Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week 2: The Buenos Aires Temple, Argentinian Thunder, and the Kid Loves His Mother...

Response to Dad:

South America is great. Food is great, American money is worth more here, and the people are cool when I can understand them. When it rains here it pours. Like you're drenched in seconds. The thunder here is the loudest I've ever heard. It was so loud once, it sounded like it was right outside the window and I jumped across the room. I Miss you too. It's cool [studying the Gospel full-time] but I myself am primarily studying the language. I read the Preach My Gospel lesson and read the Book of Mormon in Spanish, but there isn't ever a ton of time to just read scriptures for yourself. If you're reading scriptures you're generally preparing a lesson for an investigator. I have one companion and his name is Elder Tidball. He's way cool. He's the biggest dude in the CCM but he's a teddybear. He's from Edmonton, Canada and played hockey, football and I think some basketball. The rest of my district is super cool as well. There's 4 Canadians and 4 Americans, which is cool. 4 girls and 4 guys, so an even split all around. All the Latinos here are obsessed with the American sisters, which is kind of funny.  Like if the Latino Elders actually came to America, they would probably think they died and went to heaven if they saw all the American women... Actually I've only played soccer here one day- the second day I was here. Elder Rodrigues who is from Brazil and was our room coordinator tripped and twisted his ankle. So he was told to not play soccer anymore, so all of us would play basketball, volleyball or frisbee instead. Plus it isn't like a soccer field here, it's a mini basketball court that has tiny goals on each end. Our district leader is Elder Glen. He's from Canada and he's the oldest of us guys. 5 are going to my same mission but 3 of the Canadians are going to different places. Elder Tidball is going to Cordoba Argentina, Elder Glen is going to Buenos Aires South, and Hermana Toone is going to Comodora Rivedaria. I wake up at 6:20 and go to bed at 10:30. Between that is just a bunch of random classes and teaching sessions. This Saturday, I get to proselyte in the streets for 6 hours. Yeah the [temple] session was in Spanish, and I went today again and felt like I know more than last time which is a nice sign of improvement. No, I don't think there is anything that I need right now that I don't have. I might want to buy rain boots eventually but I shouldn't need those until Uruguay. The jacket you guys got me worked nice to propel water, so that shouldn't be a concern. I just wanted any picture I could show my district of my family. Some other people brought whole photo albums. However I just want a photo to show people our family so thanks for that. If I run out of time, I'll only send one [weekly email] but so far I haven't been swamped so I have enough time to email everybody. Money is good. I have like 90 US dollars and 150ish pesos. American money is worth like 8 or 9 pesos for every US dollar. [Regarding the ups and downs of missionary life] I haven't broken down yet. I mean everyone in the CCM is super supportive, so I haven't gotten too frustrated but the actual mission might be completely different. I just take each day one day at a time and just focus on learning as much Spanish as possible in the CCM. Yeah, the grandparents told me Destiny knows how to take off and put back on her clothes now which is cool I guess. They did say that D and Abby are getting along better during play time which sounds encouraging. Miss everyone at home, and am sending love your way. I appreciate the questions because it helps guide my email. I honestly don't know what I would write about without questions because so much happens here. Anyways, love you all and I'll report again in one week.

Response to Mom:
Yeah, my Spanish I think is improving. I went through the temple today for the second time in Spanish and I felt like I knew about 25 to 30% of what was happening. Well good to know I'm not forgotten yet. You can let Phil know when I get back from my mission I'll pick him up from school on any day he wants me to. My tooth is better but it doesn't feel 100%. Sometimes if I bite a certain way it hurts a decent amount. I don't think it's a major problem and I am just making sure I take care of my other teeth. I floss, mouthwash and brush every night and I generally brush 1 or 2 others times during the day. I think the dentist helped some but definitely didn't fix the entire problem. I suppose they could have ground more of my tooth off but its hard to tell how my teeth are hitting in the dentist office. I don't want to say they suck at their job but I feel like they could have ground off more and it would be better. Yeah sounds like you and the girls could use a beach day. I'm sure D will love it because no pants. Well I'm happy to know I didn't steal all the athletic genes in the womb and that he [Josh] got some of that Sappington tenacity in him. I love you so much mom and I miss you guys at home, but I'm happy to be where I am right now. It's great here. You could move here and probably never get cold. Anyway I want to see if I can upload pictures now so we'll talk more next week.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Week one in the Missionary Training Center (or Centro de Capacitacion Misional)

Elder Nelson dutifully wrote to both of his parents at the end his first week in the Buenos Aires Missionary Training Center (or CCM in Spanish, as above)

To Mom:

I'm thankful I made it to the MTC in one piece as well. Yeah, don't know what the food [in airports] is made out of to warrant the high price, but I definitely missed fast food prices. Yeah, I slept some on the plane. The first couple days I was falling asleep in the night classes, but now I'm pretty well adjusted and able to stay awake all day. I only exchanged 20 US dollars but that got me like 170 argentine pesos. Everything at this distribution center is super cheap. My friend bought a small version of Preach my gospel in spanish and it was only 3 bucks in US dollars.. I'll get to go to the temple here like 5 to 6 times while at the CCM. I'm going today actually. Yeah, hopefully the language comes soon. I can pray in Spanish now, but it is like the same prayer every time. Definitely not as elaborate as my English prayers, but hopefully the Lord cuts me some slack. Yeah, there were two missionaries on my Fresno plane I believe. One of them was all concerned that he wouldn't make it to the Mexico MTC on time and asked me for the emergency number. Thanks to your guys meticulous packing, I was able to help him out- However I don't know if he made it on time or not. On the salt lake plane, I might have just been with one missionary that was going to the Argentina CCM named Elder Pettingill from Rigby, Idaho. Then there were 8 of us going to the CCM from Atlanta. Apparently there were supposed to be 2 more missionaries with us, but we never saw them and they never showed up at the CCM. Well tell [the siblings] one week down and like 100 more to go. The food here is really good. I haven't had a meal where I didn't eat it. 8 hours of sleep isn't fun, but I get enough sleep. Just wanted to let you know I'm doing my best not to get sunburnt. I love you and miss you. Talk to you next week.

And to Dad:

Wow that's pretty crazy. I knew you guys would be worrying when I heard we were stuck until the fog cleared, but I made it to the Salt Lake gate with like and hour or two to spare. Ah sweet. Ihop was grandmas choice because of pepsi products I assume? Yep, airports aren't that complicated. Yeah, I know how to give a simple prayer in Spanish as well as bear my testimony, but I can't really hold a conversation with any of the South Americans. Oh and Sam [Millar] is going to the Provo MTC because Americans that come down here only go to Uruguay I guess. There's 5 of us going to the Uruguay Montevideo West Mission out of 8 of the north Americans. The other 3 are from Canada and all going to different missions. So I guess if you're American and are going to serve in the Buenos Aires North Mission, you go to Provo. Yeah, this temple makes the Fresno temple look like a Little Tikes playground structure. 2 [missionaries] on fresno [flight], 1 on salt lake that I knew of, and 8 of us were together from Atlanta to the CCM. Apparently, there were supposed to be two other missionaries but nobody really knew what happened to them. Yeah, all us North Americans came here knowing almost no Spanish. However, Hermana Sowards took a Spanish class at BYU, so she knows a lot more than the rest of us. I don't know if I'm allowed to view [the blog] without getting in trouble, so I'll just assume you'll take good care of it. Yeah, we aren't supposed to take pictures until our last day here, but I've taken a few just don't know how to upload them is all. I only get an hour for email and I've already used up like 40 minutes emailing mom, then you. It would be cool to email Chandler, Mckenna and Morgan or just forward there missionary emails to me so I can know whats happening with them. I love you too Dad, and the toilets flush clockwise here versus counter clockwise in the states. Take care and talk to you next week. Oh if you could send me a picture of our family to share with my district that would be cool as well. Thanks. Love. Ben

Friday, January 16, 2015

Goodbyes are hard...

Elder Nelson departed for his mission in the wee early hours of January 14th, 2015, from the Fresno Yosemite International airport. (Airport code: FAT)  The morning was exceedingly foggy, but as a family we prayed that he would make his connecting fights in Salt Lake City and Atlanta on his way to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It was a pretty miraculous morning, as his plane taxied back from the gangway immediately prior to all remaining flights being pushed back several hours.  (He had stayed awake the entire day prior, packing, training, and burning nervous energy which almost made him sleep through his Salt Lake boarding call! Luckily, He made it in one piece!)

He sent his first email from his email account on Thursday, January 15th, which read as follows:

¡Hola from Buenos Aires!

Well I made it in one piece! Fresno flight was delayed because of fog but still made it to Salt Lake with an hour and a half to spare. However I almost slept thru the boarding process but luckily I woke up to be one of the last ones boarding the plane. The Atlanta airport was pretty huge and airport food is super expensive! (I paid 17 dollars for a sandwich, cup of fruit and a bottled water). Arrived in Buenos Aires at 730am but didn't arrive at the MTC until 1030am. I clearly need to jump on the Spanish train because there isn't much English being spoke here. My next p-day [preparation day] is next Thursday so we will see how well I do for my first week in the MTC. If you're planning on sending any packages just send them to my mission and not to the MTC. There's a distribution center here as well as a temple. I didn't need to bring my own temple clothes for temple sessions because I guess they provide you with that, but an elder I'm with brought his. One US dollar is worth like 8 and a half Argentina pesos. Still have yet to find out if the toilets flush backwards. The weather is super nice here, and I can't wait to start learning. Also my companion's name is Elder Tidball and he's from Edmonton, Canada. Well, I think that is all the info I have for now. Got all my luggage and made it here in one piece so mission accomplished. I love you both and hope you're doing well at home. Tell the siblings I say hi. 

With love, Elder Nelson

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pre-Mission Activities!

The ongoing theme of Nelson Family life has always been "Crazy, But Fun!"  And by all accounts, the preparation period for Elder Ben Nelson's service in the Uruguay, Montevideo West Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been no exception! After all the Christmas festivities, Elder Nelson attended the temple for the first time to do his own temple work on January 2nd, 2015.

We were also able to have our newly adopted daughter, Destiny, sealed to us on January 3rd, 2015.  That made the new grand total 3 sons, 1 daughter, 1 foster daughter (hopefully adopted soon, as well) and 1 niece!  The sealing took place in our local Fresno, CA temple.
The original plan was to have Destiny sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple, but vacation time from work and preparation time to ready everything proved too brief.  Many of our Yosemite Ward family attended, which was terrific!

Destiny was also blessed in Sacrament meeting the day immediately following the sealing.  Elder Nelson attended his last service in the YM/YW Valentine's Ward on this same day.

 True to his nature, Elder Nelson waited until the last possible day for his "Missionary Haircut."  His claim has always been that he functions exactly like the biblical character Samson, saying, "Without the hair, I got nothin'."

The show of love and support from family and friends at Elder Nelson's farewell open house was almost overwhelming.  The place was slammed! It was a humbling experience for our family and we were so very appreciative.  We tried to take pictures of everyone who attended, but realized the Dufield and Sanchez families and Sister Jenness snuck away before we could catch them!

The Lattins
The Jensen Family
Sister Verstoppen
Greg and Sam Millar
The Reden Family
The Goetz Family
The Eckstein Family
Tadhg Flynn
The Billingsleys
The Potter Family
The Engelers
The Flynns
The Rodrigueses
Matt and James Powers
The Haas Family
The "Original" Nelson Family
The Weir Family
Bishop and Sister Mitchell
Brother Bausch
The Brown Family
Nana and Pop
Rachel and McKenzie Olivas
Josh, Ayami, and Destiny
Phil, Abby, and Josh
The Parental Units

Elder Nelson spoke in the Yosemite Ward on his final Sunday before departure on the topic of "Committing to the Gospel."  Lots of friends  and family were in attendance which was awesome!

 The Grands
Kristi and Ali Nomellini
 Dylan and Ty

And finally President Everett set Elder Nelson apart as a missionary on the 13th of January, less than 12 hours before his departure!
 President Everett