Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ties! and the best district!

This week was pretty fun. Although boring, we had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the things we did. On Friday, we went to the local University to proselyte and practice our spanish. This was actually our second time going, but this experience was way better than the first. We met a shoe shiner (there's tons of them all over the university and on the streets) and he was super interested. He has a really firm belief in Christ so that made it a lot easier to build off of. He seemed to know a lot about Mormons too, even though we couldn't understand a lot of what he was saying in Spanish. Although we couldn't understand, Elder Morris and I could really tell how interested he was. We ended up turning that referral and Pedro from the park over to missionaries in the field who could do a better job of contacting them and teaching them. 

The MTC is getting really old. Every day seems to be the same schedule and the same spanish over and over. Most of us have come to the conclusion that we won't really learn much more here, and that going out into the field would be more beneficial to us. Anyways, Sundays in the MTC are always really great and relaxing and we always have great lessons by President Romney and awesome devotionals. The Spirit is always so undeniably strong on Sundays and especially in our district meetings when someone bears their testimony or shares an experience.  Our district is so close knit and I really love that about us. We can laugh about anything but then still be able to change and have the spirit with us. I would definitely say we have the best district as far as spiritual growth and spanish teaching are concerned. I'm so appreciative of them and everything they have taught me about being a good missionary and representative of Christ. 

Though everything is good here in the MTC, I can't wait to get out into the field. Spanish is coming slowly and the one thing I really think would be better learned in the field is conversational spanish. We really don't get taught any of that here. It's just past tense and future tense and all these things that have to memorized. I feel like when I get out into the field that stuff will just come to me through total immersion and having to use it all the time. But I can see improvement every day in my teaching and spanish skills. I have found a new love for the Book of Mormon as I have been reading a lot during personal study and stuff. I've really focused on finding the points of the chapters and writing them down and it has really helped me to understand the scriptures better and I can get a better picture of the stories they tell. The DR temple closes next week, so today was our last time going through. That is always a really spiritual experience. We went to the store again on Tuesday, and I bought more ties of course. But one of them ended up being really fat and I didn't realize until we got back because I wasn't paying enough attention. So I'm cutting it open and re-sewing it together to make it skinnier. It's pretty ugly on the back but hopefully the front will look good. It's really exciting mostly because I have no idea what I'm doing. So, IF ANYONE WANTS TO SEND ME TIES, I WILL GLADLY ACCEPT THEM :)

I've learned so much here in the MTC and I think just these last 4ish weeks have made me into a much better person. I'm so appreciative that I have the gospel in my life. I can honestly say that the Gospel of Jesucristo is true. (also my spanglish writing is getting worse). I know that I have a Savior who died for me so that I can have all my trials and pains and sins lifted from me. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true prophet on the earth today and that through him, we can know of all the things we need today. I love this gospel and I can't wait to be out in the field in a week and a half sharing what I love with everyone. It's truly a blessing and a privilege to be here.

I love you all and I'll get you another update next week!


Elder Nelson

 With the Hatian Elders before they left

 Tie comparison -- the wide tie I bought and I'm re-sewing to be skinnier like the others

My district

Message from my district to Dad

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I was able to talk to President Romney a lot this week about how I'm feeling about my dad and the accident. He offered a lot of kind words and advice, most of which had already been running through my head. He's a very genuine guy, which makes talking to him about this stuff much easier. He talked about how this trial was put in our lives for a reason, and that years from now my dad and I will be able to look back on it and see the blessings, that maybe this brought us together or even our entire family together. And this is already true. My dad has already pointed out to me how the whole family is becoming closer and more connected. I'm so grateful for his example, as someone who never dwells on the negative but is always looking toward the future with a hope in the better things to come. 
We got to hear Elder Ourth's conversion story this week, and let me tell ya, it's pretty powerful. Kinda like a mini Joseph Smith story. He just got baptized in May of 2014 and has such a strong testimony. 

Most days around here are pretty boring and routine, but when we are able to feel the spirit, it changes our attitudes for the rest of the day and makes it feel like a whole new day. On Sunday, Elder Morris and I were able to pass the sacrament and then teach the Sunday School lesson. We chose to teach on faith and it went really well. We got a lot of compliments afterward from our district about how good it was and that we will both be really good missionaries. Sundays are so great, with all the devotionals and meetings. We listened to the Quorum of the 12 Devotional after dinner and then went off to our district meetings. We talked about the devo, but didn't really have a lot of thoughts on it. So we just kinda starting sharing our testimonies of Priesthood power and I don't really remember what we were supposed to be talking about, but I felt really impressed to share with them my dad's story from the previous week and how I have been feeling. I got like halfway through and started to cry and lost it and then I was able to bear my testimony of Priesthood blessings and how although my dad's injury seemed to be worse than they thought and the blessing he received couldn't change that, I know that the blessings he receives by Priesthood holders will bless him in other ways that we have yet to see. I have faith in the Priesthood power and that no matter what happens, somehow the blessings he receives will manifest themselves in his life. My district is so supportive and understanding of how I feel and have been offering me a lot of support and have shown their concern for my dad. They're working on ways to let him know that they're praying for him and it's really awesome to know that they're so supportive. After the district meeting, Elder Morris gave me a really simple blessing for peace and comfort, and I know it is already working. I know that things happen for a reason.

We formed a choir in our district, singing "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" this Sunday. I stubbed my toe on a curb while we were playing ultimate frisbee and I'm pretty sure it's broken but I'm not gonna tell anybody hahaha. I was running after the frisbee and looking up into the sky and then I kicked and tripped over the curb and hurt my toe and it hurts so bad and I'm such a clutz. 

Somehow Hermano Eve found out about my dad and gave me a giant hug and all that stuff and became my favorite teacher all over again. He's so compassionate and caring and relatable. 

Anyways, that's basically all the exciting stuff from this week. My hair is growing back nicely, in case you didn't know that I got a buzz cut 2 weeks ago. I love you all and this is the true gospel on the earth. Christ lives and died for each and every one of our pains and sins and trials, and for that I am forever grateful. The mission is going well and I can't wait to be out in the field. 

Until next week, love Elder Nelson.

 My district in front of the temple.

 You can see the ocean from the temple.


Friday, July 17, 2015


(Zack's email from yesterday's P-day finally arrived)

July 16

Well week two was a success, and was much better than last week. Time is flying now and it feels like just yesterday I was writing home for the first time. Last weekend, Saturday the 11th I believe, we went across the street to the park for like the 4th time to do contacting and practice our sharing the gospel in Spanish. Elder Morris and I had a really rough night talking to people, most of whom were not receptive to the gospel at all. But our teacher Hermano Eve told us that we should go outside the park and talk to a policman. He was super interested in the message and started talking a lot in Spanish. We couldn't really understand anything he was saying, so we called Hermano Eve over to translate and it turned out that he really wanted to know more about the gospel and how it can help people. He told Hermano Eve that he sees all these people every day with all their problems and wants to know how the gospel can help him and the other people with their problems. We set up a time to come back to teach him while he worked for Monday, but when we went back to teach him we couldn't find him because apparently his work schedule got changed. His name is Pedro, and I'm still confident that he will find the gospel sometime soon. It was so cool to have an actual investigator and have to prepare an actual lesson while in the MTC. Not many missionaries get to teach a real investigator while in the MTC.

My Spanish is advancing quickly and is gettting pretty good, I think. We were able to teach a 30 minute lesson to one of our fake investigators in complete Spanish with no notes and it was so good. We could really feel the spirit and even when the conversation got off course, we could figure out what to say and how to answer all of his questions in a way that made sense to him. To be able to teach a full lesson in spanish with no notes and feel the Spirit is a huge accomplishment. Normally, it's just reading the spanish phrases out of a book and hoping that we can fill in the missing words or answer the questions. The spirit en espaƱol is amazing and I can't wait to feel that same spirit every day in the mission field.

On the 14th we got to go to the local store, like a Walmart. There were 26 of us misioneros because the ones that were here when we arrived have left to go out and serve their real missions. It's crazy how cheap the DR is! I was able to buy 4 quality ties in this store for 5 American dollars a piece. Seriously a steal. Hopefully I don't go bankrupt on the cheap ties because they're really nice. I also bought some nice spanish scriptures from the LDS bookstore that's on the first floor of the MTC.

Hermano Eve is probably my favorite teacher. He's taught me so much about how to be a successful missionary and how to really love the investigators. You can tell that he truly cares about us and the gospel and the people we will be teaching soon. He's so fun to be around and makes you know that you can do anything with the help of the Lord. He makes Spanish so simple for us and is definitely part of the reason I'm advancing so quickly.

It's truly amazing how the worst things can happen to the best people. To find out through an email that my dad has broken both his ankles was really hard and kinda devastated me today. I've always heard and been told that the families of missionaries are blessed in ways that you couldn't imagine. And I have just been waiting for the day that I get the email that says something great has happened and my family is being blessed. This was not really what I wanted to hear. I've prayed a lot today about why this might have happened to my dad and my family and why did it happen at this time. I just wonder why my family had this happen and is not receiving the blessings that I thought they would. I was able to spend time in the temple today and was able to pray more about this trial and ask for the Lord's help in blessing my family with comfort and peace. I didn't receive an answer about why this happened and I'm sure it''ll be a long time before anyone understands why this trial was put in our lives and mostly in my dad's life. But I do know that through this trial and this trial of our faith, He is blessing us with comfort. I was able to feel that comfort in the temple today and all I know is that everything will work out and that things happen for a reason. This makes me ask questions, but I am greatful that I have faith in Christ who makes it possible for us to endure all our trials. I know he took on himself the pain and agony that my dad is and will be going through, and all of the stress and emotions of the rest of my family. I know that Christ suffered for us so that things like this are easier to handle. It is faith in Christ that brings peace and comfort to my life.

Anyways, that's really all I've got for now. The MTC is basically the same things every day and is beginning to fly by and before we know it, I'll be out in the field serving the people of Puerto Rico. And I am so excited for that. I know that this church is true and that if we truly want answers to our prayers, that Heavenly Father will give us those answers. I'm so thankful for my fmamily and their strength as they stare down trials and take them head on. I love my mission and my district and I've made so many friends here and can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for me over the next 2 years.

Until next week, hasta luego- Elder Nelson

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Buzz cut!

(Zack's mom here.  Didn't get a letter today, just some pictures, which is odd...maybe his email got lost in cyberspace!  But here is some info he sent to others that I've pieced together! He's referring to his Dad's broken legs/ankles)
I've been wondering all day about why Heavenly Father would put this trial in the lives of my family. I've prayed so much.  They always say that the families of missionaries are blessed like you wouldn't even know, and now my dad is having surgeries and is out of work for months. Where's the blessing in that? This just makes me wonder why something like this would happen to my family. Through all of my prayers, the only thing that comes to me is that everything happens for a reason. I have no idea why, but the trials are in our lives to make us stronger. After going to the temple today and praying all day, I've been comforted knowing that things will work out and that it was put in our lives for a reason. Someday, we will know why this trial was put in the life of my dad and my family. That's the beauty of the gospel. God has a plan for each of us and it won't always be what we expect but we have to look forward with faith in Christ that we will make it through stronger than when we began.
Things are going really well here. My Spanish is getting a lot better and I can do a full lesson with an investigator in Spanish with no notes. The Lord is truly blessing me.
The MTC brings a barber in every 2 weeks and I didn't want to wait 2 weeks so I went and got a haircut but he didn't speak English and didn't ask what I wanted done and then he just buzzed my head! I look like a thumb! haha

Hope you guys are doing well with dad being all crippled and stuff. That's such a bummer. Make sure he knows that I love him and wish I could be there to give him a blessing.

I love you guys,

Elder Nelson

Dominican Republic Temple

        with Elder Valle

     with Elder Henriod.  Buzz cuts, we look like thumbs! haha

             next to the Dominican Republic Temple sign

       With campaign posters for AP (a district joke)

              Dominican Republic Temple

              me and Elder Spence

Thursday, July 9, 2015

MTC life and a recipe for Tanner

I'm doing really good but for the first few nights, my sleeping was really bad and I couldn't get to sleep for until like 12:30. Now I'm tired when we go to bed and I fall right to sleep and sleep peacefully through the night. Waking up is so hard! I'm happy, it's only when we have down time or right before bed that I seem to think about home and how much I miss everyone. It's getting easier. Elder Morris is a good companion and we work really well together when prepping for lessons and such. He's nice and laughs at all my jokes, so that's cool haha. 
Most rooms have 4 missionaries, but somehow Elder Morris and I only have us in our room. Next week, we are getting more missionaries in the MTC and may get 2 more put in our room but that probably won't happen, is what Hermana Romney said. They do church in one of the larger classrooms in the building with all 60 missionaries, and then split into English and Spanish priesthood and Sunday School lessons since there are so many Latino missionaries here too. We went to the temple this morning, and will go on every P-day in the morning before we can do anything else. It's a really pretty temple and I'll send some pictures. Super cool to be in the session with all the missionaries. They did two sessions, one for English and one for Spanish. 

I'm glad it sounds like you guys had fun for the 4th. We celebrated the 4th here on Friday the 3rd with a big dinner and lots of decorations and stuff. We did it on the 3rd because the MTC fills with people on the weekends who are going to the temple. The food here is really good, tell Tanner that it's basically a lot of rice and beans with a little bit of meat on the side. Usually chicken. They have fruits and lots of bananas, and we've discovered that if you take the sweet bread rolls, cut them in half, spread peanut butter on it, put four Oreos in, add some chocolate sauce, fold it back up and then put it in a waffle maker or some kind of hot press, it makes one delicious desert. Maybe Tanner can try to make one.

Spanish is hard. We speak it constantly but some things are just so hard to pick up on. Although hard, I have improved so much. I can pray, bear my testimony, and basically go through the first lesson in Spanish. Sometimes typing this email is hard because I try to spell things in Espanol. About every other day at like 8pm, we go across the street to a park and practice our Spanish by talking to random strangers about the Restoration. We introduce ourselves and then talk about the message of the Restoration and ask if they'd like a pamphlet. Then we bear our testimonies. It's pretty simple but it helps with our Spanish and teaching so much. The spirit is so strong when you can sit down with a random person and share your beliefs with them.

Each day is basically the same so there's not much to say there, but the teachers are amazing and are so invested in us missionaries even though they too have to work 13 hour days plus go to school. We are truly blessed to have them as our teachers. President and Sister Romney are the MTC president and wife, and they are extremely nice. They love the gospel and are really concerned for the teaching and well being of the missionaries.

We only have 45 minutes to email so this is all I have for now, and if I think of more at the end of my time I'll send another. I love you all so much I know this gospel is true and that I am in the right place. I miss home but thankfully that has not gotten in the way of my learning and the spirit I have felt here. I truly want to be able to share the blessings of my life with others. The mission is a hard but rewarding thing and I have already seen that. You are all in my prayers every night and before every meal, even in Spanish!

Thank you guys for your prayers. 

Anyways, I love you guys and I can't wait to hear more from you!


Elder Nelson

                                             MTC district

                              Elder Nelson with Pres. and Sis. Romney, DR MTC Pres. and wife

       Elder Nelson and Elder Iongi (missionary from Portland that I sat with on the plane)

                                      Elder Nelson at the Dominican Republic Temple

                                             Lots of rice and beans!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Made it to the Dominican Republic MTC!

We made it to the MTC in the Dominican Republic and man, it is one totally different world. The drivers are crazy and there's basically no rules and we almost got into like 7 wrecks and it was freaky but thrilling haha. Our flight from Portland was smooth, and then our flight from SLC to JFK got delayed an hour because of mechanical issues or something so we didn't leave until 1am Utah time.  Once we got to JFK we had to scramble to find our gate but thankfully made it in time. The DR is soooo hot and humid. Thankfully, the MTC is air conditioned. Apparently this week, the MTC is getting 47 new missionaries which will be the most it's ever had at one time when you add in the few that are still here. My MTC companion is Elder Morris from California.

Also, we ate our first rice and beans meal right when we got to the MTC and it was surprisingly good. I'll probably get sick of it but so far the food is good. And lots of bananas. They're kinda force feeding us Spanish as well so hopefully I'll be fluent sooner rather than later.

Anyways, I love you guys. Tell everybody I said hi.

Elder Nelson

See ya in 2 years!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Today Zack was set apart as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by President Brad Richardson of the Forest Grove Oregon Stake.  Elder Nelson has been assigned to serve in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.
It was a tearful goodbye at the airport!  Elder Nelson has been called to off he goes!  We will miss him like crazy but we are so proud of him and know he will be an awesome missionary!