Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 5: In Elder Nelson's last full week in Buenos Aires, he comes to the realization that despite his best intentions, he will someday need to marry...

Elder Nelson wrote a lot later than usual this week- usually the message comes around 6:00 am our time, but this one came in after 1:00 in the afternoon.  He actually let us know when he went online to complete his weekly emails, writing: "If you catch me within the next 45 minutes I should still be at the computer."

Elder Nelson to his Mom:  (Who was pretty annoyed last week that Dad got the longer written response, saying, "Seriously? I'm the one who actually gave birth to him!")
Elders Nelson and Tidball
Yeah, the CCM is super fun but it's basically just a 6 week prison for North American missionaries. Pretty sure I'm leaving the CCM at 4 in the morning Monday which sounds less than desirable. Speaking about health, I'm doing pretty well.  

(Regarding Destiny teaching Abby how to get into mischief) Girls will be girls I guess, but that's nice for you that they can play nice with one another now. (Regarding Josh's big assignment in Spanish assigned over the winter break) Well, I can semi-help with Spanish now, so if he needs help I can try to bail him out, but this is a different type of Spanish. It's called Castacion or something like that. Normally when you see two "L" together, it would make a y sound, but here it makes a ch sound. And when there's a y in the middle of the word, it makes an s sound or at least that's my understanding of it. I could be completely wrong though. 

I do the same thing everyday, as well. Wake up eat Trix cereal. Have a bunch of classes. Have lunch. Have more classes, then dinner. Then bedtime at 10:30- it's rather exhausting. I bought two big journals which were super cheap, but good quality. All the stuff at this distribution center is nice and cheap. I might buy a couple more things there prior to leaving, just to purge all my Argentinean pesos. I love you and pray for you guys as well (in Spanish) and I'm glad to hear everything is going good.

I happened to be at my computer when he started sending his emails, so we had some back and forth dialogue before he sent the bulk of his weekly message:

Me: Hey! Where ya been?  Glad you are ok! ;)  This is like the world's slowest texting, I think.
Sleeping in suits, not a mandate...

Elder Nelson: Haha, yes it is. I'm sending you a big message so be prepared for that, and I need to respond to Brother Hansen. I'm doing good. Went to the temple at 7 in the morning but surprisingly wasn't tired. In going to the temple, I've come to the realization someday I'm going to have to get married. Not incredibly excited for it, and definitely not looking for a wife currently, but I don't think that's a smart battle to fight my whole life. Entonces, hopefully Heavenly Father will hook me up good in the future and that when I see that individual, I'll know she's the one. Other than that, I spent like 3 hours playing sports today and just getting ready to respond to emails.

Me: You crack me up- I am glad your sense of humor has not suffered. Looking forward to your email.  And remember mom is the one who gave birth to you... ;)

Elder Nelson: Don't worry, I already responded to mom's emails before you, so I took care of that.

Here is the "official" email to Dad:

Buenos Aires Temple
Hey, sorry I wasn't able to answer all your questions last time, but I'll just answer them now. Yeah, Brother Hansen sent me an awesome email. I'll forward it to you. If I can be half the missionary he was, I'd have a pretty successful mission. There was the potential for Tidball and I to be split up (as a companionship) because previous companionships were split up once new people arrived; like a companionship of 3 would hopefully just be broken up into two separate companionships. However, there hasn't been any drama in our district, and everyone has stayed the same the whole time. Tidball and I get along great. He reminds me a lot of Cody Rodrigues. He's super funny and we never have problems with each other. 

Congrats on another 3 years of not getting fired. Glad the little ones still remember who I am. It's cool proselyting in Buenos Aires. We just got a new area for these last two weeks in the CCM. We had the local church building in our boundaries and went there to eat our sack lunch. Halfway through, a pair of missionaries walked out. Before Tidball and I knew it, we were on splits. I was with a guy named Elder Beers from Washington. He was like fluent in Spanish and he's only been out a year, so hopefully I'll be like that in another 11 months. We taught a lady named Raquel together. I was able to help out somewhat, bear my testimonio, and gave her a Libro de Mormón. So that was encouraging, that I didn't botch the lesson up with him, and that they were able to get a repeat visit with her.

Not much else happened during proselyting this semana. Last Saturday was Valentines day, so I bought like 8 Laffy Taffy candies for every member in my district. It only cost 4 pesos, which is 50 cents, US. At the end of proselyting, we went back past the church and ran into a ton of kids, because down here mututal is held on Saturdays. We bumped into a different set of Elders than before. One was called Elder May, who was like 6'3 and was from somewhere in Utah. He's only been out 6 months, and says he's already forgetting some English. However, he gets to teach english classes which is cool. He said the Provo MTC was just a huge party, and that he learned almost zero Spanish there, so I'm thankful I'm in the Argentina CCM, surrounded by native speakers. 

I haven't had the urge to kill anyone, so I guess you could say no one has seriously offended me, but some missionaries are definitely more annoying than others. I accidentally kicked a kid in the face today during soccer, but he was pushing me earlier, so I didn't feel too bad and he wasn't hurt, so it was all good. The Swiss bag works great, but book bags kill your shoulders while proselyting. Really don't know why they made the no backpack rule. Tidball and Pettingill both have small black Timbuk bags, which seem more manageable than my huge man purse. Shoes and shirts work great. 

Meetinghouse in Buenos Aires
Yeah, the new North Americans came this week. We went 4 weeks without other Americans, so maybe our expectations were set pretty high, but they're all pretty normal and subdued. Also, they are on the second time schedule so we only ever really interact with them on Sunday. Elder Conner (new american) from North Carolina is cool. He's like 6'2 and super skinny. He's pretty good at all sports, and I feel like we have a lot in common, so we get along pretty good. However he is going to the Uruguay Montevideo mission, and not the West one, which is a bummer. The other new elder is kinda awkward so I don't interact with him a ton. Then there's a guy from California called Elder Salinas, but he's fluent in Spanish, so he's only here for two weeks, but he'll be going to my mission.

Yes I feel like an old timer, and everyone in our district has gone crazy at least two different times. One day Tidball just rolled around in the grass for 5 minutes. It's like we have cabin fever, even though we get an hour of physical activity time everyday, as well as 5 hours of proselyting these last 4 saturdays. It's no bueno. 

In terms of cool stories, when the previous two groups left, all the American guys would have a sleepover. Everyday becomes one big blur so I don't remember any solid stories at the moment, however our whole district is cool with Presidente Willis so we can all just hang out in his office when it is supposed to be study time. 

I've made it to the salad bar maybe once or twice. I eat a ton of food here, but never feel like I get enough. I think I might finally be over 140 pounds. Yes, I make sure my district is always laughing. I've actually said some pretty funny yet controversial things to my teachers, and gotten away with it because it was too funny to get me in trouble.

Yeah, after 5 hours of proselyting I just want to take a shower and a long nap. Everyday after breakfast there is a 30 minute period before class, and we always take a 30 minute siesta then. Nah, I'm not having phone or video game withdrawals. This is just about as fun as video games- just a different type of fun and thrill. 

That's exciting for Devon (to be leaving soon). That's pretty funny what Brother Sanchez said. Ah, Weston is back already? I saw Austin like twice down in the singles ward with Stephanie Dahlin. Hopefully he'll be around more often, now that his brother is back in town. 

I have 4 days left here. I'm leaving a 4 o clock in the manana which doesn't sound divertido. The CCM was great, but I'm looking forward to Uruguay. I love you, and I'll get to email you Monday, but only for 10 minutes so talk to you then.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Week 4: When your companion beats you in one on one, Meeting daily goals, and Saving the souls of pot-smoking robbers...

(Editorial Note: I consolidated Elder Nelson's emails to both Mom and Dad into a single blog entry this week:)

The Countdown Chart Gets Underway...
Doing just fine.  I can buy (additional) journals at the Distribution center and that's nice to know about the Drop Box (for sharing pictures on the web). What pictures did you get? Chandler wrote me, which was cool hearing from him. That's good the girls are feeling better. Yeah, soccer can be a pretty un-fun sport if your team never wins. I'm surprised the season is over so quick. It seemed like it barely started.  Glad to know I'm not forgotten, and that Abby is turning into a little daredevil. 

Miss everyone at home, but I'm excited to be leaving the CCM in two weeks.  Our last group of latino Elders left on Tuesday and like 15 arrived last night. It's cool that we got to meet 3 different groups of Elders and sisters rather than just show up and leave after 12 days.  (Native Spanish speakers report for 12 days of training as opposed to second-language learners who train for 6 weeks.)  41 days in the CCM seems like forever, but the days go by really fast. 

The first part of the day is slow but easy. Wake up at 6:30 and Elder Tidball and I take out the trash. 7:00 is desayuno. At 8:00 we have personal study. 9:00 is companion study/teach an investigator (one of our two teachers). After that, we will generally have 1 or 2 more classes before almuerzo.  We resume class at 12:30 with more classes. On the 9th, we had Advisor study for a half hour and then at 1:00 we had additional practice/CRE for an hour and a half. CRE is a deal where you're given an investigator and you have a small paragraph of information on them - they could be less active or not believe in God- and then you have to go teach them a lesson. I like CRE, because it is just a one-time teaching session, whereas when we teach our teachers, that's every other day, and I feel like we run out of stuff to talk about. 

Tidball and I get along great. He beat me in 1 on 1 basketball yesterday, which I wasn't pleased about but I beat him the time previously, so I guess we're even. Physical activity starts at 2:15, and we don't go back to class until 4:00. At 4:00, we start TALL which is the online language learning system that didn't work for me the whole first week. At 5:00 is language study/another investigator. 

We have two teachers: Hermana Pavia, and Hermana Camacho. Hermana Pavia's character is Cecilla, and we teach her in the morning, every other day. Hermana Camacho's character is Victoria, and we teach her in the night, every other day. 

At 6:00pm starts Cena, and at 7:00 class resumes. It will generally be like 2 half hour classes and 1 one hour class. For example, on the 9th of Feb. I had advisor study for half an hour.  7:30 to 8:30 was grammar, and 8:30 to 9 was Book of Mormon.  From 9:00 to 9:30 is planning for the next day with your companion. From 9:30-10:30, you're either writing in your journal or doing whatever you need to do before bed. Room prayer with everyone on their knees and after that lights off at 10:30pm.  Wake up: Rinse, Wash and Repeat...  

Tell Destiny I say hi back. I guess I'll just relay all of Saturday's happenings: We started off at the bishop's house again, and were there for like almost 2 hours, which only left us with 3 hours to meet our goals which were: 30 contacts, 5 references, 10 lessons, and 2 invitations to baptism. After bishop's house, we found the house of the first person we taught last week. Her name is Griselda, and she is super nice. We met her and her sister last week outside a store. She was so happy when we gave her a Book of Mormon and she was happy when we came this week. She's like 70 something years old, but just the nicest old lady. 

Oh yeah, nobody has a door you can walk up to here, so you stand outside the gate and clap. We thought it wouldn't work, but it totally did and we taught her a lesson about El evangelio de Jesucristo. She was super receptive. When we prayed, it was super funny because she said every word as Tidball said it. 

After that we saw a lady on the sidewalk painting her fence. Her name was Cristina and we were able to give her a Book of Mormon. Next, we saw this group of 5 guys on the side of the road with no shirts on. We were talking to them a little about sports teams, since one of them had on an Oakland A's cap. Eventually, one of them pulled out a joint and started smoking. At this point Tidball thought we should go, but I pulled out a Word of Wisdom pamphlet and explained why we don't participate in that stuff. I think they also took my Plan of Salvation pamphlet, which is fine since we get new ones every week. 

We left those guys shortly after that and just walked across the street and starting talking to this lady who told us those guys were robbers and bad people. Griselda always warned us about robbers last week, but I have yet to feel like I was going to get robbed. The most valuable thing I have in my wallet is probably my temple recommend. I leave all my other cash and cards in my locker for proselyting. Anyways, we were talking to this lady and I saw one of the dudes from the group walk into this house holding the pamphlet. I think he seemed slightly different from all the other dudes, and eventually there might come a time in his life when he joins the gospel which would be cool. 

We talked to this lady and found out her family are members, but she isn't. Her daughter walked out with her son and she said she was a member and another guy walked out who worked at the agency, so before we knew it there were like 5 people listening to us talk. I invited the lady to re-read the Book of Mormon and if it was true, if she would be baptized, and she said yes. 

After that, we met up with the other missionaries who had zero success that day until we showed up. At 4 we were supposed to teach Elva that we meet last week right before the bus showed up. She wasn't there, but we decided to go grab ice cream from the other missionaries area because ours was mainly houses and not many stores. 

Within 5 minutes we met Fernando. Talked to him about the Book of Mormon, invited him to read about it, pray about it, and then be baptized and he would. We then got ice cream. We got a pint of ice cream for 1 US dollar and it was so good. The lady also gave us a free ice cream chocolate bar since the other missionaries went there so often. Then we headed back. 

Found a lady drinking matte on the side of the street. Gave her a Book of Mormon and prayed with her. Then we met another guy working on his truck in the yard. Talked to him, found out he used to believe in God, but is now an athetist. He accepted the Book of Mormon, but didn't want us to pray, so we went back to the starting point. 

Elva was there, and we taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ as well. Prayed with her, and made the bus wait for us. We got 32 contacts, 10 lessons taught, and 2 baptismal invitations. So we met our goal. 

Would write more but we are out of time so hopefully you enjoyed this longer email. I love you and will try to do more pictures today, but I can only send 1 or 2 at a time due to the size restrictions. I miss my old school email where I could send 25 GB at once not a measly 15 MB... Anyway, love you and will try to send more pictures out.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Week 3: Hanging with the Locals, Watching Cyclists Being Hit by Cars, and the Inherent Stresses of Using the Salad Bar...

Elder Nelson Checks in with Mom:
Saturday [spent street contacting and practicing Spanish in the community] actually went relatively well. My companion and I talked to these 2 old ladies for like half an hour, and gave one of them a Book of Mormon. She was so happy when we gave it to her. The [Sunday church] meetings are just in the CCM [training center]. The CCM is kind of like a prison- once you are in training here you don't go out much, except for us North Americans when we go proselyting. I guess this is one of the only places you get to proselytize while still in the Missionary Training Center, so that's cool. I haven't ruined any clothes yet [while doing laundry for the first time] so I think it's going alright. Ah, sorry to hear the girls are getting sick. Thanks for the prayers. Everything is going pretty dandy. I feel like I'm not learning Spanish fast enough, however I don't really know how much faster I could possibly learn it. Just trying to stay positive, and hope it clicks in eventually. I love you and will try to write more next week but this week I want to try and send pictures out. The Verstoppens emailed me which was cool. Anyways, I love you and hopefully this picture thing works out for me.

And with Dad:
Yeah, I won't email much today because I really want to figure out the picture deal. Yeah I've met him [the President of the CCM]. It's a super small MTC. There's only like 70 people here, and when everyone left last week, there were only 12 of us here for 2 days. We will see 3 different groups [of new missionaries] in our stay at the CCM, however there will only be one other American group and we will see them this upcoming Thursday. [The native Spanish speakers stay only two weeks in the CCM before reporting into the field, as opposed to native speakers of other languages who spend 6 weeks in intensive training...] 
Not too much craziness in the community, but driving here is crazy. Not sure if there are traffic laws or right of ways. Within a minute of being dropped off, we saw a girl on a bike get hit by a car. I'm pretty sure she walked it off, but that was pretty crazy. We gave away two Books of Mormon and one pass along card here. We also stayed in the bishops house for like 2 hours and he just keep giving us food. By far the most amount of food I've ever eaten in a single day in my life. I weighed myself the other day, and I'm some 142 odd pounds but that's with church clothes on. The best thing I've had here was a mushroom pasta, like the tube pasta. It was so good. Spaghetti and meat sauce was good as well. There was another pasta dish that had like chicken and ham in it which was really good. None of the food is spicy. However there's this one meal where they give you nothing but meat. Just like 3 different types of meat. They have a salad bar, but for me that's just too much work to make my own salad. Aw that will be cool. [for Josh to attend a youth conference called Especially for Youth (EFY) in Santa Barbara this summer] Stay at home EFY was cool, because you got to see all those people again, but one of the overnight ones would be sweet. Clothes are fine and shoes are fine. I've just been wearing my Kush ones all the time and haven't had any problems [with blisters]. I kinda wish I had more ties to switch with guys, because all the ties I have right now I like, and don't really want to give away. My companion brought like 30 ties but he got a lot of them from a thrift store so it isn't like he cares about the majority of them because they only cost like a buck. How many notes were there? [Notes of encouragement hidden in his luggage- there were 12 from Tiff, and 12 from me] I've found some but pretty sure I haven't found them all. When it was just us Americans here we drug all the beds in one room and had a sleep over. I'm sure other funny stuff has happened, but I'd have to look in my journal to see what it was. Pretty crazy that today I would have gone through the temple more times in Spanish than in English. I love you and all the family, and will try to remember some cool stories for next week.