Thursday, June 28, 2012


The Amish of Indiana

Sister Ford thinks this might be Jason Schmidt -
 I'm too sad to think about it.

I put this kitten in the mailbox

Brother Vonnahme showing his "tusks"
- the only 2 teeth he has.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Like No Udder

There's this chain of ice cream places out here called Chillers and the logo is a cow and underneath the cow are the words, "Like No Udder". When I first saw it, I gagged. For some reason it made me think of warm, curdled ice cream coming right out of the sweaty cow's hairy udders. The more I've seen it, the more I've gagged, but I've also decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say I ate at a place like no udder. Naturally, Sister Ford my boon companion, felt the same way so after district meeting this week she and her companion and I and Sister Hunt all went out to Chillers. To my relief, the ice cream wasn't warm or curdled and I didn't find any sweaty hairs in it (like that dreadlock hair I found in my chili, gag.). It was actually pretty good. But when it came down to it it wasn't all that different from any udder ice cream place I've eaten at. Except for you have to eat outside. I guess that's like no udder... besides Sonic.

The Relief Society President in the Salem Ward is going to school right now to finish her bachelor's. She has her associates but hasn't ever gone back to get her bachelor's until now. I'd say she's in her mid to late 50's. She was saying how she's drowning in her statistic's homework and I mentioned that that was my favorite math class I took in high school. Well, next time I saw her she came up to me with tears running down her face and said, "I know it's not missionary work, but I'm desperate. Could you please help me with my statistics?" I told her we're here to help anyone with anything they're in need of and that includes the spiritual, temporal and intellectual.  I did tell her it had been 8 years since I took a math class but that I'd do my best to help her. That didn't bother her. The next thing you know we're at her house and I'm flipping through a statistics text book and explaining standard deviations and quartiles and fences and doing my own calculations on scratch paper and it was SO fun. I'm sad I haven't needed any math classes in college because it makes me excited to work a problem and check my answer and have it be the right one. I know it's incredibly nerdy of me. I know it. The word got out though and there's another lady in the ward who is struggling in algebra right now and she said she might call me. She's not active. Maybe she'll let us come over to her house now and we can work on bringing her kids to church and getting them baptized. Who'd have thought that my love of math could be a missionary tool? Not me. But Heavenly Father apparently did!

Our follow up with Sandra flopped. She wasn't there. We went tracting afterwards and were shut down hardcore at most of the houses we knocked. We did find a guy on Thursday who had his goatee braided about 4 inches and tied at the bottom with a red hair tie. He has a baby pitbull. His name is Paul. He said we could come back and he talked about his wife, Mary. I mentioned to the district that maybe they have a son named Peter. The only people that laughed were the senior couple. Everyone else was lost. It's times like those that I remember how much older I am than most of the missionaries out here. (There's a couple elders here who don't even know what Saved By the Bell is!) We had a really good district meeting this week and we have zone conference tomorrow. Zone Conference is my FAVORITE. I can't wait. 

We finally got to meet with Robert again this week. He said his parents are against him coming to church still. We did have a baptism date set with him but we know that he can't get baptized on that day because he has to come to church first. We read from the Book of Mormon with him about people who endure and are blessed. Then we challenged him to pray for himself to find out the day that the Lord wants him to get baptized and once he gets the answer to have the faith to work towards that date and that everything would pan out if the Lord said it would. He said he would pray about it and then we got talking about something else. When we were leaving he said the prayer and right in that prayer he asked the question. It was such a pure, simple prayer. But he was so humble and showed so much faith when he prayed it. He wasn't ashamed to ask it in front of us. He didn't use big words. He just said, "Please let me know what day I should be baptized on. Please." and then closed the prayer. It was such a great example to me.

Sister Hunt had a breakthrough this week with tracting. She told me that now that we've done it enough she sees why we do it and how important it is. It was really good. She still finds it hard, but she's trying not to complain when we do it. It's been great. We haven't had much success this week with tracting but, I think her breakthrough was success enough. 

We visited some less active members this week and as soon as we sat down they told us that they have a rat loose in their kitchen that they can't catch. You would think they could have mentioned this before we came in the house. I was mean and made Sister Hunt try to catch it while I was safe on the couch. But she's had pet rats before so she's not afraid of them.

We were at the Vonnahmes' this week and they had the latest copy of the Church News. I started thumbing through it and saw that they have six temples and one under construction in Brazil. I said, "Wow! They're going to have 7 temples in Brazil!" Brother Vonnahme said, "Girl, do you have any idea how big Brazil is?" Sister Vonnahme shot up (she always lays down while we talk) and said, "Marvin! You shouldn't say something like that! Tell me you didn't say what I think you said!" She was appalled. I asked her what she thought he said to me and this is what she heard, "Girl, do you have any idea how big your rear is?" Bahahaha! We almost died laughing. It was so funny. Marvin shook his head and said, "I know better than to say something like that to Sister Nelson! If I was ever going to say something like that to her, I'd make sure I was out of punching range first!" It was so funny. No wonder Sister Vonnahme got so upset. I don't know how you get "your rear" from "Brazil" but she did. Her leukemia is making her overheat a lot lately. It's like an ice chest in their house. We'll get there after tracting and we'll be really hot and sweaty and as soon as I sit down I have to cover myself in a blanket. Haha. We were talking about how Marvin loves to read books about the church and the prophets and stuff and she said, "There's a lot of people thinks he's smarter than he is. A LOT." He got this hurt look on his face and we started laughing and she felt so bad because she didn't realize what she was saying. She tried to fix it by saying, "I know he's smart! I do. He's very smart!" But it was too late. It was funny because Marvin really is one of the smartest people around and it was just funny to hear sweet Sister Vonnahme say he isn't as smart as people say. Haha. Brother Vonnahme made me snickerdoodles and coffee cake this week because he heard me say how much I love cinnamon one time. What sweethearts.

Yesterday at church we actually had someone show up! And this week we had a breakthrough with one of our investigators who won't get married. She finally admitted to us why they haven't gotten married yet and started crying saying that she knows it's a pathetic reason not to follow God's commandments. Hopefully that will stir something in her and she'll have the faith to act. It's sad that the government gives more money and healthcare to single people than married people. So many couples out here have children together but don't get married so that they can get more on their check.

We talked a less-active girl into coming to church this week. She won't come because her son who is 4 won't go to primary and he won't sit still or be quiet in the adult classes. We told her it was ok and to bring him anyway and that she needed to come. Well, she came and brought her son and he wouldn't go to primary and he was whining a little in Relief Society. He said he had to go to the bathroom and she took him. As soon as they got back she told him to sit down and he didn't want to so he told her he had to go to the bathroom again. He didn't. But he wanted to leave the class. The mom said no and just let him whimper and whine but didn't give in. People could hear him but no one really cared because he's a little boy and they were just glad to see her at church. Well, the woman behind them started talking out loud at the boy saying for him to be quiet and to sit down right now. Then she'd say, "I'll take you to the bathroom but your mom is going to stay right where she is and listen to the lesson. Then she'd say, "This is unacceptable behavior!" She'd get up and try to take him and he'd hide in his mom's lap. She'd sit back down. Then he'd whine again to his mom and this lady would say to be quiet and then she'd be like, "You look at me in the eyes while I talk to you. You should be ashamed of yourself acting this way!" It was so loud and she made him cry really loud and his mom would go to take him out and the lady would tell her not to. She kept standing up and yelling at him. It was horrible. No one could pay attention to the lesson. The poor teacher did her best and kept going on as if nothing was happening but no one could hear her because that lady was being so loud. The Relief Society counselor finally found some candy in her purse and gave it to him. The lady behind them tried to take the candy before the boy could so that she could hold it as a punishment until he would behave but the counselor gave it directly to him. The mom finally took him out because the lady wouldn't be quiet in telling the boy to be quiet. After the meeting the lady went up to the mom and scolded her for giving into her son. It was awful. She does it with a lot of people and there are several less-active people in the ward because of her. I just hope that this mom will come back. After that scene yesterday I doubt if she will. We told the Vonnahmes about it and they said if the mom won't come back that we should notify the bishop. Ugh. It's frustrating. We finally made enough progress with her to get her to come and then that lady might have just pushed her back out. Oh well. the Gospel is True. The Church is True. The people aren't. We're all in need of the Physician or we wouldn't be here.

Creeper John saw us while we were tracting this week and tried to get us to get in his car (yes, he somehow has a license) cause he didn't want us walking in the hot weather. I told him this is what we wanted to be doing and he asked if we needed an escort. Then he noticed that the sun was reflecting off of his watch so he positioned the glare right in my eyes and said, "I got you! I got you... right in my heart always and forever." Haha. He is so weird. He said he stopped drinking... except on special occasions. I asked him about his weed and he said that he smokes it because it's legal in California. Which to him might be a logical reason to break the law. He's saving up for a gold tooth right now because one of his front teeth is missing. It's great how many different kinds of people there are in the world, huh?

I can't put down "Jesus the Christ" right now. If you feel like you don't know Heavenly Father enough, you need to read about the Savior. If you don't feel like you know or understand the Savior, read "Jesus the Christ". It's a great companion to go along with your Bible reading because it helps you see the context of the time period and customs and the reasonings and meanings behind the vernacular of the times. It has helped me come to love Christ even more and understand Him and realize how perfect God's plans are and how loving He is to have sent us His Son. It's been interesting for me to read about the Jews. So many of them were devout and waiting for their Messiah. They read the scriptures and treasured them but they misunderstood them. When the long-awaited Messiah came, instead of realizing and rejoicing, they rejected Him because He didn't come in the way they expected. So many people fault the Jews for that. But how many Christians love Christ dearly and yet misunderstand His scriptures and reject his restored gospel because it's not been established the way they expected it to be established? How many of us in the church reject counsel and promptings because they don't come the way we want or expect them to come? The Lord's ways are not our ways. Thank Heaven for that. Hopefully we can recognize His plans even when they aren't what we're expecting.
I love you all very much. I miss you. I'm grateful to be a missionary. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Extra Blessings: Camillio Estevez and Otie x 2
Quote of the Week: "That's about all my right leg is worth: one good buzzard poop."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Before I start, let me say that being a missionary is the best and I love it and I wouldn't trade it for anything. That being said, this week was downright hard.

It's been a week of battles:
The first battle was with tracting. I'm a firm believer that tracting brings blessings. Not every missionary feels the same way. Sister Hunt unfortunately doesn't like the heat or the humidity and has the smallest bladder I've ever known of. If we can get an hour in a day, it's a victory. If we were in Corbin, this wouldn't be a problem. But seeing as we're in Salem and our teaching pool is dwindling in unbelief and getting smaller by the day, this is a big problem. We can't teach if we don't have people to teach. We don't have people to teach if we don't tract. If we're not tracting or teaching, we're wasting time. Wasting time makes me irritable and quiet. Being quiet with a companion who loves LARPing and woodworking can get quite miserable. The only way to stop the misery is to tract. But if we've filled our hour quota, what's a person to do? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

The second battle has been with bugs and spiders. It's warm outside which means that the creepy crawlers are back. Not only are my legs and arms itchy and red because of it, but visits with people are becoming harder to endure without me looking like a crazy person. We were at Melinda's the other day and while we were talking a huge, brown, furry spider crawled along the arm of the couch and made its way for my hand. I was up on the other side of the room within seconds and Melinda was afraid I'd seen a ghost. Brother Winslow's place is covered in them and he thinks it's a good thing. (He also swears that before he went blind he never saw a spider with 8 legs. "Spiders and bugs have 6 legs! There's no such thing as an 8-legged spider." "What about tarantulas?" "Well, only tarantulas. I forgot about them." "They're spiders!" "Yeah. But they're the only spiders with 8 legs.") Our house is starting to get them. The doors we tract always seem to have a huge bug on or near them. It's getting ridiculous.

The third battle this week has been with dreams. Wouldn't it be neat if you could order a dream like you play a movie? You decide what you'll dream about and how you'll feel when you wake up. That would be awesome. My favorite dream would be Jane Eyre or You've Got Mail.

The fourth battle this week has been with parents. (Not my own. I'm an angel and would never go against my parents on anything. Happy Father's Day, Dad!) First let's talk about Joey. Joey is the Catholic kid we found last week who is friends with Robert. He had promised to have questions ready for us from his reading of the Book of Mormon. We showed up at his house and his grandma answered the door. (Sidenote: I'm not as dumb as my companions sometimes look. We can hear people say not to answer the door. We can see your kids run up and then run away and never come back. When there's glass involved, there's reflections. We can see the people waiting in the wings, listening or hiding.) So, Joey's grandma comes to the door and looks at us, then looks to the side and says something like "stay there" and answers it. But when she moves the door open, the reflection on the glass shows Joey in the hallway listening and "hidden". She pretends like she doesn't know what we want. "Can I help you?" We explain who we are and why we were standing there. She drops the facade. "Did Joey tell you we're Catholic?" "Yes." "Well, we're not interested." Then she shut the door. Based on the conversation we had last week and the fact that WE were the ones who said we had to go and had to put an end to his questions, I don't think that Joey is the one that's "not interested". At least he has a Book of Mormon. Maybe he'll read it anyways if she hasn't taken it away.
Second is Robert. Robert knows the church is true and wants to get baptized. He wants to come to church. He's excited about what he's learning and is sharing the gospel with his friends. His parents, and especially his dad, aren't at all for Robert talking to Mormons or being baptized. They've said that he can meet with us. But he can't come to church and he can't get baptized. Sometimes they'll make him cancel at the last minute because his meeting with us interferes with their spur of the moment plans. At least he turns 18 in September. He's determined to get baptized someway or another.
Third is Jake. Oh, Jake. Our happiness was so vibrant yet so fleeting. We all know how excited I was to go and meet Jake Schmidt on Wednesday at his Amish home and have a wonderful lesson where everyone within a mile of the place was in attendance and at the end there were loads of people begging to be baptized and confirmed right there on the spot. Well, that all probably would have happened if it wasn't for Jake's father. We pulled up to the property and I parked. But then we realized that I was parked right in front of the hitching post so I backed up in case a horse and buggie needed to park there. We got out and started walking towards the house when a man who looked almost exactly like Jake walked up. The only difference was that he had a nasty, gray neck beard and had wrinkles on his face. He didn't say anything. So, I asked if Jake was available. He said that Jake wasn't. I asked if there was a better time to catch him. He asked why. I didn't want to tell him. But I couldn't lie. So I told him we had given Jake a Book of Mormon and that he had said we could come by and answer any questions he had about it. His dad paused, "He did?" He looked at the ground for a moment. He looked up and said, "Well in that case, I don't think there is going to be a good time for you to come back." And then he watched us leave.
Oh, it was depressing. Talk about a let-down. All those Amish baptisms... squashed before they even knew they wanted them. The drive was a long one back to the main highway after that. By the conversation we had with his dad, Jake hadn't told him that we were coming. Or if he had, he for sure hadn't told him that we'd given him a Book of Mormon. Who knows what the dad did after that. He didn't seem too happy, though to find out that our Mormon "propaganda" had reached his son and infiltrated his home. I asked Brother Hobson the other day what the churches around here say about the Book of Mormon. When we're tracting as soon as we mention it, people's eyes change. They always say, "I've heard about your book." But they'll never tell me what they've heard. Brother Hobson said that the preachers will give sermons on it and how it's from the devil and how it's all evil and how it will brainwash you and how Joseph Smith made it up so that he could have his own church. Why would Joseph sign up for the persecution and the hardships and the trials if it wasn't true? How can a book that encourages us in every page to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him be evil? How can a book that comes with a challenge and a promise to read and pray and use your own judgment paired with the Spirit of the Lord to find out of its divinity be something that brainwashes? It's so frustrating. These people love the Lord. I know they do. I can see it. But the Lord that they love and follow is calling to them and giving them more light and more truth and they slam the door on it and won't even scan through its pages. You'd think they'd be excited that we have a book that supports the Bible and proves that its true. You'd think they'd be excited that God has called a prophet to lead and guide them the way He always has done for His people.

Well, anyways. Hopefully Jake still has that book. And hopefully one day he'll read it.

After we left Jake's it was 7:30 and we were left with no plans. We drove around not really knowing where to go. I finally stopped on a road near where we first met Jake and got out. Sister Hunt didn't want to go tracting (another battle I've had this week) but I told her we weren't going home on that note. We picked a house and when we approached we were met by four pitbulls on chains barking at us like we were steak dinners. Hurray for blessings that tell you not to be afraid in your missionary work. We knocked on the door. A girl who is my age opened the door with little boy, followed by another little boy. We ended up talking to her in her backyard for a half hour about the Book of Mormon and the love that Christ has for her and the answers He's offering her to her questions of how to bring her family closer together. We played with her sons. She started crying when we left and asked us to come back. It was a powerful experience. It was one of those where you instantly feel connected to a person. She's great. She has a controlling boyfriend who I can see posing a problem. But for now, I'm just glad that she knows that the Lord is aware of her and loves her. Her name is Sandra. We're meeting her again this Friday.

The Lord loves us and is aware of us no matter who we are or where we live or what we do. Life has its ups and downs but the downs are a lot easier if we're close to the Spirit when they come our way. In the end, all things will/can work together for our good. I really believe that.

Extra Blessings: Otie
Quote of the Week: "My gynecologist had to cancel my appointment because she went into labor."

Happy Birthday last week, Lindsey! Happy Birthday this week, Nick!

Missions are awesome. So is the Book of Mormon. I actually think it's even more awesome than missions which is saying A LOT! Read it! No excuses. There will always be excuses not to do a good thing. So what? Excuses are for losers. God doesn't make losers. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson

Monday, June 11, 2012


Well, I'm back!

It's all pretty crazy. It almost seems like the time I spent at home was one big dream or something. I was afraid that getting back into missionary mode would be hard but it hasn't been hard at all. I'm excited to be out here and I'm anxious to get some work done. I'm back in Salem with Sister Hunt. President told me that next transfer Sister Hunt will be leaving and I'll be getting another greenie to train. With the new training program the church has, trainers are supposed to be with their greenies for two transfers but President said that he's getting 4 greenies next transfer and he'll probably have me train my greenie for one and then he'll move me to another area with a different greenie to do the second transfer. Of course this is all his plan and it could change between now and then. But that's what he told me to expect. Things in Salem have changed a little bit here since the Sisters were in a trio and had to cover two areas (Salem and Charlestown). They did make progress with a referral we'd received named Robert. He's 17 and really likes what he's learning. He's in Jacob in the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. We have a goal date of July 14th but we'll have to get his parents' permission and get him comfortable with church attendance before then. We meet him outside his place because his parents don't really like the idea of us. They've told him he can meet with us, but it might be different when he tells them he wants to be baptized. He turns 18 in September and said if he has to wait, he'll just get baptized in September.

Now that I'm healthy,we're doing a lot of tracting. Sister Hunt told me that she expected that once I got back that I'd want to get to work and that at the time she thought to herself "bring it on!". After two days of tracting she said she wishes she could take that day back. She hasn't really ever done much tracting, I guess. But, we've gotten two new investigators from it. One, I don't think will pan out. But the other I'm excited about. He was outside when we came up to his house. We asked what he knew about the Book of Mormon and he said that one of his best friends "is really into the Mormon thing" and had told him all about the Book of Mormon. We asked what his friend's name was and he said it was Robert! Robert is so excited about the gospel that he won't shut up about it to his friend, Joey. So, we talked to Joey for an hour in his front yard about what we believe. He's 16 and Catholic. He started practicing and got baptized Catholic last year. He's one of the smartest people I've met out here. He's graduating high school early and wants to be an anthropologist. He loves history and religion and knows crazy details and facts about all sorts of things. He's home schooled because he got bullied so much in school. He's 16 and has had 20 surgeries already in his life. He's a walking miracle and shouldn't be alive. He said that's one of the main things that got him to believe in God. He has a slight figure, but he talks like he's an adult. He said that he'd like to learn more about our religion from an educational standpoint. Hopefully it will turn into a spiritual search. I'm optimistic it will because he said he'd see how far he could get in the Book of Mormon and be ready with questions for us next week.

President Woodbury has really been stressing talking to everyone we see. If we pass them on the sidewalk or see them on their way to their car. Anyone we see, we're supposed to talk to. There aren't many people in Salem so it's been a little difficult. But we've been doing it to anyone we can find and we got two investigators from it this week. The first is a young girl with two kids and a husband who says she wants to get back into church. The second one...

Let me tell you about the second one:
So, Sister Hunt and I were tracting a highway that has houses every once in a while. I didn't want to park on the side of the highway so we found a gas station and parked there and then walked until we could find a house. It's not very time efficient because it takes an hour to do 4 or 5 houses. But it's people that haven't been tracted before so they don't slam the door as much. On our way back, Sister Hunt had to go to the bathroom so she asked if we could go into the gas station. While she was in there I saw a guy customer sitting and eating some chips looking out the window. He had on a cowboy had, some jeans and a white shirt. His face sort of looked like Jackie Sturgill's (from Corbin) and I was a little nervous but since he was the only person I could see in the store, I figured I'd talk to him about the church. I sort of have to psych myself up for these things because it's scary for me to start talking to someone I don't know. I just have to jump in feet first without pausing or I lose my nerve. So, I said a quick prayer, without looking at much but his face and walked up to him and started talking. As soon as I stopped talking and could breathe again, I took the time to take a better look at him. His jeans weren't really jeans, his shirt was a button up shirt and his hat wasn't a cowboy hat, it was a straw hat. I glanced outside, wanting to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing and I found what I was looking for: the only other vehicle in the parking lot was a horse and buggie... !!!!!!!!!!

[AMISH!!!!!!!!!!!! This guy is Amish! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Breathe. Breathe. Focus on what he's saying. Don't freak out. It's only your dream to baptize and Amish person. No big deal. Here's this guy that's talking to you. and is now saying he'll read the Book of Mormon, and is now giving you his address for a follow-up appointment, who just happens to be Amish. Act normal. Respond like a human being. Write down his information. Shake his hand. Vow to never wash that hand again. Watch him walk away. Hold in your screams. Hold them in. Wait for Sister Hunt. Walk to the car. Open the door. Sit in the car. Close the door. OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE AN AMISH INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE AN AMISH INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

I could barely drive I was so happy. Jake Schmidt! My Amish investigator! I know it's hard to believe that I didn't realize he was Amish till I was talking to him, but I think the Lord shielded my understanding so that I would talk to him. (And to be fair he didn't have a nasty neck beard like most do.) Because usually when I see an Amish person, I hide behind something and watch them like a creeper. I don't know if I would have been brave enough to talk to him if I'd realized who he was beforehand. I'm so glad Sister Hunt has such a small bladder! I'm so glad there's nowhere to park on the 56! I'm so glad there's Amish people! I'm so glad I'm a missionary!

Don't worry. I don't have my hopes up. Honestly, I don't. Not any more than I usually do. Well, maybe just a little more than usual. But, still. I'm being realistic. Not every investigator gets baptized. Not every investigator likes to listen after one lesson. Not every investigator reads the Book of Mormon like they say they will. But some DO! And I'm praying he's one of them. I wonder if he's on that Amish break that they get to have when they're 18 or so. Because he didn't have the beard. And he talked to me. Either way, I'm really grateful that the Lord put all of those things into place so that Jake Schmidt could hear the news that Christ's Church has been restored and that the proof is in a wonderful, powerful, life-changing book called The Book of Mormon. Ah, Jake. You're my most favorite Amish person I've ever met.

Naturally, I had to call Sister Ford as soon as we got home and rub it in her face that my "Baptize the Amish" campaign hasn't died despite her attempts to quell it's bright spirit. When I told her she said, "All your dreams are coming true," in an semi-enthusiastic voice, which means a lot coming from her. Ok, ok. I have to move on.

Sister Vonnahme was so excited to see me on Tuesday that she actually waited outside for me which made me feel bad because we told her an estimated time we'd be there and we were about fifteen minutes later than that. But she didn't mind. She's such a sweetheart. She and Brother Vonnahme are still my favorites. Brother Vonnahme just ordered this set of four books by Cleon Skouson on the Book of Mormon that I really want and I told him since they call me their adopted granddaughter that when he dies he has to will me those books.

We spoke in church on Sunday. It was a nice welcome back gift: "Welcome back! You're speaking on Sunday!" I spoke on how we shouldn't avoid change or challenges. The only things we should avoid are sin and stagnation. We're here on earth for change. The baptism of water is only the cleansing. We need to be cleansed AND refined to make it back into the presence of God.

Friday night we got permission to help with a thing called Relay for Life which is a big fundraiser for fighting cancer. Once it got dark they had a presentation for people who have battled cancer. It was held at the high school football field/track since that's like the biggest place to meet in Salem. They did something really cool in the presentation. They read a list of people who have survived cancer followed by a list of people who have passed away from cancer. They had a white paper bag for each name that was read and the bags lined the inside track where it meets the grass. As each name was read, they'd light a candle inside of the corresponding bag that represented the name. By the end of the list (which took about an hour to read) the only light we had was from those bags. There were so many. It's shocking just how many people have been affected by the disease. After that ceremony, people went to the football field and over 100 floating lanterns were lit and sent into the air in memory of loved ones. A family in the ward had about six and each lantern takes two people to send off so they asked Sister Hunt and I to take one of theirs and light it and send it off. It was one of the most beautiful experience I've ever had. looking up into the sky and seeing those lanterns lights it and float up and up and away, like stars. It was magical. It made me think of Tangled. And it was Friday night and I loved knowing that my Pinegar family was all on the other side of the country having a Tangled night, too. The fundraiser didn't expect to do as well as years previous because of the tornado and how so many people have donated their money to that this year. But the lady in charge of the event this year is in our ward and she told us that they raised over $130,500 which is $20,000 more than they've ever had. It was really a neat, spiritual experience.

Speaking of spiritual, President and Sister Woodbury are so amazing. I got to spend Monday night with them and all the new missionaries that just got here from the MTC. We had a great testimony meeting and the feeling in the mission home is so calm and warm. I'm so blessed to be in the GKLM.

Sorry I never wrote while I was at home. The long and short of it is that the Lord performed a miracle and I was able to have my tumor removed and return to full health and be back in the mission field within two months. I'm so, so, so blessed. Thank you for all of your prayers and support and love. Sorry this is jumbled. It's been a very busy week and I've tried to fit the most important things in.

Extra Blessings: None.
Quotes of the Week:
1) "Bran Muffins: Now there's a moving experience."
2)"Why would a toothless man have a pack of gum?" "There's a reason it's called "gum" and not "teeth"."

Missions are awesome! Tons and tons of blessings! The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson
A quick update on Brooke's 6-week health recovery journey:

Brooke returned home Easter weekend to have surgery for removal of what was diagnosed as an endometrial mass near the uterus that was benign.  The Lord took great care of her: her neighbor just a few doors down is an OB-GYN surgeon who got her into surgery within 3 days of her arrival and into her 6-week recovery period so quickly that she was up and healthy and fully recovered in time to return to her mission after just one 6-week transfer period.  She will be able to serve all 4 of her remaining 6-week transfers to complete a full 18-month mission and still be home by Thanksgiving!  She was able to enjoy Easter, Mother's Day, family time and friend time, visit with grandparents and relatives, and regain her health -- she returned to the mission field on June 4th.  It was very hard to send her off again and a bit harder for her to leave, knowing how hard a mission can be, but her first letter back home to us dispels all our concerns.  She is happy, healthy, and ON FIRE with the spirit of missionary service.

Our thanks to each of you for all your concern and faith and prayers and notes and well-wishes is boundless.  We don't know how to express how grateful we are for all that was done in her behalf.  The Lord has given us the righteous desires of our hearts in this experience and we are eternally grateful.

As her family we express our love to you -- now! ON with the journey of Sister Kentucky!

Recovering - A visit with Cami Butler, her childhood "Womb-mate"

At home in the backyard with sister, Hayley, and cousins Corey and Katie

An 80th Birthday celebration for Grandmother Marian
 at our home with lots of Nelson family

Last-minute before heading back to Kentucky with Nina and Paige -
Brooke found out Sunday afternoon that she had a 7am flight on Monday
that would take her back to GKLM and missionary service.