We welcome all to follow along as Elder Nelson shares with us his experiences as a full time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These are truly they best 2 years FOR his life!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Palmetto Paradise

This week was a giant Roller coaster!

So we found out that the girl who was baptized last week decided she can't come back. She never showed up on Sunday to be confirmed. So we went and visited her at work. She told us her Mom would not let her come. We scheduled another meeting with her for the next day. We met with her and she told us she didn't believe it and does not want to be a part of the church anymore. So that is the first time that has ever happened to me. Kind of a half baptism, but it broke my heart. And it broke the Ward's heart. But the crazy part was in Ward council when we told everyone they were so sad but said, let her know that we don't judge her because of that and she is still welcome here anytime. We don't and won't treat her any different. It was crazy. But pray for Elizabeth that she will return and we can help her.

I'm going to be plain and honest with this week. During the day we struggle. We do not have many effective things to do. The people who are prepared are by far the majority, members friends and family. We are trying very hard to work with the members because from my experience, and from the council of the Apostles and Prophets that is the best way to do it. This ward has so much potential but, they are not used to being pushed this much to do missionary work! So, of course like I am sure so many missionaries have said, we are on the brink of much success. But we are. During the Day we try hard to be productive, set up future appointments, and talk to people but there are limited resources that require great planning so we can use miles and such effectively. I will share an experience with you so you can feel the Urgency that all missionaries feel. After meeting with a couple families on Tuesday evening we saw some awesome families willing to act and invite! There are some great people in the works. But there are also some who do not really want to help, or commit, or do much. I have been praying and hoping so much for a lot of them to change, or for more people to be prepared and members to have the courage to invite. Wednesday and Thursday when we were struggling to find things to do I prayed and prayed and talked with Elder Spach. He shared a few words with me, compliments ( he is the greatest companion ever. Seriously) that just touched my heart. About all the desire and motivation I have to make a difference here, and his compliments just tipped my emotions and I just began to cry. I just sat there and cried. I have never felt so much weight on my shoulders to help someone. JUST TEACH someone.

We are called to teach that has been ENGRAVEN into every missionaries mind. We are called to teach the gospel, and yet so many of us don't get enough opportunities to do so. So it hit me hard how badly I wanted to help and make a difference and the Weight of the desires, and the people who these members had talked to who are so close, and us just sitting there… was hard. Well, I said a few more prayers and asked God where to go and he gave us an idea and went and visited a man with no luck. But It felt good to try. I realized something very important. I am called to teach, and invite people to learn about what I teach. That is success. We are told that so many times but you forget when its the middle of the day, and things fall through. I just wanted to share that so you can understand maybe what a mission is sometimes. But this struggle I know was exactly for me. It was something I needed to go through. Instead of just sitting there pitying me I needed to look at the positives. The reason I was there. The people I have touched, and the person, or few people I could or currently am helping. I realized, these members might be giving EVERYTHING they have. They have families, and jobs, and callings and some are giving all they have. So i encourage everyone to be missionary minded it is the most important thing we can do in this life. But my view changed that day. 

So, I learned something that day, and its still hard but I gained some understanding. Well as I went through that the Lord showed his miracles. We have some members who are going for it! A young couple last night took a Book of Mormon to a couple they have been working with and invited them to read it and learn about it and they were open! and! KATELYN (the girl friend of one of the members) has caught fire.

This is why those moments of pain and confusion are SO worth it. We taught her on Tuesday and committed her to talk with us every day ( on fb ) and twice a week. Well, she has shared so much with us about her journey here, but she is all in! Since we met with her, she has spoken with her parents twice about baptism ( they are against it ) but they agreed to allow her if she read the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the D & C. So what does she do? Goes online and BUYS a triple combination! She has been reading for about 2 weeks now ( she started before she met with us) but she is in JACOB! She reads every day, and prays before and AFTER, she reads for understanding! She came to church yesterday and said she felt like a member and received a witness that this church is true. She asks such good questions and just opened her heart to it completely and said her search for truth is over. She found it! AHHH can you please pray her parents will soften their hearts? We have another girl who is completely converted who needs prayers as well! Don't pray for me, pray for her! she needs the covenant of baptism! Kyra is her name.

We also gave talks in Sacrament meeting ( Elder Spach is such a good speaker ) but it was a great feeling to proclaim my feelings about the Savior. So, i do that again now. I know God lives. I Know Jesus is the Christ. I love him dearly. I pray I can bind myself to him, and each day I pray i can be close to Him. Forever. I pray that we all can do this and ACT because of our love for him! 

I love this service as a Full Time missionary. I love this work!

Be not Afraid;Only Believe

Elder Stephen Nelson

Elder Nelson in Palmetto

Elder Spach at their apartments in Palmetto

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Palmetto Ward

Well HELLO Family,

 Florida has literally been paradise the last week. a scorching 65 degrees! ha I love it. I'm not going to lie, a nice breeze with the swaying of the palm trees and eating a mango doesn't exactly make me miss home! Along with that, sharing the most important message period. This is honestly heaven on earth. On top of that I am so impressed with the Palmetto ward. 

This week we spent a lot of time setting up appointments and following up with referrals and trying to meet with others to seek more. And it went amazing. This type of missionary work can be mentally tough sometimes because you don't feel the satisfaction of going out on the streets and you always want to be teaching a lesson but it definitely pays off on Sundays. I have learned so much about planning! When you really prayerfully approach your planning, and spend time thinking about and reviewing notes of all the people you have been referred to, or speaking with members who said they may have someone, you start to realize HOW MANY people could be prepared.

So, I will just hit the highlights of the week which were Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. and then share some spiritual experiences with you.

So, Wednesday was mutual. We had the baptism of Elizabeth. She was found and taught by the last missionaries. She's about 17 and is the only one in her family who is now a member. There were so many members there! It was so cool. And at the last minute her mother decided to come which is a miracle. Elder Spach and I got there early and started filling the font and cleaned up the church to make it look good. Well, as it got closer to the baptism we realized the water was getting really cold… and earlier that week a member made a joke about how if we were good missionaries we would make sure it was warm for Elizabeth. So, in order to maintain member trust we had to unplug the drain and put some more hot water in the tank. so…. upon this decision Elder Spach may, or may not have had to do some deep sea diving and unplug it ha!  So, he did and I had to guard the door because people were showing up! SO stressful but he got all dressed and we were good. THEN! we realized… WE HAVE TO PLUG TO THE DRAIN AGAIN SO ALL THE WATER DOESN'T DRAIN OUT! by this time the baptism is literally seconds from starting! so Elder Spach RAN INTO to bathroom and, somehow.. dove down there and plugged it! and changed and joined the baptism… and the best part? we ran out of hot water… so it was cold anyway. 

So long story short sometimes you just can't win. BUT it was great and she had a ton of support. That night we talked to a young man in the ward who is super cool and got so excited to bring his friends and committed to. Then he went with us to ask another YM in the ward and then they came as we asked another. Pretty soon we had a pack of 7 YM walking around mutual asking for referrals! 

There is a girl Kyra who has been coming to church for a year or so, about 15 and her parents won't let her join but she comes every week and READS THE BOOK OF MORMON EVERY DAY! I am just blown away. But pray that her parents hearts will be softened! and there is another girl named Katie who is 9 and is a neighbor of a member of the bishopric. The Father isn't in the picture and she is about to lose her mom and her g-parents are going to take care of her. But right now could be a perfect time to join the church. PRAY for this little girl. There are many more who are so close! I can't believe the miracle of us getting transferred to the Palmetto ward. Not to mention there is a member who is the Sports psychologist for the RED SOX! yeah…the Boston Red Sox… and another member is a VP of Champs Foot Locker… and another owns a Texas Roadhouse… and another is the head of security at the biggest mall in the stake… yeah I can't say enough about HOW LUCKY I AM! and they all are missionary minded! 

So Saturday, A RC named Abi, introduced us to her friend named Yiazel two weeks ago and said she wants to learn. So Saturday we taught her the first lesson and she accepted it. She is going to pray to know if it is true! she wants church back into her life and is the SWEETEST person ever. We asked her, if God tells you this is true, what are you going to do? and she said JOIN and BECOME A MEMBER! so yeah, just a matter of time until we can baptize her! Pray she recognizes her answer! 

And Sunday finally, we just set so many appointments up and met a couple nonmembers at church. We received like 4 Member Referrals and I was just floating! 

Elder Spach and I have a goal of 7 baptisms before we finish our missions and you better believe we are going to get it. I have never been SO PUMPED to save souls. I wish I could do this as a full time job! Well, I guess I kind of am. 

I have been feeling so much satisfaction with this work, not complacency, but satisfaction. I am always happy, but never content! There's always more! But I have been feeling so good. Giving my all in studies, writing down what I am learning. Having good workouts in the morning really helps! We reduced to 1 iPad per companionship and its helped too! I love this. I hope that EVERY prospective missionary who reads this WAKES up and realizes there are miracles and lessons and transformations that can take place and PREPARE now or you will have regrets.

On Sunday there was a high councilman who shared his conversion story. He was deep into worldly things and felt an unusual desire to go hear Elder Scott speak. so he went and at the end of the talk Elder Scott testified of Christ and spoke of him so personally. And he said Christ is a Vibrant being…and he Lives and he says this because he knows him. And this High Councilman said for the first time in his life he completely believed him. He believed that Jesus Lives. That story pierced my heart so clearly and perfectly I could not hold back tears. It was so real. So tangible. I closed my eyes and could almost feel the Glorious light from the Savior. It was a precious moment. I thought to myself, "wow, I would love to meet Him. Or see Him". But i realized, you know what… I don't need to see him. or hear Him. I KNOW He lives. and I always will. 

Please go help someone. Invite someone. There is so much more to this life than the things we do on a daily basis. I pray we can look outward and bring someone the joy of the gospel.

Be not afraid;Only Believe 

ps. Family! time is running out, I hope you have someone preparing for baptism!

Elder Stephen Nelson

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Driving, Cleaning, Moving

Elder Nelson has a new address.  Please look to the side of this blog to see what it is!  

Dear Family and Friends:

So, this week was probably the fastest, most stressful,most  exhausting, busiest weeks.

So, we decided to try to lift the standards of our zone with everything. Using time wisely, cleanliness, diligence, obedience. And President Cusick has expressed his desire to help missionaries give their all and not reach the end of their mission and realize they wasted it. When he said that it really hit me. So I looked at my mission and decided if I don't turn it up, then I will regret it. 

I have not been giving my all. But I chagned that. Then we hit the Road. We hit EVERY SINGLE ELDER IN OUR ZONE! which is 7 companionships! and we scrubbed their bathrooms, tossed every old can of food, and unnecessary item in their apartments, and sat down with them and dropped all non progressing people, identified where they were wasting time, and told them to STEP UP THEIR GAME! WE explained how we all have to leave our boats. We all have to Clean, and have good hygiene. and COOK. Its time to be a man. There are so many, who come out who are kids still. Even I have habits that are just childish. Ironing Shirts, or weak workouts, or studies where they are dozing off. These are those who go home and go back. 

So, we addressed these, gave suggestions and committed them to become the 4th missionary. If they are not the 4 th missionary we ask them if they are willing to become so. This is something I have come to really want. To give everything. I can't see heavenly Father and have Him ask me why I didn't give my all and ask these missionaries to improve! and help them.

Along this road trip of about 400 miles, we met so many diligent hardworking missionaries. It was inspiring.

There were some bathrooms with just mold and dirt in the grout and dish sponges that they have been using for 5 months!! THATS SO GROSS! So yeah we tossed it out. 

We felt like we made a difference, most of them appreciated it, but some probably will go back to the old way.

Something Ive learned, when something becomes your first priority, it gets done. So instead of making excuses, we need to change our desires. We will ALWAYS do what we WANT to do. So with investigators that don't want to read, or LA that don't come to church, or missionaries who don't clean… THEY DONT WANT IT BAD ENOUGH! and its that simple. so thats what we tell them. 

So one of the companionships we met with just wasn't getting it. Great desires, but they could not motivate themselves to change so we asked them, Can you be your best together, here , right now and They said no, so President Moved them. And he asked us to take over the ward. HOLY COW! The Palmetto ward is on fire. Their ward council was very effective, gave first priority to missionary work and just loved having us there! we probably received 10 referrals! Im very excited. And my fav part, they have a ton of youth! yessss. 

We also cover the YSA so we travel a little bit. I gave a talk last sunday and really tried to listen to the spirit and touch someone. Afterward two of our good friends and top missionaries said they invited 3 friends to FHE to meet us! I have a testimony of the spirit.

Another trend I've seen is missionaries who are too casual with the gospel! when people don't show up, or don't read or keep the commitment, and they say "oh its okay…" ITS NOT OKAY! so when missionaries forget to report baptisms, or just waste a day of their mission, ITS NOT OKAY! THIS IS SALVATION! 

So for all of you and us, its not okay to waste a day. I feel the weight and its so important. Im so happy my eyes were opened to this. I am grateful for the friends I have made, but more importantly Im grateful for the leaders, and President Cusick who has helped me realize, WE need change, and Salvation more. Its not a popularity contest, we are here to work. 

So thats what Ive done this week. I really hope you reach out and lift and invite someone today. Not this week, today. There is joy and happiness for you and someone else to be felt. And it all starts with what we decide to do. I have been forever changed by this mission. And thank goodness its not over yet.

We have some great potentials coming up. Monica has not gotten back to us, but we are seeing her tomorrow. She has been coming to church for 8 months and just is not ready to commit. but we will help with that! pray thats she can build her faith. 

Ray, An old investigator who has just been working a ton, He really wants to change, and set his own baptismal date for FEB 7th.

And there will be many more coming along. The Old Elders have a baptism on Wednesday a 17 year old girl. Elizabeth. Its awesome! 

Come join the RANKS!

There is much to do.

Be not Afriad;Only Believe

Elder Stephen Nelson

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year!

Well family and friends another week in Sunny Florida, I love it.
Elder Spach and I are really trying to leave a legacy here in the
Sarasota Zone! We are working on using time effectively, being
proactive, being bold and making sure we have done all we can to help
these missionaries get the most out of our missions. We have
missionaries going home who are not changed, they return and go
back... This life is so much bigger than that. So we are trying to
give all we can and do all we can.

Along with that our members are really stepping up their game! We had
the Stake Presidnt in Elders Quorum! He called a new Elders Quorum President who
I honestly love, he is 20 year old. Graduated my same year and has a
fire to do some work! President Clover ( the stake president ) told
everyone to give us more referrals and to double the Elders Quorum!
And he asked us if we were teaching enough lessons and of course we
said no!

We got a new Branch Mission Leader, he served his mission in St,
George Utah and just returned a few months ago. He is a great guy and
will help us out a lot. One of his two assistants is preparing for a
mission and the other is a fired up recent convert of 8 months. It
couldn't be better! We're creating relationships in the branch and it's
looking very positive.

So the picture is sent of me in a baptismal suit? I was on an exchange
and these Elders were on full bike. And we had to meet Elder Spach
about 30 mins away. So we left and of course it hasn't rained all day
until we were outside. So we rode in the sandy muddy streets and I was
soaked and muddy and dirty. And those of you who understand mission
cars know we CANT GET
THEM DIRTY!!! So we tried to figure out what we could do. So I had to
put on a baptismal suit to drive home...

That was a fun memory. As for the feet in the water. I have learned
that if I want to make the most of y mission, I need to fuel up in the
morning and receive as much revelation as I  can. Well, I can only do
that if I have excellent studies and if I'm fully awake and aware.
We've been having great workouts but I guess I didn't go hard enough
so I was tired of not being awake! So I filled the bowl with ice and
water and stuck my feet in it! I was definitely awake after that! It
honestly felt great. And my studies were awesome.

On Thursday we had two district meetings, as zone leaders we visit both
to train and to make sure we are on the same page. We drove all the
way out to Sebring and Wauchula which is a 2 Hour drive. We sometimes
call ourselves Sarasota office Elders ( office elders usually drive
around all day...) but it's fun! One of the district leaders is my MTC
companion elder Whaley. He is literally the most obedient dedicated
servant ever. I'm so grateful for these hardworking missionaries,
especially Elder Spach. I don't think I've ever been so happy! This is
true happiness.

We have a baptismal goal of 10 and we are going to reach it. In 2014
the FTM had a historic high for baptisms, of 551 baptisms vs, 418, 450
etc. it is remarkable. Some we will celebrate! For a about 10 seconds.

President Cusick is passionate about missionaries changing and going
home but not going back! And he has asked us to step up our game so we
are! Elder Spach and I are committed to making sure everyone is
converted to the mission. To leaving their nets! Completely! If we go
home and go back then this all was for nothing! So, we are going to do
all we can!

Please read PMG, please read the scriptures, please read the words of the
prophets. Act! There is so much joy to be felt and obtained if we just
get to work. I feel as Elder Holland did from his mission. I would not
know how to serve the lord or how he deserved to be served. Not only
that, but how much of a gift this life is. I love my mission. I love
this time. I love these people. I love this church. It's true. There
is no other way we obtain true happiness, other than these principles
and ordinances in the church of Jesus Christ, I know Jesus is the Son
of the living God. I will never stop!

Pray that Ray and Monica agree to be baptized soon! They are both
converted and so close!

Be not Afriad;only believe

Elder Stephen Nelson