Monday, February 2, 2015

Bolivia, Cobija—Week 5

Dear Friends and Family,

Hermana Nelson was only able to send the following photos this week. We did receive a call from her mission informing us that she will be arriving home on February 13th (which we already knew, thank heavens!). 

Elder Davis from the mission office told us that she will fly from Cobija to Santa Cruz on Monday where she will spend a few days attending reunions, meetings, dinners, and her final interview with President Zambrano. She, along with a Sister and an Elder, will then fly to Miami on Thursday where they will stay at the (luxurious) La Quinta Inn for the night. On Friday, they will fly from Miami to Los Angeles, and finally to Salt Lake.

She will speak in the Lindon 4th Ward Sacrament Meeting on March 8th at 9:00 a.m. with two of her best friends, Skyler Payne and Tyler Christiansen. We know she would love to see any of you who can attend.

Thank you for all of the love, thoughts, prayers, and support you have given Amanda over the past 18 months! We are so blessed to have such dear family members and friends.


Amanda's Family

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bolivia, Cobija—Week 4

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week was full of learning and teaching. I don’t have a lot of time, so here is a quick rundown of how we spent our time:

Journal Pages
Strengthening Testimonies
We talked to the Familia “E” today about marriage. A lot of the people here believe that marriage will just lead to divorce, so they end up living together for many years instead. They weren’t very excited about the idea of marriage, but we’ll see what happens.

We had FHE with the Familia “L” tonight. It was good and “P” joined us this time! We talked about Family History and Temple work. They are doing better. We have another FHE planned with them next week.

Our new convert is doing great! She still hasn’t found the courage to tell her mom that she has been baptized, but her brother is helping her a lot.

It rained for hours, so I dedicated my time tonight to write goodbye notes to everyone in all of my areas so I won’t be stressed when it’s time to leave.

We planned a “unity” activity tonight and it was super. We played the game where everyone grabs the hands of someone and then everyone tries to untangle themselves and make a circle. We related it to the Conference talk by Elder Wong. Everyone loved it.

Time is Short
In our District Meeting today, Elder Spitale and the other zone leaders talked about diligence. We discussed how the mission is short and that life is also short. We need to make the most of it before it ends. We need to be diligent every second. We read the April 2014 Conference talk entitled, “Your Four Minutes.” It talks about how life is like 4 minutes and we need to do all we can to make the most of it. I know that if I can diligently work during these next few weeks, I will feel more accomplished when I go home and I’ll be able to say that I did all I could to heed the Savior’s call to work in his vineyard with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. I am happy to be here at this time. I know I still have a lot to learn, so I need to take advantage of the time I’ve been given and make a real difference in the lives of the people here.

Changed Perspective
My companion was sick today, so we had to stay in. I was able to read about the Sacred Grove in the December Liahona. How I want to go there and feel the Spirit that is there! Elder Jensen talked about the ecosystem and how we can relate it to life.

1.  Trees always grow toward the light. “Light is essential to our spiritual growth and realization of our full potential as God’s sons and daughters.”

2.  Trees require opposition to fulfill the measure of their creation. “Opposition must exist for spiritual growth to occur. Understanding and embracing this principle is a key to accepting and being generally happy with life.”

3.  Trees grow best in forests, not in isolation. “We are to work out our salvation together, not in isolation.”

4.  Trees draw strength from the nutrients created by previous generations of trees. “It is impossible to live fully in the present without the foundation of the past.”

Read this talk when you have a few minutes. It changed my perspective.

“L” came to Church! All of the members were super surprised because she hasn’t come to Church in years. We were so happy for her. My companion and I gave talks about retention and activation. I was nervous. I don’t know why because I usually don’t get nervous about talks now. I think it turned out well. I related the recent converts and less actives to the talk (see above) about the Sacred Grove. I loved this talk. It was beautiful.

Please pray for Rose. She is scheduled to be baptized on Saturday and needs some extra blessings this week.

I love you all!

XOXO Hermana Nelson
Pizza, anyone?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bolivia, Cobija—Week 3

Dearest Family and Friends,

I hope you have a fantastic week! We are doing well in Cobija.

We met with “M” today and listened to her for a good little while. She told us that her relationship is going well, but that she’s sad and feels alone sometimes. We tried to help her realize the importance of the Gospel. Really, that is what it all comes down to. If we are truly living the Gospel and obeying the commandments, we will be blessed. If not, no. It’s that simple. If we obey and live the Gospel to the fullest, our family relationships, our work, and our school life will improve. It’s something I’m seeing every day. JUST DO IT! Live like you believe. It may be hard, but with God, nothing is impossible.

We had to go to the hospital today. The doctor said that my insect bites have been infected and that is the reason they still itch and haven’t gone away. I got a good ol’ shot and a bunch of pills to take. Thank heavens the clinic was good.

We watched the Joseph Smith movie with “E” and she liked it a lot. On Saturday, she was baptized. It was very beautiful. She still hasn’t told her parents for fear that they may not approve of her decision, but she was happy. Her brother and his family were also very happy.

Reunion de Zona was amazing and everything I needed to hear. Our zone leaders talked with us about the rules of the mission. Elder Alonzo talked about how we should love and respect our companions. He said that at the beginning of each transfer, his Mom asks him, “How is your companion” or “What is your companion like?” He said that one day he told his mom that she should ask, “How are YOU as a companion?” I really needed to hear that. It’s not easy living with someone so different 24 hours a day, but it’s part of our sacred calling. I need to learn to be more Christ-like and love my companion.

It dawned on me that I really don’t have much time left here. I don’t want to go home being the same Amanda Shay Nelson that I was. I want to use the things I’ve learned here and apply them in my life always. I know it won’t be easy because in the year and a half that I’ve been here, my friends and family may not have changed much. But I have. I’ll be working my hardest to make these changes last.

I know that my Savior lives and that He loves me. I know that families can be together forever. I love this Gospel. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m an instrument in the Lord’s hands and I’ll do all I can to be worthy of this privilege.

I love you all and hope you have a great week.
XOXO Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
Inspiration is Real
We were trying to think of a family we could have FHE with and it came to our minds that we should get to know the Familia “L” a little better. We didn’t have much time, so I just shared a little of Elder Scott’s October Conference message. They said it was inspired and that they really needed to hear that. One of their kids is making a lot of bad decisions and doesn’t have good friends. We were able to help them understand that if they aren’t living the basics of the Gospel, they can’t receive blessings.

Teaching by Parents
We watched the Conference talk by President Tad R. Callister about parents and how they should be the main teachers of the Gospel in the home. I loved the story he related at the beginning of his talk. It is truly important to have parents who teach us what we need to and should do in life. I’m so grateful for my parents and all they did to teach me what I know about the Gospel and life in general. I hope I can do the same for my future children.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bolivia, Cobija—Week 2

Dearest Family and Friends,

We’ve kept busy teaching, reading the Book of Mormon with our investigators, and serving wherever we can. It’s amazing how fast the time flies, but I don’t have any regrets. I am still learning and I still have a lot of work to do, but I know that every bad and good experience here has helped me learn something important that I wouldn’t have been able to learn anywhere else. I’m happy. I’m ready to finish my time here strong and accept God’s will for me.

One thing that I have learned is that when things aren’t going as I would like them to and I can’t do anything to change the situation, I always feel better when I’m helping someone else. This is a great lesson that will be of great worth in my life—no matter where I am.

I love you!

Xoxo Hermana Nelson

Journal Pages
We went to “la Amistad” (practically the jungle) to cut down plants with machetes and got eaten alive by a small mosquito. The good thing is they don’t itch as much as regular mosquito bites. We had a good time helping the hermana so she can start building her house.
Yikes! Mosquitos . . .
 . . . but better than the Spiders!
“E” Investigator
She has a baptismal date set for January 17th. She is great, she wants to get baptized, and she keeps her commitments. Her only challenge is her family and her boyfriend. They are very Catholic and aren’t supportive of her decision. We are praying that her family will accept her decision and that she can be strong.

Some things I love about Bolivia:
The Kids. They are happy even if they live in the humblest of circumstances.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bolivia, Cobija—Week 1

Goodbye Montero
Dearest Family and Friends,

We’ve spent a busy week visiting investigators and less-active members and cheering up those that felt alone. For the most part, this week was spent trying to get the men to understand how important their examples are to their families. We visited one family and the husband wouldn’t come out of his room. We are going to fast with his wife on Sunday. Hopefully they can make their marriage work. We visited “V” who was really sad because nobody—not even her husband—attended her graduation from beauty school. We visited another investigator to get to know her better and she told us she and her husband are having a lot of relationship problems. She knows the Church is true and would like to be baptized. We are just trying to help them all understand that the Gospel will help them in their relationships.

We received a reference from a member of another Branch. “C” is young, 17 years old, but she listens intently. We’ve taught her two lessons, but she is going to be gone for about a month, so we probably won’t be able to teach her for a while.

We received another reference to visit “M”, her daughter, and granddaughters. She is a member, but hasn’t come to Church for about 3 years because she didn’t feel like anyone paid any attention to them when they came. She still reads the scriptures and the Liahona and prays and fast when she needs help. We taught her about the importance of going to Church and renewing her covenants. She said they are all going to come to Church on Sunday.

Happy New Year! I hope it’s the best yet!

Xoxox Hermana Nelson
Happy New Year - 2015!
Journal Pages
The Elders told us at dinner that Hermana Gomez is staying in Montero and I will be going to Cobija! My companion will be Hermana Bautista from Peru. I’m excited to go to Cobija and get to know a new area, but I’m sad that I won’t be with Hermana Gomez.
Hermana Gomez and Hermana Nelson
Happy New Year in Cobija!
On the flight to Cobija, we stopped in La Paz for about an hour. It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve been on a plane. When I stepped off the plane, I immediately got hit with a wall of heat and humidity. The airport is super small. We met up with a lot of Elders and there were some members there as well. The Familia Mendez took us home. I unpacked quickly, then we left to get to know the area and a few people.
Hello Cobija
I Love Cobija!
There are hills! There are trees! The dirt is red! The houses are made of wood! We are on the border of Brazil!

Today went by super fast. I’ve decided to enjoy every moment, obey 100%, and not worry about anything. I know so much more than I did when I started my mission and I can speak well enough for the people to understand me, so I have to give it my all.

Service in Villa Cruz
We left for the service activity and we got super soaked on the way. We helped clean and sort glass and mirrors and we found a tarantula. Luckily, Hermana Bautista is brave and killed it. After the service, we went to lunch and got even wetter. We went home to change so we could go visit our investigator. She wasn’t home, but on our way, we found a blind lady crying in the street in the pouring rain. She was speaking Portuguese, so we could barely understand her. She said her husband was drunk and left her there and that she needed to get to the bridge that connects Brazil and Bolivia, so we walked her to the bridge. We stopped on the way to buy rain boots and an enthusiastic Evangelic preacher tried to convert us.
Tarantula at our Service Activity
Sincere Prayer
We visited the familia “G” today. The parents are less active and their 9-year old son hasn’t been baptized. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation. Their son is really shy and quiet, but he offered the closing prayer and it was really sweet. He was talking like Heavenly Father was right there in the room. Hopefully his parents can come back to Church for their son. He has a lot of potential.

Church in Cobija
The Branch is super small. I played the piano as usual and the Elders passed the Sacrament. There weren’t many there, but it’s a strong Branch and the members are great.

River that Divides us from Brazil!

Cocoa Plant at the Church