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, June 9, 2015

Be not afraid; Only Believe!

Well Folks!  This is it!  The very last email from Elder Nelson.  I think we can safely say that this has probably been the Best 2 years for his life!  It has been nothing but inspiring and uplifting for our family.  We have laughed, we have cried, we have prayed and we shouted for joy for this young man!  Now he is coming HOME!

Dear Everyone!

2 years. 10 companions. 5 areas, 2 of which I served in twice! Great times, happy times, hard times, trials of my faith. Intense spiritual life changing moments, and moments that make me want to cry. I've been tested, persecuted, pushed, pressured, encouraged, uplifted, saved and succeeded. This has been the most difficult adventure I have ever been on in my life. I've been afraid. I've been intimidated, I've talked to complete strangers every day. This has been extremely difficult,but through the Lord, I have overcome. I believed. Raining days, sunny days, HUMIDITY! The ocean, orange groves, alligators! Banana Spiders, palmetto plants, southern BBQ, southern people, the city, the country, all of the above. The most life changing experience hands down. And it's not even over yet. I have attached 100 things I learned on my mission, they are just a fraction of what I have learned or have changed while on this labor of love. But i want to express 3 major things I've learned while serving. 

1 - The greatest task we have is to preach the gospel. No matter where we are, who we are, or our capacity, we must live and share the gospel. We must do it together as a family and individually. When individuals and families participate in the work of salvation, souls are saved. This is our most important duty and I intend to do it forever. I thought it was a 2 year deal. No, I have just completed basic training. It is now the real mission. And I am ready. 

2 - The family is THE single most important responsibility I can have in this mortal life. The most important goals and highest priorities I have is to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity to a woman who has the same views, goals and desires as I do. With the same FIXED determination to serve God to the end. I have felt and have accepted the responsibility of a Priesthood holder and nothing could give me more satisfaction. I have seen families who are fantastic, they have been my role models. I have seen families that do not function, and who break down, and disintegrate... These have been my projects. I have also seen families lukewarm in their commitment to serve, these have been in my prayers. I understand that I have made sacred covenants to honor, serve and participate in this work and I will keep them. This is my motivation. 

3 - Finally, I realize the gift that God has given us of time. This life is the TIME for men to prepare to meet God. I cannot waste this sacred opportunity God has given me. I will use it perfectly. 

For me to describe what has happened in he last two years in one letter is impossible. But I can say I've learned from everyone I've taught, wards I've served in, companions, leaders, friends. I have grown. I see what God intends for me. The only thing I can think of to help you see what the Lord has done with me is to give you my testimony. When I can speak it with the conviction of my soul you may understand deeper but I pray as you read it, you can feel the spirit tell you how deeply these truths are rooted in me. 

I testify, that God the Father lives. He is my father, he has created me in His image, because He intends for me to become as He is. I Know Jesus Christ is the living son of the Living God, I know this because of the chance he has given me, by cleansing me, and allowing me to walk in his shoes. I know who he is. I know what he does. I know He is real. I know that The priesthood keys and authority have been restored through the true Prophet Joseph Smith. I know Peter James and John appeared and restored those keys, it is not fiction, it is an actual event. I know the Book of Mormon has priesthood power in its pages. I've seen it heal people. I know that Moroni sacrificed everything, diligently wrote in this book for me. I love him for that. I have come to love the scriptures. I know that all men everywhere, if they read the Book of Mormon can come to know it is true, and likewise can come to know the true church. I know that in order for us to be cleansed, and become perfected and prepared to meet God, we must make sacred covenants through ordinances performed by someone who holds proper authority. And that authority is active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know these things are true. They are written on the fleshy tables of my heart, never to be erased. 

I will never be the same, I have felt his love, and there's no going back. 

Elder Stephen Nelson

Be Not Afraid; Only Believe

100 things I learned on my mission

The family 
1- If the Father does not preside, he is not doing his job
2 - fhe molds children into disciples
3 - if you study the scriptures as a family your children will be closer to the spirit
4- the home is where the gospel is taught
5 - the family is what makes the church stronger
6 - when mothers teach and nurture, love is strongest
7 - husbands and wives need to have the same goals
8 - just because you marry a return missionary doesn't mean they will be covenant keeping
9 - a sealing in the temple is not the end
10 - family who keep covenants are happiest
11 - priesthood holding men have a RESPONSIBILITY to serve
12 - husbands do the dishes, they clean the house, they are an equal partner
13 - Fathers call the family for prayers and leads out in gatherings
14 - have personal interviews with children
15 - fathers who teach their kids to work help their boys become men
16 - secrets lead to sin
17 - don't have any conversations you wouldn't want your wife to hear our see
18 - your wife is your best friend
19 - preach my gospel will be our fhe manual
20 - you're happiness in this life is being with your family
21 - The more familiar you are with the scriptures, the closer you become to the mind and will of the Lord and the closer you become as husband and wife and children.
22 - if I do the dishes, clean and help out, there will be peace and the spirit in our home
23 - if our family creates a mission statement together we will all be motivated to do it
24 - I will put pictures of Christ up on the walls, to remind everyone he is the center of our home
25 - we will talk of Christ, preach of Christ, rejoice in Christ, prophecy of Christ in our home... 2 Nephi 25:26

missionary work
1- it starts in the family
2 - An invitation with love won't be turned down
3 - street contacting is good, but there is a better way
4 - always have someone taught in my home
5 - always have your line in the water
6 - relationships reap rewards
7 - plant seeds always
8 - more joy and happiness comes when we are involved
9 - my children will prepare for missions best when they help missionaries teach
10 - preach my gospel is the key
11 - make friends! Network
12 - part member families, fellow shipped will join
13 - a calling will strengthen anyone
14 - a friend is essential for all members, I will be that friend
15 - teaching needs to always b basic principles, think like a nonmember
16 - center the work in the ward
17 - plan my week with set aside time for missionaries
18 - invite! 
19 - whenever someone is being taught, or recently baptized, they need dinner and a lesson at my house
20 - Ward council is for PEOPLE
21 - it is first priority in WC
22 - be confident in the truth
23 - it's easy when we are sincere
24 - when families are fellow shipped the work hastens
25 - it is the members job to find

effective use of time 
1- plan! 
2 - weekly planning will help you schedule your priorities
3 - do the first things first 
4 - plans are nothing ( they always change ) planning is everything
5 - exercise in the morning gives you more energy
6 - wake up at the same time every morning
7 - keep going even when you are tired
8 - set goals, they will lead you to success
9 - always report your labors without being asked
10 - stay in quadrant 2
11 - don't wait to be asked
12 - Find a solution, don't report a problem
13 - be proactive
14 - be assertive, and courteous
15 - be obedient to your leaders
16 - create my own work
17 - wasting time dulls your spiritual sensitivity
18 - casualness never was happiness
19 - be sincere, parable of the oranges
20 - be accountable to God

self improvement 
1- humility = confidence in the Lord 
2 - If I prepare I can literally feel the sacrament clean me
3 - if I really love someone I will help them become their best
4 - people respond best when they know you love them
5 - I can talk to anyone
6 -  obedience is like breathing, when we get here, we can begin to grow
7 - I can maintain a schedule
8 - ask inspired questions, you can really find out how to help someone
10 - seek to understand then seek to be understood
11 - 55% of missionaries go less active because their commitment to their mission was lukewarm
12 - the doctrine of Christ is written on the fleshy tables of my heart
13 - I can be assertive and kind
14 - people are the reason we try so hard, not accomplishments
15 - if I am motivated by my love for God, I will reach my full potential

Doctrinal Truths
1 - God really does want to show his love for His children
2 - I am nothing without the Holy Ghost
3 - the scriptures have all the answers
4 - when the Holy Ghost touches someone heart, there is no denying it
5 - when you bear your testimony the spirit must come and testify
6 - faith comes before the miracle
7 - The Holy Ghost causes our feelings to be more tender. We feel more charitable and compassionate with each other.
8 - the Book of Mormon has literal power in pages, priesthood power
9 - the plan of salvation which includes the steps of the gospel of Jesus Christ is our 1 message
10 - as we show the lord our gratitude for the atonement we will see more miracles and retain a remission of our sins

Temporal things
1 -you don't NEED a lot of money to be happy, just sufficient for our needs
2 - be self sufficient
3 - care about your appearance, people judge off of how we look
4 - live within your means
5 - a clean house brings the Holy Ghost

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2 Minute Warning

June 1, 2015

This is Elder Nelson's second to last email!  We will hear from him one more time and then he will be home the next day!  He returns to us on June 9th!

Dear Family and Friends:

We are really asking for miracles, we have been trying to show the Lord that we want to use his time as WISE as possible...and he is blessing us. 

Now I will start with the let downs so we we can end on a positive note!

Bebina did not come to church...and neither did alexis, or aaron and we dropped him, and Nhi didnt come... BUT i will report on their progress!

- We have been teaching her for about 5 weeks now. She had some crazy ideas, and didn't believe the Book  of Mormon, it didn't "agree with her spirit" she didn't like Sacrament meeting, it wasn't preachy enough... so we thought it was pretty much over. Well she told us she was still open to learning. We had a lesson last week and asked her what she has enjoyed most about learning. She said the plan of salvation, mostly the spirit world. She believes that, and yet no other doctrine supports that. We then took her to the Book of Mormon... and began to testify! She started to ask questions, and based on her commitment level so far, it was go big or go home. So we went big. We told her that the Book of Mormon in Alma ch. 40 is where the knowledge of the spirit world came. So the Book of Mormon is true... and waited for her response... and she said okay i guess its true. But the question of being confirmed by the laying on of hands and not just receiving the Holy Ghost, and that she was already baptized and feels it was good enough, and that the holy ghost was not part of it? Well we opened up the scriptures to Acts 8 and talked about how the Apostles and testified that God has restored the proper way to baptize and confirm. As well as John 3:5 that says a man must be born of water and the spirit. She told us that she was already baptized by propper authority, we then testified that she just told us that the Book of Mormon was true, and if it is true, then the Priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith. and this is the only true church. We would teach, testify and then STOP. and wait for her response. She finally said, okay. and I asked her, do you believe that the things we have told you today are true? she responded... yes. and we set the baptism date for June 21st.She asked if we can do in 2 weeks. "why wait any longer?" was her reply.

Now i am not sure how Alexis is going to progress, there are some other factors in all of this, but we will do our best. One thing I do know, this church is true.

Nhi Hoang
- she was referral from the other Elders in the family ward since she is a YSA. She is from Vietnam! And I wish i could just video her lessons. I have never been so humbled in my life. This girl wants to know so badly. She has been researching Christianity and feels that it is true. She has had Christian friends and loves the way they act and things they believe. We told her we can help her KNOW if God and Jesus are real and if they are real. So we have met with her 3 times. The first time she came back after reading the restoration pamphlet and recited almost word for word the experience Joseph Smith had, she said " I feel like Joseph Smith, I want to know which church to go to. I think that Joseph Smith is real!" and the second time we really got into the gospel. I know that if she will read the Book of Mormon she will come to know Christ. She prayed for the first time in her life and said she felt something! but you could hear the concern in her voice when she said "I don't think God is hearing my prayers, I think he doesnt understand Vietnamese!" we assured her that he is just testing her faith! We explained how the spirit comes to us and she got so excited! " I think I can feel it right now! here sitting here with you i feel calm and peace and joy!, I can feel his love! I think he is real" ( you have to read that with an Asian accent to really understand. It is the sweetest thing ever. She wants so badly to feel her answer. She accepted the baptismal date of June 27th and cannot wait. 
Please pray that this sweet girl will get her answer.

Bebina was sick on Sunday and couldn't come but we have grown pretty close with her and her family! she has a house of cousins and neices and nephews and they...love us! they are adorable. But Bebina is on fire. She accepts everything we teach her! She is trying her best to keep the word of wisdom even though it is hard. ( tea is a hard thing to give up here in the south ). She asks so many questions, and has so much faith. She is preparing for a baptism later in the month. Pray she comes to church!

President and Sister Cusick got their missionary back from Ireland! that was pretty exciting for them. 

Sunday Elder Hawkes, Elder Newbold and Myself were all asked to speak! I chose to speak about repentance. I used the steps of repentance listed in the gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet and related the story ofwhen I threw the Crochet hammer through Anut Theresas window! I will send you the talk and you can read it. I felt the spirit so many times, I felt so confident and I knew that the Lord was speaking through me. I had so much love for these members in the Tampa YSA. So many have such strong desires to be good but struggle. I really wanted to help them realized how to find true joy. 

We also sang ( including elder LLoyd ) I will not be still, the EFY song. I messed up the words, ha, but the spirit was so strong! It was powerful. The words are perfect for what I have been doing the last two years.

I love these people so much. I love teaching the Gospel. I love having and sharing the truth with those ready to receive it. I know this is the true church. I am so scared to come home...

Elder Nelson

Be not afraid; Only Believe

Servants of the Lord 5/26/2015

Well I don't think there has been so many miracles in a week! 

We have been really trying to contact as many people as we can, and invite as many people as we can, and at the same time WEED out those people who are not prepared. There are so many people who are prepared. The hard part is when you get a potential, you want them so badly to be THE one... and then you most likely don't hear from them. It breaks your heart. But, every once in a while they stick. So as far as those people who are solid and preparing for baptism. 

Bebina! She was the one found at walmart. Well we have taught her half of the lessons and is on fire. She has kept all the commitments, she has been reading, she read the pamphlets, she set a baptismal date for June 21st and believes that this is the RIGHT way to do it. All the other churches have been doing it a different way and it didn't feel right about it.The night before we presented her the Book of Mormon, she had a dream about someone coming to her and giving her a book to read. She woke up and was so confused, then her dad told her that maybe it was us giving her a book? Well we came and she was blown away. When she told us I opened to the first chapter in 1 Nephi where Lehi is given a vision and the same thing happens to him. We bore bold testimonies that God wants her to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized. She can't wait to come to church and believes!

We had many cool experiences contacted. We go onto USF campus quite a bit and find people here and there, but one day It was really difficult. The more people deny us, the harder it is for me to continue. So we walked for about 20 minutes and met like 3 atheists. and I was had about had it. Elder Newbold contacted the next girl he saw, he is fearless and he asks her this questions... "If you could have one thing, what would it be?" she stops... thinks... and responds with, " a few more moments with my gradma" It was crazy, we asked some more questions and she asked us some things about the after life. We asked her if she knew for a fact she would see her grandma again and she said she would like to believe that but she doesnt know... WE testified that She can see her again, and be with her family again. And we need to tell her about the true church that carries these eternal truths. It was so intesne and so powerful. She ended up not keeping her appt. and havent heard from her but I know she will always remember that.

We also set a baptism date with an investigator whowe dropped, then met again on the street, then dropped... then came back! it was crazy. We finally got an appointment and gave him a church tour. He loved it. He kept saying how he feels so good. He feels that God finally spoke to him and tell him this is where he belongs. He read the pamphlets we gave him and he said he believes this is the truth! It was amazing. His name is Aaron.

Last story, 

so I have resisted tracting for a long time, but it was raining and we HAD TO TALK WITH SOME HUMANS! so we pickeda complex and went to town! well we did our best and found a few contacts. well we kept going and the 2nd to last door. A girl comes out and goes "no no no no" then Elder Newbold was persistant and got her to watch the because of him video... BROUGHT THE SPIRIT SO STRONG! her heart softened and brought out the questions, like why joseph smith, why do we always find her? why are there so many religions, and we testified of the message we have and why we left our homes for 2 years and she was blown away, she was very skeptical but agreed to a lesson. It was so awesome. Elder Newbold was so persitant and bold. I know that God leads us to HIS children who need us. It was such a tender mercy. I know that This is true. It is such a crazy story, a little boy sees God and Jesus Christ come down and call him to be a prophet? Well its true. I know it is. 

Reach out to someone, participate in hastening the work of salvation! I love my Savior. I know he lives.

Elder Nelson

Be not afraid;Only Believe