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!