Friday, January 27, 2017

The Ding That Made My ♥ Leap

I am one 😊HAPPY😊 Mama! I finally heard from my handsome boy! I LOVE that the first thing he mentions is how sorry he is that the email was not on Monday and how much I must've been FREAKING OUT! Yep...he knows me all to well.
No recording this week with it being crazy, but I will take the written email for sure!
From Ben:
你好(Ni hao)家庭 Family!
OK, I don't even know where to start with this week of craziness!
Right when we arrived we got off the plane in California and immediately had to say goodbye to Elder White and Elder Gilbert, it was very sad... but I know they're going to be doing great things out on their missions! We were then shuffled off and they took us to the church for training. I met my new Mission President, Mullen. He is stern but also very loving. After all the training and meeting a couple of APs we had dinner and left to meet our new companions. The first companion I received was Elder Zeng. He is from China and completely fluent in Chinese. We get along great but he only has 1 month left here on his mission. The next day after moving into our pretty ghetto apartment, we went "seeking with faith" aka...contacting. I realized very quickly I have NO IDEA what the Chinese language is. I've never heard people talk that fast in my entire life! LOL So... my comp pretty much does about 95% of the talking for me and I am slowly speaking a little more and improving everyday.
As the week went on we started advertising for English Classes to the students from China in hopes to help them with their schooling. We've been talking to some of them back and forth and we hope to finally teach a class and maybe get some investigators!
Yesterday I got a 2nd companion, Elder Willes so now were in a trio. (He's the guy from the blog). We went "seeking with faith" last night and it went super well. We have multiple potentials to call and we are very excited. Elder Willes Chinese is actually out of control good! I'm super jealous and hope to get there soon, with faith I know I will. LOL.
My area consists of only the campus (UCR) so we only talk to college kids. They love to hear me talk. They are in AWE at the white kids that know Chinese LOL. So that has ended up being our leverage factor as of late.
I am super excited and I have never been this tired or poor in my life. I can't wait to tell you more about this crazy adventure! Talk to you soon.
Elder Nelson

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Chinese New Year

What do your son and his companions get when they serve their missions in the Mandarin language? A Chinese New Year Celebration Box! Equipped with fortune cookies, their very own chopsticks, money pouches, Chinese candy and of course Origami Roosters made by Spencer! We had so much fun putting this together for them, hope they like it!

Your New Greenie

I still haven't heard from Ben. I am trying not to worry. Instead I decide to reach out to his new companion Elder Willes. I thought I would send him an email to thank him for taking on the New Greenie, Elder Nelson.
Hi Elder Willes! My name is Celeste Nelson, Ben's Mom. I came across your blog that your Mom does for you about 5 weeks ago. I was looking for ANYONE that had some information on the CA Riverside Mission my son would be going to so I could prepare myself and maybe send him some info as well. It JUST dawned on me that YOU AND Elder Zeng are his companions! I cannot believe it didn't click when I first received the email.
I am so excited for him! I have sent him snapshots of your blog, stories and testimony through email in the MTC hoping to inspire him and get him excited to get out in the field! I'm not sure if he has put that together yet and that you are the blog I was following, but it sure seems to make the world a small place. He asked me to send him your info thinking at some point you would be companions. 🤗
I have spoke to your mom through your blog and we are keeping in touch through email to share our experiences together.
Thank you so much Elder Willes for your service. I have enjoyed seeing your pictures, hearing your testimony and your love for your mission. It has really helped this mama heart ❤ that is worried about her son. I hope you enjoy him as much as we do, LOL. AND...I hope he is being good! 😉 Can't wait to hear more about your ADVENTURES together! Good luck and be safe!
Celeste Nelson

I never expected to receive an email in return because I know how busy these Elders are, but I open my computer and see a response from him. Even though I still had not heard from Ben, this email sparked the same excitement in me I get when I see Ben's emails pop up.

Sister Nelson hello!!! Its Elder Willes. I am currently in Eastvale (a different area from Elder Nelson), gathering my stuff and emailing before I head to UCR. Your son is a fantastic missionary. All three of us will be in a trio in the UCR area. I am so excited. I am glad you could see my blog too! I already love your son so much. He is so awesome. Thank you so much we are so excited to work hard and help others!!!
So while I am still waiting, hearing from someone close to him helped make me feel a little better. happened again! TENDER MERCIES!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Me Worried...NEVER

Every Missionary Mom knows what P-day means. It's the anticipation the night before of getting to hear from your son. It's scheduling your whole day completely around the possible email time. It's the butterflies and excitement to hear how he is doing and participate afar in the adventures he is having. So when your sons P-day comes and the hours are getting later and later and your fingers are sore from CONSTANTLY refreshing your email page as to not miss anything and there is still NO WORD, you start to get a little anxious, or in my case irritable (or so my family claims). LOL
I sent Ben an email asking if he was OK. Not sure what I was expecting in return, but it made me feel better to reach out. My husband sent Ben an email that said, "Son, I really need you to email your mother. She is starting to take chunks out of all of us and I fear she may punch the baby." LOL He was kidding of course, he's funny like that, but he was just trying to convey how much I needed to hear from him and know he was OK. 
The day came and went. I jumped on FB before bed in search of an inspirational story from some other missionary moms hoping to lift my spirits. I am scrolling when I see a post from a mom who's son is in Riverside. It said, "Did anyone else not receive an email today? My son is in the Riverside California Mission." I was thrilled! Not that she didn't get an email, but because she like me, didn't get an email. That meant something else was going on besides the worried movie I was playing in my head. Numerous responses came in with reasons as to maybe why we hadn't heard anything. I took comfort in those words and told myself, "I guess we will hear from him next week". 
This was hard for me because I felt the same way I did when we dropped him off at the MTC and waited for the first few weeks of emails to gauge how he was adjusting.  I had gotten comfortable with Ben's schedule in the MTC. Eventually I knew who all his companions were, I knew how he was feeling and how things were going. Now being out in his mission with a new President, new companion, new area, new language (with people who that is their native language), so much change in such a small amount of time, I just needed to hear he was OK. But, instead I get to perfect the lesson of patience and just have to wait. Here's hoping we hear soon.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Support I Never Knew I Needed

I have a friend on FB that had a missionary out. Hers was coming home about the same time mine was leaving and I was so jealous! I told her I envied her and she responded with, "I have suffered long enough." OK fair enough. While we are all excited for our kids to be out serving the Lord, there is a bit of an absence and hole that only they can fill. I get it. 
I opened my FB one day and noticed she had put me in this "Missionary Mommas" Group. Not sure what it was, the title is pretty self explanatory though, so I clicked on it.  I'm pretty sure the next 2 hours were spent reading, laughing, crying and having tons of "AH HA" moments with these ladies on this page. I had found some much needed support I wasn't even aware I was missing. 
I went on the page one day and was scrolling when I came across a post from a Mom about packages and how many to send, what was appropriate. I didn't even notice the name and I rarely post comments but she said her son was in the Riverside California Mission. That's where Ben is so maybe they knew each other. What transpired next was the highlight of  my week. Here's what happened:
My son just entered the mission field last Tuesday (17th) in Riverside CA! This is so exciting! I LOVE sending packages and sent a lot in the MTC. He was there for 9 weeks learning Mandarin. I ALWAYS send 2 of everything- 1 for him and of course the other for his comp. I did send a lot of packages to his District too, but that was because there were only a few of them. I think you need to do whatever YOU feel is appropriate. You know your son and if it will lift his spirits (like my son said it does for him) then DO IT! Just ALWAYS include his companion(s) so there is no animosity-Just my thoughts. Hope to see you on here more! I guarantee our boys will know each other! Good luck!
Your son was probably in my sons district!! He just got to Riverside on the 17th as well, and is speaking Mandarin! I know he wasn't my sons companion, but he had to be in the same district. My son is Tyson Crowther, the super quiet, reserved missionary that hardly smiles in all their district pictures.
Wait, he was my sons companion!!! Is this your son??
OH.MY.GOSH! That is my son! This is so crazy! My son is the crazy, prank pulling, so full of energy kid. I am so happy to connect with you on here. My son told me he loved having your son as his companion. He said, "Mom, we are so opposite but we compliment each other completely." So...yep, if your son told you, I'm that Mom that sent a ton of packages and matching Chinese shirts for them to wear at Christmas! LOL How are you holding up?
We ended up going back and forth exchanging stories of our boys and how they were doing. I cannot tell you how many "Tender Mercies" I have been shown in this last week in such unexpected ways. I am so thankful to have a loving Heavenly Father that knows me and just what I need to help me try to navigate through having my son gone.

What Are The Odds?

About 5 weeks ago I was looking for ANYONE that had some information on the CA Riverside Mission (Mandarin) my son would be going to so I could prepare myself and maybe send him some info as well. I came across the blog of Elder Nathan Willes. I have been following him looking at pictures, reading his stories and testimony hoping to help ease this mamas heart. It JUST dawned on me when I reread the arrival email from my sons Mission President that Elder Willes (the blog I was following) and Elder Zeng are his first companions in the field! I cannot believe it didn't click when I first received the email.
I am so excited for him! My son asked that I send him snapshots of his blog, stories and testimony through email in the MTC thinking at some point they would be companions. .
I had already reached out to his Mom to keep in touch and hopefully share stories and support. I already feel like I know these kids having been reading up on all their adventures these past weeks.

The Lord sure works in mysterious ways and KNOWS exactly what each and everyone of us needs. I am grateful I was lead to this diligent Missionaries blog and have been able to enjoy the work and testimonies of so many from the Mission my son will be in.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Surrogate Parents

19 January 2017
Dear Brother and Sister Nelson,
We are so grateful to have Elder Benjamin Michael Nelson join us here in the California Riverside Mission! It was exciting to meet him at the airport. I had the opportunity to interview your missionary and we were able to hear his testimony before having dinner together. We have been impressed with his testimony and desire to serve. It has been a privilege to get to know him.
Elder Nelson is now hard at work in his new area, the MT. RUBIDOUX Zone with his companion Elder Nathan Marchant Willes|Hao Tian Zeng .
Preparation day is Monday; most missionaries choose to email their family on that day. We encourage you to write or email weekly as well. Thank you for keeping your letters positive, uplifting and encouraging Elder Nelson to work hard and take advantage of the time spent here in doing the work of the Lord.
As we visited with him, this is what he said about his family: "My family is super loving!  I have a big family and have the cutest baby brother!"  He shared how he is most excited to serve the Lord, love the people, get to know the area, and experience new things.
We look forward to a wonderful experience together with your missionary.  Thank you for preparing one worthy to serve.  May God continue to bless you.
John H. Mullen, President

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Today Is A New Day

Even though the email was short, it was the most comforting words of the day!
From Ben:
Safe & Sound
Hey family! I made it to Riverside safe and sound!! Everything is going good. The flight was super quick. We met our new Mission President and he is super nice! It is really warm which is GREAT and I can't wait to start serving! Love you guys a ton! BTW my P-day is Mondays so basically the same as the MTC.
Love you guys!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Preston Is His Person

Everyone has their "PERSON". The one you lean on in a crisis, the first one you want to tell your good news to, the one you call at 2:00 am and with no questions asked rush over right away. Preston Bowden is Ben's person. These 2 met when they were 3 years old and have shared EVERY aspect of their lives together. The triumphants, the failures, the fun times, the heartaches, puberty, dating, friendship struggles, decision making, loss of loved ones, future planning and now separation from each other to serve the Lord. 
The story of this picture brings me to tears every time I see it. Ben left for the Provo MTC on Nov. 16th 2016 to prepare to serving in the Riverside California Mission. He was going to be in there learning Chinese for 9 weeks. Preston was leaving for the Mexico MTC on Jan. 17th, 2017 to prepare to serve in the Mexico City Mission. We received a letter explaining that Ben would be departing to California on Nov. 17th 2017. We weren't sure at what time he was leaving but when we found out he was flying out at 8:00 am we were so excited. Preston was flying out at around 10:00 am. Having to fly International meant Preston needed to be there at least 2 hours early and with the SLC airport being under construction the International gates were shut down and moved closer to the Domestic flight gates-THEY MAY HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE ONE ANOTHER! I was so excited at the thought of these 2 maybe getting the chance to see each other one more time, have one last hug, offer each other one more smile of support and advice as they separate for 2 years. 
I texted Preston on his mothers (Karen) phone the information of Ben's flight and he said he was going to do everything he could to find him. When Preston said his final goodbyes to his family he headed off to check in and hopefully find Ben. All we could do now was wait. I was so anxious to hear if they found each other. I hadn't heard anything.
I went to see my friend (Karen) that evening to check on her knowing how hard it is to send your baby off on a mission. As we were talking about the events of that day she told me that it was getting closer and closer to Ben's departure time. He still had the phone and she hadn't heard anything from him yet and figured they were not able to find each other. Then all of a sudden her phone dings and the words, "FOUND HIM" show up. As I read those words on her phone my eyes welled up with tears. Those 2 words have recently brought more comfort to me than they ever have before. Not just because he found his friend and was able to share one more laugh, words of advice and support, but because I picture him silently saying those words to his Father in Heaven every time he "finds" one of His children and is able to share the gospel with them and bring them to the waters of baptism. 
These 2 finding each other at the last minute was not luck. It was a tender mercy from our Father in Heaven, for 2 of his young disciples to remember that He is always looking out for them and to show them how much He cares about them.
We always tell our children, "You are only as good as your worst friend." Ben has surrounded himself with GREAT friends. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I feel for this friendship and all the other friends that have influenced, supported and played a role in getting Ben where he is now.  

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

Such an emotionally exciting day for our family. Ben is headed to CALI which means we get to talk to him! I had been told by so many Moms to send him a phone because finding one at the airport was next to impossible. I was not taking ANY chances! I sent Ben a cheap burner phone (one he could throw away if he wanted to) with unlimited talk and text. I figured if any of the boys needed to use his phone, they could as well. The Elders were leaving the MTC at 3:50 am and his flight was not leaving until 8:00 so we had about 3 hours that we could talk. I COULD NOT WAIT! I set my alarm for 4am just to make sure I was awake and alert. 5:00 am rolls around and no phone call. 5:30 comes and still nothing. The baby starts crying so I lay with him and the phone on my chest, waiting. 6:30 my phone dings and it's a text from Ben that says he'll call at 7:00 am. Our phone rings and I am again, like before, a squealing crying mess. I am so happy to hear his voice. We kept the kids home from school so they could hear their brothers voice and inspirational words. 
We are talking back and forth about anything and everything we can when we hear some panic in his voice. We ask him what is wrong and he tells us that his companion Elder Crowther cannot find a phone. They sound like they are running through the airport frantically trying to find something to call home on. We continue talking for a few more minutes but both my husband and I KNOW he needs to give his phone to his companion. We tell him, "Ben, you need to let your comp use your phone and call home." He asks, "Are you sure?" Not because he didn't want to, but because my sweet Ben knows this Mom wants/needs all the time she can get with him. We told him, "Ben there is a Mom waiting to hear from her son and you are boarding soon and she wont be able to hear his voice. He has to call her." Ben sounded so relieved and grateful that we were willing to cut our call short so his companion could make that anticipated phone call home. 
It was AMAZING to speak to our Ben and give him some reassuring words and to pass on some of our excitement for this adventure he was about to embark on. We know the field is going to be a lot different than the MTC and we wanted him to arrive in California knowing his family was rooting and cheering him on as he is on the Lord's errand.

Some pics of their last few days together as companions and a District. 
Elder Nelson

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Extra "Vitamin B" Time

From Ben:
To start off, our last lesson with our investigators, Zhangwei: she is our native speaking teacher and I love her so much. We actually said goodbye to her this morning and it was just a huge crying fest which was super rough. We taught her last night and we were planning on teaching Fasting and the Importance of Baptism/ inviting her to be baptized. The lesson starts and we begin to teach we get her friend to commit to go to church! (These are all role play; not really happening). We followed up on the 3rd lesson and said, "How is your friend doing? Will we be able to teach her soon?" Out of no where she said, "YES YOU CAN!" Then she walked out of the room and came back in with her friend. All of a sudden IT WAS REAL! Me and my companion freaked out!! We thought we were still role playing and it wouldn't be a real thing, but then she brought in her actual friend for us to teach her! Me and my comp had not prepped AT ALL for this event, so we went along with the lesson and let the Holy Ghost take over.
We got to know him as best we could and his religious background. He had no faith in God, basically an Atheist but he was willing to learn. We started off building his faith and talking to him about how God is our Heavenly Father. He believed us so we continued on with the lesson. I asked him,
"Do you believe our Heavenly Father loves you?" He said, "I don't think so." I was prompted to say, "Do you believe your Father loves you?" He responded, "Yes I do! He loves me very much." I then asked, "Why do you think our Heavenly Father would be any different?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "We're His children. He knows all of us individually and wants whats best for us. He cheers for us when we succeed and cries along side us when we are going through trials. Just like any Dad would do for us, He loves you and cares for you." At this point he was balling and began to see the importance of our Father in Heaven. We shared our testimonies of the love of God and invited ZhangWei to baptism!
All and all the BEST lesson I've had here at the MTC and my last.😢 Ye Laoshi grabbed me after and thanked me for my efforts and my faith! We had an amazing last class with her today and I will miss her love and excitement for all of us!
Elder Nelson

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Surprise...New P-day

😲😆There a few things more exciting when having a missionary out than just routinely opening your email and what do you see? AN EMAIL FROM YOUR SON! Since Ben has left I have squealed more like a little girl than I would ever dare admit.
From Ben:

Last Week
I cannot believe how fast time has gone out here in the Mission Field- it's INSANE! As you can tell my P-day has been swapped to Monday for my last week in the MTC.
We have begun packing and its now finally hit me that we're actually leaving. I can't even begin to express how long we have been here. LOL But the time has finally come for us to go and hopefully my Chinese is good enough that I can hold my own out in the field.

Not much has happened this week other than I had foot surgery done on both my feet again, but I'm recovering well and I'm back to walking, so that's good! Also during a lesson I was teaching, I randomly blacked out and hit the floor pretty hard, so that was fun! My teacher completely freaked out but everything is OK now and we're back on track!
Anyways, not much in these few days however next week will be insane since I will be in CALIFORNIA FINALLY!
Elder Nelson
Packing has commenced and Ben is getting antsy to get out into the field. He's excited to see the area, meet his companion and hopefully be able to start using his Chinese.
Another little extra surprise is we get to chat with him through email on Saturday (14th)! This makes my ♥ SOOOO happy!

MTC Fun!

Friday, January 6, 2017

新年快樂 Happy New Year and Cheerio Elder Gerrard

8th Week
你好 (Ni Hao)
I can not believe how fast time is going by, it is actually insane!  We only have one week left in the MTC- isn't that crazy!?!

This week has been another sad and exciting week! We had to say goodbye to another District which was hard since they have been with us for the past 8 weeks. But I'm excited for them and they're going to do great in Hong Kong!!
Ben and Elder Gerard became really close in the MTC and he expressed how hard it is to say good bye to someone who you have shared 8 weeks with day in and day out. Elder Gerard lives in England, so the odds of them connecting again (in person) are slim. I truly hope someday that he can see his buddy again.

From Ben:
My Chinese is doing super well and I'm so excited to get out into the field and really begin teaching. We've taught some pretty hard lessons this week which have ended up being our best since we have gotten here! I know If I teach through the spirit I can do some amazing things!

New Years was a blast! We spent the night having tons of parties and Nerf Wars. At one point we all took hot sauce and were silly stringing all over in the hallways. It was way FUN! I hope you all had a very fun New years and I hope you are able to set some great goals for the year!
I hope you have a great week and I can't wait to hear from you all soon!
In Ben's recording he mentions how awkward it is to teach the Chastity lesson in Chinese. LOL I was dying at listening to him try to explain how that went. My favorite part: "I barley know the sexual terms in English let alone Chinese! I'm sure I said some inappropriate things while teaching. That was a lesson that the gift of tongues is real and you definitely have to have faith and rely on the Lord in those situations." LOL😂
Elder Nelson
Another thing he talked about was his surprise at how much he LOVES the BOM. Ben read the BOM all the way through at a young age, but probably doesn't remember most of it. He talks about being a little older and able to understand more, so he is OBSESSED with it's teachings. For example he stayed up the other night reading 27 chapters of 2 Nephi. He could not stop reading. He talks about having to "pound through" Isaiah which is funny and true. But he knows the BOM is going to bring him a lot of help and answers not only learning this language but on his mission. I am so happy that he has found a love for that book. I know not all of us are at that point (me included) and we read it because we know we should, but he is such an example of praying for understanding about something and receiving it. 
On the not so fun side-Ben is having to have double foot surgery. He has VERY infected ingrown toenails, which is gross and sad at the same time-dang genetics! He's not sure how long he'll be laid up, hopefully right back on his feet soon. He may need his Mother to come and take care of him!😏
They had the opportunity to have the General Young Womens President come and speak to them which he really enjoyed. She had 6 kids serve missions and they shared some advice with them. The one thing that really resonated with Ben was a story of her son serving in Japan. When they were street contacting they were told to talk to everyone they possibly can. They ran across a man who was dirty, smelled bad and had a brown bag with probably some alcohol in it. His initial thought was, "oh great, this guy is probably drunk", but they went over to talk to him and found him to be one of the nicest men they had encountered. This man was expressing his gratitude to them for coming to talk to him. His wife called while they were mid conversation and told him she was worried about him and he needed to get home to have nightly family time. This man thanked them again for stopping to speak with him and pulled out 2 ice creams from the brown bag. He said, "These were for me and my wife, but I want you to have them." They ended up baptizing this man and his whole family. It just goes to show-YOU CANNOT JUDGE PEOPLE! We are all the same, God's children. 
If Ben had a theme going for his mission so far I would say it is this principle. DO NOT JUDGE! He really wants to perfect this on his mission and to look at the BEST in people and see them how God sees them. Man I ♥♥♥ this boy of mine!

New Years Fun