Monday, April 25, 2011

Bonus Letter - April 18

Brooke sent a letter that arrived midweek with things she forgot to say in her email. They were mostly things she needed us to do or remind us of, but one or two excerpts were worth sharing all around:

Dear Family --

I don't know how, but I always think of more things to write you after I'm done with my emailing. . .

I guess I actually AM allowed to get mail sent to me. You're just supposed to send mail through the mission office if it's close to transfers because if I get moved my mail will take 6 more weeks at least to get to me. . .

Here's a lesson in speaking Kentuckian: Make all 1 syllable words 2 syllables and make all 2 syllable words 1 syllable. For example:
Town ---> Tay-own
Helping ---> Hepn ('n' is silent)
Instead of saying "said" you say "hollerin'."
Instead of saying "you" plural you say, "yuns."
And you don't say "he chews tobacco," you say, "he dips."

[To get] more spiritual: I've realized this week that daily prayer and scripture study is not a suggestion but a REQUIREMENT of those Saints who intend to endure to the end.

. . . The Ensign is awesome and . . . it is modern scripture. I loved, in the April 2011 edition, Elder Bruce R. McConkie's talk on the Savior. It got me wondering though - Why did Christ have to suffer the pains of the Atonement in Gethsemane AND on the cross? Any ideas from Dad or maybe Grandpa?

Also, I liked what that lady said she does with the General Conference edition where she writes a quote for each day to read until the next General Conference. I think I'm going to do that.

I'm sending pictures next week.

The Church is true! share it!!
Love Sis. Nelson

Monday, April 18, 2011

Carnes on the Cob - First letter from the "field"

Hello from Corbin, Kentucky!

Tonight I will have officially been in Kentucky for a week.  Tomorrow night I will have officially been in Corbin for a week. They didn't give us a Preparation Day last week because we were flying all day so, I've had a lot happen since I last wrote. 

My last few days in the MTC were wonderful. The spirit was amazing.  
On Sunday, the last day I had there, my district and I sang "How Great Thou Art" in Sacrament Meeting.  Our Branch consists of three districts with about eight missionaries in each district, so it's usually a pretty small meeting.  But, that Sunday was our Branch President's last Sunday and he and his wife were being released.  So, I look up at the start of the meeting and the President of the MTC, Gordon Brown, is sitting up there.  He was there for the whole meeting. The way talks work at the MTC is that the entire branch is given a topic and every missionary prepares a talk and then after the sacrament, whoever is conducting stands up and announces who will be speaking and if they call your name, you get up, right then, and speak. There's no warning or anything. Guess who they called on... Sister Nelson.  It wouldn't have been that big of a deal, except that President Brown was there listening to everything.  But, I think I did a good job and the Elder that spoke after me did a good job, too. 

I didn't sleep AT ALL Sunday night.  I had to get up at 3 in the morning to make it to the checkout and bus by 4.  I tried to sleep because I knew I had a long day ahead of me, but I just couldn't. My sweet companions got up with me and helped me carry my luggage out in the freezing cold to my ride. (They stayed for an extra week to get Visitor Center training.) So, it was me and my Elders and another Sister who is serving Spanish Speaking.  We had a three hour layover in Denver, Colorado and I was able to talk to Mom for a couple minutes, which was nice. 

When we got to the Louisville Airport, the assistants and President and Sister Glende were there to meet us.  We stayed the night at the mission home and I got some much needed sleep. President and Sister Glende are amazing. I'm sad that they are being released next month.  President Glende is a very intelligent man, he's literally a rocket scientist.  Sister Glende is very on top of things, but also very loving.  They hold hands wherever they go. It's cute. The first night we had a Kentucky dish called Burgoo which is a stew with three different meats in it and then we followed it up with Derby Pie (which Mom would love, but I had to gag down: it's made of chocolate, pecans and walnuts).

The next day we went to transfer meeting where I met my companion, Sister Gossett. She and I had a three hour drive to Corbin which is in the southeast of Kentucky, near the Tennessee border, where we got to talk to each other and get to know each other a little bit.  Sister Gossett is from Mississippi.  She has this transfer and next transfer and then she's going home. She has had a knee surgery and her gallbladder taken out while she's been on her mission.  They even sent her home for a transfer because they thought she had leg cancer. She also had gastric bypass right before she came out on her mission.  She's 24, like me and is pretty baby hungry.  She and I get along pretty well.  We have a similar sense of humor and we have a similar approach to the gospel. Her family was baptized when she was 10 but went inactive a couple years later.  She and her sister reactivated later on in High School and her parents are no longer in the church.  

Tuesday night, we came to our apartment and I was pleasantly surprised to find a pretty big, nice apartment. It's set up for four missionaries but only Sister Gossett and I live there.  We have an older man who lives above us and there's a dog next door that we call Hagrid that is big and black and makes me miss Dahlia. Every time I see him I give him human food and it makes me happy.  

The first night we had a teaching appointment with a man named Joe Deitlen.  When we showed up at his house though, he had skipped out on us.  We also met the Bishop and his wife that night (Corbin has about 10,000 people who live in it which is a big city according to Sister Gossett).  Corbin is one of the only areas in the mission that has a ward, too.

I know what people mean when they say that it helps to have a native companion.  That first night, sitting in the Bishop's house, I couldn't really follow a thing. My companion is from the South and the Bishop and his wife are from Kentucky.The three of them started talking and I just smiled because I didn't really know what they were talking about.  When one of them talks at a time, I can understand a lot better, but when they are conversing back and forth, it gets pretty difficult.  What I did take from that conversation was that people really do call black people "colored" down here and that the KKK is active here and that racism is alive in Kentucky. It's kind of crazy. The Bishop and his wife aren't racist, but they do believe that the races shouldn't mix, which I didn't understand until they told me about how the little kids that are half black and half white have a really hard time of it growing up out here.

The next day I woke up for my first full day as a missionary in Corbin.  My companion wasn't feeling well so she slept and I studied and then when she woke up she was crying all day and we couldn't really go out.  We did make it to appointments that she had already made, but we didn't go tracting or anything.  She was crying because she misses her old companion and she doesn't want to train and she wants to go home because she's "wore out" from being so physically sick during her mission.  The same thing happened the next day.  We'll make it to set appointments, but not much else.  We've been here a week together and have done a total of an hour and a half of tracting.  It's hard because she feels bad about it all, but she physically can't do things.  She's over the fact that her companion is gone now because she likes me and we get along, but she doesn't want to be training and she doesn't want to be out here. She called President Glende on Wednesday and told him she wanted to go home early but he told her to stick it out for a week and see how she feels.  I think she'll stick it out.  It's just hard because she's sick a lot and so I study while she sleeps but that's really all I can do.  I just hope that I don't lose the momentum I had before I came out here.  And I hope that when I do have a companion that can go tract and study with me that I'll know what all is expected of me. That being said, I don't blame Sister Gossett.  And I really do enjoy her.  And we've already had some miracles this week.

We're teaching quite a few people.  Sister Tanner was the Sister before me and she was in this area for 9 months so she has a lot of fans who are sad to see her gone and me in her place, but I'm hoping that they'll give me a chance and that I can continue the work that she started here.  There are two young college kids who got baptized a couple days before I got here and we're teaching them the new member lessons and hoping they'll go on missions.  There's a couple other people who we're hoping to baptize this transfer if they can get married and quit dipping [tobacco] and make it to church.  

It's pretty different here than it is in Vegas. Most girls have their first baby by the time they're 15. Almost all the people we're teaching don't have cars or jobs and live off of the government. A lot of them live in the hills and it takes us 45 minutes to drive out to see them.  A couple of them don't have any teeth.  Our area covers a circle of Kentucky with the radius of about 45 minutes or so in all directions with Corbin being the sort of center. Another big area is London and Williamsburg.  There's a college called Union in Barboursville that I really want to go tract when we can tract. 

There's a family called the Carnes that have 6 kids, 5 of which are old enough to be baptized, but the parents won't let them be baptized unless the dad can do it and he's not worthy to get the priesthood so they're kind of holding their kids hostage.  There's a crazy lady in the ward who talks very loudly through all the meetings and her name is Wilma.  She tells people about all the things she's done that are wrong and she doesn't really know what's going on ever. There's only about 10 women in the Relief Society including me and Sister Gossett because the other women are in the Primary. For our closing hymn yesterday we sang 303 and during the prayer she asked really loudly which page number we were on because she was on 203 and it was the wrong one.  It was hilarious.

I want to tell you about the miracle we had.  Sister Gossett called and left a message on the phone of a lady in the ward asking about something.  We got a call back and the person on the other line said we'd called the wrong number. Sister Gossett started apologizing and the lady, Angela, said not to apologize and that she and her fiancee didn't think it was an accident that we called because they're looking for the true church and that they spoke to the missionaries years ago in Indiana and had some questions and wondered if we would mind coming over and teaching them.  Of course we were thrilled! We went over and taught Angie, Matthew and Gabriel (Angie's daughter).  Everything we told Matthew he already believed through his study of the Bible.  He would open up to a verse that proved that the church is true with every new topic we got to. We committed them to baptism in that first lesson.  Their date is May 21st. They didn't make it to church the next day, but I still have high hopes for them.  They are COMPLETELY PREPARED.  I just love them so much already.  I could feel the spirit as soon as we stepped into their home which was clean (the first place I've seen that is clean).  They'll need to quit smoking and get married, but I think they'll be sealed in a year and they'll help build up this ward.  Our ward needs people who are strong.  Most people stay in the church here for a year or so and then get excommunicated or don't come anymore but use financial aide.  Our bishop runs himself ragged.  But the church is true, even in Kentucky and I can't wait for this family to help build it up.

Michael, I'm sending you a birthday package. I sang "When you're the best of friends" all day yesterday.
Mom and Dad- Happy Anniversary tomorrow!
Joel- My district leader is Dexter Croft's cousin, Elder Kastendeick.

I love you all and I pray for you and I can feel your prayers for me. The church is true! Share it!
-Sis Nelson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Safe Arrival - A Note from the Mission President's Wife

Dear Brother & Sister Nelson,
Sister Brooke Nelson arrived safely Monday afternoon.  At the mission home we enjoyed an evening of paperwork, interviews with President Glende, dinner (Kentucky burgoo & Derby pie), and a testimony meeting before retiring to bed.  You can imagine they were tired and were happy to be sent to bed around 9:30 pm.
Tuesday after breakfast and some training at the mission home, we went to the chapel next to the mission office where Sister Nelson met her companion, Sister Gossett.  They will be working in Corbin, Kentucky.  After lunch and photos all the new missionaries left for their proselyting area to begin their adventure.

I've attached a photo of the companionship and of the group of arriving missionaries (front left to right: Sisters Nelson, Gardner, Glende, President Glende; middle l to r:  Elders Savage, Wood, Duran; back l to r: Elders Webb, Granados, Murphy.
Sister Nelson with Pres. & Sis. Glende & company

Pres. & Sis. Glende, Brooke, & new companion, Sister Gossett
For your information, Monday is preparation day when the missionaries check their e-mail and write home.  If a holiday falls on Monday they will e-mail on Tuesday.
Thanks for your love, encouragement and support of your wonderful daughter!
Sister Stephanie Glende

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Update from Mom - April 11, 2011

Today I had an unexpected surprise - Sister Brooke Nelson called me from the Denver Airport!  She had a brief layover and was allowed to call home and we enjoyed a wonderful 40 minutes or so on the phone before the connection was lost a second time and she ended up leaving a voicemail on my cell phone telling me she was sorry we got cut off, she loves me, and she'll talk to me again on Mother's Day.

I thought I'd record here some of what we spoke about - she amazes me. In no particular order I share what I can remember (operative word: can. I hope I'm getting this mostly right -I should have been like all the businesses I call and recorded our conversation "for quality assurance" - we'll correct details later):

Every week each missionary at the MTC is asked to write a talk for Sunday and then whoever is conducting calls up those he feels inspired to hear from. So, this last weekend Brooke, who had been fasting and praying as described in her last letter, wrote her talk and found herself wishing she could share it, but did NOT think she would be called upon because she was already singing in the special musical number and giving one of the prayers.  However, after the sacrament was passed, she heard the announcement, "We'd like to begin the meeting today by hearing from Sister Brooke Nelson and then Elder So-and-So."  As she put it, she had "just that much time" to get her talk and thoughts together before standing and going to the pulpit.

She actually was grateful, however, to be able to share her thoughts and centered her remarks on endurance. Among the various things she said, she mentioned her struggles with a "hereditary disease" that kept her from serving the first time she applied and how priesthood blessings and persistence, etc., taught her that she could push through such adversity if she was willing to keep at it. This particular Sunday, someone in the priesthood leadership of the MTC was in attendance who was not always there.  After the meeting, he came right up to  Brooke and thanked her for her remarks and asked, "Was this 'hereditary disease' you spoke of 'depression' by any chance?"  She acknowledged that it was and he responded, "I thought so," and proceeded to tell her that his wife's sister wants so badly to serve a mission but she suffers from severe depression as well and no one really gives her much hope of being able to serve.  Brooke's talk had given him and his wife much to share that will lend encouragement and hope and a renewed determination for her to keep trying.

I guess it's obvious as to why Brooke feels she was called on that day when it was so unlikely that she would have been.  It was was of the countless little "miracles" that she experienced while there in the MTC.  She loved it there.  She couldn't explain how slowly life went there (in a good way) and she said, "I just don't get it. How does time warp like that? I can't describe how it just felt like I'd never lived anywhere else sometimes and every day felt like a month and each week felt like a year."

 I told her it sounded as though it was a little slice of life lived in "The Lord's time" - the Spirit is so strong there that much more is learned and experienced in those 3 weeks than is learned in our temporal timing beyond its walls. I've often thought, really, why bother? What can 3 weeks do anyway?  Why not just have a quick overview and orientation of missionary life and rules and a formal launch into their respective missions and let them learn what they need to learn 'on the job?'  But...with this celestial atmosphere, unencumbered by The World, the ability to learn and be taught increases exponentially.  She laughed and agreed. She thrived in it.  It truly was a taste of heaven.

She said she didn't sleep one wink Sunday night - literally "didn't sleep one wink."  But, she was energized and was travelling with one Spanish-speaking Sister and 4 Elders.  She loves her Elders. She mothers them and had taken along a big bag of goodies, snacks and treats for them for their trip.
Elders Savage, Wells, Murphy, and Wood

  It was also very hard for her to leave Sister Correia.  She wishes she could just serve her entire mission with her and wishes so much that we could have met her. I was happy to tell her that we will!  This summer! When we visit Palmyra and go to the Hill Cumorah Pageant!  She's so excited now.

Well - she's there by now. Sorry this went on for so long.  She said she can now send pictures via internet, so we expect a whole bunch soon!  Thanks again for all your support - Hurrah for Sister "Kentucky!" Hurrah for Israel!

BONUS!  A few more pictures from the MTC - A Slice of Heaven on Earth

Lauren (Pieper) mailed me the entire box of cereal - an awesome package

The Newsomes

We made them wear read and we wore pink

Ed & Pat Pinegar -
Grandpa Rex's Cousin

Max & Lynne Pinegar -
Gr. Rex's Twin Bro & my Great Uncle

Las Vegas Friends - The Larkins (Seattle Washington Mission)
The Albrights (Washington DC Mission)

MTC chalkboard art

Sis Vaughn - Coordinating Sister

Tender every-other shot

Provo Temple Companions pathway

Prove Temple companions

Provo Temple District 29C - 5 of us went to GKLM

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Last Letter from MTC - Already Preaching

 Mom, Dad and Family-

This week has been wonderful. Every day feels like a week so I feel like I can't remember anything that happened before today, but it's all great. I've been recording my audio journal as well, so I am getting most of it recorded.

Today I had my last visit to Cougar Dental. I finally have a tooth! It's nice to have closure with what started four years ago in China. My companions of course had to come with me to the dentist. As we were sitting in the waiting room, there was a man holding a baby and an older lady sitting next to him. He asked us what our tags meant and we were shocked. Cougar Dental is literally the closest place you
 can get to being on BYU campus 
without actually being on BYU campus. We told him we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and he said he'd never heard of us. When we said, "Mormons" he said, "Oh. I think I have." He said that he and his wife are out here for business and she had a tooth emergency so they came here and now they're thinking about moving here. His name was Derek and his son's name was Gianni. He's Italian/Greek and Catholic. We told him a little bit about the church before he left, told him about President Monson, the Book of Mormon and gave him pamphlets on The Plan of Salvation and The Family Proclamation. His wife came out pretty quickly so we didn't get much time with him. 

When I went back my dentist told me they are out here because his wife is 8 months pregnant and they are giving the baby up for adoption. I know that the Spirit was telling me to give them the Family Proclamation when I grabbed for something to give him as hurried as I was. I'm also sure the Spirit told me to bring my backpack with my pamphlets in it because I didn't want to and had no reason to, but I thought I should take it for some reason. I hope that they are keeping their 11-month old, but I know they are for sure planning on giving up the new baby. Maybe the pamphlets we gave them will bring them light and peace, whatever their decision is. I felt very blessed to still be in the MTC and somehow happen to run into a family that hadn't heard of the church and be able to teach them breifly. I don't know many people who teach actual investigators while still in the MTC.

Yesterday was a blessing as well. Sister Correia told me she was fasting for some personal things so I decided to fast with her for things that I've been praying about. So, when Sister Barrus and our Elders in our district went to eat we would sit outside and feast on the word and have personal study time. I read 4th Nephi till the end of the Book of Mormon yesterday. What a true and transformative book. Problems melt away and the Spirit enters your heart when you read it.

 Last night we all shared why we're here and what it took to convince us this is where we needed to be in our district. Then we got to teach our teacher with scenarios that are real in her life that she is currently dealing with. Before we started she told us about Joseph Smith's last days before he was killed and then had us take off our tags and look at them as we sang "Called to Serve". It was very powerful. All of the testimonies in that room showed me how much Satan tries to prevent God's children from learning about His love for them. 

I can't wait to get to Kentucky. I leave at 4 in the morning on Monday morning for the airport. It's pretty surreal that it's finally here. I've loved the MTC. The spirit, especially during conference as all 2,500 of us sat and listened together, has and is changing my life. There are prophets and apostles on the earth today that speak for Christ and Heavenly Father. We should listen to their counsel.

I love Sister Correia. I wish I could spend my whole mission as her companion. She has taught me so much about love and endurance. She comes from a very difficult background and her testimony is beautiful. Sister Barrus is teaching me a lot as well.
Sis Barrus and Sis Correia & Me

I had lunch with the Rempes and the J's today. We took pictures and they were very sweet to me. I'll miss them.
The Rempes

My time is almost up. I have so much I wish I could express. Everyone should serve a mission. There are missionaries here in wheelchairs and without arms. If they can do it, so can you.

One more thing I want to share quickly is something I learned from the Book of Mormon as I was teaching a lesson yesterday. In the Tree of Life Dream, people all start out in darkness. Then, they either feel their way towards the great and spacious building or they are beckoned to the iron rod. No one starts out at the great and spacious building, they end up there because they don't know where else to go. Everyone is worthy of being redeemed. Everyone needs someone calling to them from the iron rod. And when we get to the iron rod, we need to hold on with both hands, because the road to the tree isn't an easy one, or else we wouldn't need the rod to hold on to. If the walk was easy we could get there ourselves. Be that voice. And hold on yourselves, with both hands. Don't hold on to anything else or you'll fall away.

I love you all.
-Sis Nelson

PS - The Church is true! Share it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's in a Name Tag?

Rex, Nina & Dah/Pal...but mostly Rex & Nina;

I miss you guys. The MTC is great! You should both serve missions! (I've had that song "Friday" stuck in my head today & I've been trying to get it out but nothing is working.)

How are you? Miss me? Are you still reading your scriptures and saying your prayers daily? If you aren't you should try to. The Book of Mormon will help you with every little thing in you life. And praying will bring the Spirit and Heavenly Father closer to you.

Something really neat about being a missionary is wearing a tag with your name on it. Everyone knows your name wherever you go. Not only 'Nelson,' but 'Jesus Christ.' That name is on the tag, too. People associate you with Him. Your actions speak for Him. It is making me re-think the things I say and how I act and react to things. It's a big responsibility and humbling blessing. As baptized members of the Church, you represent Christ as well. I'm proud of you for being such beautiful examples of Christ's followers.

Please write me. I love you. The Church is true!

Love Sister Nelson

The Gospel is a Gift - share it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Letter - April 1, 2011 -- No Fooling!

Mom, Dad & Family-
Thank you for your emails of encouragement. Thanks, Dad for the scriptures and words of encouragement.  I honestly haven't felt this healthy in a long time.  Not that my allergies or asthma have left me, but I've felt energized and excited to go, go, go.  It's probably because the gospel is so exciting. 

I've been falling in love again with the Book of Mormon.  This week I read about King Lamoni's dad.  I was deeply touched by the stark contrast of his before and after in the conversion process. Before he knew about the gospel he was willing to give up half of his kingdom to save himself temporally.  After Aaron taught him, he was willing to give up everything including his entire kingdom and kingship in order to be saved spiritually.  I loved that. Also, this week, the word "deliver" has stood out to me over and over in the scriptures.  I think that's one of the sweetest parts of the gospel, the way Christ delivers us from our infirmities and trials. 

Things are going well in the companion department.  I'm learning to speak up for myself and tune out when I'm missing my alone time instead of getting angry.  Not listening is probably not the most Christ-like thing to do, but I think it's a step in the right direction.  When I'm angry I can't feel the spirit, and not listening helps me stay happy.  I'm working on listening and not getting angry when things or people annoy me, but it's going to take some work.  Patience and love are the things that I'm praying most for right now.

I wish you could meet my companions and my district.  They are becoming my "family" here.  My teachers are amazing, too.  I think that everyone should get the chance to live three weeks in the MTC. I think our church would be a lot more loving and focused if we did. I hope this is what Zion is like.

One thing that I get frustrated with is not using time wisely.  I feel like it takes so long for my district and I to get started on our studies that we miss out on half the time we've been given.  My favorite part of the day is Personal Study and it seems like that's the first thing to go if people are feeling talkative or overwhelmed.  I try to just study through their conversations, but as anyone who has ever watched a movie with me knows, I can't concentrate on two things at once.  Tomorrow our classes are cancelled for conference so I'm hoping to get a lot of personal study in then.

I didn't really miss anyone too much until yesterday when I started missing mom a lot.  I think it's because I was able to spend time with some of the senior couples and get hugs from the sisters.  ... Not that you're old, Mom.  I just missed your hugs yesterday.

The spirit is such an amazing thing. When you feel it so strongly here, you notice as soon as it leaves. I wish I had been more sensitive and respectful to the spirit before I came here.  But I'm so happy to have it now.  I've decided Hayley and Nina are serving missions. Everyone should serve a mission.
Thank you for helping me and supporting me in my mission both financially and spiritually.  I realize that not everyone is as blessed as I am.  I love my mission.

My time is almost up but I love you all and hope you're reading the scriptures and praying for the spirit.  Sing hymns! They'll invite the spirit, too. The church is true! Share it!

Sister Nelson

PS- Shout out to Lauren and all of my Provo friends.  Thank you for the packages and missionary games.  The spider made me sick, but the rest was great.
PPS- Give hugs and kisses to Rex, Nina, Nixon, Miles, Lorenzo, Lily, Violet and Dahlia for me!
PPSS- Play tricks on people for April Fool's for me since I'm not allowed to here!

First Day/First Letter - March 23 - 25, 2011

MARCH 23, 2011
Mom, Dad, Joel, Val, Lily, Violet, Derek, Lindsey, Nixon, Miles, Lorenzo, Paige, Nick, Hayley, Rex, Nina & Dahlia - 

The MTC President gave us permission to write today and tell you that I'm alive and well.  My ears are already starting to feel a little better and I bet by tomorrow I won't even notice them. 

I, of course, had a companion who didn't show so I'm with two other sisters as a three-some.  My companions are Sister Barrus from Logan & Sister Correia from Hawaii ("Aloha & Mahalo for flying Aloha Airlines.  Mahalo.") So far we've met our district, had an opening orientation, had dinner at 4:45 (3:35 Las Vegas time...) and now we're waiting to do some role-playing.

My companions are going to [my cousin] Jack Christianson's mission, Rochester, NY as Visitor Center sisters.  It sounds really fun. They have Hill Cumorah, Sacred Grove, Whitney Farm, Restoration of Aaronic Priesthood and The Book of Mormon Printing Press.  Neither of them have been there before.  They'll love it.  I was right about what will be hardest for me. But, at least I was prepared and so far things have been fine.  Though, they went to the bathroom earlier when I didn't have to go, but now I have to go and don't want to make them.  Oh well.  I'll learn to speak up or go when they do.  

Anyway, I'm doing well & trying to take it all in.  I'll be glad when we're done with orientation and into our daily routines which supposedly isn't til next week.  I'll write again on P-day but I don't know when that is.  Everyone is very welcoming and nice here.  I'm pretty sure I'll love it here. 

Thanks for your prayers!  I love you!

Love Sis. Nelson

[following day...]
I'm going to the dentist today to get my tooth finished (cross your fingers it'll all be done after this) [Her last stages of an implant installation resulting from a bad filling that turned into a crown that turned into an emergency root canal without anesthesia in China! That's another epic tale for another day on her other blog but it proves that she can do and endure hard things. Mission? piece-a-cake!]
Also, there's not any pain in my ears today. Thank you for your prayers and fasting!

I love you all
Love Sis. Nelson

PS - They offer gym classes (the for sisters only) in addition to our schedule of gym time, the only catch is that it starts at 6 am.  My companions set our alarm for 5:30 am. - that's an hour earlier than the time we're required to get up.  No comment.

Drive-thru Drop Off - neat!

Loving Sisses say good-by

One last hug...

Nick's High-5 - how 'touching' (nice watch, Sis. B)

MARCH 25, 2011
Mom and Dad-
I can't believe it's been 3 and1/2 days since I've been here.  It seems like forever. The days are so long, but they all seem to blur together at the same time. I'm exhausted, but I'm not tired, if that makes sense.  I'm not sure that it does. It's just that we're so busy.  It's go, go, go.  But it's not tiring, it's invigorating. There are times when I have to fight to keep my eyes open, but it's not like with depression where my body decides to sleep and I have to give in.  I want to be awake. 
 The MTC isn't really how I thought it would be. I mean, we do all the things that they say, but it's not as easy as I thought it would be.  It's easy to read and study, but I'm just realizing that I have so much to learn and I feel like I have such little time to do it in.  And I get annoyed with all of the housekeeping things we have to do because I want to just study all day.  I'm surprised that we're only allotted one hour of personal study a day.  The rest is all workshops or companion studies and I like those things but I wish I had more time to study the things I want to study as well.  

The spirit is different here, too.  It's not like in a testimony meeting where your heart is beating really fast or you're crying or anything like that.  It's more like the temple.  It's almost like there's a big blanket over the entire MTC. It's like a comfortable pressure that you can feel all the time.  I'm loving learning about sharing the gospel. I'm really liking my district, too.  We have four elders and then the three of us sisters. One of our elders has a famous family, I guess.  His name is Elder Murphy and his dad is a famous baseball player named Dale Murphy and his brother, Shawn Murphy plays for the Broncos and his other brothers works for the people who make World of Warcraft. He's a funny kid. 
My companions are Sister Correia and Sister Barrus. I LOVE  Sister Correia.  She's from Hawaii. She's pretty quiet.  I think in my first letter I said that she's shy, but that was wrong.  She's just timid. She's extremely easy to get along with and I really respect her for being on a mission.  She comes from a family where she was baptized but didn't go to church.  Her family didn't even come to her farewell because they don't like the church. She's hoping to bring blessings to her family while she's out here. She's shy about talking about her testimony, but she loves the gospel and she has a beautiful testimony. I wish I could spend a whole transfer with her. [Please keep her in your prayers.]
My other companion is Sister BarrusCorreia and I go, too. She's very sure about how things should be and she's very particular. She gets me up at 5:30 every day instead of 6:30. [She was raised on natural medicine.  The other day a pen exploded all over my hands.  I tried washing the ink off but it was pretty stained on my skin.  Sister Barrus gave me some natural oil to take it right off and guess didn't help at all.] There are a lot of things that I'm learning from her. 
I'm excited to get out to Kentucky, but I'm enjoying my time here and am very glad to be here. I know this is where I'm supposed to be and I can't wait to see what blessings await me out in the field.  I love you and pray for you.  I can feel your prayers and I need them, so thank you.  Please pray for me and my companions to have unity so that we can teach well and have the spirit with us.

I'll write you a more when I have the chance.

I love you all.  The church is completely true and it brings people happiness, including me. 
Sis Nelson

March 23, 2011 - Dreams Come True

After many weeks of sorting, boxing, storing, visiting, relaxing, reading, studying, preparing, and temple attending, not to mention doctor-ing, shot-ing, and shopping, traveling, packing, and finally fare-welling in church by speaking on Charity - which she did with incredible articulateness and testimony, it was time to wish our dearest Sister Brooke a loving adieu.  What better way than with a Kentucky-Derby-style horseshoe of roses?  The ever-vigilant Xian warrior in the background is holding them for her (as we speak) while she is gone. (note his thumbs - this will matter later on on this page).  :o)

Tuesday, March 22 - After some very tender and emotional good-byes to the sisters-in-law and the 5 nieces and nephews (the most difficult of all things to leave behind for Brooke), it was only the 5 of us (Mom and Dad plus these three) who gave final hugs and kisses at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas.  After a little time-killing chit-chat, last minute details and instructions, a few smiles and laughs, and the inevitable sniffles, tears and lingering squeezes, we let her go and watched her head for the security check point with backpack on and carry-on trailing behind. 
 It was not easy.

Luckily, for us (and for her), she was greeted by her two sisters at the Salt Lake airport and taken care of for the rest of the night.  She arrived feeling rather sick and after attempting to eat a little dinner, opted to go to bed.  After a quick phone conversation with Mom the next morning, and a trip to the local Quick Care, she was able to rally herself and have a farewell breakfast with some of her closest and dearest of friends and siblings.

Then, at last, it was off to the MTC - and as Paige would later report to me (Mom), it was so quick and efficient a drop-off service that there was only time to be excited, not sad.  It was only upon hearing this sweet tidbit of news that Mom finally let herself have a good cry.  Seeing a child experience the realization of a lifelong pursuit does it to a parent every time!

We all love you so much, Brooke, and know you'll be an incredible ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Congratulations, Sister Nelson!  Two thumbs waaaaay up!!

*Note to readers - this blog will be maintained and authored by members of Brooke's family while she's away. Her letters and photos will be posted here.  If you wish to communicate with her directly her current contact information will be in the sidebar as well as her email. Be sure to comment - she'd love to know who was here while she was away! Thanks for all your sweet support.*