Monday, February 24, 2014

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 22

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all loving and enjoying life and the wonderful people in it.
This week was a bit boring, sorry! I don’t really have much to write, and the computer just shut down, so there’s not much time. But, quickly, everything is great. President Zambrano wants me to tell you that we are fine here. I guess there are a lot of worried parents because of all the news about other parts of Bolivia and the rain. It’s become a big problem, but not here in Santa Cruz.
No, the package hasn’t come yet, nor any letters. I think there must be a hold up with the mail and such because our district leader told us to be patient with the mail. I’m hoping it comes soon, though.
We have started teaching English classes. The first time we taught them, no one showed up, so we just hung out at the chapel waiting and then left. The next time, they were pretty good. We had all of the seminary students already in the chapel, so they came and we taught them English. We are hoping it helps us get some references. I guess we will find out.
We won’t be able to write next Monday because it is Carnaval here and we can’t leave the house for 4 days. We will just be doing a lot of BofM reading in Spanish and studying. Just don’t get worried when I don’t send an email next week!
Thanks for everything that you all do, and sorry this is so short. I promise I’ll write lots in two weeks. Oh, and tell Steph good luck in the PG pageant! Love you all!
Love you all so much!
Hermana Nelson
Journal Pages
February 18, 2014
Worn Out in The Work

It’s been a few days since I’ve written because I’ve been so tired. Really, though, I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired in my whole life. But it’s a good tired—we are working as hard as we can, even though we haven’t had too many lessons. We know, though, that numbers aren’t everything and as long as we are trying our best and working hard, we will see something come out of it in the end.
We had a brilliant idea to make popcorn, put it in bags, and give it to our investigators to show them we love them. I guess we bought bad popcorn, because every batch burned—every single one! We were bummed. We even prayed it would pop and a few did, but then burned like all the rest. We finally gave up.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 21

There was a straight up river in the road
and there was no getting around it!
Dear Family and Friends,

This week was crazy, crazy! I don’t know if you’ve heard on the news, or maybe they didn’t show Bolivia, but there have been crazy rainstorms all over that have caused a lot of problems in other parts of Bolivia. Don’t worry, Santa Cruz is good and there aren’t any big problems here. We heard that in La Paz, people are dying because of all the rain. Crazy stuff.

It was a pretty eventful week. Mostly just having fun in the rain because it was basically raining nonstop for three days. It’s coming back on Thursday, so we are going to be real cold and wet until about August! Wahoo!

Hope you all are doing great.

Love you bunches!


Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
February 10, 2014

Vaca Fria
We went to Vaca Fria (ice cream parlor) with Hermana Lucy and her husband today. It was delicious, free, and the Olympics was on ESPN. It was a good p-day!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Yep, we went to our FHE tonight and Hermano T. made us BBQ chicken pizza! I mean, it wasn’t quite as good as CPK, but for Bolivia, it was pretty darn good! We also made chocolate chip cookies with them, which don’t taste the same as at home, but were good.

You Know You’re in Bolivia When . . .
. . . the mailman drives his dirt bike right into the building
. . . they offer you ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard with every meal
. . . cookies with half the sugar and half the chocolate are still too sweet for them to eat

February 11, 2014
Rain, Rain, Rain—Santiago’s B-Day
We left the house to go to lunch and take Santiago b-day balloons, and got caught in a downpour. We were soaked head to toe when we got there, but we still had a good time with the Quezadas. Hermana Quezada made a chocolate cake which tasted really good.
Santiago’s birthday.
We made him balloons with messages.
The life of poor missionaries!
Finding (or I guess Not Finding) People
We went to Hermana Carol’s to ask for references and have her help us make a list of less-active and inactive members in our area. When we left, it started to rain again, so we went home to wait until it passed. We made some chocolates to give people, found members on our map so we could visit them, and then ate so much chocolate that we almost threw up. Great times. Later, we visited the “Garden of Eden” with the family Vargas. They gave us some of the crazy weird orange/grapefruit.
We had to stay in from the rain because
President didn’t want us to get bronchitis
cuz "aint nobody got no time fo dat!"
February 12, 2014
Happy Birthday, Devo!
You Know You’re in Bolivia When . . .
. . . you’re on the side of a 2-lane road and the car on the other side drives as close to you as possible
. . . you apply bug spray and you still can’t count how many mosquito bites you have
. . . it rains so hard there is a river running down the street
. . . you straighten your hair, only to have the humidity curl it for you 2 minutes later
. . . you get 87 whistles/cat calls in just a few weeks (yep, we’re counting)
. . . you eat tiny portions of food, walk all day, and still gain weight
. . . every car is a taxi
. . . every restaurant has “pollo” in the title
. . . the only bus you are waiting for never comes and when it does, you are already in the taxi
. . . you sweep all the floors and 20 minutes later they are filthy again
We may need new umbrellas . . . 
February 13, 2014
Non-Stop Rain
Super Embarrassing Moment
So, we couldn’t find a single micro this morning and we were sitting out in the rain for quite some time waiting, so we decided to call a taxi. We decided that Hermana Smith should do the bartering and if they said “20 pesos,” we would tell them “no, we want 16.” So, I called the taxi over and I’m not sure what happened, but I was the one who started talking. I said, “How much for the Mutalista?” He said, “15 pesos,” but I was thinking 20, so in my best bartering/begging tone of voice, I asked, “Can you for 16?” Then he gave me a real strange look and said, “Yeah, sure.” Hermana Smith informed me of my mistake and so we paid more than he asked for, but it was a good laugh.

Rain (kinda’ like on Trek in Wyoming)
Then we looked and looked and looked for raincoats and boots, but couldn’t find any. We just got more wet and miserable waiting for a taxi. Later, Hermana Quezada took us shopping. It was miserable (because of the rain), but kinda fun.
We bought matching white rain boots and raincoats!
February 14, 2014
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Our Six-Month Mark!
We visited Hermana Teresa today and she taught us how to paint! I’m sure we didn’t do well, but it was fun and we got some pretty wall art out of it. We taught her about how she can use her talents to help share the Gospel. We read D&C 60:2-3, 13. We are also going to bring investigators so she can teach them and we can teach them as well!

English Class
We had 10 people come today! Hooray!

Burning my Six-Month . . . Sock
So, you know how all of the Elders send home pictures of burning articles of clothing in the mission? Well, I wanted to do something to mark my six-month anniversary. But what could I burn? (We were safe, don’t worry.) There aren’t really ties or anything for girls, so I had a sock with a hole in it and I decided to burn it. Hermana Smith thought it was silly, but she took photos for me. I started saturating it with bug spray . . . and when that didn’t work, I used hair spray. That didn’t work out either, so I brought out the nail polish remover. It worked like gasoline. It was cool . . . and funny because Hermana Smith was freaking out about it the whole time!

 You Know You’re in Bolivia When . . .
. . . the couple on the beach have a mariachi band playing for them
. . . you pass by men in the street and they yell (read with a “Nacho Libre” accent): “Hello! I love you! Good Afternoon! I love all de women in de world!”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 20

Happy Valentine’s Day (or for us, our 6-month Anniversary!)

Family and Friends,

That’s true about Elder (Tyler) Christiansen. (I mentioned her friend’s great letters and she was responding to my comments.) His letters make my day because they are always so positive and exciting. I read them all the time because I take pictures of them on my camera.

We had a better week this week. Lots of knocking doors, but we had fun in the meantime and we found new people! Yay! Hopefully our drought of no baptisms will end soon.

I love you all so, so much! Hope all is well and that you have a great Valentine’s Day! I know that we will because it will also be our 6-month mark! vamos a quemar algo! wahoo!


Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
February 3, 2014
Zone Activity
We had planned on going to the zoo today, but because it was raining so much, we decided to just go to the chapel and order pizza and watch a movie. We ordered a pizza that was 4 x 4 feet (or maybe even bigger). It was huge!
HUGE Pizza for P-day
(It was like 4 feet by 4 feet—Gigantic!)
Companion Activity
Hermana Smith and I went to mail letters and then we went to vaca fria. It ‘twas delicious.

A company came and fumigated tonight and we had a few devastating experiences with the poor little lizards. One was trapped in a plastic bag and lost his tail and another was a baby and was dying from the chemicals. We found another one that was dead. We had a funeral.
Our Dead Lizard Friend—Very Sad

February 4, 2014
I know this is the only true church and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families. I have felt love for complete strangers here that I’ve never felt before. I know I am doing the Lord’s work and I will never come down.

FHE with the T. Family
We had a FHE lesson about following the prophet with the family T. tonight. We talked about the commandments and played a game with the kids so they could understand. It’s difficult with their dad, who participates but doesn’t want to be baptized or anything. We talked about how baptism and getting sealed in the temple are commandments (subtly, of course) and he didn’t say anything. I hope someday he’ll come around.

February 5, 2014
Companion Study
Today we studied about how to be a successful missionary in PMG. We had been a bit discouraged about the work and not very hopeful with our investigators or the work, so President Zambrano asked us to study in Chapter 1 of PMG. It was such a great study time and we learned a lot about the Gospel and missionary work.

We set some goals we want to work on together so we can become better missionaries and disciples of Christ. One of mine is that I want to serve everyone without feeling like it is an inconvenience to them or me. Mom was always so good at this and I need to be more like her. We also decided to be better at strengthening our members, and especially the ones we eat with all the time. When we go to their homes, we are trying to be better at strengthening their faith and sharing the things we’ve learned.

February 6, 2014
District Meeting
We first talked about how to be a successful missionary and what defines success. Elder Groneman taught us about how, when we are teaching with the Spirit, we are teaching effectively. We then practiced and Hermana Smith and I started. It was a really great lesson. We listened to the Spirit and were able to focus on the needs of the “investigators” and teach based on that.

Elder Groneman & Elder Vasquez said that it was the best practice they’d seen and that if we are teaching like that, we are going to have great success. They said we are a great companionship and are really united. It made us feel really good. We are very glad to have this time to be together and learn lots.

February 7, 2014
Teaching the Quezada Clan
After lunch, we taught the Quezadas how to share the gospel with their friends in a normal and comfortable way. It was a really fun lesson and we practiced with them and everything. They are really smart and up with situations that were really normal to share the Gospel. It was way good.

We taught the M. family about the priesthood and the authority again by reading Acts 19:1-6. It talks about baptism in the correct way and that we need confirmation after. Mari finally got it and said she’ll talk to her family and think about baptism! It’s fantastic!

February 8, 2014
Knocking 25 Doors
We had about 2 hours of time that we didn’t know what to do with, so we made a goal to knock 25 doors. It wasn’t very effective at first. One told us that no one was home . . . another came out half naked, so we booked it out of there . . . and the others said they were “busy.” When we got to door #10, a very sleepy man came to the door and let us in to talk to his family. They have two daughters, and his wife has known of the Church for a very long time. They are really awesome and hopefully they’ll come to church tomorrow.

We visited Erika tonight and we thought she wouldn’t be there, but she was! And all ready to paint our nails! We had an English-learning/nail painting night until her husband came home and we taught them about eternal marriage. She’s so sweet. We have another appointment with them next week.
Don’t ask.
Hermana Smith and I in a Strange Mood
(now you know what we do with our study time!)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 19

Hello Family and Friends,

This week was really good and bad and just about everything in-between.

Hermana Smith and I are alive and well, together, and still in Charcas!

We won’t dwell on it, but this week was pretty difficult. We learned lots, had some pretty crazy experiences, and really felt like we experienced a little bit of what the Savior felt when he was here and the people didn’t want to listen. We studied a talk from Elder Holland this morning for our personal study. I’m not sure if it was from Conference, or just a conference for missionaries, but it talks about how the mission will not be easy, and even the greatest missionary of all the world asked for help and asked why it couldn’t have been easier. I’m glad we got a week to experience this and feel a little of what the Savior felt.

I’m so very thankful for this Gospel. I am realizing more and more every day how important it is and how much I don’t want to go back to the person I was before. I’m grateful for the changes it’s creating in me, and I hope to be forever changed from this experience when I get home.

I love you all so much! I invite you to continue to study the Book of Mormon, always pray to your Father in Heaven (the only person who understands what you are going through), and always be worthy of the blessings of the temple. If you aren’t doing these things now, I challenge you to start. I have seen the miracles and changes this Gospel can bring and I am strengthening my testimony every day because of this experience I am having.

I love you all so much! Have a great week!


Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
February 2, 2014
Fast Sunday
Met the new Elder in our Ward.
Played the piano . . . good thing they picked the hardest songs in the book!
Victoria came to Church and gave me a mom-hug!
Had a heated lesson in Relief Society about wearing garments, and since our ward is “newly-wed or nearly dead,” the older sisters started telling stories about each other using names and all . . . oh, dear!
Hermana Smith and I modeled our modest clothing for the women.
Broke our fast—ate PB&J Sandwiches.
Ate lunch with the Quezadas.
Played the “cup game” that you learn at Girls’ Camp.
Knocked doors.
Met an old man who asked us to come back some time to dance with him . . . um, awkward!
Knocked doors.
Ran away from dogs and drunks in the street.
Came home and drank hot chocolate.
Laughed lots.
February 1st
Another “one” of those days . . .
After visiting with the B. family and placing a baptismal date for Xjimena (which we had to plan for after Carnival, which I’ll probably be gone for) and talking with her mom about coming back to Church, we decided to knock doors for a bit.

Blue House
While knocking doors and having no luck, I suggested we go to another street, but Hermana Smith said, “Please can we just knock on this one blue house? It’s my favorite color!” I said, “Sure.” A woman answered the door. She didn’t even introduce herself, and we didn’t have the opportunity to either. She just said, “Come in!” (in Spanish)

So we walked in and her family was eating bread and tea at a big table. They had two empty chairs like they had been waiting for us. We tried to explain who we were and get to know everyone, but before we had the chance, the man at the head of the table began talking about the Bible and religion and things. Although we tried really hard, we couldn’t get a word in. He talked for about 20 minutes and then he “turned the time” over to his son. The first thing he said (with almost a creepy smile on his face) was, “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses!” Ugh! Our worst nightmare come true. He talked for another 25 minutes about how we need to study the Bible more like them and so forth. It was very difficult to get in two words, so we just bore our testimonies that this is the true church and slipped out.

Br. Family
And then, to top it all off, we had a really beautiful lesson planned for the Br. family. We watched a Mormon Message about Stephanie Nielson, and we were trying to have a spiritual moment when the family began accusing us of not wanting to baptize their son because they can’t come to Church. I’m beginning to feel a bit like Satan doesn’t want to leave us alone. The mish is hard, but I can do hard things!

January 29th
No Transfers!
The Elders just called and said we aren’t changing areas! But the convo went a little like this . . . (translated into English)

Elder Leon: Hermana Smith, you are first. You are gonna stay in Charcas . . .
Me: Elder, please just tell us . . .
Elder Leon: Yeah . . . well . . . Hermana Nelson . . . um . . . um . . . you’re going to go . . .
Me: Yeah, okay, where? (almost in tears)
Elder Leon: You’re going to go . . . and stay in your area.

What a meanie! But I’m so happy we get to stay here together for at least one more transfer! Tomorrow we’ll see who’s staying and who is going out of the zone.

January 28th
We had service this morning and we cut the grass with machetes and got burned again. I got a few blisters, so I guess it was a successful day.

Delia is a woman we visited a little while back who is 76 years old and very much Catholic. She does like to listen to us and she came to Church last week and found a friend in the Ward. We invited her to a baptism today and she said she’ll think about it.

We almost passed by a door we had knocked on last week and Selene actually let us in! Better yet, she asked if she could paint our nails for free. Bonus! She’s really great and we have a lot of faith that she and her husband will accept us. Yay!

January 27th
Monday (P-Day)
Game Day with the Quezadas!
We taught the Quezadas how to play spoons and scum and they loved it! Then we made Rice Cripsy Treats (with Frosted Flakes), which they thought were way too sweet!

FHE with the P. Family
After, we had FHE with the P. family. They are a very sweet family and have a really cool story. Hermana P. was a member and had kids, but her husband died when they were in Switzerland. There, she met Hermano P., converted him, and they are now married. All of their kids are grown, except for one whom they adopted because his mom abused him when he was a baby. They are really sweet.