Monday, December 30, 2013

Boliva, Charcas—Week 14

Christmas Eve with the Quezadas
My Dearest Family and Friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I really can’t believe it is almost 2014! We were talking with Hermana Carol (the bishop’s wife) and she made a comment that really freaked me out. We have this year and two months, then yeah, no more! I can’t even believe how fast time flies. On the 14th of January I will be starting my sixth month here! Can you believe it?

We are getting so attached to the people here in this area, which is a really good thing and also a really bad thing. The cute Quezada kiddios are amazing and I really will be sad to leave them. Yesterday we were helping sister Quezada make a chocolate cake for Night of Excellence, and her second youngest, Santiago, asked where I am going to be February 11 (his birthday). I said that, unfortunately, I will probably be in another area. He asked about the next year as well, and I said the same. He then responded that he will come to my area for his birthday, no matter where I am. We all thought, “Oh, how cute, he really wants to spend his birthday with amazing Hermana Nelson.” Then he commented that he’s going to need me to make him a chocolate cake and that would be why he would need to find me in my other areas. We all laughed pretty hard.

I guess it just hit me today that the time here is extremely short and I really need to work my hardest every single day so I can go home without regrets or wishing I had done more.


Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
December 23
Fantastical Day—Mission Breakfast
We had breakfast in the mission home this morning with all of the hermanas. We got lost for a good hour, but there was still food left over. Then we had our gift exchange. I had Hermana Smith and I made her a notebook so members and investigators can write her notes. I got a gift from Hermana Gomez (not Selena). She gave me a coin purse and a bracelet with my name.

After lunch with the Quezadas, we made chocolate cake with them (which turned out really beautiful) and they all loved it! Then we spent the rest of our time with their cute kiddos. Their second youngest told me today the she never wants me to leave and she wants me present for her baptism in April. It’s going to be really hard leaving this area in the future.

December 24
Christmas Eve—What a Beautiful Day
We spent practically the whole day with the Quezada family preparing for tonight and tomorrow.

Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas Breakfast
We made cinnamon rolls for tomorrow morning’s breakfast, then helped them make dinner. We had soup with potatoes, carrots, onion, beef, and chicken, with corn on the side. It was really good.
Yummy Soup!
After, we changed up their tradition a bit and just opened one present each tonight. We’ll open the rest tomorrow.

Now, we are just going to try our best to sleep with the fireworks going all night long!

December 25
Christmas Day!
Hermana Soto and I left the apartment at 9:00 to make Christmas morning breakfast for the Quezada Family. We made cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate (a Nelson family tradition) and they loved it! I forgot just how many cinnamon rolls one recipe makes, so we ate a bunch and then gave some to the Bishop’s family and other neighbors.

We opened gifts after breakfast. Their family has a cute little tradition—they play music and the one who receives a gift has to dance. We danced quite a bit, because between the family and the Quezadas we had a lot of gifts to open.

My family sent Beef jerky (which we shared with the Quezadas, and they didn’t like it at all, but the Bishop loved it and said I am his favorite sister missionary now), Socks, Candy, Pictures (including a cute purse frame from Alyssa), Puzzle (Yes! Now we’ll have something to do during Carnival!), Brownie Mix, LUSH!!, Calendar, Ensigns (at least this is what was left after the post office got a hold of it)

After all of the gift giving and receiving, I got to Skype the family. It was a really short time, but it was good to see everyone and chat a bit. I was doing really well until I saw Dad crying, and then I lost it a bit. But I wasn’t sad or missing home. It was more just joy from seeing them all alive and well. Merry Christmas!

December 26
Dreaming of Salad?
I dreamed that we were eating at a buffet here in Bolivia with all of the missionaries and we were eating salad (with lettuce, yes!). They can’t eat many of the fruits/vegetables (including lettuce) because they aren’t clean enough and she is really missing them! I dreamed that I found a spinach salad that looked the same as the one mom makes with strawberries, mandarin oranges, and feta cheese. When I saw that they had Brianna’s poppy seed dressing, I began to cry and I woke up crying. Quite bizarre!

Mate Tea with Limeade
Hermana Soto wasn’t feeling well this morning, so after District Meeting, we came back to the apartment so she could rest a bit. When she was feeling better, we headed to Ward Council, but stopped by Hermana Carol’s house to drink some Mate. This kind is different and is made with limeade and is cold. It was delicious! I’m going to make it for the fam when I get home.

December 27
FHE—Trump Family
We gave a short and sweet message from the Ensign and had a lot of participation. After, we made no-bake cookies. They liked them, but said they want to make them without sugar next time. (hehe)

December 28
We visited Eduardo and his mom tonight and it was a really great lesson. We read Mosiah 4 where King Benjamin is teaching the people. We talked about doing things that Christ would do if He were here. We talked about giving and not judging the people we are helping. She had some really great comments and told us that she had a feeling the other day that she needs to change some things in her life. We encouraged her and explained that these decisions will help her grow. We have another FHE with them on Monday and I’m excited!

December 29
We’re goin’ to the Chapel . . .
Victoria and Carlos came to church today! I’m sure the whole ward thinks I’m a crazy person who is always so smiley because I sit on the stand (to play the piano—even though I don’t know any of the Hymns they choose) and when investigators or new converts come in, I get so excited! Even more exciting, today Fernando came into the chapel with a white shirt, tie, church shoes, and a haircut! He blessed the sacrament for the first time today. I was so happy!

Isabel & Dulce—Our Family of Gold
We contacted a reference we found the other day and she is great! We had an appointment with her last week, but she works at the hospital and had to leave. We decided to return today and she was so excited to see us. She said she was worried that we wouldn’t ever come back and that she had been going to the plaza in her spare time to find us. We taught her the first lesson and it was beautiful. We challenged her and her daughter to baptism and they said yes! After, she offered the prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for us and said that this is the answer she has been looking for. We are very excited (to say the least)!

Night of Excellence
The young women had their Night of Excellence tonight and we were invited. The girls displayed their projects and sang a really beautiful song that brought the spirit. Hermana Quezada had done a great job with the young women here. It reminded me of the Lindon YW, only a little smaller.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 13

Christmas in Santa Cruz
Dearest Family and Friends,

First off,

Merry Christmas!
It doesn’t actually feel like Christmas here . . . it’s literally like 100 degrees with 90% humidity, so it mostly just feels like summer never ended. But, I’m excited to talk to the fam and see them too!

We have plans with the Quezada Family for Christmas. Their traditions are different here—they all stay up until midnight, eat dinner, then open presents and such. We aren’t allowed to leave the house this night to celebrate, so we are going to have dinner earlier with the Quezadas. For Christmas Eve, we are going to make cinnamon rolls! I told Sister Quezada that it is a tradition around Christmas and she told me to write down the ingredients and that she would buy them! We will have dinner with their family, then the next day spend lots of time with them because most people won’t be out and there are a lot of drunks on the street, so they are worried that we won’t be safe.
Christmas Call!
We will be calling on Tuesday to confirm the time we will be calling on Wednesday, so keep your phones on and ready at about 11:00 in the morning.

We are planning on Wednesday at around 1:00 your time because Hermana Soto can’t call her parents any other time. If that doesn’t work, let me know.

Letters Received
Emily Livingston

Tell Sister J. thanks so much and that I miss them like crazy!
I like this quote from President Zambrano a lot:
"Don't focus on what you need to do, but on the kind of person you want to become."
He told us that here in the mission we need to work and try our best to become the women and men we want to be in the future. He said that lots of things are out of our control here in the mission and that the people have their agency to do what they want, but that while we are here, we need to focus more on who we would like to become after our missions. We need to work each and every day on some new quality that we want to have in our lives and try our best to become the people we want to become.
I loved this because it is so true. This mission is for our investigators, the members, our families, our future families, and ourselves. We can make the difference here, but we need to start with ourselves and try every day to become more like Christ.
I love you all so much! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with family, friends, companions, and whoever else you may be spending it with this year.
Thanks for all of your prayers, fasting, love, and letters sent my way. You are all the reason I am still going strong!
Love you!
Con mucho amor, 
Hermana Nelson
Weekly Journal:
9 Days Until Christmas
Preparation Day

Today was so fantastic! First off, I got to write the family and talk to Danny Harding on my email a bit. Then President said that it’s okay that we spend Christmas with the Quezada Family. We are really excited!
Then we had our Christmas Devotional with the mission in the Stake Center. All of the zones prepared a Christmas song and we had a few messaged from missionaries and President and Hermana Zambrano.
I was actually really impressed with a lot of the musical numbers because a lot of the zones are purely elders (and I know it’s bad and stereotypical and everything, but I wasn’t expecting much). But all of the numbers were really great. The last was my favorite. They played “O Holy Night on the guitar, violin, and piano. It was really beautiful.
Afterwards we walked to the buffet, Puerto Madero, and got as full as we could! It’s the same restaurant that we ate at one of our first nights here.
It was really great seeing everyone and being able to take pictures and such. Next Monday we get to have a Christmas activity with all of the hermanas again!
8 Days Until Christmas (but most importantly talking to the fam!)

The weather was just about perfect today. It rained a little, but never got really hot again, so we were happy.
Hermana Quezada made us a special lunch today that is popular here. I can’t remember the name, but it’s just a bunch of french fries with sliced hot dogs. Yep, just that. Not gonna lie—it was pretty delicious.
We found a lot of less-actives and recent converts and were able to invite them all to go to the temple with the ward on Friday. We really hope a lot will find the money and the time to go.
7 Days Until Christmas

This morning we went to the “feria” which is like the market we went to in Italy. It has really inexpensive clothes and Hermana Soto’s parents sent her some money so she could go shopping. I didn’t want to buy anything because I want to save for authentic Bolivian things that we can’t get in Utah. It was fun. We went with Hermana Quezada and she showed us around.
Family Home Evening
Lucy and her son visited Cochabamba and the temple last week and came home very excited. We had an FHE to show them videos and Ensigns about various temples around the world (but especially the Salt Lake Temple). She was way excited and had so many questions. We are hoping this gets her motivated to come back to church. No Hay Cambias! (The Elders just called and said we are staying here—hoorah!)
6 Days Until Christmas
San Javier

Today, Patricia (daughter) was able to come with us to our lessons in San Javier. We visited the Familia Fernandez and helped Sister Tamez wash some clothes, but the other people we had appointments with couldn’t meet with us, so we headed back and had a lesson with Ruti, then returned Patricia to her house.
Today we finally met with Carlos. He is fantastic and has great potential. We talked about the Word of Wisdom and he’s very ready to quit his addiction to alcohol. Earlier today, when we were eating lunch with the Quezadas, Hermana Quezada mentioned that she wanted to invite someone without family to the Christmas dinner. While we were talking to Carlos, I had a strong impression to invite him. He was very excited because he doesn’t have a family. Now we just have to tell Hermana Quezada!
5 Days Until Christmas

Elder Barrett and Elder Spitale called this morning and said they were coming over to bring us a new fan for our apartment/house and to check our apartment. We decided after we got everything done that we would make them pancakes and popcorn with chocolate. So we spent a good little while doing this and they didn’t come. We called them and they said they would come the next day. I told them we’d made them pancakes and they immediately said, “Yeah, be there in half an hour!” They came and visited for a bit. They said we are very clean and that we know how to cook—that’s a good thing, I guess.
Today we met with Carlos again. He’d doing really well and is very appreciative of our help. He said he talked to a friend of his (a member) and he said that when he was an investigator, the missionaries helped him with everything. Whenever he needed a hand, he said they were there. Carlos asked us if we are the same way. We told him that he’s very important to us and we are here to help him the best we can. He was very appreciative and said he’s glad he has family like us. I really hope we can help him overcome this weakness he has because he is an amazing person and really wants to be better.
I have learned here more than ever that these people are my brothers and sisters. I have just as much love for them as my own immediate family, and sometimes that love is found within the first few words with someone. It’s incredible the influence these people have on me. I have gained a stronger testimony of the temple without visiting it, a testimony of family without being with my immediate family, and a testimony of missionary work. I love it here and I don’t want to leave.
4 Days Until Christmas

Today, we visited Rosalinda. It broke my heart when she told us that she wasn’t very happy because her mom can’t buy presents this year for Christmas. We had to explain that these trials are going to make her stronger and that she can change her situation in the future. I wanted to just take all of the money I had and buy her something great, but here, almost all of the kids are in this situation. We gave her the earrings that the family sent and she was beyond happy. My goal is to one day be able to help people like this.
Star Ornaments
We made ornaments of cinnamon and applesauce a few days ago, but Hermana Carol’s dog ate all of them, so we had to think of something else. We made stars from foam sparkle paper as their ornaments—not quite as pretty, but everyone loved them.
3 Days Until Christmas

We got to church today and immediately one of the bishop’s counselors asked me to play the piano again. I said “yes” and then another counselor asked me to give a talk in church. I was way nervous and I’m sure I butchered the Spanish, but it was about 10 minutes and I was done!
We had three investigators come to church! Lucy and her husband, Carlos, and Ruti. We were very excited!
We had the primary sing in the plaza near our house to ask for references and then after had a devotional in the Stake Center where all the stake sang. We also sang as missionaries. It was very beautiful!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 12

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a grand week, and that you are always counting the blessings you’ve been given.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . Bolivia . . . just Bolivia
The title of my email is so very true. We've seen maybe three Christmas trees, and they are just not the same. We do have two houses in our area with actual Christmas lights on their houses, but there is a big wall in front, so you can’t actually see them. I hope you all appreciate the beauty of the lights and snow this Christmas. That’s all I want to see again.

Gratitude for Missionaries
Kyle is home already?? Wow! How time flies. It is so true what Kyle said. (Kyle Magleby just returned from his mission to Russia and mentioned in his talk how grateful the people in Russia are for those who have prepared young men and women to serve missions around the world). I love eating lunch with President Quezada and his family because they are always so thankful to have us over. I told them the other day that we are related to Heber C. Kimball and President Quezada started crying a lot. He then explained to his kids that I am proof that this church is true and that the pioneers really suffered everything for us. I love being with them because they really appreciate and care about the history of the church. It’s made me want to learn more about my ancestors. I never really thought in depth about it before, but it is true, we are living witnesses of everything that has happened.

Thank You, Thank You!
I received letters from so many of you this week (I only get letters once in a while, so they have been waiting at the Mission Home): Tyler, McQuivey, Marianne, Chudleigh, Christiansen, Elaine, Harris, Tebbs, Shelton, Windley, Sorensen, and Kimberly & Brent
Thank you all for your love and support!

The Best Gift
Go to the Temple this week before Christmas and make someone's day up there in heaven. It is the best Christmas present to give.

Just a little reminder to love the things you have been given and not to take anything or anyone for granted. I took so very many things for granted before my time here, and I am just now realizing how much I miss them and how much I wish I would’ve cherished them.

I love you all so so so so so so so so much. Thanks for your letters, your prayers, and your thoughts on my behalf. I really appreciate it all so much! Praying for you all!

Love you all muchly,

Chau Chau

Hermana Nelson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 11

There are the prettiest trees here with flowers that look
like something from Japan and they are all in bloom
Dear Family and Friends,

I hope this week was great for all of you and that you are feeling the spirit of Christmas!

I've Got Two Tickets to Paradise
I’ve had these words/song stuck in my head all week. We had three investigators tell us they don’t want us to visit them and that when they decide that they want the lessons again, they will find us (which means they aren’t going to find us).

We’ve been having a bit of a difficult week finding people who want to listen. Almost all of them say, "I’m Catholic" and sometimes we just want to tell them that we have the truth and without it, they aren’t going to be very happy when they die. We say this in nicer terms, but when we do, they don’t want to hear it. We are still going strong and working hard, so don’t worry about me. I’m not losing hope or anything, I just think that we are having this trial to test us a bit. But we can do it!

Skype for Christmas
We will be able to Skype for Christmas! We'll be using iPads from President Quezada and he said we can call on Christmas Eve to let our families know what time and such, so keep your phones on and charged. 

We don’t have an oven and the cookies don’t taste the same because the flour here is different, but we make them with families once in a while. It’s fun for the families to learn because they don’t make that kind of stuff here. We have plans to make a chocolate cake for the bishop this week because it’s his birthday on Friday.

The headaches and heat passed. It was just that week that was the hottest. After this week will be rain and rain and more rain.

I hope we don’t get transferred either. I’m praying that we don’t.

Christmas Spirit
Yeah, so there isn’t much Christmas Spirit here. I’m so used to seeing close to every house lit up for Christmas from Thanksgiving on, but here, we’ve only seen one house with a real set up with Christmas lights and a tree and everything. It's kind of a bummer. But hey, no big deal. I don’t think it will be so sad because things are so different here (like no snow and such) that I won’t be reminded of everything so much.

I'm sorry this letter is mostly just answers to questions. I tried to send pictures of my journal, but the internet is too slow today. I'll try to send them next week. Thanks for all your prayers, letters, and love. I can feel it all here and you are all such great examples to me.

Have a great week and know that there is someone in Bolivia praying for you.

Love you all,
Hermana Nelson

Hermana Soto and I chopped down a tree
for Eduardo's family with a Machete!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 10

Quezada Family Home Evening
Family and Friends,

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving this week! I didn’t miss it too much because I actually forgot it was Thanksgiving and, yeah, just had a normal Thursday. Thanksgiving at home sounded about like usual. I do miss eating your baked goods, Mom. Promise to make lots when I get home?

Last week, we wrote our families and then got two packages—one from Beccs and the second package from the fam for Christmas! It was like Christmas—or wait . . . I guess it is for Christmas! (hehe) Thanks for all of it. We’ve already been using the recipes (as you can see) and we’ve added more of the gifts under our "tree.”

Tell Paige Endicott “Thanks!” for the sweet advent calendar and everything! It really made our day.

The snow was great! I cried a bit when I opened it. I think Hermana Soto thinks I’m crazy. (We cut out a bunch of snowflakes and sent them a pile of “snow” for their windows so they could pretend to have a ‘White Christmas’).

Yes, we did get the earrings, necklaces, and socks you sent for us to give the kids. We’ve already made little boxes for them and we are beginning to give them away.

FHE with the Quezada Family
The Quezadas are such a great, strong family and we've been really blessed to have lunch with them this week. We also had FHE with their family. We made chocolate chip cookies and they loved them! We played a game that’s kind of like Cranium and had some fun times. We got to give the family ideas about things to do for their son who is leaving on his mission this week. I told them about some of the things my family did for me. They are excited to have a missionary! I love this family because they find totally natural ways to incorporate the gospel into their everyday lives. We were visiting with President Quezada and he said he may know Brother Didericksen and Brother Sorensen. His name is Marco Antonio Quezada and he said he vaguely remembers companions with those names. Ask them if they know him.
Making cookies with the Quezadas. Their kids loved, loved, loved them!
We had a lesson about the restoration with Diego and it went well. He truly wants to learn and his goal is baptism. Then, we went to see if Erica was home and she was, which is a miracle because she usually isn’t home. She’s the one Hermana Suxo and I taught during my first week in Bolivia. She’s really great and eager to learn—and it doesn’t hurt that she speaks English! Que Bueno! I’m really excited to continue the lessons with her because she likes the church and the way it works.

We taught Fernando and Alejandro about the priesthood and they are really excited about it. Then we taught Rosalinda and Mariana. We taught Mariana about the restoration. She is great and always has a lot of questions. She asked us about some things she’s heard about Mormons: She thought we were like nuns and she freaked out when we told her that we’re only 19 and are spending 18 months on our missions. She also thought that Mormons couldn’t dance and that we only listen to music about Jesus.

We knocked doors for a while and found a lady who actually let us in! Her dad, who is very old and sick, was with her. She explained that he has dementia and lung cancer and that he isn’t going to make it much longer. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and how she is going to be able to see him again. She loved the message and wants us to come back and teach her some more. We are a little skeptical because she is a strong Catholic, but miracles do happen, so possibly she will accept the gospel.

We also had FHE with Samantha and her family. She is the Hermana that invites us to “tea time” every day. She is a convert of about 2 years and her husband has been a member his whole life, but was inactive for quite some time. He told us a lot of stories from his mission and they told us about their conversion stories and goals for the future. We talked about their family and helped them set a goal to be sealed together. It was a really great night!

Under the Weather
I’ve had headaches for several days this week due to the heat, but I’ve tried to work through them. On Friday I woke up feeling sick with the symptoms I usually get before I have a seizure. Hermana Zambrano said to rest the whole day and keep the fan blowing on me so I could cool down. It was raining all day, and it wasn’t too hot, so we just rested. I’m feeling much better now, so I should be able to function for the rest of the week.

We had a lot of people promise they would come to church on Sunday. Our recent converts all came, but our investigators didn’t. It was a good fast Sunday, though. A lot of people talked about missionary work and it seemed like the rest of the day had the same theme. In Relief Society, we learned about visiting teaching and how it is a really important form of missionary work.

Liahona Minute
From the November 2012 Ensign or Liahona—talk by Pres. Monson: “See Others as They May Become." I loved this talk because it is so true. It reminds me of a quote that I love by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” There is a story that you all need to read in this talk about a missionary who had great success on his mission because he learned to see everyone in white clothing—clean, and ready for baptism.

Always remember that every person is our brother or sister and that all of us are sons or daughters of God. Look at each person the way God looks at them and treat them even better.

I love you all so, so, so much! Have a great week and know that I’m praying for you all!


Hermana Nelson
These huge butterflies (or moths) are all over our house.
They are as big as my hands! I'm not complaining—they're just harmless butterflies.