Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Week 14: 19th Birthday Happenings, Uruguayan Mate, and the Value of Keeping Busy...

Elder Nelson to Mom:

Empanadas de Uruguay
Yeah, I had a pretty nice birthday. I got to celebrate it on my actual birthday, haha. I had two families that took care of me. Adrianna made us lunch (empanadas, arroz and milanesa) plus a banana cake that is almost identical to Nana's banana nut bread so that was a nice taste of home. Then at 8:30 an investigating family gave us coke, pizza and another awesome cake, so all in all not much different then home, just without the presents. Oh the mission Presidente (most likely his wife) sent me 4 banana blueberry muffins, I think. Not sure what flavor it was exactly, but regardless it was delish. However they do that for all missionaries but it is cool that they take care of us like that. I also got cards from Nana and Pop-Pop as well as one from Joyce. 
Paseo 7 de Setiembre Park in Artigas
Yeah it's pretty weird that I only have one more birthday in my mission, and that this is my last year as a teenager. Not a whole lot exciting is happening here. I think there was another storm here and it either missed us or was really short and we just didn't notice. Today we did a BBQ at a park on the border between Uruguay and Brazil. We played Jenga, threw a frisbee around, and played a game similar to american touch football with a lot less rules. Oh, and I caught a fish today. So all is well in Uruguay. I miss you guys but I'm having fun. 

Glad Phil is getting back to where he used to be.  Haha yeah, the weed whacking isn't really something fun. I recommend listening to music to make it slightly less boring. However I think we have enough problems with our house as is, we don't need to make it a fire hazard as well. Glad Ayami is doing well. Hopefully adding another kid isn't causing too many headaches in the family. Glad to hear the girls are doing good. That will be weird coming back and having them be completely different then I remember. 

Yeah, I've definitely learned how to appreciate being busy because the more busy we are the less time I have to think negative thoughts like, oh my spanish sucks, or I miss my family, or none of our investigators are progressing. So you guys clearly knew what you were doing by always trying to keep us kids busy so thanks for that :) anyways I'll keep trying to upload pics but no promises. I love you and I'll talk with you next week. :) <3

Elder Nelson to Dad:

Uruguyan staples: Thermos and Mate Gourd
Haha, no I'm eating fine. Pretty sure I'm at 150 pounds and I started at 135 so I'm not starving to death. Pretty sure I've already taken out 100 dollars or a little more. I believe I started with 500 something on my card, and now I have an even 400. The snacks here are all pretty unhealthy and loaded with trans fat, however they do have nice cheap fruit here so we take advantage of that. 

I don't need need a multitool. And I don't know what's a good Uruguayan souvenir. Not a whole lot looks interesting here. Basically buy yourself a matte cup and a thermos and that's uruguay for you :P Ok, thanks for that info. I'll stop being such a pinchecoma (spelt wrong but I think it means cheapskate or penny pincher) with my cash. 
I can't send the pic through gmail because I guess the file is unsupported. Anyways I told mom and nana about how my birthday was so you can ask one of them because I don't feel like typing it a third time :P 

(Regarding the leaks) Yeah, lawyers generally aren't cheap but at the same time I don't think anyone in our family has studied law. (Regarding State FFA Convention) That's super cool that you had that experience . You should try to get either Josh or Ayami to go to that in the upcoming years. It was a really cool experience for me and looking back on it I don't know why I only did it my senior year. 

That's cool that Patrick is coming to work for you. Getting the gang back together. Anyways hopefully I can convince Finlay to go to a different cyber next week that has better internet but we'll see. Anyways I'll keep my eyes open for the package. Keep leading the family strong in the faith. I pray for you guys daily. I love you all and will talk with you more next week.  >Much love Benjámin

Week 13: TATA, the Uruguayan Walmart, Wild Horses, and Teaching Lessons

Elder Nelson to Dad:

TaTa Market, Artigas, Uruguay
(Regarding sending packages)  I think US postal service is what most people use but I'm honestly not sure which is best. I think Elder Eiker's parents (from California) use US postal service and he's gotten at least one package in the mail now for 3 straight weeks and it usually takes about a month to arrive. Haha, that is our TaTa store! There's actually two in this area but that is the bigger and nicer of the two right next to the bus station. That's where I bought a 3 pack of cheapy loofas, we buy sandwich materials there, condiments, and you can get deodorant there. Basically anything you could get at a regular super market but everything just seems super experience to broke missionaries. However Tata does play some relatively nice tunes while shopping (not that that is why we go there). 

Elder Finlay is fine. He's still district leader and has been for like 3 or 4 changes. Not much changed with any of our families this week. There are all kind of where they were at last week. A lot of them need to get married, stop smoking, and gain a testimony. Supposedly our church attendance was back up to 90 but I counted and thought it was closer to 80, but it is going back up again. But we are still lacking triple figures which we haven't hit since my first week here. Not sure about mothers day (skyping). When is mothers day? 

Cyber café Bob l'Eponge, Artigas

Haven't taken many pictures since. I want to try to go to a different cyber that has less machines and better internet, because here I can't download dropbox on the computer which I think will be faster than uploading them through the website but I'm not sure. 

I freaking love being a missionary. I mean yeah, I wish I could speak the language, I wish we had multiple baptisms in the future, I wish I had 3 square meals a day. But I don't have any problems waking up on time each day or going out proselyting. I try to push us to do our best everyday rather than go home early just because we don't have a lesson planed at that very hour. 

Yeah, the girls looked crazy big in all the Easter videos. Yeah, I see Josh changed his hair. Any reason or influence with that decision, or just switching things up? Regardless keep rocking what you feel like. Oh Ayami. That's all I have to say. Oh Ayami. (Being convinced about the reality of mermaids in the unexplored ocean depths) 

Haha, I probably could go bareback riding (on the wild horses in his rural area) and I've been tempted to, a couple times, but I can just imagine the chewing out from mom I'd get if anything went wrong in that situation. But yeah, horses are just chilling everywhere here. I know some are people's horses but I don't know which. I've probably like touched 5 horses now. Not much else to do except kick rocks between your comps legs at the expense of the longevity of your shoes. 

Anyways thanks for the birthday wish and packages. I'll let you know if anything special happens on my birthday. Next monday we leave for Montevideo to hear Dallin H. Oaks which is exciting but at the same time it means 2 days of not proselyting since it is an 8 hour bus ride both ways. Much love to everyone in the family. Les quiero y nos vemos!

Elder Nelson to Mom:

I can't really believe it (turning 19) either. I turn 3 months in the mish in like 2 days. I'm just about 2/3 of the way done with my training with Elder Finlay, and before I know it I'll be 19 and then it will be Mothers Day. I don't know if time is going as fast in California as it is here, but time flies down here. 

Wow that's scary (to have credit card information stolen). Luckily I don't think I'll have that problem because I don't have a ton of money to steal :P Glad that you guys didn't get ripped off and that hopefully it doesn't happen again. 

Well at this point (with the leaks) we might as well just get a whole new house. I keep praying for you guys and the house so I'm confident the Lord will provide in whatever way He seems fit. It could be worse. We have a ward member named Ariel, I assume spelled the same as the mermaid. Anyways the story with him is he is getting kicked out of his house in like 9 days because the people that were renting the house want it back or something. I don't know the specifics but basically this nice old Uruguayan cowboy can be homeless in a week if he doesn't find a new place to live. Hopefully some milagro happens in that situation as well. 

Yeah, we had a lesson/noche de hogar with a family that potentially might get a divorce. The lady who set up the whole thing had a strict lesson planned out and basically just wanted to read a talk about marriage which was fine and dandy, but the people thought God was potential and energy and not an actual personage, so we had to address that. Ultimately we just left them with the invitation to pray as a family to strenthen their relationship as well as receive answers. 

I saw all 5 of the videos. There was the snake one, 6 flags, 2 of them throwing easter eggs and I think another of Destiny still talking about snakes. They were all super cute. I love you a lot. Couldn't ask for a better mom and I wouldn't trade you for the world. I'll let you know how my birthday goes. At 7 O'Clock you guys should sing me happy birthday because I should be in my house knowing that you're singing it for me :P Anyways I love you and I should go try to work on the pictures. XOxo

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weeks 11 and 12: On Uruguayan culture, Blue Eyes, and Losing his Abs...

Week 11 to Mom:

Things are going pretty well. Got to have an entrevista (interview) with President Smith which was cool. He's so strong in the gospel, and it's just an awesome experience every time I speak to him. I'm fairly sure I'll get to finish my training with Elder Finlay, which is fine. 

Well, for the past four days people have fed us nothing but beans so the bathroom has become somewhat of a hazmat situation. I don't think I'll get fat, but my abs are starting to fade away so I might want to start doing ab worker x everyday to hold onto those puppies (Elder clark has a burned disc with all the workouts on it). 

Yeah most of the people down here are super nice. Hermana Taylor does our laundry, so I haven't done any of my own laundry since I left the CCM. I had a bloody nose in the night recently, so my pillow case and sheet have a few drops of blood on them, but I woke up right as it started so that was good, and it stopped immediately so I wasn't up all night trying to get it to stop. 

We didn't really get kicked out of (the lady's) house. We were just talking to her on the porch, and eventually she just got so fed up with Finlay that she asked us to leave. We see that a lot down here. Basically everyone we talk to is a member who was baptized without a testimony so we have to teach them all the missionary lessons again and hope they receive a testimony this time around. Apparently there are 100,000 members in Uruguay but only 10,000 go to church or are consider active so we work with menos activos more than we do with investigators. We have a lady named Hermana Fulco who we've taught a couple times. She has gone to church these past two weeks which is a miracle, but she's struggling because her husband and daughter don't want to come back with her and she also claims she doesn't feel the spirit as strongly. This Saturday we explained to her you can't not go to church for 6 months and come back expecting nothing to have changed. The less you go to church, the less strong your testimony is, and the less you feel the spirit. I'm trying to keep Finlay in check with some of the lessons because if he keeps offending people we won't have anymore lunch appointments. :P but en serio, I think we will have more success if some times he takes a step back and tries a different tactic than keep trying to drive the same point into people. 

This Friday we are trying to show the video Meet the Mormons in the capilla (chapel). Hopefully we can get this ward excited and ready for general conference. This ward lacks activities bad. There's basically just church on sunday and seminary for those of that age, but I don't think there mutual or anything else.

That's pretty sad about Abby's parents. I'm glad that we have the opportunity to have Abby (adopted) but it was easier with Destiny, because the parents were never involved. Glad everyone got to finish the school week strong and now gets to enjoy spring break. I'm jealous, but everyday in the mission field is an adventure. I'm glad you like your calling. Caitlin Czirban seems really nice despite the fact we killed their dog. I've only had one fast Sunday here. I believe the next one will be after general conference but everyday kinda feels like I'm fasting :P

Care package stuff: A black and silver sharpie would be nice to mark my stuff and sign ties. That brings me to my next point which is I need a ton more ties. They don't need to be expensive. Just like cheap ties that I can switch with people that don't have sentimental value to them. Every tie I have left is a gift. I just have the black one from grandma a couple christmases ago, the green one from the Rodrigues family and my plain red one. All the other ties I had I've switched with people. Oh one really important thing would be pictures of our family. Everyone always asks for pictures of my family and I only have the picture of you to show them. So a mini picture book would be rad. More pens and colored pencils would be cool to mark up my scriptures and what not. Um, a flash drive would be cool. We can download mormon messages or music and have portable dvd players in our house to play them off of. Colored tabs would be nice, like those semi see through ones that you put in books that are like mini sticky notes. Again a new dove or axe loofa would be nice, but I'm making due without it. I basically finished my mouthwash but I am still on my first toothpaste and deodorant and floss pick bag. I can't really think of anything else. If I'm in dire need of something I'll use personal money to get it but so far so good. There's a guy in our zone who's gotten 3 packages here alone so I don't think it should be a problem.

I'll miss your strawberry pie, but I'm trying to talk up all the mujeres in our ward to make me a torta (cake). I love you. I tried uploading pictures through the dropbox app which seemed to go really quick but I don't know if it just made a folder on the computer or if the pictures will also show up on the website. Let me know what happens and if I need to individually upload them I can, but this time was super fast just don't know if they got put in the right place because everything was in spanish. Watch general conference for me, because I don't know if I'll understand all of it in spanish :P have a great spring break and take some pics for me. Talk with you next week. XOxo your firstborn son

Week 11 To Dad:

(Regarding his companion) We get along well, he just naps in the middle of the day which bugs me a little and we're in the street everyday with the potential to practice Spanish between appointments but we never do. I just feel like if we spoke in Spanish more, my language skills would increase more.  I'm pretty sure I'll stay with Finlay for the rest of my training, but he didn't think he would train again because he already trained, so I'm a little bit like the baby that got dropped off on the doorstep to him. 

I told mom everything I wanted. Definitely more ties. A flash drive. More writing utensils such as different pens and colored pencils, sharpies(black and white) to mark my stuff and sign ties. Yeah, stamps which be awesome. Yeah I haven't had any problems getting mail from the stake or the Jennesses. 

I mainly wear glasses, but on some days like sundays or when president came last week I wore my contacts. However I can't whip out the baby blues everyday so I generally hid them behind my glasses so people can pay attention to the message rather than the fact that they didn't know I had blue eyes before. 

We got easter packages today with a chocolate bunny, chocolate eggs, a hand made tie, and a couple talks in spanish. Enjoy spring break and Easter. Talk with you more next week. :)

Week 12:

So this is a little copy and paste action but here I'm talking about what it is like to live in Uruguay. I've seen like 2 washing machines since I left the CCM and dryers are completely non existent. Everybody just hang dries everything. Luckily Hermana Taylor does all our laundry. She even fixed one of my shirts. Yeah one month in the campo and I'm already ripping clothes. The story actually wasn't all that hardcore. A metal planter attacked me (you know the metal sticks/fences around plants). However her husband is super capo. He's smoked his whole life but he's been clean for almost 2 months now because they're working on getting sealed in the temple by the end of this year. 

We also just found out one of our other part member families are getting married the 18 of junio. Getting married is a big deal down here because no one is married. The government basically views people living together as the same as married couples and have the same rights blah blah blah. Anyways we're super pumped for them and hopefully one of us is still around in the next 2 to 3 changes to baptize them. We have a couple of other couples that just need to get married in order to get baptized. I haven't had to do transfers yet or divisions. I've been with my father (trainer) the whole time and should be until mid may. 

It's super weird. Everything America has, Uruguay doesn't really have. The closest thing we have to Walmart is TATA. Basically, we get 5 dollars to live off of everyday which can get you a lunch but not a lot else. Also there's not a lot of activities to do here. Oh the worst part is stores completely shut down from like 2 to 5 for la siesta. Yeah that's right the whole country takes a nap in the middle of the day. So after lunch is when we do language study, comp study, doce semanas. Basically anything to kill 3 hours and allow people to wake up. 

Anyways this past week we showed Meet the mormons in our capilla(church). We had printed out individual invitations as well as a couple posters to hang in shops. We didn't think we would have a ton of success because it was a holiday weekend, Friday to be exact. Anyways it turned out to be a huge success. We probably had 100 people there the majority of them I've never seen. So we had a lot of less active members there and one of our investigating families came. Everyone really loved the movie and if you didn't see it in cinemas I definitely recommend you guys rent and buy it. So that was our big success of the week. We visited the family that let us borrow their projector and computer and they already want to do it again so we might of started a tradition here with a hastily thrown together one day movie night. 

Anyways I hope you guys had a great Easter and got to think about the incredible sacrifice our Savior made for each one of us. The photos looked like you guys were having fun. Not much else happened this week, other than one of our part member families finally chose 18 of junio to get married. The empanada family is already married so we just need to teach them the lessons and get them to stop smoking. I'm going to do a separate email for general conference because there is just too much good stuff to add in this email. I love you both a lot 

Regarding communicating back and forth and the care package:

I'm pretty sure we have a lot of space in dropbox so I'm not concerned about (mom filling it full of videos and photos) I saw the video of Destiny talking about cats and snakes that was super cute. 

I don't know if I said it last time, but clear thick tape and duct tape would be nice. I can get clear thick tape down here if I need to, but I don't think they have duct tape down here. A basic hoodie would be nice. I only have my nice Geoffrey Beene sweater and sweater vest, but it would be nice to have a regular hoodie I can wear for physical exercises in the morning because it gets a little chilly. Oh, and if it is possible my watch died and I believe it needs a new battery. The battery is V377 I believe. It is super small slightly smaller than a skittle. There's nothing else I can think of at this time. Oh I lied. A basic plastic poncho might not be a bad idea with the rainy season coming up.

I pulled out 500 pesos (from his American account). 500/26 is 20 ish dollars. I am going to pull out more today, not sure how much though. I need to make it until 15 of Abril until I get the second half of my cash. Also I tried cashing the check here, and they said they couldn't do it. I don't know if I should try to send it off to you guys to put in my account. Yeah I'm trying to be smart with my money. I have 70 us dollars plus 2 mill pesos saved up so I'm not struggling for cash but I'm trying to save that for when I actually need to buy stuff (clothing, gifts, any of that stuff) All the money the offices give to me goes straight to food. 

Oh, a swiss army knife or Leatherman tool would be nice. I have a pocket knife, but there have been a couple times I could use a screwdriver and what not. Oh if you can throw one or two of my microfibers in there. It would be nice to have those to clean my glasses and wipe other stuff off. Anyways I love you and I'm sure whatever you send will be perfect :) 

(P.S. I made pudding this weekend for dessert and I think it turned out alright so even though it was in spanish I was still able to pull out a decent dessert :)