Saturday, March 28, 2015

Week 10: Getting Kicked Out of Homes and Buffets, and Using the "B-Day Butt Squirt Gun" (Bidet) ...

Elder Nelson to Mom and Dad:

Elder Nelson, Elder Finlay and the Smiths
I'm emailing from a "cyber." It's basically just a large room with a bunch of computers that you pay to use. Yes, I've gotten mail from the Bolsa. The Bolsa is basically a big black thick purse that mail comes in. The office has secretaries that I assume filter all the mail that comes to Montevideo, and from there they send the mail to the respective zones. I've gotten mail from two High Council members, Jamie Hansen, and the Jenesses. Tell Al and Ethel Jenness that their card was super sweet. And that it was pretty grandma-ish. (Al thought the card was girly). Let them know I would write them back, but I don't have stamps, but it was cool that they wished me happy birthday. 

Note: you can write to Elder Nelson at the following address He is thrilled to get mail and has a birthday coming up April 18th: 

La Mision Uruguay Montevideo Oeste
Enrique Martinez 1167

Montevideo, Uruguay C.P. 11.800
I liked the CCM, because we got 3 square meals a day. We're lucky if we have members make us lunch, but even then it is rarely ever enough to fill us and then by nighttime I'm already hungry again; but I'm doing fine food wise. 

Montevideo West Missionaries
For the most part people are pretty nice. We finally got kicked out of someones house, though. We went to visit this lady who was a menos activo (less active member) and this was the first time we talked with her and presumably the last. I guess she is evangelico now and she was pretty misguided about the Church. She thought we prayed to Joseph Smith and not God. Elder Finlay asked her where she heard that 5 times and she didn't have an answer.  Then she said "I know you do because I'm a member of the Church." After that, she signaled to the gate. However, I guess that was Finlay's first time getting told to leave someone's house. 

Original Comps Leave the CCM to Uruguary & Argentina
Oh this week, we went to a house of a young couple who we taught a short lesson to. This time we walked up and we hadn't seen them in like two weeks. Anyways, they saw us and ran inside and didn't come out to talk to us. We talked to like a 10 year old kid who was playing the role of messenger boy. It was pretty lame that they couldn't even come out to say why they didn't want to met with us anymore. 

What!!! That's so rad that Tadhg already got his call! Will he speak English? When does he leave? That's so freaking rad. I'm so pumped for him. 

New Missionaries "Oros" at the Montevideo Airport
Ok I'll try to get (a picture for his missionary plaque) of just me and if I don't have one, I'll just have one of the dudes in my house take one. My companionship is going alright. We actually might get split up in these upcoming weeks. Normally you are with your trainer for 6 weeks, but I might switch trainers mid-way. Our mission is getting downsized in terms of people. I guess we have 250 people in our mission, but we will only have 200 after these next 2 changes. Y tambien, all the zone leaders are dying, (going home at the end of their term of service) so what might happen is Finlay becomes a zone leader in Artigas, and I go somewhere else. I wouldn't complain. I like Finlay, but at the same time he doesn't help me a ton with my Spanish. For the most part, we just both opt to speak in English in the streets because it is easier. I wish I knew better Spanish so I could help the people more. Anyways, I'm fine and we will see what improves or changes in the upcoming weeks. 

Meeting President and Sister Smith
The coolest part is that I've touched multiple wild horses here in Artigas The lamest is how boring Artigas is, or at least our area. We don't have any shops. It is all campo. Then for P-days there aren't any cool sights to see or cool stuff to do. We just chill in the stake center and eat at buffets. Oh, the buffet last week was Bolasso. We got ripped off. It is supposed to be a buffet and there is a dude that brings around slices of meat that you pay extra for. So we paid for everything, but the dude didn't visit us often with the meat compared to last time. Well, it turns out the manager told the dude not to come to us, because we eat too much, and I guess we are only supposed to taken one dessert. I had no idea what he was saying, because he was just yelling in Portuguese. So basically he destroyed the whole purpose of a buffet and when we went to pay he told the cash-register lady to charge us extra. So we paid like 260 pesos compared to 190 last time. So we went home with empty stomachs and empty wallets and vowed never to eat there again so we have no clue where or what we are having for lunch today. 
Oros arrive at the Montevideo Temple to meet trainers

Pretty sure that's the right thing to do for birthday cards or any mail. That's cool that Sam leaves for the MTC. That will be an awesome experience for him. Can't wait for all us mountain boys to be out in the field. Our house is really nice, and we have basically everything a normal house would have. I was given a nice pillow as well as a blanket so I didn't have to pay for any of that. I have some pictures of our house that I will try to send. I have to use a B-day (the squirt gun for your butt) which I don't enjoy, but it is all we got because everyone refuses to buy toilet paper I guess. Everything works fine with charging and the adapter. The plugs here are the two prong european ones though. Anyways, I'm going to try to upload a few more pictures. I love you all and will talk to you next week,.

Elder Nelson to Nana and Pop:

The line of new Oros in Montevideo West Mission
Meeting their trainers
Hey grandparents! Glad to hear from you guys. My week was más o menos (so so in spanish). The other 3 elders in our house all got sick, but thanks to my stellar immune system, drinking lots of water, and sucking on cough drops every day, I escaped relatively unharmed which was a nice blessing. 

That's a bummer to hear about Grandma Bledsoe, I'll definitely pray for her. The weather here has been beautiful the past couple days. It's not super hot and there's a nice wind. Don't know how long it will last, but I'll enjoy it while it is here. We had another tropical storm. We were in the house of a member who does our laundry once a week, just talking with him and we looked outside and saw nothing but dark gray clouds heading our way. We left right then, but still got caught in the rain. Luckily, I had my umbrella so my clothes and I stayed relatively dry. My companion was not as wise as I was, but I offered to hold his laundry so his clothes wouldn't get soaked. We were on the main road back to our house when it really started coming down hard. Luckily we were passing a neighborhood of new houses and one of the people yelled at us to come inside. We obviously didn't object, and found out the wife was actually a member but the rest of her family wasn't. We taught them the restoration lesson and encouraged them to come to church. Both of their families all live in that same area, so if we got this one family active, we could potentially get 3 other families with it. It is interesting how the Lord works. We pass by that house multiple times a day, and never attempted to talk to them until they invited us in during the storm. That was probably the coolest missionary experience I had this week. What's crazy is right after that storm, it went back to being blazing hot, so Uruguay just does not feel like making up it's mind with the weather. 

Anyways thanks for all the animal pictures. I got some pretty good laughs out of them. I love you both, I'll pray for Grandma Bledsoe, and I hope you guys have a great week.
The New Oros and their Trainers, February 2015 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Week 9: The Young Man Who Couldn't Make his Own Cereal, Now Requesting Dessert Recipes...

Elder Nelson's March 16th Responses:

I will be on for the next hour and a half or so!  (Regarding the missionary check from the Pogues that he found in his suit pants)  I don't think the check will get deposited for another week. It got sent back in the Bolsa. Don't know if someone missed it or what, but hopefully it gets cashed this week. Oh, and don't freak out that I made a transaction on my account today. I pulled out 500 pesos to eat, because I forgot my missionary card pin. I have it now and will pull out my giro for the rest of the month later today. 

I got to see and talk with President Smith because it was Stake Conference. He told me thanks for being obedient. Not quite sure of everything I'm obedient on, but I think I've made a good impression on him. We also had the Assistants to the President stay with us for the last two nights, which was pretty cool.

(Regarding preparing desserts for meals at the Stake President's Home) We have pretty much every basic cooking item, plus a blender. I think I can get most cooking ingredients or something similar. 

Ah, bummer that the rights (parental rights for Abby's biological parents) didn't get terminated but let's continue praying and trust that the Lord will take care of things in His way. At least it is only one more week until we find out more info. 

I have no doubt Sam (Millar) will be a stellar missionary. I don't know anyone who had less problems with keeping the commandments than that kid did. The only thing that might be a hindrance is that I hear everyone in the Provo MTC messes around quite a bit, and doesn't learn Spanish. However I know Sam will be diligent in his studies and I wouldn't be surprised if he was district or zone leader. 

Wow en serio? (That Josh had a speaking part in the youth musical and invited Mrs. Miliorn to attend) That's rad he had a speaking part and even invited Sheriff. There's so many simple missionary opportunities that we have that we don't even notice... Every time we jump into a taxi here, we always try to get the guy's address to have other missionaries visit. It's our job to invite people, and then from then the Spirit takes over and it is the person's decision to accept our invitation or not. 

I'm sorry to hear about the house not getting fixed fast, as well as Phil having a hard week. I'll pray harder for you guys at home. O that's no good- Destiny got pink eye, but luckily you were able to get it handled quickly. If possible you should send me a video of Abby. I believe other missionaries can view videos if they are small enough. Anyways worth a shot. 

Ah that must suck (for Dad to have to issue layoff notices to families at work). Finlay and I are in the same position. We have this familia, Fulco. The wife has her temple endowments, was President of Relief Society, and is one of President Smith's converts. However no matter who teachers her, whether it be President Smith or us, no matter how spiritual the lesson, she hasn't come back to church. This last time we also had a lesson with the husband to see if they could support each other in coming back. This week was stake conference and they didn't show up. I don't want to drop them, but at the same time I don't want to continue planning and scheduling lessons for them when there are other candidates out there that need/want the gospel more than this couple does. We will see what the Lord has in store for them, but we can't make them have the desire to come back. That's their own decision and the reason we have agency: o albedrio en espanol. 

Yeah I read that last week (that the missing Killers CD had been found) and did a fist pump. Amazing the stuff you can find when you clean. I will try to get the packing info., as well as other pictures to you guys today. 

I love you a ton. I just want to thank you and dad for always taking us to church. Even when it was difficult or we didn't want to.  It is so key in all of our progression. It is so important to hear the word of God in church every Sunday. The people aren't perfect and we can always be angry with someone, but the important things about church are taking the sacrament and furthering your gospel knowledge. You and Dad are great examples, and I see so many families down here that could solve all their problems if they just made the decision to faithfully come to church. What's crazy is the chapel is 5 minutes away from all these people, yet they still can't take 3 hours out of their day to renew their covenants with the Lord. It is sad. However, on the flip side, Sunday might be my favorite day when I get to see everyone making the right decision by coming to church, and getting to greet them. 

This stake conference, the attendance was like 560, and I got to greet the vast majority of those people. Unfortunately, almost all the talks were in Portugese so I didn't understand any of them. I only understood one talk, but it was about gratitude for all we have, and I know that's one area that the Lord wants me to work on. So I'm grateful for you guys helping me grow up in the church and get me to a place where I could faithfully share the gospel with the people of Uruguay. You guys are the best and I love you lots. Talk with you more next week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Week 8: Artigas- Paying to Email, Supporting Less Active Members, and Brazilian Cowboy Belts...

Elder Nelson to Mom:

Things are going good. I don't have any problems. Last p-day, I cut myself on the overhead metal fan but Im all healed up now. Other than bug bites, Im fine. I got a couple blisters, but I made sure not to pop them and Im
pretty sure they've all gone away now. 

Somedays I get to ride a bike which sucks, because the bikes are like 30 years old and haven't been maintained in years. So once a week, we ride bikes to find people in Tamandua. My area is out in the sticks. There is the main road which is paved and like two other paved roads but everything else is gravel and dirt. 

The people are super nice. I think for the rest of the month we have lunch appointments with members. The food is hit or miss. It is either really good or pretty bland. However I can pretty much eat anything now regardless of taste because I'm just that hungry. Every Sunday we eat with the stake president and his family on the condition that one of the four of us brings dessert. So if you have any good dessert recipes that you think I could do in Uruguay, that would be nice to have. Hermana Taylor has done our laundry a couple times so I haven't had to do laundry since leaving the CCM, but one of my white shirts and grey pants are pretty dirty from biking through puddles.  Yeah, I get enough to eat. For these past two Mondays, we have gone to Brazil to eat at buffets. This time we went to a different buffet which was slightly cheaper but the quality wasn't as good.  Anyways it is kind of cool that last week I was in 3 different countries within a week timespan. 

Best thing is just the opportunity to learn about the Gospel every day. It is truly a blessing to learn more everyday to better help other people with their struggles. The worst part is just not knowing the language. I feel bad for my companion because he does all the talking. I want to talk more during lessons, but whenever I talk the people just get confused. Therefore I just kind of have to be content with speaking 5 lines a lesson and letting him do all the work. I don't know how my Spanish will improve if I never get the opportunity to speak, but we will see how much better my Spanish is after this 12 week period of training. He has trained once before, and apparently his other kid turned out really good so I guess this is just an area I need to be patient in and hopefully everything works out for me in the end. 

(The cost to email) It depends on the place to email. Last time it was like 60 pesos which is like 3 US dollars. Yeah I think I have enough money. I have like 80 US dollars stashed on me. I sent the Pogue family's check to President Smith to cash because I found it in my blue suit pocket. Haven't tried dropbox yet because Ive been trying to catch up on emails. I just pay for time on the machine to email so I just pay whatever 90 minutes costs. Yeah you can send mail. I took a picture of the mail instructions so Ill send it to you. Yeah other missionaries have gotten mail. Last week I got a letter from Brother Merrill of the high council for the month of January. I finally found all your guy's notes assuming you each wrote 12. I found your last one in my left butt pocket of my blue suit pants this Sunday.  

That sucks about the (leaking) house, but Im praying for you guys daily. Wow I cant believe she (Kelly Weir-Day) got married and is happy, but good for her. That's crazy that you guys are potentially only 6 months away from adopting Abby. The temple in Uruguay is the same setup as the Fresno one. Congrats on both of you getting new phones. Maybe it is a good thing dad went with the financially responsible decision and didn't go all out. (for the iPhone 6 plus, which basically looks like you're talking on a lunch tray) Did Josh get a phone? We have a really old Nokia phone. iPhones aren't that popular down here. It is all windows and android phones. I love
you, and if I have more time Ill try sending pictures or emailing more but still have 9 emails I need to view.

Elder Nelson to Dad:
I'll try to send some (pictures) but I've been behind on emails and focusing on that rather than sending pictures. Haha, Im not worried about anything when I come home. The missionary term for someone who always worries about home or constantly talks about home is "TRUNKY". Which means like you already have your trunks or bags `packed and are ready to head home. 

This week was super fast. I honestly feel like I was emailing you guys 2 days ago. I'm slightly bummed we don't have anyone in the near future getting baptized but we are reactivating a lot of people. The attendance before was 70, and it have been about 100 for two weeks now. So not the success I was imagining, but I supposed this is what the Lord wants me doing right now. 

Thats awesome to give Angie a smart phone. I think that will be good for her to have something of her own like that that wasn't once her sisters or anything like that. 

Yeah we (all four companions living in the house) get along great. We jam out to music every night and we all bought leather cowboy belts in Brazil which are pretty sweet. Not sure where they all served, but I know Finlay served in one area for 8 months that only had 15 people going to church. 

It is cool being right across from the church and I always see it when Im walking in our area. It is just like a bright pillar inviting people to come to Christ. We don't proselyte in Brazil, but some missionaries do. I hope I don't have to, because they all speak Portuguese which is different from Spanish and seeming I haven't even learned Spanish yet, that would be another pretty difficult transition. But I'll serve wherever the Lord sends me. 

Elder Finlay makes an awesome chocolate milkshake. The have milk here in plastic bags so we partially freeze it and then throw it in the blender with two bananas and coco powder. Its better than a Sonic Blast I swear, or maybe the heat is just getting to my head :P 

We have a lot of investigators that just need to get married so they can be baptized. We might get to baptize a 10 year old whose whole family are members but we want to make sure his whole family is supportive, so they all don't go inactive again. 

I heard Tadhg was working on his papers which is super exciting. Hey let Josh know not all missionaries are perfect. I learned that today. There are a lot of missionaries that struggle and the key seems to be becoming more converted to the Gospel. As my testimony as grown, my desire to do anything  that could be considered unholy has significantly diminished and I look for an opportunity to avoid situations that I cant feel the Spirit in. Thanks for the kind words Dad. I love you. Keep taking care of your health, so you can serve our family. Send my love to everyone and Ill talk with you all next week...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Weeks 6-7: Elder Nelson now in Artigas, Uruguay! Complete with: Eternal Perspective on Wrecking his Car, Meeting President Smith, and Loving his Mom.

(Editorial Note: It has been a while since the last blog post, as Elder Ben Nelson has left Buenos Aires, Argentina, and moved on to Artigas, Uruguay- all the way at the top of the nation of Uruguay, immediately adjacent to Brazil! Mom got a little worried not hearing from him, and wrote three times.  He dutifully responded to all of them...)

Elder Nelson To Mom (#1):

Yeah, our flight was super smooth and there weren't any problems. I woke up at 4 in the morning to see off Elder Tidball and Hermana Toone, who were half of the Canadians. They got delayed for like half an hour, so we got to have that time to ourselves reminiscing which was a cool experience. The plane ride was super short. The ocean here was pure brown, when flying over it. My companion is from Pocatello, Idaho. He's really cool. Last night we taught a lesson to the Leshe family or something like that. I think their concern was that they didn't feel welcome at church anymore, and stopped going because of that. By the end of the lesson, the dad was in tears but don't know if we had any impact on the mom yet. They're both members, but they have two sons who haven't been baptized yet. We're hoping to assist them to go to the temple, and baptize their kids. However, after that super awesome experience, we got caught in a tropical storm. I'm talking raining cats and dogs. We took refuge in a neighbors house once we were like halfway home, to dry off. However we had to make it the rest of the way home and we got pretty soaked. Luckily my swiss bag seemed to hold up pretty well despite not being waterproof. I now know to always carry my umbrella because it can rain at anytime. That sucks about the house, but I know the Lord is going to take care of you guys. Have faith. I know this will be a situation that seems bad but is really a blessing. I view my car crash as that. I mean, I was being stupid, but not having my own car cut down my opportunity to go to events that weren't helping me prepare for a mission and we got more than the car was originally worth. I just know the Lord watches over his children and he never closes one door without opening another. I love you and I'll talk to you next week.

To Mom (#2):

I got to Uruguay safe. We flew first class, but it was only for 20 minutes. However I tried to get some cool plane pics. I stayed the first night in the capital (Montevideo) in the temple hotel with 6 other dudes, 4 of which were in my group in the CCM. The next day I took off to Artigas, which is the hottest zone in Uruguay. It's at the very top, touching Brazil. Today I actually ate lunch in Brazil but they speak Portuguese there, which is similar to spanish, but I don't understand it just because it isn't what i'm expecting to here. However, aside from a few annoying bug bites I'm totally fine. I love you. Thanks for raising me. You did a pretty awesome job because let's face it, I'm pretty awesome. Chiste. En serio, though, I know I probably gave you you too many headaches in my youth but I'm so grateful for every sacrifice you've made just so I could have a better life. You're honestly the best and I love you more than I can express in words.

To Mom (#3):

Yeah my p-days are on Mondays now, and I have to pay to email now, but it's all good. The worst thing that's happened to me is I left my loofa in the temple hotel. You know my dove one? I want to contact the people there and see if they can send it to me, but I imagine the chances of that are pretty slim even though it has only been like 5 days since I had it last. Uruguay seems to be a lot nicer than Argentina. The houses look better the stores look better. I don't know, everything just seems nicer, but I suppose that's what happens when you only have like 3 million people in your entire country. The people here are super nice. Like everyone says "Hi" back here which wasn't always the case in Argentina. My companion is American, so it's always tempting to just talk in English, but I try my best to learn Spanish. I heard from a lot of people that the best way to learn was have a Latino comp, but hopefully I'll be just fine. I mean it's nice, because when I don't understand stuff, he can explain in English or help me say what I want to say in Spanish. It's only been 7 days mom :P It's gonna be like this every week from now on. The church is right across the street. We play basketball outside everyday in the morning. However, I guess they recently made it a mission rule that you can't play soccer, plus there aren't many grass fields so I doubt I'll ever use my soccer cleats. The worst travel was getting to Artigas. We did a temple session in the morning which was cool. I was fighting sleep half the time which was a bummer since it was a new temple experience. We were waiting in this giant bus terminal for like half the day, with a bunch of other missionaries. We left at 6pm, but didn't reach our house until like 3am. The next day was super difficult to pay attention. However now, I'm fairly well adjusted. None of the people in the CCM are in my zone, which is a bummer, but the two other elders in my house are cool. There's Elder Clark from Utah who dies (finishes his mission) in 5 weeks. Then his companion, Elder Sifuentes is 1 change after Elder Clark, so both those guys will die in the next two months. I have a "brother" named Elder Gunnell who works in the offices in Montevideo, and I might get to do that too, eventually. A brother means your trainer also trained that person. My "mom" is Elder Johnson who I've never met, but you're a mom if you're the previous comp of a trainer. At the airport,we got greeted by all the office people, which was really sweet. We had a couple meetings with President Smith and his wife, and his APs the first day. That night, we went to a baptism where two people got baptized. I don't know if I'll get a ton of baptisms in this area, because I guess a common problem is people will get baptized because they like the missionaries, but then when they leave, they go inactive. So right now, we are talking to a lot of less active and inactive members and encouraging them to come back to church with us. This week in church we had 100 people, compared to 76 normally. So to me it doesn't feel like we're having a ton of success, but my comp says this stuff has never happened before, so I guess we're doing good.  We got to have lunch at the stake presidents house, which was cool. However here, they only really eat lunch, so if I'm lucky I'll get or buy something for dinner. Glad to hear all the kids are doing well, and that I'm missed. I miss you guys as well. Don't know if I have much else to say since i RESPONDED TO 3 DIFFERENT EMAILS FROM  you. Caps lock was accidentally, I promise. But yeah, I love you and will report back next week.

And to Dad:

Yes. I flew into Montevideo in first class on Tuesday and stayed in Montevideo for a day. Wednesday, I left with my new companion Elder Finlay from Pocatello, Idaho. He's not a native Spanish speaker, but President Smith seems to have a pretty spiritual process with choosing companionships, so I'm positive I'm with who I'm supposed to be with. I'm at the very top of Uruguay, touching Brazil. I should be here for like 3 changes. First 2 changes with my trainer, and then 1 showing a new person around. Or at least that's what I've been told. If I work in the offices, I would be in Montevideo, and it seems like there's a strong chance of that happening. My brother is 5 months old, and he's already working in the offices. I've met President Smith. He's super nice, but the first day he stopped his APs as they were teaching us new missionaries a lesson, and told them they were doing it all wrong. He's a serious dude, whom I don't want to mess with. There were 8 of us on the plane. 5 from our district. Elder Salinas from Southern California, and 2 latinos that slept in mine and Tidballs room. None of them are in my zone, so don't know when I'll see them again. It's like 23 or 24 pesos to the dollar here. No I didn't have to pay for extra luggage, but I was told if I had to pay for the extra bag, I'd be reimbursed once I got to the mission which hasn't happened. I love you too. Keep care of them fam, and talk to you next week.