Monday, July 9, 2012


Well, another 4th has come and gone without fireworks. Sad. We did go to a parade though. It was in Pekin. And it was REALLY hot and REALLY long. Most of the parade was political candidates and little girls that were running for parade queen and parade princess and then the rest of the parade was businesses that wanted to advertise. BUT, there were a couple cool parts. And we talked with a girl the whole time who had two little kids. She was friendly and talkative and humble. When we asked her if we could come talk more with her about the church she said we had to ask her husband. At the end of the parade he came up and we asked if we could come talk with them about the church and he flat out said no way. They did end up taking a Book of Mormon so hopefully it makes it to their bookshelf for someone to read someday. She was a really nice girl though.

a guy dressed as a beat up Uncle Sam who was
shouting into his megaphone, "We have to get Obama
out of office! I won't survive another 4 years!"
More people who don't like Obama
The Hoosiers graven image of choice
one of the hillbilly clans that were in the parade...
 I don't know if it's a funny club for old people or what
 but there was more than one clan in the parade

Brother Vonnahme had his heart cath and tests done this week. He has blockages that might end up needing stints but they don't yet. Hopefully some medicine will clear them up. Sister Vonnahme has still had really bad nose bleeds. One of the doctors in the ward brought her one of the clamps they use in the ER and she's been wearing it and it's hilarious. She likes it though because she's one of those people who waves their hands around while they talk. And before they got her the clamp she would forget she was plugging her nose and start waving her hands around and drip blood on her face. It's a good thing she has that clamp now. 
Sister Vonnahme with her curlers in and her nose clamp on

We had an exchange this week. Sister Walker came here with me. We had a really good lesson with one of our "eternigators" (eternal investigators) named Wende. I really hope she follows through with the commitment we extended to her of writing down questions of the soul, questions she has for the Lord, and then reading the Book of Mormon with those questions in mind. We promised her that the Lord would answer her through the Book of Mormon. She seemed excited about it. I'm excited for her. I think this will help her form a relationship with the Lord and a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It's also a lot nicer than us constantly saying, "Don't forget to read your scriptures" but being able to ask how it's going and if she's receiving answers to her questions.
My reuniting with Sis. Ford
We taught Sandra (the young mom we found after the Jake Schmidt fall-out) TWICE this week. She's my favorite. She is at a point in her life where she can' sit idle. She has to make big choices or she'll stay in a miserable position. She's looking for answers. She's looking for a way out of the mess her life is. She's really in need of peace and I promised her that she could find it. We taught her the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. After the Plan of Salvation I asked what she thought about the new things we'd told her and she said it made sense. She had never really believed that it was heaven or hell and that's it and there's no hope for people who were good who weren't baptized.  She really liked the plan. Then I told her that when she and her sons were in the pre-mortal life that they had told Heavenly Father that they would come down to earth and do everything they could to make it back to Him. She stopped me with tears in her eyes and said, "But WHY? WHY would I have wanted to come here to earth? Why would I choose THIS?" I don't really remember or know what I said to her. That question has stuck with me. It's been shouting at me ever since we left her house. I probably said something like, "It will be worth it someday." or something like that. But I know that wasn't a good enough answer. Someone who is in pain and is miserable doesn't want to hear that the pain is good for them. They don't want to hear that someday things will make sense. Someone in the kind of turmoil she's in wants answers now, wants relief now. As I've thought about her question and her distress in that moment that has replayed for me over and over, I've thought about Christ. The reason Christ is the center of our message is because without Him it wouldn't work. The plan wouldn't work. Salvation wouldn't work. Happiness wouldn't work. What Sandra needs right now isn't so much knowledge. It isn't so much church or the Book of Mormon. What she needs is Christ. She needs what only He can give. She needs peace and forgiveness and deliverance. I can't give her that. Only Christ can. I can use the tools that bring people to Christ: knowledge, church, Book of Mormon, etc. No matter how much I want to relieve her pain and take away her guilt and fix her sadness, I can't. I am nothing. Christ is the Savior. Christ is the Miracle Worker. What a blessing it is that He allows me to invite others to come unto Him. Every time we leave Sandra's I pray that Satan won't be able to hurt her. I know he's mad that she's on the brink of discovering the truth. He sees the potential that she has and he's going to try his best to dissuade her. Cause when I look at her I see a valiant woman of Zion. I see her boys holding the priesthood. I see them as leaders and missionaries. I see her as the mother of two stripling warriors. A woman who lived a sinful life but was converted and when she was she taught her sons to trust in God and never doubt. And because of her testimony and example her sons had unconquerable faith. That's what I see in Sandra. Please pray for her. She's very special and the Lord has great happiness in store for her.

 the stainglass they have in the chapel in the Salem hospital.
On the right is the steeple of the courthouse
Brother Vonnahme gave us the name of some people who live on the outskirts of the county in a no-stoplight town called Livonia ("lie-vone-ee-uh"). We drove out there and knocked on the door and the man was not at all interested. It was a bummer because it's a waste of miles. On the way back though, there was a house that the Spirit prompted us to stop at. We did and we met a guy named Derek. It was funny because he kept talking to us like he was going to say no but then he wouldn't. He'd say, "I'm not really sure that's something I'm interested in... but it is an interesting idea." I kept waiting for him to say no and I think he kept wanting to say no, but he couldn't. He took a Book of Mormon and wouldn't commit to reading it and wouldn't commit to letting us teach him... but he told us to stop by again sometime and see. We directed him to so hopefully he'll look at that and feel the Spirit. He asked us what makes our church different than other Christians. We told him about our belief in the need for a restoration and the need for a prophet and that our church had been restored and we did have a prophet. He thought for a second and then he was like, "Yeah, but I'm really happy with my church." So I asked him how important it would be to know if God had restored a church and he did have a prophet. And if those things were true, how important would it be to go to that church rather than one of the many other Christian churches. He said it would be incredibly important. I told him I know that's a bold claim, but that's what we believe. That's why we're on his doorstep in the middle of Livonia while it's raining. That's when he decided to take the Book of Mormon. He said he'd have to talk to his wife about it which lately for us hasn't been the best omen. BUT, even if it doesn't pan out. A seed was planed. And I know it got some wheels turning in his head. The Spirit is so awesome. The Lord is aware of all of His children. He works with them and is so patient with them. He's patient with me. Brother Hobson was telling Sister Walker his conversion story on Friday and he had run into the missionaries off and on and in varying ways for 31 years before he was baptized. He was mean to some and he ignored some and some said things that they won't remember but he remembers verbatim. Those missionaries have no idea that that grumpy man from Salem has years later joined the church. The thing is that this work isn't the missionaries' work. It's the Lord's work. He knows that people have different timetables. In the scriptures it tells us that if we plant the seed but don't see the reaping, we'll still be blessed. And in the end, the Lord plants the seeds and does the reaping anyways.

While Sister Walker and I were meeting with Brother Hobson on Friday, Creeper John saw us and came and sat down next to us and started talking. He told me that he bought a new house and that he's going to open up a shop in his garage. He said for me to deliver a message to someone in our ward that he knows. He repeated the phrase over and over till I had it memorized. (John's last name is Bortka) Here is it: "Bortka's got the bling shop, shinin' in Canton. And it'll shine when it shines." Then he told us about the time he saw his grandma who had passed away. She was an angel and had huge white wings. BUT, the wings weren't made of feathers, they were made of pitbull fur. (John has albino pitbulls... I'm guessing that's where the idea came from). He then told us how he's still saving up for a gold tooth and then he left. Haha. Sister Walker's trainer had served in Salem and had told her all about Creeper John. It was such a treat for her to have a run-in with him on the one day she was here in Salem. 

Sister Hunt and I are going through the less-actives in the ward (which is most of our ward's membership) and there's a lady we visited named Gay Barbara Douglas. Well, we had figured she'd want to go by Barbara. When we met her she told us she prefers Gay. Later that day Sister Hunt and I were discussing something that I thought was right and she thought was wrong. That's when she said, "It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong today: I thought Gay Barbara Douglass would prefer to go by Barbara."

One of the members here who is 22 has a boyfriend from Mexico. He's here for the summer right now and we were over there yesterday talking to him about the Book of Mormon. We read 3 Nephi 11 with him and after I asked him how he felt as we read and knowing that Christ loves all of His children. He said, "It's hard to say. It makes me feel like if I was walking down a dark street with bad guys waiting for me that I have a policeman behind me so I feel safe to walk down the street. Safe. It makes me feel safe." I thought that was such an awesome description of the Spirit and how He makes us feel. I really hope that he'll let us teach him. At church he told us he'd have to think about it. But after church we went over and had lunch and that's when we read from the Book of Mormon with him. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon and pray. Hopefully he'll let us teach him. I know he felt the Spirit because that's what he described to us. It was awesome.

Extra Blessings: Brother & Sister J, Sister Wood, Otis
Quote of the Week: "I am SICK and TIRED of looking like a scarecrow!"

Thanks for all your prayers. I hope the fires die down out there. I love you all. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,
Sis Nelson

Letter to family - July 2nd, 2012


I feel like my letter was so short this week but in actuality it probably was a nice break to not have a novel to read from me like you usually do.  I just can't ever seem to get everything in that happened if I don't write a lot.  I feel bad that I left that email on a depressing not.  so, I'll just pick up where that left off to try and have things end up happier.

That guy Paul, who braids his goatee?  Remember him?  Well, we went back and when we knocked on the door his wife looked through the window and started pointing angrily at him.  He came outside and found The Book of Mormon on the porch (he couldn't keep it inside) and handed it back to us and said he didn't like the book because it didn't say what the Bible says.  he said he believes in Mary and Jesus and we didn't.  I told him the Book of Mormon talks about Mary and I also asked it he had read from The Book of Mormon.  He said he flipped through it but that it didn't say what the Bible says.  I told him the Book of Mormon WASN'T the Bible so it wouldn't have the same writings but that they both taught ABOUT Jesus and teach the same things.  He said his wife didn't like it and said we should leave but before we turned to leave, he said, "But you should know I DO believe int he Lord."  I said, "That's great. so do we.  Have a nice day."  Then, we started down the porch.  Just at this time, Paul's wife (who had been talking to Paul so she BLASTED some Christian Gospel music (the hillbilly kind with banjo-pickers, not the black-choir-in-graduation-gowns kind).  I can't do justice to how LOUD the music was.  She was inside and we got down the lawn to the road and it still sounded like ear buds were in my ears on full blast.  I guess she saw us as the devil and figured since the devil wouldn't leave she'd make him leave by forcing him to listen to old, white people twang about "the rapture."  I don't know.  It was so blatant and so obscenely loud that when we got in the car.  I asked Sister Hunt if we'd just been banished by gospel music.  She confirmed my suspicions.  We laughed the whole way home.  It was hilarious.

Another hilarious thing.  The Vonnahme's were telling us about a missionary who served in Salem years ago. I don't remember his name so we'll call him 'Elder Nevada.'  Elder Nevada got a greenie to train and we'll call him 'Elder Nebraska.'  Well, Elder Nevada liked to get in the car and lock out Elder Nebraska.  The only way E. Nevada would unlock the car doors was if E. Nebraska would kneel on the ground and put his hands together in a pleading posture and say, "Oh, wonderful Senior Companion, please unlock the door and let me in."  Unrighteous dominion?  Maybe.  But, probably no so unrighteous that it can't be fixed with a little repentance... so, that night when Sis. Hunt and i were filling up the car at the gas station.  I got in the car and locked it and got out the camera and didn't let Sis. Hunt int he car till she knelt down and asked her gracious Senior Companion to let her in.  Don't worry. She was laughing the whole time.  And don't worry: I recorded it.

The Hermana that got to the mission field with me is going home before next Zone Conference.  So, the departing missionaries always bear their testimonies at their last Zone Conference.  Hermana Gardener said she's tried to live her mission everyday putting her tag over her heart to remind her to ask herself in every situation, what would Jesus do in this situation?  What would He say to this person?  how would He act?"  It's not just that people who take on His name through baptism or missionary work represent Him, it's that we are His hands and His feet.  It's made me realize how  much more improvement. I need.  It's not a matter of "would Christ approve of me saying (or doing) this?"  It's "would Christ Himself say (or do) this?"  It's like Elder Oaks's point of how there's good, better and best.  I might do good tings.  But if I do what Christ would do, I'm  doing the BEST thing.

We visited Bro. Hobson's mom in the nursing home this week.  Her name's Rowena (Ravenclaw) and she has Alzheimer's.  It was really hot in her room and I got out a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to fan myself with.  I got out another one and gave it to Rowena so she could fan herself.  On the front of the pamphlet is the picture by Del Parson called "He is Risen" with Christ coming out of the tomb.  Instead of fanning herself, she stared at the picture.  She's not a member so she's never seen the picture before.  She stared at it and finally smiled and kissed it.  She'd fan herself with it and every few minutes she'd re-notice what she was using to fan herself with.  Every time she'd stare at it and once she recognized Christ she'd get a big smile on her face and say how much she loved Him.  It was very sweet to see her recognize Him over and over again like that and see how happy He made her every time.  Last week we were with her and were listening to a man sing Amazing Grace.  She grabbed both my hands with hers and said, We'll always be together no matter what, won't we?"  I told her we would.  I'm so excited for her to learn the gospel on the other side.  I know she'll accept it right away/  We're hoping the spend some of the 4th with her and Bro. Hobson.  You know I"m excited for the 4th (as all Nelsons are, I'm sure).  Isn't it neat to realize that George Washington and Benjamin Franklin weren't this land's first patriots?  The Stars & Stripes wasn't this land's first flag.  There were people like Alma and Benjamin and Moroni and Gideon and Nephi and Teancum and Mormon who loved this land and prayed for it and fought for it.  There were groups of people that hoisted Titles of Liberty across the land and people who rent their coats in token of their dedication to protecting the Promised Land and its consecration to the Lord.  Alma 61:15 tells us that "the Spirit of God . . . also the Spirit of Freedom." No wonder our patriotism is so sacred to us. We're blessed to live in the land of promise.  We're blessed to have the responsibility to take care of this country and fight for all kinds of true freedom like those who have gone before us!  We're too, too blessed.

I love you all.  I love being a missionary.  I feel unworthy to have such great blessings and such a great responsibility to act for the Lord in this part of His vineyard.  thank you for your prayers in my behalf and in behalf of the people here.  The Church is TRUE!  Share it!!

Love Sis

Monday, July 2, 2012


A year ago last Monday Jackie Lee Sturgill got baptized. A year ago today Judy Jones got baptized. And a year ago next Monday was the day that Willard got baptized. It's crazy that it's actually been a whole year since all that happened. And it's almost been a month since I've been back in the mission field. Craziness.

I don't know if you all have heard on the news or anything, but it's been really hot out here. It's been in the 103-104 area all week. They actually had a "bad air advisery" one day because the air was so hot and with the humidity I guess it was bad for people to be outside. I've had a hard time breathing this week because of it. I have to admit that the heat is welcome to me, though. It doesn't feel like summer if I can't feel my skin smolder a little when I get into my hot car and turn on the AC and get blasted by even more heat. Poor Sister Hunt. That sad cornhusker. Mom sent this to me and it basically perfectly describes our companionship to a tee (I'm the one on the left):

Haha. But in all seriousness, the weather is taking its toll on the people here.They're all in danger of losing their crops. The corn is starting to wilt and all the grass is dead. Dead grass isn't new to me, but it does look weird on my green Indiana home I'm used to. People on the streets when we've been talking to them have been asking us why God isn't giving us any rain, like we're privy to that information. We did finally have a severe thunder storm last night. We were out on a country road miles from shelter when it started hailing with lightning and wind. The hail on the windshield and top of the car sounded like someone was trying to shatter glass with a bat. It was pretty crazy. We ended up at the Vonnahmes' and waited out the remainder of the storm with them.

Speaking of the Vonnahmes, they had a scary week health-wise. Three hospital visits and some follow-up tests scheduled for next week. They're both sick and they're both so worried about their spouse that the stress is making both conditions worse. It's a mess. They missed church, a ward party and a temple trip this week. Sister Vonnahme cried about all three. At one point she said in between her tears, "What did we do to deserve this, Marv?" He said, "We lived too long." Then he turned to me and said, "Whatever you do, don't grow old." Which reminds me of last week's quote. We were talking about cremation and I said that's what I'd prefer and he said I was crazy. He said he didn't care if the buzzards got him, he just didn't want to burn because he figured where he ends up after he dies, he'll see enough of that anyways (he's joking. He's a saint and will end up in heaven). Then he pointed to his skinny, little leg that's extra small because he had polio when he was a baby and said, "That's about all my right leg is worth: one good buzzard poop." 

This week we had Zone Conference and it was amazing as usual. 4 out of the 5 of us missionaries from my MTC district were there and we all caught up and took a picture together. It was fun. We had a really spiritual training by our Zone Leaders on using the Book of Mormon in our teaching. But, to start off the training Elder Smith wanted an awesome quote by Richard G Scott about scriptures being packets of light to be read. He calmly and sweetly asked a missionary on the front row, "Would you read this quote by Richard G Squat?" He immediately got red and tried to correct himself, but we had all lost it. I couldn't stop giggling for five minutes. I don't know if it was how sincere and spiritual he was trying to be when he said it that made it so funny or what, but I haven't been able to get over it all week. My missionary vision skews my humor so I don't know if that's funny to normal people or just to missionaries, but I had to share it. Richard G Squat. 

After Zone Conference we went tracting and were led, definitely by the Spirit, to a home that's hidden from view on maps and from the road. We were headed somewhere else when we got the impression to pull off of the side of the road and knock the house we saw there. Behind the house (where no one answered) was a tiny trail that led to a hidden house behind some trees. We had to hike up a gravel hill to get to the house and Sister Hunt didn't want to because she hadn't worn good shoes and she had to go to the bathroom. But, she was willing to be coaxed into going and it was awesome. We met a pregnant woman with two other little kids who took a Book of Mormon and said we could come back in a couple days. We made our way back down the hill on a spiritual high, excited and grateful that the Spirit had so obviously taken us out of our way to find her. Two minutes into walking down the hill (it was a big hill) we heard someone calling to us. We turned around and it was her husband. He walked down the hill towards us and when he got to us he said, "No offense, but we're straight Christians. I don't want anything to do with the Mormons and I don't even want this book in my house." He handed the book back and walked back up the hill. This isn't the first time we've been rejected. Not by a long shot. And this isn't the first time that we've essentially been told that we're not really Christian. But for some reason I had to fight back tears the rest of the walk back to the car. 

I think it must have been because we'd just come from Zone Conference and I've been in a point in the Book of Mormon right now where I can't put it down. I can't get enough of it. And I feel closer to Christ through that book than any other book I study from. I don't know what it was. But later that night when I actually let myself really think about what he said, I couldn't hold the tears back anymore. It's just so, so sad. It's so sad how these people love Christ so much and are so devoted to what they know and love about him that they won't even look at or permit more light and truth to even sit in their homes. We had three people actually give us back Book of Mormons this week. That guy did it before we could leave and the other two did it on our return appointments. I've never had people do that before on my mission. I've been a year out and people have never been so afraid/appalled by the Book of Mormon that they can't even keep it in their house. It makes me wonder if some preachers around here are stressing anti-Mormon preachings right now. It's "smart" on Satan's part to try and get people to reject the Book of Mormon because that's where testimony of the Restored Gospel stems from. If he can get them to get rid of the books, no one will ever read them. If they never read the book, they'll never find the fulness of the gospel. It's a lot to go up against. Thankfully, I'm in the war chapters right now in Alma. I've pretty much decided to name one of my sons Moroni someday and I'll probably use Teancum as a middle name. They fought tirelessly for what they knew was right. They wouldn't yield. They were bold because of their faith and their acknowledgment of their need for the Savior. 

Well, the computer kicked me off and I lost most of my time I needed to write so this is the end of my letter this week. I don't want it to be a downer. I'm grateful that I get to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. And I'm grateful that I know that it is true.

Extra Blessings: Sister Clemons, Sister Noakes, Dad and Paige
Quote of the Week: "It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong today: I thought Gay Barbara Douglass would prefer to go by Barbara."

I love you all. I'll try and write more by hand this week. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,

Sis Nelson