Monday, November 24, 2014

Bolivia, Montero—Week 7

Buen dia mi querido familia y amigos,

I love you all! Thanks for the support, emails, love, and prayers that you send my way.

Transfers (Cambios)
The Elders called. I will be staying here in Montero, but my new companion will be Hermana Gomez. I’m so excited! We got up at 3:30 this morning to drop off Hermana Cumatz at the airport to go to Cobija and my new companion,  Hermana Gomez was coming from Cobja, so we stayed and waited for her. We were in the airport for 8 hours—just me, Elder Dorado and Elder Flores chatting and such. Wow! It was a super long wait and there weren’t any Hermana missionaries to come with me, but it was still fun to get to know the Elders a little better. When Hermana Gomez and Elder Tyson came, we went back to Montero, ate lunch, and got right to work.

We had dinner with the “S” Family. They have a son who is serving in this mission (only 1 hour away—can you imagine?!). They are great. They have 2 kids and the Dad is the Bishop. They have been to the U.S. twice and have visas for 10 years. They said they are going to try to come to Utah for General Conference next October when their son completes his mission. When we’re with them, I don’t feel like I am in Bolivia! They are way different.

We found and taught a 17-year old single mom with twins. She was very quiet during our first lesson, but she accepted our invitation to pray. During her prayer, she started crying and couldn’t finish. I hope she’ll let us help her. We invited her to come to an activity with us and when we arrived, she was outside waiting for us. It was great! On Sunday, she came with her twins to Church. Yippee! And almost all of our recent converts came to Church 23/30! The Familia “D” came as well! I’m so happy!

We stopped by to see how “E” was doing. She was making bicycles out of weaved newspaper for a birthday party. She is one of the most valiant women I’ve met. She has 8 kids from 1 to 13 years old. Her husband only gives her money to buy food, so she has to find ways to make her own money for the other things they need: Baking to sell door-to-door; projects for birthday parties, etc. She told us that they visited with the missionaries 3 years ago and were going to get married and baptized, but something happened and they never went back to Church. I really hope we can help them come into the Church and change their lives.
Bishop and Hermana Carol visited from Charcas
She was wearing the CTR Ring you bought her
I want to share quickly a scripture that I read today in my personal study.

Alma 29:9-10
I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

I love this work. I have a testimony of the Gospel. It brings happiness and peace. It changes lives.

Have a great week.

I love you all,
Hermana Nelson
50-year Celebration of the Church in Bolivia

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bolivia, Montero—Week 6

Sebastian's Baptism
Dear Family and Friends,

(We asked her if we could send some extra money so she could buy some Christmas gifts, as well as necessities, for the families). No, I wish we could do something for the families that really need help, but we aren't allowed to buy things for them because they would get too used to it and would always want the missionaries to help them. Don't worry, though. When I come back to visit, I will for sure be here to help many families. That's my goal.

Here is a quick rundown of our week:

Familia “D” FHE—We read in Nefi 1 with Fabricio and Nicole. Their parents weren’t home for FHE, so we just read with them. They are improving little by little.
Familia “B”They live with relatives and have a huge family. Their grandparents are “pioneers” in the Church here and all of their children are members. They haven’t been coming to Church, so we are going to visit them a bit. They have a son in the La Paz mission who will be returning home one week before Christmas. We were only able to speak with the mom. She said that she gets sick easily, but would like to come to Church again.

“E”—Today she spent the whole day proselyting with us to prepare for her mission in December.
“R”—Is a less-active who has been a member her whole life, but recently hasn’t been coming to Church. She lives with her brother, Nefi, who is also a bit inactive. She has a son that is 3 years old and she’s 19. She is studying in the University until she can go to work when her son goes to preschool.

Service—We painted a room for our pensionista and made tacos afterward. Then we walked around Montero. All of our appointments fell through, so we ate mangos between knocking doors.

Familia “D”—Today we were supposed to have FHE with the Familia “D,” but only “M” was home, so we just taught him and read the Book of Mormon with him. He’s changing so much. He’s reading and praying every day and he said that he can really feel himself changing and becoming a better person. Today he told us their story. They met when “L” came to Bolivia from Argentina with her one-year-old baby boy. Then they had a child together, dropped out of school, and moved to Argentina, then Spain where they had their third baby. They moved back to Argentina, then Bolivia and had their fourth child. Last year, “M” finished middle/high school through night school and now he’s a high school graduate. He’s hoping to be able to go to college next year if he can find a job and save money.

Dad: When "M" told us that his dream is to graduate from college, but that he feels like he's getting too old (even though he's only 29), I was able to share your story with him. I told him that my 53-year old dad is going to college and it helped him get excited to start saving up so he can accomplish his dreams. You are my hero, Daddy! I love you!

I’m so glad I’ve had so many opportunities in my life to progress and succeed. There are so many people here that can’t do anything about their situation, and even if they could, they don’t because of the example of their parents.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

XOXO Hermana Nelson
Sebastian's Birthday and Baptism

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bolivia, Montero—Week 5

Dear Family and Friends,

A little bit about our busy week:

Exchanges—I went to Santa Cruz with Hermana Tijerino and Hermana Mulusaca came here to Montero with my companion. It was a good exchange. I got to know Hermana Tijerino and her area better. Everyone there mentioned how well I speak Spanish, so that’s good. Well, I only have 3 months left, so I’d better speak Spanish well! It dawned on me today that I only have 2 transfers left and this one has just flown by—only 2 weeks left of this transfer. I’m super nervous. I’m not thinking about home or anything, but all of my dreams are of me at home or visiting people I’ve taught. Crazy! I’m focused, though, and I’m going to stay that way until the end!

“Y”—She was baptized a year ago with her son. Her husband hasn’t accepted the Gospel yet, mostly because he has problems with the Word of Wisdom. “Y” is very strong, though, and is the Stake YWs President. Today we went by to help her print names to take with her to the temple tomorrow. The whole ward left last night on a bus to go to the temple. “Y” will be receiving her endowment and her son will do baptisms for his family members.

“F”—She was also baptized a year ago and today she will be sealed to her husband and her 2 children. Her father recently passed away and she was so sad, but told us she was going to the temple “no matter what” to get sealed.

Family “D”—“M” wasn’t home, but we made tacos with them tonight. It’s so hard to see them in the situation they are in. They really don’t have money for food or for the necessities—like toilet paper. Right now, they are using notebook paper in the bathroom. I just feel so helpless sometimes. We can only help them strengthen their testimonies, which I know is very important, so they can receive blessings from Heavenly Father, but still they are in need physically and there’s nothing we can do to help. I hope the ward can step in and help them out a bit.

“A”—He’s a 75-year old inactive member that we’re teaching.  He has decided to come back to Church and says he wants to study the scriptures for 30 minutes every Saturday, but he says that if the Ward doesn’t talk to him, he won’t be coming again, so hopefully the Ward will be kind to him.

Baptism—We attended a baptism of the Elders—a family and an older man got baptized. Some of my favorite times in the mission are baptisms.

Sunday—One of the most stressful days in the mission are Sundays. Although we only taught 3 lessons with investigators this week, and 11 with converts/less-active members, I know we are at least making a difference in the “D” Family’s lives. They are getting so much better! They came to Church early this morning and stayed until the end.

Joseph SmithTonight we had FHE with Hermana “M” and her family. We watched the Joseph Smith movie. I love watching it and I never get tired of it. I know that he was called of God to restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. I know that opposition comes more when we are doing what is right. I thought about our week. All of our appointments falling through and walking all day in the blazing sun, and I know that Joseph Smith suffered so much more, but I loved the words he says at the end of the movie: “Brethren, Shall we not go on in so great a cause?” It doesn’t matter if we aren’t baptizing 100% of the people. What matters is that we are putting our hearts and souls into this work and, like Joseph Smith said, “While we are building the house of the Lord, He is building us.” (mas o menos eso dijo) Or in our case as missionaries, while helping people build their testimonies, the Lord is building us.

I know that the Church is true and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings happiness and joy. I know that families can be together forever. This week our ward went to the temple. It’s a huge sacrifice for them to go, but they went. Two families were sealed and many others received their endowments.

For those of you who live close to temples, (APOVECHALOS! Or in other words, USE THEM! Do the temple work! Go often—as often as you can! Because when we remember our covenants, we can complete and grow more and more.

I love you all!

XOXO Hermana Nelson

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bolivia, Montero—Week 4

P-Day: Trying to sleep in a hammock
Dearest Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween. We surely had a fantastic Day of the Deadlots of culture, lots of crazy rumors and stories, and lots of people. It’s a two day holiday and no one was in their homes, so we walked a lot!

Inactive Family—They met us at the door to tell us never to come back. All we said was that we were here to serve and if they need anything, to call. But they were pretty firm in their decision.

“M” and “J”—“M” is a young, very intelligent, less active young man. “J” was an investigator a couple of years ago. They are both great and just need some support. We taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they understood well. “M” is always sharing scriptures from the Bible with us and asking questions. Today was about music and parties in the Church and if it is okay or not. We read from the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and it helped them understand.

Member—We did service today at a member’s house today because she had lots of cleaning and such to do. She’s all alone and doesn’t have anyone to help her, so it helped lots to weed her whole back yard and clean her things as well.

“P”—She’s a future investigator that the other Hermanas taught a few times. She has 3 kids, one on the way, and a typical Bolivian husband (always drinking beer and doesn’t help with anything). Hopefully we can help her out a bit.

“M”—She’s an investigator that we presented a Book of Mormon to today. Let’s just say that she didn’t accept it one bit. She asked for a Bible instead.

Familia “B”—We went over tonight, but “M” wasn’t there. The hermana said she wanted to go get rid of her stress, so we went to the soccer field and played a bit with her, her kids, and their friends. It was super fun and stress-reducing.

Familia “D”—We went by the Familia “D” for FHE. “M” was there and we began to talk to them. As usual, though, they began arguing about everything. Hermana Cumatz read them the scripture about contention being of the devil. We talked about their goals, we prayed, we did “companionship inventory,” we talked, we discussed, but they just argued more. I’m not sure we were able to help them at all. I hope they take our advice to pray together, make decisions together, and not yell at each other. No it’s just up to them to decide if they want to take our advice or not. Man, it’s so hard! I’m so frustrated and stressed. How am I, a single 20-year old, supposed to give advice to a married couple? And help them? It’s all up to the Spirit now.

On Saturday, the ward members came with us to their home to weed and such. They didn’t want us to come, but lots of the members pitched in and we did a lot of good. We have a plan to go to their house once a week now to help them out with their marriage and family problems.

“E”—We went out visiting with “E.” She’s going on a mission in December.

Day of the Dead
All of the people go to the cemetery and make presentations for their dead. They put on tablecloths all of the things the person liked in their past life here (bread, flowers, soup, fruit, all their favorite foods, pictures, etc.). The family hangs out at the cemetery all night to give away these things to people who come by and pray (mostly the Catholic memorized prayers). Also, if the dead person liked dancing or drinking, they also do that all night. They believe that during these two days, the spirits are walking around eating the food they put out for them. Tonight we visited and it was super cool. I love the culture of it all. I know it’s not the correct religion, but I do think it’s a beautiful thing to remember their loved ones.

We visited the Familia “D” again. They were planning to come to Church today, but it rained so hard that their whole house was surrounded in water and they couldn’t leave. We read a chapter of the Book of Mormon with them and helped them understand it a little better.

We went looking for more people to visit, but even the members weren’t home because everyone went to the cemetery to celebrate The Day of the Dead. We went to the cemetery for a little while to sing Hymns and be with the people.

You Know You’re in Bolivia When . . .
. . . You find bread in the shape of a cross (with Jesus as well) . . . and the Elders in our Stake buy that bread and eat it for dinner!

I hope you all have a great week. Please continue to pray for the Familia “D.” They need lots of prayers.

Love you all!

xoxo Hermana Nelson