Monday, October 17, 2011


The Lord has opened up the windows of heaven and poured out blessings and I don't have room enough to receive them. My cup runneth over.

What a week! I wish I had 5 hours to write because I could use it all to write about the everything that has happened since I last wrote. Ok. Here I go.

I don't think I can go day by day, but probably story by story would be better.

Let's see. First I'll talk about Willard. As some of you already know, (I sent a video of it) I made Willard try some Warhead's sour spray and he hated it and any time he makes me mad to get back on my good side I make him take a spray of it because it's hilarious to watch. Well, I've been wanting to have him try pop rocks for a while now but haven't been able to find any. Luckily, Mom sent me a package this week with some Halloween pop rocks in them! One morning we showed up and I said, "Willard, close your eyes and open your mouth." "No way." "You have to." "No. I've learned better than to trust you with those things." "It's not the sour spray." "I still don't trust you." "PLEASE!?!" "No!" After about five minutes I talked him into it. He sat there as the rocks popped in his mouth, not knowing what was going on. He wanted to swallow them but I made him keep them in there. I think he was a little upset that he liked them because he paused, looked at me and gave me a mean face and then poured some more into his mouth. Aha! Point for Sister Nelson! 

He also gave the talk at Sherry's baptism this week. He was extremely nervous and I had taken an hour to write out everything for him, scriptures and all so that he wouldn't have to fumble through his books and things. When he got up there he forgot to put his glasses on so he just paused a lot and went off script and was really shy and nervous and kept apologizing but of course his sweet spirit shined through and he did a great job, especially for his first time doing anything like that. He also got into a little... heated conversation... with a man in the ward who is a little creepy and too friendly with his comments towards missionaries. That man gave the closing prayer at the baptism and in the middle of his prayer said, "If there's anyone in the congregation who thinks I'm a hypocrite, please show them that I am not." and it was awkward and Bishop had to have a talk with the man. Willard is pretty protective of us and that man will hopefully keep better distance from now on.

Sister Clemons is a natural blonde. The other day we were being worldly and talking about home a little bit and the subject of Jimmer came up and she had no idea who he was and I started telling her about him and she asked if he was still at BYU and I said, "No. He graduated and got drafted. First round, too." "Wait. So is he in Iraq already or something?" Hahaha. "No. He got drafted into the NBA." "Oh." I kept laughing about it and she got upset and said, "I'm not as dumb as I sound." Bahaha. It was hilarious. [This is the same companion we heard in a recent mp3 Brooke sent us say the following -- Willard had just commented that in a previous job he was making lots of money. "Uncle Sam LOVED that!"  Sis. Clemons: "Oh! Your Uncle Sam worked there, too?"  I'm still not sure, even after Brooke laughingly explained things, if she actually knows who he was.]

Sherry. Whew. She's baptized! She's confirmed! And it's all a big bunch of miracles! Way back in September when Sherry got her answer that she needed to be baptized, a day or so later she felt like God was telling her she needed to go back to her son's church one more time before October 15th. She didn't know if it was actually God telling her to do it or the devil but as time for the baptism got closer the thought wouldn't leave her and she decided that she would go to Thomas's church on Friday night, the night before her baptism. She finally told Thomas she was being baptized and he actually reacted much better than she had expected. He's very involved in his Holiness church. He has met us a couple of times and what is usually the case with people like him and his wife happened. They try to keep their distance because they're SO against our religion but when they do get around us they can't help but like us. Thomas can't help but like us. He told Sherry that he doesn't believe the way we do but that he wanted to come and support her in her decision. Sherry told him she needed to go to his church one more time and he was really excited about that and said that he was going to cast out some devils out of her (like he has apparently done before. Though Sherry says whenever he casts them out they come back "seven times worser than before")

Of course, when she told us this we were very worried. We're not supposed to go to other people's churches to bash or things like that but Sherry asked us to come with her because she was afraid of what they'd try to do to her, yet she still insisted on going one last time. I ended up speaking with President Woodbury about it and asked his advice. He said that typically we aren't to do things like that but that once on his mission he had had a similar experience in Japan and that it ended up strengthening his convert's testimony. He said that if we had some priesthood holders go with us it would be best but that we for sure didn't want her to go to the church alone. Clay grew up around Sherry and so we brought him and our ward mission leader, Brother Maguet. They gave her a blessing beforehand. Then we drove out into the hills of south Barbourville to a place known as Coal Port. We drove for another couple minutes up into the mountains some more. 

(Sidenote: on the way there Sherry wasn't too sure about directions so she said, just keep going and if we come to a dead holler we'll just turn around. They don't say "dead end" they say dead holler. Also, she and Clay were passing people's houses and telling us how the people that used to live in there died. The craziest was when Sherry asked, "Do you remember so-and-so?" Clay: "That black-headed boy?" "Yeah. A few years back he got lexicuted and both of his arms tore off." "Yeah. I heard about that. Man, that boy could play a banjo better than anyone I ever hear'd.") 

We finally arrived at a little, one-room Holiness church in the backwoods and got out of the car and instantly heard people "whispering" about how we must not be from around here and stuff like that. We walked in and sat in one of the back pews. It was pretty tense in there as Thomas and the preacher saw who Sherry had brought with her. She also sat on the inside of the pew so that to get to her they'd have to come through Clay, then Bro Maguet then Sister Clemons and then me. Haha. Like I said, the church was one room and obviously built by the members. It was very humble. The ceiling had gold sparkles painted on it and the pictures on the wall were all of Christ on the cross in a lot of agony.  All of the women in Holiness churches have long hair that they aren't supposed to cut and they all wear skirts everywhere. Most of them just wear jean skirts though. They have a pulpit and drums and about four guitars set up and microphones and cymbals and tambourines and a piano way in the back that is just used as a shelf.

The service started out by Thomas asking for prayer requests. People would just say someone they knew or someone they heard of and tell all about what problems they had. Then Thomas would say, "Anyone else?" and someone else would give a prayer request. This went on from person to person for about 20 minutes. I wondered why Thomas wasn't writing them down because it was a lot to remember. Then, once everyone was done with their requests, he started praying and everyone else started praying and they were all saying individual prayers loudly at the same time and holding their hands up and some were swaying back and forth and other knelt down and others were crying and others were shouting but they were all saying prayers for those people on their own at the same time. This went on for about five minutes. 

After that, Thomas took the mic and the guitars started up and the drums started up and Thomas started sing/shouting a song. But I couldn't really hear many of the words because the amps were turned up so loudly. All of the kids plugged their ears and I wanted to but I didn't want to be rude. As Thomas sang, I think that the louder you sing and the faster you pray the more you're supposed to feel the spirit. People were praying/shouting/crying along with him but not really in unison, just kind of everyone doing their own thing. This is when people started "speaking in tongues" and having "the spirit come on them". Some people sounded like yodelers and others sounded like wild turkeys, others sounded like they were doing a native American Indian yell. Others sounded like gibberish that a little baby would make up. When they have "the spirit change their tongue" it's something that is very special for them and they thank the spirit right then for doing it to them. Some of them raise their hands and shake them back and forth and this one lady put her head down and was jumping up and down like she was at a concert or something till her hair all fell into her face and she started, trance-like, moving out of her pew and down the aisle. 

There was this other girl on crutches and she was crying and shouting and some of the people around her started shaking their hands and moving them up and down her leg and others were shouting for the demons to come out of her leg and stuff like that. That went on for maybe three songs worth. Then the preacher got up there and gave his sermon. He talked about how much of a good man he is and how he isn't ashamed of what he knows and how he's been able to overcome his past of being abusive and being a drunk and whenever people liked what he was saying they'd say amen or put their hand in the air. He was shouting to the point where every couple sentences he had to take a handkerchief and wipe the spit off of the top of the mic. He would pant and gasp for breath because he was getting so into it. He was very sweaty by the end of his sermon. I agreed with a lot of what he was saying though. My ears were just a little sore.

After the sermon (during which he welcomed us as special visitors) they had something that seemed pretty similar to the prayer requests from before but this time people could come up to the front and sit in a chair and have people surround them and sing/yell/pray/cry/shout/wave/speak in tongues over them while the band played some more music. 

We really intended to stay for the whole meeting but at 8:40 we had to leave to make it home by 9:30. As we started to head out I went up to Thomas and thanked him for letting us come and he saw we were leaving and went up to his mom and said, "Don't leave yet! We're going to pray over you next." She paused. She had been quiet the whole service (which I was relieved about because she grew up Holiness and I thought she might start shouting along with everybody). She said, "Thanks, but I'm good. I got what I came here for." 
Thomas looked upset but right then the preacher came over and said, "You're not leaving yet, are you?" She explained that we have a curfew and he said that we were welcome back anytime and we all shook hands and then we left. It was quite the experience. Quite. 

Sherry said that she felt very good about being baptized the next day and that she realized that when she got baptized this time it would be the last time and that she wouldn't just come to church and then go home and do whatever she pleased (which according to her is what those people do) but that she would be dedicated. That she would read every day and pray every day and live the gospel. I'm grateful for that unique opportunity to go to a different church as a missionary. I kept thinking about how genuine these people were in their desires to worship and follow God. They've just been taught to express that devotion in a completely foreign way to how I was taught.

Anyways, the next day Sherry was baptized. Her two sons, Thomas and Jerry Wayne, their significant others and Thomas's daughter who lives with Sherry, April, were all there to support her. It was quite the contrast to the night before as we were all very quiet during the service and that we didn't have loud instruments and things like that. The spirit was very sweet. I hope that her children felt the difference. Clay and Bishop both were in the font with her because she's a larger woman and has leg problems. She wanted Sister Clemons and I up near the stairs watching to help her come out of the font afterwards. Clay and Willard gave the talks and Sister Clemons and I sang one of her favorites: I am a Child of God. (acapella again... don't worry though, the narcoleptic lady, Wilma, who was sitting on the row in front of Sherry and her family sang right along, out loud with us so it was kind of like we had accompaniment) And Bishop gave a great welcome and it was wonderful. 

That night Jerry Wayne (who lives in Corbin) bought pork and ribs and corn and taters and everything else you could think of and we had a celebration and he insisted that "the girls" come (that's what they all call us). We call Sherry our "mama away from mama" and it really did feel familial all sitting around that table joking and hugging and laughing and eating. Even Thomas and his wife were very friendly and talking about the next time we all get together. Thomas even said he'd cook me up one of his favorite dishes. 

 The next morning Sherry called and told us she was too sick to come to church to get the Holy Ghost. She sounded awful and we weren't surprised because Satan always makes it really hard on Sherry on Sundays. We told her that she HAD to come and of course her ride was late and there were a bunch of mix-ups and none of her family came but she made it. And she got the Holy Ghost and it was wonderful. She and Willard were talking together about how different you feel after you're baptized and how it gets even better when you get the Holy Ghost. She said she felt lighter and happier and that her heart was new. It was wonderful.
Whew. Now onto Otis. Otis is that forever investigator that I've been mentioning lately. I know I repeat stuff a lot on here and I'm not sure if I've told you this or not but I'm going to tell you again anyways just in case I haven't. Otis is someone that has been meeting with the missionaries off and on for the last two or three years. (Actually, Otis told us on Saturday that about 20 years ago he'd come in contact with our church but had said no to them after a short time). Everytime that someone would drop him, he'd somehow end up being picked back up again. He had been dropped for probably six months or so when we accidentally picked him up in May. And I seriously mean it was an accident. 

We had gotten a call from a lady up in Louisville who said that she wanted us to go talk to her sister, Autumn and that she didn't know why the missionaries ever stopped meeting with her. We went through the previous investigator forms and Autumn and Otis had tons of papers from tons of companionships talking about how Otis was nice but liked to bash and how he said he'd never marry Autumn and how Autumn seemed interested in the church but didn't want to move out from Otis's and every time they dropped Otis it is because he said that he didn't believe and wasn't interested in joining the church. SO, at that time we were teaching someone else named Otis and I needed to get ahold of him to set up an appointment. The phone back then didn't have any last names in them (don't worry, I saw to it that it does now).

 So, I called the Otis that we were teaching but when he answered the phone he said, "Who is this?" "It's Sister Nelson." "Who?" "Sister. Nelson. You know who I am." Pause. "Is this the Mormons?" (At this point I realized that I was NOT talking to the Otis I thought I was. I started scrambling to make it seem like I had meant to call this man who I had no idea who he was.) "Yes! It's the missionaries." "Oh. Well. Did you want to come over?" "...uh. Yes." "Ok. How about Friday at 5?" "... sounds great! ... can you remind me where you live again?" Then he proceeded to give me directions as I was shuffling through ward lists and papers trying to figure out who this man was that I was talking to.

 We hung up and I told Sister Ralph that we had an appointment but that I had no idea who with but that I was pretty sure his first name was Otis. We started looking harder through papers and finally came across the name Otis in those former investigator forms and recognized him as the man who lives with that sister of the lady who called us a week or so before. Apparently Heavenly Father really wanted us to pick him back up again. So, Sister Ralph and I went out there and instantly fell in love with Otis and his "grandson" Malachi. Autumn has sadly started losing her mind as weird as that sounds but she's nice, too, when she doesn't think I'm an undercover FBI agent. 

Whenever we'd go out to see them Otis always seemed more interested in visiting and doing activities like feeding horses and mowing lawns and fishing and cooking for us than he did in talking about the gospel. We spent quite a few preparation days up there so that we could form a friendship with him but weren't really getting anywhere in the spiritual department with him because he was so defensive of his Bible and if the Book of Mormon said anything in it that he couldn't find in his Bible, he couldn't handle it. Still, we really loved him and felt that even though we weren't making much progress that the Lord wanted us to be teaching them. So we kept teaching them. 

Eventually Sister Ralph was transferred and Sister Clemons came in and I had to explain to her that even though it seemed like we weren't being very productive with Otis that I felt like we weren't supposed to drop him. Luckily, she felt mostly the same way. Last transfer President Woodbury changed some of our protocol for worthiness before baptism. He made the Word of Wisdom requirements more strict and he made quite the interesting change in regards to Law of Chastity. He said that with the economy the way it is, especially in Kentucky, that if people are living together as roommates and purely as roommates and not as a romantic couple that they can get baptized without being married as long as we as the missionaries feel like the relationship is truly and completely platonic. 

At first I didn't know how I felt about that, but President is a good man and I trust him. Sherry was able to be baptized because of that change. Even though the past records said that Otis and Autumn were a couple I got to thinking about it and they didn't act like a couple at all. They never touched or were sweet with each other and they have separate bedrooms. One day when we were with the horses and Autumn couldn't hear us I asked him if he and Autumn were a couple. He told me that years and years ago they had been but for the past 8 years or so they were strictly friends and that he let her live with him because she lost her son and the rest of her family and doesn't have anywhere else to go. (He retired a few years back and is comfortable financially). I asked him if the missionaries before told him he'd have to marry Autumn to join the church and he said they had and I told him that he actually didn't have to if they were seriously just friends and nothing more. He said they were. He seemed to be a lot happier after that conversation.

The next time we met him was at the restaurant without Autumn and we got to talk more about faith and real intent and things went great there, too. For a month or so now I've felt very strongly that Otis needed to see The Testaments movie. I don't usually think investigators should watch that movie until they've warmed up to the church because it is pretty cheesy in some parts. But that part at the end with the blind man and Jesus is so powerful and the Spirit kept telling me that Otis needed to see it. Otis doesn't have a tv that works so we borrowed Willard's tv and dvd player and drove up to Otis' and tried to get it to watch it but Otis had to burn some tree stumps that day so we couldn't. The next time we borrowed the tv again and went up there and as soon as we started it, Otis got an emergency call and had to leave. The next time the DVD was lost. The next time we couldn't get it to play in English, only in French.  UGH! By this point we were sure that Otis HAD to see the movie. Why else would Satan try as hard as he did to keep Otis from seeing it? 

We thankfully scheduled a lesson at a member's home last week after Malachi asked to come to church and Otis came and ended up really liking it. The day of the lesson (Sister Clemons and I were SO excited to finally be able to watch it.) the members called and said that Brother Gross' mom was in the hospital and they were leaving right then to drive to Harlan to visit her. CURSES! We called Otis, depressed. He was depressed, too. He loves seeing us. In a last ditch effort we called a less-active couple that live near the church and asked if they'd be willing to have the wife come over to the church and let us watch a movie with an investigator. The husband said that'd be fine. We called Otis back. "Otis, would you by any chance be able to come to Corbin for a lesson today? I know it's a long way to drive, but--" "I'd drive to Chattanooga if that's where you missionaries were." Hurray! 

So, the members came (the husband smoking a cigarette) and brought their disobedient, rowdy 4-year old. But, they came. And we started watching. I was praying the whole time that Otis would feel the spirit. It was hard not to get angry when the little boy would come in from the nursery with some toys and try to write on the chalkboard and talk real loud or when the members would ask when it was going to be over and things like that. I just prayed and prayed. Sister Clemons did, too. I couldn't tell if Otis liked it or not because he kept fidgeting and was really quiet.

 At the end, when the Spirit is crazy/strong, he took of his glasses, wiping the tears away from his eyes. He looked right at me and said, "You knew. How did you know? How did you know that'd get me? The power of the Lord is so strong on me right now." He kept saying, "Glory" Praise God" & "Amen" as we shared some scriptures out of the Book of Mormon. He could barely sit still in his seat he was so excited. We told him we weren't allowed to hug him because we could tell that he wanted to, he was so happy. Though I wish I could have. He's so sweet. He just kept saying how there's no denying the spirit that he felt and how he's always been so against the Book of Mormon and now he can't deny the spirit he felt and that Jesus really did appear to the people here. 
Part of the last scene where the Savior heals the man above who is blind
The actor happens to be a dear friend of Brooke's Grandparents and mother - Rick Macy

We invited him to the baptism and told him how much we cared about him and as soon as he was out of sight we hugged each other and started crying and jumping for joy and I almost had a fit of Cataplexy. (Cataplexy is when you feel an emotion so strongly that you faint. Kind of like King Lamoni when he was overcome with the Spirit when Ammon taught him.) It was so, so wonderful. 

The next day he came to the baptism and LOVED it. He kept saying amen and glory through the whole thing. He was so thrilled with it all. The next morning I called him right before sacrament meeting started and asked where he was and he said, "What time is it?" "9:30" "Oh no. I guess I should get out of the bathroom and head over there." "Yeah. If you hurry, you'll be able to make it for Sister Clemon's talk she's giving." "Oh. Ok." My heart sank. How could he have been so excited the past few days and then forget about church? I sat down next to Sherry and the Ogden kids (they sit with me because their mom is gone for six months so their dad drops them off and they sit with me) and was a little bummed. Right then, Otis walked in, fully dressed in a shirt and tie and smiled really big at me. "You tricked me!" "I told you I was in the bathroom! I just didn't tell you I was in the church bathroom!" He started laughing and I did, too.

 He was so excited through the meeting. When Sherry went up to be confirmed I scooted over and told him what was going on with her getting the Holy Ghost and how those men had the priesthood and he went, "Whew!" and shivers went down his back and he was so excited about the idea of what was happening. I peeked during the prayer and he was watching, very closely at the whole thing, bouncing his leg up and down trying to contain himself. After the prayer I tested out the waters a little and said, "After you get baptized, you'll be able to hold the priesthood, too." He looked at me and shivered again and said, "Praise God" and was so excited and happy.

During the second hour he told me about some dreams he's had about God and how he's been worried about coming to our church because he knows that we don't drink and he likes to drink. During Sacrament Meeting he said that God told him that from this day forward he'd never struggle with alcohol again! Tears were running down his face. That's when I told him how much God loves him and how we had accidentally picked him back up and when I told him the story he kept pumping his fists above his head like he had just won a gold medal and said, "glory" over and over. We were all crying and I said, "Otis, what are you doing on November 5th?" "November 5th, November 5th... nothing." "November 5th sounds like a good day to get baptized, doesn't it?" "You know what, it does! Glory!" Tears and laughter and Sister Clemons and I hugging each other followed. 

After church we gave him a lesson on the priesthood and the restoration and Willard and Sherry and Clay and Bro Mink were all there and it was wonderful and Otis is SO excited. Ugh! We're so excited. He said how he can't believe the 180 that's happened this last week but he went hunting Saturday morning and all he could think about was that Testaments movie. He said, "A herd of deer could have run all over me and I wouldn't have been able to shoot my gun, I was so distracted. I even left my gun on accident!" 

The Spirit is so miraculous! All it took was a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the rest of his doubts faded. Ah! It's so wonderful! He called us on the way home from church and said he met a lady who was complaining about her church and he said, "You should really come to our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You know, the Mormons? It's great. This is when we meet and this is where and you'll love it and if you give me your number I'll have the missionaries call you." And she gave him her number! AH! Too many blessings!

We set two new baptism dates this week (Molly is set for October 29th) and have a couple more that should be set soon.  Heavenly Father is pouring out blessings from heaven and we're trying to receive them all, but there's just too much. My cup runneth over. Yesterday at church Sherry was confirmed, we had 4 investigators at church, we set up the FHE program, we had two ward members ask us for Book of Mormons to hand out to their friends, we got a member referral AND we set Otis's baptism date. All in the space of three hours. How, I ask, is one supposed to be able to take all of that in? I know I must have had the goofiest grin on my face all day, but I couldn't help it. The Lord is just too good to us. And the people in the ward and my converts and my investigators all being in one room with me, I don't know how to handle all the happiness.

There's so much more that happened this week but this letter is already a year and a half long so by the time you finish reading it I'll just tell you the rest when I get home. Ah. I LOVE my mission. I love it too much. I don't know how I'll ever leave Corbin in one piece. I'm sure it's rare but there's got to be cases where a missionary served his/her whole mission in one area, right? Right? If not, maybe I'll be the first? Dad sent me some comforting scriptures for when I do have to leave, but let's not think about that right now. NOW is the time and Corbin is the place!

REX! Way to be a missionary! So many people who are actually full-time missionaries are terrified to invite someone to be baptized and there you are, 13 years old committing your home teachee's girlfriend to be baptized! Such a wonderful example! Mom, thank you for the package and the letter. I loved reading about the mission reunion and hope to be able to go to one of my own 40 years from now. You didn't include the info on what Sis Peterson has done though that you said I'd be excited about. Nick will make a great Roman Soldier. Has he seen his costume yet? Also, Sister Woodbury has a private blog for the mission for parents and family and if you want to be able to read it you should send your name, email address and relationship to me at

Ah. I wish I could tell you more because there's so much more to tell. We had a pretty bold meeting with a less active and another with an old baptism date and so so much more. EVERYONE needs to serve a mission. SERIOUSLY.

Word of the Week: kine-lee. (kindly). It means "kind of". Sherry kine-lee felt like she was walking on air after her confirmation. Otis used to be kine-lee be unsure about our church. The Holiness people, they're kine-lee diffurrnt, but they definitely love the Lord.
Extra Blessings: Mom & Grandpa Rex

I almost forgot, I've been talking in my sleep a bit lately and the other night I woke up Sister Clemons by telling her all about 2 Nephi 31 and how the last verse of the chapter is so true. Another night I kept saying over and over, "I'm so tired! I'm so tired!" Haha. I am. But it's a good tired.

I love you all. The Church is incredibly and wonderfully TRUE! Share it!


Sis Nelson

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