Tuesday, May 30, 2017

New Area=New Friends & New Food

New Area! Questionable Food!
Nimen Hao!
This week was super awesome and a way new experience, full of lovable Asians, and new food.
This week we met with a ton of people!! I was able to meet lots of amazing people and even more cool... lots of Chinese members! I know this sounds dumb to all my peeps in Taiwan but for California Missionaries like me, there isn't exactly a ton of them. So coming here and seeing a large group of them was really cool! 
One of them was our sweet investigator Evangel that we were able to teach this week! She is super awesome and getting baptized next week! The icing on the cake is her mullet! She has a buzzed top and long hair on the back. It's super cool and I love her so much. She treats us like she is our mom, feeds us and takes care of us.
We also had a home visit with one of our members, Brother Miao. When we went he proceeded to shove all of this food at us  and made us try it! I had Squid, Baby Crabs like the whole thing just cooked and dried! We had Salmon bacon? and Scallops that they called "Candy" in plastic wrapping like a jolly rancher, so that was fun to try! 
I've only been here for a week and I haven't even had a dinner with a Chinese Member!
SOO super great week full of many funny old Chinese people running away from us, lol. But I love it here and wish you all the best! 
Here is pics of the random events of the week and this service project we did at a Ranch!
Wo AI Nimen

Elder Nelson 孙长老

Ben the Warrior, Baby Crabs

In Ben's new area "The Trio" (Ben, Elder Willes and Elder Crowther) cover the whole mission since they are the only Chinese speaking missionaries, so they are driving EVERYWHERE all the time. 
My favorite part of Ben's recording was him talking about a new guy they met named Rocky, as in Rocky Balboa. Haha!😁 Ben talks about how huge he is and said he only speaks one phrase in English which is "I like to workout" LOL. He loves Rocky and gets to hang with him in English class. 

In the UCR area Ben didn't have any Chinese members except for Hank and Tina and few investigators at church. Going to Eastvale they have a ward with only Chinese in it so NO English is spoken unless it is with his companions. He is LOVING it though because it is helping him learn the language even more. 

So I have mentioned before how the Chinese people choose American names so it is easier for us to pronounce, hence the man named Rocky. But Ben met another guy who introduced himself as "Guns". Ben wanted to clarify so he asked him again, "Your name is Guns"? The man responded with, "Yes, like Guns and Rose!" Haha! Not Guns and Roses, Guns and Rose. 😁It is always so funny to me how they pick their names. I'm sure it tells a lot about their personality by the names they choose. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just 3 White Dudes Speaking Chinese

🎶 Movin On Up...To The Eastside 🎶 (Eastvale)

What A Flippin Crazy Week...
Well...I'm in a new area!!
First off I have to apologize that I have no pictures. My SD card reader is in my bag still so, that is why I have none. 😏Bu,t I hope you guys still kind of want to hear all about the good stuff out here in California!
This week was our last week at UCR. We walked a lot however we didn't have much success because of all the raves and parties they are throwing there! (end of school)
But, this was our last Sunday in the University Heights ward! We said goodbye to the people we love so much! But we will see them sooner than later since the mission goes sooooo dang quick!
Now I am in Eastvale, which is like the polar opposite of my last area. This is a super wealthy area. I have to say goodbye to the some of the hobos and prostitutes which makes me really sad!
I am very excited for the new change, so now it's just 3 white dudes trying to speak Chinese out in California! Wish us luck!
Wo Ai Nimen!
Elder Nelson 孙长老

In Ben's email to me this week he talked about how much he is going to miss UCR. He has made some life long friends there and is hoping to keep in touch. Hank and Tina were really sad to see him and Elder Yang move on, but they will be attending the UCR Ward for an hour each week. YAY! I am so happy that he will be able to see them. 

One of the most special things happened for me this week personally. I wrote to Ben a month ago about how all these kids on their missions were doing something that I thought would be fun. They were sending their Mom's pics of their tags, just in random places. It is just a funny, different thing to share with your family but I didn't want him to do it if he didn't have the time. I know he is extremely busy, so I left it up to him if he wanted to "play" or not. Haha! 
I hadn't received a tag pic yet so I figured it was something he didn't want to do until I got an email that said, "Mom, did you see the pic I sent you?" I hadn't yet so I opened it and there it was...MY TAG PIC! I immediately burst into tears, not because it was a "tag game" pic but because of the picture itself and what it represented. Here is what he sent me...
Ben's little brother Sam has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, he is 6 years old. To say this has completely changed our family would be an understatement. Sam has been really upset, scared, mad, sad, all the emotions you can think of because he doesn't understand why he has it. It has been a real trial for our family, mostly me trying to get a handle on it, but it has also brought us closer than we have ever been. 
Ben sending me a "tag pic" with him wearing that Diabetes Awareness pin and having it be my first one, when I really had resolved that he didn't want to participate in this little game, hit me to my core. 
Ben has always been my "tender noticer" (that's what I call him). He knows the right things to say when you feel bad. He notices when something isn't right and he has a way of making you feel like you and your problems are the ONLY things that matter to him. Him sending that picture, knowing how busy, crazy, tired and I'm sure still adjusting to mission life was a testament to me of the Christ-Like love my son has for us and his little brother. He wanted Sam to know he was loving and supporting him from a distance and that he is a strong kid and he can DO THIS!)  He said, "Sammy, I'll wear this and when it gets hard and you feel bad remember I love you and I'm praying for you."  My Mom heart could not be more happy! Love this missionary of mine!♥♥♥

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Happy "BUMP" Day!

Ben has been out for 6 months already! It's weird for me to use the word "already" because on one hand the time has seemed to go so slow and yet it is flying by at the same time. 
He is so happy, loves the Lord and the work he is doing. Ben is learning so much about himself, the gospel and is completely in love with serving "his people" as he calls them. 

As I have taken time to look through pictures and think back through these last 6 months, it has given me an opportunity to reflect on all the things he has been through to get to where he is today. He left his family, friends, job, (his Xbox😁) and anything else that was familiar to him and decided to serve the Lord for 2 years. Spent 9 weeks in the MTC learning one of the hardest languages (Chinese), studying the gospel hoping and praying that he can understand both well enough to teach the people of Riverside. He has met, served, bunked, pranked, been sick and taken care of, laughed, cried and prayed with many Elders whom he will call "brothers" for life and even rubbed shoulders with some amazing Sisters. 

He moved to California, dove into an unfamiliar culture feeling like he had to relearn the language (because we all know it's completely different when you speak to natives), has walked and biked numerous miles in the heat and cold, has seen gorgeous sunsets, eaten weird food and met ALL different kinds of people. Some that really like him others...not so much. Haha😏

He has cried tears of joy and laughed so hard he couldn't breathe, but has also had quiet moments where tears of sadness have taken over and he has been heartbroken over the choices of others. He has had the opportunity to be taught by Prophets and Apostles, felt the spirit, shared his testimony with both friends and strangers, taught the gospel, has seen many miracles in the few months he has been out but most importantly, he is changing into the man that our Heavenly Father intends him to be. 

To say we miss him would be an understatement. But we could not be more proud of the decision he has made and the example he has set for all of us. I am so excited to see what these next 18 months will bring for him and so happy that we get to watch and learn as he continues on this amazing journey. 
Keep up the great work Elder Nelson, the heavens are rooting for you!👍😇

A sneak peek at Ben's last 6 months!
(Music courtesy of one of Ben's FAVORITE bands-Imagine Dragons!)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Short and Sweet

Super Quick! Super Good!
This week not too many crazy things happened other than the regular homeless dude screaming who knows what at you and throwing all kinds of random stuff at us, so that is super sweet!
We had Multi Zones and some awesome training's from our Mission President that really helped me to realize my purpose and how I can improve as a missionary! 
For sure the blessing of this week was talking to my family! It made me miss them so much, especially being my first time seeing them since I left home! I am super grateful I got to talk to them and their words of encouragement were really were a blessing! 
Sorry this email is very short, but they announced their shutting down computers in like 15 mins! 

Love ya all! 
Elder Nelson 孙长老
Peace Rock in Cali!

Happy Mother's Day, From Your Favorite Child😉

Last hand hold for 2 years😢

This is one of my favorite pictures with Ben right before we turned him over to the Lord for 2 years. 
While we were at the light waiting to drop him off, he says to me, "Mom, give me your hand." I was able to hold my son's hand through 5 light changes and you can bet I was counting😏. Whenever I reflect back on this day and this moment I am reminded of all the times Benjamin has been my rock, my sounding board, my comic relief, my therapist, my "one who notices the little things", my shoulder to cry on but most of all one of my BEST FRIENDS. Ben always tries to make holidays like Mother's Day and my Birthday special for me and without even doing anything but a phone call, this year was going to be the BEST! 

I feel so lucky to be a Mom and to spend the day with all of my monkeys, but it wasn't going to be complete until I had them all together! When the Skype rang, my heart just started pounding. When I saw him on the screen and he said, "Hi Mom!" with that huge grin and the little laugh he has, I squealed with excitement! 
Oh how I miss his laugh, that smile, his witty personality and the love that he just naturally emulates when he talks to you.
We each took about 5 minutes so we could have 1 on 1 time with him. He talked to all of the kids and asked them about all of the things they were doing. Watching him laugh with Isaac and speak Chinese back and forth with one another, melted my heart. They are so close and you could just feel how much they miss each other. Watching each of their interactions and being able to see and hear their love for one another melted me to the core. ♥♥
He is so happy and doing so good! Listening to his experiences and hearing the changes that have developed in him and the strength of his testimony for the gospel and in his Savior makes me want to do better, be better. 
What a tender mercy of love and peace I felt talking with my Ben and knowing he is out there pushing through the hard days and doing his best even when times are tough. What a blessed Mother's Day! 
Fun pics from that day!

Ben's testimony in Chinese♥♥♥

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

That Wasn't Chicken

Good 'Ol Cali...
This week wasn't too crazy just the same old missionary work. However we did have two sweet things happen that I want to talk about. Both have to do with Hank & Tina. First we got to have dinner at their house this week, which was my first experience with Chinese food! I know all my homies in Taiwan have already forgot about American food. Even though being a Chinese missionary here, American is all we eat. So I was super pumped and as they are telling me all the stuff I started to panic! In conclusion...cow stomach isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be! 😁I love them so much and they are such amazing examples to me! I'll drop some legendary pics below of them and the dinner.
Second would have to be Sunday when they got confirmed. It was also fast and testimony meeting, our last in this area. I got up and bore my testimony, and like about 5 minutes later Hank gets up out of nowhere and walks up to bare his testimony! He did it all in English and spoke about how amazing the church is. He said how grateful he is for the wonderful Elders that brought the church into his life! It was really cool to see them come from someone we contacted on the street, all the way to at the pulpit testifying of Christ and the truthfulness of the Church.
Wow what a great blessing I have to be out here!
Love you all! Church is true, Book is Blue!
孫長老 Sun Zhanglao!
Elder Nelson
**Real quick how often is Isaac wearing my clothes LOL

Elder Willes, Ben, Elder Yang, Elder Crowther

Ben on his recording talked about going and doing "Blitzes." (where missionaries get together in one area and everyone goes and talks to people and helps out in this one area) He broke it down and said,"One thing I have found out on blitzes is: Some white people can be so rude. Black people you have no idea what you'll get. Either a rattlesnake who doesn't want anything to do with you or a teddy bear who loves Jesus and wants to talk all about it. The Chinese people are usually pretty timid. So, in short, I'll stick to the Chinese people. Haha! 
Later in the evening was dinner with Hank and Tina. "Mom I couldn't wait to spend time with them and try authentic Chinese food! They were so excited to have us over for dinner that they waited outside for 15 minutes and when they pulled up they started jumping up and down. They invited us over for "Hot Pot" which is exactly as it sounds. They have a hot pot in the middle of the table with all kinds of sauces and spices in it like a big soup. You have different types of raw food around the hot pot like lamb, steak, tofu skin, (which looked like zombie flesh), fish meatballs, fish tofu, cow stomach, yep you heard me right Mom, and about 10 more things I have no idea what they were. You take these ingredients and throw them in this boiling pot and the sauces in it add a bunch of  flavor and then you pull them out and eat them. They had me dunk it in this pasty, salty green sauce-(Wasabi LOL) I don't know, I was just doing what they told me to do. I am eyeing the cow stomach and seriously worried and was scared of the fish tofu. But you know me, you raised me with manners and so I would never disrespect someone and not eat something that was offered to me. Elder Willes gave me a tip before he left. He said, " If you are ever eating anything that you don't like, just chew as fast as you can and quickly throw in something you DO like." 😋 Turns out it was DELICIOUS!  I was trying it all and eating but I am watching Hank and Tina and Elder Yang and they eating so fast and twice as much, I can't keep up. Every time I would quit eating to talk or something Tina would take my bowl and fill it back up to the top. Haha! I am dying because I am so full but I don't want to be the first to stop eating. Finally after so many bowls Tina says she is full! I thought, YES, we can stop. Later we played darts with them and just had a fun time laughing an talking. It is so nice to talk to your investigators on a different level and different topics besides church lessons. I just love these 2 so much and I feel so lucky to have them in my life!

Elder Yang, Ben, Hank, Tina

On Sunday when I bore my testimony, I bore it on trials. Before my mission I always took them wrong and blamed God or whoever I felt gave me the trial. I was mad anytime I had to deal with one. When I first got out here President Mullen asked me, "What should you do when you have a trial?" My answer was the Primary answer, "We should pray to Heavenly Father." He said, "No! You should thank Him." I said, "WHAT!" I thought that was the opposite! Something bad is happening and you say THANKS? But he reversed my mindset about them. Without trials there is no way we can grow. This is the way we become who we are. We can look back at who we were before the trial and I guarantee you are not the same person. The mission has definitely made me appreciate trials because the whole thing is a trial! It's a trial of your faith. Some days I  think, "Why the freak am I out here!" I'm speaking Chinese, I don't understand what you are saying to me, people can be super mean etc... but you get through these things. You rely on the Lord and you become a way better person than before. When I picture myself the first day of my mission, I am not even the same human. I have a different perspective, the Lord has blessed me so much. My Chinese compared to when I first was in the MTC til now is unreal. It is an amazing blessing that if we approach our trials correctly and we are grateful and if we try to overcome these things then we can grow. There is a talk by President Eyring called "Mountain To Climb". He quotes Spencer W. Kimball and talks about asking Heavenly Father for mountains to climb everyday. And as we climb these mountains it's what we become and how we grow. My testimony of Jesus Christ has grown so much since I have been out here. There are days that we fall on our face. We all do it, we're all humans. There are days I am super sad and I want to punch a wall, I fall down but I know Jesus Christ is right along side me to pick me back up. He dusts me off and says, "Hey, get back out there, you got this!" I know Heavenly Father loves me and I feel the spirit so much more and that my Savior is there along side me. We have trials because Heavenly Father loves us. 
This was the testimony I gave in sacrament meeting. When I sat down the other investigators started bugging Hank to bear his testimony. Hank starts panicking and I told him it was his choice and to not worry about it, but then Hank stands up. I about start to cry and I tell him it's OK to do it in Chinese if he feels more comfortable. I know this moment of Hank bearing his testimony is going to be one of the gems of my mission! He stand up there at the pulpit and starts bearing his testimony in English and he says, 
"I want to give you a quick synopsis of my convert story. I remember the day when the 2 Elders found me, Elder Willes and Elder Nelson. They were out walking and it was super hot and I was wondering why there were walking around with it being so hot. They walked up to talk to me about an English class and I could tell that they were super happy and they were excited about what they were doing, so I was willing to meet with them. As we met with them I began to realize that these things can help me, that my faith can grow. I remember the first day, they invited me and Tina to be baptized and we were scared. We didn't know what was going to happen and we didn't think we needed it, so we said no. Then Elder Nelson invited me to pray about it and to read the Book Of Mormon and that the Lord would confirm to us that being baptized would be the right thing to do, so we did. As we read we both felt really good and like it was the right thing to do. Then Elder Willes left the area and Elder Nelson continued to teach us and he read the BOM with us and invited us to be baptized again. We knew it was right and we trusted him so we set a baptismal date. Tina and I have never been happier. I feel like a new person. We definitely feel the Lords love in our lives. We are going to continue to learn and to grow in the gospel and I could not be more grateful for the Elders who brought this into my life."
Hank sits down and 4 other people jump up and bear their testimony about Hank's testimony. One of the members told everyone: LET HANK BE YOUR EXAMPLE!
All I could think was WOW! How amazing is this that I got to meet this guy on the street. I didn't know his name, all I knew is that he was Asian and I needed to contact him and speak to him to practice my Chinese. But to go from seeing him on the street, to him being at the pulpit and testifying about the truthfulness of the gospel, I was in AWE! What would I have done if I had not served a mission? I would have missed out on this opportunity. It is just a reminder that I am where I am suppose to be and I am out doing the right thing. 
Our family has really been having some rough trials in so many aspects of our lives lately, but mostly with our little boy Sam. He recorded his message to us before he knew the extent of Sam's illness. What an inspiration and reminder that Heavenly Father is aware of us and what we need. Heavenly Father knows my closeness with Ben and how he would have supported us and been right by our side had he been home. But even though he is out serving and doing exactly what he should, the Lord helped Ben feel and know what we would need to hear from him this week. Again...THANK HEAVENS for modern technology and the blessing I have to hear my son tell me he loves me and that things are going to be alright. That he is praying and fasting for us and then to have him speak directly to Sam and help him feel like his big brother is loving and supporting him from a distance. ♥♥♥ my heart is full!

May the 4th be with you! 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Baptismal Chocolates

All In White
This week was amazing and full of many blessings!
I'm going to skip the whole week and go right to Sunday, where we had Hank & Tina's baptism! Wow it was so AWESOME and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to be a small part in there amazing adventure they are starting. They were glowing so much when they came in and were grinning ear to ear. I had the opportunity to baptize Tina and it was an amazing experience. She was so happy and I was practically bouncing of the walls the whole time! We had a great turnout- even our Mission President and his wife came!
I would just like to say there is no place I would rather be right now. This amazing time I have to help others grow closer to their Father in Heaven really is an amazing blessing! I love what I'm doing and its even cooler in Chinese ;)
Hope you all had a great week because I sure did! 
Wo Ai Nimen!
​​​​Elder Nelson
Ben, Hank, Tina, Elder Willes & Elder Zang

Ben's recording brought a smile to my face that hurt it was so big! Right out of the gate he "yells" in Chinese "The Church is TRUE!" His enthusiasm was infectious throughout the whole recording. My boy was on cloud 9 for the events of this week-the baptism of Hank and Tina. He loves those 2 more than he can express and it makes my heart swell with gratitude for the experience he is having with them. 
He wasn't sure, with this being his first baptism, how it really all worked. Does 1 person baptize? Do they get to pick who they want to baptize them? Who confirms? All these sort of questions. He didn't care how it happened, just that he was able to be present for this momentous occasion. When he called to finalize things with Hank and Tina she yelled, "Oh, Oh, I want Elder Nelson to baptize me!" Ben lost it, cried like a baby! Elder Willes and Ben have been there from the beginning and have been HUGE instruments in bringing the gospel to these 2, so when Ben told Elder Willes they were getting baptized he broke down in tears. Elder Willes was able to baptize Hank, so they each had the opportunity to be involved. Both of them were so happy for this couple and their decision. 
These 2 are such a solid couple that Ben shares a story of them going to a grocery store. In California you are charged for each plastic bag you use in hopes that people will bring reusable bags. When they entered the store they were given one for free. As they were walking out of the store they noticed it had another church's name printed on the bag. They PANICKED! They asked Ben if they could talk to him after English class. He was a little nervous because what had happened to the last investigator, Sister Lin. They started out with, "Elder Nelson-we have something to tell you and if it is a sin and we can't get baptized, we understand." They relay the story of the grocery store and how they noticed that it had another church's name on the bag. They were worried that if they used it that it meant they belong to that church and are not 100% committed to the LDS church. 😁😁
Ben started to chuckle and told them that they were fine and that we as a religion are kind and loving to all other religions as well. And hey...now they have a free bag! LOL For Ben this was such a testament and a good reminder of their devotion and love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They want so bad to do good and to be on the right path. 
Ben's words about the baptism(you can hear his smile when he talks about them):
"They announced Hank and Tina's baptism in church today. Everyone was super excited, Hank and Tina were grinning ear to ear. (you can hear him smiling) Sorry, I get so excited talking about them! They had a ridiculous attendance. They set up the normal chairs for baptism, like 4 rows but the ward hasn't had a baptism in 3 years, so holy flip the place was so filled. There were even people standing in the back. Then to make it even better President and his wife came so that put more pressure on us. Hank and Tina were really intimidated seeing all those people there, but it was so cool. 
I got to baptize Tina, man that was really awesome, my first time ever and I was super grateful that she picked me and was able to share in this cool experience with her. As I was going over what was going to happen she expressed that she was scared of water and she was really uncomfortable. I was really worried about her so we said a prayer together to give her some comfort. Afterwards she said, "Elder Nelson when I got in the water and you helped me, all I felt was no fear and just peace and love". It was just a little tender mercy from Heavenly Father that they are doing the right thing. It is really hard to explain the feeling I had in this experience, but it is definitely a unique one. I remember meeting Hank, and he wasn't even Hank, we gave him that name, his name is Hung Yung. Meeting him on campus and how he has come from that day saying, "Hey you guys are cool. You're white and know Chinese."  To saying NO to baptism 3 times til now when he says prayers, they are super powerful! He always thanks Heavenly Father for helping him find the Elders that have helped him grow. They have their own testimonies and they ask how they can help the investigators, it is so cool! This is such an amazing blessing as a missionary that I get to see that. Granted it is super hard being out here because people shut you down all day, Chinese is hard but getting to see someone's life change for the better, that is the big payoff. 
It amazes me to see Heavenly Fathers hand in all of these things. It takes a lot of faith. We are working with one of the hardest cultures in that aspect. They usually only want to meet with you because you are white and know Chinese or because they are curious because they are in America. It never really is because they want to learn, and when they figure out why you're there, they disappear. But when they take that leap of  faith and start doing these things, they are putting a lot on the line. Their families threaten to disown them and so many other things can happen. So to see Heavenly Father bless them is awesome! 
So I started this thing awhile ago. Mom you sent me those Mrs. Cavanaugh's Mindy Mint chocolate bars, I think I have 3. Well I decided not to eat them, which is really been hard because they are my favorite, but I called them my "Baptismal Chocolate"  and decided that if I have a baptism I can eat one, which makes them even more sweet. So I am holding it in my hand right now and I am about to eat it because well...we had a baptism! It was really funny because when I saw Elder Willes again at the baptism the first thing he said was, "Have you eaten your chocolate yet or are you going to wait?" I told him that it was my tonight treat. I have 2 more left so I need to have 2 more baptisms if I want to eat them, right? They have been taunting me for like 3 months." 

Ben also had the opportunity to teach Simon (he speaks 4 languages). He teaches him in English which in his words: "Holy flip Mom it's easy to teach in English! I can use words I want and make everything so beautiful and colorful." I was laughing because I know how hard it is for him sometimes with the language and trying to explain things in a way that make sense when you don't know their language as well they do. 
They had the opportunity to teach Jay again and he finally read and prayed for them. They invited him to church and he said, "If the Clippers lose, I will come to church." Ben thought that was crazy but took the next few days to pray really hard that the Clippers would LOSE! He says,"Well the Lord has his own agenda because the Clippers won and as promised he did not come to church. So I will have to smack him later this week. Just kidding! I love that guy!" 
Ben talked about how some of these people that they are trying to teach are involved in the Communist party and they are extremely scared of the repercussions of joining the church. He said that seems to be the new obstacle that they are having to deal with. 

My sweet son at the end left us saying, "So just to make Mom nervous or scared there is a HUGE fire on the hill that will probably burn our apartment down so that will be cool. So if I don't record next week I'm probably dead!" Just kidding Mom! Don't start freaking out or call President or anything, I'll get rebuked. It's just a little fire, everything is fine! Haha!" SERIOUSLY!!! This kid of mine!

Favorite quote: "I'm just going to keep working hard, learning my Chinese and offering that salvation stuff everyone needs"😀