Monday, April 30, 2012

Salsa Recipes

Dear Familia,                                                                                                                                                                                     

We had a good week here in Tulancingo. Elder Cataldo is leaving, changes are tomorrow and we will be leaving at 7 in the morning. It is kind of bitter sweet. He has been a good companion and we have gotten along well.
We found a couple of new investigators this week that seem pretty solid. We received a phone call this week from a brother who had a reference for us. We went to go check it out and it turns out that Alma (weird coincidence right?) had been meeting with the missionaries in Chiapas and had to move to Tulancingo. She was searching desperately to find us again to keep learning more. She went to church on Sunday with her 2 year old and loved it. We also found a less active family to activate this week. They were baptized about 4 years ago but had been inactive for work. We found them and they are no longer working on Sunday`s and were excited to see us. We went by to go pick them up on Sunday and the mom told us that the dueño of their house (they rent like everyone else here) was really Catholic and had told them that we could no longer visit them. She told him to get lost and that they would be looking for a new apartment. She said "I won`t change my beliefs just for an old man..." Haha. It was funny but in a serious sort of way. That is what the gospel does to people--it gives them the strength to do impossible things. Impossible is just a word for people who don`t want to try.

As for the missionary work here in Tulancingo there are not very many people in the street and it is not very effective to contact in the city center where there are a lot of people in the street because no one lives in our area. So we walk and knock doors and contact anyone that is walking in the street where we are knocking. We don`t always knock doors though. About half the time we walk down street looking for people to contact and only knock the doors that we feel like we should knock. We also try to visit at least 1 member every day to share a spiritual thought and ask for references or leave a Book of Mormon so that they can give it to their friends.

I was trying to think of a really Mexican food you could make. Try looking up a recipe for Pozole (it is a soup with corn and chicken and other things) or you could try Tinga. I`m sure you could finds a recipe for them. The really Mexican thing would be mole...but they don`t want to eat that. I learned how to make salsa. It`s actually pretty easy. Just buy some tomatoes (the smaller cylinder red ones I think they are called romano or something like that) and a couple of chili`s. I made mine with habanero but you could buy serrano or de arbol. I guess jalapeño too but that isn`t really that spicy. Then you fry the tomatoes whole and the chili`s too in a frying pan on the stove until they are nice and toasted. Then you put it into the blender with a little bit of garlic or lemon juice and salt (if you want to make guacamole then just put in the avocados and cilantro in addition to the garlic) and you blend it. Then you put it in a pot and heat it up until it has a nice salsa-y consistency. Then you put it on everything (that`s what they do here anyways). That is salsa for tacos...there are other ways to make other salsas but that`s the only way I know how to make it.

I haven`t really seen gardens. They usually just have random plants and trees that give fruits like lemon trees and orange trees. They have plants that they use to make tea (lemon leaf tea or yerbabuena or manzanilla (I think that is chamomile)). They can`t grow things on their roofs because they are made of either cardboard or aluminum sheeting. Some have concrete roofs too. In my area the streets are about 70 percent paved and 30 percent not paved. The city is pretty rural, most of the people come from the campo and so are pretty country like. The people here are a lot less educated than in DF so it makes for some interesting lessons sometimes. For example this week we knocked a door and a lady let us in. She is maybe 35 and said that she goes to a Christian church. We go into her house that looks half abandoned from trash and old food everywhere and sit down on some rickety old wooden chairs. We begin to teach and she said "I don`t know why God can`t heal me, maybe I`m a bad person because I have asked so much to be healed and He hasn`t heard me." She didn`t look sick and so I ventured the question "What are you sick of?" She answered "schizophrenia" We ended to lesson rather quickly and made our exit. There`s a lot of crazy people like that here. There are also a lot of well educated and wonderfully talented people also but they don`t make for such interesting stories.

HEY::: I almost forgot something I need in my package.....I`m gonna need more contacts before I go home. I have until June 21st...then I`m out.
There`s no easy solution to life...just working until your head falls off. But if we are willing to pay the price of success God is willing to give it to us. Really and truly though...everyone has to learn things for themselves...that is the hard part for those who have been there before (To sit there and watch while others have to learn the same lessons) That is the hard part about missionary work too.

Well, I love you all. I`ll tell you about my new companion next week. Also I have been a little sick with a sore throat. Love ya.

Elder Nelson

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Dear Family,                                                                                                            

Sorry I didn`t respond about my new roommate. I am really happy about it so thanks. Speaking of Elder Bringhurst he goes home this week. His last day is Saturday. That is so strange for me because he only has 3 months more than I do in the mission. I always said that I would start being worried about going home when Elder Bringhurst goes home...but he`s going home and I still feel like I have a lot more to do, so that`s good. I went to Xicotepec to do divisions with him on Tuesday and he said "I don’t really even feel like I`m going home." That`s just kind of how the mission is, it becomes your life and you can`t imagine yourself doing anything else and you don`t really remember what it was like before the mission. Your house just becomes a fantasy, it doesn`t even feel like it exists because I am a missionary and that`s what I`ve always done and that`s what I`ll always be. But I guess that`s not how it works. But I`m sure his mom is excited so that`s good for her. That also means that changes are in a week so we`ll see if I stay with Elder Cataldo for another change or not.

Also sorry for not responding to the news about Cameron`s scholarship. Sometimes you just get writing and then by the time you remember then your time runs out. But anyways, felicidades Cameron. That is a huge blessing....your older brother is just a little bit stupider and couldn`t get any scholarships. I don`t know if you realize how big of a deal that is but you deserve a blizzard.

We haven`t had any ash...actually I hadn`t even heard that Popo was exploding. That would be an exciting thing to have happen on your mission....well I`ll look for ash to fall. Maybe I`ll take a couple of bottles to sell or something.

I have no idea what is wrong with myldsmail....maybe it has something to do with the pictures or something...As for helping people out I really don`t know. Everybody has clothes and stuff because they are really cheap. What people really need is jobs and to know how to read. There are a lot of people that don`t know how to read and that don`t have a job....usually because they sit around drinking all the time...but I don`t know that there is anything you could send in a package to fix that.

This week we had several miracles. The members of our ward gave us a lot of references this week. Some of them good...some of them not so good. Hilda and Ulises (mother and son) are a family that we found by way of reference this week. About 6 months ago Hilda`s older son killed himself and a week later Hilda`s father passed away. She struggled for a long time and really wondered if God existed. We taught her in the home of the member and the first lesson we taught the plan of salvation and how through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all of our pains can be resolved and our families can be together forever. She is so excited and is really seeing a change in her life. She and her son went to church on Sunday and really liked it. We also had a miracle this week on Saturday. We were knocking doors when a 50 year old lady answered the door...she didn`t look like she wanted to let us in but we bore our testimonies and so she thought for a second and called her daughter over. Her daughter is 16 years it was kind of weird (like she wanted her daughter to get to know us and take her to the US with us) but she let us in and we didn`t really see any other option with being rude than go in. We started to teach and talk about how going to church can help us in our daily lives with trials and tribulations and things like that. Well they said they would go so we said we would pass by for them the next day. They actually went to church and stayed the 3 hours plus an extra hour for the baptismal service of the other elders in our ward. They seemed to really like it and the best part is the 16 year old has a boyfriend already so she went to church to learn more about God and not for us.`s that time again. I love ya`ll and hope you’re doing well. Tell Grandma Nelson hello and I love her and Grandma and Grandpa Andy hello and I love them too.


Elder Nelson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tree of Life

Dear Family,                                                                                                                                                                   

Well, there goes another week. Who knows where it went but it`s gone. The spider man bed spread was just a blanket that someone had left in the house so I decided to use it. It`s not actually mine and I`ll leave it there when I leave but it`s a nice blanket mientras.
We are doing well in Tulancingo.  There is some agriculture where we are...and it may be slightly higher in elevation but I don`t really know. It is greener because it is closer to the ocean and the rainforest so I assume it rains a lot here in the rainy season...I guess we`ll find out won`t we?  The difference is that here is a lot drier and windier than the big city. The weather is quite a bit like tri city weather...We eat with members every afternoon. It is a blessing to be able to be with them often and ask for their help and references. In a perfect world the mission leader would conduct the baptismal services, actually I think the manual says that a member of the bishopric should do it. Seeing as how our ward mission leader is not a very punctual person usually one of the missionaries ends up conducting the services. Elder Cataldo conducted this last one. I have learned how to cook several things...I always ask the sisters how to make the food we eat to know how to make it. I haven`t tried to make very many things yet because there isn`t very much time to cook but We`ll see how much I can learn. I can`t believe that it is already Mother’s Day in 3 weeks. There are a couple of members that have computers that we will use to skype home on Mother’s day....just that mom is going to have to send me my user name and password again because I forgot. We see President about 2 times a month...quite a bit less than before but I`m getting used to it. He is a great man and I have learned so much from him.  
I did get the package. Thank you so much for the socks. I threw away all the ones that have holes in them and I have just enough now. Thank you for all the candy and stuff, I`ll probably be a diabetic by the end of my mission but that`s ok, gotta live it up while it lasts. I got the usb drive and even though mom didn`t put an explanation on it I suppose that means that she wants me to send my sd card home. I`m working on it and sometime in the next couple weeks I will get it sent off.

We only have visitors when there are meetings or activities early in the morning in Tulancingo like Zone Conferences and interviews and zone activities. Xicotepec and Huauchinango are pretty far away so they come in the night before to not have to get up so early in the morning. We have a couple of extra mattresses for them to sleep on when they come in.

The sisters in the picture I sent were some members of our ward who brought food for half the zone in General Conference. Her daughters are some of the ward missionaries and they are a great family. The pictures that I sent of the area that are greener are on the way to Huachinango and so we don`t really go there to work very much. We have a ton of little pueblos but we don`t go there to work because the people don`t have money to go to church. President Monson has instructed that we grow the church from the center out. So we are dedicating our efforts to the main city of Tulancingo and only going out in the pueblos for references. We do have 2 sister missionaries in our zone. Sister Valera from Colombia and Sister Vega from Peru.

As for getting the ward involved we have been trying as hard as we can to always be smiling. We always try to animate the members and let them know that we are missionaries that work and baptize. That gives them the confidence to give us references. Apart from that we are trying to serve the bishop by activating less active families and helping him out with whatever he needs. We have been working closely with the 1st counselor because he gave us a reference. We went and taught the reference in his house and we gave a really spiritual lesson. He (the counselor) was crying at the end. Even though the reference didn`t really want anything to do with it the brother just caught on fire and has been giving references and talking about the gospel with everyone. We have been trying to better our relationship with the Relief Society president because some of the missionaries that were here before kind of killed off any relationship with the ward. We are going to do some ward activities and a "tree of life" where we put a huge tree on the bulletin board. When someone gives us a reference we put a leaf with their name on it on the board. When the reference is being taught we put a yellow leaf and when they have been baptized we put a fruit with their name on it on the tree. Hopefully the pride of the members will force them to give us more references. We`ll see. The only reason members don`t help in missionary work is 2 things...they don`t have a very strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ (or they don`t understand that they are in the only true church and that anyone who does not get baptized in it has no chance of salvation) or they are afraid because they don`t know how to help. Addressing those two problems will fix any participation problem.

I got to speak on Sunday. I spoke about the obra misional and Alma 42. Basically because of the fall of Adam all men are fallen and lost. We of ourselves cannot get back to the presence of God and that creates the need of a Redeemer. The Atonement saves us from the physical death...but it only saves us conditionally from the spiritual death. We need to be obedient to the ordinances (baptism) of the Gospel to be able to return to live with him again. We are the only church that can offer salvation because the Restoration gives us the unique ability to be able to testify of the divine authority through which we baptize. No one else except for the Catholic religion can claim that. Therefore we must share the gospel or all our neighbors will never be able to go Home.

Also I sent some pictures of the zone activity we did today. We went to the house of a less active member of our ward and cleaned up his house and land. They are really super poor and people like that just live in we went and took out all the garbage and fixed his roof and organized all their stuff. The mom isn`t a member and committed to go to church this week as a result! We then went back to the church and had a training on having the tenacity and mental strength to baptize every week. Then we had burritos. It was a good activity. Well...I love you and pray for you and hope you all are living up the standards of the gospel.

Hoorah for Israel,

Elder Nelson

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Power of Prayer

Dear Family,                                                                                                                                                                                      

Elder Nelson and Elder Cataldo
My Easter was a good one. There are 4 missionaries in our ward Insurgentes, 2 Americans and 1 Mexican and 1 Chilean. Apparently the other American and I are the only ones who somewhat know how to play the piano and so they invite us to play every week. The other American Elder Hendricks is about as good as I am...which is not saying very much. I played "Cristo ha resucitado"....kinda embarrassing. I only played the top hand and on the last line there is a really hard part finishing...yeah well I just didn`t play that part and left everyone hanging for the last phrase. But there is no one who can play better so I guess they just have to live with what they got. Other than that the meeting was pretty good. The speakers aren`t the most polished down here but that`s not what`s important. The speakers were a family from Zacualpan. That is a little pueblo in the state of Veracruz that is in our is about 3 hours away and they come every other week all the way to Tulancingo to be with the ward. There is a ward extension there and every other week they hold sacrament meeting in their house. We don`t go there because it is too far away that the people don`t have enough money to keep their covenants and travel all the way to Tulancingo. Also Mom, we felt your prayer this week. We found several families this week...although only one of them came to church this week. The whole week we had been praying really hard to find new investigators, we had been praying that the Lord prepare the areas donde we were going to work to prepare the hearts of the people with whom we were going to speak and praying specifically for all the investigators we had. We found new investigators every single day this week and I was so grateful for the mercy God had showed us. I have found that success is not measured in baptisms, although that is our purpose. Success is found in the act of allowing God to direct our paths and take us where He would have us be and talk to the people He would have us teach.

Tulancingo Zone
Tulancingo Zone?
But in the sacrament on Sunday I was wondering why none of our investigators had gotten to church yet except for Marìa de La Paz who had just gotten confirmed. I concluded that my prayers had been all wrong. I was simply praying to find investigators...but we had not prayed specifically for people that were actually willing to go to church. The power and specificity of prayers is something I have been learning a lot about. Right when the sacrament was over however in walked the Marquez Cruz family. We had talked to the sister while contacting in the street...she was carrying a lot of groceries and we offered to help. She declined our help but we presented ourselves anyways and she accepted a visit later in the day. We went back and she was actually there and let us come in. She spoke of how she had a large faith in Christ but had never really participated in a church. She has family members that are members of the church and had heard good things about it and was willing to go to church and Sunday, read and pray about the Book of Mormon and depending on her answer be baptized on the 22nd of April. We came back on Saturday and taught her husband who is a little more reserved, but accepted to read and pray and to come to church on Sunday. They have 3 little girls, 8 and 7 and 5 who loved primary on Sunday. They really liked church on`s going to be a little hard to teach the brother because he is a trucker and only comes home on weekends but we have faith that he will progress also. They were our miracle of the week. Thanks for your prayers.

Maria de La Paz
I sent the picture of the baptism of Marìa de la Paz on Saturday. It was a great service and Elder Cataldo and I sang Nearer My God to Thee as a special musical number. She just is so incredible. She was so elect. She had no problems or trials or issues with anything...accepted everything and was baptized in 3 weeks. The ward is getting involved (we have been working really hard to get the ward involved with us) and her testimony at the end was telling. "I`m sort of new at this, but I feel really good. I hope to continue with you all and continue learning and growing. I will see you all tomorrow." She is going to be a firm convert.
Our Apartment in Tulancingo

I have not gotten my package yet but might get it tomorrow because we have interviews with President tomorrow. As for Easter traditions we saw the viacruz...the representation of Christ and the crucifixion again. They don`t really have Easter egg hunts down here. Tell Kolby that I laughed at him for not counting well the eggs in his basket. There`s a spiritual lesson to be learned in that. Sometimes we spend hours and weeks and months looking for new and improved and special tools and gifts to accomplish the things the Lord has required of us when we had it in us all along all we had to do was recognize our own gifts as what they were.
Melissa HAAPPYY  BIRTHDAY!!!! Joe, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! You`re one year older and one year wiser too now Heavenly Father expects that much more of you.

On the way to Xicotepec
I sent a couple pictures of the house and one of our area from the bus going to Xicotepec.`s that time again but I love you all, I pray or you. Please pray that we find people to teach and that will go to church. I`m happy and learning and trying with all I have to complete what I have been called to do.

Elder Nelson

Monday, April 2, 2012

Building a Lemonade Stand

Dear Family,  

Well, I tried to send pictures but the computer I am using is you will just have to wait another week.

Pretty crazy coincidence that an ex missionary from Bellevue Washington came to visit after 25 years and that he happened to be in our ward on Sunday visiting old friends. I thought I would take advantage to give ya a ring. His name was Trevor Weiss. I`m glad he actually did call. Small world. Amanda is home??!!? That is so weird. I remember picking her up off the curb at the MTC...that was only like a month ago right? If I were a sister missionary I would already be home right now...good thing I`m not. I`m sure she`ll adjust just fine...after all it is just another transfer right?

Well I`ll answer the questions now so that I don`t forget. The food is basically the same...just the people here are poorer than in DF so it is a little less higher quality. We still eat with sisters every day but we always have to travel a ways to get there because everything is more spread out in Tulancingo and about 90 percent of the members (active members that is) live in the other half of the area where the other missionaries are. We use a lavanderìa just like before...drop the clothes off on Wednesday and pick them up on Wednesday. Our bathroom is pretty nice and pretty big. The house is pretty new. We have a boiler that heats up the water so we do have hot water. I had some nice pictures to show ya...but I guess I just send them next week.

My companion plays the clarinet..but I haven`t heard it since we`re not allowed to have instruments. He was in an orchestra before his mission so I assume he`s pretty good. He is a very good teacher and he is teaching me a thing or two and he has a pretty good sense of humor. He is pretty young in the mission so he still has the whole mission in front of him and doesn`t have to think about finishing. I try not to think too much about time...but sometimes missionaries do and that is when home sickness and disobedience and all sorts of things start to happen. He is obedient and is very open to suggestions and help. He speaks differently than Mexicans, but has lost his Chilean it`s sort of a in between and sometimes it`s hard to understand. He is a good companion. I have definitely had worse.

This week I went on divisions with Elder Bringhurst out in Xicotepec.  It is really weird out there. It is really humid and looks a lot like the cabin. It is a tiny little pueblo and the people there are weird and very non-committal but it was great to work with Elder Bringuts (that`s how the people pronounce his name) again. He hasn`t changed at all and it still working as hard as he can. He really is a great example of how to finish well. They had to come all the way into Tulancingo for General Conference so we got to watch conference together again also.

My favorite part of conference was the last words of President Monson. As he spoke I just felt the spirit so strongly and I knew that he is a prophet of God. The apostles spoke with such power and authority and I felt their great concern to go in search of the lost ones to go and rescue the less actives and non-member`s.

Also this week was the Zone Leader Council and since we are so far away from Aragòn we went in the night before and stayed in the Assistants house. It was really weird to go back to Campestre for a night. But it just didn`t feel the same...God has called me to another part and I know that with all my heart. God has called me Tulancingo to change it, to be humbled and to really turn my heart over to Him.  This week we only had 1 investigator come to church and I was so upset. We are really struggling because we don`t have any members that live in our area and so there is no one to hermanar the investigators. But we have a plan. We are using the ward list and since there are no active members here...we are going to activate them. If you want a new bike you have to put up your lemonade stand right? The investigator that did go to church is named Marìa de la Paz. She was a bit of a miracle. We were contacting when we saw her leaving the tortillerìa. We contacted her and she let us come to her house with her and we started to share a lesson....we were talking about what a blessing it is to go to church when she asked us "Do you want tostadas?" We said maybe after we were done talking....but she got up and made them for us and so we obviously ate them....all we had done was invite her to church...but we had another appointment and had to leave. She showed up to church all by herself last week.  This week she went all by herself also and she loved the conference. She seems really elect and she has her baptismal date scheduled for this week. She is having a little bit of trouble leaving coffee so we are praying really hard for her.

Tell Cameron felicidades for being salutatorian and tell Darci thank you so much for registering me. I remember how much of a hassle that was and I know that she is busy. Mom...I remembered that I never said Happy Birthday to you back on St Patty`s day....I thought about you all day and I just forgot each Monday to say something....but happy birthday. Your birthday present gets to happen on Mother`s day when I call home.

I realized this week that the hardest part of the mission is not converting others...but converting yourself. It is not simply converting yourself but keeping yourself converted. To keep the fire of your testimony burning bright through the waves of affliction and troubles that come our way...but real power is found in learning how to renew your testimony. I have a lot of things to fix and study after the conference and I am glad that they were able to tell me what I can do to be better and be more be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is my goal and my dream to be a true disciple and to have an unshakeable faith and trust in God and his purposes. I love you all so much and I am praying for you. Please pray that we can have the faith and resolve to find new investigators and that we can really and truly become more converted everyday to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.


Elder Nelson