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 here...so 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 growing...so 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,
More excerpts from letters to Melissa and Brett:
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 route....you 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 buses....it`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.