Friday, February 24, 2017

100 Days & Counting...

I don't know why 100 days seems like such a milestone with 630 left to go, but it does. Maybe it's not so much about the days as it is about how much he has grown in JUST 100 days. His Chinese has progressed leaps and bounds from his first recording he sent us in the MTC. His testimony is on FIRE and his excitement to share the blessing of this Gospel with anyone that is interested is so inspiring. He has made some lifelong friends and learned things from each of them that will bless and benefit him for years to come. 
The Spirit of God is an INCREDIBLE thing. Ben was already blessed with some really admirable traits, ones that I truly envy, but with the Spirit and through Christ those traits have been amplified and I am in awe. 
I feel very lucky to share this journey with him through his letters, spiritual thoughts and loving words. I can only hope that I can keep up on my end and continue to enjoy the happiness that comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Willes, Ben & Elder Zeng 
out to lunch with one of the members

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Does An Apple A Day REALLY Keep The Dr.'s Away?

Surprise...we heard from Ben today! Wasn't expecting it, but what a wonderful surprise!😀

Doctors For Days
From Ben:
So this week was another crazy one! To start off the rain has been sooo crazy, we can't even leave our apartments! They just recently allowed us to leave- thank heavens!
Secondly, I don't know what happened this week but I got super sick and ended up at the doctor with my nurse thinking I have appendicitis- so that was fun after a nice 6 HOUR Doctor apt., a lot of blood taking and multiple IV's. I'm OK, I have a couple things they cant identify but regardless I'm back on track!
Another doctor I went to this week was an Eye Doctor. I can't see anything which is a problem out here on the mission! I got my eyes checked and got some sweet new glasses. Expect a lot of pics in the upcoming future! 
Ya so my crippled life is finally slowing down and I'm back to working! 
We went to an amazing fireside the other night with a lady by the name of Dawn Armstrong. She is actually in the movie Meet the Mormons! Her life story is the roughest thing I've probably ever heard. She helped me to realize my importance and how important my calling is. I'm very grateful. Like it says in the White handbook "How great is your calling". I could not agree more. I have been given an amazing blessing to be out here no matter how hard it gets. I know my Savior is there to pick me right back up!
Love you all tons. 
孫長老 Sun Zhanglao
Elder Nelson
**Also, I met that guy from 17 miracles. The little guy with the wooden crutches. Super nice guy!
Just a side note: I am super grateful for 2 very PATIENT, KIND and AMAZING Companions. They really stepped up and helped him out this week. Shout outs to Elder Willes and Elder Zeng!

On Ben's recording he went into more detail about how he's been feeling. I of course am trying NOT to freak out with him being so sick. It's weird because he rarely gets sick, so this is new. After all the X-rays, Dr.'s and nurses he was told he has some fluid around his appendix and that they will be watching it closely, but for now just keep going the way he is. We are praying that he will be OK. He feels like Heavenly Father is blessing him and helping him to have the strength to keep working.
Ben spoke about 2 investigators they are working with, Fred and Mike. They have very American sounding names but both are Asian. Fred know Chinese and English so Ben said they are teaching "Chenglish" with him. LOL They may not be able to continue with Fred because he let them know that he did not see a need for religion at all. They challenged him to pray and are hoping they can continue to teach him. 
Mike has been taught the Plan of Salvation lesson and is excited about what he has heard so far. They are hoping and praying for some success with him.
The rains Ben talked about in California, we have been following on the news here. It has been pretty bad. We received an email from the Mission President reassuring us that the safety of all the missionaries was there first priority. It was a welcomed reassurance for this Mom who was just a tad bit worried. 

Dear Brother and Sister Nelson,
A severe winter storm has been forecast for late this afternoon in Southern California.  We write to let you know that we have taken precautions to have our missionaries prepared.  We have asked all missionaries to return to their quarters by 3 PM this afternoon and cancel all dinner appointments.
We want to assure you if communication or transportation becomes a problem in any serious emergency, we have each of the seven stakes in the mission apprised of missionary locations in their stake so that stake emergency personnel in the more immediate vicinities can quickly respond and check on missionary safety.
Again, we express our gratitude for sharing Elder Nelson with us in the missionary work of the California Riverside Mission and want you to know that his safety is our highest priority.

Faithfully Yours,
President John H. Mullen and Sister Jana L. Mullen

Happy to hear they are all doing fine and so grateful to an attentive and concerned Mission President and his wife. Feeling blessed!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Unexpected Gifts

Having Ben out on his mission is a very bittersweet thing. I LOVE that he is out serving the Lord and I KNOW the blessings he will receive for years to come. On the other hand, having my boy far from home, navigating through the new "missionary" life, struggling emotionally and physically at times ALL without me...makes this Mom worry. 😟Deep down I know he is OK and he is in the Lord's hands but us Mom's need some reassurance sometimes. It's interesting to me that since he has been gone, there have been some days that are harder and more worrisome than others. On those days it NEVER fails that something happens to help ease my mind and heart. 
It's P-day today, but it is also President's Day. That means libraries are closed and an email from my son is probably not going to happen this week. I had mentally prepared myself for that (I's weird that I even have to do that, but I look forward to those emails and proof of life pictures) and so I expected nothing to come. But something did, a tender mercy. 
I opened my FB this morning to a pleasant surprise. I was sent a friend request and a message from someone I wasn't familiar with and after a little research figured out it was a kid that had served where my son is. His name is Dexter Murray and he is yet another example that God has his angels on this earth looking out for all of our needs, including emotionally. His message read:
"Hey Sister Nelson! I was a Chinese missionary in Riverside 2013-2015. I came back this week and met your son! His Chinese is amazingly good, and he already seems adjusted to missionary life. I can tell he is going to do great things down there. Glad to know the Chinese members are in good hands. Congrats on raising an awesome missionary."
Dexter was a ray of sunshine this morning and I look forward to keeping in touch with this AMAZING young kid! The best part is...he included pictures. Woo Hoo!

Ben with Dexter, Elder Willes, Elder Zeng and Friends!

Another fun surprise was a visit from one of Ben's good friends, Camryn. She stopped by and gave us a wonderful gift. A hand drawn countdown picture for our family. It made me tear up that she would think of us and take the time to make that. 
Fun Countdown Chart

Ben, Elder Willes, Elder Zeng, Elder Phister
A member who fed these handsome Elders slipped each of them $20.00 to take themselves out to a great meal. Isn't that so kind. 😀

Monday, February 13, 2017

R.I.P. To the Hobo Village

The title on Ben's email this week makes me chuckle a little. 😀 I guess when the mission is slow and the investigators are sparse, you find ways to make the time pass. 
From Ben:
So it hasn't been long since I sent out an email, so this will be short. In these few days we got to see our beloved hobo village that probably had about 40 homeless living there outside our apartment was torn down by the cops. We were making bets to see how big it would get and how long it would take for them to rebel against the US. But sadly all good things must come to an end!
We did do a cross fit workout with President Mullen that actually killed me and I can no longer feel my legs!
So ya, short but sweet. just some little updates on the events of the week. 
Love you all tons!
Spiritual thought: Find the positive in all things. Enjoy to the end, don't just endure it!
孫長老 Sun Zhanglao
Elder Nelson
I love that at the end of almost every email I get Ben tells me to be positive. I know things are hard for him right now with the lack of investigators, new area, a mission schedule etc...but he still is trying to stay positive and knows if he works hard the Lord will bless them! 
Coolest thing about this week...he found a street with my name on it! 

Valentine fun! Stay "Tie'd" up in the work!

California Sunsets

Apartment Life

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why Do Girl Scout Cookies Make Everything Better?

Want to know what one of my new FAVORITE sounds is...the notification sound of an email coming through! I usually only like that noise on P-days but when the P-day is changed to "who knows when" any email ding gives me the excited squeals! 
We finally heard from Ben last night-everything is right with the world again, OK at least for a week. LOL

My Mission Is Out Of Control
From Ben:
So another crazy week out in the mission!
Chinese is going great. It's extremely hard but I am improving sooo fast! I can keep full conversations by myself with students now, so that's a bonus! I love talking to the Chinese students because when we start talking to them they lose their minds that we know Chinese! 
We had our First English Class that people came to lol, that was really cool! We had 4 college students come and they knew just about nothing in English. Me and Elder Willes had the cool experience teaching them! We're hoping next week to get about 20 people so please pray for us!
Lastly we went to the temple today. That was way awesome. It is a very unique temple for sure! I am so glad we had the opportunity to go. It was a really cool experience but now we don't get to go for 6 more months!! Regardless it was very fun and even better to go as a missionary! 
Love you all very much. If there is one thing I could share with you this week it would for sure be:"Doubt Not Fear Not". If we have faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ we can do hard things. I sure have learned that principle out here on my mission!

Oh BTW-we got Girl Scout cookies so that was pretty great and always makes everything better! 

孫長老 Sun Zhanglao! ​
Elder Nelson

In Ben's recording he talked a little more in detail about how difficult it can be finding people to teach on campus. He says they do run into a lot of ABC's (American-born Chinese) many of whom only speak English. They try to talk to everyone they can in English and if they can't understand them then they speak to them in Chinese. Ben's quote,"Mom they look at us like WHOA, white kid knows Chinese. Or they just start swearing a lot which is really hilarious too."
This makes me chuckle because he says this is pretty much their "plan of action" in finding those that are interested in the gospel.
When he spoke about going to the Temple he was really excited but he was as equally excited for the Cafe Rio that they were going to go get afterward. His excitement in his voice was hilarious. 😁 He did let us know how spoiled we are to have one down the street and I agree-WE ARE SPOILED!
He told us about their Fast Sundays and how they usually fast until 7:00 pm which in his words, "That's pretty rough! It's hard to focus after a certain point." LOL-pretty sure that is how most of us feel when we are fasting right?
Some days are harder and funnier than others. The other day they were yelled at and called names by a man they were talking to and yelled at by a homeless person from across the street. But while they were walking there was a lady sitting on her porch with all her friends yelling to Ben and Elder Willes and Elder Zeng that they were the cutest Jehovah Witness Missionaries she has ever seen. She then proceeded to yell that they needed to come over there so she could give them a kiss. OH BOY-Mission Field Fun!
Now you see why I need these emails. The stories and the testimony he shares are so good for my soul!

The smile in the Cafe Rio pic makes me so happy!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Box full Of ♥LOVE♥

I love the month of February! I don't know if it's all the red and pink colors everywhere or the crisp air outside or maybe that LOVE is in the air, but I LOVE it! Oh wait... I know what it is. It is the glorious smell of CHOCOLATE-everywhere! With that being said there is NO WAY I would let the "Love Holiday" pass without sending a Valentines package to my Ben and his companions. I had so much fun putting these packages together with little scriptures and fun notes reminding them of how AMAZING they are and to keep up the good work. 
Benjamin made a life long friend in the MTC, Elder White who is serving in the neighboring Arcadia California Mission. I couldn't help myself and sent a package to him and his companion as well. I am so happy that my son has this opportunity to teach the Gospel and bring people to Christ, and at the same time has the privilege of rubbing shoulders and learning with some of the greatest kids out there! 
Happy Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"SMS" (Seriously Missing Someone)

Mondays have become a very exciting day for our family. It's no longer the first day of the school week, or the dreaded start of an anxiety ridden work week. It's "Missionary Monday" and the highly anticipated P-day where we get to hear from Ben! I am usually giddy all day and since the time that we hear from Ben changes with each P-day, I spend most the day passing my laptop and refreshing my email account every time I walk by. But as the hours tick on and still no email, to say I get a little irritable and antsy is an understatement. Hearing from my son weekly helps ease my worrying mind about his emotional and physical state. Besides hearing his voice and the smile it brings to my heart, I love listening to his stories and his adventures while serving the Lord. 
Not receiving my weekly email makes for some melancholy moments in the days that follow. Not knowing when the P-day was changed to doesn't help either. I know to some this may sound ridiculous and borderline pathetic, but I feel this way with all my children. I love being involved in their lives and having conversations about nothing and everything all at the same time. For us Moms we just need the reassurance that they are OK and that they are handling life the best they can. 
I am grateful for the tender mercies that come through others even when they have no clue they had a hand in it. Ben's companion Elder Willes has a blog that his Mom does as well. I thought maybe I could find some comfort in the words he shared about his weeks with Ben. I hadn't been on in a bit so I thought I would check it out. When I opened it up, what I saw made me smile from ear to ear. A picture of my son with his companion and another Elder all of them looking so happy! 

I sure am grateful yet again for my Father in Heaven who always is aware of just what I need exactly when I need it. Here's to hoping we hear from our Handsome Elder soon!
BTW-shout out to all the Moms who because of where their children are serving may or may not receive emails. You are the STRONGEST! 👍

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Are You Ready For Some Football?

This week should have been an EXCITING week with the BIG GAME and all! We LOVE Superbowl Sunday, we always have! We do a big get together with friends, food, lots of noise and FUN! Even though our team was not in this year (Go Cowboys), it is still so exciting to watch the rivalry, the commercials and of course a guilt free night of eating until we hate ourselves. But while all of those things were present, there was a small piece missing- Ben. Ben LOVES Football and he LOVES the SUPERBOWL! He gets so excited to have everyone over and to watch the big game with his family and friends. For me it was just another "first" without Benjamin. One of many that with him gone, I am having to get use to. I did make sure we served his favorite Teriyaki Pineapple Meatballs that are a must ever year in honor of him. 
It was an INCREDIBLE game/comeback by the Patriots and one that he will have to catch up on when he returns home. But for now he LOVES being where he is and knows he can come back to all this sports stuff soon enough. On a happier note-it's P-day Eve. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Campus Life

This Area Is So Crazy!
I don't even know where to start with this week...
First off, just to give you an idea of how sketchy my area feels LOL, we caught our manager kicking out a naked hobo who was bathing in our apartment hot tub.😲 So that was pretty fun to see!
My Chinese has continued to grow more and more. I can't begin to express how hard this language is and how much focus it takes to understand the people! But regardless it is improving and as I put my faith in Christ I know it will improve!
We had a crazy experience this week! 1st, a man was yelling at us from across the parking lot. We decided to walk over to him and he asks us, "What do you know about the Bible?" I basically took that time to bear my testimony and the importance of it. He continues to ask, "What about us sinners?" I told him, "We can all repent if were are willing and are sincere in our efforts." He said "I know I'm going to hell". I replied, "Why do you say that?" He says, "I've killed more men than I can count". So this pretty much freaks me and my comps out but I felt prompted to reaffirm my statement. I said, "We are judged to our own knowledge. If you are sincere and go through the repentance process you can change." All of a sudden something happened and he said, "You know, I respect that. Where is your church?"
We gave him a card and an address and he said. "Expect me there on Sunday. I appreciate you guys." THAT WAS CRAZY! Lesson learned- always allow the Holy Ghost to teach through you!
Last thing! This week was CHINESE NEW YEAR! We got to go downtown to a Festival. We were able to talk to more Chinese people than I can count! LOL They love the fact that are white and speak Chinese! It is actually the only reason they talk to us. LOL
Hope you all have a great week! Talk to you soon.
我爱你满 (Wo ai Niman- love you lots)
Elder Nelson
In Ben's recording he shares a little more about the experience from his email. This guy was a really BIG Mexican dude. When he called them over he thought they were students and when they announced themselves as missionaries he said, "Oh ____(I'm sure you can fill it in). I screwed myself over huh." LOL
When he asked about the Bible, they thought it was going to be a Bible bashing session. The area that Ben is in, the other churches HATE our religion. They actually teach ANTI-MORMON classes. They teach people how to stump the missionaries and how to tear down our Church. One Church was founded by an ex Mormon who recorded what we do in the Temple and he shows it to people. Ben talks about how sad it makes him that someone would break covenants like that. 
Ben was really grateful that the spirit guided them over there because as you read the story above it ended up being very different and possibly helping this man come to church.  
Another experience he shared made me tear up. 
In Ben's words:
"We were headed to a meeting on how we can improve attendance in our ward and our ride cancelled on us. We ran into our Ward Mission Leader who was conducting the meeting so we started walking with him. It was super dark outside, we couldn't really see but as we were walking we came across a man who was sitting there looking really sad. We keep walking but then he starts calling us over. So we head over and he says, "I need to say a prayer." He has NO IDEA we are missionaries but says, "I just need to say a prayer with someone, I am going through a hard time." We said OK. Found out his name is Julian. We said the prayer together and afterwards he says, "That prayer felt different and I really appreciate you guys. I know you are just random people, but I really need the help. I just found out my wife of 15 years is cheating on me and I don't know what to do because I have all these kids and she is now pregnant with another son." He then looks at our name tags and said "Who are you guys?" We told him we were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said, "Oh, I didn't even know you were missionaries. I feel like I keep trying to take the right step forward and I keep going backward." I told him that I believed we could help him take that right step forward. He said, "I'll take anything I can get right now." I told him that our Church could help him grow as a person. He said he appreciated that and asked how it all worked. I told him we would love to come stop by and talk to him whenever he was available. He said, "How about Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm?" He set up an appt. just like that. 
I believe in the gospel there are no coincidences. Our ride canceled on us last minute and we had to walk. I know the Lord put this man in our path. We can't teach him because he's not Chinese, but we turned him over to the other Elders and he was taught the 1st lesson and he received it well. I am excited to hear how it turns out."
While both of Ben's experiences had to be turned over to the English speaking missionaries, I am so glad he was able to be a part of the process and to see God's hands in people lives when they least expect it. Happy to hear he is LOVING the work. He sounds exhausted but that just means he's working hard and I know he will be blessed for his efforts. 
I LOVE that my son ALWAYS has to do some GOOFBALL picture. Elder Zeng holding his face...LOL