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.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Anything is Possible

Hello Family!

Luckily I have avoided getting sick so far with the exception of a minor cough during week 2. We have been on Tamiflu for a week and a half now because one Elder in our district got the flu. They put him in quarantine, which means he was by himself in his own room not allowed to come out for 3 solid days. It was so funny, not for him but for us. I've been good about washing my hands and eating healthy so that I don't get sick because that could jeopardize when I go to Mexico. There was an Elder in our Zone who was diagnosed with pneumonia the day he got his visa, so he's been here two weeks longer than he should have been.

As far as classes go we technically don't have any class, just MDT all day. Hna. Alvarez (our teacher) is getting a new district of native speakers from South America and Mexico though, so she said we could come to classes with them. We will go to class in the morning and then from 12 on we will have MDT. We are allowed to got he Temple everyday now, and we are allowed to have 2 gym times and when we are not doing that we will be studying. We will be put into district X, the district for all the visa delayed missionaries. We don't take any culture classes, but Hno. Galan is from Ecuador and so he teaches us little cultural things every now and then. We don't really get any culture training until we get thrown to the lions in Mexico. All of the Elders who did not get their permisos are leaving this week to their reassignments. 1 to Ogden, a couple to each of the SLC missions, and one to Albuquerque. It is kind of sad, but also happy. It's amazing how much like brothers the Elders in your district become and it is sad to watch them go. But they are not sad to go because of the incredible work they will be doing. Elder Warr and I will just be waiting for our appointment with the consulate, it could be tomorrow or in 3 weeks no one knows. Plus it is very spur of the moment, the consulate calls and says that they will see the following missionaries, and then we have our appointment later that afternoon.

We had our last classes yesterday. Hno Galan is learning English right now and is trying to pass the English fluency test that will allow him to go to BYU. He asks us about words he hears all the time and it is so funny. The other day he started off class by saying in his heavy Hispanic accent, "I don't know if this is bad, but shut it dude." It was soo funny.

We are starting to realize how close we are to actually being in the field and it is a little scary. Sometimes I think about just how weird it will be to be in a place where people do not speak any English. Somehow we are supposed to talk to random people off the street, in Spanish, and convince them to let us come to their home and teach them. It is a little daunting at times. I guess I just have to rely on the fact that we are not alone out there, we have a member of the Godhead with us in the Holy Ghost, el Espiritu Santo. I guess I've started to see how crazy this whole thing is, and that if I didn't know the truthfulness of the message, well, there's now way I would get on that plane to Mexico.

That phone call was a nice surprise huh? Well I don't notice myself talking any faster, but maybe I am. The relative speed of Spanish and English is about the same when you are talking about what you are actually saying. I will get to call again from the airport on the way down, but I don't know when that might be. It was awesome to hear your voices again. Tell Cameron and Kolby sorry that I couldn't talk to them too, but 5 minutes just isn't very long.

It still doesn't feel like I'm on a mission yet. It just feels like I'm at school. Well, time is running short so I'll just say I love you. The Gospel is true, God is our Father, Christ atoned for us, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and we are anxiously engaged in the most important work that has ever graced the earth. With that knowledge anything is possible.


Monday, September 20, 2010

One of the Lucky Ones

I have some good news, contrary to what my email said, I found out that I received my permisa. That means that the Mexican government said it was ok for me to enter Mexico, so now all I am waiting for is the consulate to call. Once they call I have to make a personal appearance at the consulate in SLC where I will be fingerprinted and sign some papers. 3 days later, I will have my visa and travel papers. That means I will not be reassigned, and I will stay in the MTC for a couple weeks waiting for the consulate to call. Of the 11 elders in our district going to Mexico, 4 got their permisas and the other 7 are getting reassigned, so I am one of the lucky ones.

Thanks for all of your prayers and the prayers of the family. I know they made a difference.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh the Places You Might Go...

Dear Family,

Well we went and talked to the Travel Office on last Thursday and they told us to come back on Tuesday, which is today. So we went to the Travel Office today...and they told us to come back tomorrow. I am pretty sure that I am going to be reassigned, so I should find out tomorrow and I might even be wherever it is that I'm going before I get the chance to e-mail you again. Although I think if I get temporarily reassigned then I will be able to call you from the airport. So that would be good. That's as much as I know about that, I'm not praying for anything in particular about it anymore, I just want to know if and where I'm going.

So on Wednesday of last week we weren't supposed to host. But we went down and asked if they needed any more help, and they said they did. So we went to the training meeting 15 minutes later and got to be hosts. Then all of the sudden Sis. Ostler is yelling out of the side of the car with a camera. So I ran down to where they were unloading and took over the hosting for Amanda; it was really cool to see people from home again. Amanda made it inside alright and I have seen her a couple more times since. She seems to be doing well. Thanks for both of the packages. I will be sending a box home with all of the things that I don't actually need for the field. I don't know if we will be able to host again this week but I hope so.

This week I have started to read one talk from General Conference everyday, and write down the best quotes. It is incredible to go back over the talks and rediscover what was actually said. There are some great quotes. President Packer's address has been my favorite so far. I feel like reading the talks I can get so much more out of them because I can sit and think about it. I don't think we really can understand what kind of an opportunity General Conference is. If the Book of Mormon is true, which it is, Joseph was a prophet. If Joseph was a prophet, which he was, then Thomas S. Monson and all of the other Church leaders are literally speaking the words that God would speak were He present. They are tailored to us in our own language, slang included. They are provided in a culture and spirit that we know and understand. They are like Isaiah, but with modern metaphors and similes.

One other thing that I have been doing this week is I have started memorizing a scripture everyday in Spanish. It is hard sometimes but I can already see how it is going to help me soo much. This week I memorized 10 scriptures, hopefully I can do the same this week. In order to do it I have to bring my flash cards with me to meals and walking places, it makes feel like I am better using the Lord's time. Also congratulations to Mom for finishing the Isaiah chapter a couple weeks ago, I am in the beginning of them...in spanish. The other chapters aren't so bad anymore because I can read them without having to look up too many words, maybe one word in 5 verses. In the Isaiah chapter I have to look up 5 words every verse, plus most of them are being used figuratively. But I know that if I puedo perseverar hasta el fin(endure to the end), the Lord will bless me and my language skills will be much improved. How cool is it going to be when I can say that I have finished the Isaiah chapters in another language?

One thing though, I heard that BYU lost badly to Air Force...really? 1, we lost to Air Force, 2 we got embarrassed by them. What is the world coming to? Anyways, that probably shouldn't matter to me anyways but BSU is ranked top 3? I think the second coming is happening, with all of its disasters and such. Well sounds like there is a lot of soccer going on, I will probably be playing soccer for a while, or running. I found out that the gym won't be open to play basketball 2 weeks...it was supposed to open 2 weeks ago. But I won't complain, there must be some reason I am not supposed to play basketball. Maybe I would break my arm or something.

We went to the temple today and did sealings again, it was awesome. I can't say too much, but just that the Spirit is soo strong in the sealing rooms with all the blessings that are promised. So many people are happy on the other side. We sealed over 70 children to their parents and had 15 couple got married. I love you all, I hope you are all doing well and doing what God wants you to do. Read your scriptures, say your prayers.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

MTC=Mom's Boot

Dear Family, 9/7/10

Thank you for the package! I just barely got it, so forget anything I asked for today in the e-mail. (Mom's note: I just sent the things he asked for....love the communication lapses!) I decided I don't actually need my running shoes. Thanks for everything. The pudding will be awesome. The mail room was crazy because yesterday was Labor Day. Everything here is good. No news about the visa, and more likely than not I will be delayed. I'm starting to run again instead of soccer. Not that soccer isn't fun, it's just that I need to expend more energy. Running feels so good when you study for 12 hours a day. I can tell it is starting to be Fall because the sun doesn't come over the mountains until 9:30 or so and that makes for a cold gym. (We usually have gym at 8:25) So thank you for the long sleeve shirts, they will come in handy. The articles are awesome, and I think Grandma would love the Spirit World one. It is incredible how clearly described everything is. I think it
1) gives us a greater hope for and understanding of those that have passed on and
2) It also gives a much greater desire to do what it takes, whatever that may be, to achieve exaltation.
In case you were wondering why I asked for them, it was a result of my personal study. In the mornings we have 45 minutes to study before breakfast. I write down questions that I have such as, is man born evil or is evil a learned habit? Then I use the scriptures to research the answers. That usually leads to more questions....etc. I have never tried this before, and I've found that as I do this my understanding of the Gospel and familiarity with the scriptures has grown exponentially.

I'm glad Melissa & Kolby are doing well at their new schools, but I can't say I'm surprised because after all they are related to me. Sorry, just kidding, that was a joke. No, but I've found that humility and patience are very important in performing the work of the Lord. Every time I start feeling like I might actually be good at Spanish, I'm not. It's like as if the MTC is Mom's boot, (Mom's note: I am in a walking boot for a broken bone in my foot. I have been since July :( ) every time I feel like I'm ready to take it off, every time I think I'm healed the Dr. shows me I'm not healed. He allows me to see hispanohablantes, or shows me some tense that I'm not good at. Patience is key, eventually I will take the boot off and get into the field. The Dr. just needs more time for me to develop. Alma 34:40. Also, we are not yet as Job, nor will we probably ever be. God gives us trials, problems and annoyances to knock off our rough edges. He is good at that.

So anyways, I'm going to apologize to Cameron & Melissa. I've run out of time to write this week. So....Melissa: your classes sound awesome, school is the best. I had Mrs. Bozzi also. Cameron: your goals sound awesome, now plan out what you have to do to accomplish your goals. Be specific and plan dates for deadlines. It will help you actually accomplish them.

Thanks everyone for everything. Sorry if I ever ask you to do things, it's just what I do now. I want all of us to get closer to Christ so we can be there with Him someday together. I Love all of you.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The One and True Church

Hello Family!

I'm glad BYU won! We had MDT during the afternoon from 1 to 5 that day, and we could hear all the pre-game things going on. It was the only music from the outside world I've heard in almost 2 months. We heard the kickoff and the first couple posessions, that was good but also bad. It made me realize how much I loved BYU and how much I wish I were there. But I am where I am supposed to be, and If I were at BYU it wouldn't be the same because I'm supposed to be here on my mission. We got 2 new teachers, Hermano Galán, and Hermana Alvarez. Hermano Galán is from Ecuador and he served his mission in Ecuador. Hermana Alvarez is from Burley, ID and served her mission in Chile. They are both good teachers, and it is good that we have an hispanohablante, native spanish speaker teaching us so that we can get used to the speed and accent. We just asked the Travel Office today about our visas, but they didn´t know anything new. We are supposed to receive our travel plans this week on Friday, so we´ll see. I just have to keep telling myself that maybe there is something more I need to learn here, or maybe there is someone else on some other mission that I need to talk to. There is and must be a reason for everything.

That is a good time for Kolby, now we´ll see how he handles the 3 mile race. I´m sure he´ll do well because all soccer players are good at running.

This week was fast Sunday, but around here there isn´t a choice involved. They don´t serve meals until 5 so everyone fasts. This week I have been reading over my patriarchal blessing a lot. It´s crazy how you can read the same thing at different times in your life and have it mean such completely different things. The other thing I´ve been working on is being bold. That is sort of a hard thing for me because I´m kind of a shy person. But the Lord doesn´t want shy missionaries, he wants people who are not afraid of the reproach of men. He wants people that will unquestioningly do His will no matter what, no matter who they have to talk to to accomplish it. I think the Lord needs all of us the be bolder. As we boldly defy our own desires and fears, and the revilings and discouragement of others we show our devotion to the Lord. A good measure of your own personal faith and devotion is how well you follow the commandments, all of them, and the immediateness of your response to the promptings of the Spirit. It is in the obedience to small and simple things through which God can bring great things to pass, and through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost that we can truly find those things that will make us the most happy. I have found in my personal study that if I follow the promptings of the Spirit (which most of the time come through random thoughts running through my head with out some sort of large spiritual experience) I find those things that help me the most with lessons and problems.

I am excited to see Amanda, also Jonny Vance comes in this week. If you decide to send another package could you send my running shoes (brooks...just ask Cameron), my long sleeve t'shirt and my other watch that I bought from WalMart, it´s black.

I love you all, thanks for everything you do. Today we went to the temple and I acted as a child in sealings, it was soo awesome. This church has got to be the one and true Church, through it we can gain all things we´ve ever truly wanted in this life and the life beyond. We can gain exaltation and a seat at the right hand of God, to sing His praises forever because of the great and marvelous work which he has done for us. I love you

Friday, September 3, 2010

You Represent Christ

Dear Family,
Well, time is flying by. I have been here for 6 weeks! Like I said, Elder Holland came to speak to us on Tuesday and it was awesome. He said, "we know how much we ask of you, and we do not apologize. The destiny of God's children is hanging in the balance." And "We can't afford a 15-month mission....every day, every hour, every second is important. Give 100% and don't you dare go home with regrets." But i think my favorite thing he said was, paraphrased, "Why is this so hard (missionary work)? It is hard because salvation is never a cheap experience. It was never easy for Christ, why would it be easy for you? You represent Christ, you have to walk the path He did. The road to Salvation always leads through Gethsemane. Not everyone like Christ. You need to experience what He did so that you can convincingly call yourself a disciple."
He was so good.
I'm starting to get anxious to get out of the MTC but I know that I'm here for a reason and I will leave when I'm supposed to. Mexican visas are not looking good, but we will keep hoping and praying. Monday was the 1st day of school and it was terrible. I wanted to be there. I miss classes and school, but I'm where I need to be, learning what I need to learn.

I love you all,


Dear Melissa,
Well, today is the 1st day of school for you! That is really exciting, especially because it is your fist day of middle school. You'll have to tell me how it went and what teachers you have. I'm jealous. I love the 1st day of school. Yesterday was the 1st day of school for BYU and I wanted to go sooo badly. School is awesome, sometimes a bit tedious, but I love learning things. I'm a nerd I know, but I love being a nerd. I'm going to offer a little advice for middle school. You don't have to take it but I'm going to give it anyways.

1) Be nice to everyone. That is how you make the good kind of friends. Matt 25:40. It is also your responsibility to be nice to those who need it because of the covenants you made at Baptism.

2) It is ok to get out of your comfort zone to talk and get to know people. Especially in your classes. Just remember me, I have to go up to complete strangers and talk to them about church things...in Spanish.

3) Always to your homework, even when it is hard and you don't want to. Alma 23:6. If we do all we can do, and try as hard as we can, God will take care of us. That is one thing I wish I would have done better. You are smart enough to get a 4.0 if you do your homework.

4) Don't be afraid. Do what you are supposed to and God will take care of you.

Lastly, a scripture for you to read: D&C 30:5-6. Replace Peter with Melissa, and Oliver with Braden. Love you. I know you will do fine in middle school.