that´s not a lot in the U.S., but that is a ton here.

Ok, here is the important part, I am going to call Friday, at 7 o clock here...I don´t know what time that is there. I am soooooooo excited to call. We got an announcement today that said we could use skype, but it´s too late to try to coordinate so I will just call on the telephone instead. (Note from Peggy: ARGHH!)
I can´t wait to hear your voices. I am at the point where I can deal with not being with you, but the thought of hearing your voice is just way awesome. I will use the card.

Elder Llanos was an awesome trainer, I have heard some stories about other missionaries and their trainers that make me really grateful for Elder Llanos. My new companion is Elder Garcia Capella, he is from Tijuana. I am not training yet, Elder Garcia is the new district leader here in Teotihuacan. The truth is I really didn´t get along with him very well the first couple of days because he likes to leave large chunks of time open ¨for God to fill¨¨. I like to always have plan, but he is teaching me a lot about learning to trust the Spirit and not our own plans. I still don´t agree with him on a lot of things, but I am learning. Our styles of working are very different and it was really hard. But I am working on my humility, he was assigned by Presidente, who was inspired by God, to be my companion. I still have a lot of things to learn, I only have 5 months in the mission, and only 2 in the field, and I think part of the reason why it is hard is because I miss Elder Llanos. But Elder Garcia is a good elder, and we are going to work hard, I am going to love him and we are going to baptize. He talks really fast, and mumbles a lot so I have a hard time understanding him, but I think this is going to help me because if I can understand him I can understand anyone. I saw Jase at Transfers, he looked a little tired, I think his trainer isn´t helping much. I have never eaten cow blood, nor have I been sick from food.

This week, tomorrow actually I get to go to the temple!!!!!! I´m a little nervous because it is going to be in Spanish, but I´m not that nervous. I love the temple sooo much. I miss it, in the MTC we went 20 times, but here the work is for the living. The temple is probably my favorite place on earth besides my home. Cameron, Kolby, Melissa, you want to go there, you want to experience all the blessings available. Prepare yourselves to go there, don´t let anything or anyone get in the way. It is a little piece of eternity.

I got your package!! The first one you sent. Elder Hall told me that packages only take 2 or 3 weeks to get here, but the secretaries take forever to send them out to us the the field. Thank you so much for the razor heads, I have been shaving with just one for 3 months and it is way nice to have them. Thank you so much for the fruit snacks, they were delicious and the candy corns too. They made me think of all those times we went to the corn maze as a family, and all those Halloweens in Richland. I think I will probably get the Christmas package you sent tomorrow, but if not don´t worry. It is still kind of surreal for me that I am actually in Mexico, that I am actually serving my mission. It doesn´t really seem real, like I might go home tomorrow and see all of you in a house that has hot water, and with food that isn´t way spicy. But something I do every night is look up at the stars. The stars and beyond has always been something that captured my imagination, the cosmos and all the secrets that it holds. How deep and profound the works of God are, and how I yearn to know every detail of the creation and the secrets of the universe one day. But there is a principle in that. You and I look up at the same night sky every night, you and I are connected by that. God in the heavens is our connection, and I am serving that God. When I am tired, or depressed, or I miss you guys, I look up at the sky and wonder what you are doing, and that you are probably looking up at the same night sky. Kind of like Mufasa and Simba from the Lion King. I love you all so much. That is something I never realized before my mission, how much I love you. But that is one of the many blessings that I am experiencing. I didn´t appreciate all of you enough before my mission, and that is one of the many things I am going to change when I get home. Cameron I have told you this before, but I wasn´t always the best brother, I didn´t treat you the way I should have...but I realize now that I love you, and we are going to hang out when I get home...but there are a lot of things that you and I have to do before that happens. Dad, I don´t think I asked your advice on enough things. Most of these things, in relation to Cameron and Dad were because I was a pretty prideful person, I didn´t need advice or brothers, but now I realize how prideful I was and how many things I missed out on as a result of it. I realize that family is the most important thing, there is nothing more important to me than living, and helping all of you live in such a way that we never have to be separated. Although we are separated now, we won´t be in the eternities, that is an awesome awesome thought.

My mom and dad on the trek were the Amparans, Jeff Perry and I pulled that stinking cart the whole trek, until it was flat and on asphalt, then the others decided that they wanted to help. (Note: this story has been told MANY times)

The work here is still a little hard. I am adjusting to my companion, and we are trying to get back to where we were before Elder Llanos left. I had to spend a week outside my area, and that is really rough for investigators. But the good news is that a family of 5 that we have been teaching showed up to church Sunday!! I have faith that if we work hard and give every effort, we will be rewarded with success.

Grandma Andy I got your letter, and I loved it. Thank you for your encouragement and love. I love you and Grandpa. I know that we didn´t get to see or visit each other as much as we would have like when I was growing up, but I love you both. I always loved going to visit you two. I pray for you two, and Uncle Dave and Uncle Doug also.

Well, It´s time to go again, but I love you all sooooo much. I pray for you everyday. I loved the picture of Cameron and Harrison, it reminded me of the good old days in Richland, sleep overs on the trampoline and man parties...which were always better than parties with girls. I got Sis. Ostlers letter and I am sending my letter to Jackson, and I sending one to Casey also, but who knows when it will get there because pouch is kind of unreliable. I love you all, read your scriptures every day, as a family and personally, say your prayers every day, as a family and personally. It is a commandment 3 Nephi 27:19 (I think, I don´t have my scriptures right now), and if we want to be a forever family we have to follow all the commandments. Talk to you Friday, give Chika a belly rub please.

Elder Nelson

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hello Family!

A lot of things have happened this week, and I don´t have very much time to write this week because the lady that cut our hair took forever. Big news of the week, Elder Llanos left for Peru. I have bronchitis, and we went to see the doctor on Wednesday at the MTC at the Mexico City Temple, (he gave me a presciption and everything is fine...don´t worry mom I feel fine and am taking my pills) On the way back, Presidente called us, and said "Elder Llanos I have a surprise for you...you are going to spend the Christmas with your family, you will leave Saturday." We were kind of shell shocked. We spent Thursday doing all the things we needed to do before Elder Llanos left, and Friday I dropped him off at the Temple for his last day with Presidente. It all happened way fast. Transfers aren´t until tomorrow, so I have been staying with my Zone Leaders in Venta de Carpio since Friday waiting for transfers. I feel really weird without Elder Llanos, but he taught me everything I need to know, and I always knew that he would leave eventually.

Really quickly, the debit card entries were because they didn´t give us enough money last month and so we had to use money from home, Elder Llanos doesn´t have money from home, so we used mine. The good news is that they are going to reimburse me all the money I used, and they gave us more money this month. I forgot to tell you but Elder Warr is the new Secretary of finances, it helps to have friends in the offices. I don't need a sweater because I bought one, and Elder Llanos gave me his old one.

For Christmas I will be in Teotihuacan, I can use my calling card, and we don´t have a specific time that we have to call you guys, so it can be whenever works best for you. I can call to verify that you are there and ready for my call for a minute or two if it helps. Elder Guzman is from Monterrey Mexico, Elder Hall is from South Jordan Utah. They are really good, and I have loved learning and working with them this week.

This week the unusual food was carnitas. It is pork, but it is every single part of the pig, the ears, the eyes, everything. It is pretty good if you put lime and salsa on it, and usually you eat it in a tortilla.

I loved the pictures of Darci and Joe, and I´m glad that they are still having fun. Tell Darci not to worry, finals will take care of themselves, and if God wants her to get that job, she will get it it. If not then He has other plans for her. That is one thing I have learned here in the mission, God has plans for us, we just have to be patient and righteous and all will work out.

Melissa, thank you for your letter, I miss you a lot too. I see little Mexican girls in the street and they remind me of you. One thing I pray for everyday is that you will develop a testimony of Jesus Christ. I want you to be a beautiful person, and the rest will take care of itself. I love you so much Melissa, read the Book of Mormon everyday, don´t miss a day. It is the best book ever written, and has much more importance than any of us realize.

No, I have not gotten mugged yet, but they say that going to Mexico City and not getting robbed is like going to Thanksgiving and not eating Turkey...and I will be sure to tell you when it happens.

I don´t care when my Christmas package gets here mom. It´s the thought that counts and it doesn´t really feel like Christmas here anyways. I think I´m going to get the first package that you sent tomorrow, Elder Warr told me that it is in the offices. I love you so much, thank you for everything you do, you are an incredible mother. Dad thanks for your letter,

Love,

Elder Nelson

Monday, December 6, 2010

3 John 1:4

Hello Family!

This week went by sooo fast. There were a lot of things that happened. But first I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I get to call home the 24th or 25th of this month, either day at whatever time works best for you and me. I only get 45 minutes, that is the bad news. The way it works is I am going to give you the number of the chapel where we will call from and then you will need to call me so that the Church doesn’t have to pay for the call. Or, actually, I don’t know if my phone card will work, but I will check on it and let you know. I am soooo excited for that phone call, but I think Mom knows how I feel. I feel like I have been gone forever, but at the same time it feels like I just got out of the Acadia with my bags, turned, said good bye (not really knowing what good bye meant) and walked up the sidewalk into the MTC. Time works out really weirdly here. On the 11th (Saturday) I complete 5 months in the mission. That’s a long time, it doesn’t seem like I’ve been gone for that long...it’s almost a quarter of my mission. Weird.

Ok, the picture did not take up too much room, and I enjoyed the picture. It seems like Chika would be the one who doesn’t need warmth because she has so much insulation. I like pictures, the only pictures I have of you guys are the one we took at the hospital with Grandpa. No I have not gotten the package yet, but we will receive pouch within a week or two and I am almost positive that I will get it then.

For baptisms, we have them in the RS room just like the U.S., except that in this chapel the RS room only holds about 20 people, or 30 max. But the room is usually full. The ward is pretty good about supporting new members if we have used members during the conversion process. But if not, then we struggle sometimes. The Ward here is good, but the people are just so busy with work and life that it’s hard to get the members involved sometimes. For FHE, well...we don’t have it. We work on Mondays from 6 till 9, unless we have an FHE with an investigator or recent convert.

Speaking of recent converts the Familia Martinez Avila is doing really well. Jose Luis blessed the Sacrament for the first time Sunday, and they are all doing well. They are all reading the scriptures, the Book of Mormon, as a family and individually and they are saying their family prayers. They are the definition of someone who ¨´knew not the truth only because they knew not where to find it.¨´ I have seen such an incredible change in their lives, the Spirit is in their home. Their family is closer and they are much happier. They are pretty poor, their business (aztec/teotihucano art/gift) store isn´t dong that well, but they are working hard and putting their trust in God. Their daughter in the wheelchair is named Ana Karen. She is a twin, but the twin died at birth and Ana Karen suffered severe brain damage. She can´t talk, or move on her own. She can make sounds, and she has certain sounds she makes when she is content,angry...etc. Something really interesting is that each time we came to teach a lesson to them she would make her content and happy sounds, a lot. She knew we were sent from God to heal and help her family.

In relation to playing, we get to do that too. On Mondays only of course. Two weeks ago we had a zone activity where we went to a Fun Center. Basically Triple Play, bowling (I got the highest score in the zone with a 93, kinda lame, but there were a lot of people who had never bowled before in their lives! I guess it’s not very common in Mexico), mini golf...but there was an ice skating rink. I ice skated in Mexico!! I have pictures that I will send. I think I can send my SD card through pouch, but I need to put all of my pictures on my flash drive first, then the SD card will take a really long time to get to you guys, but that´s just how things work here. Also today we went and played soccer in Ojo de Agua with the zone. It is kind of weird for me, because usually I am pretty decent in sports, but I am not very good at soccer. We play on basketball size courts at the churches that are concrete...so it´s like futsal without the walls. I´m getting better and I am starting to like playing portero (goalie). Elder Llanos and I slept at the Zone leaders apartment because it is 2 hours of travel and we had to be there at 9 in the morning. I love my zone leaders, Elder Guzman and Elder Hall. They are really good missionaries. We have fun here in the mission, but the number one priority is the work. If anything distracts us from the work then it is not worthy of our time or attention. I only have 2 years to give, I need to give 2 years, not 2 years with the exception of Mondays or Tuesdays.

Elder Llanos has a supportive family that is very excited to have him back in Peru. The only bad part is that they keep telling him how excited they are to have him home, and he just wants to work until the end. It is kind of a distraction. Before his mission he was in the Navy in Peru, but because of health reasons he had to quit. He studied Banking Administration before his mission, and will return to his studies and his job in a bank.

Mom and Dad, I have a scripture that I found for you this week. 3 John 1:4. I love this scripture and I think it applies to you 2 really well. The truth is this week has been really hard, we haven´t baptised for 2 weeks, and all of our numbers were bad. We had to drop 6 investigators because they weren´t completing their homework. It´s really hard to drop people when you come to love them. But one thing I know is that I am not called to fail. You did not raise me that way, and that is not how I live my life. I want to become the best missionary in the mission. I want to be successful. I will be successful. Thank you for raising me to be successful.

Grandma Nelson I love you too. Thank you for your email. I pray for you everyday and I know that Grandpa is proud of you. He is waiting for you, but he wants you to be 100 percent faithful to the end so you can join him in the Celestial kingdom.

I love you all, thanks so much for your support, I pray for you, each of you individually everyday.

Love,

Elder Nelson

Monday, November 29, 2010

People that God prepares can´t be Denied the Gospel

Hola Familia!

Well, it´s p day again! This past week was Thanksgiving, and it was such a big deal here in Mexico that I forgot about it. No turkey, no potatoes, nothing but tortillas. But the good part is that I like tortillas. That is one of the major cultural differences here in Mexico, the Holidays are really different. Christmas isn´t really a big deal either because most of the people celebrate the Day of Kings instead. The Day of Kings is the 6th of December I think, and it is the day when the 3 wise men showed up in Bethlehem. The really big holidays are the days when the people celebrate and worship the saint that they named their pueblo after (San Juan, San Martin....). These holidays are called ferria, and there are carnivals in the streets and flea markets (tjiangeys). Tons of people dress up in traditional Mexican clothes and there are dances performed in the Plazas of the Pueblos. Loud music and fireworks too. Also they have special Masses for the Saints, and the parties don´t stop for days. Kind of cool, but it makes preaching really difficult when no one is home and everyone is drunk. As for poverty here, I don´t think it is quite like you imagine. There are people that are really poor, but the majority are middle class. The thing is that middle class here in Mexico is a lot poorer than middle class in the U.S. Most people don´t have cars in Teotihuacan (Tay-o-ti-WA-con). People have money to eat, and pay the rent, but not a lot of people have the money to go on vacations or buy T.V.s. Most of the kids go to school. For fun, a lot of them play soccer. They also like to hang out in the plaza. A lot of kids have to work, but they work in the stores that their parents own. Everyone works.

Mom, I really haven´t gotten sick, nor am I sick. I am lucky, at least until I get transferred into the city. I went to DF to sign some papers for my visa because there are problems and the most likely is that I´m coming home next month....just kidding. I signed them so that it could be extended from 6 months to one year. Don´t worry, that probably wasn´t funny for mom, but I thought it was funny. Also, there is a piano in the capilla, but I don´t play it because there simply isn´t time. I could practice for a half hour, or we could find people and help them make covenants that will give them salvation for eternity. It is a matter of priorities. There are 2 sisters in our zone, but there aren´t very many in the mission. We have the visitors center at the temple and so we have more sister missionaries than the other missions, but it is more dangerous for the sisters. There are no North American sister missionaries.

My frustration with the language is neither understanding nor speaking. I can speak and understand well enough, but I want people to focus on the message, not on how I am saying it. The truth is there are times when the Spirit is so strong that I don´t even think about what or how I am saying things in Spanish, it just comes out. But Elder Llanos is helping me. He and I are going to perseverar hasta el fin. He doesn´t want to go home, because I guess after a while the mission becomes a second home.

Cameron, I have been getting your dearelders, sorry if I haven´t responded very well. We get dear elders every 3 or 4 weeks, so I kind of have to piece together all of them into one response, but keep writing. I love getting your letters. Sounds like Homecoming and Mormal went well. Dances are really fun, I always really enjoyed them. You are a good guy Cameron. Read your Book of Mormon every day without fail. It is an incredible book that will change your life each time you read it with a real desire to follow Jesus Christ.

I got Grandma Nelson´s letter and loved it, I am still waiting for Grandma Andy´s. We will go to the temple to do a session the 21st or 22nd of December. I get my phone call the 24th or 25th of December, we still don´t know all the details for how or how long the call can be. I am soooooo excited for that phone call. As for letters I print them off, read them, date them and then put them in my binder for letters. Yes, I had my 1st haircut, yes they used a straight razor to shave my sideburns and neck and yes it made a little nervous. But everything worked out well.

Ok, the miracle of the week. On Tuesday we were contacting waiting for an appointment when E Llanos decided to knock on a door. Fernando opened it (26 years old), and told us to come right in. He had always seen us walking in shirt and tie and wanted to know what we taught. Turns out he is searching for the purpose of his life and what happens afterwards. Perfect! We taught the Plan of Salvation and he agreed to a return appointment and to pray about our message. Then he missed our return appointment, and his sister kept saying he wasn´t there each time we went back. Then on Saturday night we were walking down his street because we felt like we should follow up on a reference. Fernando was waiting in his door step for us. We didn´t intend to find him, but he said "I felt like you guys were going to look for me, so I decided to wait for you out here!!" How cool is that? He said that he received a very ´´satisfactory¨´ response to his prayer, and came to church the next day. People that God prepares can´t be denied the Gospel.

Mom, I love you. I try every day to be the missionary you think I am. Dad, thank you for your letter I loved it. That stinks about BYU...but wait till we kick them next year. I love your letters, thank you for the example you are of a righteous father.

Darci and Joe, thank you for your letter. I loved it. I love to know how you are doing because I pray for you every day. I will pray for your job Darci. Don´t feel like you have to write me all the time, but once in a while I like to know how you are. I love you both so much. Sounds like everything is going well for you two, as it should. Keep doing the right things and the right things will keeping happening for you.

Grandma Nelson, sorry I haven´t responded yet to your letter. I love you so much. Thank you for all the cookies and memories you have given me. I know you miss Grandpa, but thanks to the Atonement and the ordinances you have completed and covenants you have made you will see him again. You will live in peace and happiness with all of us one day, keep that vision and keep doing the right things.

I love you all,

Elder Nelson

Monday, November 22, 2010

Miracles Happen Everyday

Querido Familia, November 22, 2010

Snow!!! That is really weird for this time of the year. It isn´t going to snow here. They say it is going to get colder, but really it is only cold in the mornings. Speaking of cold, this week the baptismal font was really cold. We baptized a woman named Sonia this week. She is a former Testigo de Jeovah, which means she knows a lot about the Bible. Her sister is a member of the church and has talked to her multiple times about the Church. Her husband died about a year ago, and this kind of sparked her interest in the Church, because Jehovah´s Witness don´t believe that families can be together forever. She basically only needed us to give her the opportunity to be baptized, because once she found her testimony of Joseph Smith asking her to be baptized was like giving candy to a baby. She has two kids, and both are still Jehovah´s Witness, but I think with time they will accept the gospel too. But anyways we baptized Sonia this week, but the boiler (heater) for the font was broken. Usually the water is cool, but not cold. This week it was like ice. But she went all the way under, and now I can say I baptized in ice cold water.

No, I have not received the package. But if you sent it the 1st of October then it should get here around the 1st of December, or the next time after that when we get pouch mail.

Transfers happen every 6 weeks, cada cyclo, or cycle. We don´t use cycles here, we use months, but changes happen every 6 weeks. If we have changes then we get a phone call on Sunday night and we have to report for changes on Tuesday. I think what will happen for Elder Llanos is we´re going to get put into a trio because Elder Llanos leaves 2 weeks after changes are supposed to happen. Then when Elder Llanos leaves I will stay in Teotihuacan with my new companion. But I don´t really know, anything could happen.

For Kolby, there are 3 ways to eat using tortillas, 1 is where you tear the tortilla into pieces and drop it on whatever you are eating (there are tortillas for every meal here) and then use the tortilla to take a handful of the food, kind of like edible gloves. The second and most common way is to put salsa on the tortilla and roll it up all by itself, then use it in between bites of the food...we use a fork in this method. The third way it to put whatever it is that you are eating on the tortilla and roll it up like you would a burrito.

For my pictures, I don´t know...I will research it this week and get back to you.

Knocking Doors is not a very effective way to find people that are truly interested in the Church. The best way is references from members. But the truth is we do a lot of street contacting, people walking by on our way to an appointment. It is not a miracle that people let us in when we are knocking doors, that happens a lot, it is a miracle that they weren´t just being nice and were actually interested. But there is a story to go along with this one. Last week we baptized Sarai. She is 17 and lives with her aunts and uncles...(here in Mexico families live together or really close, lots of times the entire block will have the same last name). We found her by knocking on the door of her sister, who lives in a different house. Lisbeth let us in and Sarai just happened to be there. The first time we taught them we asked Sarai to give the closing prayer, which she did, but she broke down in tears half way through. I felt the Spirit so strongly that night. Then we set an appointment to come back and check on their prayers about Jose Smith and The Book of Mormon. But when we came back they weren´t there. We tried to find them all week, but we couldn´t. Then they showed up to church (Lisbeth and Sarai) all by themselves! We talked to them about why they came to church, and Lisbeth said that she didn´t intend to go to church. But when she was getting ready to go play soccer with her friends something inside her said, "No...you ARE going to church instead." So she called Sarai and they went. Everything went well, they progressed really smoothly until the baptism. They both passed their baptismal interviews and we made plans to pick them up for their baptism, but when we got there to pick them up Lisbeth wasn´t there. We called her and she said that she had stayed the night at her Dad´s house in another city and wasn´t going to make it to her baptism...we were kind of dejected. That was an understatement. But Sarai made the decision to go forward with the Baptism without Lisbeth. Since that point Sarai´s testimony has grown soo much. She was confirmed this past Sunday and I am really excited for her.

That is really exciting that Jase is finally in Mexico. I don´t really know where his area is, but it is not in my zone. Presidente likes me too because I knew Elder Rhoten. I´ve heard stories about Elder Rhoten, he was one of the "great ones." He was assistant until he left. Oh, and don´t worry about me being humble. I was severely humbled the first couple weeks in the mission by the language and even still I have problems with it. One thing I have a perfect testimony of is that God knows each of us. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths. He knows what we want and what we need. He knows what we can become someday. I know that with out Him we would not be able to do anything, literally anything.

I had an incredible experience last week I wanted to tell you about but I didn´t have time. Last week in our District Meeting Elder Llanos gave a lesson about the Atonement. He had us close our eyes, and he put on music. He had us imagine our family. One of the best memories we had, I thought about the Cabin at Thanksgiving, and he had us think about the love and feelings we had at that point in time. I´m not very homesick anymore, but that made me start to tear up. Thinking about all the incredible experiences we have had as a family, and about the amount of love I have for all of you. I never knew how much I loved each of you until I left for my mission. I don´t know how to describe it, but we will be a forever family, we will live in peace and happiness in the Kingdom of God someday. I will make sure of it. After that he had us empty our minds and think of white, then in the middle of the white he had us picture Christ in his Glory. He had us imagine Christ embracing us, I cannot describe the feeling I had when I imagined that. Overwhelming joy, peace and more than anything love. Love so strong and so pure I cannot describe it. I felt the spirit and love. I lost it, I cried for the first time since who knows how long. Then he had us imagine the crucifixion, and how our sins must have pained Him. It changed my mission. It changed my life. If we truly understand the love He has for us, and is we truly understand the Atonement, we do not have a reason to sin. We do not have a reason to even want to be disobedient. I want to make it back to Christ, I want to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I don´t ever want to sin again, because I love Him so much.

Well, time runs short yet again. There is never enough time to write everything I want to, to tell you about all the incredible miracles that happen everyday.

Please tell Aunt Janet that I got her DearElder and loved it. I wish I had time to write back, but for now I only have time to say thank you.

Also, I want to hear how Darci is when she has time, I know she and Joe are really busy right now. I love you all. Read you scriptures everyday, and say your prayers. Know that you are praying to someone real. I love you all so much.

Sincerely,

Elder Nelson

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ramses, Brook and the Family Martinez Avila

Dear Family,

Ok, 1st things 1st. Cameron turned 17 last week....I didn´t forget. I just got so wrapped up in the other things I was writing that it slipped my mind. I had been thinking about it all day, so sorry Cameron. I hope you had an awesome birthday. 19 isn´t that far away so get ready.

Second thing that slipped my mind is Ramses. He was baptized the 31st of October, he was my first baptism on the mission, and was confirmed the following week. He scared us really bad though because he showed up late to Sacrament meeting, we thought he wasn´t going to make it. Also, this internet cafe...I´m sending a couple emails so you can see all the pictures...





 
This is Ramses and his family.

 
This is Brooke, a girl of 8 years whom I baptised, but doesn´t count for numbers because she was only 8..

And this is the familia Martinez Avila, whom we baptised (all of these were baptised Oct. 31st). They were the family that showed up to church all by themselves. They are going to be such a strong addition to this ward, and in one year they can be sealed for time and all eternity!
 


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A Righteous Warrior in Israel


This is Sofia, the girl of a less active member whom we taught and baptised the 7th of November. The Mom (dalia) had been inactive for a long time, but discovered that her life didn´t go very well when she didn´t go to church....who would´ve thought.

The rest are of the Pyramids!!! We went today and they were sooo cool. The land of desolation! They were sooo big, but the stairs were sooo steep.









Ok...now for the questions. We take our laundry to a lavanderia where they do it for us because we don´t have the machines or time to do it on our own. I don´t know if they wonder about garments...I was a little worried the first week, but I´m sure they´ve seen stranger things. About the guitars question, I had a dream last night where I got to play guitar until I couldn´t anymore because my fingers were hurting too bad, it was the best. But then I woke up and realized that it was only a dream. That part wasn´t so awesome. I miss my instruments, I don´t really get to play guitar or piano ever because we always have better things to do, like give people opportunities to make covenants with God that will bless them throughout the eternities, stuff like that. Bugs...there are a ton of grasshoppers here, and people eat them. I haven´t seen any scorpions, but there is an occasional spider, also a lot of earwigs. Sorry my grammar is really bad today. Elder Llanos is a pretty good goalie (portero in Spanish) and we have played basketball once, but that was rare...futbòl is king here in Mexico.

This week was really fast. The time is really weird here, it´s almost Thanksgiving and we only have a month until Christmas!!!! People here don´t celebrate Thanksgiving, so I guess missing Thanksgiving for my jaw was good training. I feel like I was writing my email to you for last week yesterday, but it has been a whole week. This week we had splits with the Zone Leaders Elder Guzman and Elder Hall. Elder Guzman worked with me in Teotihuacan. It was my test. He had to see what kind of progress I had made and what kind of missionary I was. We worked sooo hard that day. I learned a lot. The night before the splits I was really nervous because...well it was a test. I wouldn´t have Elder Llanos to help me out if I got stuck, and Elder Guzman didn´t know the area so it was up to me to get where we needed to go. But God blessed me, everything turned out really well and I learned a ton. The most important thing I learned is that I need to learn a lot more. But God has blessed me a lot, and I feel like I am doing well. We also had to go to immigration this week in DF to sign some papers for my visa...and I got to ride in a subway!! It was really cool. There was so many people I couldn´t move, and don´t worry we didn´t get robbed.

This week we baptised a girl named Saraì. We found her knocking doors, which in and of itself is a miracle. During our first lesson we asked her if she could offer the closing prayer and she broke down in tears in the middle of it! She and her sister Lisbeth were going to be baptised this Sunday. Lisbeth went to visit her Dad, but didn´t make it back in time. We were really dissappointed because Lisbeth was the more valiant of the two, but Saraì went forward with it anyways. It was so awesome. I could feel the Spirit so strongly during her baptismal service. People can be completely clean, a blank slate. All because Christ loves us sooo much. It´s going to work out with Lisbeth, because this week we are going to teach her son, and she wants him to be baptised too. God knows everything, and He has a reason for everything. This week we have 4 people scheduled for baptism!!

Ok, I´m running out of time so I will talk about them more next week.

Melissa, thank you for your email! I loved it . Elder Llanos is pronounced like Elder Yanos. I actually am taller than most of the people here, so I have to watch my head going in and out of houses. Foods that I miss, anything that Mom cooks, like mashed potatoes. Melissa I love you, read your scriptures everyday, say your prayers in the morning and in the night. God will look after you.

Kolby, I love you. Practice your piano and your Spanish. You will make a good missionary if you want to. Get to know the Book of Mormon because that is basically all we use, the Bible is good, but not as good as the Book of Mormon. I pray for you every day and think of you when I see the kids playing soccer in the streets.

Cameron, Happy birthday!! I love you. I feel bad because I wasn´t always the best brother to you, but I love you. You are a precious soul to God, and a very talented person. Don´t let anything get in the way of your preparation for your mission. Read your Book of Mormon everyday, don´t ever miss a day.

Darci and Joe I love you guys too. I pray for your success everyday. Sometimes I feel like I´m not grateful enough for your example. But I love you.

Mom and Dad, in my patriarchal blessing it says that God loves me as much as has been shown by the love of you two. That is true. I love you so much for everything you have done for me. I wasn´t always easy to live with, but I realize now how much I love you and how much I want and need to learn from you.

Sincerely

Your righteous warrior of Israel (I like that title)

Elder Braden Nelson

Monday, November 8, 2010

He Contacted Us!

¡Hola Familia!

Greetings from Teotihuacan. Well, one more weird thing I ate this week, mole rojo. They say it is everything that they happen to have in the kitchen thrown into a pot and simmered for hours. It looks like chocolate...but it tastes like someone burnt something and added water, stirred and heated. It is a sauce that they put on chicken or flautas. Not good...but I ate it anyway.

Well this past week was Dia de los Muertos, and it was a little crazy. The day is actually two days, Monday and Tuesday. It is a Catholic holiday where the people honor those who have passed on by putting flowers on graves and making offerings. The plaza (huge square in the middle of San Juan where people sell things, and eat and hang out....kind of like a park but without the grass and playthings) was covered with burning candles and skeletons in sand and pan de muerto. That is a bread that they make for the holiday, it is really good. Then afterwards everyone goes to drink and party, and the kids ask for candy and money like an American Halloween. Traffic is really crazy because no one works and the kids don´t have school. There are cultural type performances, people dressed like Lamanites dancing in the plaza. It was a little dangerous because everyone was completely wasted, which makes sharing a message about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ a little difficult, and we had to go back to the apartment a little early so that we didn´t get robbed or something. The holiday is good, because it is for honoring the dead, the drinking is not so good. It is like two days without laws because the police are partying too.

To answer Mom´s question, Elder Llanos actually was called to the Veracruz mission. He has a problem with his intestines (they are narrowing and closing) and needs to have surgery. They tried to send him home, but he refused, so they sent him to our mission because we have the best hospital in Mexico here. He is going home in the end of December, so he only has 2 months left. We are going to work like locos and perseverar hasta el fin. Oh, and his accent. Most people actually think that he is from Mexico, so his accent is basically the same as everyone else´s.

We have a mission standard of 1 lesson with a recent convert or less active member per day. So we work with them quite a lot. It´s good because usually they have lots of friends that aren´t members and we always ask for references. It is awesome when they come back to church and renew their covenants. Lots of them don´t come because of work, or because they don´t like someone in the ward. But we explain that baptism is a covenant with God, not other people in the ward. The reason we go to church on Sunday´s is to renew covenants and fulfill a commandment. We have a duty to reverently and happily renew our covenants each week.

For Dad´s question, I have no idea where Elder Warr is. He´s not in my zone so I have no way of knowing or finding out. But I´m sure he is doing well, he is an awesome missionary. We only have zone Conferences every three months or so, our next one is at Christmas. We get to go to the Temple at Christmas time, because the Temple and visitor´s center is in our mission. I am so excited to go, after the MTC where we went practically everyday for the last three weeks before I left I miss the temple and it´s tranquility. I have been reading the Ensign on the temple, and I love it. We do not realize how great blessings we have in the temple, we do not realize the incredible significance of temple work. I want to be a temple worker someday. Oh, and also I really only speak Spanish because Elder Llanos doesn´t speak English.

There are a lot of tourists at the pyramids, but they are all from Mexico and the only other white people I´ve seen are the other missionaries. The other gringo missionaries like to speak English to each other, but I usually don´t stand in the "gringo circle" because I was called to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.

The weather here has been cold. That´s kind of weird I know, I´m freezing in Mexico. In the mornings it is frigid, but by the time we go out to work it has warmed up enough to where I can wear short-sleeves. But the sky hasn´t been cloudy a day since I´ve been here, and so in answer to the question "am I getting a tan?" Yes. I have a farmers tan really bad. But I still look gringo, somehow no matter how tan I get I don´t think I will ever really look not gringoish. I have been using sun-screen (that was for Mom) but I still get sunburns on my nose. Sometimes I look like Rudolph, but whatever, it is all for the Lord. I actually haven´t gotten sick at all yet. There aren´t many taco stands in Teotihuacan, and I think that the rule is: if you eat off the street, you get sick. But I have been really blessed in that way.

For contacting we have really done everything. We knock doors, we street contact, and we ask references from members. The references from members are usually the best, but we have knocked a lot of doors. People here are willing to talk and so we usually get a lesson or two a day from knocking doors. We try to talk to everyone, on buses in the street, knocking doors, in stores...etc.

Ok, I couldn´t send pictures this week, but next week I promise. We had a baptism this Sunday. Our goal is to have at least one baptism every week. We baptised Sofía, the daughter of a recently activated member. This week we have two more planned for Sunday. I will tell you about them next week. Something really really awesome happened this week. It was 6 pm and starting to get a little dark. We were walking down the street quickly because we were going to be late for an appointment when this man approached me in the street. I thought he was drunk and was readying myself to run, but I decided to talk to him. He asked if we were the Elders of the Church...and we answered yes. He then told us that he had been searching for the Chapel for months, but couldn´t find it. He said that he was ready to make changes in his life, and took us to his house where we met his wife (inactive member) and their newborn child. He contacted us! Juan Miguel is now progressing as an investigator and is really ready to change. He´s giving up alcohol and drugs, and he´s going to be married to his wife. They are in a "union libre" .....they are not married, but live together. That strengthened my testimony that people are waiting for us to find them. There are thousands of people ready for the gospel we just have to find them.

Also, we had a ward family home evening where Elder Llanos and I gave the lesson. We told everyone to bring potential investigators. Jose Gonzalez showed up, and we invited him to church the next day. At church we set an appointment for later Sunday. We showed up Sunday night and taught the restoration. The Spirit was so strong with him and us that lesson. I could feel that he could feel that our message was true. So we invited him to be baptized on the 21st, and he accepted! 2 days, one lesson and he is going to be baptized! How cool is that.

Well, I´m out of time, next week I will try to tell you about more people that we are teaching. But the teaching pool is doing well, we are busy. We need to be busier though, we can always do better, work harder, baptize and teach more.
Cameron and Melissa I got your Dear Elders. I love you both, thank you for your letters. Cameron it sounds like everything went well at Homecoming, good job. You´re a Nelson so of course it went well. Melissa, remember those girls and how pretty they were. You are just as pretty. But the thing to remember is this, The Boy that you really want to date, or that you really want to marry wants a girl with a testimony. You are beautiful inside and out, but the inside is more important.
I love you all, until next week

Elder Nelson

P.S. I will not withdraw money from my debit card until I tell you first. If you see a withdrawal or anything let me know. Just in case. Also, for the feeling safe about crime and stuff. I am in a really safe area. Much safer than the actual city. It is still dangerous, but we are obedient and God protects us. We have to be in the house before most of the bad stuff happens anyways. I loved all your questions, and Dad thank you for your letter, I love hearing your experiences. I love you. I pray for all of you every day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Gringo that Speaks Spanish

Hello Family!

I ate chicken feet this week. It was disgusting. Nasty little chicken feet poking out of a vegetable soup, with the toenails still attached. You eat it by putting the whole thing in your mouth and sucking the skin (there isn´t really meat) off the bones. I tried really hard, but I couldn´t eat all of it.

This email might be a little bit shorter because we were having computer issues, so sorry. First things 1st, the questions from your letters. For laundry we take our clothes to a laundromat and they do it for us, but it is expensive. We would do it ourselves but we don´t have a machine or buckets or anything to do it with, not to mention time. For P-day it is usually just Elder Llanos and I. We are the only missionaries for 40 minutes or more. But today the zone all got together to play soccer and basketball, and if we want to do anything with our district we can usually manage it. We are going to the Pyramids next week! Also another tid bit, people around here say that Teotihuacan means the place where the Gods were born. Also people say that this is the land desolation from the Book of Mormon. That is way cool, we are teaching the descendants of the Lamanites in the land where the Book actually took place! (Note from Mom: Several years ago, Braden gave me a book called "Sacred Sites". It tells all about sites in the Book of Mormon and has a whole chapter on Teotihuacan. Look up 3 Ne. 7:12)

As far as the language goes, it is coming. I am still frustrated at times, but I am really lucky. I should not complain because there are others who arrived in Mexico not speaking hardly a word of Spanish. Apparently I am known around the zone and mission as the "gringo who speaks Spanish" so I shouldn´t complain. But the fact is I want to express myself in the way I normally would, and I feel that sometimes my speaking gets in the way of the spirit. But I know that if I am obedient and work hard, it will come. It will come on the Lord´s time and in His way. The Spirit will be conveyed to the people, and His work will go on with out any problems.

An experience I had that was pretty cool was, the other day I was really discouraged. I felt sorry for myself, I missed you all, the Spanish was hard, and I wasn’t learning the things I needed to. That night I knelt down and I prayed. I prayed for a half hour and poured my soul out. The next morning I did the same thing. I was truly humbled, I know for a fact that I cannot say a single word, take a single breath, without the help of God. I prayed for help through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I didn´t feel any comfort, but what I did feel was resolution, determination. God isn´t going to just hand me Spanish on a silver platter, but I can get it. That day I focused really hard of Spanish, wording, fluency, clarity. God has blessed me so much everyday, and now I don´t have to think about Spanish as much, more about what message I should share than how to say it. I pray everyday for the gift of tongues and interpretation.

I also had my 1st interview with Presidente in the field this week. It is awesome and I love him so much. He has such a love and excitement for the Gospel. He really loves my companion too. He was an office missionary for a while because of health problems. Presidente told me that Elder Llanos is the best trainer he has, which says a lot. I told him we were going to have 5 baptisms on Sunday and he said he was a little disappointed. He thought we were going to have more than that! That taught me a couple things, one we need to work harder, two Presidente has really high expectations of me and E. Llanos. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming, I am to open an area that has been closed for 6 months because of a lack of success, I am to be the companion to the District leader, I was given the best trainer in the mission, and Presidente expects more than I thought possible. I don´t know what kind of work God and Presidente have planned for me but I need to work harder to be ready. Presidente said that (not promising that this would actually happen but yeah) he needs me to be ready to be a senior companion and trainer after Elder Llanos leaves in December...I have a lot of work to do. There are so many things I need to improve, so many things that I need to learn. But I won´t worry about expectations, I won´t worry about future assignments, I will put my head down and work. Come what may I will be ready.

I forgot my camera in the apartment, so next week I will send pictures of the baptism. It was awesome. I baptised them and E. Llanos directed the program. It was standing room only. It is amazing to me that people accept the gospel so readily, and make covenants that will have eternal consequences.

We had a miracle this week. We arrived to teach the Family Martinez Avila, the one that was baptised this week. We were going to teach them some of the commandments that they needed to learn before baptism. Jose Luis wasn´t there. Apparently he had had an argument with his wife and decided he didn´t want to be baptised anymore. He didn´t even want to come out and talk to us, he wanted nothing to do with us. We were devastated, but prayed all week for him. At the baptismal interview He showed up with his family, we thought he was just dropping them off. But the Zone Leader said "We will start with the head of the family" and took him back. We were shocked and a little confused because he wouldn´t even talk to us the day before. He had a change of heart, learned all the things he needed to to pass his interview, and was baptised on Sunday! We are going to set the goal of one year to be sealed in the temple! How awesome is that?!

I will write more about DIa de Los Muertos next week because I am running out of time.

Kolby- Thanks for the letter, I love to hear how things are going for you. I will try to answer you questions next week, but I didn´t really know what to expect in Mexico, so it was everything I imagined, yet totally different. We have a half hour to do exercise in the morning, but I usually write in my journal...so I am going to be in really bad shape when I get home. But we do walk pretty much all day. Usually close to 6 or 7 hours, so I do get some exercise.

Cameron- I just got your dear Elder from when I left the MTC...mail takes a while here. Thanks for your update. I hope Homecoming went well...a little piece of advise for the future, don´t do, say or think anything you would do, say or think if Mom was sitting right next to you. Congrats on your job, save your money you will need it in the future.

Melissa I love you. You are a daughter of God and He loves you more than you can imagine. Love Him back through you actions and you will be happy for the rest of your life.

Mom and Dad, I love you. Your trip to Vegas sounds like it went well. Keep setting the good example you always have for our family. We are going to be together forever, so we might as well be obedient now so that we can be happy in the hereafter. Mom I love you so much for the things you have taught me. Don´t worry about the Christmas package, it will come when it comes. Dad, you have always set a quiet example, but an example of action. Doing the things you need to in a quiet dignified way. Thanks, it has helped me a lot here in the mission.

Darci and Joe, I love you too, and I pray for you everyday.

I love you all, until next week.

Elder Nelson

P.S. it helps if you have questions so I know what to talk about, so any questions you have I would love to answer.

Friday, October 29, 2010

In the Land of "Tennis Shoes"

Hello Family!

Greetings from Mexico. Ok, first I´m going to try to answer all of the questions that you have.

First, we go to an Internet cafe in the centro of San Juan to print our letters in the morning. Then we go and do all the other things we need to do on P day, shopping, cleaning the apartment, then later in the day when we have been able to read and think about our letters we go back the Internet cafe and write our letters to family and to the Presidente. The ward we are in is a full ward. It has about 130 active members, we are trying to change that. It´s a mix of old and young, but mostly middle aged with little kids. The octagonal patch of grass you saw was just grass. There is a basketball/soccer court outside and grass and things to play with for the members. We walk everywhere we can, but our area is the largest in the mission, and we have to travel 1.5 hours or so to get to the end of it. We take combis...hippi van taxi things to get to a colony, then walk around the town. We really try to only work close to the chapel because people here are poor and will be inactive simply because they don´t have the money to make it to church. It is about a 10 minute walk to the Aurrera Bodega (Mexican Walmart) where we do most of our grocery shopping. Everything else we buy on the street because there are tons of street vendors. We are actually pretty spoiled here, we really don´t do any cooking. There is a calendar that is sent around Relief Society to feed the missionaries, and it is full.

The schedule is like this, 6:30 wake up, and prepare for the day and study. 11:00 we leave he house to go work, about 2 everyday we go to a members house and they feed us a comida, meal. Then we work straight until 9 when we need to be back in the apartment. We eat a little when we get back to the apartment but mostly cereal and bread. People here don´t have siestsas, they usually work 10 to 14 hour days and don´t have time for them. We don´t have time for them either. For food with members we usually first have a soup of broth with noodles or vegetable or something like that. Next we have a main meal of something that has meat. Tacos, flautas, mole...it is actually pretty good now that I´ve been here for 2 weeks. As far as soda and water, we drink the water. People usually buy huge containers of bottled water and then put different flavors in, Jamaica is one of the more common ones. Then sometimes we get dessert. People here really like flan, I really don´t like flan. But I eat anything now, and usually a lot of anything. I´m getting used to eating good things, and BAD things. Most of the food is really good. Most of it is pretty spicy, but I´m starting to like spicy too.

There actually are pyramids where we live. Our area is a huge circle surrounding the main pyramids at Teotihuacan. The biggest one is the Temple of the Sun, and another one is the Temple of the Moon . I think those are the ones from Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites. We were going to go today, but the other Elders in our district didn´t have any money. We will probably go next week, I will send pictures when we do. The main industry is the Pyramids, people work at the Pyramids, the restaurants surrounding them and the little shops and stores, or tents there selling Aztec and Mayan style gifts and things. Also, a ton of people have stores, for gifts, food, you name it, hair cuts, whatever. They live in or above their tiendas. There are also a ton of taxistas, because the traffic is soo bad that no one drives anywhere.

The truth is we are about an hour and a half from Mexico City. Teotihuacan is the name if the municipality, but there are a ton of little pueblas and colonies in Teotihuacan. There is a ton of empty space here, and we don´t really have any smog. There are a lot of roads that are not paved, so we usually get pretty dusty by the end of the day. The weather here is good. There are cactuses everywhere, they are equivalent to sagebrush in the Tri-Cities. Actually this place reminds me a lot of home which is good and bad. It is usually 70 to 80 degrees and sunny everyday. In the winter they say that it will get down to 5 Celsius, but I don´t know what that means since I don´t know Celsius.

The apartment is not one that other missionaries used. The area has been closed for 6 or 8 months. It is nice, an entry room/kitchen with a sink where we have our study everyday. We don´t have anything to cook on except this little stand a lone burner, but we don´t cook. Milk, cereal, bread, jam and apples is what I snack on, but we´re hardly ever at the apartment so it doesn´t matter. We have a bedroom and a bathroom, more than enough room for the two of us. I haven´t seen carpet since the U.S, because people here just have tile floors. I don´t know why. I get a long with Elder Llanos, but he is very demanding. Sometimes I get annoyed or frustrated, but in the end we get along. I love him, he is my ´´dad´´ or trainer and has taught me soo much.

Now, here is the exciting part, we have 5 baptisms planned for this Sunday! The family Martinez-Avila, and a little boy Ramses. The family Martinez-Avila were the ones that showed up to church all by themselves. They were golden. We taught the first lesson and everyone prayed, everyone received an answer except the dad, Jose Luis. His sister is in the hospital with skull fractures because his brother in law beat her and his business wasn´t going very well. So he was really confused and frustrated, but most of all he couldn´t let anyting go. He was blaming God for everything that was happening. He was looking for a change and knew that the Church was the answer, but he couldn´t receive and answer. So we had a lesson on humility, how God makes weak things strong if they let Him. I shared my experiences about my junior year in High-School and how that was when I was truly humbled, yet that was when I truly found God. I challenged him to let everything go for 5 minutes, trust God for 5 minutes, and pray. We gave him a blessing, and left. He received his answer! He now has a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and is excited to be baptized with the rest of his family this week.

Ramses is a 10 year old son of an inactive family. He is the only member of the family who has not been baptized, so we will be completing the family this week. He was just waiting for us, he wants to be baptized and has a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church. The truth about him is, he was going to be baptized when he was 8, the font water was ice cold, and he ran out of his baptismal service. I hope that doesn´t happen again.

As far as language goes, I´m struggling, but doing ok. People understand me more or less. I´m just frustrated because I have to focus so hard on the language that sometimes my teaching isn´t very good. It is very, very, very humbling to try to teach people in a new language. It makes you realize that we really can´t do anything without God, we are really only instruments to be played when He wants. Some days my Spanish is good, others not, but on the whole it is getting better. God is on my side. Christ died so that I could struggle through Spanish lessons. As far as participation goes, my companion and I teach every other principle in a lesson, and we both contact people.

Dad, thanks for the email it really helped. There will be bad moments in the mission, but never bad days. Something good happens everyday, we just have to be able to realize it. I admire you soo much for serving a mission, especially one that was in the States where people don´t listen very much. We taught close to 20 lessons last week, so at least people are listening. Missions are hard, probably the hardest thing I´ve ever done. But knowing that you did it makes it easier for me.

Mom, I love you. My homesickness is getting better. As far as things from the U.S., a hug from each of you would be nice, but that´s not possible. I don´t really know of anyting in specific, thanks so much for the support and prayers.

Darci, thanks for the letter before I left, and thanks for going to all those places for my razor. I love you. Thanks for being such an awesome example to me.

Cameron, Kolby and Melissa, practice the piano. There is not a single person in the whole ward here who knows how to play piano, so we use a CD. Pretty lame. I love each of you and pray for each of you individually everyday. Work hard in school and never be afraid to pray for help. He knows more than you do. You are all so blessed to go to the schools you do. There are lots of people here who don´t go to school because they can´t afford it.

I love you all so much.

Elder Nelson

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hola from Teotihuacan!







Hello Family!

It was sooo good to talk to you in the airport. We landed on time in Mexico City, went through customs and we were picked up by the secretaries. They took us to the Temple where Presidente Hicken was waiting for us. We left our suitcases at the chapel by the Temple and went to the Mission home for dinner and interviews. My first meal in Mexico was pizza! People drive soooo crazy here in Mexico, I really thought we were going to get in a crash, but we didn´t. The mission home is about an hour out of the mission. Presidenr Hicken is awesome, the one thing he said was his goal for us by the end of our missions was for us to have a rock-solid testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They told us that our mission was different from all the other missions because our mission has millions of people just waiting for the truth. They have the numbers to back themselves up too.
The lapel pin you saw was the lapel pin for the mission, all the elders have one.

The mission Home is in the rich part of Mexico City, our mission is not in the rich part of Mexico city. We spent the night there and had training all morning about different things that we have to do in the mission like finances and stuff. Then we went to the Temple again for assignment and to receive our trainers. My companions name is ELder Llanos, he is from Lima, Peru. He doesn´t speak English. He is a really good elder, and we have been working this week. He´s short, but walks really fast. We have been assigned to re-open the area of Teotihuacan, it is about an hour and a half out of Mexico City. So after we got assigned to our area, Presidente talked to individually about our area. It had been closed for 6 months because the members had not been helping the missionaries enough and because there is a shortage of missionaries here they pulled them out to put the missionaries in the place that would be the most effective. I sent some pictures, me and my companion, and the view from our apartment window in the morning. We live on the street Pemex, half way in between San Juan and San Lorenzo. Teotihuacan in the municiple name, and the others are the names of some of the pueblas that we work in.

Our area is ginormous! We walked 5 hours one way and still didn´t get to the end of it. It is not all city, because we are pretty far out from Mexico City. There are a lot of dirt roads, and everything is really dusty here. We live about a 15 minute walk from the chapel, which is pretty nice.

O by the way, Kolby can have those shoes if he wants.

After receiving our assignments the mission van took us to the bus central, we got out on the side of a super busy road, wound our way through the bus central and got on a bus. After 45 minutes we got off with all our stuff and got on a really old bus/taxi thing. It was really old, had skull stickers on the windows and a statue of the crucified Christ hanging in the front. Welcome to Mexico. After a half an hour we got off in San Juan. The Bishop picked us up and took us to the apartment, then to a dinner appointment that was waiting for us. All the houses here are really small and old. All of them have huge gates in the fronts, and they are really close together. This house was no different, and it was on the military base that is in San Juan too. A sweet little sister cooked for us and she had two kids there with her. No one here really speaks English. The first real meal I had in Mexico was beans and eggs. They put Chili´s on the eggs and it was super spicy. My mouth was on fire by the end of it. Sorry I´m not putting enough details but I don´t have much time.

The next morning I got up and went to take a shower and it was ice cold! Like really really cold. We don´t have hot water here, or we didn´t until we bought the gas tank and connections. To tell you the truth, this really is work. I love you guys and miss you all. I am a little homesick, but I need to just lose myself in the work because I am where I am supposed to be. The Spanish is frustrating at times, people talk way fast so I only understand 60 percent, and people don´t really understand me yet. Enough complaining though. God has blessed us and we are working hard. He will take care of us. We had a family of 4 show up all by themselves on Sunday! Letters take 2 weeks, packages take 2 months, so it takes a while for things to happen here. I never realized how much I love each of you before I got out here. Tell Darci thanks for the letter. I love you all so much and pray for you everyday.

Love From Mexico,

Braden

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let the Adventures Begin!


We had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Braden for about 45 minutes Monday morning while he was waiting in the airport to go to Mexico City. He sounded much healthier than when he called for 5 short minutes the Thursday before to tell us his flight plans. Prayers and Dayquil....

He said there were 10 Elders going to Mexico City on his flight, as well as 4 missionaries going to other places in Mexico, but sharing the same flight. He said the week had gone very quickly since getting to go into Salt Lake City for his visit to the consulate. He had an informal P-day on Saturday to wash and pack his things. He had 2 suitcases, one weighed 49 pounds and the other 51, so the people at the airport said they would take them. On Monday, he was excited to be leaving but on Sunday night he was a bit nervous. The nervous was gone now and he was anxious to be going. He said he had no regrets about staying longer in the MTC. His roommates were native speakers and that helped him a lot. He understood just about everything they said easily. Our whole family got to visit with him, as they stayed home from the first hour or so of school. Brett commiserated about BYU football, Kolby talked running and soccer, Cameron spoke about his class load, and Melissa shared a little about school as well. When his time was about up, he had to go get something to eat. Saying good bye and pushing the "end" button on the phone was gut-wrenching all over again for his mom. Christmas can't come soon enough!

I love technology! I searched for his flight and watched the little plane take off. I had alerts sent to my phone so I could tell during the day when he left the tarmac and when he touched down again in Mexico. Unfortunately, you cannot monitor flights over Mexico, so my little cartoon plane stayed on the border near Juarez all afternoon!
Then began the wait for some word that he had arrived safely. Some missions send emails, some with pictures, and some don't. We really didn't know what to expect. Today we got a sweet, albeit short, email from President and Sister Hicken with a picture!
Here it is:

We received your son Monday along with 9 other Americans. We are so excited to receive missionaries from the US as we haven't been able to get Visas for a long time. Your son seems to feel good and looks terrific. We kept them at our house over night and fed them breakfast, did a training and took them to eat at a place that serves Tacos al Pastor, a truly Mexico City dish that is so good! Then it was off to the stake center to meet their new companions. Your son was placed with Elder Llanos in Tecamac a small city just outside the large city of Mexico City. Elder Llanos is an outstanding Elder who is well qualified to teach and train your son. The area he is in, is one of the favorites with the missionaries as they say the people are humble and waiting to hear about the gospel. Thank you for raising such a fine young man, President and Sister Hicken.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back from the Consulate...

Dear Family-
Well, I just got back from the consulate. We should receive our visas tomorrow and I should be on a plane by next Tuesday at the latest. I will probably be able to call once I get my flight plans. 5 minutes like before so I can tell you all the details of my flight plans. Going to the consulate was pretty much the same as going to the DMV, long lines. But they were friendlier than DMV workers and everything was in Spanish. I'm actually going to Mexico!

(He told us a few items he needed asap and the specifics, shaver info for blades, etc.)

Thanks so much for your prayers and support. Really there's not much more you can do to be supportive. I get mail on a regular basis and I don't have to be distracted by what is going on at home. Elder XXXXX (one of my good friends, he got reassigned to New Mexico) came to the MTC right at the tail end of his parents divorce, that would be really distracting. There were other Elders who wouldn't get mail for weeks at a time, so don't worry about being supportive. Everything is fine here at the MTC. I will contact you as soon as possible w/ flight plans.

Love,
Braden

Mom's Note:
Braden did call us Thursday night with much of this information as well as the flight plans. He will leave the MTC on Monday, October 11th. His flight is a direct flight to Mexico leaving SLC at 9:55 am. We will be talking to him from the airport when he has time between checking his bags and boarding the plane. He is flying with his companion, Elder Warr. There are also two other Elders going to other missions in Mexico.
We realize what a blessing it is for Braden and these Elders to get into Mexico. We will continue to pray for all the many missionaries who have been reassigned and are waiting for the authorities' hearts to soften so they can spread the "Good News" to the people of their country.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

By This Time Next Week...

Hello Family!

Good news today about my visa. I'm going to the consulate in 45 minutes to sign the paper work and get my fingerprints taken. That means I should hopefully be in Mexico by this time next week. It was kind of a last minute thing, we got back from the Temple and went to the travel office and they told us to be ready to go in an hour. It doesn't really seem real yet, but it will be really weird going out into the real world for the first time in 11 weeks. So that is an answer to just about every prayer I've said for the past 2 weeks. I'm glad I got to stay the overtime though because we get to go to the temple almost everyday. I think out of the 14 days extra I've been here we've gone to the temple 9 or 10 times.

Conference was awesome!! I loved it so much. I feel like I felt the Spirit so much more this time than in any other Conference. I talk about this more in my letter to Melissa, but we watched it in the Gym, with 2000 other missionaries all dressed up in suit coats. There was another 2 or 300 in the overflow. On Conference weekend, there is nothing going on except Conference. It was really nice because I could focus on Conference the whole time without distractions and really try to decipher what God was trying to tell me through the prophets. I think my favorite talk was by Patrick Kearon in the Priesthood Session. I wrote about it in Melissa's letter. I also loved President Monson's Priesthood address, but it seemed to me like there was something a little different this conference for him. He seemed much more serious, and much more animated in his mannerisms and speech. When he was talking about Satan and how he operates in the Priesthood session he seemed almost angry. I think it is a warning that the war against Satan is real, and there are real casualties. We know that the war will heat up before Christ comes to finish it, so we should be on our guard and step up our game everyday...because Satan is. He also talked about how Satan lulls some into carnal security. I think before my mission I could have fallen into that category. We think to ourselves, "well, I'm going to church and sometimes I read my scriptures so I must be doing enough for God." That is a very dangerous thought. One thing I have been working on is to always have something I am working on, something I am studying and applying. I think C.S. Lewis said that "Christ does not require much of us, He requires all of us." We can't afford to hold back any part of our hearts from God, he needs us to give it everything we have. In the vision of the tree of life, Lehi points out that they went forward, "fell down," and partook of the fruit. The fruit represents eternal life and salvation and exaltation in the Kingdom of our Father. But they fell down before partaking of the fruit. To me that meant that if are to truly make it, if we really want to be exalted we must wear out our lives in the service of the One True God. We must give all our effort, time, resources and heart to the Lord and allow him to carry us the rest of the difference.

The MTC had a choir that sang in the Priesthood Session and we wanted to do it sooo badly, but our departure date was too soon so they didn't know if we would still be here for it. That would have been the coolest thing, to sing to the world, recorded for the generations to come. But oh well, if God had really wanted us to do it He would have allowed us to.

I will try to write another letter after the consulate, I don't know how much time I will have or how much information I will have. I think I will be able to call once I get my travel plans. Thanks for everything, I love you so much.

Braden

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MTC Expert

Hello Family!
Well...I'm still here in the MTC and we don't know when we will leave still. We go to the Travel Office twice a day to check if the consulate will see us but so far we haven't had any luck. Obviously there is a reason we are still supposed to be here or else we would have been gone a week ago.

Thank you so much for the Liahonas, I was reading one article a day out of the conference edition in English, but now that I have them in Spanish I read one a day out of the Spanish one. I got all the Ensigns out of the box of free stuff that people leave behind when they leave the MTC, I love the free box. I don't think I will need anymore Liahonas for a while because it takes a while to get through them. I use them as newspapers in the morning because we're not supposed to read the newspaper. I got the SD card and thank you for the pictures.

We got new roommates the same day our others ones left, but these ones are native speakers, and one is from Mexico. Being in a class full of native speakers and living with them is helping my Spanish a lot. I can pretty much understand everything except right when I wake up in the morning. They are good and obedient Elders and so I am glad to have them in the room. The district has been reduced to 4 of us, we have been put into the visa waiters district, district X. This week has been long, not because we haven't had lots of things to do but because everyday we might get to go to the consulate.

At the beginning of the MTC, I made a goal to finish the Book of Mormon, and so this week I made a goal to finish that goal. I have a long ways to go and I need to read almost 38 pages a day to get it done, but I have faith that if I don't waste time and put in every effort God will bless me with the opportunity to accomplish it. I have learned a lot while reading this much this fast. It is sometimes nice to get an overview of what happened plus it gives me a refresher on which stories and scriptures are where in the Book of Mormon. I also finished 2 Nephi in Spanish, so that was a large accomplishment because I got through the Isaiah chapters. It was super hard to read the Isaiah prophecies in Spanish, but now that I'm through it reading the other stuff is really easy, I don't usually even bring my dictionary anymore. I feel like as we have worked diligently to master the language and learn the doctrines God has blessed us a lot more than I could ever see by myself.

Started playing soccer with Elder Hare's district this week and it is way fun. All of the people in my district left, so there's not enough for a game, and my companion doesn't like basketball very much so we only go to the gym about once or twice a week. I scored 7 or 8 goals yesterday, it was way cool, but then again the goalie and defense wasn't very good. I finally got to play basketball this week and it was the best gym I've ever had at the MTC. I forgot how much I love basketball until I played it again. I could definitely tell that I hadn't played for over 2 months. Yes I still play the piano sometimes. Mostly just before class and whenever we have an extra 5 minutes or so. The other day I played for the class to sing because we have a piano in our classroom and no one else could play the piano. The hymns have such beautiful melodies, I can really feel a difference in the amount of the Spirit present after I play the hymns. There is something about music that I don't think we fully understand. Music can truly amplify and diminish feelings and express things that we could never come close to expressing in words. I will send a package home as soon as I know when I am leaving.

Oh, and one funny story that's not really that funny. Today when I went to go clean out my shaver before shaving, I took it apart so that I could clean the blades. It just so happens that all of the blades popped out, and it also just so happens that the sink I was using didn't have a stopper on the drain so the blades went tumbling down the drain never to be seen again. So I no longer have an electric razor, but I bought a regular razor from the store so I can at least look presentable. I don't think I need a new one, but I thought I would tell you this story because it taught me something. I have been reading in the Book of Mormon that perfect love casteth out fear, and that when people receive a remission of sins they will no longer want to be angry or contentious. Before my mission I think I would have been mad about losing the razor that I have used since the first time I started shaving. But today I just felt the calm of the Spirit come over me and instead of getting angry I just thought of how I would fix it. I thought about that afterwards and realized that we can tell where we are on our spiritual journey by how close we are to Christ, meaning that how frustrated and angry we get over the little things that happen to us can be an indicator of the maturity of our relationship with Christ. Not to say that I am anywhere near perfect, nor I am saying that I am super close to Christ. There is always room for improvement for everyone, but I can feel His love flowing through my life and I have never been happier.

Well, I love you all, if you have any questions about things that go on here at the MTC, I am an expert now, or if I am not sending enough details let me know. I love you all...

Elder Braden Nelson

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Light Conquers All

Dear Family,

I don't know if I got my email off in time, so if I didn't then tell me so I can rewrite it. I can't believe it is already P-day again, weeks fly by now. There is never enough time to do and say all that I feel I should.

This week I have been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon. I am in 3rd Nefi right now and i love it. 3rd Nefi is my favorite book. 3 Nefi 9:18, 21 "I am the light and life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."..."Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin."

I love when Christ proclaims his title and mission. The Bread of Life, the Fountain of Living Waters, Alpha and Omega, Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords. There is real power in His name. I love the part, "I am the light and life of the world." I love the metaphor of light. When a room is dim, you cannot see where the shadows lie. The other day I was sitting outside on the ground studying. Before me there was a huge tree. The sun was ducking behind clouds and the light grew and diminished rather quickly. On the sidewalk there were spots of something grey. I don't know exactly what they were. When the sun hid behind a cloud I couldn't see them, nor could I tell the difference between the shade under the tree on the sidewalk compared to the sidewalk that was outside of the shade, because in the dimness the gradient of light was too gradual. There was a difference between the shade and the light, but there was no line of demarcation showing the edge of the shade. When the sun came out from behind the cloud I could instantly see the outline of every leaf. i could see the grey spots, and there was a brilliantly defined border between shadow and light on the sidewalk. I guess I would just liken this to the metaphor of Christ being the light of the world. Without Christ, men cannot be saved and thus there is no distinction between light and dark because all are damned. We can't see the traps or grey spots Satan has laid. We have no sense of where we are, because there is no redemption without Christ.

With Christ however, everything is different. We have a defined border between light and darkness, or a law. We, if we choose to open our eyes to the light, can clearly see the snares of Lucifer. Most importantly, if we happen to wander into the dark we are not lost to wander aimlessly for eternity. We have a flashlight to get us back home, back to the light of Christ and back to the presence of the Father.

I think light is one of my favorite metaphors, because in the end light and dark cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Ultimately darkness cannot abide when light is shone forth. Light will always conquer darkness.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and letters. i will let you know of any developments in the visa wait.

Love,

Braden