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!

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