Monday, August 31, 2015

Week of Storms

August 31, 2015

Well this week was exciting! We had storms and some success and it was just pretty weird, but here are the details!

Monday: was just P day. We went shopping and then then we stayed home all afternoon (if I remember right) and played cards. We play Skip-Bo and Phase 10 a lot in our free time, like before bed and stuff. So Monday wasn't very eventful. Everybody was kinda freaked out because we were supposed to get such a big storm on Tuesday, but we didn't do anything to prepare since we're in a cement house and have no belongings to really worry about. Then we went to Family Home Evening with an older couple in the branch. They're so nice. They fed Borries and I some fried chicken and french fries and then we talked and shared a message and then they called us their kids and angels and it was really nice and they both got really sentimental with us. I think everybody really likes Elder Borries and I.

Tuesday: We were supposed to get a huge storm. But we woke up and nothing had happened. So we got ready like normal and then at like 10 am it started to pour super hard. So we changed and went outside and danced around in the rain and the puddles. It was fun and childish but was very necessary. After that, we went out to our district meeting and it continued to rain really hard. Afterwards, we went out to Taco Bell and ate and hung out there while the rain let up. Then it finally let up and it was basically done. So it wasn't quite a hurricane, but was fun. We got home around 2 and went out and worked and didn't really have any success because people were dealing with puddles and water and leaks and stuff, so we went off to our dinner appointment with an investigator. Her name is Margarita and she's the grandma of the Cora family (who are like our best friends). Everybody says that she won't progress but we got there and we talked and she showed us that she had read all the way through the middle of Alma. We were stunned. Like last time, she was in 1st Nephi. So we are hopefully going to commit her to be baptized this week and set a date for late September.

Wednesday: We had absolutely no success. We went to a couple houses to try and find people, some contacts and potential investigators, but nobody was home. So we were walking home when we found Moses (or Moises if you're speaking Spanish) and he is always drunk. That's the thing with him. He lives next to a bar and is always there. But he waved at us and came over and said that he wants help with his drinking and that he will come to church on Sunday. Well, he didn't come. We called him Sunday morning to wake him up and he didn't answer so he might have been hung over idk. That was Wednesday in a nut shell.

Thursday: We were again prepping for another storm, so everything we had planned got cancelled before we could even show up. Except for our lunch appointment with a less active family. We went over and had a really great lunch and then shared a message and invited them to come to church again because the branch is growing but could really use their help. So then the wife gave the closing prayer and in the middle of it, began to cry while she gave thanks for the missionaries and for The Book of Mormon in her life. So I think they'll come back soon and be strong. They didn't come to church though, so we'll see what happens this week. Then at like 8:30 pm the storm really moved in and it began to pour. The power went out and it was out all night and the wind was so strong and loud and it rained so hard.

Friday: The storm continued on Friday, as we woke up with no power still and dark clouds all over. So we got ready and stuff but had absolutely nobody available to teach and it was raining on and off so we ended up spending a lot of time at home because nobody had power. Then at like 3 when we had literally nothing to do we went and got lunch and then went down to the Malecon (the pier) and watched the big waves- which are super uncommon for the south side of the island. And then Florez and I decided it'd be fun and a once in a mission opportunity to sit on a bench at the end of the pier and wait for waves to soak us. And they did. We got soaked. In our church clothes. And it was fun. And totally worth it. The waves were so big. Then we went out to some rocks and basically did the same thing. It was a rough walk home though, completely soaked. Then we tried to work some more once I was showered, but had no success so we went home and sat on the roof and played cards and ate chips. And then President Ramos came by (what an awesome guy) with a lantern for us and some KFC since we still didn't have power at this point. It was a good night.

Saturday: We really didn't have any success with what we had planned, until we went to a member's house to talk with her. She's 91, but has tons of energy. And while we were visiting with her, like her entire extended family came by. Like her daughter and granddaughter and their kids and it was just awesome because we've been looking for them so that we can teach them. Some of them are less active and others aren't members. And everyone always says that these people are super unreceptive to missionaries and stuff but they love me and Borries! They're all so friendly and invite us over and it's just great. Seems like with all the unexpected people, we have the most success. That night, we went over to Jayla's to see how her talk was coming for Sunday.

Sunday: Church was good mostly because Jayla gave a really great talk. She was super nervous but when she got talking up there, she was really comfortable and happy and it was so good. She did an amazing job and I could totally feel the spirit and understand her talk. I think she's basically reactivated, but we just have to talk with President Ramos. Then we went off to a surprise birthday party for the Cora's 13 year old daughter. And Puerto Ricans go all out. It was cool. So we stayed there for a while and made some friends and they had like a real DJ and he played 'Watch Me' with the whip, if you know what that is. It's a song that says "watch me whip, now watch me nae nae" whatever that means. And there's a dance, and I know it and so does Yalishmar, who's the youngest girl in the Cora family. So we did the dance and everybody loved it and laughed their butts off and then soon all the 20 kids were behind us with the other elders and they were all doing the dance even though some of the elders struggle with it. Hopefully I can get the videos sometime. And then some parents did it and it was just so fun and everybody loves me and yeah it was great. Then we went out and worked and just had a normal Sunday. 

Also, like last P day we all ran out of money on our Mission Cards, so we have kinda been living on really no food for a week. But we survived.

That's really it for this week. I love all you guys and I hope everything is good back at home or wherever you are!

Love, Elder Nelson

Some answers to some of Mom’s questions:
We cook a lot of rice and beans and chicken. But Elder Borries is actually a really good cook and makes some good stuff for us. 

The humidity is pretty bad. Like it's hot. I sweat a lot. But then when we get to sit down and stuff it's not bad. You just kinda get used to sweating.

We have a washer in our house so we can really do laundry whenever we want. And then we have some racks and fans and we just hang dry everything. It's not too bad.

I don't really have much else to add. But President Boucher was not able to bring my mail from the office. So that was lame. Hopefully I can get it this week. Could you also add to my blog that people can send things to 

Urb. Arroyo Del Mar
Calle Caribe #108
Arroyo, PR 00714

Because it's actually really reliable and that's what everyone does. That's my house address. 

 Washing the car in the rain in the first storm.

 Big wave.  Usually on the south side there's no waves

 Cool wave
 me and Elder Florez under the wave

 at the ocean

waves crashing on the pier

Huge wave caused by the storms last week.  Not sure why picture is so dark, but it's super uncommon to have any waves on the south side of the island where I'm at.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A hard week, and rabbit for dinner!

August 24, 2015
This week was pretty hard.

Tuesday: We had a district meeting in Arroyo because apparently none of the other missionaries have keys to their respective buildings, I have no idea why. But it was good. Then we went out to Campo (which is like the neighborhoods outside of the center of the city) and we were super unsuccessful. We had awesome lessons planned and could've added like 3 new investigators if we had been able to teach those lessons. But nobody was home. We planned to teach a less active but she wasn't home because she works crazy hours apparently. So it was a really unsuccessful afternoon, especially when our dinner appointment got cancelled. This was extremely disappointing because we don't get fed a lot, like maybe 3 times a week. And we have 2 set meals with investigators and these ladies cook some mean meals. Like man they are so good. But, we didn't get to eat dinner with her on Tuesday. So we ended up coming home and visiting with people in our neighborhood. We ended the night by hanging out with the Cora family, who are like the missionaries best friends. They're so fun and just easy to talk to. Always a good way to end a bad day.

Wednesday: We went out to another small town that is in our area, but doesn't get a lot of attention because we don't really have many ways to get out there. This was also a somewhat unsuccessful experience. As you can tell, we didn't have a very great week. We had a list of a bunch of less actives to try to find in the area but when we found the houses, they either weren't there or they didn't exist. One address was completely bogus. Like we found the area it should be in, but when we asked neighbors, they said that the house doesn't even exist and they've never heard of the people we wanted to talk to. And then in a different area, we found a house of a less active but the lady living there said she had never heard the name and that she had been living there for like 15 years. So basically the references were bologna. Then we came back to our neighborhood and had appointments lined up, but either the people had to cancel when we came by or they weren't there. We just have a really hard time finding people home.

Thursday: It was a pretty laid back day, because we spend like half of the day doing weekly planning for the next week, talking about all of our investigators and less actives and how we want to teach them. We did some work and visited with some people after planning, and then got picked up by President Ramos (our Branch President) and he took us out to his house in Guayama. We had to get special permission from President Boucher to do this since it's out of our area and that's really sad because it was super fun. Oh and he took all 4 of the Arroyo elders. We got there, and he lives on a hill in what looks like the middle of the rain forest. But it's not technically the rain forest it's just really green. Anyway, those are unnecessary details haha. He cooked rabbit for us. Rabbit. And it was good. It was actually a really, really good meal. He has like a rabbit farm with like 20 rabbits and some of them are gigantic and were kinda freaky. It was a fun night and he has a really cool family.

Friday: We went back out to Campo to try and visit the people we couldn't get to on Tuesday, but again missed some of them. But we did get to teach a lesson which gave us a new investigator. Then we found some people who were a really old contact but we were able to set up a return appointment for them so that was cool. Then we went to dinner at Laura's and that was the best part of the day. She made some really good rice and beans and some kind of meat and it was just really good. But right when we got there, Borries introduced me and her grandson Javier came running up to me and gave me a huge hug. And then after dinner he was combing my hair as I shared a little thought with them. He's a funny little kid. But a really nice family. Then we came home and I packed up to go on an exchange in Salinas (which is like the next city over). 

Saturday: I was with Elder Nielson on Saturday (funny huh) and it was an interesting day to say the least. We only got to go to like 3 lessons because we went to our first lesson and we were there for wait for it....... 2.5 hours. SHE TALKED SO MUCH. She talked about politics and racism and German Jews and all kinds of random stuff. Neither one of us could get a single word in. She just talked and talked and talked. I was getting kinda annoyed so I tried really hard to get a message in. We wanted to commit her to read the Book of Mormon, so I had to kinda raise my voice (not in a mean way) and ask like 4 times if she would read the Book of Mormon. It was so hard. Luckily she spoke like 4 languages and talked in English. But it was crazy. Then we went to 2 more lessons and they went really well and after we were done, Elder Nielson told me how impressed he is by me and my Spanish and my willingness just to go outside my comfort zone and talk. Like my Spanish is getting pretty good. I'm beginning to be able to understand all the different dialects which is awesome. So Spanish- it's getting better. I'm really able to express myself pretty well now.

Sunday was cool because we had 2 less actives come to church again. I was really tired at church though so I didn't understand much of what was going on. I did give some good input in our Priesthood lesson though. We went out and tried to teach some lessons after church, but most people weren't home. We did find one guy though, who is a contact that they've had for a long time but are never able to find him because he's always drunk. But he came up to us in the street and asked us if we could help him with his drinking and then we set up an appointment with him for next week. So that was good, hopefully we can actually find him and help him.

But really the mission is going well. It's hard and we've kinda gone through a dry spell but it's forcing us to find new ways to work and get in contact with our investigators. My Spanish is getting so much better and I can see it improving every day. Now that I can understand more, I can feel the spirit in the lessons better. I love the spirit that I can feel in our lessons and especially in Spanish. As we've visited with people, a common thread in everyone's lives is that faith is so important, especially when we have trials. In 1 Nephi chapter 3, we love to share this story because Nephi prays while he has trials, but he doesn't pray for Heavenly Father to change the situation. He prays and asks for the strength he needs to change the situation himself. He had such strong faith and that is a great example that we have found to share with people.

Anyways, that’s about it.  I hope everything is going well at home!

Oh, and there's supposed to be a tropical storm/ hurricane coming over Puerto Rico tonight and tomorrow so that'll be exciting. I really hope it hits hard because that could be so fun. Maybe give us some opportunities for service.

I didn't get many good pictures this week. Hopefully I'll get more this next week

Love you all,

Elder Nelson

Elder Borries sleeping

the ocean is pretty

Monday, August 17, 2015

My first area! Arroyo!

A few things from Zack's handwritten letter on August 12 --  My companion is Elder Borries from North Carolina.  He's 21 and is in the military school in Virginia.  Our area is fairly small, called Arroyo, on the south east end of the island.  We're in a house with 2 other Elders so that's cool. 

Email received Aug. 17 --
Lots of stuff has gone on this week. It's been an intense 10 days. I wasn't able to email on Tuesday like Hermana Romney promised us we would be able to do when we got to our areas so that was lame and I'm sorry I said I would get an email out to you guys. Entonces, my spanglish es muy bien hahaha like that's basically what I speak. The flight to PR was only like 35 minutes but the pre-flight stuff was so funny. We got to the airport at like 9.30 and the flight left at 11. Some guys decided that they were gonna go out through the airport and 'preach' to people. So these two missionaries went off and started talking to a group of Baptist youth and their pastor or minister. They talked for awhile and then the pastor talked more and started fighting them about how he thinks that we have added on to the Bible with the Book of Mormon. They tried to explain that it's just another record of Christ and that it's not an addition, but is a record of a whole other people. He wasn't buying that, so it just became a Bible bashing fight. It went on for awhile longer then they came back to the group of missionaries and we all scolded them for Bible bashing and all that. But the flight, that was amazing. Only 35 minutes, basically up and down. But the views were so cool. It's just such a beautiful place and pictures really don't do it justice. When we landed, President Boucher hugged all the Elders and took us out to these 2 huge white vans hahaha it was kinda weird but as we were walking out of the airport, I had my 3 bags and he comes up and says, "look elder I know you're a stallion, but let me take one of those bags from you". He's such a joker and has a really cool sense of humor. Reminds me of dad a little. Before going to the mission home, we went to a huge castle on the coast that has like 5 floors. We were only able to stay for like 15 minutes, but the views are just amazing. I have pictures of that as well.

That night, we got our trainers and went to our areas. My area is Arroyo, on the very SE corner of the island. It's one of the hottest places, but we do have a beautiful coast. It's extremely flat and dry and they've had a drought for like 9 months or something. But I'll get to that in a minute. Wednesday and Thursday were basically like show the area to your greenie days and I met some really cool people. Most speak all Spanish, but then sometimes you find some who speak a little English or will try to speak to you in English. Like one member is Alex and he served a mission in the Bronx and is super cool and we're gonna go play soccer with him today. Super cool guy.

I have actually been speaking quite a bit of spanish, but everyone in the house speaks English so I don't get TONS of practice, but I have given a few lessons in Spanish and Elder Borries said they were really good. I'm beginning to be able to understand more of the people, but they speak so fast and drop words and letters and talk quietly and it's all really complicated. But it's getting better. And I think I'll be fluent faster than a lot of other elders have been. 

Anyways, Friday was fun because we had a Zone meeting in Guayama which is like an hour away and we didn't have a car. So some other elders were supposed to come down and get us to go at 10 because it started at 11. But they didn't arrive at the house until 11, so we were soooo late. But we were flying on the way there. And I won't tell you how fast we were going but those Toyota Corollas were really pushin'. (The traffic laws aren't enforced very well when you get into the middle of nowhere like we are haha). We got there in 40 minutes and they hadn't even started, so we actually made it on time. After the meeting we were given a car for us to drive home, but it had battery problems so we had to go to Pep Boys. It took forever so we went to lunch at Fuddruckers and that was sooooo amazing and delicious. Florez got a 1 lb patty and ate it all and I was amazed. So we really didn't do anything on Friday. We are only allowed to use the car for meetings and stuff, not for proselyting which kinda stinks.  Saturday was cool because it rained for the first time in months. And it POURED. Elder Borries and I were contacting less actives in a neighborhood like 30 minutes from home when it began to pour and we were soaked when some guys yelled for us to come sit under their porch. So we began to talk to them and they said that they would read our pamphlet about the Restoration and then call us back if they wanted to meet. When we left, we both said that we didn't think that they would call. But 15 minutes later we were walking home and they called and said that they wanted to meet. So the rain was super helpful that day! We also had another lucky event when we went to visit the mom of Jose, who's a youth in a different ward who is prepping to put in his papers. We were about to leave their house and walk back into the rain when they pulled up and we were able to talk with them and set up an appointment to teach his mom, who was never baptized (Jose lives with his grandparents who are members in Guayama). So the rain totally helped us. Sunday was cool because the branch usually has about 20 people come on Sundays, but yesterday there were 35 people in Sacrament meeting. It was so cool. Borries said that it's because we have a greenie. But really it's most likely because we got a new branch president that everybody likes and will really turn the branch around. Things are looking really bright for this area right now . It continued to pour and thunder as we walked home so we were soaked and ended up spending the evening at home because nobody was out or home to talk to and it was super unsuccessful and so we played board games all night and planned for the next couple days. We have a lot of lessons lined up so hopefully our numbers will be going way up.

Elder Holland came to a mission conference like 4 months ago and he said that Puerto Rico is one of the hardest missions on the earth. This is mostly because people get baptized and then move to the US, so our numbers look kind of negative after awhile. And people are just very strong in their own religions.

So I bought some clippers from Walgreens the other day and this morning I cut my hair for the first time and it turned out great so I'm definitely doing that all the time.

We do not have iPads.

Aaaaaand that's about it. All letters and packages can go to the mission home- 

Urb. Jardines de Caparra
500 Calle Marginal Norte
Bayamon, Puerto Rico

That's really all I've got right now. I hope that everything is going well for everyone at home. The church is true and missionary work is energizing. It truly is the Lord's work and it is fun. It's energizing. And I love it.

Love you all!
Elder Nelson

 All of us new missionaries on our first day in Puerto Rico!  At the Morro

 giant bridge going into San Juan -- apparently it's in Fast and Furious 7

 For Tanner.  It's an iguana

 the Morro (castle thing on the coast)

 Bad picture of me, but pretty area

 with my companion, Elder Borries

 Elder Beecroft

Elder Borries and I in the middle of a huge rainstorm.  Luckily we found a pavilion to take shelter under.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Message from Mission President

(Tonight we received an email from Zack's Mission President, President and Sister Boucher, letting us know that our son has arrived in the mission!)

Dear Nelson Family,
We are so grateful to have your son in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission. We know it is a sacrifice for him and for you also. We know as he works hard and is obedient, he will be blessed.  Those blessings will extend to his family as well. We already love your son and look forward to getting to know him better. You should hear from him on Monday which is his p-day.

Please be sure all letters and packages for your missionary are sent to the Mission Office.
Elder Zachary Nelson
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission
Urb. Jardines de Caparra
500 Calle Marginal Norte
Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Elder Nelson with President & Sister Boucher

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Testimony (and a taste of the real DR)

Thank goodness I'm about done with my time in the MTC. It's great and all, but Puerto Rico is calling my name. Like screaming my name. This week was pretty uneventful other than Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Friday we went on splits with real elders from the local area and that was such a culture shock. From the perfect grass of the temple grounds, we were then in the smoggy, dirty, smelly inner city. You can feel the pollution as you come up out of the ground from the subway station. It hits you. And then you almost get hit by a car and get hit on by an old lady in Spanish. The DR is really something else. My companion for the day was Elder Mantzuela (I think that's how you spell it). I think he's a DL or ZL. He's from the DR so he doesn't know a lot of english. I was somewhat disappointed in our splits because we never actually taught any lessons to investigators. We just spent the entire day contacting less active members of the ward. Because we didn't teach lessons, my comp just talked to the people the whole and this sucked for me becasue I don't know any conversational spanish, only how to teach. So I basically just said that I don't know any spanish and then gave the closing prayer. But it was a really good experience either way.

Sunday. Sundays are the best in the MTC becasue you can feel the spirit everywhere you go. The day is full of doctrine, testimonies, and lots of learning. Nothing really special happened this Sunday, but the spirit was just really strong.

Tuesday was really special because we had our Tuesday Morning Devo with Elder Zivic of the Area Presidency. He only spoke in spanish the entire time, so all the greengos and white people had the headsets for translation. But I was really really proud of myself and I didn't use the headset at all. And I understood like 90% of what he said so that was really cool for me. I was able to get a lot out of his talk and I really enjoyed it. Spanish has such a special spirit.

Other than that stuff, Elder Morris and I are getting really good at teaching by the spirit. We've had some great lessons this week even though they're fake investigators. Hermano Eve told us that we've become really good at following the promptings of the spirit and going with the feelings we have. Yesterday we had a plan to teach a 20 minute lesson about the Atonement and then the Resurrection of Christ and introduce the 10 Commandments, but then ended up listening to the spirit and talking about the need for the Atonement so that we can repent and it was just a really great lesson. We ended up talking for 35 minutes, almost double what we were supposed to use. We just followed the promptings of the Spirit and it was great. 

Elder Iongi gave me a haircut last night because I don't trust the barber that the MTC brings in. Iongi is really good at it. Also, the church is true. In personal study this week, the Book of Mormon has just reaffirmed my testimony of the truth of this gospel. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown so much this week through talking with my district and friends about the things I've read and how there is no way that Joseph Smith could've faked a book like this. There are no doubts at all in my life that this is the true church on the earth, the Christ lives, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I love this gospel so much and I can't wait to get to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to begin preaching the gospel.

Today we watched the Saratov Approach instead of going to the temple since it's closed and that movie gets me crying every time so go watch it if you haven't. And look up BYU Vocal Point on YouTube. Listen to Nearer My God to Thee and Danny Boy.

Anyways, until next week (or Tuesday, I think we get time when we get to the missions)

I love you all so much.

Love, Elder Nelson


View from the roof