Monday, March 31, 2014

Bolivia, Equipetrol—Week 3

Family and Friends,
I don’t have much to talk about this week because we were basically just hanging out in the hospital the whole week (read about it in my journal).

The package was opened, but I’m sure it was all there still. Funny story, I got it during our district meeting and to be nice, I ripped it open because I knew there was candy in it. I just started throwing candy necklaces at the Elders and they were all really happy. Even funnier—there’s an Elder from Cody, Wyoming, (crazy small world, no?) and he was like, "Wow, Hermana, this necklace says I love you. I didn’t know you felt that way about me.” So next time, I’ll be more careful with Valentine’s candy!

Our buddhist friend has officially dropped off the face of the planet. I was going to ask Andrew for some advice of how to teach people who don’t believe in God, but it seems that she doesn’t want to talk to us anymore.
We didn’t get to watch the RS meeting because it was too late at night, but Hermana Zambrano said she will have an activity so we can all watch it. 

Well, that’s pretty much all for this week. It sounds like everyone is doing great. Kimberly’s baby is so big and so darn cute! Grandma sent me pics and I almost started crying. He’s so adorable and it makes me sad that he'll be all grown up when I get home. 

Never forget that our Heavenly Father is always there to help us when we are down. He’s always willing to do everything for us. 

Love you all,

xoxo Hermana Nelson
Ice Cream!
Journal Pages
March 24, 2014
Today was fun. First we played wally with the Elders and then we went to Ventura Mall to see what it is like inside. We saw a few stores that were familiar, but the mall still doesn’t have much. We ate ice cream upstairs and then we headed to the salon. 
We found a Salon!
KFC Sighting!
An hermana in our ward told us all to come in and get hair treatments, so we had hair hydrating treatments and then we all got our hair trimmed and styled. It took a long time and all of our appointments canceled on us, so we decided to have a spa night in the house with the other four Hermanas. 
PedicuresBolivian Style
We didn’t have a bucket to soak our feet in, but we found a box and a bag and decided that could be a good alternative . . . let’s just say it was not and all of the water fell out. After about one hour of painting nails, Hermana Hussey started feeling really sick and was throwing up. She had a fever, so we headed to the Foianini clinic and we stayed there all night. Hermana Hussey couldn’t have people in the ER with her, so Hermana Diaz and I waited outside and slept on chairs and benches all night. Great fun. Especially since the people are pretty stingy about blankets here. (Amanda has spent a fair amount of time in hospitals and she’s used to having all the heated blankets she could pile on!)
Hermana Hussey in the Foianini
March 25-27, 2014
Still hanging out in the Foianini . . . 

March 28, 2014
Back Home
We finally went home today. Hermana Hussey is alright, but the doctors still don’t know why she had a fever and all. We are going to take it easy this weekend until she feels well enough to go out and work again. 

We did go to our missionary activity with the ward tonight, though. We called it, “A day in the life of a missionary.” We split everyone up into two districts and assigned everyone a companion. It was like a relay race—they had to start with exercises, then put on missionary clothes and name tags, then tie their legs together and finish the rest of the course as a three-legged race. Next, they had personal study, language study, lunch (which was semi-gross), then they had to knock doors and do a maze together. It turned out pretty well and I think they all enjoyed it.
A Day in the Life of a Missionary
March 29, 2014
Plan of Salvation
We got to visit a family tonight whose dad just passed away. I’m so grateful for the knowledge I have that death is not the end. We were able to teach them that they can see their dad/husband again and that their family can be sealed for eternity. I have a testimony of that. I know that temple covenants and sealings are so important. I know I’m going to live with my family forever and I am so happy for that. If we didn’t have anywhere to go after this life, what would be the purpose? I have a purpose. It’s to get back to my Father in Heaven and help others get there, too. I love the Plan of Salvation!
March 30, 2014
Today was a good Sunday. It rained and was overcast, which made the weather enjoyable. It was also fast and testimony meeting. This is Mario’s last Sunday with the ward before his mission, so their whole family got up. It was a really spiritual meeting. One hermana got up and said that she hasn’t been to church in months, but today she made an effort to come and she said she’ll never miss again. 

We had lunch with the V. family and we gave Mario some advice. He didn’t really listen to us, but hopefully he’ll remember and use it later. We talked all about missions and there was an Italian there who told us about his conversion story. We also got to talk about Italy and it reminded me how much I loved it there.

Later, we visited a recent convert named Gil. He’s super sweet and was so excited to see us. He took pictures with us and told us all about his conversion and about his family. We have a meeting scheduled with him next week.
Captain America and Spiderman will have to wait . . . 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bolivia, Equipetrol—Week 2

Hermanas Nelson and Hussey
Dear Family and Friends,

Don't worry, we are obeying the curfew rule, and the area isn't as scary as we thought it would be. We are still trying to find a new house because now there are six of us in the house/ward, but we will see what happens.
A houseful of Hermanas!
We have officially gotten the hang of it all. Our area is very small because the ward is now split into three areas for us sisters. 

There's a huge new mall, and it has HARD ROCK CAFE, TGI FRIDAYS, and CINNABON!!! What could get better than that?? I will take pics as soon as we get there.
Ventura Mall
That’s crazy about Mariane! (Amanda's friend, Mariane Sorensen, just received her mission call to Puerto Rico) Tell her congrats and tell her family "hi."

I was just thinking about all the babies . . . it makes me sad when we see so many cute ones here and we can't do anything with them. I hope I'll be able to at least have a few cousin babies when I get home to play with! :)

Hey, my package came!!! (We mailed a package in early January because someone got her debit card number and used it 29 times in one day.  We had to cancel it right before Christmas and order another one. It took 2 1/2 months for her to receive a small padded envelope! I almost canceled the card and started over last week, but thought I'd give it one more week. Thank heavens we waitedshe's right, prayer really works!)

Love you all. The church is true. Don't forget it.
Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
March 17, 2014
We didn’t have an activity, so we just did the usual . . . 
   Stephanie (Acerson) won Miss PG!
   Skyler (Payne) is Zone Leader
   Tyler (Christiansen) is still being amazing Tyler in England
Shopping at a supermarket that has all things American:
   Hershey’s Syrup
   Pumpkin in a can
   Frosting in a can
   Pop Tarts
   And so much more . . .
American food in Bolivia!
   Hermana Hussey needed to get her foot cleaned. It was quick.
   We had an 18th birthday party for Mario who is in the ward. He is going on a mission in April.

March 18, 2014
I love the Spirit. I love Hermana Hussey. Even when we're just talking about normal life stuff, I can feel the Spirit.

I read a talk today by Elder Scott from the November 2013 General Conference. It was fab. You should read it. It’s about the atonement of Jesus Christ and how we need to apply it in our lives. I loved it so much.

I have a testimony of prayer. I prayed this morning before study to be able to use what I'd learned in our day and I used this talk today. I know prayer works. I know that these things are placed in my life to help me remember that He is always there, always with outstretched arms and comfort. I love the Gospel!

March 19, 2014
Shoe Shopping
We went shoe shopping all morning with Hermana Z. to find some comfortable shoes and stuff. It took a long time and by the time we got done, it was already lunchtime, so we went to lunch with President, the Elders, and the new missionaries that just came in. It was delicious. I got to eat a real life salad and apple pie! Yum!

March 21, 2014
So, we decided to walk the boundaries of our area so that we’ll know where not to go. We saw a lady who needed some help pulling weeds. We started to talk to her and help her and she told us that she is Buddhist and doesn’t believe in God. We weren’t expecting to ever hear that response in Bolivia, but it was an interesting discussion. We are planning to go back to see her on Saturday after we’ve studied a bit.

New Hermana
We just got a brand new Hermana in the mission. She’s from Honduras and is really sweet. The best part was when I met her, she was like, “Do you have a blog?” I said I did and she said she found it before she left and had been reading all of my emails and stories and that she couldn’t wait to meet me. Crazy, no? She’s super awesome, but she’s in my old zone, so I won’t be seeing her very much.

All of the missions in Venezuela have sent the non-native missionaries to their home countries because it isn’t very safe there, so we have like 15 new missionaries!

Dr. Nelson
So, I helped to successfully remove a callous from Hermana Hussey's foot today. It’s been driving her crazy. Hopefully I didn’t do too much damage.

Elder Zaldivar
So guess what?! There’s a missionary in my zone from Lindon! We went to PGHS together, and now we are in the same district! Crazy! I don’t remember his first name, but I’m pretty sure he’s in our stake.

March 22, 2014
Getting Acquainted
Today was really good. We met with a bunch of people and it was a very successful day. It’s not easy not knowing anyone, and especially when your comp doesn’t either, but we are getting the hang of it.

March 23, 2014
Lunch with Familia Vera
The Vera Family is one of those families that you just instantly love. They call me “hija” (daughter), they always invite us over, and they are so much fun. We spent our lunch hour with them eating 'papa relleno' (it’s a potato, mashed, stuffed with meat, then deep fried). It’s really delicious. Their family owns a party store and the dad is an artist like Dad. I love them lots!
Familia Vera

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bolivia, Equipetrol—Week 1

Hermana Hussey from SLC is my new companion!
Family and Friends,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Yes, I did remember. We are all wearing green today even though they don’t celebrate it here.

You Know You’re in Bolivia When . . .
. . . the bus driver plays, “how many Bolivians (& two Americans) can you fit in the bus?”
. . . when the lady in front of you on the bus is holding a baby chick . . . that she bought in the street . . . and it’s just in a bag . . . and will grow up to be lunch one day. Awesome.
. . . when people walk past you quickly on the street, then stop and turn around with their mouths open because they’ve never seen two Americans together before.
Oh, how I love Bolivia!

Well, crazy news. I finally moved to my second area of the mission! I am now on the other side of the city in an area about ten times bigger than Charcas. I am in Equipetrol with Hermana Hussey from SLC! (I'm never going to learn Spanish at this rate . . . haha!) We are opening this area because all of the hermanas that were here before got transferred. It’s pretty crazy stuff since we are both in the same group and only have 7 months, but we are having a blast getting to know the members and the new area. This is only her second area as well, so it’s going to be a good time.

I hope your week was great. I don’t really have much to say about ours since we just got here and are still trying to find all the houses, but hopefully there will be a better update next week.

I have been feeling the spirit so strongly this past week and I’m so glad for the influence of my Heavenly Father in my life every day. I know this Church is true and that I am where I need to be. I love you all so much! Thanks for the letters and words of encouragement. You are all the reason I’m here and the reason I can keep on going every day.

I read a Conference talk this week by Elder Scott from the October 2013 Conference. It’s about the atonement and it is spectacular. Look it up.

Con muchisimo amor,

Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
March 11, 2014 
We passed by to talk to V. today, but she was pretty busy, so we talked to Hermano W. instead. It was a really rough lesson, but we found out a lot of things. He told us he won’t ever come back to church because he’s made so many mistakes over the years and he doesn’t believe he’ll ever feel cleansed from them. We tried sharing so many scriptures and other things, but in the end we could only share our testimonies that at any time we can repent and come back. It was really hard to hear him tell us that he won’t ever come back and I cried a lot when he told us. All I could do was tell him that he needs to come back so he can feel good again and that we care a lot about him. It’s amazing how in such a little time you can care so much about a person. I just hope and pray that one day he’ll come back.

March 12, 2014
Wow! I know without a shadow of a doubt that this work is true. I know that God is here helping us in every moment and is working miracles through us every day. We went to visit Hermana V. today and she and Hermano W. were waiting for us. We were a bit worried at first because Hermano W. usually complicates lessons, but I don’t know what happened . . . he really was touched by what we told him yesterday.

We didn’t even have a plan, but we said the prayer and Hermana Smith started reading in JSH. From there, we just were thinking of scriptures, bearing testimony, and being led completely by the Spirit. We talked about so many things—repentance, fighting Satan, faith, enduring to the end, etc. And this morning we read a Conference talk by Elder Scott about the exact things we needed to talk to them about. It was so powerful. We felt the Spirit so strong and I know that they did too. Hermano W. had a complete change that I was praying so much for!

Probably the most powerful part was when we talked about their faith. We were also talking about repentance and I had an impression to challenge them to live the commandments to the fullest. I told them that if they stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes, and closed their shop on Sunday, they would receive lots of help from the Lord. W. tried to interrupt me and tell me why they can’t do that, but I just cut him off and told him to listen. With all the power and courage I could muster, I promised them, as a servant and representative of Jesus Christ, that if they exercise their faith just a little to do this, they will be okay and they will receive even more money than if they had continued as they are now. It was dead silent—not one car passed and not one dog barked (which is extremely uncommon) and he accepted it.
I can’t even express how happy I am right now. I want to change areas to get to know other places, but now we are finally getting somewhere with Hermano W. and I kind of want to stay to help him come back. I guess we’ll see what happens tonight.

Cambios (Transfers)
I am transferring to an area called Equipetrol (2) and my companion will be Hermana Hussey from SLC! Yay!

March 13, 2014
Moving Day
After getting everything packed and resting a little until we had to leave, Hermana Carol came to visit. She told me to tell my mom that she raised a good daughter. Then Hermana Lucy came with two saltenas (like empanadas) for our breakfast and said goodbye and cried a lot. Then the Quezadas. I told them, “no crying!” but as soon as I hugged Hermana Quezada, I couldn’t help it. She told me I need to continue on, work hard, and never forget them. She said that they consider me as a daughter, and then each of them gave me a little note or “recuerdo.” Juan gave me a tiny blue cup because Hermana Smith and I always played the cup game with them. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but I know I’ll see them again.

Then we headed off. I said goodbye to my zone and Hermana Smith. We met at another chapel (the new Stake Center), then Hermana Hussey and I headed off to our new house. We live above a couple of liquor stores on just about the busiest road in this area. We had a real fun time carrying our suitcases up a flight of very steep stairs, but we got all done just in time to help the other two hermanas get their stuff up the stairs as well. We are living with Hermana Pulsipher (from Oregon) and Hermana Navarro (from Cochabamba). The house is pretty nice. We have a huge kitchen and a balcony (sort of) . . . but the view is just a car lot and roads.

Hermana Hussey and I got all unpacked and stayed in today to get to know the investigators and members based on the information in the Area Book. We have lots of work to do, but we are excited! Since we are all four new to this area, we will have to work lots with the members and that will be really good. We met the Ward Mission Leader and let’s just say it will be an interesting experience. I’m excited for all that is new.

March 14, 2014
Today was Tiring
We have now learned the importance of the Area Book and why we need to write everything down correctly. Opening a new area is very hard. We’ve gotten lost quite a few times, but we are slowly getting the hang of it.

We live in an area that is very rich and also very dangerous. We have to be in by about 7:30, and if it’s any later, we have to be with a member. A couple of hermanas got robbed in this area just about three months ago, so we are going to be very careful. I don’t really know anyone yet, so I can’t write about them, but soon we’ll get the hang of it. I’m excited!

March 15, 2014
Saturday is a Special Day, It’s the Day we Get Ready for Sunday . . . 
Well, we spent a lot of time cleaning the house today. We found probably about 200 spiders (Alyssa says that she must be growing up!), but they weren’t too big, so that was good news. Then we walked and walked and walked (like the pioneer children) . . . but it was good fun. We played soccer in the street with some kids and had a good ol’ time.

Then we were trying to think of ways that we can help another Hermana in the house and we decided to have lunch together tomorrow, so we made breakfast casseroles tonight. We’re excited!

Crazy news . . . The missions just all got shut down because of everything going on, so now three more hermanas are coming in. The situation is really bad down there, so it’s a good thing they’re all in different missions. (She didn't mention which missions).

March 16, 2014
First Day in Equipetrol
The ward was really great today. We were actually pretty surprised when everyone came up to say “hi,” give us their numbers, and tell us when they can come with us on visits. I think this ward is going to be real good.

Hermana Martha
After our breakfast casserole lunch, we visited with a member named Martha. She said she had a friend that she wanted us to talk to, so we went. She told us he wants to serve a mission, but let’s just say he’s got a few things to learn. We had the lesson going right to the bottom of the swimming pool, but we rescued it, and then gave him the Elders’ address because he isn’t in our area. 

Then, like pioneer children, we walked and walked and walked.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bolivia, Charcas—Week 24

Querido familia, y amigos,

Well, they finally let us out, and it's been a crazy few weeks. Carnaval was good. Mostly just delirious after reading so much of the Book of Mormon at one time, but we hope our Spanish got better in the process.

No, there was no time for the puzzle. That’s pretty much the mission–not much time for anything. Maybe in a year I can work on it and finish it when I’m home and bored. (haha)

It’s cooling down a lot and the rain is good. We are all prepared for rain now, so no worries there.
Calle Charcas (street name of our ward)!
Visited the Catholic Cathedral with the Elders.
It reminded me of the Vatican, only smaller.
It’s been a rough few weeks finding people to teach, but we are working on it. We are continuing with a few investigators that have been investigators for quite some time. We’ll see if anything progresses there. We are doing our best.

Transfers are this week, so we will have to see what will happen. I can’t believe how fast time flies! This week we also start 7 months! I really can’t believe it!
We cut raw chicken! it had its neck and bones and everything!
(For anyone who's cooked with Amanda, this is a very big deal!)
You Know You're in Bolivia When . . .
–You buy all of the mac & cheese in the supermarket and notice that there are bugs in it . . . or maybe it was one big cockroach or something? Of course it tasted so much like home that you snarfed it down and right when you finished, your companion tells you she found big black things in it . . . you did, too, but you thought they were spices . . .

–You visit a really sick lady who believes her husband's girlfriend performed some witchery to make her this way . . . and to top it all off, she says she's getting better because the priest on TV blesses water every morning at 4 a.m. that is sitting on top of her TV.

–You go to someone's house and they give you some cake, but as they are handing it to you, they look a little closer and say, "Oh, looks like the ants got to it again!" And, instead of throwing it out, they give it to you anyway.

Love you all!

hasta luego
les quiero mucho!
xoxo Hermana Nelson
P-day at Picolo. They had real sour cream and guacamole!!
Journal Pages
February 24, 2014
We threw away her coffee! It was actually really funny. We began talking about the Word of Wisdom and we asked if they had any problems with it. Hermana Miriam and her daughter said they drink cofee. Then (I don't know what got into me) I just blurted out, "Can we throw it out?!" She was a little concerned and didn't want to at first, but she did it!

February 25, 2014
Diego passed his baptismal interview! We also stocked up on food to eat during Carnaval. (There wasn't a single journal entry during Carnaval, so I guess they were strictly obedient and stayed in their apartment like they were told to do. Good girls!)

March 1, 2014
Book of Mormon Reading
It's been a long and tiring week of knocking doors and not having much luck, but we get a little break to just read the Book of Mormon and relax. We started reading as soon as we came home at 5 tonight and we got to 2nd Nephi. Hopefully we can read lots tomorrow so we can finish by Wednesday.

March 5, 2014
We finished reading the entire Book of Mormon in Spanish last night at 7:30 pm. We were very delirious and a little crazy, but we finally finished! I was happy because, except for a few words, I actually understood all of it! I'm glad we got to read it together.

I truly have a testimony of this book. I know that it is the word of God, and I know it was truly written for us at this time. We found numerous scriptures that pertained just to us and every time I just knew that it was written for us. I love it with all my heart and I can't wait to start over and read it again. When I applied Moroni's promise at the end, I really felt that it was true and that it is the word of God. Read it!

March 6, 2014
Reunion de distrito
We had an amazing district meeting today. Elder Groneman taught us about commitments and why they are important. We talked about how to leave a commitment and then how to verify if they completed it. I felt the Spirit so strong afterwards when Elder Vasquez & Elder Leon taught us (Hermand Smith and I) during a practice lesson. They just help so much with missionary work and throughout our week so we can be excited and ready to work. Then, Elder Vasquez gave his final testimony before he goes home. It was such a powerul testimony of what he knows to be true. He talked about us hermanas and how we are important in the mission work and how, without us, we wouldn't have as much success and that we add a different spirit. I'm glad for Elders that appreciate us as women and appreciate what we do. I'm so happy I'm here at this time. The mission isn't easy, but I'm glad I get this experience to learn and grow.

March 8, 2014
Diego's Baptism/Locoto Burn
Wow! What a day we had . . . We left right after studying to help Hermana Lucy cut up the veggies for the Mexican Salsa we were going to eat after Diego's baptism. My job was to cut up the locoto (locoto is an extremely spicy pepper they have here). I love it, so I thought I'd put in a couple of them. I cut up a green one, then a red one. I didn't know there was a difference between the colors, but I cut it all up anyway. What I didn't know was that you aren't supposed to touch the inside, and especially the seeds of the red ones. I was taking out the seeds with my fingers and cutting it right in my hand. We finished the salsa and left to go to the house. My hands felt a bit weird, and then in like 10 minutes they felt like they were on fire. I tried everything–putting them under running water, putting them in the freezer (not a good idea by the way . . . I had a little "Christmas Story" moment), putting them in milk, applying every type of cream. Nothing. So we practically ran to Hermana Quezada's house to see if she knew what to do. She had never heard of someone getting burned by locoto before, but we tried everything we could think of–aloe, anti-allergy cream, and the ice (the only thing that made them feel better. It was really scary. I felt so stupid, but Hermana Quezada helped me feel better.

We left holding a bag of ice, and I was doing fine until we got to the Chapel. We went to another member's house to ask for more ice and then the baptism started. My ice melted and I was stuck to just sit through the pain. It literally felt like my hands were on fire the whole day. Diego's baptism was really good, but we left right afterwards to ask Hermana Zambrano what to do. I took an allergy pill and it slowly went away. Then we went back to the house to have tacos with Diego and his family and the ward members that attended his baptism. Diego was really happy. We just hope and pray that his family will follow his example.

Stake Conference
Afterwards we visited with Erika and then had Stake Conference. It was great that all of us missionaries could attend, because we usually don't get to. Hermana Smith and I felt like we were putting on the show. One of the counselors is in our ward and he talked a lot about us and the lessons they've come with us to. Then, we listened to President Zambrano. He called up four Elders and another Hermana and I to give examples of what we would say in different situations. I was scared out of my mind, but I prayed and the Lord really helped me know what to say.

Then, President Quezada was talking about using our talents to share the Gospel and called Hermana Smith and I up to sing the EFY Medley and "play" the cups like we did the other day in the park. We were super nervous, but it went really well and everyone loved it. I'm glad the Lord has given me so many opportunities to share my talents here.