Monday, January 31, 2011

Instruments in His Hands

Elder Nelson and Elder Ramos with Omar and Edgar

A 6 month Tradition :)

Near Teotihuacan....Nopaltepec

Hola Familia!

Happy Birthday Kolby and Darci! 22...that´s a lot. But then again I turn 20 in June so I shouldn´t be saying that. 15 and driving, that´s way exciting. Don´t crash, and don´t do anything dumb. Congratulations to the both of you, another year went by. Time goes by way too fast, aprovechen el tiempo que tienen. I can´t believe that everyone is getting so old. Sometimes I just wish I could go back and watch the tractors....but that is not what God has in store for me or for any of

Well, this week we had two more baptisms, Omar 14 and Edgar 13. They are the children of a lady who had been inactive for a long time. She recently became active again and her children wanted to be baptized, and we were more than happy to help. Teaching them a little different from teaching other people because kids are so innocent and pure. When they pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet they really want to know, and there isn´t any other motivation. Then when they receive their confirmation that he was indeed a prophet called of God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ again in these latter days, it is such a spiritual and uplifting experience. That is my favorite part about this whole missionary business, when people who really are searching for truth receive their answer. When they know it is true, they are so happy and so free.

Well, my new companion is Elder Ramos. He is from Ensanada, Baja California, Mexico. He is the only member of his family that is a member of the Church, and only has 2 years as a member. He has just under a month in the mission. We get along well, and he is really anxious to become the best missionary he can be. He is really good at loving people, and is very humble. I feel like we are going to have a lot of success together even though I still really don´t know what I´m doing, I still don´t really know how to train or lead a district, but I´m praying a lot and working really hard. This week was a little hard because we worked really hard, and we didn´t really see much success. Getting people to come to the Church is the hardest part. But I am just going to keep being obedient, studying PMG and taking all the advice I can get from my Zone Leaders. God will provide the way if we will trust in the process.

This week we saw miracles. Wednesday we contacted a woman and her two brothers in the street and put an appointment for later that night. When we went the house was really hidden, but we found it. Then they let us in (that is a miracle because most of the time we put appointments and then the people are there or don´t let us in). The woman we contacted was on dialysis, and her brother was suffering from burns on his legs. We taught the Restoration and explained what a blessing was and gave each of them a blessing. There ended up being 5 people there to listen to us and some of them were crying after the blessing. After we left that night I just felt our Heavenly Father´s love so strongly. Even though when we went back the next day to see how their prayer about Jose Smith went they weren´t there, and the next day when we went back they weren´t there again I know that God used us to bless His children. It is disappointing when people don´t keep their appointments, but we just have to be diligent and ask ourselves why God wants us there.

It is such an exhilarating experience to see how God uses us everyday. Many times we will be in lessons and I won´t know what to say to help a person, but then I just start talking and the Spirit takes over. It is almost like watching myself teach because we are just instruments in the hands of the Master Musician.

O yeah, I was going to tell about my experience with my letter from Darci. A few days ago I was really struggling with the concept of how in being exactly obedient, we must be exactly obedient to the whispering of the Spirit. Sometimes, like in the case of Nephi and Laban the Spirit prompts us to do things that we wouldn´t normally do. Sometimes we are asked to do things that we doubt that we can do. But Darci wrote "Sometimes we have to step into the dark to fully trust God. The dark is scary, but we need it in order to learn to depend fully on the Lord. Braden, have the courage to step into the dark and allow Heavenly Father to take your hand, He will make sure you won´t fall." It was an answer to my prayers and my worries and questions. We just have to be completely obedient to the whisperings of the Spirit and trust that God will allow us to become to people that He wants us to be, even if that is not who we thought we were going to become. You guys are inspired in your letters and I love reading them so much.

Thank you so much for your support and love. I love each and everyone
of you so much. More than I ever thought possible antes de mi mision.
Each of you are important sons and daughters of God and He has a plan
for you. I love you all, read your scriptures everyday, say your
prayers and practice the piano.


Elder Nelson

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Training and Preparing the Way...

Hola Familia!!

Well, I officially passed the 6 month mark on Friday. It is kind of weird that 6 months has really gone by because I feel like I left you all on the curb at the MTC yesterday. A quarter of my mission has gone by...that is a lot, and I don´t know whether to feel excited or sad. I burnt a tie to celebrate the 6 month mark in keeping with tradition, I would send photos but this computer doesn´t have a port to connect my SD card. I can´t find any of the other SD cards that I had, I don´t know if I sent them home and didn´t get them back or what...but I´m going to buy one this week so that I can send my SD card home this week. There are about 420 pictures so that should keep you busy for a while.

In response to the questions about the bike, well we don´t use them any more. We only had permission to use them for one week when we didn´t have any money and still had to travel to appointments. My bike was borrowed from the dueño, and Elder Garcia borrowed his from some members. I took a picture, so you can see it. O yeah, and you can put my pictures on facebook if you want.
Ok, now for the big news of the week...cambios! (that is the word we use for transfers) I don´t have cambios, but Elder Garcia does. We have a district of 4, the other 2 elders finished their missions this cycle, and Elder Garcia has cambios, so I will be the only one left in the district. I have been assigned to be the District Leader, and I am going to train a new missionary. I don´t really know what to think. I am way way excited to train and it makes me feel good that Presidente has enough confidence in me to make me District Leader....but I have never even been senior companion so I really don´t know how I´m going to do it. I guess the answer is just to trust that God knew what He was doing when He assigned me to these two responsibilities, and that He will help me to fulfill them in the way He wants them fulfilled. I´m feeling excited but overwhelmed at the same time. It was weird to hear the cambios because I thought I was going to be transferred to another area, but God wants me to stay in Teotihuacan for a while. E Garcia and I will go to Aragon tomorrow to the cambios meeting and I will receive my "hijo." I still feel like I am learning how to do all this missionary stuff, so it will be an adventure to be a papa, but I am just going to be obedient, work as hard as I know how, and trust that everything will turn out ok.

On Saturday we took the family that we baptized last Sunday (Pedro and Concepción and their hijos Daphne and Caleb) to the Centro para Visitantes at the the Temple. (By the way I found out that Daphne has epilepsy, not autism) It was soo awesome to watch people, that up until 3 weeks ago had never even thought it possible to live with their family after this life, see the Temple for the first time, and make goals for a forever family in a year. The video they were showing Saturday was The Testaments, and it was so powerful. There is a scene towards the end when Christ comes to the Nephites that I love so much., There is a prophet named Helam who, in the search for his wayward son during the catastrophes that preceded the coming of Christ, lost his vision by a tree falling on his head. His wayward son brings him to where Christ is blessing the little children. Helam says "I have waited all my life to see Him, and I can wait a little longer....tell me about Him, tell me every detail, what He is doing..." At which point Christ walks up to Helam and says "Helam..." and puts His hands over Helam´s eyes and heals him. That part when He says his name, I just imagined Christ saying my name and such an incredible and poignant feeling of joy and happiness hit me. I have waited all my life to see Him, but I can wait a little longer. I can learn of Him, and strive to become like Him, so that when the day comes that I see Him, I will recognize Him and I will have His countenance engraven on mine. How incredible will that day be? I can´t even imagine how joyful and marvelous that day will be. I know that He lives and loves each of us. I know that He is my King, and I want to be able to do anything for Him. I know that He will come again, and we as missionaries are preparing the way before fantastic a calling is that?! Preparing the way before the Lord.

I also had an experience that strengthened my testimony that God loves and watches out for His missionaries. We were in Nopaltepec this week on Thursday visiting one of my conversos that is struggling a little bit and checking some old investigators. Nopaltepec is about an hour away from San Juan (where we live) in bus. The last bus apparently leaves at 6...but we didn´t finish until 6 15, and we were trying to figure out how in the world we were going to get back to San Juan. We asked an older man when the last combi passed for Otumba, because from Otumba we can take a combi to San Juan, but instead of telling us he offered us a ride. He happened to be in Nopaltepec and happened to be going to the exact spot where we needed to go and happened to have a car, and happened to be nice enough to give us a ride. So we got in his old rusty red Datsun and he took us back to San Sebastian where we had an appointment and where we could walk home in less than 20 minutes. It was a show of God´s loves for us. I was a little nervous about getting in a strangers car in the middle of nowhere in Mexico, but I didn´t feel anything bad, and the Spirit will warn us of dangers if we are willing to listen. That was my cool experience for the week

Also, to answer Mom´s question about keeping the commandments versus enduring to the end...there is a huge difference. Our journey to the Celestial Kingdom is like climbing a mountain, there are checkpoints a long the way such as baptism and the temple. If we keep all the commandments and make all the covenants we will reach a certain point on the mountain, but we will not reach the top. Enduring to the end means that we must "seguir adelante con firmeza en Cristo, teniendo un amor perfecto de Dios y de todos los hombres..." (2 Nefi 31:20 i is towards the end of the chapter) I can keep all the commandments and maintain my spiritual standing, but to reach the summit we have to keep pushing and "improve until the end." We cannot be satisfied with simply keeping the commandments because we have to, but develop a love for Christ so that we keep them out of love and so that we can always be "abounding in good works." Keeping the commandments implies complacency and stymied progress, persevering to the end implies action and a relentless search for ways to improve and do better. But those are just my thoughts...take them or leave them.

Jason Mills I got the letters from your family and I loved them. It sounds like everything is going well for you and that makes me happy. I am happy that you are enjoying Chamber sure to keep Cameron in line. I appreciated and use dthe advice from your is always nice to get advice from former missionaries. I don´t think Jason would like Mexico very much because there are a lot of bugs...and everything is very dirty. Keep choosing the right Jason!

Well, my time is short. I love you all soo much and I learn a lot from your letters. I had an awesome experience this week with one of Darci´s letters, but I will have to tell you about it next week. I love you all soooo much, keep choosing the right and keep reading your scriptures, praying and practicing your piano.

Elder Nelson

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tank of Gas=Life of Luxury

A Mexican Water Heater :)

Christmas arrived in Mexico for Braden!

The Gingerbread House tradition lives on in Mexico! (But it is a kinda pathetic looking house....)

Elder Nelson and Elder Garcia playing soccer on P-day

Elder Nelson near the Cathedral that plays Simon and Garfunkel music
from it's tower

Mole Rojo...not Braden's favorite

Artistic Graffiti in Teotihuacan

Woman at Old Folks home on Christmas Day--she hugged him "like 4 times!"

Typical sight after Christmas--a drunk man asleep in the streets

Hola Familia!!

This is an email of pictures....I tried to remember all the things you guys wanted to see. I included a picture of my Christmas, Elder Garcia and I playing soccer on P Day, the gross looking thing in a bowl is not what Kolby just said it looks is called Mole Rojo and I ate it. It really doesn´t taste good. There is also a picture of me next to graffiti that I thought was really cool. There is a picture of a guy sleeping on the ground...he is drunk. That is really typical around Christmas time. Also a picture of when we went to an old folks home on Christmas day to sing hymns and give gifts. This little old lady hugged me like 4 times, and the majority of them started crying because no one ever visits them. It was an awesome experience.

Ok, first thing is first. We finally baptized this week!!!!I haven´t had a baptismal service since November and I was starting to forget just how awesome it is to baptize. We baptized a couple named Pedro and Concepcion. He is in the army and they live on the army base that is in San Juan. They have an incredible story. They have a daughter with autism, and one day they were walking home when she started to have a seizure and convulse on the ground. She, Daphne, is only 5 years only and they didn´t know what to do. One of the members of our ward happened to be walking by at the exact moment when she started to convulse, so he rushed over took her in his hands and gave her a blessing. She stopped convulsing and returned to completely normal. Before the blessing she had been having emotional problems also, she didn´t want to talk or walk or play or even eat. But now she is running and playing, still autistic but much more normal. That is the power of the priesthood. From there the family started talking about the church with the members of our ward, and then they invited us to come and explain more.

The other baptism we had was Jose. We found Jose when Elder Llanos and I were checking former investigators. Turns out he has a girlfriend in another ward and has been attending her ward for a while. We started visiting with him and decided after a while to drop him because he wasn´t ready to make the commitment to be baptized. Then when I was with the Zone leaders after E. Llanos left we were giving a fireside in the stake center to the future missionaries of the stake and Jose happened to be in the building at the same time. He approached me and told me he was ready to be baptized and gave me the date he wanted to be baptized.

There is such an incredible feeling in baptisms. The feeling is different, it´s not a fiery spirit like when we talk about Joseph Smith, nor the solemn respectful spirit like when we talk about the is just gentle and sweet. It´s like Heavenly Father is giving them a gentle and loving hug, getting them ready for the battle that will follow. They are clean, completely and fully clean. That is such a fantastic yet abstract thought.

Life is good here. Today we went to the Pyramids again as a zone, I took a bunch of pictures. I need to find my other SD card and then I will send this one home. I really worried though because this card has 350 pictures on it and I don´t want to lose it.

As for the weather, it is windy sometimes and I love it. I miss the wind and it reminds me of home. The weather is pretty nice, but I have become acclimated to it, so I get cold in the mornings and nights. Good news!!! we finally got a tank of gas, so after a month of bucket showers we are living the life of luxury with hot showers. I sent a picture of the bucket and the thing we use to heat the water.

This week I played piano for Sacrament meeting, way scary. I played two of the hymns with only the top hand, but they thought it was better than the CD player we usually use.

Darci I have been studying Hope like you suggested in your letter. I love this topic, it is so awesome for missionary work. ´´Faith, hope, charity and love with an eye single to the glory of god qualify him for the work...´´ (D&C 4) Hope is an optimism that the principles of the gospel are true and real, not just abstract ideas. It is an enthusiasm for life that comes from a knowledge that God will fulfill His promises. I don´t have enough time to share everything that I learned because I filled up 5 pages in my study journal with this. Hope is an abiding faith in Christ and His atonement that leads us to do charitable things and love the people that surround us, and these good works lead us to glorify God who has used us as an instrument to bless His children and others to glorify God because of our acts. It is sooo awesome.

Mom, for the scriptures to come alive.....that is a good question. The truth is for little kids that stories are the best becuase they don´t really care about doctrine. The thing for you to do if you want to bring the scriptures alive is develop an extensive knowledge through daily study. This knowledge and testimony that you develop will lead to enthusiasm for the scriptures and ability to teach from them because you know them soo well. You have to be enthusiastic, that is the key to making the scriptures real. I have really developed a testimony of the scriptures, we are really wasting a day if we go without our scripture study.

Well I love you all sooo much. I am soo happy that all of you are really trying to live the gospel. The gospel, when lived right, will occupy all our time and thoughts and efforts....and will fill our lives with the pure love and joy of Christ. It will give us a taste of the eternities, and will take away or diminish our pains and discomforts. I love my Savior, I love Him so much. He is more important than the air we breathe, and He loves us with a love that we cannot fully comprehend. I love you all so much. Until next week,


Elder Nelson

Monday, January 10, 2011

Zocolo (Town Square)

Hola Familia!!

I hope everyone is feeling better soon, there´s not much I can do for you except to say that at least you can be at home when you are sick. You guys still have Mom to look after you and tell you what medicines to take, so although being sick isn´t very much fun,it could be worse.

Yes my banking situation has been taken care of. I can withdraw money and everything, thank you soo much for fixing that, not that I use money of my own very much, but in case of emergency.

No, we still don´t have a refrigerator....but don´t worry about fruits, that is one thing that is super super cheap here. We bought a bag of mandarines 4 kilos for 10 pesos. People are always giving us fruit, and that is usually the dessert after the meal. I am taking lots of pictures, I am going to send some this week that is coming, and as soon as I find my other SD card I will send a package with the 300 other pictures I have satisfy your curiosity.

I feel really bad..but this is going to be a really short letter again because today we went to the Zocolo, look it up Mom will like reading about it, but we got back late. This week that is coming I promise to dedicate the full hour to writing to you.
Grandma Andy I got your letter and package, thank you soooo much!! I love getting mail, and I loved your card. It means a lot that you made it yourself, and I love the socks also. They are keeping my feet warm at night.

We have 3 baptisms scheduled for this week, Jose, and a family (the parents are the only ones old enough to be baptised). I will send pictures and stories next week.

I also need to repent because I got letters from some people a long time ago that I haven´t responded to. Saydi Ostler, thank you for writing me, your letter helped me through some of my homesickness. I hope you are having a blast in Hawaii. Lindsay Slocum also, thank you for your letter. Sounds like everything is going well in Idaho. I´m glad you are getting to teach, teaching is the best...especially things of eternal significance.

Well I love you all, I hope I get your package Mom at changes.....I´m having this feeling that I´m going to get transferred, but who knows. I love you all soo much, You never know how precious something or some people are until you can´t talk to them except 2 times a year. I pray for you everyday, I hope you all are working hard towards being a family that will be happy together forever. Practice your piano Kolby, Melissa and Cameron. It will bless your lives more than your think. I love you all.

Elder Nelson

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dirt Biking!

Hello Familia,

How is everyone doing? Thank you everyone for your letters, they were a nice surprise when I opened my mail today. Well Happy New Year!! It is 2011 already, kind weird. Time passes really quickly, I remember when it was the year 2000 and everyone thought that the computers were going to crash and Mom and Dad tried to trick us by showing us the ball drop in New York at 10:30....telling us it was 12.

New Years here was a little crazy, we were supposed to be in the house by 6 unless we had a member that was going to bring us to the house in their car because the streets are crazy. People here light off fireworks, alot a lot of fireworks. We were sitting in the house of the family that fed us dinner and we heard a firework start screaming, it got louder and louder and louder until we heard a bang. Someone had launched a firework airborn and it had hit the window of the house of the family. It startled me. There were a ton of drunks walking the streets, but we haven't had any problems with drunk people yet.

We actually went to the Pyramids today, and we left a little late, so this letter might be a little short.

This week we got permission to use bikes until the first of January because we didn't have any money and the area is huge. I got to ride a bike down unpaved roads in Mexico, how cool is that? It is also a lot more fun to ride bikes than walk. I will have to tell you more about it next week.

This week for music I heard ACDC Thunderstruck, and I thought of a younger version of Dad and of Brother Hare. I love you all so much, I want to respond to your letters but it will have to wait until next week. Darci, I am so happy for you, I was praying that you would find a good job. Cameron, that is awesome that your friend is taking the discussions.
I will study the scriptures that Mom and Darci gave me. Melissa I love you and miss you sooooo much too. Be good for me. Practice your piano. Cameron and Kolby I will respond next week, but I love you. Dad I love you soo much for your example. Be Good, all of you. Read your scriptures and do something nice for someone you don't like very much.

Sorry it was sooo short, but I love you and I know you love me too.


Elder Nelson