Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, 2010- Feliz Navidad y Natal!!!!

Hola Everyone!!
This has been yet another absolutely amazing week out in the mission field! The weather is starting to get chillier, or at least the locals think so (it's like in the 60s and 70s). I had my first day of working in the rain out here and we got absolutely DRENCHED. I thought at first that this was not going to be great weather to go out and work in, especially because everybody will be inside. But it is actually GREAT weather to work in because people are just so surprised to see that we still go out and share our message no matter what the weather is like. It's true, our message is that important that weather is not a factor, but rather a benefit. So we had a bunch of stuff happen this last week so I will share. This last Saturday we had our Desayuno de Navidad Fiesta (Ward Christmas Breakfast) and they went all out for it! They served us tons of food for breakfast and had a full program of music, games, pictures, etc., also they had a massive 'sleigh' pulled by 2 horses that they took everybody for a ride out on the STREETS with! haha it was pretty cool, and of course, no Mexican party is complete without a pinata, and of course, no Mexican is as tall as Elder Neilson so I was the designated holder again haha. So we left that party wayyyyyyy stuffed of food, then we worked and ate some lunch and later that night went to dinner at a members home. Well, these members (like all) sure did like to feed the missionaries and they fed us each 6 large enchiladas, 2 full plates of rice and beans, and then tons of this Pineapple desert thing on top of this. I was filled to absolute capacity. After dinner, we promised one of our investigators that we would go over to their house because they wanted us to go to their party. So we did and it turned out to be their daughter's Quincenera, in other words, it was a HUGE party. And of course, all they wanted to do was feed us. So, we had just finished eating a ridiculously large dinner, and now they wanted us to pound down even more. (I feel bad about what happened next but my companion thinks it is really funny and it kind of is haha) I took about 3 bites of the food (which was great food) when I simply could NOT eat any more, I mean my stomach was so stuffed that I felt like I was starting to store food in my throat (sorry for the visual). The trash can was too far away, and if I were to throw away a full plate the mom would very much be offended. So, I resorted to my last option. I waited until everyone was distracted and was looking away, and I opened my backpack and just threw the plate of food in there. I didn't even care that it made a mess in there and that my backpack will now forever smell like Mexico, I just could not eat anymore. I am very grateful that the people here are so kind as to always be feeding us though, they truly do treat us like family and would do anything that we ask of them (besides come to church and be baptized haha). We also got to go visit the Christmas lights that are at the Mesa Temple and that was super cool and I saw a kid from BYUH named Andrew Monahan there (some of you might know him), so that was rad. Also our area got expanded this week from 8 square miles to 65 square miles. yup, I'm serious. Kind of a long story but basically one of the other Spanish elders finally got his Mexican visa and left and now we have taken on their area which was significantly larger than our previous one. At least we have a car! Last night we attended a funeral for one of our investigator's infant son (they are Catholic but couldn't afford a funeral in the Catholic church so we let them use our building). They were initially really distraught over the loss because the Catholic church told them that their baby is now stuck in 'Limbo' for all of eternity since it was not baptized. They are super open and receptive to the message of the Gospel though right now and we are going to continue to teach them. We are so lucky as members of Christ's Church to know with a surety that there is life after this one. What a blessing and comfort it is to know this, and we should have such a desire to want to share this message with all that we know. The scriptures teach us that if we do not warn our neighbors and friends about the Gospel of Christ, and when they die in their sins, that their blood will be upon our heads (yikes). It's true though. We should go about it though with a positive attitude though. The blessing of the Gospel is happiness and if people can't tell that we are TRULY happy then they won't care to listen to what we may have to say. Anyways, I love you all so much and am so grateful for my relationship with you and wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Make sure to give the little ones (that includes Annie!) tons of loves for me!!!!!!
Elder Michael J. Neilson

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 15, 2010- In the Hispanic World, the Tallest Guy Always Holds the Pinata!!

Buenos Dias Todos!
  So this last week was a really great week!! We were extremely busy and really didn't have too much time to think, which is great! The work here is going great and I am so blessed to be here right now. The Latinos here are so kind and are almost always willing to let us share a message with them. So I am just gonna share a couple of stories of things that happened this last week. So last week we were out gathering contacts when we contacted into a Mexican Birthday Party! Now Mexican Birthday Parties are much different than traditional American Parties because the parents don't just drop off their kids and come back in a couple of hours to pick them up, no no no, EVERYBODY of all ages comes and stays at the party and the adults party a lot harder than the kids haha. So when we walked by and started talking with us they then demanded that we eat some of their carne asada, especially me because they said I was too skinny haha so we did and after a while we were saying our goodbyes when somebody ran out with a pinata and asked me if I could hold it since I am 'so ridiculously tall', I wanted to invite them all to California for a Neilson get-together when they said this haha, so I did it and they had me stand on a chair to be even taller, and it was pretty funny so I had my companion take some pictures while I has holding it. Next story. So there is a member in our ward, the Ray 5th Spanish Ward, who is always really tight with the missionaries and he and his wife had us over for dinner. The guy is super nice and way cool but he loves to pull small pranks or make little jokes with the missionaries which is totally cool because I would do the same thing, so he had his wife cook pasta for us and after we finished he asked us how we liked it. We said it was good but definitely had a different taste to it and he said it's because he told his wife to use elk meat instead of regular cow meat haha he thought it was pretty funny, so ya, I pretty much ate Bambi for dinner haha. Out here in Chandler we run into A LOT of interesting people and one old guy the other day lectured us for about 10 minutes about how the world is going to end on May 21, 2011 and then we met another guy who said he wouldn't listen to us because he doesn't believe in worshiping John Smith and Pocahontas, I don't see what's so wrong with that? haha just kidding, it's just funny to see what people think of us. The Spanish is coming along, it can be tough though when you get the Mexicans who speak super fast and blend their words together (yes, that is almost ALL Mexicans) but I've learned that you can get the gist of what they are saying by just picking up words every now and then. I have truly seen the Gift of Tongues in action and am so grateful that I am blessed to have the Lord helping me learn this language. I still have to study Portuguese so it can get real confusing studying both languages, but it's great, I love it. I hope all is well back home and that you all have an amazing Holiday season in remembering the birth of Christ. I love you all so much and make sure to give the little ones extra love for me!!!
Elder Michael Neilson

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010

Aloha everyone!
  So I got out to Tempe two days ago, Monday morning, and it has been absolutely great out here! President Howes and his wife are amazing people and they really made me feel at home. Everyone else who works at the office is super nice too. Of course they all told me that I am so lucky to be reassigned to the Greatest Mission in the World, so I guess I can only hope that Florianopolis is the Second Greatest haha.When I got off the airplane the President and the assistants were there waiting for me and the first thing the President asked me was, 'How is your Spanish?'. It kind of threw me off because I was assuming that I was just going to teach in English so I told him my Spanish used to be pretty good but I'm not sure how great it is now after studying Portuguese for 9 weeks. He laughed and told me that he prayed where I should go and he felt strongly that I should be placed with a Spanish-speaking missionary and learn the language of Spanish. So, I went back to the mission home and they gave me a Spanish Preach My Gospel, Bible, Book of Mormon and a few other Spanish things and the President just told me to read thru the Spanish Book of Mormon as fast as possible and I will be fine. Also that I would not ever teach in English and that if we meet someone interested in the Church who speaks English that we must refer him to the English missionaries. I then met my trainer Elder Southern who is from Idaho and we were off to our area, Chandler, AZ. The first day was pretty tough because my whole vocab was in Portuguese and when I would speak quickly it would usually come out in Portuguese (the funny thing is that in the MTC everyone gave me a lot of grief because it seemed like I spoke a lot of Spanish). The next day was a LOT better tho, I was totally understanding El Libro De Mormon and the very first person I contacted asked me if he could come to church so that was pretty rad! We have been teaching a lot of lessons and I've actually been able to participate a ton in those lessons, just goes to show how powerful the Gift of Tongues can be! The Mexican people here are wayyyyy nice and they feed us extremely well. I can totally see how missionaries develop so much love for the people in their areas, they are amazing and you so badly want to see them progress in the Gospel. Elder Southern works me hard which is exactly what I wanted. These first few days have been WAY tiring because we ride our bikes EVERYWHERE and I have rode a bike for a while it seems like. If I stay here my whole mission I'd be willing to be I'd come back with some pretty ripped legs haha because down in Brazil it is all walking. We also got to go to the Mesa Temple this morning and that was such an amazing experience!! That Temple was so beautiful and the Spirit was so strong!! Chandler is a pretty cool town too, there are areas that are nice and then our areas. The weather has been consistently in the 70s and 80s too so I can't complain although it is not very pretty out here in the desert, they really need an ocean. But I'm doing great!! I already love it here and am trying to think as little about my visa and Portuguese as possible but it's hard because like President Howes told me, "You've been called by a prophet of God to serve in Brazil and that is where you will serve.". I hope all is going well back home!! O ya and they said to have all mail just mailed to the Mission Home and they will forward it. Also to make sure to put my first and last name on all packages and letters. Love you all and make sure to give the little ones some loves for me!!!
Elder Neilson

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 3, 2010

Aloha Everyone!
Well, I only have 3 days left here in the MTC! Looking back on the MTC I am sooooo grateful for the opportuntiy I had to stay here. You here a lot of people say how they absolutely hated the MTC and that's fine for them, but for me the MTC has been a lifesaver. The spiritual experiences that I have had here have been out of this world and I have never felt this close to the Savior. The MTC has really helped me see a lot of my weaknesses and helped me realize the purpose of this life. The food isn't the greatest but it is definitely edible and the people who work in the cafeteria are superrr nice. Also just being in a District with 12 other missionaries all the time is so fun and it is going to be weird just being with one person all day, everyday out in the field. I have never been so white and fat in my life! and I can't wait to get out and get tan and skinny again!! haha I've also gained a lot of respect for the state of Utah and the people from here. I think the snow is wayyy rad but I just wish I could have the snow AND the ocean all winter, that would be paradise...o wait, that place does exist, it's called Southern California! haha but really I will always think fondly back on my experience of the MTC. Whenever I would get somewhat down at this place, I would always just think to myself, if I can't be happy here while I am coming closer to the Savior then how can I possibly go out to the world and proclaim that the Gospel truly does bring happiness? This mindset has helped me a TON. It truly was no coincidence that I was to come here to the Provo MTC first, all the things that I have learned from the people in my district and being able to witness 5 Apostles give Devotionals, are clearly testimony of this. I think the thing that I've learned most here at the MTC is the importance of having love for everyone and especially the Savior. When we love the Savior and show that by following His commandments then we will develop love for all man. I am sooooooooooooooo excited tho to get out into the field, get to work and just be exhausted every night! This mission is such a blessing from the Lord. Our whole peurpose on this earth is to have joy and return to live with our Heavenly Father. There is nothing I want more than to receive exaltation and I didn't always think like this necessarily before this mission and I am so grateful that the Lord is allowing me this time so that I can do just that. Also I know that this mission will be such a blessing for me, my family now, and my future family, it's so cool! Anyways...I haven't called home yet to tell my parents where I am going so I am just going to give you all a hint as to where I have been reassigned until my visa comes... It covers 3 states, boarders another country and is heavily influenced by drug cartels...Any guesses??? haha all I have to say is that I am SO stoked to go there and it is EXACTLY the place that I have been praying to be reassigned to! I love you all and give loves to the little ones for me!!!
Elder Michael Neilson