Monday, January 30, 2012

The Magical World of Hymnsey

Ever wondered what it would be like to go to Disneyland with the Prophet? Can you picture Elder Scott on Splash Mountain? Or Elder Packer on the Teacups? Or Elder Hales with Mickey Ears that have "Bobby" embroidered on the back? Just imagine the possibilities of combining the two best things on the earth: the Church and Disney. EPIC, right? Hopefully no one is unconscious on the floor right now due to a fit of cataplexy, but I had to risk it. While plans for the Disneyland, California Temple seem like a dream too wonderful to be reached, there is hope.

Let me explain.

My wonderful district leader, Elder Gardener, let me borrow a cd this week that is so amazing that I've listened to it an average of 4 times a day since I've had it. It's the Disney Orchestra playing LDS Hymns. Repeat: the Disney Orchestra playing LDS Hymns! I hope I don't need to explain how excited you should be at reading this. Whatever chills you're having right now, double them. Everyone has to get a copy of the cd. I don't know what the cd is called, I don't know where to get it, but I do know that this cd will change your life. If you are a Pinegar and you are reading this, you'll also want to buy a box of tissues when you get the cd because tears WILL flow. Listening to "The Spirit of God" is like being at a baptism and on the Dumbo ride at the same time. It's the BEST CD EVER. Be cautious of who you listen to the cd with, especially the first time, because you WILL have an enormous grin on your face through the whole thing and you won't be able to stop it. Also, if there is any friend of mine who is reading this letter who already knew about this cd, we are no longer on speaking terms. You are not a true friend. True friends don't keep happiness like this a secret.

**Note from Mom: I looked up the cd and it is called "The Power and the Glory" and has been ordered and paid for as of today.  Ironically - there is an endorsement from one of Brooke's Pinegar cousins, Ed Pinegar, AND  was recorded by Epic Recordings!  And she had no idea.  Why am I not surprised?"

Our week here in Salem has been better than last week. We got transfer calls on Saturday and Sister Ford and I are staying here which I'm glad about. The work here hasn't really picked up at all, but I can see gears starting to turn, so I think we're headed in the right direction. I'm finally starting to feel better, which is perfect timing because Sister Ford Sister Ralphed this morning. Now I can be the conscious one while she bundles up under blankets.

The Corbin Ward did a temple trip this week and I can't wait to hear how things went. As far as I know, Bishop wanted Otis, Logan, Reed, Sherry, Judy and Willard to go. I don't think that Mary would be up to it physically. I hope they all went. I know Otis was planning on it. I think the reason Heavenly Father had me transferred by the time they all went is because I would have exploded at all the BYH-ness that must have ensued in the Baptismal Font.

President Woodbury had the whole mission fast this last Wednesday for miracles and for the hearts of the people here to be softened. Fasting brings miracles. Here's Salem's: Do you remember Laura? Way back on December 26th we met her and talked to her about her friend that died. She's been friends with a member family for years now and has never wanted to talk to the missionaries. That night she changed her mind and said she wanted us to come to her house. Remember her? For the last month we've tried to see her and she's either had to cancel or forgotten or had an emergency or something. It had been weeks since we'd heard from her and we'd left a couple messages so we didn't want to bug her anymore. All we could do was pray that she'd call us. On Wednesday morning Brother Winslow called us and cancelled because he had a doctor's appointment. It's the worst to have a cancellation in the morning because tracting in the morning is almost pointless. We were trying to decide what we'd do instead of seeing him when the phone rang. It was Laura! She asked if we could come over in a half hour. Thankfully our schedule had JUST cleared up. So, we went over and had a wonderful lesson on the Plan of Salvation. She said that everything made sense and that it made her feel like God loved us more than just Heaven and Hell and if you don't get baptized you go to Hell even if you're a baby. We talked a lot about the Catholic church and her likes and dislikes regarding it. She said she really wants us to come back for dinner sometime and teach her husband, Dan, about it. She LOVED the Elvis in my visuals (thanks, Lars). You can never go wrong with Elvis. Dan and Laura are collectors. Their daughter, Sasha, is, too. Their whole house piled and lined and stuffed with collections. They love the Munsters and Kiss and Marilyn Monroe and Jesus and Fish. You could just sit in one of their rooms and be entertained for hours, looking at things. I love Laura so much! She's such a tenderhearted lady, but also has personality. There's going to be some issues with authority and the Word of Wisdom (her daughter made her a hookah for Christmas) but I feel the Spirit so strongly with her. I love thinking about her before this life. She knew the plan and agreed to it. Now it's a matter of helping her remember it. Thank you so much for your prayers regarding her. Please continue to pray for her and for her family. She said she'd call us which is something missionaries try to avoid because then you never know when you'll see them again, but I know that prayer worked last time and it will continue to work with her.

Speaking of prayer, my view of prayer is evolving right now. I haven't been getting as much out of my prayers as I think we all can and I've been wondering why. Then I got to thinking about how my relationships form with people. It isn't a bunch of onesidedness. Even if the one side is patient and humble and trying to be faithful. How can you know the other person if you're never quiet? So, I've been working on listening more. But I still wasn't liking the format because I'd list all my stuff and then wait. That's still pretty one sided. Shouldn't a conversation be: I talk. Then He talks. Then I talk some more. Then He talks some more. It's not me dumping all of my issues and questions on my pillow and then kneeling there until He sorts them out for me. I don't know. I'm not really good at this new approach yet and I'm not even sure that's how it works or has to work, I'm just throwing it out there. I just want to know God the way He knows me. And the way I've been going about it till now doesn't quite cut it for me. Any suggestions? I think the answer has to do with having a prayer always in your heart. We should lean on the Atonement throughout the whole day. We should lean on the fact that there is Someone who understands us perfectly and knows what it's like to be faced with a question or a problem or an emotion. I know I'm rambling again and I know this makes even less sense than usual. Sorry.

Extra Blessings: Willard, Paige, Otis, Malachi
Quote of the Week: "The cross dresser? His mom died last winter. He got a whole new wardrobe."

Life isn't perfect, but it's awesome. Go buy that Hymnsney cd!

The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pure Luck: Bird Fungus, Moon Shots, and Concussions

I don't know how many people besides the Nelson family have seen the movie Pure Luck starring Martin Short and Danny Glover. To fill you in, Martin Short is the unluckiest man in the world. I think his character's name is Eugene? Is that right? The guy has been struck by lightning three times, once while in a movie theatre. It's a hilarious movie. It is also my life. Friday was probably the most quintessential "Pure Luck" day I've had this week. Or maybe Saturday... But let me start with Thursday.

Thursday was Zone Conference in New Albany, IN. I always have fun at Zone Conference. Especially with the other Sisters and Sister Woodbury. We were all sitting at a table at one point, none of the Elders or President Woodbury were around and she started asking us what our favorite romantic comedies were and then our favorite musicals and all those kinds of questions and it was really cool to see her in that light. She loves movies. At one point she was like, "Has anyone seen Pure Luck?" Sister Ford and I were like, "YES!" Then we all started quoting and getting excited and we couldn't believe that the three of us had seen it because no one has ever seen that movie. Then Sister Woodbury was like, "What about What's Up Doc?" This time I was the only one to pipe up. It was like finding a long lost twin! It was so exciting. Ah. Sister Woodbury. Such a kindred spirit.

Anyways, we came home that night and I'd still been sick with this cough/cold/flu/sinus infection thing I've had. Finally on Friday morning I got in to see a doctor so that I could get some anti-biotics so that I could finally get over it. We were in the waiting room, being stared at and gossiped about by the old couples around us. The MOST annoying shows were on the television that was blasting into our ears and disrupting our attempts to keep our minds focused on reading or writing or anything besides watching tv. It was awful. I sat in the waiting room for two hours before they called me back. AND right before they called me back, this Amish lady came in and sat down and I was so upset because ever since I found out that Amish people live in our area it's been my goal to baptize one. So this Amish lady comes in, sits down and I finally have something to pull me from my boredom/attempts to ignore the soap operas that were playing in front of me. I look at Sister Ford and my eyes get big and I smile as she rolls her eyes (she's not an advocate of my "Baptize the Amish" campaign). And as soon as I settle in to watch her and see if I can strike up a conversation with her, this lady comes out and says that word that I don't hear too often out here "Brooke?" Oh. That's me.

So I get up and go and get my pulse and temperature taken and then sit in a cold, empty room for another 30 minutes waiting to actually be seen by the doctor. He comes in. He's a tall guy. He says to jump up and sit on the annoying table/chair that is cushioned but also has that huge, thin toilet paper stretched across it. I sit down. Crunch. I try to adjust myself on the seat without making too many crinkling noises. Then he pushes the button that elevates my seat. It slowly takes me higher. And higher. And higher. I didn't even know those things could go that high. I finally reach eye level with the doctor. I look down. My dangling feet were about two feet away from the ground. I made a mental note not to make any sudden movements to my right or to my left. Even though he knows why I'm there he proceeds to ask me why I'm there. I re-list my symptoms for the 3rd time that day. Then he asks me questions like, "How often do you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom?" "Uhh..?" "One or two or how many?" What does this have to do with a sinus infection? I rack my brain. "I guess once a night if I do get up at all." "Ok. Do you spend a lot of time in basements?" I'm confused.

 So, he asks me all of these random questions that I don't really know the answers to, listens to my heart (which is always awkward for me) and then asks me what I know about Bird Fungus. BIRD FUNGUS? Are you kidding me? Do you know who you're talking to? You can't just nonchalantly ask a girl who's terrified of birds if she's ever heard of Bird Fungus. "No. I haven't. I don't have it, do I?" "Most likely. It's something that all people in our area are exposed to. There are a lot of chicken farms around here. 40% of people who live in the area have residue of Bird Fungus show up on x-rays of their lungs. You basically can't live here and not have a least a little bit of it. And since you're new to the area, you're body isn't fit to combat it." (Seriously? First Swine Flu, now Bird Fungus. What's next? Mad Cow Disease?!!) I feel myself start to get a little dizzy. Then I remember that if I faint and fall over, I will be falling from a semi-dangerous height so I snap myself out of it. "How do I get rid of it?' "It's nothing to get rid of. It's just affecting your pre-existing conditions of allergies and asthma. I'm going to give you some anti-biotics for a sinus infection." "Great." Then he starts to leave. He stops. "You know, there is a way to speed up the process if you'd like..." "Like what?" "Injections." I've had enough shots in my lifetime that those things don't scare me a bit. "That's fine with me." "I'll send my nurse in in a couple minutes with the syringes." "Great, thanks."

So, I sit there and wait for my shots, looking at all of the posters and diagrams on the wall, trying my absolute hardest to keep my mind off of Bird Fungus. After about 10 minutes the nurse comes in with the shots. She holds up the first needle and makes sure it's all measured out correctly. I start to roll up my sleeve. She pauses, looks over. "Umm, honey. These don't go in your arm." !!! "They don't? Where do they go?" (Please don't say my butt, please don't say my butt.) "Your butt." "OH. Really? You can't put them in my arm?" "Nope." "Oh." "The Dr. didn't tell you?" "No. He probably knew I'd say no if he did tell me." So, I got two shots in my rear. One on each side. (Brother Vonnahme calls them Moon Shots). And let me tell you. Shots in the arm are a piece of cake compared to moon shots. How come no one ever warned me about those things? They are horrible. I was stinging and sore for days. It was awful. So, the nurse does what she has to do and I try to hobble from the room without looking like I'm hobbling. As I'm leaving I pass the doctor. "See you on Sunday, Sister Nelson." "See you, Bishop. Thanks." (But not really because I hate you right now.) Yeah. The doctor was my bishop. Imagine Sunday as he came and shook my hand on the stand (we spoke in sacrament meeting with the departing missionary in the Salem Ward. We spoke on missionary work. Go figure.) and he smiles and says, "I hope you're feeling better." I grimace. "I'm starting to." Ugh. So anyways, I go back out into the waiting room and pick Sister Ford up off the floor because she had died there of boredom and then hobble the rest of the way to the car and feel sorry for myself as I pick up my prescriptions. Later that night as we were with the Vonnahme's and Sister Vonnahme insists on the WHOLE story (that's how it all came out that Brother Vonnahme calls them Moon Shots) and she hugs me and says she hopes that I feel better and then says, "Be careful tomorrow. We're supposed to get a lot of freezing rain tonight and tomorrow." Freezing rain? Who has ever heard of such a thing? "Wait, do you mean snow?" (Isn't the definition of snow: rain that is frozen?) "No. I mean frozen rain. It's an ice storm, honey." Oh. Great.

The next morning, my moon shots are still sore. We get a text from our District Leader saying, "Have a safe day. Be careful out there. I already cleaned off our front steps with my back." Sister Ford and I laughed. Then I say, "That would be AWFUL if I fell on my butt today. I'm too sore. I wouldn't be able to walk." Two hours later, as we're leaving our house and I'm in the middle of telling Sister Ford something, I walk out the door and as soon as I hit our first step Vwhoop! WHAM! I fell.. on my moon shots. It was horrible. And since Sister Ford and I are basically the same person, I knew that she was dying, trying not to laugh but she was also concerned because I biffed it hardcore. I come inside and lay on the floor. "Ouch." "Are you ok?" "Yeah." I was laughing really hard. She started laughing once I did. But then she was like, "You know, you can cry if you need to. That looked like it HURT." "It did." "You hit your head REALLY hard on the corner of the stairs." I remembered. My head ricocheted and bounced up before my feet landed on the sidewalk. "Seriously, do we need to take you to the hospital or something? You can cry if you need to." "I know I hit my head. But it doesn't hurt. Is that bad?" "Umm...?" "I know I should be in pain but I don't feel anything painful except for on my butt and my wrist. Not my head." "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" "I don't know." I decided it was a good thing. But for the rest of the day Sister Ford was looking at me really closely checking for signs of a concussion. So far, I haven't had any pain in my head. So either the Lord was protecting me, or I have some brain damage. I hope the Lord was protecting me. He didn't protect me from the double attack on my backside though. Yikes. I'm a sore girl. Later that night I told the Vonnahmes about my fall and Sister Vonnahme hugged me and told me she was putting my name on the Temple Prayer Roll. Haha.

The next day was Sunday. It was a good day. Except for the fact that none of our investigators or recent converts showed up... lame. But it was a good sacrament meeting and the classes afterwards were good, too. The lady who taught Relief Society shared part of her conversion story and said that she was about to be baptized into the Methodist faith and her minister asked her why she wanted to be baptized and what she believed and when she got done telling him he said, "You believe what the Mormons believe." The next day, after he baptized her, he gave her a Book of Mormon! The rest is history. CRAZY.

Last night we went to the farewell get together for the Elder who's going into the MTC this week. I was talking with this kid's aunt when out of nowhere someone GOOSES me. I jumped. It was Sister Vonnahme. She pinched my butt! "Oh, sorry, hun! I didn't mean to do that!" Haha. How do you not mean to do something like that? I laugh and turn back around to finish talking and she falls into me again and hits me again right on the rump to catch herself. I laugh again and decide to move over and stand beside her so that she doesn't accidentally grab me again and she hugs me and says to the newly set apart missionary, his mother and his aunt, "This poor girl! First the shots and then falling on the ice and now me! Her poor bottom!" Sister Ford had to turn her face away because she was dying. I didn't have anything left to do but laugh. Thank you, Sister Vonnahme. Thank you for announcing all of my butt problems to the whole world. Then again, people up here are just as bad as people in Kentucky about mentioning their diorama problems that I guess I'm one of the only people whose face would turn beet red at having that information exposed about themselves. It was hilarious. And awful. But mostly hilarious. Sister Ford is always like, "You have the worst luck." I know. I know.

Heavenly Father has such a sense of humor sometimes.

Sacrament meetings in small wards and branches are very different than they are out west. It's not uncommon to hear things over the pulpit like this: "I loved getting the priesthood. If you didn't love it the first time you got it, go back to the bishop and get it again. There's no _ _ _ _ feeling like it in the world if you do it right!" It's moments like that when you lean over to your companion and say, "Besides the false doctrine & profanity, we had a pretty good sacrament meeting." Missions are awesome.

I hope this letter wasn't offensive to anyone. And I hope it wasn't depressing. I've laughed harder this week than I have my whole mission. I know the Lord loves me and is watching over me. I see miracles and tender mercies everyday, some that are too sacred to share in something like this. One thing I've been wondering/thinking lately is that it isn't just a saying, "Faith precedes the miracle." The more I read my scriptures and the more I see the lives of those around me, the more I think that it might actually be a law of heaven that Heavenly Father has to abide by. There's so many blessings that await us if we'll put forward faith first. The Lord WANTS to bless us and I'm coming to see that the only thing that stops Him from giving us those blessings is US. WE withhold blessings from ourselves when we choose doubt and fear. Choose faith. Our God is a God of Miracles. He wants to show you that He is. But He can't if you won't first have faith.

There's lots of extra blessings this week. It made me feel really good and helped me as I laid on the floor in pain: Dad, Paige x 2 (one for the copied book, one for the scribbled note, I still haven't gotten your letter), Jackie Kahrs, Sister Clemons, Otis, Judy, Sister J, Rex & Nina and VALERIE! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the picture album. I look at it at least 5 times a day. I can't get over how adorable/hilarious/cute/beautiful my nieces and nephews are! I can't wait to see pictures of the new baby! (PS Joel, I don't know if Gunnar was a joke name or not but I was looking at our genealogy and we have ancestors whose first names were Gunnar. JSYK) The video didn't work but I'm going to try it on a member's computer and see if it will work that way. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Quote of the Week: "Is he backing that tractor out of his garage? But he's BLIND!"

I love you all. I love my mission. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Home Sick and Homesick

Some weeks are harder than others in the missionary world. This week was a hard one. Remember last week when I decided not to be sick? Well, I accidentally got sicker. I've developed a goose cough. You know. The ones that make everyone feel awkward. The ones that sound painful. The ones that make you stick out your tongue for some weird reason. The ones where people ask you afterward if you're ok and you're like, "I'm fine, I just coughed up a chainsaw. That's all." Yeah. It's fun. Needless to say, there aren't many people who want a goose-coughing missionary in their house. Sister Ford and I spent quite a bit of time at home this week. Being sick always makes me miss Mom. And then when I miss Mom I start missing the family. And now that family extends to Corbin so I've just done a lot of missing people this week. Sister Ford got a letter from home that worried her and made her really homesick, too. So, we've spent a lot of time feeling not so good. And to top it all off, all of our investigators regressed this week. One even yelled at us and told us to leave. When it rains, it pours.

Bro. Vonnahme's spinach dip
Luckily, there's the Vonnahme's. (Pronounced "von-uh-meez". It's German. There used to be an "n" on the end of the name and was pronounced "vone-ah-min" but now it's been Americanized.) Brother Vonnahme was raised Catholic and Sister Vonnahme was raised Methodist. They joined the church in their 20's and have been members for about 50 years now. They've always loved the missionaries and take them in and become family to them. They said that when they first joined the missionaries were like their siblings, after ten years or so the missionaries became like their own children and now the missionaries are like their grandchildren. And they really do just take you in like you're family. They call almost everyday to check on us and invite us over for chips and snacks all the time. If they're sick, the want the missionaries there. If they're depressed, they want the missionaries there. If they're happy, they want the missionaries there. Brother Vonnahme made this really good spinach dip on New Year's Eve that Sister Ford and I LOVED. He called us the other day and said that he'd made some more and we needed to come over and eat it. We did. Then the next day Sister Vonnahme made her famous carmel corn and needed us to come sample it. Haha. They're always looking for excuses to get us to come over. Sister Vonnahme is the one that I said reminds me of Martin Short as Jimminy Glick. Brother Vonnahme is knowledgeable and likes to curse and reminds me of Mermaid-man (Last week he asked me if I had any pointy cowboy boots. I said I didn't. He said I should get some cause they're handy. "You know the boots I'm talking about: they call them 'roid removers."). Sister Vonnahme loves to pray and loves to hug and I'm taller than her even when I'm sitting down. She calls the temple almost every night to put names on the prayer roll. The other day before we ate the carmel corn she wanted to say a prayer. She laughed, "You know me. I love to pray. Poor Heavenly Father. If I didn't pray all the time, he'd be so lonely."

Sis. Vonnahme on the couch

Haha. She's a doll. She always thanks us for being her friends. On Saturday night, I was really sick and we'd just been yelled at by an investigator and Sister Ford had gotten that disturbing letter from home and all of our other appointments cancelled on us and we had three hours till we had to be in but it was dark so we couldn't go tracting and we didn't know what to do. So, we called Brother Vonnahme and asked if he would give us blessings. He said he would so we went over. He gave some really simple, great blessings. He told me things that I hadn't been told yet about me before. It was really nice to have him to go to since both Sister Ford and I were really wishing our fathers could give us blessings. We spent the next hour talking with the Vonnahmes and getting encouragement and advice. It was a good pick-me-up. It's so wonderful how even when you're experiencing one of life's lows how Heavenly Father doesn't leave us completely alone. He's aware of us and He loves us and just because we're being chastened or refined doesn't mean that He doesn't care about us. It's just that sometimes this life isn't easy. A lot of times it isn't.

This week Elder Bruce D Porter and his wife came and spoke to the mission. It was a spiritual feast. All of the talks were wonderful. Sister Woodbury, President Woodbury, Sister Porter, Elder Porter. It was all very uplifting and insightful and inspiring. The main thing that I took from the day was that all of our faults have the potential and ability to be overcome through Christ and His Atonement. We need to not just go through the motions, but we need to become the people we have been commanded to be. Elder Porter said something that at first I thought might be a little extreme but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I was inclined to believe him. He said that faith in Christ is a billion times stronger than electricity. I think sometimes I tend to forget just how awesome and powerful God is. He's everything. I was reading in 3 Nephi today and Christ was telling the people that we don't really have any power over anything. Even our own heads. We can't will our hair to grow or to turn gray or to be curly or straight. We can't decide to grow a foot and then will it to happen. Only God has power over those things. And we need to trust Him. One thing I know for sure is that Heavenly Father loves each and every person that is living on this earth. He loves every person that has ever lived or that will ever live. And we all have the potential to make it back to him. It's up to us to decide if we will work with Christ to achieve it or not.

In 1 Nephi 8:30 it talks about the people that were striving to make it to the tree of life. It says, "...and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree." Why did they fall down? My belief is that they were exhausted. Something that bothers me sometimes is when people paint the vision of the tree of life and they make the path to the tree flat and easy to walk. What's the whole point of needing the rod of iron if it's easy? The only time I've ever seen an iron rod in a path while I've been hiking is if the path is so steep and treacherous that you NEED the rod to help you make it. You HAVE to hold on with both hands or you can't climb it. That's why the rod is there, in my opinion. Elder Holland told us in the April 2011 General Conference that the path of discipleship doesn't get easier. He refers to a knee-buckling pinnacle. The path to Eternal Life isn't easy. Once we've been baptized things don't get easier. So why is it worth it? In verses 10-12 of 1 Nephi 8 it says "And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit." That's why it's worth it. Things don't have to get easier to get better. And things do get better with the Gospel in our lives. But we shouldn't ever expect for an easy road. Look at every prophet we've had in this dispensation. None of them had an easy road.

Anyways, I think I'm rambling. I'll stop.

Extra Blessings: Otie
Quote of the Week: "Besides the false doctrine & profanity, we had a pretty good sacrament meeting."

I love you all. I'm so grateful for your love and support. I'm too blessed. It's crazy. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Me with the puzzle I did while I was sick.
Sister Ford lamed out and didn't help me because it was too hard.

Monday, January 9, 2012

CHRISTMAS CARD shared by Mom

This Christmas greeting arrived in many friends' and families' mailboxes this past December.  It was a welcome sight!  Just in case you missed it:


Whenever I was still in Kentucky and I'd be talking to Grubb and he'd say something completely Kentuckian or do something that only a person from the hills would do I'd stop and laugh, "Your hillbilly is showing." Well, this week my hillbilly showed through. We were talking to Brother Winslow (the blind guy in the booty shorts) and we were talking about food and he started naming things he thought we'd never eaten before and Sister Ford was all like, "Woah. No, I've never eaten that." or "People eat those?" and I was always like, "Had it." or "Love it." Haha. At one point when we were talking about soup beans I said they're especially good with cornbread, an onion and fried taters and he turned his head towards me and asked in all sincerity, "Are you a hillbilly?" Haha. I didn't know quite how to respond. I'm not sure anymore.

This week has been a slow week. I've been sick and we've had to make some trips to Louisville for some visits that President requested. Next week we only have one trip to Louisville and I've decided not to be sick, so things should get better.

I got to meet a former investigator last night who is the brother of a recent convert. He was dropped because he's dying and can't really retain new information anymore. He has spinal cancer and probably won't make it till Easter. I love him though. He was feeling good last night and in a lucid state so we visited him after we saw Karen and another lady named Rowena 
(sadly NOT Rowena Ravenclaw). I walked in and was overjoyed to see a Kentucky Wildcats blanket on his bed. He's the first UK fan I've met since I've been in Indiana. Everyone here hates UK and loves IU. So, I pulled out my UK keychain and then I showed him my UK playing cards and showed him some magic tricks with them and now we're besties. He's really mean, naturally. I only like mean people anymore. Mean people and BYH's. There's not much middle ground.

Speaking of BYH's. Mom spoke to Otis on the phone last week and Otie wrote me about it. (He starts out every letter to me by saying, "Hey Sis! Praise the Lord!" and then goes on to tell me about how wonderful Heavenly Father is). He said that he loves mom and feels like he's known her his whole life. Otis, Logan and Reed all got the priesthood yesterday! (Well, that's what the letters say was supposed to happen. I wasn't there.) In May Otis, Logan, Reed and Willard are all on track to get the Melcheziedek priesthood! What sweethearts.

We still haven't gotten to meet with the Mullinses because Satan knows the potential they have so he's been throwing one obstacle after another at them. But, they're still interested and say they want to meet with us. Please pray for them!

Yesterday, in Sunday School, I had a Twilight Zone moment. Our teacher (think Rick Moranis
 with swooped back hair in a bolo tie with a red poinsettia on it) gave the EXACT same lesson as he had given last week. He started out talking and I looked around like, "Does anyone else realize what's happening here?" No one flinched. I leaned over to Sister Ford whose eyes were wide and I could see her thought process. "Is this the same lesson as last week or am I going crazy?" I asked. She looked again at our manuals. "No, you're not crazy. This is the same lesson." We then stared around at the class. No one looked like there was anything out of the ordinary. He used the same questions, people gave the same comments (including the former patriarch who now has dementia who said that the only thing he likes in the Book of Mormon is the Beatitudes. I would have thought that exact same comment would have put on a few light bulbs, but NOTHING.) He used the same hand-drawn visual aide. I kept thinking, "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" This went on for a half hour. 

Our Ward Mission leader eventually snuck to the back of the class because he had been doing something with the bishop and he opened his manual, looked up, looked back at his manual then put on a puzzled face. Hurray! We weren't crazy. At about that time, Brother Sullivan (Moranis) got to the part of the lesson where he wanted to challenge the class to hand out 120 Book of Mormons over the course of the year. Then he realized that he'd already issued that challenge. He apologized but the apology wasn't really needed, except by the three of use who actually realized what was going on. I was just impressed that he made it 45 minutes through the exact same material and didn't realize till the last section of his lesson.

Last week we went to visit a single lady who is inactive but only because she's sick. She knew we were coming and when we knocked on the door she yelled, "Who is it?" "The Missionaries." "Hold on. Let me put my pants on!" Sister Ford and I looked at each other, grateful that she thought to ask who it was before opening the door...?

Extra Blessings: Grubb, Otie, Clementine, Uncle Scott & Aunt Patty, the Wadsworth Girls

Quote of the Week: "They call those 'roid removers."

Thanks for all of your love and support. Thanks for your prayers. I can feel them. I'm so blessed. The Book of Mormon is so addicting. And it's so true. And wonderful. And if you're not reading it everyday START. There aren't any adequate excuses you can give me. Start. You'll be happier. I promise.

This is God's church. We are His children. He wants us to return to live with Him and ALL of us have the potential to do so. This knowledge is precious and essential for eternal happiness. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, January 2, 2012

"There are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese!"

Week 2 in Salem has been better than Week 1. I still miss Corbin. But I'm starting to feel a little less foreign here.

Monday night we went to a member's house, the Roberts. They have a tradition on the day before Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas with a family called the Mullins. They get together and eat and play games like Guesstures and Catch Phrase. They always invite the missionaries. The two families have daughters that grew up together that are now in college and that's how they all became friends. Their daughters always dress up like it's Halloween for the occasions. They say, "Special occasion means special outfit." This time one of them was the Ghost of Christmas Party and she was a skeleton in a flapper dress and the other was one of Santa's helpers. The helper wore these things called pony boots (I think). Look them up. They're these platform boots that don't have a heel to them. They're pretty crazy. Anyways, the Mullins aren't Mormon and Sister Roberts made it very clear not to push them because they're very comfortable and active in their church, but to try and fellowship them. So, that's what we tried to do.

 It was lots of fun and I of course love those two games and the Mullins kept saying that I have to stay in Salem till next year so that I can come play again. When it was time for Sister Ford and I to leave, we stopped and shared a spiritual thought. Earlier that day Sister Ford had gone to prepare one but felt like I should give it instead. When she asked me to prepare one, Romans 8:35,37-39 popped into my head. Then I thought that maybe I should do a Christmas scripture instead to show the Mullins that we love Christ. But I just felt really good about Romans 8 so I stuck with it. Anyways, when it came time to share the scripture, I did. I was nervous because even though the Mullins were friendly towards me, I could see in the husband's face that he was going to scrutinize whatever I shared. 

At the end of the scripture I bore my testimony and they thanked us for the thought and everyone kind of started talking again. Then I looked to my right to Mrs. Mullins who was sharing the couch with me. She had tears running down her face. I was shocked. She started to quietly tell me that that was the exact scripture that had been shared at the funeral of one of her friends who just committed suicide. She said that she's been praying and worrying over him to the point where she can't sleep and can hardly work. Her religion says that if you commit suicide you go to Hell. I told her I went to a Lutheran school when a friend of my committed suicide and that our teachers had told us the same thing. Then I told her that I don't believe that we can judge who goes to Hell and who doesn't. She said it's been hard for her to accept that such a sweet, troubled man would be sent to Hell over a moment of weakness. She cried and cried and we hugged all while the people around us chatted. No one bothered us. It was very tender. I told her that the reason that the members of our church are able to have hope and happiness after death is because of what we know about God and His plan for us. I said that we'd love to share with her more about what we believe next time they're over at the Roberts'. She said, "You should just come on up to our house." So, we set a time for this Thursday. It was a miracle. A huge blessing. I can't wait to meet with her and teach her the Plan of Salvation. She called and said we might have to reschedule because her husband and daughter might want to join in the lesson as well. Miracles. Miracles. This is the first new investigator that Salem has had in months.

The next day we got another new investigator. Her name is Ruby and she's great. She said that if the Book of Mormon is true that she'll get baptized. She had already started reading before we met her. I don't have time to talk about her today but I will next week.

There's a man who we visit named Carol Winslow (remove one letter and his name turns into Carl Winslow from Family Matters). You need to know what Brother Winslow looks like. Imagine Jeff Bridges. Imagine him doing an old prospector accent. Imagine him in nothing but white booty shorts that have holes all over them. Put him in a wheelchair. Make him blind and almost deaf. That's Brother Winslow. He's awesome. We sit outside with him and we're freezing to death and he's in his booty shorts and is still burning up. It's amazing. He's hilarious. He joined the church a couple years ago. He's a sweetheart and loves to be read to from the Book of Mormon. He calls me Bo.

On probably Tuesday or Wednesday night we had gotten home and finished planning and I was in the kitchen playing solitaire when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was gone by the time I moved my head to get a better look. I got scared and so I watched the spot where I thought I saw it. After a couple seconds, it came back out and ran across the floor and tried to get through our closed broom closet door. A MOUSE! I screamed and jumped up on the chair. Sister Ford ran downstairs. I couldn't really talk. I pointed. She didn't believe me that there was anything. Then it came back out from under the dryer and tried to get through the door again. She screamed. Then she walked out of the room ABANDONING me. I screamed some more and told her to get it. She said she didn't know what to do. Finally I convinced her to call the landlords (they're in our ward). They said they'd get some traps and be over in a little bit. Sister Ford was in the other room and I was alone in that room on the chair screaming every time the mouse came out. It was horrible. The Blackwells finally showed up and set up some traps with, not cheese, but peanut butter on them and told us by the morning he'd be dead. I got brave and ran into the other room. Then I remembered that in order to brush my teeth I had to go back through the kitchen. It was horrible. I took an umbrella and banged it on the ground, ready to stab the mouse, if he ran out. Luckily he didn't. That night we prayed that the mouse would die. He did. The Blackwells came back in the morning and took him and threw him away. All was well again. But it was a stressful night. Ever since then I've had that song from "American Tail" stuck in my head. "There are no cats in America! And the streets are paved with cheese!"

We visit a lot of less-actives. We made a list this week from the Ward Directory with the Ward clerk. There were 85 less-active households and only 30 active households. It's crazy. One lady we visit would be active but she's in the nursing home. She is so overweight that she can't take care of herself. It's really sad. She's a sweetheart. She can't even adjust herself if she gets uncomfortable. She's been in the nursing home for 9 months and has only had her hair washed 2 times. Isn't that awful? There's so many things about her life that are HORRIBLE that I'm not going to get into on here. But to top it all off, not one of her children called her or anything for Christmas. And still she loves the Lord and all He's done for her. It's amazing.

There's this other less-active named Sister Naugle. (Her husband is an invalid named Irvin.) She's really grouchy and stole my heart because she always gets disgusted by people and threatens to throw up over it, which is something I do. She likes to talk and gossip about how everyone in the ward talks and gossips about each other. (Verbena). She's really funny. People here think it's hilarious to offer you a cold beer and then have it turn out that they were offering you root beer. Brother Vonnahme does it all the time and laughs every time he says it. So, it was as we were drinking a cold beer with Sister Naugle that she said, "I can't find my weed recipe!" And Sister Ford and I looked at each other like, "She has a WEED recipe?" Then when she found it we realized that she meant a recipe for a concoction you can spray on weeds to make them die. We had thought she meant a magic brownie recipe or something.

Oh, one more awful thing: we were talking to this lady who lives in this trailer park and she mentioned her son in Iraq and started talking about the most horrifying things ever and I really thought I was going to throw up: Camel Spiders. Look them up. I had no idea things like that existed and I've been traumatized ever since. I can't get them off my mind. It's horrible. Ugh.
Also, people love telling ghost stories here. I just flat out have to plug my ears because I can't handle them. I wish I had done that with the Camel Spiders but that one snuck up on me. So far my nightmares haven't had them in there, but I'm not holding my breath.

Extra Blessings: Dad, Otis x 2, Grubb. (Sidenote: Otis apologized for the wrinkled letters he sent me but told me that he gave them big hugs before he sent them. Biggest BYH ever.)

Instead of Word of the Week, I'm going to start 
Quote of the Week. What I'm going to do is give you a quote and then not tell you anything about it till next week's email. Good idea?
So, this week's quote of the week is: "Hold on. Let me put my pants on!"

I love you all. Beware of pride. It's the source of all our troubles. Don't fool yourself into thinking you know better than the Lord. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, December 26, 2011

So, I think I might be a witch. Here are some reasons why:

1) My hair resembles Hermione/Hagrid
2) Ever since I'm not allergic to them anymore, I've been obsessed with cats. And I seem to have the magic touch with them. Everyone's always like, "She usually won't go to anyone." And I'll be holding the cat like a baby with it purring loudly.
3) I don't really laugh; I cackle.
4) My wardrobe is mostly black.
5) I love magic and I'm AMAZING at it.
6) I was born right before Halloween.
and 7) I live in a place called Salem. Salem, Indiana. (Indiana... Massachusetts... same difference.)

I wouldn't be surprised if my skin started turning green soon.

So, yes. I have been transferred. Salem, Indiana. It's not at all what I imagined Indiana to be like. For some reason I was thinking it would be more of an urban state. But I'm in a town a little smaller than Corbin. The area that Sister Ford and I cover is about 1/4 the size of the Corbin area. Indiana is a lot different than Kentucky. Everyone has teeth here! It's crazy! My first day I just looked at everyone's teeth like "Wow! There's so many in there!" Also, people don't have accents here. A couple people have slight, very slight accents. But for the most part they sound just like you and me. The land is a lot more open here. Not really many hills. There's trees but they don't cover everything like they do in Kentucky. The trees have their own space and the fields have their own space and they don't fight each other like they did in Corbin.

Something interesting here is that if you're cooking a nice meal (for instance a Christmas Eve dinner or a Christmas luncheon) you have to have deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese or it isn't a real nice feast. (Kind of like how you would need rolls and a salad at one of the meals out west. Everyone here loves IU. They also hate my UK keychain. But, too bad for them. I was a Wildcat before I got here. And besides, what in the world is a Hoosier, anyway? Dad told me that we have a bunch of ancestors from around here on the Tebbs side which is cool. So I'm on the lookout for some handsome/beautiful, intelligent people with messed up feet and toenails. I'll keep you posted.

Corbin is one of the most progressing (meaning most success) areas in the mission. Salem is one of the least progressing areas in the mission. (See Genesis 41 to understand what I'm anticipating.) I'm sort of joking about that. Sister Ford is excited to find people here and so am I. We're going to work hard. But we'll find people. In Corbin we ran from teaching appointment to teaching appointment and never had any time to tract. If we did, it was for five minutes and we'd find an investigator every time. We have about 20-25 investigators with 8 of them real potentials for baptism in the next months. Here in Salem we have 3 forever investigators, none of which are willing to change their lives to be baptized. So, there's a stark contrast. Wish us luck. Or better yet, pray for us!

Sister Ford is a cool girl. She's from Layton, UT and she and I are creepily similar. Sister Ralph was her last companion and she would always write me and say how Sister Ford and I should serve together because we'd get along really well. She's an English major with a creative writing emphasis. She's left-handed. We have the same taste in movies. She loves musicals. We both love a certain drink that we shouldn't but we both do anyways... (Dr. Pepper). The more we talk the more we find in common. Oh yeah, and we were both trained by Sister Ralph. (Let's be honest, my first trainer didn't really train me. So in the mission we say that Sister Ralph was my Step-Mom, which makes Sister Ford and I step-sisters.)

I haven't met all the people in the ward yet. But there is one couple I have to tell you about. They are the Vonnahme's. They're hilarious. We ate Christmas Eve Dinner with them and then last night when they got back from their family stuff they had us over for chips and crackers. They're so sweet. They joined the church in their 20's and are now in their 70's. Sister Vonnahme is about 4 feet tall and she is EXACTLY who Martin Short based his Jimminy Glick character off of. She changes tone of voice five times in one sentence. She doesn't ever finish a thought. She asks questions and doesn't wait for the answer. She does outrageous facial expressions. She grabs onto whoever is next to her and pretends to faint. She loves everybody. She's constantly worried about how comfortable you are. She's a riot. Her husband, Brother Vonnahme is hilarious and mean and reminds me of Mermaid Man from Spongebob. He says off the wall things and then laughs twice really loudly and then stops and has a serious face like he wasn't laughing. He tells jokes with cuss words in them and Sister Vonnahme can't ever hear the joke so he'll repeat slowly and loudly the cuss word and then she'll get embarrassed and faint all over again. I want to video them for you.

I loved talking with the family yesterday. I'm so glad that you got to talk to Grubworm and Sherry and that Grubb had a good experience getting the Holy Ghost. Please call Otie and Willard. Let them all know I love them and miss them like crazy!

I love you all. I'm so grateful for the Savior and his choice to come to earth and be born to the circumstances He was born into for me. I'm grateful that He paid for my sins. I'm grateful that through Him we can all be together again someday. This is His church. I love you all. The church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson