Sunday, September 25, 2011


A very old one-room church (Established in 1801) surrounded by a little park.

Our front door
The upstairs apartment is for rent if anyone is interested
509 West 4th St. Apt. A, Corbin, Kentucky
The view from our sidewalk

One of the huge trees in our front yard split in two
during a huge storm
Flooding in front of our house

View of Corbin

Center of town 

Breaking into Willard's home with a borrowed crowbar

Seen during the "dog days" of summer when I was literally
Baby chickee

A display in Willard's home of everything "Mormon"
he has, including the photo of us at his baptism

Reading Ephesians 6 about God's armor - as each piece was mentioned
the kids ran around the house to find "armor" of their own....and then fighting, of course.

 Willard in his Sunday best - a white shirt (which his wife never saw him wear) and dress pants (which he would NOT let us photograph with him looking straight into the camera)

Match-matchy red, squared.  At Steven's request.
Sister Woodbury and the Sisters
The Baptizing Lexington Zone

Trailer with an "out" toilet instead of an "out" house
The Noes - they share a house but not clothes.
The one on the right wears the hairpiece.
Neither one has been married.
Mom thinks this picture looks like a page from and ink-blot test
Willard in his "overhauls" - he fell asleep reading his
Book of Mormon while he waited to show them to us.

Boo sleeping in the underwear drawer which is kept just in front of the tv in the living room - convenient for all!!

Evidence of my fishing prowess - one small Blue Gill

Monday, September 19, 2011


Congratulations to me for being an expectant aunt! For reals this time! (Unless Joel and Val are playing a trick on me.) Gunner Turbo Erven the 5th will be loved! Though, Joel, if you're having thoughts about that name, you could honor your Kentucky Sis and name him Corbin Mack-Beisner if you wanted to. When's the baby due?

This week has been pretty good. On Tuesday we went to eat with Judy and Mary, BOTH recent converts! Judy said that her granddaughter who lives in Indiana went to Mutual last Wednesday so hopefully this will dominoe to her whole family! We're still working on her husband, Wayne, but I think if we stay slow and casual with him, he'll eventually lose his prejudices towards organized churches and come into the Waters of Corbin someday. We also taught this group of kids on Tuesday. There are four kids. One of them has been baptized, two of them haven't and one of them isn't old enough to be baptized. They're a great family. They're just in the middle of a nasty divorce right now between their parents so they haven't been given permission yet by one of their parents. The littlest boy is 4 and he's really rambunctious and naughty and very pretty with blonde hair and blue eyes and a little lisp and he's one of those kids who does something wrong and knows he's going to get in trouble for it so he gets as far away from his mom as possible while he does it and gets more and more frantic about the misbehaving the closer she gets to him because he knows she'll be taking him out of the room once she gets to him. It's hilarious. Their cat just had a litter of 6 kittens and they're adorable. The little boy reminds me of Hayley with them because he picked one that he carries everywhere and insists on having him do people things like sit up to the table for dinner.

Friday we ate at a member home and it was quite the experience. Last week I told you about the lady with narcolepsy. Well, this week we ate with her son. They live in the back of a backwoods property. They have a home that they don't live in for some reason, but they live in a garage that they decided to convert into a home. The walls are COVERED with knicknacks and fur and dream catchers and different collections. I had told Brother Nash that I had never had rabbit before so when we walked into their alcove-ish place before their home, we saw a red, bloody, furry thing that ended up being the skin of the rabbit Bro. Nash had just killed for our Rabbits and Dumplings we were having for dinner. He took us in, past his one-eyed dog named Cyclops who had a large tumor on his head, and took us in to see his 20 foot albino Bermeise Python named Vincent. THEN, we went outside again to the bunny cages and he took a small rabbit and threw it into the snake cage. And we watched the snake hunt the bunny, kill it, and then start to eat it. We would have watched him eat the whole thing but then Sister Nash told us that OUR bunny was done so it was time to eat.

They told us their love story over dinner. Sis. Nash had moved to his high school and he told everyone they were dating when they had never said a word to each other. Someone came up to her and asked her about it and she had no idea they were supposedly a couple so she started talking to him and they ended up getting married. At one point Brother Nash was talking about his dad and I asked him where his dad lived and he said he lived up on the hill in a six foot hole. I was like, "Your dad lives in a hole?!?" And then he told me his dad was dead and lived in a hole in the ground and I felt stupid. They also showed us pictures of them when they were younger and I got to see the beauty of young Bro. Nash's mullet and then Sis. Nash showed us how she and her chijuaja like to sing duets together and then it was time to leave.  It was awesome. The rabbit tasted pretty good, too.

Yesterday we got a ride with Brother and Sister Bowen to Lexington with Willard and went to a special fireside given by a man from Romania telling the story of how his family joined the church and how his father did some of the recording for the Romanian voices in the temple videos, how his mother was on the team that translated the Book of Mormon into Romanian and how he translates every six months for General Conference. It was a really cool story.

I laughed thinking about Willard trying to understand him because Willard can barely understand Sister Clemons and I sometimes so I wondered if he was catching all of it. But at one point he was crying so I'm thinking he at least felt the Spirit. On the way home I liked looking at all the lights of a city because I haven't been to one in such a long time. I was joking around with Willard and told him to look out the window. "Willard, that thing out there is called a city. This is where people who aren't hillbillies live." He said it was too bright and too busy. Then, Brother Bowen missed our turn onto the onramp so he pulled a quick, violent u-turn and then he missed the turn again so he did ANOTHER scary turn and started driving on the divider between the lanes and Sister Bowen, Sister Clemons and I were in the back with the two men in the front trying to figure things out and we were screaming and after we got onto the onramp Willard let out a sigh and said, "2 Hill Billy turns! Now I feel back at home." It was hilarious.

Brother and Sister Bowen are my favorite ward members. They're hilarious and old and still very much in love and she dresses him so that they match every day and I just love them. They're always telling some sort of joke, most of which are very cheesy. One that I thought was pretty funny from last night was when Sister Bowen said, "You know, they've done a study and do you know what the leading cause of divorce is?" "What?" "Marriage."

Theres'a a man in the ward who offends people a lot and yesterday he came up to me with one of our investigators at church and said, "She has something she needs to tell you. " And then she said she was too embarrassed and didn't want to. Then he said, "Don't you want to be open to the truth and cleansed?" She looked like she was about to cry and I told him to let it go and that she could tell me later if she wanted to. Long story short he told her that she was unclean and possessed by a devil and that God couldn't get any closer to her until she removed it from herself. She was horrified and very hurt and I wanted to slap him silly for saying something like that to her.  Ugh. This is the same man who likes to look at me during lessons and say, "I told you so-and-so believes false doctrine, didn't I?" Bishop is constantly having to call this man into his office and tell him that he can't do certain things like that but it keeps on happening. He is very into missionary work and offends people left and right and always wants to go tracting with us and always gives us cans of sweetened, condensed milk or pinto beans. He means well, but I don't know how to get those good intentions into helpful missionary efforts.

Word of the Week: Commode. You don't say "toilet" out in the hills. That's rude. A toilet is what you use in an outhouse. A commode is what you use if it's IN the house. I would use "commode" in a sentence but I think you get the picture...
Extra Blessings: Kiera S. George

Anyways, I'm excited for General Conference and I hope you all are, too. I heard Rex gave a great home teaching message on it this last week. I hope that everyone has some ideas/questions/concerns that they'll write down beforehand so that they can get specific, personal revelation as we listen to the prophets and apostles God has given us. Something really neat that Elder Westover (a senior missionary) pointed out to us at District Meeting the other day was that this gospel is one where EVERYONE counts and is important to God. Our God knows and loves us all individually. He pointed out that the very first word spoken in this, the last dispensation was "Joseph". It was the name of one of His children. Christ has engraven each of us on the palms of His hands. He has not and will not ever forget us. He's not angry when we repent, He's happy. We're bringing His work and His glory to pass when we do repent. The Atonement works for EVERYONE.

The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,
Sis Nelson


Family! Friends! Other people!
This week has been great. Mary got baptized on Saturday and it was awesome. I didn't realize until all the other missionaries and ward members pointed it out to me, but 82 is a pretty old age to be baptized, not just cause she's frail and easily injured, but because she's old and most old people are pretty set in their ways and their beliefs. But Mary was just made for the church. Or I guess the church was made for her. I don't know. I just remember at Judy's baptism how she got offended and pretended to hate everything about church and what we taught and Bishop talking things over with her and him coming up to me afterwards and saying, "She will be baptized. You need to go teach her." Haha. I was like, "Bishop, she has very plainly told us before that she doesn't want us to teach her and that she doesn't want us anywhere close by in the house when we teach Judy." He told me to go back anyways. I told him I'd go if he and his wife would come with us. (Because I was a coward.) And now she's been baptized and confirmed!

Hallelujah! The baptism went well. She's terrified of water and she can't really move her back because of some degenerative diseases she has so Bishop and Mary's nephew both baptized her. She was afraid of falling down the steps and we assured her she'd be fine but then her nephew fell down the steps before she went down and she was shaking like a little baby when she was baptized, she was so scared. But she did it! And it was wonderful! EVERY soul is precious in the sight of God. And we should never think someone too young or too old or too set in their ways to be changed. The more I'm out here the more I pray not to be led to people that have been prepared (we've all been prepared) but instead to ask to know HOW these people have been prepared. THIS is the reason we're here on earth. We're here to make and keep covenants through faith and good works that will enable us to return to happiness with our Heavenly Family. EVERYONE has that potential. God wouldn't send a child of his down here without the ability to succeed. We've all been prepared. We've just been prepared in different ways.

This week we went to eat at a member home. I have no idea how this couple ever got together because they're so different and seem so indifferent about each other. But, they're married and working towards being sealed in the temple. They remind me of Dad's two favorite quotes: The gospel net catches all kinds of fish. & There's a Jack for every Jill. This couple fits both of those statements. I love being with Sister Clemons because she and I both get excited at the prospect of a weird and awkward meeting so those things aren't dreaded as much as they might be by other companions. We got there and there were only two places set at the table (they wanted to eat later on). They served us green beans, corn and mashed potatoes. HAha. No main dish, just three sides. And this isn't because they couldn't afford more food. They're just very peculiar people that must sometimes forget to eat a main dish with their sides. Then we sat there and listened to the husband practice the piano for 45 minutes while the wife who has narcolepsy dosed in and out of sleep. At one point she kept wanting to say something but her husband didn't really take a breath to let her edge in on the conversation. When he finally paused she couldn't remember what she wanted to say. So he kept talking. Then, she held up her finger and said, "I remember what I wanted to say!" So he stopped talking. Then her eyes drooped and she began snoring again. It was hilarious. But of course we couldn't laugh so Sister Clemons and I were suddenly very interested in the floor. Then he said, "Don't keep us in suspense, Wilma." And she woke up and said something about the generator outside. Haha. It was awesome. I really liked them and they were very open and teachable when we asked them who they could share the gospel with. They asked us to help them on what they could say and were very excited to try it out. It was awesome.

There's a man here in the ward named Brother Culler. He's the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. One day he wanted to show me some cool stuff he'd found in his family history and he told me how one of his great-grandpa's was Joseph Smith's grandpa, Asael Smith. And I was like, "He's MY great-grandpa, too!" So, I found cousins here in Corbin! Cool, huh! He's through SIlas' line and if I remember correctly we're through Asael Jr. So, now I introduce him as my cousin. Haha.

We haven't really been too effected by the 9/11 rememberings because we don't watch tv or anything. But Sherry's son did have to fly out of New York yesterday and she was scared to death. They put the whole city on lockdown or something, didn't they? I was just thinking about how Joel and Derek were both missionaries when it happened and I can't believe that ten years later, I'm on my mission.

We found an awesome investigator on Saturday night who is from Minnesota. He has an accent that reminds me of the bat, Bartok, from Anastasia. He's so great. He's a truck driver who met some missionaries at the county fair up in Minnesota a couple weeks ago and he liked talking to them because they were the only church that said that you had to actually work to be saved. It was Jesus and the sinner that had to work together. He's so awesome. He's gone all week though so we have to wait to see him again. When we taught him the first lesson he was like, "how come I've never heard any of this about prophets and apostles being on earth before?" He was way excited about it.

I'm really proud of you all for your missionary work. The Primary program sounded really wonderful. I'm glad that Grandpa and Grandma got to go to that concert. I like imagining Grandpa and Grandma pulling out their lighters and swaying back and forth to the music. In my imagination though, Grandpa has that long ponytail that he had in the dream that Paige had about him on the bicycle. Haha.

I read a really awesome talk that Lauren sent me about optimism vs pessimism and how we shouldn't really be either but instead we should be the balance between the two. We should be improvers. He said that love isn't blind but that it has its eyes wide open, and its heart open, too.  Love should be able to see clearly all of the flaws in something and also be able to see the potential that something has to improve.

I love you all. I love being a missionary. I love the gospel. I love the scriptures. I love God. (Shout out to 4 year-old Joel!)

Extra Blessings: Sister Ralph, Sister Gossett x 2, The Hardens, Paige & Nina
Word of the Week: learn. Not learn as in: the student goes to school to learn from the teacher.  But learn as in: the teacher goes to school to learn the students how to read. You don't have to say "teach". You can use learn for both the learner and the teacher.  Like how every week I try to learn you how to speak hillbilly. Or how missionaries try to learn their gators the gospel.

Yuns are in my prayers! Keep me in yournzez! The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If you all are planning on moving to the mountains while I'm on my mission, don't move to Cedar, move to Kentucky! Not that Utah isn't gorgeous, but you need to see Daniel Boone National Forest (where I live) before you make a final decision. Ok? Ok. I loved reading about the Native American Branch you went to. Tons of people out here have some sort of Native blood in them and I love being able to tell them that the Book of Mormon is about their ancestors. Sister Clemons and I are reading the Book of Mormon together in our companionship study and we're in the Nephis right now and I love reading about the prophecies of Lehi's seed. Laman and Lemuel's seed particularly. Those "seed" make up that branch you attended! Did I tell you all that Willard bought Sister Ralph and I each our own Indian Angel statues? It was very sweet. He also gave me a HUGE, bear-fur dream catcher of his when he found out I sometimes have bad dreams. It's really gruesome and I don't like it that much, but he insisted that I use it so it's hanging in my room, not over my bed though. What a sweet, little old Lamanite he is.
Mother, you must know that it's only my DREAM to play Ursula and has been for a very long time. Hopefully they'll be up for a revival by the time I get home.
I'm glad you plan on coming to my "Crazy Town 2.0: the Southern Chapter". I keep telling everyone how I want them to meet you all and I tell some of them how I want them to come out to Vegas when I get home. It's amazing to me how many people have never been out of the south, on an airplane or can't swim. Especially the swimming part. People here are terrified of water, but there's rivers and lakes everywhere. I don't get it.
Sherry came to church again this week. And this time she only missed the first part of Sacrament Meeting. She also brought her grand-daughter, April. We had FOUR investigators at church. It was awesome. And we have a bunch of new potentials right now. Sister Clemons and I are so excited for this week. Plus, Mary's getting baptized on Saturday! Hurray! The only downside is that Mary insists on me singing at the baptism and now that Sister Ralph is gone, there's no one who can play the piano. I REALLY don't want to sing a capella but I'm probably going to have to and it makes me really nauseated to think about it. Yuck. 

We FINALLY got to do our missionary fireside that we've been trying to put on for a month. We did it during 3rd hour and it was pretty good, I think. We had a convert who was referred by a member talk and then we had a returned missionary whose son is on a mission right now talk about the importance of member missionary work. Then I talked about statistics and the commandment and our desperate need for member missionary work and then Sister Clemons talked about how the members of our ward can be member missionaries. We gave a list to our Ward Mission Leader of people in the ward we want to meet with and he's setting up dinner appointments with them and we really hope to get some of those new programs implemented that we learned at interviews. One of them is having a family in the ward (that the missionaries prayerfully select) host a family home evening for some of their friends and neighbors and have us come and teach a little bit and then hopefully be able to come back later and teach the people that were there in the original family's home one-on-one.  Another one is to invite tons of people to baptisms using invitations because apparently 80% of non-members who attend a baptism will be baptized themselves. If we had 5 people at a baptism, four of them would get baptized. Then, at each of their own baptisms if we had 5 non-members there then we'd have 4 of those baptized, that would be a total of 20 people within the first wave. If we could get that going, we'd never have to go tracting again! Bahahaha! It's brilliant! Hopefully it's not easier said than done.
On Thursday morning Sister Clemons and I prayed about a day that we could use to hold a baptismal service with which to invite some of our gators to be baptized on. During the prayer, all I could see was the number 15 in my head. After the prayer Sister Clemons felt good about October 15th as well.
We had an interesting week with Sherry. She's house-sitting right now because her son, Jerry, works cleaning up after disasters and is in New York for the next couple weeks. Her son lives in Corbin so she's closer so we get to see her more often whenever Jerry's away on business. We saw her on Thursday and watched Finding Faith in Christ. The Spirit was really strong afterwards and we talked more about baptism and asked her if she would be baptized. She said that she still wants to wait and see. We asked her what she expected her answer to feel like. Then she said she'd just know when she got it. Then we talked about the Spirit that she's felt at Church and from our lessons and from the blessings she's been given and she basically bore her testimony to herself but she still didn't see it. We asked her if we could set a goal date for baptism and work towards it and see if she gets her answer by then (another new program they've started, there's no more hard vs soft commitment. There's an invitation and the gator eventually hardens the date on their own). She said she still wanted to wait. We asked her to pray about it with us and she did and the Spirit was thick in the room and she still said she wanted to wait.  We left because it was curfew time and told her we'd see her tomorrow. 

That night, at 11:00 pm, we were woken up by a phone call. I picked it up and it was Sherry. She said, "Sister Nelson, I'm sorry to wake you up but I just wanted you to know that I think the Lord wants me to get baptized. I really want to do it on November 2nd because that's my mom's birthday but for some reason God keeps telling me October 15th. I don't know why." 

Aha! "I know why He keeps telling you the 15th, Sherry. It's because He told us the same thing earlier this morning." 



At this point Sister Clemons was jumping around screaming because she was so happy. My sleeping pill had already kicked in so I just sat there, really happy, trying not to snore. Then, Sherry started praising Jesus the way they do in Holiness churches and I tried to calm her down and we were all really happy and it was awesome. 

The next day she told us that her son had called her and asked her if he could read the Book of Mormon when he got home from his trip. A couple days later her niece came up to us with a prayer request (people around her do that. They think that if a "church lady" says a prayer for them that God will hear it better or something) then she asked us how our church is different than Baptists. Hurray! We talked a little. Then Sherry asked her if she's ever wondered where her soul is going after she dies. Hurray! Then we talked a little more. Then she, Kristy, asked how to know which of all the churches is true. HURRAY! (Sister Clemons and I were grabbing each other's hands trying not to explode from excitement.) She asked these questions as we were leaving for curfew and we were bummed we had to go but set up an appointment after giving her a Book of Mormon. The next day, of course (Satan!) she was really sick and had to cancel our appointment. But, we're not giving up. Hopefully Sherry will tell her family soon that she set a date. She's afraid to because she knows how they'll react, but I think that they won't react as badly as she's expecting based on her niece and her son this last week.
Yesterday we went to see a lady BYH. Her name is Gail and I've mentioned her before but I'm serious, she's a SAINT. Seriously. She's dying and I don't know how she's even alive anymore and she has barely any strength but she uses it all to do genealogy. She's done over 10,000 names and she's still going strong. When we got there she was crying and we asked her why and she said she was just saying a prayer to Heavenly Father thanking him for sending the missionaries to spend time with her. (She lives way up in the mountains and is pretty lonely). She had promised to teach us how to make her famous peanut-butter cookies. When we got there she had everything measured out and ready to be poured into the bowls. All we had to do was mix them together. She was so excited. Then we sat and talked about how much she loves the Lord. And then she dug up her ELVIS COOK BOOK and I died because it had a picture of Elvis next to every recipe. It was so fun. She didn't want us to leave, and we didn't want to leave. I'm surprised she hasn't been translated yet. Guess how she learned to read: she was in her 30's and wanted to learn how to read and write so she got her Bible and her Book of Mormon out and got them on audio tape and listened to them while she followed along for the whole thing. THEN, she wanted to learn how to write so she copied the Book of Mormon by hand. I'm telling you, this lady is a saint.
Sister Clemons and I get along really well. She and I are definitely the most alike than any of my other companions have been. We laugh a lot. And she really wants to work hard. I never believed trainers when they'd say, "I didn't train my greenie, my greenie trained me." I always thought that was a stupid way to pay a complement. But it's true. She's teaching me so much. The Lord has blessed me with her.
Every night, Willard makes us drive by his house so he can know we got home safely, especially now that it's dark at night. We never know when we'll get home we only know it will be somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30. The other night he said, "When will you be home?" "I don't know." Then he said, "See you at dark-thirty, then." Haha. So now we call it dark-thirty.
Extra Blessings: Sis & BIL, Grandpa Rex, Lauren Pieper
Phrase of the Week: Listen at. Not listen to. It's listen at. Claiborne said something funny. Willard looks at me and says, "Listen at him!" Sister Clemons is still having a hard time understanding the accents down here so she has to listen at whoever's speaking real hard. Dorothy the cat will only listen at me, because I'm the one who loved her first.
I love you all and I can't wait for General Conference! I hope you can't wait either! Just think, we'll all be having the same church in the first weekend of October. That will make me feel closer to you.
Happy Birthday yesterday, Dahlia! Happy Birthday on Thursday, Paige! I hope my present gets to you in time! The Church is TRUE! Share it!
Love Yuns,
Sis Nelson