Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013, Plainfield, NJ

Hello everyone! First, thanks to all of you that help me to be a better missionary: Emily, Lydia, Tanner, Mom, Dad, Chris: thanks for your emails/missionary updates. They strengthen me more than you all know. Natalie: I can't believe you go home on SATURDAY. WHAAAAAAA? That makes me feel like I want to throw up. I'm really proud of you and everything that you have accomplished and become on your mission in Taiwan. Talk to you soon (MOTHER's DAY!)
This week was amazing. We had even MORE investigators at church. Two former investigators came to church, Brian (16) and his sister Jasmine (12). They're half Peruvian-half Guatemalan. We visited their whole family and invited them to church and immediately after the invitation, the parents declined. But Brian spoke up and said, "I want to come, I'm not doing anything on Sunday." And immediately after his sister basically just repeated what he said. So their parents dropped them off and they both came and were super happy to be there. Brian even went to his own class, with just him, another Peruvian girl and the teacher (who is a scary Ecuadorian lady that screams her testimony during testimony meeting). We were proud of them. ALSO, The Manzano family came to church. On Saturday, we were teaching the whole family again and we asked Uncle Feliz how he was feeling about baptism (originally was scared, didn't understand it, and didn't want to do it). He replied that he had had a change of heart, that he had felt the spirit, that he knew the Book of Mormon was true, and that he was ready. Elder Leon responded with, "Hermano... quiero llorar" (Brother, I want to cry). So him and the two kids, Christopher and Anthony, will be baptized next Sunday in Scotch Plains! (because the Plainfield building does not have a font) We're still working with Oswaldo and Guillermina, as they are waiting to be married. We set them with another date for the 18th of May. But we might have to move it because that's the same day as Stake Conference. All will be well, that's all I know. The Lord knows what he's doing.
The past week was pretty good. I felt like a lot of people juked us and bailed on every appointment that we set but other than that, we managed to get 8 new investigators and contact a lot of people (new missionaries LOVE contacting, even if they're scared). Elder Leon keeps telling me that he feels like we can work so much harder, do so much more. Fresh blood always has this drive that pushes you till you're dead. And although we are working really hard, I know he's right, especially with the monthly focus being consecration. I love training and working with a new missionary.
We have also been focusing on visiting an Hermana that is in an old resting home in North Plainfield. Her name is Hermana Olympia Mejia, from Honduras. She can't really speak, if she does, it's a few of the handful of the few words that she can mouth. She's pretty old, has a bone problem, and a huge chunk of her mind is always off in heaven. But she's such a lovely sweet lady. Every time we go by the home, we make our way into the Recreational Room, weave our way in between moaning and chatting old people, (most of them half dead/crazy) and find Hermana Mejia sitting with the only other hispanic lady in the home. We kneel by the hermana, ask if she remembers us (she always nods yes), ask how the food and her week is (she always says "it's ok" with her hand), and then read the Book of Mormon with her. And I feel like whenever we talk about our Heavenly Father or Jesus or the gospel, her face gets all clenched up like she's going to cry, but she can't so she just stares at us with these sad eyes and holds our hands with her feeble fingers. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite all others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel. We are doing just that with Hermana Mejia. I just want to make her happier, and I know she is as we come by the lift her up and bring her closer to Him.
The gospel is true. Christ is our Savior. He LIVES and personally DIRECTS the church. I know that. My love goes out to all of you, family, friends, and all OTHERS.

April 15, 2013, Plainfield, NJ

Dear EVERYONE that I love,

I'm going to start off this week's letter with a cool miracle story:
We were walking down the big main street in Plainfield and it was warm
outside. We had been walking for about 1 hour, coming from the church
building to go pick up a Dominican member to come out and teach with us. I
was sweating and a little uncomfortable. But HEY when you crash a car,
that's what you get: you have to walk when it's hot outside. Anyway, as we
are walking, a red jeep passes by and a Hispanic guy pokes his head out the
window, yells "hola", honks, and drives past. I waved cheerily back. Elder
Leon asked me if I knew him and I said no. I just assumed it was an
inactive member that we had never met before. We saw the red jeep, now 300
yards ahead of us, flip around in the middle of traffic, and come back for
us. Sweet. Ride.
The guy asked us if we wanted a ride. We said sure. We got in and sat next
to a young girl. I looked in the back and saw there were two little boys. I
was smiling and stoked to be there, with the AC blowing in my face. We
asked the guy if he was a member. He got a little confused a said he had
only known Christ for 8 months, him AND his family, but they told us that
it was the best 8 months of their entire lives. He then told us that they
were at the bank and his wife saw us and told her husband that we looked
like "men of God". So they all hurriedly piled in the car and chased us
down just to give us a ride. I am humbled and grateful to say that there
are still Christ-like people in this world and often times THEY will be the
ones to find US if we are being obedient to the commandments of the Lord.
We got their contact information and we plan on having a discussion and
breakfast with them on Saturday.

That happened on Saturday. Other awesome events/lessons that happened this
1. We had a family home evening with our new family (finally found out
their last name: Familia Manzano) and the Pineda family. Hno. Pineda is the
2nd counselor in the presidency of the branch (26 year old Salvadorian guy
that is always smiling, is incredibly intelligent and learned in the Bible
and Book of Mormon, and when he laughs this low nasally vibration comes
out. He's amazing.) We taught them the Plan Of Salvation and they really
loved and understood it. The mother and father are still not married but
we're working with them on that. And THEN the mother, Guillermina gave us
Mexican food from PUEBLA. MY FAVORITE! I haven't had comida poblana since I
left Perth Amboy. I realized how much I missed it. And then, Hno Pineda
told us yesterday that after we left, they stayed there for like an hour
longer just chatting and hanging out with them. YES! Love fellowshippers.
2. Elder Key and I have been chatting lately and he accuses me for HATING
him when he was in the 21st ward. (shout out!) Wait a minute here. We ALL
know that everyone worshiped him when he was in our ward. He was the only
Polynesian, he played football like a madman, he was bigger than everyone
else. What more could you want? Anyway, Kent and Jaezo: you guys need to
back me up on this. He keeps saying things like, "I mean yeah, this one
time I came late to the camp-out to the sand-dunes and everyone was all
chilling and laughing and eating marshmellows by the campfire. And so I
come up saying "Twenty first ward RULES!" and they all stop talking and
look at me. And then they all just went into their tents! They all left me
ALONE by the fire!" Such a liar. He knows we all loved him.
3. Elder Leon is doing super good. He's getting more and more bold with his
teaching and commitments. He's working on remembering the material that we
teach and in what order we teach which bullet points but he's still doing
AWESOME. I love training him. Who WOULDN'T want a cool Hondurian soccer
player as their trainee. He calls me Pai or Apai, which means dad in
Portugese, so he says. And when he shrieks (because Elder Key is constantly
beating everyone up; examples: towel whipping, wrestling, boxing, sitting
on/smashing, etc) he sounds like an 85 year old Hispanic grandma. It KILLS
me how hilarious it is.. Also, our comp unity is getting so unreal. We
teach really well together. I feel so inadequate sometimes.. I feel like
there were SO MANY things I wanted to do "when I trained" but I've
forgotten everything and I just try to listen to the spirit in moments of
trial or confusion. And all the time, frankly.
4. WE GOT BIKE HELMETS. But the one bike I wanted to ride (it's an old
Nishiki) is a piece of junk and has TONS of problems, including bent parts,
a chunkily greasy chain, and ancient tires. I'll see what I can do with it.
Sometimes I just get MAD, thinking about how most missionaries are garbage
when it comes to taking care of bikes. They don't even lock them up and
they leave them out in the rain and snow. Pfffff... still love them..
5. ZONE CONFERENCE was on Wednesday. President Jeppson gave an awesome
training on the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation and the Doctrine of
Christ. It was incredible. I trust that man so much. Afterwards he
interviewed me (because I needed another temple recommend due to my lost
wallet) and after the interview told me that he KNEW we had been preserved
by the hand of Lord. After looking at the pictures of our demolished car
and the accident scene and everything, he told us, that we should have been
killed on impact. I literally had a sore back for 1 day and nothing more.
The Lord watches out for his servants. He loves them and he will preserve
6. We're still focusing on teaching our less-actives and strengthening the
faith of our members. It's really great to be able to work with the ward
and truly try to help them come unto Christ with full purpose of heart.
7. I have noticed another small change in myself. I am still loud,
exuberant, somewhat obnoxious, colorful, and crazy. But I have learned the
gift of listening. I never thought I would. (Hayley! remember constantly
talking at the same time in your car, ALWAYS interrupting each other...?
We'll see if that happens again). The other day, I kept wanting to speak,
as we taught a less-active member and his woman (I say that because they're
not married yet). But the spirit kept restraining me. I literally said 3
sentences the whole lesson, and those sentences were clear and powerful
because they were as directed by the spirit.

Other than those things, this week has been really good. We are working
really really hard to get more investigators, to see our members, and to
really help this area grow. I don't know if I told any of you: this area
was a total bum area that NOBODY wanted to go to. Not even me. When I got
the call to come here, I was stoked and I didn't even know why. All I know
is that we are here now and it's one of the greatest, fastest-growing areas
in the whole mission. HARD WORK. That's all it takes. That and faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. I love my mission and I know the church is true.


Photo the car I was driving.

April 8, 2013 Plainfield, NJ

Editors Note: Sorry this post is so late. I have been in China where I do not have access to Niels' blog.

Thanks for all the emails (family, especially Mom and Dad and Natalie.
Lars, Finn, Kai, WHERE ARE YOU?). You all are loved by me.

Fantastic week. We had 9 people at Conference yesterday! It was super
awesome. Our Mexican/Ecuadorian family was there as well as a few other
people that we've been teaching. I was just sitting somewhere in the middle
of the tiny congregation (about 30 people) and a felt a tap on my shoulder
and looked behind me to see the whole investigator family sitting behind
me, just lookin as happy as ever. The father's, Oswaldo, brother, (aptly
named Feliz, which in Spanish means "happy") was the one who tapped me and
he told me how "maravilloso" it was for them to be there. I love that
family SO much. When they're baptized, I think I'm going to weep for their
happiness and willingness to keep the commandments of the Lord.

We visited a super strong Guatemalan couple who live in Piscataway. Since
we've been walking everywhere, we have to leave like an hour early to every
appointment, so it's been hard to see all of our members, but we're
continuing to work super hard for the Lord and for these awesome people. So
anyway, they are the Flores family and we visited them because Hermano
Flores was getting ready to leave for Guatemala so they wanted to have us
over for dinner before he left for a month. We are delicious rice and
chicken and salad and fresh tortillas. And Hno Flores lifted up his shirt
and showed us these HUGE scars that he's got all over his belly due to an
ulcer exploding inside of him. Latin people have no fear about showing you
weird sores or other skin infirmities (remember the 88 year old Honduranian
lady showing us her boob).

Tuesday: More great appointments with the Medina family (Peruvians) and
Oswaldo and family. Hno Medina gave us HUGE plates of peruvian food (like
always) and when he left the room I definitely nonchalantly wrapped a huge
chunk of chicken in a napkin and drained it into the trash can. Elder Leon
was shocked and horrified, but I asked him if he would prefer me throwing
up on the table. He said no and continued to miserably eat (seriously you
wouldn't believe how much food these people give you). It's wonderful,
homemade food, just way too much of it.
After them, we stumbled to Oswaldo's house and taught them about the
Restoration, baptism, and several other doctrinal principles. We committed
ALL of them to be baptized and to prefer themselves for the 28th of April.
They felt good about it and we know they will be ready. I've recently been
learning that there are 2 ways to increase your ability to ability to
discern the needs of the people you teach (it's seriously the most amazing
feeling ever). All you need to do is: 1. Continue to get to know them so
you will be able to teach them according to the spirit. 2. Pray for
guidance and for the voice of the spirit.
I feel like I often reach out my spiritual consciousness, brush against
theirs, and I am able to discern exactly HOW they feel, not just understand
the words that they're speaking to me. It makes you feel like an angel,
like you're adequately performing the work of the Lord, Christ.

On Wednesday we taught Louis, an investigator who we teach in English, but
he's Puerto Rican and speaks perfect spanish, of course. He has TONS of
doubts about Book of Mormon, but he's brilliant and willing to read it and
find out if it's true. Nice. That's all it takes. Also, on Wednesday, we
visited Santos and Pamela, a recently married couple who live in an old
basement in Plainfield. They called us and told us about how there was a
bad spirit in their home, so they wanted us to come bless the home. We were
happy to do it, as we had done it the first Sunday we were here (another
experience that I'll tell you if I make it back home to Utah). Santos told
us of the creepy experiences and afterwards we played a hymn and knelt in
the room where stuff happened and they asked me to say the prayer. So I
did. I love the difference, simply in the feeling, when you bless a home.
You feel like the feelings of uneasiness and perhaps slight fear disaparate
and the home is left feeling clean and warm and bright. I found it helps to
use the word "light" when doing it. Demons do not like light - it's their

Thursday we saw some Salvadorians. The mother's name is Leida and she's
already reading the Book of Mormon every day because she LOVES the way it
makes her feel. She told us that sometimes she would just get a feeling to
go to a certain page or chapter and it would be exactly what she needed to
get her through the day. She's progressing so well, it's amazing. The Lord
has been preparing her and her 17 year old daughter for quite some time
now. Such wonderful children of our Heavenly Father.
ALSO on Thursday, we went to COURT. Fun right? Elder Leon and I were saying
now we can check that one off the mission list... heh heh.. not that funny.
But anyway, the judge was nice, but she upped my ticket to $233 bones
because she found out I totally blew the stop sign without even seeing it.
Lame but alright, I payed the ticket. And Elder Mortensen (from the senior
couple) was with us, he being a Lawyer and gave me a Benjamin to help pay
for it. I was only expecting the 85 dollars. I felt bad but I was super
glad he was there to help us out. He kept making jokes for me to bring my
toothbrush saying, "They'll take one look at a criminal like you and send
you straight to jail." Thanks Elder Mortensen. They're amazing, him and his
wife. And THEN, that night, I think he felt bad for making so many jokes
about it, even when he knew I was a little stressed out, he called me and
tenderly, almost in tears he told me that he loved and respected me so much
and hoped that he could call me his friend. You meet the greatest people on
your mission.

Saturday and Sunday of course were conference AND the mission-wide fast.
This month we are focusing completely on being more consecrated
missionaries. It's going to be great to turn our obedience and desires to
serve into miracles and bringing more and more souls unto Christ. It's
interesting how those two things have such a close correlation.
Conference was incredible but I don't time to write about it. What did YOU

The church is still true. The Book of Mormon still stands today as Another
Testament of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Cling to Him.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1, 2013 Walking in Plainfield

OK. So because the car is destroyed, Plainfield has turned into a walking area (or biking if we can find tools and get the bikes fixed). Which means that we are walking in a MASSIVE area, by far the largest walking area in the entire mission. We have about 7-8 cities and to walk from one end of our area to the other is in between 10-15 miles. But that's just an estimate.
HOWEVER, despite our exhaustion and dehydration (definitely need to be better at bringing a water bottle with me all the time) we are getting around just fine, teaching a ton of lessons, finding a lot of new people to teach, and eating well. I think I'm starting to lose weight again though, which isn't good because even thought I've climbed to 150, I just dropped back down to 147. Anyway, I KNEW you all wanted to hear about my health and my weight specifically.

This week was RAD. We had 7 investigators at church yesterday, which was the most I've ever had. They were our AWESOME new family, (Oswaldo from Ecuador and his wife Guillermina from Puebla, Mexico and their 3 kids> Christopher, Anthony, and Saliza), who we committed ALL of them to baptism at the end of April, Louis (Puerto Rican guy who speaks PERFECT english cause he was raised in New York City) and his less active wife, Beverli, and their two kids, and the aunt and mother of Hno. Jorge Pineda (from El Salvador, 2nd counselor in the branch). It was a super great day because it was Easter and all but it was really LONG. Hispanics don't really know when to stop the class and maybe Priesthood went 20 minutes longer than it was supposed to... OH and the Gospel Principles class was great because it was Hno. Pineda's aunt and mother's first time coming to church with him so they were super confused in the class when someone mentioned Joseph Smith and then they were trying to "contend" with the teacher of the class about how God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are 1 person. It was pretty funny because the teacher totally shut them down, humbly and calmly.

English CLASS: I don't think I told you all, but we teach English classes every Saturday evening at 5. This past week was great. We pretty much always open up with a question answer session, where they will ask us to translate certain phrases or words they want to say to people in English. This week, the highlight was "Let me do that". So to demonstrate, I acted like I was a 90 year old woman trying to pull out a chair and Elder Leon came up to me and said, "Stop. Let ME do that." And then we had some of them come up and try it and a middle aged guy named Carlos, from Guatemala came up to me said, "Estop! I me that." SO then I corrected him and he did it again and he nailed it. It was super funny. I always feel like the star of the class because I'll make a comment and then say a joke under my breath, (for example, concerning how much one of the likes to eat) and they all bust up laughing. The BEST part is, we always have a spiritual thought to end it and it seems like that's everybody's favorite part. The gospel touches so many people in the smallest ways. 

I went on a two day exchange with my District Leader, Elder Guymon, (KAI, he's a total hardcore kid, likes soft-core, weird European metal bands, stuff like that), because both of our companions had to go to New Missionary Leadership training. We had to work both areas, but it was nice to be in a car again.. except not really. I always nod-off in cars. I HATE always having to be seated. I learned a lot from him and from his mission and the reasons why he's out here. He's a really smart, but simple missionary and it always striving to love his investigators and members more and more. I have this uncanny ability to love and trust missionary leaders, even if they are mostly in it so they can unrighteously exercise dominion over the grunt workers (like me). 

Last night, I felt the spirit like I haven't felt in a really long time. We had a 10 minute lesson with a less active member and his wife, who is a super active member. We went over with Hno. Medina (from Peru, ex-bishop, most learned and sincere man I've ever met) and Jose Brito (Dominican, speaks awesome English, ward secretary) to visit these members so we could chat with the less-active husband and give a blessing to the wife. We let Hno Medina direct because it was technically HIS home teaching family.. and to simply direct WHO would say the prayer he slowly and deliberately said to Hno. Mariscal (less active husband's name). "Hno Carlos. You have the holy authority of the Melchisedek Priesthood and you have all the rights and powers to direct this small meeting. You are an elder of the House of Israel and received revelation due to that calling. You have entered into the house of the Lord and received instruction and wisdom from on high. You preside her today. Who do you wish to say the opening prayer."  (all in spanish of course. Following that, we said a prayer, gave the hermana a blessing, and chatted with Hno Mariscal for 8 minutes. He cried, as Hno Medina and Brito testified to him of his calling as the Patriarch of his home and the Father figure. I almost cried. I didn't dare say anything, we just let the silence fill the room after those words from those two powerful, worthy brothers spoke deeply to everyone there.

I want to be more like my Savior, Jesus Christ. I want to be perfect, always receiving revelation and power from on high.

The church is true, all of you. I know it is. I love God and his Son, Christ. Through Him, our afflicted, starving spirits are healed and fed.


ps - Got Tanner's other package with the shirt - YOU ARE THE GREATEST.
pps - thanks family so much for that pacakge. I seriously have eaten so much candy in the past week, it';s horrid.