Monday, August 12, 2013

New "Bag"

also, i am so mad. there are new missionary guidelines and we're not allowed to use backpacks anymore. they say we look too much like students. so now, we have to use shoulder bags. or in other words, purses. you've got to be kidding me. now instead of accidentally being mistaken for a student, we'll be mistaken for homosexuals (more than we already are.) forget that

Pringles Guy

The Pringles guy has some serious swag.  Great facial and rocks a bow-tie like a boss!

August 12, 2013

President Smartt,

            This week was a little frustrating with trying to get our visas extended and what not, but we got it all figured out and we’re now legal to stay here and focus on what we need to do.

            We visited Owen this week up in his home in Capuchin. Owen was one of the older locals that was pitching the church van idea pretty hard last week. Anyways, he has prostate cancer and isn’t feeling well at all. Here on the island they don’t do much to help out with cancer patients, so he’s in a lot of pain. He doesn’t have frequent visitors, either, because of the distance he lives from the main town. He was so happy to see us and to spend some time with us. Last Sunday was his 10 year anniversary of being baptized and has a picture of his baptism prominently displayed on his wall, next to a picture of President Monson and the temple. He doesn’t have a car, andSunday public transportation is a joke here, so most of the time he walks the 6 miles to church down the “road.” He is 70 years old and has been doing that for 10 years. It is amazing to me that he has a strong enough testimony and is willing to make that kind of sacrifice to be able to come to church and partake of the sacrament. I’m not sure how long he’ll be able to hold on, but now that we will have a vehicle we will be able to go up and visit him more frequently and I am really looking forward to that.

            Kelly told us this week that she doesn’t want to have “bible study” anymore with us. We were confused and called her to see what was going on, but we couldn’t really understand her. She did, however, come to church this week for the first time in a while. She explained the situation more there. Apparently, one of her neighbors told her that if he saw us coming by again, he could come over and harass us and make us feel bad in front of her. She doesn’t want that, so she asked us to not come back anymore. We still need to talk to her more and figure out what we are going to do. We didn’t have a chance after church because we had to leave Portsmouth early to make it to Roseau sacrament meeting. We met the branch there and started to get a feel for what it will be like there. We look forward to helping the group to become a branch and strengthening the members here.

Elder Nielson

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you had a great day. I was braggin to everyone yesterday at church that it was your birthday, even if they thought i was a little weird. 
Well, more news.. so apparently the most consistent thing in this mission in change, my heavens. As of now, we've been informed that no new elders will be coming to the island and that we will both be moved to Roseau startingthis sunday que viene. Let me tell you the story of how we figured that out. but before i tell you that story, i have to tell you this story..
So. when we arrived on the island, we were supposed to have 3 months on our visas. well, we realized last week on sunday that they only gave me 2 months and only gave fournier 1 month. So, that was a problem hah. he's been living here illegally for a month. anyways, we went to the immigration office and waited in a super long line, only to find out that we have to fill out some information sheet. we did that and then waited in line again. when we got to the front of the line, they asked for our return tickets. What? to extend, you must have a return ticket already purchased to prove you'll leave the island. so all of that for nothing. we wasted a whole day. You think the DMV is bad, come to the immigration office in Dominica, or anywhere in dominica for that matter haha.. anyways, we came back to the seniors apt and called the office and told them that we needed an itinerary like yesterday, so we can extend our visas and not go to jail. we ended up staying the night here in Roseau and were going to go back in the morning to the place, but the office never sent us our papers. so we had to go back to portsmouth for the day. at the end of the day, we had to come back to roseau. im not sure if i've explained the drive from portsmouth to roseau to you. it's like the Ortega had a baby with Lombard street in san francisco. it's terrible. up and down, left and right. it's terrible. plus we're crammed into these tiny buses where they cram at least 16 people before they'll leave, and pick up stragglers along the way. we're like sardines in there. plus, im fat, so it's miserable. anyways,thursday, we finally got it all squared away. we went back to portsmouth with the senior couple.
alright, now the other story. so we went with the martinez's to our new apt to get the lease all signed and finalized. we sat there for an hour and went through it all and got it all signed. literally 12 seconds after we shook their hands, we got a phone call from the office saying "dont rent that new apt because president smartt has changed his mind." do you konw how embarrassing it was to look at Marcus (the landlord) and say "oh nevermind." He had just got done explaining how happy he was to find tenants that would be quiet and respectful, and how just the day prior a guy came and wanted to rent that apt, but he had to tell him that we already took it.  we're also lucky that we were able to take it back, because usually if you sign a lease, it's signed! So now we dont have a place to stay in portsmouth, because we already gave our landlord here 30 days notice. My gosh. so we have to live in Roseau. BUT, we're expected to be in sacrament meeting in both portsmouth and in roseau. problem is, P is at 10, and R is at 11. it takes and hour to drive the 28 miles between towns. so yeah, not sure how that will work. also we got a letter today from president smartt saying "it was great to meet you last week. you and your companion are great missionaries. i'm glad to know that the island is in good hands. keep working hard and get ready, because in the next few weeks more will be expected of you."  whatttt? our life is already impossible as it is! ahhh. so idk what that means, that'll be interesting to see what happens. but yeah, i dont believe anything now until it happens haha
We met the Roseau group yesterday (they arent even a branch, just called a family group). there are only like 13 members that come. we're going to change that though. gotta get them to be a branch. One sister is named sister walther. shes from switzerland, but has been living here since 2003. shes from near Zurich. I told her that dad lived there, but i didnt know anything else about it. so if you could give me a couple details about that that would be cool. from what we've heard, shes a pain in the neck and if you're on her bad side, it's no bueno. so if i could talk to her about that and get on her good side, that would be ideal. i can hardly hold in the laughter when she talks though with her funny accent haha
Sounds like everything is going well for everyone. oh yeah, i do have an issue with greg getting a NEW CAR. WHAT THE EFF. are you kidding me. he better have to pay for ALL of his gas. i dont want to hear ANY complaints about moving. i'm upset.
Keep working hard and stop buying new cars, unless you get me one too.

Much Love!
Elder Nielson

My Desk

My Teaching Helper

August 5, 2013

President Smartt,

            It was great to meet you this week! I enjoyed the time we were able to spend together and for the insights you provided. The members all like you and look forward to working with the mission to further the work here in Dominica.

            This week we found a new young man named Abe who lives in the next village down from Portsmouth. He rode back from Roseau on the bus with us last Thursday. We talked to him the whole trip back. We then went on Friday to his village and found where he lives. We met with his family and they agreed to have us over this upcoming week to meet with them again. Abe would be a great young man for the branch. He has a couple sisters too that would help with the young women. We hope to be able to work with them and help them come to church.

            Kelly, again, had some problems during the weekend which prohibited her from coming to church. She was excited to come on Saturday when we met with her, but later that evening she called us and asked us to return to her house. Apparently, some man had come into her house and was really aggressive. He was under the influence of some heavy drugs and was causing problems. He tore all of the things out of her house and threw them outside. She was really stressed out and worried for her little 6 month old baby’s safety. It is so sad to see how well Kelly is progressing during the week, and then see these things happen on Saturday/Sunday to prevent her from coming to church. We are doing everything that we can to help her and to comfort her, but sometimes it seems like there is nothing that we can do but pray and fast for her. We know the Lord has His timing for everything; we’re just trying to do our best.

            Thanks again for everything that you are doing for us. I know that with the Lord’s help, anything is possible. I am grateful for His sacrifice and the trust He has in me to be His missionary and bring the world his truth. That is why I sang that song yesterday in sacrament meeting. I know that I am not the best singer in the world, or the most talented piano player. One thing I do know, however, is that my Redeemer lives.

Elder Nielson

Alright. well, president smartt came this week! Hes way cool. i really like him. He's only 43, so dad watch out! you might be getting a mission call here yourself pretty soon..
So i finally got my church debit card. bout time. 3 months later.. But i've got it now, so hopefully i wont have to use my card from home as much. 
Happy August Monday! Today is a random Dominican holiday, so everything is closed. I dont even think the locals know what this holiday stands for..
So we found out that one of us will probably be moved to roseau and one of us stay in portsmouth. that will happen by the end of the month. president will bring two other elders here and since we know the island, we will be the senior comps and show/teach them how to work in the island. more than likely, i will be sent to roseau, meaning i will be "in charge" in an area i dont know too well with a brand new companion.. yikes hah. that'll be a little tough, but I will go, i will do..
So garret is now a district leader! Crazy stuff. 
yesterday in sacrament meeting, E' Fournier and I sang I know that my redeemer lives as a musical number. I played the piano and we both sang. I had to sing the first verse as a solo.. yikes. I dont do solos very well. the piano was just fine, but the singing could have been better. I felt the spirit though, and that's all that matters. It was testimony meeting, and i was just trying to testify of my savior. Almost everyone was in tears afterwards haha. the spirit was really strong. president was there for it too, so all in all it was a good thing. 
I love everyone and hope that you have a great week! 
Cuidense mucho,
Elder Nielson

Kelly, Ked, Elder Nielson and Elder Fournier

Kelly, Ed, Ked

Grocery Bill

Week's Worth of Groceries


Cleaning Octopus

Octopus For Dinner

July 29, 2013

President Smartt,

            I was hoping to meet you this weekend! I was excited to hear that you were coming and disappointed that you weren’t able to come. I do hope that everything is okay and that the cause of you not coming wasn’t due to any problems or complications. I know we’ll meet when the Lord says it’s time.
This week was pretty good. We were hoping to have Kelly at church this Sunday but she wasn’t able to make it. She is going to have to move soon. She has been having problems with her “neighbors” and she has a little baby that she wants to protect. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Ed, has been improving though. She told us yesterday that they will get married. That is ultimately the best thing for her. A family will be best for not only her but for her child too. Ed has been warming up to us also. Yesterday we passed by his house to see if they needed help with moving or anything and he said “you know what? I stopped going to church because ‘christians’ don’t show love towards one another. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. You guys are nice and I appreciate the help and concern for us. I know you guys are doing the right thing.” We really hope to continue helping them progress.
We found out that we got the okay for our new apartment so hopefully we can move soon. Our apartment now isn’t totally safe but this new one will be.

We have also been able to see the hand of the Lord in our endeavors this week. Since this month has 5 weeks, our money is running thin. Especially since everything here on the island is astronomically expensive. We have to use a lot of our money on transportation too. One day last week, we didn’t have any money to buy or any food to eat at our apartment. I had to save the few dollars I had left to be able to go to Roseau. We were able to find a box of noodles and a can of tomato soup, however, so we were able to make “spaghetti.” We headed down to Roseau and when we arrived, the Martinez’s told us that a member here needed a blessing because he was really sick. We were able to give him a blessing and now he is feeling back to normal. I am grateful for the way that the Lord always takes care of us. When we’re obedient, the Lord blesses us.

I hope you have a great week, President. I look forward to meeting you!

Elder Nielson

haha classic german guy speaking yesterday. There is a lady here named sister Walther who is from switzerland. I havent met her yet, but I hear she's a character. 
So how is everyone? Hope all is well. Crazy that school is starting already. It seems like Greg was just skipping school to see if Michael and Link could destroy Scylla and take down the company. Classic.'
Well, as you can see, president Smartt didnt visit this week. he was supposed to be here on saturday at 1:40. we found out he wasnt coming at like noon on saturday. guhl. i even put gel in my hair. i HATE gel. 
Tell the grandmas thanks for their contributions! I appreciate it. and yeah, sorry for having to spend my money from home, but we were dying. once we get a car it will be a lot better. transportation takes all of our money. taking the bus here is almost as expensive as taking the bus to the middle school there! haha.. we're hangin in there though. i have a couple pictures for you to illustrate how expensive it is to live here. i'll attach them at the end.
what else. i dont know, nothing totally exciting happened this week. It was Breck's birthday on thursday, so that's exciting. Kassi entered the Spain MTC on Wednesday. OH! so on friday, Antonia and Conroy got married. they are both recent converts in the branch. They met at Antonia's baptism in february. anyways, I was one of their witnesses. I got to sign their wedding certificate and all of the legal documents and all that jazz. they'll remember me forever.
uhhh well i've been trying to be humble and develop my talent on the piano. I studied about talents a while back and realized that i should try to get better at it. My list of Hymns i can play has grown from a few to like 10 or 12 now i think. plus i learned some primary songs. i just have to practice the songs for like a week straight and then i can figure them out. i dont feel like im getting "better" at the piano, but i'm learning more songs.. idk, my sight reading is getting better though. i've got the notes down for sure (see it say it play it. classic.). Hopefully i'll keep getting better. the branch pianist is leaving in november, and they know i can "play" the piano since i play prelude every week (i just play the same songs i know every week hah). i dont want them to ask me to play, but i will if i have to. so speaking of that, mom could you send me the music to the Erl King? that song you used to play in your recitals. I really want to learn that song, it's sick. that would be cool if you could scan it in and email it...
well i just drove for the first time. i drove a ford ranger, stick shift. i had to shift with my left hand. drove on the left hand side of the road. it was sweet. i miss driving. and my truck. im still mad you sold it.
That's all i've got this week. Keep up the good work everybody. I miss you all and hope that your week will be great.
Elder Nielson

Driver's Licence

July 22, 2013

President Smartt,
            A verse from the Book of Mormon really hit me hard this week. I was doing my personal study in the book of Helaman, and I read Helaman 7:16. “Yea, how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls down to everlasting misery and endless wo?” Wow, I thought, that is so profound. I have grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my entire life. I went to primary, learning to CTR and singing songs about Book of Mormon stories. My parents taught me good values in a home founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have been taught from an early age what is right and what is wrong. I know how to make my own decisions and that there will always be a consequence for those decisions, whether they be good or bad. Yet, as everyone else has in their lives, I have made mistakes and committed sin. It seems as if it can be extremely easy to justify our actions and to justify sin in the world that we are living in. “Everyone else does it anyways, what does it matter if you do it?” “It wont hurt to do it just one time.” “Ah, come on, no one will ever find out.” These are all phrases that we have heard from our “friends” before. These are dangerous sayings that can lead to justification of sin and ultimately the destruction of our souls. We think sometimes that we can be happier when we sin. We learn from the Book of Mormon, however, that “wickedness never was happiness.” Alma 41:10.  Sometimes we feel that it is easier to go along with the crowd instead of standing up for what we know is right. Persecution, mockery, and a fear of looking cowardly in front of our peers can pressure us into choosing “forbidden paths” 1 Ne 8:28. The adversary desperately wants us to feel as miserable as he does and does not want us to progress and ultimately receive eternal happiness. Sin does not bring happiness. However, Satan can craftily make sin appear appealing and delightful. His tactics are subtle and suave and if we aren’t “anxiously engaged in a good cause” we can be led away down those forbidden path. He makes sin seem enticing, and makes it seem like it will bring happiness, but for what purpose? He doesn’t desire our happiness, he is seeking to hurl away your souls down to everlasting misery and endless wo! There is someone that we can always rely on, however. That person is the redeemer of the world. He is the Messiah, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ came to this earth and willingly suffered for you and me. He was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He paid the price of sin for all of humanity and died for them as well. Because of this selfless act, we will all have the opportunity to have a resurrected body for time and all eternity. He truly desires our happiness. He desires that we obey Him and His father. His “work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39. When we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we know that we never stand alone. One of my favorite General conference talks was given by President Monson a few years back entitled “Dare to stand alone.” He quoted the words of a primary song, saying “Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known.” In our lives we fear that standing up for Christ will leave us alone. I know, however, that when we stand up for Christ, we are never alone. John 14:18 says that he will never leave us comfortless. When we stand up for Christ, we can be assured that we are never standing alone. When we chose to follow the adversary, we can be sure that he won’t be there to back us up in time of need, because “the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” Alma 30:60. I know that it can sometimes be hard to face trials and temptations in life, but when we have a firm faith is Jesus Christ, and don’t give in to the enticing of him who seeks our destruction, we will always have the Savior’s love to comfort us and give us strength. I know that my Redeemer lives, just as I know that I live. I am so grateful for His gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with others. “I know it, I live it, I love it.” – Ann M. Dibb.

Yeah well i dont have a ton of time today. i'll meet president smartt this saturday. hes bringing us an ipad too! whoo hoo! be jealous. also, he said that we'll be getting a car soon. I went and got my dominica visitors driving permit today. I only had a copy of my drivers license (the one that they took when i first got to the mission) so i took that with me. i got called into 4 different dudes' offfices before finally going to the chief inspector of dominicas office. he had to call someone else because he thought the copy was a fake that i had made. i finally sweet talked him into letting it work. so long story short, i can drive here in dominica now. on the left side of teh road. ahh yeah son. 
uhh not a totally exciting week. some locals in the branch are getting married this friday. thats exciting i guess. we should hopefully be getting  new apt soon too. im just excited for the car. im sick of spending all my money on buses. and wasting time waiting for them to come by.
im glad everyones doing okay, give that kid more goldfish than he can handle.

Cuidense mucho!
Elder Nielson