Monday, March 26, 2012

Hands on the Plow and Looking Forward

Dear Family,                                                                                                                                                       

I would send lots of pictures this week.....but I decided to keep you on your toes so that you will read my letter next week. Just kidding...actually I left my backpack that had my scriptures and my camera in it in the house of the secretaries and have been without it for about a week. But I will get it back on Thursday in the Zone Leaders Council so I will send lots of pictures next week. It was kind of hard to be without my scriptures...but I learned a lot from just walking around with a blank Book of Mormon. It tested my knowledge but I kind of like it. My back it pretty much 100 percent better. I am just scared of hurting it again but today we played soccer with some elders in the zone and it felt fine...I just kind of took it easy.

The earthquake was kind of crazy. We were in President`s van driving to the stake center in Aragòn for the changes meeting when the van just started to rock back and forth and side to side. Sister Hicken said "I`ve never felt that before...I wonder what`s wrong with the car?" Then we saw all the people start streaming out of the buildings and standing in the middle of the street and noticed that the street light poles were swaying back and forth quite a bit and it hit us that it was an earthquake. The power was out in a large portion of the Aragòn area but I didn`t hear of any deaths so it must not have been that bad.
The drive to Tulancingo was about 3 or 4 hours...usually it is about 2 and a half but we had to go to Pachuca and then over to Tulancingo. Our zone has all of stake Tulancingo which takes up a large portion of the state of Hidalgo and part of Puebla. My apartment is really nice. It is two stories and almost new. It has a large kitchen with a bar and an oven and stove top. The upstairs has 2 bedrooms and a bathroom and I spent most of today cleaning it so now it is clean and feels good. I will send pictures next week. There are two pairs of missionaries assigned to our ward (Ward Insurgentes) and the majority of the members live in the other half of the area. It is a ward that has had some trouble with disobedient missionaries in the past and so we are working really hard right now to gain their confidence, starting with the bishop. It is a good ward but they are not very used to working in the missionary work so we are going to help them feel the love and joy that comes from serving non-members and less actives.
The area is huge...well I guess anything is huge after being in an area for 10 months that was about 20 blocks by 20 blocks. But it reminds me a lot of Teotihuacan. The people are a lot humbler, and a lot more afraid of commitment. They have a funny pueblo accent and there are a lot of hills. The life style here is a lot slower so I am trying to adjust after being in the superfast paced life of DF. Your success always depends on the way in which you adjust to the people. We have been knocking a lot more doors because the population density isn`t nearly what it was in DF. I got to the area and they had no investigators at all which was a little disheartening...but we have been working really hard and have been finding some good people. Please pray for us that we can find families that are ready to accept the gospel. Prayer is a mighty tool.

Elder Cataldo was a zone leader for 1 change before I got we are learning together. He is from Ovalle,  Chile....sort of the middle. He lives in the mission Chile Viña del Mar. He is about my height and a little chubbier, he only has about 9 months in the mission so he is making me feel like an old man. Mom, you`re probably right....this is probably my last area. I am planning on buying some souvenirs from each place in which I have served and I already have a couple. I will probably go back to Teotihuacan to see the pyramids one last time and buy a couple souvenirs and things to help me remember. But I still have 4 whole months left so I will probably do that in my last change.

Family....I want to tell you about the experience I had this week. After the changes meeting I rode back in the changes bus and I just couldn`t believe that I wasn`t going to back to Campestre. I just wanted to cry.  10 months and so much learning and many memories...I wasn`t an assistant anymore and that was weird because my whole mission I had been. I just began to feel so useless. I got the Tulancingo and there was no investigatoers...nothing. We went out and started knocking doors but I was just so frustrated because we weren`t having any success and I hate knocking doors. I just kept thinking "I hope I have changes again so that I can go back." In my prayers at night time I almost cried everytime. I was just so frustrated and so useless. I walk fast and my companion walks slow...he was being very negative about the ward and area and I just felt so frustrated. Then I was studying one morning and I read Alma 17 about the sons of Mosiah.

The words "prayer, scripture and fasting" kept jumping out to me so I began to fast that God would help us. In verse 16 it talks about how God prepared the hearts of the people to receive the gospel with gladness.....and I realized my great error....pride.  I realized I had been trying to do everything myself...and I can`t. Elder Nelson can`t do anything...but God can. I tried so hard to put all the negative thoughts out of my heart and the words from the Book of Mormon penetrated me.  God chastised me pretty good. Finally I left the house with a new perspective...I can`t but God can and God wants more than anything that we find the people that He has prepared for us. That day we taught 7 lessons and found 5 or 6 new investigatores. Now I like my area, we talked about a lot of things that I can change and that he can change (my companion) and I love him. I know now...nothing can stop us. He who puts his hand on the plow and looks backward isn`t worthy of the work...or the blessings of it. We will find teach and baptize...I don`t know how...but we will.  I don`t care what it takes....I am here to consecrate myself to the work and no one and nothing will get in our way. Of course that is always when we know who is in charge and to whom we give the thanks for the blessings we receive.

 Thanks for your prayers this week because I felt them. I know that all of you prayed for me but I had the distinct feeling that Mom was praying extra hard. Thanks.   I love you all. I`ll send pictures next week.

Hoorah for Israel,

Elder Nelson

More excerpts from letters to Melissa and Brett:

Dear Melissa-
Thank you so much for writing me. It always makes my Monday when I get a letter from you. Yes I do like my new area and my new companion. It is very different and I am adjusting still but it is a good are and my companion is very good. The temperature is a little hotter here than in Aragon (Eragon is the book). It is also colder in the night time and there is always wind. Only the really rich people have T.V.`s that have general conference and there are not very many rich people in my area so pretty much everyone goes to the church to watch it. I am excited for your Time Out and I love you so much. Keep choosing the right.

Love, Elder Nelson


Thanks so much for your letter. I`ll try to answer your questions and if I forget anything then I will include it in the big email. Tulancingo is a lot smaller than DF, so the people are a little different. The food is different also. The people have peculiar accent, it is the accent of the pueblos in small town Hidalgo but it`s nothing I can`t understand. It is actually really similar to Teotihuacan. It is a lot more dusty and windy here so it reminds me more of home.
About three months ago the mission got cell phones for every companionship, so we do have a cell phone. The difference is that the assistants have unlimited calling minutes. To everyone else they give about 400 pesos and it charges us a couple of pesos per minutes so we always have to be really quick on the phone so that we don`t run out of credit. Public transport is good. It always is in Mexico because no one has their own car. The public transport are like little hippy vans that drive a specific just have to know where you are going and which combi to take and where it passes. When we go on big trips like to Pachuca and DF we take greyhound type`s not that bad except that I get car sick sometimes.
I am walking about the same seeing as how I went to the offices about 4 times in my whole time as an assistant but it is different because the area is so much bigger it seems like we walk more. Elder Bringhurst is in a little pueblo about 2 hours away and actually I am going to do divisions with him on Tuesday.
Tell Grandma I love her and that I am excited to see her in about 4 months. I think about her sometimes and I pray for her. Thanks for everything Dad...after seeing the amount of dysfunctional families and domestic violence that goes on in the world I am really grateful for the family that I grew up in. I guess you just don`t appreciate things until they are gone. You really are a good father.

Love ya,

Elder Nelson

Monday, March 19, 2012

Goodbye Campestre Aragon, Hello...

This is what I do...

As for the question that everyone is asking "where is Braden going?" Well I actually knew about 2 weeks ago because we help President with the changes. I am going to Tulancingo as a zone leader. Elder Bringhurst goes home in 6 weeks and is one of the district leaders so I will be able to work with him a little bit before he goes home…

Campestre Aragon Ward
My companion is Elder Cataldo from Chile. He has about 8 or 9 months in the mission and I don´t actually know him that well but all the reports have been good. Elder Chambers is going to replace as assistant. He is from Benson, Utah...a little hick town off of Logan. His accent is great and he will be an awesome assistant. I have learned that it is never good to get comfortable because that is right when God sends trials and changes to make us learn more and stretch further. This week has been really hard as I have prepared to leave Campestre. It is like leaving home all over again. It was so hard to leave my converts...but I know that I´ll see them again when they go through the temple and in the Celestial kingdom. I love these people and this area so much. At the beginning of my time here I went about trying to put a little bit of heart in all of the people I met and all the things I did...but now as I frantically try to piece it back together again I guess I´ll just have to leave half of myself here in Campestre.

The "Miracle"
I sent some pictures of our area...of the buildings called "The Miracle"...of "puerco" the dog of a family in the ward because I knew that mom would like it...of the baptism of Marcos and of the family that was baptized this week. Their name is the Family Florez Sanchez. We had been working with them for about 3 months....which is a lot longer than we usually stay with people but we just felt like they would get baptized and so we stuck with it. Only the mom and 2 of the daughters got baptized....we still have the Dad and a sister to go but they are almost there. They are a really special family and I am sure that once the dad and sister get baptized they will go to the temple in a year. We received them as a was a phone call from San Luis Potosí. A temple worker had found them outside the temple looking and invited them into the VC to have a tour. they felt the spirit a lot. They wouldn´t accept a baptismal date for about 2 weeks...but finally Celilia (the middle daughter that was baptized) said that she had picked her own baptismal date for the 16th. After some good strong and hard lessons her Mom and sister were on board also and the ward has really reached out and fellowshipped them.

Familia Florez Sanchez
Marcos´s wife finally went to church this week!!! And she liked it a lot!!!! She will probably be baptized the 1st of April.
Marcos and his family
We had another miracle this week. This week we had Zone conferences or other capacitations every single day and I think the earliest we started working was about 4 pm. That makes for a rough finding week...but on Tuesday we were contacting and we contacted a younger man Oscar and his wife...they said we could pass by the next morning...our mistake was that the next morning we had a zone conference and we wouldn´t be able to make it to the appointment. We also forget to tell him we weren’t going to be able to and stood him up. But we remembered on Saturday and we called him. He said that we could pass by for him in the morning to go to church. We picked him up and his family went. We went by in the afternoon and taught him and his wife the restoration because they really wanted to know more about the church. At the end we invited him to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if José Smith was a profet of God. He replied "I already know that it is true...but if you want me to pray about it I will...!!!"
I am excited but also a little scared for the challenge of lifting Tulancingo...I know that I can´t do it by myself. I can´t...only with help from above. I will just have to start by working...trying to put a little piece of my heart into all the people I meet and all the things that I do. Pray for me that I can be humble...the expectations are so much higher now that I have more experience and I will need all the help in the world (and above it) to be able to meet them. I love you all and pray for you. I´ll let you know about everything next week.
Elder Nelson

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

PB & J Sandwiches

Dear Family,                                                                                                                         

This week went by soo fast because we were soo busy all week. We had zone conferences in Tulancingo and Pachuca on Wednesday and Thursday so Tuesday in the night we went and stayed at President´s house to be able to leave early in the morning. We did divisions those two days with the zone leaders and then on Friday we finally got to work in our own area except that we did divisions with the zone leaders from Azteca so I didn´t get to work in my area until Saturday.

So as I said last week was super busy and we didn´t really even get for than 2 days to work I was a little worried going into Sunday. Usually it takes a little time to find good new investigators and when Sunday came we really hadn´t found anyone. But the whole way to the chapel we were praying for miracles...but when we passed by for one investigator that we had found he wasn´t there. But miracles do happen.  After sacrament was over I saw a man in jeans and a tie

talking to the bishop so I thought I would check it out. Turns out that he hadn´t been to church in 7 years and had finally come back of his own free will. He happened to bring along his 8 year old son and 11 year old daughter that aren´t members of the church and left his 14 year old son at home. He expressed his intention of coming back and

his desire to see his children baptized. Then we went to Gospel Principles and a recent convert presented us to her friend that she had brought to church. Her friend had come to her of her own free will and asked that she invite her to church!! To someone else those things might seem like petty details and interesting consequences but to me I

recognized them as a prayer answered. Sometimes we can´t control everything (even though we would really love to be able to). Sometimes the answer is to give it all you got and then sit back and pray for a miracle...but one thing I know is that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and He never ever leaves us out in the dark. He wants even more than we do that we bring souls unto Christ.

In the zone conferences Elder Jordan and I capacitated (taught) about the first lesson (or in other words the first lesson contact with the investigator). There are three things that are essential in the first lesson and those are

1. The invitation to church (bread),

2. The invitation to read and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true(PBJ) and

3. The invitation to act upon that answer an being baptized into the true Church of Jesus Christ (bread).

We compared it to a PBJ sandwich. If someone comes in and just throws a piece of bread (invite to the chapel) without bringing the spirit or finding a need it is simply just throwing a piece of bread and no one wants a piece of bread

thrown at them. (Elder Jordan demonstrated by throwing a piece of bread at me). Then we presented a nicely made PBJ sandwich (strawberry) that was cut up into triangles and presented on a plate. I tried to invite Elder Jordan to eat the sandwich...unfortunately he was allergic to strawberry.   After starting the lesson (like PME says in Como Comenzar a enseñar) we need to ask questions and find the need of the investigator because if we come in with a pre prepared

memorized lesson they will more often that not reject the gospel. Then Elder Jordan started asking me questions like what kind of bread I like and if was allergic to any sort of fruit or what kind of sandwich I was truly looking for in my life and made the sandwich while he was talking to me...much more appealing. But the important thing is that he can make a perfect sandwich...but if he does not invite me to eat it I will never truly accept the sandwich...if we never invite them to be baptized they will never do it and will never truly understand our purpose. Everything according to the spirit.

Also we played basketball today on the wooden court and I hurt my back a little. I was just jumping for a rebound and "poom" something went in my back. Not quite sure what happened yet because I am going to ice it and use icy hot and take ibuprofen for a couple days to see if that takes care of it. But it hurts just like it did when I hurt it Freshman year in basketball. Just though I would be honest and let ya know about when I am sick and things.

 This week we have 3 more zone conferences and so it is going to be a super busy semana. I guess we just take the waste and wear out our lives bringing to light hidden things scripture very literally in the mission.

 Day light saving doesn´t happen until the 1st of I don´t know what time it is there but here it is 4:50. ya...praying for ya....until next week.


Elder Nelson

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Banner is Clear

Dear Family,                                                       
Well, glad to hear that all is well on the housing front. Sounds like finally everything fell into place like it should have. Funny how God makes us stress out until we act...then everything falls into place.

President Hicken doesn´t allow us to extend. He always says "your mission is for 24 months...then you have to move on with your life." So no I will not be extending. As far as requests for packages...the only thing I can think of is socks. I always run out. My shirts are still good, my pant are still good, I just barely had to start using my other pair of shoes (19 months took its toll on the first pair) and my garments are still in good working order so the only thing I can think of is socks. I don´t really care what kind. I like gold toes...but really you could buy Wal-Mart socks and I would be happy.

Graciela and Diosilyn
This week Graciela (the older woman in white) and Diosilyn (the younger girl in white) were baptized!! Graciela we found about 4 weeks ago. Elder Jordan found her with another elder who was here with us for a couple days. They contacted her 4 times on the same day...and she finally accepted. They just kept running into her...I guess if God wants somebody to accept He will put them in our path as many times as is necessary. She was really having a rough time because her 16 year old son had just barely found out that he was going to be a father. Her son and husband are actually members of the church...but very inactive. Actually her husband didn´t even come to the baptismal service. She has truly seen how the peace and joy of the gospel can change someone´s life. She told us that she was happier Sunday than the day she was married. She is just so happy...and that makes me happy. Diosilyn is the daughter of an inactive woman. We found her and started teaching about the Book of Mormon. She wanted to be baptized because she felt how much peace entered her life when she started reading the book. Her mom is now fully active and very grateful to have returned to the church. It is interesting because I had taught this same family several times months ago with Elder Bringhurst and they had never wanted to go to church...I guess some people need a little more preparation.

They have had some crazy opposition. Last Monday we received a phone call from Diosilyn asking if we could come over. We went over and everybody was a little freaked out because her mom had left on a business trip a couple days before and one of the tires on her truck had exploded going 80 miles an hour on a busy highway. They fixed it and then a couple minutes later they had another tire blow out. They didn´t think anything of it until they got home and started drinking water with ice cubes. The water tasted horrible...and made them throw up a lot. They discovered that someone had put poison in the fridge...they had painted the inside of the fridge and where the ice cubes are made with cockroach poison. We gave a couple blessings and the spirit entered the room. Everything turned out ok...they fired a couple of people who worked in their house and things seem to have quieted down for now. Of course they can´t call the police because they wouldn´t do anything anyways. The police’s policy is that they won´t investigate until somebody is dead....good policy.

Marcos received the priesthood and is really excited. His wife accepted a baptismal date for the 25th of March!!!!

I also attached a couple of pictures of my area to try to give you a better idea of what I see everyday. I really do love this ward and this area. There is an incredible amount of people in the streets waiting to be taught the gospel. I didn´t write in my journal very much this week because there was so many things that happened that we were soo busy all week. So I don´t really know what else to write. But I will do better this week.

I love you all and I pray for you everyday. I love the gospel and Mexico and there is no other place on the earth that I would rather be. I read a quote this week by Henry B. Eyring that was really inspiring:

"I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast; I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won´t look back, let up, slow down or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I´m finished with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly walking, cheap living and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, or popularity. I don´t have to be right, first, recognized, praised, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted in prayer, and labor with power. My pace is set, my gate is fast, and my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my Mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won´t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go until he comes, give until I drop, preach all I know and work until He stops me. And when he returns for his own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear."

The apostles are so powerful aren´t they? 26 days until conference!! I love ya´ll and hope that all are determined in the cause of Christ.


Elder Nelson