June 20, 2016

Week 98- The End?

Well this will be my last full week of working as a missionary. On Saturday I will be traveling to Cusco, Sunday I will be at church in my old ward in Cusco, Monday and Tuesday are all preparations to smuggle me out of the country and Wednesday and Thursday I will be traveling. It still makes me somewhat sick to my stomach to have to think about leaving all this behind. 2 years.... The only 2 years of my life that actually matter to me. The only 2 years that I have actually done anything of any importance. The only 2 years in the which I have not been a selfish little kid. The only 2 years in which I have grown spiritually. In short, they are the best 2 years. I wouldnt trade them for anything.

As I look back over this time period I think on what I have seen. I think of my first sector and how sick it was to be arriving to the middle of the amazon jungle to serve, but what was even sicker was watching our branch grow in attendance due to our work to bring members to church. I remember arriving to my second sector in Cusco and having a culture shock from living in the jungle to becoming a city slicker, but even more shocking was the testimony I gained as I strived to grow and progress everyday through obedience and diligence in the work. I remember arriving to Juliaca and thinking about how many people I was gonna get to help while I was there, but even more than the conversion in others, Christ converted me. 

Most of my mission, even though I have been striving as much as I can to help others, it seems that my mission has helped me. I can truly testify with all of my heart that if you lose your life for the Lord, you will find it.

Not only the best, but also the most difficult 2 years of my life. When you actually care about what you're doing, it seems as if everything gets harder. Elder Holland once said, 'If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived.' I can also testify of the truth of those words. I remember an experience with the Zurita family a couple of months ago. My father told me something so important for my mission. 'Three words son. Love the people.' As I strived to love this family that we were teaching, I have been able to understand a small part of how much God loves us. For the simple act of them failing one of the appointments we had, I was brought to the point of tears. I have never cried, fought, or disappointment more in any part of my life. But, like Isaac Newton says, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Through the experiences I have encountered, and through the being tearing apart spiritually, Christ has been able to enter into my life and pick up the pieces and create something even better. I am still far from where I need to be, but I am so much closer than from where I was before.

Although I have served in a South American mission, I can not say that I have hundreds of baptisms beneath my belt. Honestly I dont even think I can say I have 20 beneath my belt. But with conviction I can say that God has converted at least one person on my mission. And that person is me. I am eternally grateful to people like President Harbertson, and Elder Black, and my parents, bishops, and countless others who have helped me on this journey. 

Now my mission is ending and I have no regrets. I love the Lord and I love His work and I love His children. Now, if I may be excused, I have to go punch Satan in the mouth and preach the gospel for the time that I have left. I love you all and wish you all a great week.
signing off
Elder Neilson

June 13, 2016

Week 97

Not much to say for this week!!

Honestly we are working hard. I am going to finish strong. Although there are so many things to distract me, I have never been more focused in my entire mission. I am doing my best to give my all to the Lord and theres nothing else I would rather be doing. I love being here, I love serving, and I Love my Savior. Hopefully in the weeks to come there will be more to say but for now, let me work and give me a break for a week! Its hard thinking of something to write every week.

Love you all
Elder Neilson

i fell up the stairs this week.....
nah just kidding hahah this is in a members house.  A lot of people stain their cement floors (its either cement or dirt floor here) The stain is always a red wax substance that they put on the floor. They spilled the bottle of wax a couple days ago and made this lovely stain and i had to take advantage of the kodak moment

a members photo store that has a photoshopped picture of thomas s monson taking a picture

english class attendance was a little low this week

this guy going home

my companion

June 06, 2016

Week 96

I kept on looking for interesting stuff that was gonna happen this week so I could have more stuff to write about! Unfortunately not much happens here thats too exciting.

There was a strike this week that was supposed to be super dangerous. Apparently they burn cars and break windows in the street and no one should be outside when these people come through. We couldnt see too much danger from our apartment window so, we decided to leave anyways. As we were walking through the street doing our thing we are admist a bunch of people selling stuff on the street in these little handcarts that they have. All tranquilo and no problems. We see a man come bursting out of a store..... he stumbles into the street. Is he drunk? Is he ok? ''Here comes the strike!!!!!'' he yells and points down the street. Everyone turns and we see a ginormous wave of people flooding into the street. All the people on our end with their carts and stuff start to yell and run in a chaotic panic. Us missionaries just booked it out of there and chilled in the room. Quite an excellent tuesday. Everyone is okay and no ones hurt! So thats good. Fun stuff.

The people here can be kinda funny sometimes. We were looking for a family we are teaching and so we knock on their door. We are waiting outside and some guy we dont recgonize opens the door and we ask him if juan and karolina were there. He just looks at me with this scared look (because down here I am a rather large man) and says 'sorry i dont have time' and shuts the door. hahaha I just thought it was funny.

As I pray and read my scriptures more and more my knowledge or perhaps not my knowledge but my understanding and comprension of the gospel becomes clearer and clearer. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. As we study the scriptures with the intention of knowing our Savior, joy and happiness and gratitude will enter into our lives. It is the only way we can be happy in this life. 

Elder Neilson

a healthy herbal drink

i bought a poncho

this is juliaca

May 30, 2016

Week 95

This week was awesome! I have found out that for my last transfer I will once again be with Elder Cresto for a running total of 6 months! Can you believe that? 

Sounds like katies play turned out to be really interesting and comical.

Annas talk was awesome! I cant believe she was able to do that all by herself. I am proud of her. She is growing up to be quite the little angel.

Not much has been going on this week as far as interesting or comical stories, or exotic foods. The biggest thing that happened this week was that 2 missionaries in our district finished their missions this last Saturday. In mission terms  they 'died'. Its super sad for me, they were two of my best friends here in the mission and now theyre just gone. Elder Bird and Sister Ganan. Since Sister Ganan is from Ecuador its a possibilty that I will never see her again. 

The whole goodbye spheal really put into perspective how quick time flies. When Elder Bird and I arrived here in Juliaca we both said to each other 'we got so much time left I dont think we will die here.' But now... ahh!!! Im just freaking out. Time is a cruel thing. 

This is basically a pointless email with not much content, you dont have to put this email on the blog if you dont want to haha. 

I promise to have a better letter next week!!!

Love you all
and may the force be with you
Elder Neilson

our district

goodbye of elder bird and hermana ganan

May 23, 2016

Week 94- It is our choices that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Wow, thats super insane to hear about Dad's cousin who passed away. What a blessing for us that families are eternal. Even though these sad things happen we just gotta hold on to our faith and stick to our guns! I love a talk from last conference, the woman who told of her kid who had to get air lifted out to a hospital and she had to decide for herself when she saw the temple 'do you really believe it?' i think that is a great question. Do we really believe it? 

The weeks are getting shorter and it is making me sad that the weeks are disappearing like chocolate chip cookies at aunt sheris house. How I miss chocolate chip cookies.... But anyways! I cant believe June is already around the corner and then I will already be home... But I am trying to keep strong and endure to the end! I am not going to sugar coat it, it gets a lot more difficult in this point of my mission to keep going. But as I push through and break down the barriers that try to hold me back I find new spiritual strength and hope to be able to carry that with me all the way to California. 

This week I was on splits again with Elder Black. As we were leaving an investigators house a drunk man stumbles by.... 'Get out of my way!' he yells. He starts yelling out crazy things and bumping into stuff and almost falling over. 'Hey bud, be careful youre gonna hurt yourself!' said the missionaries. 'Dont listen to them! They pretend to not understand us!' he is yelling in the street. 'But they understand EVERYTHING we say perfectly!! THEY'RE SPIES!!!', he yells. I turn to Elder Black and in Spanish I yell out, 'He's on to us man! We gotta get out of here!' And I push Elder Black into traffic and we book it across the street and we start running on the other side of the sidewalk. Elder Black jokingly tells me 'dude hes following us!' we both turn around laughing to see if he was following us. Coast clear. Then.... we do a double take.... The drunk man had taken out his little flip phone and was chasing after us! He started trying to take pictures of us as he was running and trying very unsuccesfully to hide behind pillars and cars in the street. Elder Black and I just booked it out of there hahaha we couldnt stop laughing and I still have this image of the drunk man in my hand trying to take pictures of two missionaries that he thought were American spies hahah funny stuff.

The work isnt progressing as fast as we would like it to here, we are doing our best right now to help and strengthen the ward so that the recent converts that come in dont go inactive after a couple weeks (which sadly is a big problem here). 

Elder Cresto and I are teaching a less active mom and her daughter  who is 24 years old. It was super sad yesterday. We went by to go visit them and the daughter just basically said that she is tired of all this 'church stuff' and not too interested anymore. Whats more is her mother (a return missionary) feels like it is her fault that her daughter is the way she is because she failed as a mother by being less active and not treating her daughter the best way. The daughter basically wants us to come and be her friend and make her laugh and stuff and not talk about anything spiritual. Bummer. So we told her we were going to have to not visit as often because there are people that need our help as missionaries. It really sucks sometimes, coming to love people so much and know that they have felt the spirit and then have them tell you they dont want you to share that kind of stuff anymore. But all is well! I cant complain.

Hope all is well at home. Dont forget to read your scriptures and pray and go to church and listen to general conference talks and all that jazz! Love you punks!

Elder Neilson

May 16, 2016

Week 93

It gets harder and harder to find stuff to write about every week.... I was just looking at my blog and I dont feel like I was the same person who wrote all that stuff! I feel like my vocabulary and verbatim has gone all downhill in the last little while haha.

Nothing exciting happened this week. We are just working hard and doing our best to help these people. Its amazing how the Lord will guide us and help us while we are in His service and trying to do all things to glorify His name.

This week I had to give a talk in sacrament meeting. The topic was trusting in God no matter your circumstance. I told a story of an obstacle course we had to complete blindfolded as a zone a couple weeks before. In this obstacle course, we had an egg that our beloved zone leaders and assistants to the president were trying to smash. To top it all off, while we were navigating the course, we were blindfolded. When you had finally completed the course you could take off your blindfold and go back to help others to complete the course and protect them from the malevolent egg smashers. While I was helping a blindfolded missionary navigate the course, he did not want to listen to me, take my advice, or let me guide him. He would naively hold his precious egg out while an eggsmasher came along and easily crushed his egg despite my best efforts. To tell the truth I was quite upset. After having to start his course over a 6th time, I was all over his back, kicking away the egg smashers and doing all I could to protect him (as there were no more eggs for him to go back and collect if his was broken because all of them had been broken...) Finally he took my advice and protected my egg as I directed and would allow me to guide him through the difficult climb to the end of the course and he completed his journey.

In our lives we are spiritually blind and we need the guiding hand of Him who knows all things and can see the things we cant see. We must trust in Him and not in the arm of the flesh.

In the scriptures we find many accounts of huge miracles to accompany our scriptoral heroes. For example: the walls of Jericho being destroyed with a simple shout, the red sea being parted, david defeating goliath, the Savior of the world taking upon Himself our sins, and many other powerful accounts. In truth, we believe in the same God that they believed in. We believe in the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, so why do we doubt?

Much like Laman, we say 'I know God helped Moses part the Red Sea, but it would be impossible for Him to take out Laban.' But we must push such lamanitish thoughts far from our mind and be like Nephi and say,

'1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?

 2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.

 3 Now behold ye know that this is true; Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.'

God can do all things. Do ye not believe this to be true? Then why do ye not pay thy tithing? Or keep the Sabbath Day as the Lord has instructed? These commandments have nothing to do with money, but everything to do with faith. Do you really trust in Him? ok let me ask you again. Do you REALLY trust in Him?

Kim B. Clark of the 70 told a story about his parents who had to go serve a mission in the Phillipines. His dad suffered from asthma and his mom didnt want them to go due to asthma. She heard a voice in the night comforting her saying 'I know he has asthma, why are you so worried? I called you! Now get ready to serve in the Phillipines.'

God knows everything we are going through and we can trust Him in all things.

I love God and I love my Saviour, we are indebted to them in everything we do. Repay the debt and show them thy love. 'If ye love me, keep my commandments'

Elder Neilson

this insane dog that a less active had in his house…..

this dog jumping on and attacking my companion

the bros

we made some delicious tacos for our pension on mothers day