Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Letters sent home from the Phillippines

Elder Nielsen

Elder Nielsen

Monday, September 28, 2015

Balot. Tapos na.

Another good week!  We got a new kahabay this week. Hes Filipino too, so I'm still the only non fluent Tagalog speaker in our house. This week one of our investigator received his answer that he should be baptized. He said on Saturday night he didn't feel like going to church the next day because he had prayed over and over but still hadn't received his answer. But that night, he woke up at 3 a.m. and heard and felt a small voice that said being baptized was the right thing to do. You could really tell how special his experience was when he was telling us the story. He is excited for, and planning to be baptized on October 23. 

Our less active youth is starting to become active again. Ages 13 and 14 and have been less active for a long time. But they have attended the last few Sundays and ward activities. We are so happy for them and are continuing to encourage them. 

These last few weeks my companion and I have really been focusing on the Atonement. We have been listening and reading to many conference talks about it and have been trying to understand it better, in order to use it more fully in our lives. We have been taking what we have learned in our studies and sharing it with our Less Actives and Active Members. We have really been trying to focus on explaining how crucial and the impact the atonement has had on each of us. 

This week we hard a ward family home evening and we had a lot of less actives and investigators show up! It was a lot of fun! We had a spiritual thought, played some games and ate. For the dinner we did something called "Budol Fight" It's where you line up this big tables and you put down big palm trees and then dump a lot of rice in the middle and chicken, pork, squid, and vegetables on the edges and then you EAT. But there's a catch, you don't use any utensils (which is common here) and you eat with your hands. It was a lot of fun and I learned the special technique. It takes practice. But my companion said none of the Americans can eat with their hands. So in order to gain the members trust I've decided I want  to master the skill ;) I also had balot this week. We had it the last night before Elder Tinasas left. It wasn't bad at all. I thought it was going to be this nasty thing, but it really wasnt bad at all, it was just a slimy, yokey, feathery, egg. Elder Tinasas and Elder Rodriguez struggled getting it down. But it's all just a mental thing, they get grossed out by the looks. I've had grosser things in Grandma and grandpa Nielsen's fridge! Like 5 month old zucchini bread.. hahahah

Sorry no pictures of the food this week, or animals.. ( mom I read your 3 out of 5 picture comment)  because the elder with the special cord isn't with us right now. I'll send them next week. 

Have a great week and enjoy conference! We don't get to watch it until Oct 10th, bummer! 

Elder Nielsen

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

1st Transfer Already?!‏

This week we had my first transfer! Where did the time go?! It went by so fast! That's why I'm writing you today and not yesterday, so note to the Nielsen family * Every transfer week I will be emailing you guys on Tuesday. But I'm staying in Malolos with my same trainer so no surprise there! But Elder Tinasas is leaving :( And Elder Rodriguez is training, so I'm not going to be the young one of the house anymore, even though I never felt like I was the young on in our house anyway, I'm like always babysitting them, telling them its bed time and making them leave on time, I still haven't got them to workout in the morning.. hahaha.  

We had a busy but a really good week this week. We had church meetings, a trip to the hospital, and a service project, so we weren't able to work as much as we wanted this week. We tried to make the most of our time, but unfortunately we couldn't visit all the Less Actives and Active member families as we would've liked. Most of our time and effort was spent teaching our investigators and less actives. Our investigators are continuing to progress, we had four attend sacrament meeting on Sunday. And we have one other investigator that has been coming in the past weeks, but had to work this Sunday. We are seeing great growth with them. Two of our investigators, who have accepted a baptism date, are currently leaving together and aren't married. We taught them how they need to be married first, luckily they have been planning to get married, so we rescheduled their baptism date back three months in order to give them time to be married. 

This week I saw how Heavenly Father makes everything happen for a reason and there are no "coincidences" in his work. On Thursday, my companion and I had to travel to Manila to have a checkup on his ear. We were waiting on the side of the road trying to flag down a van to take us to Manila. But van after van was full and didn't stop. After about 15 minutes, my companion said, if this next van is full we are going to try somewhere else. As we were waiting for this next van, a woman walked up to us and asked "Oh, are you the Mormon missionaries?", so we jumped on this opportunity and introduced ourselves and got to know her. It turns out she was a long lost less active member and she moved so she hadn't been visited by the missionaries in a long time. We asked if we could come visit her and teach her and she agreed. And just as we finished writing her address a van pulled up and we left. It was literally perfect timing. Unfortunately she's not in our area, but we sent the referral to missionaries in her area. The other experience happened on Friday, we were on a jeepney heading towards our area we wanted to teach in that day, but somehow we missed our stop, which never happens, so we decided to keep going and visit another investigator that lived farther away. The last two times we visited her she wasn't home, so we hadn't met wither her in about a week and half. So we stopped at her house and she let us in and we had a wonderful lesson about the Word of Wisdom. Her friends were talking to her about "the Mormons" so she had a few questions about what Mormons can and can't drink/eat. So we switched up our lesson plan and taught her and answered her questions. At the end of the lesson she said she would give up drinking coffee even though it would be hard. She had been reading the Book of Mormon and she went to church on Sunday. I know we missed our exit spot for a reason, the Lord wanted us to visit that investigator at that time. The more I've thought back on it, we probably wouldn't have been able to visit her last week if we didn't visit her at that time because we had so many meetings and didn't have time to drive all the way out to visit her. I know the Lord guides us to where we need to be, and when. It's our responsibility to be listening to the spirit so we can be guided where to go and be exactly obedient and be on time, so we are at the right place at the right time. 

Besides that everything has been running smoothly. I have just finished my first transfer and it was wonderful, but I wanted to work even harder and make my next six weeks better than the last. I've learned so much this transfer in all areas, my tagalog has come so far these last few weeks, I learn so much spiritually daily, and I'm learning what kind of missionary I want to be because there are many different kinds of missionaries, Amber and Erin can testify about this, but I'm starting to write in my journal traits I don't like in missionaries and traits I do, so I can be the missionary not only I want to be, but the missionary the Lord wants be to be. 

Elder Nielsen

Monday, September 14, 2015

What a Busy Week!‏

It was a crazy week this week! On Thursday we had our 5 Week Training meeting at the mission home. So we got to see everyone from the MTC again. It was a good time swapping stories and laughs. Elder Webb and Elder Snyder are in the same district in Caloocan zone. Which is a no sister missionary zone because it's really dangerous and it floods sewer water everyday. Elder Webb got robbed.. Someone broke in and stole 9 thousand pesos, their cameras, shoes, and Elder Webb's electric toothbrush.. I got a kick out of that.. hahahaha. We swapped each others studying techniques ( we have a little internal competition so we push each other to study Tagalog as hard as the other one ) And companion stories, and how we have to influence our companions to be more obedient. But overall it was a great time, then on Friday we had zone interviews, and I love it. The older missionaries are such good teachers and I'm trying to be the best sponge I can and soak everything in! I love it though, it pumps me up and makes me want to be a better missionary. 

Next, we had a baptism this Saturday. Our investigator named Victor was baptized, he's 16. He was found by the missionaries a week or two before I came to the area, so I got to experience a majority of the lessons with him. We are so excited for him, but I'm also worried about him because I have seen so many teenagers join the church and then go inactive months later. I know how important it is to keep visiting and strengthening his testimony. Gordon B Hinckley said something along the lines of, " It is important to bring our brothers and sisters unto the fold, but once they are in the fold, it is just as important to keep them in the fold." Then he goes on and lists 5 things that all new investigators need. We will do all we can to make sure he stays active and keeps strengthening his testimony. 

In previous weeks we haven't had much success getting our investigators to church so last week we changed our companionship prayers and started specifically praying for our investigators by name and asking for certain blessings they are in need of. We witnessed a huge blessing from doing this, on Sunday, five of our investigators came to church! It was almost shocking to see them all walking towards the church on Sunday morning. I learned an important lesson from this, that is, there is always something  WE can do to help our investigators progress. Before I just thought that we did our part by inviting them to come to church and it's their responsibility to keep that commitment. But I see that there is always something we can do better as missionaries to help them. We need to put the responsibility of them not going to church and not progressing on our shoulders and figure out a way we can help them keep their commitments

One family we taught still didn't come to church, she's a single mother with 5 kids and is always stressed. We try so hard to get her to church, her son had a birthday and they were low on money so they couldn't get him a cake so the sisters in our ward and us pitched and got him a 480 peso cake ( very expensive ) and had a birthday FHE for him. She was very grateful. That's one thing I've already noticed, I'm becoming such a giving sharing person. Before I was always stingy with my food and etc., but now I share literally everything! The spirit turns you into a giver! 

Sounds like everything is going great! And BYU is doing great too, GO COUGs! Thank you for all the prayers and support, I thank Heavenly Father for such a wonderful family everyday. 

Mahal na Mahal Tayo 
Elder Nielsen 

We Got District Jerseys! Jerseys are a big thing here, everyone makes and wears jerseys. It was 480 pesos.. but converted into dollars its 10 dollars! 

So if you look carefully you might recognize it is the same jersey as the Golden State  warriors. But we have the Tabernacle Logo instead :D 

We had to take some team pictures.. 

And the Baptism.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pagkain, Mga Ahas, and Exchanges‏

This week was a lot like last week. A lot of good lessons but no one will go to church. I can see their faith growing and they read and pray, but they just don't go to church. So it's a struggle, but we are continuing to pray for them and work with them. We find lots of new investigators each week so hopefully they will go to church this Sunday. But we will keep working with them, I'm about ready to show up at their door at 7 in the morning and walk with them to church so they actually go. Money is a big problem for most of them, because they live so far away from the church. And they are so so poor. So this week I really want them to put their trust in God and pay that money and go to church, because I know God Will make it up to them, and money won't be an issue. 

But this week went by really fast. And I feel like I ate soo much. On Monday we had two FHE dinners with the sisters and that was a lot of fun, but these little Filipinos are so worried about me being hungry, and losing weight, so they keep telling me mas Pakain, so I'm always so full after. But I love the people they are so nice. 

Next, we had our first encounter with an ahas, or snake. My kamasa and I were walking down this dirt road at like dusk while it was raining and my companion says "Oy Snake!" This little two and a half footer was right in front of us so we just stepped on its head ( took pictures of course) and then threw it. So in the MTC all my teachers said there weren't snakes or anything crazy in our mission. So we went to the member's house and told them and they told us they see big cobras, pythons, rat snakes, these big lizard things like gila monsters in the fields all the time. So I was very excited to hear that! But we were also very careful of where we stepped on the way back home.. 

And I went on my first exchanges this week, I went with Elder Westenskow our District Leader. And we went to his area, so I slept at their house and everything, then we worked in his area and it was a lot of fun. His area was sooo pretty. Rice fields on every side of you, fruit trees everywhere. It was like the Philippines I imagined in my head. But on the way back home in the Jeepney we were talking and he talked and acted just like Joe Nielsen, and he was from Riverton. So I was like, do you know Joe Nielsen? And he was like," Awww I love that kid, is he your cousin?!" And I asked him about Cassidy, and he says his girlfriend and her are best friends and they went on double dates all the time. So that was a cool experience, we really bonded hahaha. 

And moms, be wondering about the food. So I'll give a little background on that.

So every morning I have oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas ( mom thanks for teaching me to be healthy), because it feels me up and its cheap. And lunch we have rice and canned meatloaf, sardines, corn beef, etc. Then Dinner I have Roman noodle stuff and bread. I eat a lot of toast with this little cheap chocolate spread. And the money we don't spend after two weeks we keep and we put it in our emergency fund. Sooo I'm going to have quite the emergency savings because I am so frugal (thanks dad for teaching me that) and yes I eat lots of fruit, whatever fruit they have in the little markets. Its not "mango season" but they still have them and they are soo good. 

running out of time, have a good week! 

Elder Nielsen