Monday, September 29, 2014

Bolivia, Paraiso—Week 9

Dear Family and Friends,
When President Zambrano talked to us the other day about why we are still here in Paraiso, he told us he knew it was for a reason and we’ve really been able to see that this week.
The family “M” is doing well. The mom is interested and receptive. She’s just been through so much with her family and during the hardest times, she relied on the church she became a part of. So, other than being very active and having lots of confidence in her church, I just hope more than anything, that we can help her realize her potential and that her family really can be together forever.
Then we met “D” and her family. They were a reference from a member. We visited them and they are fantastic! It’s such a rare thing to find a family that will listen and the hardest of all is having the fathers participate. But her husband came in to listen to us and he was super cool. They said they will come to church on Sunday. We are hoping and praying that they will.
Then we found the “V” family. We found them in the funniest way. We were just walking past the Catholic Church and they stopped us—mostly to tell Hermana Bingham that they liked her hair, but then they were just super excited and asked us to come over in a few days. Also, when we visited them, the dad was so cool and they were just so normal. We were able to connect with them well. We read The Family, A Proclamation to the World with them and it went so well. They said that they will also come to church.
I am seeing the blessings that come from just trying your best. It’s not easy. We’ve got a lot of things working against us. The culture is difficult and we still don’t understand it super well. The ward is not doing well and it almost feels as though there’s not much we can do, so it’s hard to have a good attitude and to be patient. I’m trying my best, though. Hermana Bingham and I are tired, well, better put, exhausted, but we are hanging in there. I know that the Church is true and we are doing a lot of good here.
xoxo Hermana Nelson

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bolivia, Paraiso—Week 8

Family "G" Eating Their First S'mores
Dearest Family and Friends,
I hope you all had a fantastic week. Hermana Bingham and I had an eventful week of many things.
I'll give you an update of the people we are teaching and how they are coming along:
“G”—We  are still trying to help him understand that he doesn’t have to read the entire Book of Mormon and know everything to be able to get baptized. We tried to extend another baptismal date, but he’s just not sure yet. Hopefully, the more he reads the Book of Mormon, the more he'll feel the urgency of doing it.
“B”—We think he may be crazy. But really, he’s a great guy and he’s listening to us well—he just doesn’t really want to do the things we ask him to do. It’s difficult, but not something that the spirit can’t change. We are praying that he can start doing something so we can continue teaching him.
Family “M”—They are a family we found the other day just from knocking doors. They are great! They are just very active in their religions and that’s difficult, but we are slowly helping them realize the importance of the restored gospel in their lives.
Family “Z”They are the "Kardashians" of Santa Cruz. They’re inactive and a bit crazy, but fun. One of them came to church this week!
Family “V”—We were walking past a Catholic church the other day and this family stopped us to tell Hermana Bingham that her hair was pretty and then asked us when we were going to come by to teach them! Blessings! So we went to visit them and we have another appointment set.
Well, that’s about it. We are trying our best to stay positive and, although there are many trials and hardships, we are having fun and loving every second.
I hope you all have a great week. Don’t ever forget the love that our Savior and Heavenly Father have for you. No matter what, that love will never diminish or leave, so be happy! There is always hope!

xoxo Hermana Nelson
Doing ServiceBathing Animals

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bolivia, Paraiso—Week 7

Dearest Family and Friends,
This week was a lot better. Thanks for the love. I have been truly comforted this week.
Hermana Rivero went home this week and although it was really sad, I know that she’s going on to bigger things in her life. She was a fantastic missionary and I really have learned lots from her in the short period of time that I was with her.
But thanks so much for the support of everyone. I had a great week this week with Hermana Bingham. Really, she is a great companion, and one of my favorites. We get along super well and we are working hard here in Paraiso.
I would like to ask everyone to please pray for one of the investigators of the Elders, his name is Rene and he’s going to be baptized next week. He just found out that his brother-in-law died, so he needs lots of prayers.
Please also pray for the “C” family. They are having a really hard time right now with the ward and are thinking of leaving the church. Please pray that they can remember their testimonies and that they are important to the ward.
Thanks so much for your prayers and thoughts on my behalf. I love you all so much!
xoxo Hermana Nelson
Journal Pages
Interviews with President Zambrano
We had interviews today and talked about the problems here. It was hard, especially for me because I’m not good at opening up and when I do, I tend to cry. We told him everything about the ward, our disappointment with transfers, and our experience with a leader in our ward. He really helped me understand a lot of things—like how I need to be more positive, to trust the Priesthood leaders, and that all the things we’ve experienced are only helping us feel a little of how Christ felt when He was here. He said that there is a big reason we are here. If not, we wouldn’t be having as much opposition and as many trials.
I know I’m here with Hermana Bingham for a reason. I know it will help me learn and grow. I’ve learned a lot more about myself in these past few days than I have in a long time.
Hermana’s Rivero’s Last P-Day
Today was our last P-Day with Hermana Rivero, so we had a fiesta. This is what we did today:
Played Soccer
Ate Sublime (chocolate) & Coca-Cola
Went to the Cathedral of Santa Cruz and took pictures
Ate at Subway and then Vaca Fria
Took lots of pictures and videos
Bought junk food at the IC Norte
Made a fire for s’mores
Finger painted a shirt
Danced like crazy people
Ate pizza, pop-tarts, Andes mints, and lots of s’mores
She had a fun last night!

Then there were Two . . .
Well, it’s just Hermana Bingham and I now—just two crazy Americans in Bolivia. She’s really great and a grand friend. I just hope we will be friends after the mission as well.
Armor of God
We had a “Put on the Whole Armor of God” activity. It was hilarious! Who knew that the Bolivians could be so creative? And the Elders were really getting into it. It was really funny.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bolivia, Paraiso—Week 6

Dearest Family and Friends,

I really hope you all had a great week. 

Our investigators are very unpredictable. “B” is taking classes at the university and hasn’t had much time to talk to us. We talked with a member who said that he was meeting with the missionaries about a year ago and the same thing was happening—he was coming to church, but only telling the members what was wrong about everything they were doing. So, after realizing that, we’ve decided to stop visiting him for a bit to see if he really has good intentions or if he is just trying to get information from us.

“B” (another investigator) is progressing well, but we have realized that he is very innocent and basically does what his friends tell him to do. He is 28, but is like a 15 year-old. We are trying to help him change and understand the commandments. He didn’t come to church, which made us really sad, but we will keep working with him and let you know how he’s coming along.

I have really learned how to rely on the Lord—especially in these times most difficult in my life. I have found peace knowing that he is truly here.

This week was a bit rough. I won’t go into the details because that would just be negative and unnecessary, but my companions and I have been through some trials this week. There is a lot of "machismo" (or, sexism . . . I can’t remember what it’s called in English) and it’s a hard thing to deal with. We had a pretty ugly experience yesterday with our ward mission leader and we were very appalled at the situation. But, later in the day, we had a meeting with President Quesada (he’s pretty much my favorite person here), and he helped us feel better. He really listened to our worries and helped us realize that there will always be opposition. A scripture I read today in my personal study explains this well. In Luke 21:17 it says, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake." I’ve thought about that a lot. There are people who act in very rude ways, but I know that the Savior knows how I’m feeling. He has comforted me more in these past few days than I could have ever thought possible. I know that the hard things I’m going through are just going to help me later on in my life. I am changing my attitude and my character every day to be more in line with the things the Savior wants me to do.

I love the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a [woman], I put away childish things."

I know that is true. I’m trying so hard to become more like Christ. Of course I’ll still be the same Amanda with my crazy weird personality, but I will change the way I treat others and truly do my best to develop Christlike attributes.

I encourage you all to read and study chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel. I love this chapter. I usually do the activity at the end every month (or more if I can) so I can see my progress and truly become like Him. I know the savior loves us. I know that we are special Daughters and Sons of God. I love Him. I know He’s there and I know that we are here to become better each day. I love this work and the person I’m becoming through these trials and experiences.

I love you all so much and I hope you all have a fantastic week. Make someone happy this week. Show the love that you really feel for others. Don’t just say the words.

xoxo Hermana Nelson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bolivia, Paraiso—Week 5

Dearest Family and Friends,

Well, I'm going to stay here in Paraiso for one transfer more. I was really hoping to be able to go outside of the city, but I am happy to be here, and I know that here is where God wants me to be. 

This ward is difficult and they really need our prayers so that things can start changing. But I really am happy to be here with Hermana Bingham and Hermana Rivero (she will only stay here for about a week more before she goes home) and I know that the Lord has a work to be done. 
On Monday, we had a huge multi-zona activity with all of the zones in Santa Cruz before they all left for home. There were a bunch of Hermanas and Elders that finished their missions, so we ate pizza and played a lot of soccer. 

We got to visit Charcas for one last time with the “T” family. They were the ones that we were having FHE with every Monday. Hermano “T” is still listening to the missionaries, but he says that he will never be baptized. We asked for references and I really hope that by helping his family and friends get to know the church, he can participate more as well. 

On Tuesday, we visited a family that we are trying to reactivate and they have a daughter that is 13 and is thinking about getting baptized. It cracked us up when she asked us what we think about the strength of men and women and asked us who is stronger. We didn’t really have an answer for her, and we told her that both are equal. Then she told us the story of Adam and Eve—that Adam was made of the dust of the earth and that Eve was made of his rib. She then told us that, clearly, women are stronger because ribs are stronger than dirt. We had a good laugh.

On Sunday, “B” finally came to church. The sisters have been teaching him for a very long time and he finally came. He is a security guard in one of the corners of our area and we really hope he can get more involved with the church. 

I love you all so much. Don’t ever forget that you are special daughters and sons of our Heavenly Father, and he loves you so much. I hope you all have a fantastic week.

xoxo Hermana Nelson