Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Christmas Surprise

Christmas day started off with Dallin H. Oaks teaching us the true meaning of Christmas which was really cool to hear from an Apostle of God! Moving on through the crazy day we opened some presents from home which was a pick me up for all of us! BUT...then we go to call our families which threw me and everyone else sideways for the rest of the night.. It was the fastest 30 mins of my entire life! We had another devotional and we got to hear from David Archuleta. He came and sang for us which was really cool and I got to hear his testimony and give him a hug after. BTW- he is a very small man LOL!
So moving on through the week we did a thing called Skype TRC's which we go into a computer lab and we teach someone from Taiwan which was very intimidating since they talk insanely fast but we did our best! Since we have only 2 weeks left I got to get some in field training LOL!

This was the picture Ben sent us after phone calls to families on Christmas. 😭

Tuesday Dec. 27th:
They had a devotional from Elder Melvin B. Arnold who gave them some advice that ended up being one of Ben's favorite thoughts. "Be yourself. You have your companion for a reason. Your strengths may be his weakness and vice versa. Work through those together." He also told them, "Don't you dare come home with any regrets! You give it your whole 100%." This really stuck with Ben and hit home hard. He doesn't want to be someone who comes home and feels like he could've done more. He said, "I better come home so tired and exhausted because I gave it all I had. I cannot come home with ANY regrets."
Elder Arnold also shared a story from his time as a Mission President with a young missionary who was really successful in his baptisms. He asked him what his secret was and he said, "I like to imagine the best in everyone. I don't like to see the man I'm teaching with a cigarette in his mouth, tattoos, slicked back hair and dirty. I see a son of God that could be going through the temple and be sealed to his family for all eternity." Ben talked about how we need to make sure to see the best in people. Not judge them but see who they can be. This is really going to help him on his mission, seeing people the way God sees them.
Ben's parting words:
Don't judge people. Don't see them as they are, but who they can become!
Elder Nelson


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bittersweet Day

Is it 4:45 pm yet? (Wait 5 min) Is it 4:45 pm yet? (Wait 5 more min) This was pretty much my routine after about 1:00 pm on Christmas. Knowing that Ben was going to call around that time, all I could do was continue to check the clock. The anticipation was killing me! I couldn't wait to hear his voice.
THE PHONE RINGS! I slide across the floor like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" and answer the phone like I just ran a marathon. 
"Mom?" is what I hear on the other end and I scream, "BEN!" I cannot contain my excitement and my tears. I couldn't even get another word out because I was UGLY crying so bad. Ben can hear me and says, "OH NO Mom, you can't start crying yet." I hand the phone to my husband because I can't even mutter words out but I knew he only had limited time so I didn't want ANY of it to go to waste. After I compose myself, we have him on speaker and proceed to spend the next 30 minutes soaking in every sentence, breathe, laugh and eventually tears as the clock ticked down closer to him having to hang up. 
It was such a bittersweet day for me. While I got to hear his voice and be able to go back and forth in a conversation, I knew it was going to be a long time before I would get to talk to him again. For me the next few days were a "re-adjustment" again. Going back to the mental routine that I had gotten use to. Don't get me wrong, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the moment and I will cherish it until Mother's Day when I get to hopefully talk and actually see him!

Elder Nelson

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Piano Guys

Ben's recording this week sounded like he was so tired. It made my "mom" part worry but I also know that a missionaries schedule is super structured and busy. I have always been a HUGE advocate that if kids are going to be busy or tired it needs to be with GOOD THINGS. This part of his life...this is a good thing!
His Zhōngwén (Chinese) this week he put it, "has gone through the roof."😀 It makes me happy to think he is catching on to the language a little more. He made a deal with one of his companions (Elder White) that they each had to memorize 20 words before they could eat. That really puts the pressure on. But so far it has worked and is helping.
Some frustrations he has mentioned is when learning the gospel and teaching is you know how to answer their questions but you do not know the vocabulary. I can only imagine how hard that would be. Every time he express something that may be a concern or frustrating he always follows up with, "still just warrior through" ♥♥♥
He is still super sick (5 weeks now) and having headaches but according to him most the kids are. But they just keep plugging through and doing the best they can. I am truly inspired by these kids. I don't want to do much when I am sick let alone teach the gospel in Chinese! LOL
From Ben:

你好朋友们 (Hello Friends)
So the Piano Guys came and played for our devotional. That was really cool experience to be a part of! They also each gave individual talks to us which were as equally amazing to hear! The last guy that talked I think his name is John (The one that plays the piano). He gave us some advice that I have been using a lot. He said, "When don't know how you're going to accomplish something put it on the prayer list. When life is slamming you and you don't know what to do, put it on the prayer list. When you don't know or are lacking faith, put it on the prayer list. When you are not feeling God's love fully, put it on the prayer list. Pray with proposals on how you can fix these things and God will answer your prayers.
Ben talked to us about how important it was for them as missionaries not to get caught up in the awards and medals. Meaning: number of baptisms. These are our brothers and sisters, they are not a lifeless, baptismal statistic. We need to focus more on that you were able to help them come closer to Christ. "The essential thing is not to win but fight well."
Some parting words that Ben left with us that we are trying to do better at is to come to God with a proposal. Ex: If I do this will you help me with this? Ben has been praying this way throughout the MTC and has noticed a huge change and been much more successful in his en devours a the MTC.
We are pretty excited to get to talk to Ben here in a few days! CANNOT WAIT! He doesn't get to Skype, but he gets to call for 30 min! He is pretty excited to see how Christmas is spent in the MTC. The only hint they gave them is that there is going to be a General Authority coming to speak to them. YAY-can't wait to hear who!

We sent the District a P-Day package with lots of games like basketball, hacky sack, mad libs, bubbles and their favorite...THE CLAW MACHINE!
Elder Nelson

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Super Hero...Elder Holland

This week was the first week that Ben used the recorder we sent him. THAT WAS AMAZING! To hear your son's voice is a tender mercy for me. Emails are great, but for me I need to HEAR in his voice. How he is doing, where his head is at. Hearing his excitement, frustration, being tired etc. all helps this Mama's ♥heart. It helps me know how I can help him and what to specifically pray for that he needs. This first recording I had to keep pausing because the minute I heard, "Nǐ hǎo jiātíng" (hello family) from him I LOST it! I mean UGLY cry for awhile. It took me nearly an hour to get through his recording because I was crying so much over each detail he was giving. HANDS DOWN the best thing we sent him!
At the MTC they have the opportunity to hear from members of the 70 all the time, which they love. But when Elder Holland walked in-my son was ELATED! We all love Elder Holland and his ability to make you feel like he can read your emotions and thoughts, then answer them all in a way that is so loving and understanding. Truly one of God's messengers.
Ben's thoughts on the visit:

So yesterday was a huge surprise! We usually hear from a member of the 70 every week or Mission Presidency here at the MTC. But this week, without knowing at all, Jeffery R, Holland came and spoke to us and we were on the first row!! He gave the most amazing talk on the BOM and to basically sum it up he said, " Put away the childish things and become a man. This is the hardest work you will ever do, Why? Because salvation is not a cheap experience." That hit me hard and I basically wrote in my journal for an hour and a half. He ended with this amazing line too. He said, "You need to come to the edge of the diving board not knowing if there is water underneath." We need to put our whole faith in Christ no matter what we are getting into!
Ben's recording about the whole experience made me smile. His voice was so excited at the fact that he met him and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he is a really cool guy. "Totally different than what you see at Conference, Mom" were his words. LOL "He slapped the choristers butt as he walked back to his seat." Ben loved that he was able to speak to him on a more personal level. I can tell from his voice that it was a boost that I am sure ALL missionaries need from time to time. A couple of Ben's favorite quotes from Holland were:
#1: "The message we have is ASTONISHING. Go astonish someone. Sadly enough some missionaries are not astonishing but the message is!"
#2: "Be the best you can be, but be yourself and give all the glory to God."
Elder Holland left them all with a blessing: "You walked where He walked, you said what He said, you shed the tears He shed, you will shed the tears He shed as a disciple of Christ." It was in reference to how hard the mission is but how rewarding it can be. Ben loved this! He went on to say that when he tries to fake who he is, it doesn't work. Learning Chinese is hard enough and he was given his personality for a reason and when he is true to himself in the lessons, it just WORKS!
He talks about the spirit in the MTC and how wonderful it feels and how fast time is FLYING by for him (not me😢)lol. He is LOVING what he is doing so much and the people he is serving with, he doesn't want to be anywhere else. This makes me SO HAPPY to hear!

I sent Ben and Elder Crowther the 12 days of Christmas. I had so much fun putting it together and could not wait to hear if they liked it. They were THRILLED! Ben said it was taking all their energy not to just open EVERY package right now. 

The first present was a tree made of cut out hands (they were the branches) and pictures. I had friends, family, ward members, everyone I could think of to write messages to Ben and Elder Crowther. It turned out ADORABLE! I sent battery powered lights, tinsel and decorations that they could put on themselves. They hung it on their wall and said that the lights I sent were a dark red so when the lights were off it looked like hands were coming out of the wall to get them. LOL😁
I love the pics they took by the tree!
Can't wait to get next weeks email! Oh P.S. tell Dad to keep my updated on the Cowboys! 🏈
Elder Nelson

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Weapons, Withdrawals and Weakness

Ben's email:
This week has been a crazy roller coaster ride. To start off I've been throwing up all week, which is fantastic! 😓 Me and my companion (Elder Crowther) have been switching off being deathly sick...but just keep pushing on I guess.👍
2nd: we said goodbye to our first District, it was really hard. They have become some of our closest friends and we have gotten on a very personal level. We decided the night before they left to stay up til 6:00 am and make sure we said goodbye to all of them. Now that they're gone our dorm is empty. It's pretty depressing. So now it is just us and the Cantonese District. On a good note, we do get 14 new Mandarin speaking missionaries today, so that should be exciting! I cant wait to see how they act! Moving on...on the last night with the District that just left we had a CRAZY Nerf War! We were throwing mattresses at each other and everything. For some reason they had like 20 Nerf Guns, we dint even bother questioning it LOL. But regardless, it was super fun and now we are having Nerf War Thursday because Thursday is BY FAR the worst day of the week. Just straight Chinese all day long. So we found that to be a good way to vent and have a good time with the Zone. We also on that night made a bet with the Sisters who could create a crazier picture. We knew we would win so we pulled everything together and came up with a ridiculous picture...I'll drop it below. 

3rd: we pimped out our room with Christmas lights and Chinese decor we inherited from the District that left. So that pretty much makes us TOP DAWGS! LOL Talk to you next week!
Elder Nelson

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Old School

In a world filled with technology and the ability to "talk" to someone instantly through text or email, I was caught off guard at how excited I was to open the mail and see a handwritten letter from my boy. 😀 Opening that letter and seeing his handwriting and emotions (obvious through subject and penmanship change) was an AMAZING thing for me. I miss those days when someone would sit down and take the time to write a letter. Time is precious to everyone and when you decide to use some of yours to write to someone, It's a way of telling that person they mean something to you! Emails and texts are great and convenient but for me, to SEE his handwriting made him feel a little closer. I feel so blessed and lucky that Ben took that time out of his EXTREMELY busy schedule to write to us! It warms my heart to the core!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In All Things Give Thanks

Thanksgiving in the MTC is VERY different according to Ben. The food is great and the day is filled with devotionals and service. The best part of the day...meeting an Apostle. Ben had the opportunity to speak with Elder Anderson personally and he cherished the advice he gave him. 
He said: 
"Elder don't be discouraged fight the good fight and love the people love the people love the people!" It was really cool to hear that from him directly. I'm so blessed being here right now even with all the crazy challenges that have been happening.
One of the recent challenges that has broke Ben's heart is one of his close friends in his District ended up having to return home due to some depression/suicidal issues. In Ben's words:

"I was really sad to hear that as he was one of the strongest people I know in the gospel. But Satan gets to even the best of us and we have to keep pushing along... I got to say one last goodbye before he headed back to England. He has promised to email me every week for the rest of my mission!"
My heart is breaking for my son and how hard that must have been for him. You spend every day and night with these kids. You share so much emotion and life with them because you have to in order to make it through. I sure wish the best for this poor young man and hope that Ben can stay in contact with him and hopefully reconnect at a later date.
On a more positive note Ben has become really close with one of his companions in their District. "He's just like me Mom, we are twins in our personalities!" is what he tells me. His name is Bai Zhonglao (Elder White). They decided it would be fun and memorize the song "Love is an open door" from Frozen and perform it in front of their District as a surprise. Of course my son has no problem playing "Anna" the girl part and I have to say it is pretty funny! It's hard for my husband and son to watch because they really get into the parts. I think it is FANTASTIC that they can goof around and have some fun in what is a very monotonous schedule and hard language to learn.
Speaking of the language, Chinese is the 2nd most difficult languages in the world to learn and it is kicking his butt! 😖However to hear my son say these words is very comforting.
"Mom, I've been studying my heart out every single day and I've never prayed this much in my entire life. Yet I feel I'm still falling short on my Chinese abilities. I'm going to keep pushing along and I know that I can do this! All I ask is if you can keep me in your guy's prayers it would be very appreciated." So proud of his fighting spirit.
There was one last surprise this week. The investigator they have been teaching since they arrived turned out to be their teacher. She came in looking totally different and threw them all off. What a fun way to introduce yourself!

 Frozen Video (Ben & Elder White)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ni Hao From the MTC

It was like Christmas morning when we received the first email from Ben. He apologized about not emailing sooner but he arrived at the MTC ON his P-Day so we had to wait a week. He talked of being shuffled around a lot giving him books, an I pad, lots of questions and finally class. His teacher spoke nothing but Chinese which he describes as one of the most intimidating and annoying things he has ever participated in.😀 He eventually met his companion, Elder Crowther who he describes as his polar opposite but that their personalities compliment each other well. They were told they were going to have to teach an investigator the next day ONLY in Chinese. They were nervous and did not understand a word she said but made it through somehow. Ben and Elder Crowther will be teaching her everyday until they leave. 
The Elders in his District have become some of his best friends and they are learning a lot from one another. The pranks started on day 1 which is great because Ben LOVES pranks. They soaped the floor for the new arrivals and made everyone slip and fall. So in return, Ben set their alarm clocks for 2:00 am and hid it in the ceiling. Lets just say, the pranks got worse after that! 
He loves the food, he's never been this tired in his life, the schedule is killing him and he has never been this frustrated and edified at the same time. HE LOVES IT! 
Wo Ai Ni (I love you)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Day Is P-Day?

I opened my email later in the evening the day we dropped Ben off at the MTC and squealed because I see an email from my boy titled-"I'm Alive" 😁
From Ben:
"Hey just got to send you a quick email saying I am OK. I love you long time and I will email you on P-Day. Hope everything is good and I will see you soon." 
Elder Nelson
I was so excited to know he is "Alive". That was never my concern with him just in Provo, but hey I'll take it. My concern was...he forgot to mention when P-Day was! This resulted in a very anxious , stressful ME checking my email EVERY day, ALL day long just in case. IT WAS A VERY CRAZY WEEK!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A ♥ Full Of Emotion

Hands down today was the hardest thing I've ever done. I just left a part of my ♥ in Provo. While my head is telling me how exciting this opportunity is for him and the many blessings it will bring, my mama ♥ is not there yet. This kiddo of mine has some of the most admired attributes that I will miss in our everyday lives. He is the peacemaker in our home. The kindness he shows to his siblings and the way he shows such love and respect to his Father and I will be hard to live without. When you are with him he makes you feel like you and what you are talking about are the only things that matter. I KNOW these traits and the many others he has been given will come in handy as he sets out to serve the Lord for these next 2 years. As hard as this is, he is in much safer hands serving our Father in Heaven than he could ever be with us. Thanks again to our many AMAZING friends and family that have been part of our "village" and helped him get to this point in his life. Hugs and ♥loves♥ to you all!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Oh What A Night

Knowing that tomorrow is the BIG DAY, made today even more precious. Trying to soak in every minute of "Vitamin B" (Ben) that we could, heightened all of our emotions. We are a family of 8. Not including friends, that is a lot of attention that Ben needs to give to each of us in a limited time frame while trying to gather the last minute necessary items to be ready to go in the morning. Thank heavens Dad is a "Master Packer" so getting everything in the suitcases seemed to be relatively easy. Taking time to go through his room, last minute phone calls, giving me a hug every time he passed by, visitors stopping by for that one last moment with him and helping get everything ready meant when it was time to head off to be ordained an Elder, Ben was the perfect mix of exhausted and excited. 
What an experience! Being surrounded by loving family and friends, some council and wisdom was shared with him as well as us as a family. As the men were standing around getting ready to set Ben apart, I wanted to take a mental picture of his presence. Whether I am crazy or not, when they were done there was definitely a different spirit about him. His smile was huge, his hugs tighter and you could FEEL the spirit in him and the excitement for the task he was about to embark on. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016


The BIG DAY had finally come for Ben. Speaking in front of family and friends, hoping to instill some comfort, love and even some understanding for those that were confused as to why a young man would give up 2 years to go serve the Lord. His talk was inspiring and full of hope. He thanked many family members and friends for their different roles they played in his life. He spoke of the influence that Scouting played in his life and the skills it has given him to be confident enough to go and do what he had been preparing for these next 2 years. 
One part of Ben's talk: 
"If we take the effort to invite others to the gospel and show them the happiness and beauty of this church, YOU WILL CHANGE LIVES. If you show them the love of Christ and the blessings of the gospel, YOU WILL CHANGE GENERATIONS for eternity."
We are so proud of the young man standing up there at that pulpit today and knew that when he stood there again to give his report of his adventures in the field he would be standing there not as a young boy, but as a man. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Temples, Ties & Tailored Suits

This part of getting mission ready is both rewarding and a little frustrating. Let me explain. Taking a teenage boy who only has a little time left to spend doing WHATEVER he wants (within reason) and to spend that little time with his friends to go shopping for "mission appropriate attire" might be a fate worse than death at times. All the different stores, the many dressing rooms filled with all sizes of clothes, shoes off-shoes on, the arguing over whether he will even need all these things, just to have your husband remind him that he has already served a mission and may know what he is talking about. You're getting the jist right? All that being said there was A LOT of fun, laughter, food dates and memories made over this part of preparing for his mission. But nothing can compare to when we got to experience and have the most AMAZING opportunity to attend the Holy House of the Lord with our son. Surrounded by family and friends he was able to go feel of the beautiful spirit that can be felt in that Holy of places. He was glowing afterwards, grinning ear to ear and is just so excited and comforted for what that experience meant for him. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Dying To Know, Afraid To Find Out...

This is how We/I felt. We all wanted to know where the Lord needed Ben to go, but I was a little afraid to find out. Ben was always saying, "Mom, I'm going to be a little salty if I go stateside. I would love to see another part of the world." Then I would follow it up with, "Oh buddy, I have been PRAYING for stateside and God hears a Mother's prayers more!" We all know that isn't true, but I was hoping. 😉 The anticipation and excitement was all consuming. Between Ben constantly telling us how excited he was and us trying to guess where he was going made for an emotionally charged day, to say the least. 
As he thanked everyone for coming and ripped open the call the words seem to drag on forever and then he read it, "You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You are assigned to the California Riverside Mission." 
My Mom heart was so relieved. Stateside meant McDonald's, peanut butter and even Wal-Mart. So many of the amenities the US had to offer. He seemed content with the call which made us happy too and he reads on. 
"You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Mandarin language." WHAAAATTTT! The shock was real! MANDARIN?? My first thought-OH BOY! My second thought-HOW COOL! I guess those Chinese classes in HS will come in handy after all.
When I hugged him I asked him if he was OK with the call he said, "Oh ya Mom. I was OK with California or New York." Oh OK, I guess the Lord knew his choices. LOL
All in all, not where anyone guessed he would serve and definitely not the language he would teach in, but what an adventure this was going to be!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It Came! It Finally Came!

The anticipation this week has been intense knowing that at any given day we could receive "the call" in the mail. Everyday I would check with excitement and nothing until one day....IT CAME! 
That big white envelope made its appearance on Thursday Sept. 1st.  As I opened the mailbox and saw the envelope, it took my breathe away and then the tears came. Tears of excitement, fear, worry, anticipation for where he would be called. ALL human emotions came to my eyes in that 30 seconds staring at that big white envelope.  I will admit I had the thought of slowly and carefully heating the glue, opening it and reading where he would be going, but in good conscience I couldn't look him in the eye and know his fate before he did. 
He was out when it arrived so when he came home I couldn't wait to tell him what had come. He was so excited, practically jumping around and wanting to call everyone important in his life to rush over and share in what would be his future for the next 2 years. It was about 7:00pm when this all happened. He realized that at this time of night people were home with their families and probably tired from work.  So as hard as it was he decided it would be better to make the necessary phone calls and invite everyone over the next evening.