Monday, February 29, 2016

Pushing through!

Hey everybody!
This week was super cool and flew by. We are still having trouble getting member present lessons, and the mission is hard, but there are lots of really amazing aspects of the mission.

This week, again we spent a lot of time contacting. We contacted a ton and I got super red for like 3 days straight from being out in the sun. But it all pays off when you find the people who are ready to hear about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It's all worth it.

I think there were 2 highlights to my week, the first being Ada and her sister Isabel. We started by teaching Ada and her husband, but then on Monday we went by and Ada had told her sister about us and the message that we share, and invited her to sit in on the lesson with us. Ada is a really timid lady, and for her to invite her sister like this really surprised me and shows us how ready and prepared she really is to make this covenant with our Heavenly Father. So we taught them and extended a baptismal date to all 3, Ada, her husband Ricardo, and Isabel. And they all accepted to be baptized on March 12th. It was a super cool lesson because the sisters understand how important baptism is and are super excited to be baptized.  Together, they ask questions that are actually super cool to hear from an investigator. Things that not a lot of investigators think about. Like Isabel asked, "if I can't come to church every Sunday, does that make my baptism invalid?  Because sometimes I get sick". They asked things like that because they truly understand the importance of baptism and living the gospel as they make this covenant. They're amazing. And they came to church, the very first time we invited them! Ada even took the initiative to ask her daughter to drive them to church so that members wouldn't have to worry about them. And they loved church. These 2 ladies are truly a miracle, and have strengthened my testimony a ton!

Also, I had an exchange with the zone leaders and I got to work in Levittown with Elder Boggess. We had worked together before in an exchange and we're really good friends. This guy teaches me a ton. Every time I get to work with him I learn something new and I always enjoy working with him. He's a real example to me of what a dedicated missionary is and gives me motivation to be better. Although he says I know a lot, I always learn from him and we have a great time together.

But, there's always struggles in the mission because like always, people have agency. So we've been teaching the bishop's son who's been avoiding the church for like 20 years, always been going to some Protestant church. Now he's meeting with us and he had a date for baptism for the 5th, but didn't come to church yesterday. We talked to him so much this last week and he understands that he has to come to church, he knows the church is true, but won't come! Apparently he's in charge of recording the services on Sundays and because of that, won't give up on the other church. I mean, we talked pretty hard with him about what he really needs to do, and we even went to his house to pick him up. We made arrangements and everything and then he stood us up and left early to go to the other church. I just don't know what more we can do with him, because he knows it's true, just has to make a decision. That was the hard part of my week.

But, we push through. The transfer is almost over and it's guaranteed that either Suero or I will be transferred since we have 3 transfers together. So we'll see what happens!

Oh and today I get to give one of the investigators of the sister missionaries a haircut, because his hair is super long and can't afford a barber, so we'll see if I truly have the skill. Maybe if it goes well I'll look into it as a career ;)

This is the true church, the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was restored through a prophet and is led by a living prophet today. I love it and nothing will ever change that.

Love you all!

Elder Nelson

Nosotros comiendo con los chinos en nuestra segunda casa

me and Elder Boggess after our exchange this week 

Monday, February 22, 2016

What a week...

First of all this week was really hard. Satan tries to stop the work right when we get close to doing good things here. And he went to work hard this week because as we have the goal to teach 14 lessons with members present, we only got 1 this week. The members were sick or busy or the appointments fell through or something but it was hard. Really hard.

Monday for Pday we wrote home and then went and hung out with the Torres family and ate lunch with them and all that good stuff. It's always good to be with them because they understand our struggles and we can vent about the work.

Tuesday we had a Zone Conference with President Boucher and it was really good. We learned a lot about how to manage our time wisely as missionaries, and that we are here to serve the Lord, not the wards. Lots of missionaries end up doing more for the ward than for the missionary work. So that was cool and definitely applies to us in Vega Baja.

Then the rest of the week turned to contacting. We began to work more in the area that's close to the beach. We had never contacted out there since we need someone to drive us out there, but we did, and we're beginning to find people to teach out by the playa. Like Antonio who's 95. And some other people, but generally contacting this week didn't bear many fruits. We contacted a ton and I mean a ton, but we didn't seem to find the people that are ready to hear about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

And I mean that sums up the week. It was really the most mentally hard week of my mission. We lined up with the bishop's son Edwin to come to church on Sunday, then he ended up going to his old other church because apparently he's in charge of recording some activity or something. It just kinda messed with us when we thought that he would come to church and stuff but then ended up changing his mind on us. But things will work out I'm sure because Hermano Torres talked with him about taking his baptismal date seriously, hopefully that'll help him and us achieve the goal for his baptism. He's super ready and I would hate to have to postpone his baptism.

Ada has a baptismal date for the 19th if I remember right, and she's progressing pretty well. She has a hard time understanding things and remembering what we talk about, but she has a desire to come to church and now knows really well how to search for scriptures in her cell phone so that she can read them. She's super humble and is the first person I've met that really understands the importance of coming to church to receive an answer to her prayers.

Although things were really hard this week and seem to have been hard for the last few weeks, I'm still happy with what we're doing and the progress we're making in the work. The past few weeks have shown me how much I've grown in the mission, as well as Spanish, and it's motivated me to be better and work harder to reach the potential that we can see here in Vega Baja. Always moving forward and never looking back.

Love you all!

Elder Nelson

Floating car hahaha

Monday, February 15, 2016

1/3 mark

This coming week marks 1/3 through my mission! Time is flyingggggg

This week I learned something really important. Actually it was taught to us in the mtc, but I really just remembered it this week. An elder in the mtc said one time "we can't measure our success or work based on the agency of other people". Basically just saying that we can work hard and do all we can to help people receive the gospel, but in the end they can make their own choices. We can't get down on ourselves because people reject us, just keep working.

This week was soooooo hard. On Tuesday in the district meeting we set the goal for each companionship to have 14 lessons with a member present. We were pumped to get out and work and try to reach the goal. We had lots of appointments and people to talk to.  But when the time came, the members weren't available and had to cancel, or the investigators weren't there. So this week turned into a lot of contacting, just like every other week.

But because we can't let people's agency affect us, we continued onward and set baptismal dates. We contacted a house close to the beach on Thursday and the guy that came out is 95. But he still moves around a lot and talks pretty clear. So we taught him and showed him the Book of Mormon and he was super interested. When we asked him if he wants to be baptized and clean of all his sins and his past, he said "I really do want to, but I don't think that there's enough time left on the clock for me".

I really want to baptize this old man. He has such a strong desire to follow Christ and change his life even at this point, he deserves all the work we can do to get him baptized. So we'll see how it goes with him. We have to call his niece to get approval to bring him to church and stuff, but it would be awesome to help this man reach the goal of baptism.

One of our other baptismal dates is the son of the bishop. He's met with the missionaries tons of times but always avoided the commitment. But now he really trusts me and Elder Suero and Hermano Torres, and wants to be baptized. He just never did because of the pressure from his dad. He knows the church is true and is now acting for himself. It's really cool to talk with him because he knows everything about the church and literally the bible cover to cover. He'll make a really strong member. All of our baptismal dates are for the 5th of Marzo because we're having a bauti-zona, where the zona sets tons of baptismal dates and really pushes for the one day to baptize a ton of people. It'll be cool in Vega Baja because the sisters have 14 baptismal dates and we have 3 and the other elders have 3. It'll be a party in the church.

Ummmmm but yeah that's about it for this week, I don't think we really did much more. Not that I can remember.

Oh and we're beginning to teach the boyfriend of Angelica (from the Rivera family) and church was kinda nuts, mostly the Gospel Principles class with people talking all kinds of weird stuff. Me and Samuel (the boyfriend) just laughed through the whole class.

OH BEST PART OF THE WEEK we went contacting in one of the more poor parts of Vega Baja with Marcelino, he's a recent convert who lives in the area and is kinda crazy. Suero and I were walking ahead and saw a drug deal going on so we kept walking, but Marcelino stopped and contacted these guys! He said, "hey can we give you a card?" (With a pic of Jesus Christ). And these big guys said no and I thought that they were gonna shoot at us or something. Then Marcelino says "okay when you're ready, let me know!" Hahahaha the guy's nuts haha

But yeah that was the week. Not a whole ton going on. But anyways, love you all!

Elder Nelson

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Heroes!

This week was weird. But we worked really hard and are making progress in a way that we've never had before. And we're firefighters.

So on Monday for Pday we went out to the outlets in Barceloneta and I spent like all the birthday and Christmas money I had on clothes. We'll see if I can pack my suitcases with all the clothes I've bought hahhaha but whatever I'll have to make it fit the next time I have to move.

Aaaaand basically the rest of the week was spent contacting. Literally we contacted for 5 hours straight on Tuesday, and like 5 more hours on Thursday with even more contacting on all the other days. I'm getting way tan. But contacting has actually become really fun for me. I don't have any fear to talk to the people anymore, like if they reject us then they're missing out on blessings and there's nothing I can do if they don't want to listen. And we find some really cool people. Like one guy who had talked with missionaries like 20 years ago and they gave him a CTR ring and he gave it to his dad and when we contacted his house, he asked us for another one. Like this 35 year old guy wanting a CTR ring that's meant for children, usually. Not saying that big tough tattooed men can't wear the tiny green ring. It's just cool.

But this week contacting we found 10 new investigators and 39 as a district. Which is really, really cool and a ton. I think the zone found 90 new investigators and 39 came from just the 3 companionships in Vega Baja. The sister missionaries are literally machines. They have 10 baptismal dates!

On Wednesday we had an appointment at 10am so we left the house early to go to the appointment, and on the way back we saw a fire. And we were like alright whatever it looked like a normal backyard fire. But then the house exploded. And a horse freaked out nearby and I said to Suero "that's not normal", so we took off running to the house and helped the lady put out the fire that wasn't really that big, it was just a pressure washer that exploded. So we put out the fire with the garden hose and we were like super heroes but not really. Suero called the firefighters and we snuck out without saying anything like real superheroes who do stuff and then leave so nobody knows who they were. That's like exactly what I was thinking the whole day hahaha. But then we were sick for like 3 days probably because of all the smoke we inhaled. It was kinda nasty.

On Friday Elder Suero had a meeting in Trujillo Alto (like an hour away) for District Leaders and so I went with him and was working in Trujillo Alto with other missionaries while he was in the meeting. It was pretty cool because I got to work with Elder Wayman and Elder Denney who are both from my MTC group. We just went out and contacted so literally my entire week was contacting. But then the meeting ended and we left and literally starting at the chapel, all the way to Vega Baja, was traffic going like 5 miles an hour. It took us like 4 hours to get back to the house. It felt like one of the longest drives everrrrrrrr.

On Saturday we actually had a ton of appointments. And we had a member to go with us to every single one of the appointments, but because they were all with people we had just contacted during the week, all but one fell through. Apparently only one person really had interest in what we were talking about. I don't get why people say yes and then don't have interest. Like it's easier to just say no. So our day was a wreck because all of our appointments fell through. So we contacted some more. Just like usual.

Life is just hard right now for us in the area because people aren't committing. We weren't able to find Freddy when we had set up the appointment, and now doesn't seem to have much interest. Michelle's husband is still causing her problems because she wants to come to church and be baptized but he is kinda not letting her. But we do have a new baptismal date, with a guy we contacted. He's kinda shaky on it, like doesn't really know what it means but we're working with him.

So the work right now is contacting and finding the people that are really actually interested. It's hard.

There's not much more new here, we're already 3 weeks into this transfer and time seems to continue to fly by. Despite everything that keeps getting in our way, I know the church is true. This is the one true church and Christ lives. Through His Atonement we can be cleaned. One of my focus points last week was to testify more of Christ and all that He did for us. It's really cool when you think more about it and then share your testimony about it with others. All of us can be superheroes when we share our testimonies about Christ.

Love you all!

Elder Nelson

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Birthday!

This week was nuts and I've never been so tired. Tons of driving and crazy how that can just suck the energy out of you! Really it wasn't that crazy, but it felt like 4 years

Monday we just had Pday and we went out to the Outlet stores in Barceloneta. Most of the time we just end up wandering around and searching for good deals. A lot of the time our time there is spent pointlessly looking at expensive stuff that we can't afford as missionaries. Monday was a cool day because we got to talk with the husband of Michelle when she wasn't home, and he accepted a visit from us to talk a little bit more about the church. But that story turns bad and I'll get to that later.

We contacted so much this week! One of the things that we're working on is dropping the people that aren't progressing in order to find those that are going to accept us better! So after we dealt with all the transfers on Tuesday, we contacted for like 5 hours and I was sunburned and tired but we found some cool people that hopefully will have potential. It's funny to contact with Elder Suero because he has to pee like every 20 minutes so we're constantly stopping at the little corner stores or passing by member's houses.

Driving sucked all the energy out of me on Wednesday. I had to drive Suero to a doctor's appointment in Caguas and we left the house at 7am for a 10am appointment. He didn't get in to see the doctor until 12. We sat in this Pediatric office with screaming kids for like 5 hours (pediatric because apparently Suero is still a minor even though he's 21 hahahaha) so we sat in this office forever with President Boucher who is super funny about Suero's problems haha. All the doctor did was give Suero some pills and said that maybe he was wrong the first time and they're gonna try something else! The doctor's offices are always freezing cold so it was like torture to sit there forever waiting for the doctor. And then we had to drive home and the traffic was horrible and it took forever and I was just done. And to add on to a long day, all our appointments fell through when we got home at like 4.

Ay mi madre Thursday was also extremely long. We had a 3-zone conference in Trujillo Alto (like the other side of San Juan from where we live. And we had to follow the sisters to get there because they had a GPS, and they made it so hard to follow my goodnessssss I had such a hard time following Hermana Stevens. But we got there after feeling like we had driven all over the island.

The conference was really good and we got to listen to Elder Maynes of the Quorum of the Seventy and he gave a really cool talk. He's super funny, kinda made fun of the elders that sang in a special musical number (including me in the group of elders hahahaha, oh well I'm not a pro haha). Then we drove home and I chose not to follow Hermana Stevens home and so I just kinda went off on my own and somehow we made it home and wayyyyy before they did. Go me. I've become way less directionally challenged on the mission so that's a plus.

So now to the sad part of the story about Michelle's husband. While we were in the conference, we got a text from her that basically said that she doesn't want us to come over anymore and she's done meeting with us. I was super upset to get that message but the talk Elder Maynes was giving helped me to realize that it was just another trial to overcome with her. So we were totally confused and sad and all that and she didn't really tell us why. So since the members are like best friends with her, we asked Vigo to text her. And yesterday she finally responded to him and said that her husband saw a video online that said that the Book of Mormon is of the devil (JUST SHOWS HOW MUCH GARBAGE IS ON THE INTERNET). And that now he doesn't want us in the house and she doesn't want problems. But then she told Vigo that she misses us and we're a part of her family no matter what her husband says. So now we wait for her to actually tell us that. Our hands are kinda tied right now.

And Freddy disappeared! We haven't been able to find the guy! He'll appear though I know it.

On Saturday I had the really cool experience to do an exchange with Elder Bogges, who's a Zone Leader in Levittown. He came to Vega Baja and taught me so much stuff! I learned so much about how to plan and contact and really try to touch the hearts of everyone that we talk to. He really pushed me to be a better missionary and I'm definitely going to remember the things he taught me.

Sunday (sorry this update is so long we did a ton this week) we went to church and I spoke and I think I gave a pretty good talk. It was cool because I didn't actually prepare anything to say. I just went up with a thought in mind and it really came to me and I think it went well. Then we went and visited some less actives and finally, we went to the Torres family to finish off the night. They're super good friends of ours and was super cool because they surprised me with a birthday cake and sang to me and all that good stuff. It was a really cool way to end the night and lead into my birthday today! They're the best family ever and we always have so much fun with them.

We had a really really long week but it was super good, and we're really looking to change Vega Baja for the better. The sister missionaries are teaching us lots too. They're machines in the work man!

I love you all and hope all is well at home and all that, ya know.


Elder Nelson

Tuesday for Transfers. Some elders passed by our house (Zone Leaders, some guys from Arecibo

All 4 elders in Vega Baja. Elder Ferreira is the new guy, from Brazil and he's from my MTC group of missionaries so we have the same amount of time in the mission.

Me and Elder Boggess after our exchange on Saturday. FYI and BTW he's really tall like 6'6"

 All 4 elders in the Torres's house for my little surprise birthday celebration

My birthday cake from the Torres family