Tuesday, December 30, 2014


(Written Monday, December 29, 2014)

WOW! Merry Christmas!

I have had a wonderful time being a missionary during this Christmas season! So many miracles! For Christmas, I was able to do many things I feel that Christ would have done if he were here. We brought the true Christmas cheer to many in different ways. We went and sang at the hospital, we snowflaked a bunch of doors, we organized Christmas dinners for families that were planning on going without, we visited the nursing home and said hello to all our sweet friends there, we had breakfast at a members home and reenacted the nativity scene (me and my companion were wise men)! So many wonderful things happened and I went to bed filled with joy!

The Christmas season is even more special when we figure out how we can remember Christ and this is one of my favorite Christmases so far!

Also, I have always loved having a real Christmas tree in my home and the smell it brings. I was sad when I knew we wouldn't have one as missionaries this year because they are so expensive but when we were walking through a neighborhood the day after Christmas, we saw one on the side of the road and it made me so sad that Christmas was over and this perfectly good tree was going to waste, so we stuck it in the back of our car and now it is sitting peacefully in a tin in our house. I like to consider myself a friend of nature and we rescued that guy from the cold. What a great day :)

One thing that I learned just last night has increased my faith and hopefully it will increase yours. Last night, we went up to part of our area that we hadn't been to before (our area is giant and we went to the upper part and got acquainted with it) Later that evening, we were leaving another neighborhood and driving out when my companion saw someone on their balcony, it was time for us to go home, but she parked and we walked back. He wasn't there anymore and we were confused why we were directed to go there. As we were walking back to our car and giving up and questioning, a car pulled in right next to our and it happened to be a Spanish Speaking young couple who was interested in listening to more of our message. I was so grateful for the tender mercy of the Lord that I almost cried when I got in the car. We obeyed Heavenly Father because he needed us to still be there when they pulled in AND the best part was that they were just visiting someone in the apartment complex and they lived in the area we had just visited. Had we not been up there, we wouldn't have known if they were in our area or not but we were prepared because Heavenly Father loves His children.

I truly hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas and that you had great experiences as well. My commitment is just this: as we hit this New Year, make a goal for yourself each month. Have it be a different goal. People say I want to lose weight this year, but you can do that by saying "by the end of April I want to be better at sit ups and have lost five pounds", "for February I want to have stronger leg muscles and lose five pounds" It will help your goals be more efficient. You can even make spiritual goals to help you become more like the savior. Do this and you will see a wonderful change in your life :) I testify that he knows and loves you so much individually!
Have a happy new year! I will be drinking sparkling cider, eating panda express and reading the scriptures since we have to be in our houses by 6pm for safety reasons!
I love you all!
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Phone Call

It was great talking to Hermana Nelson today! She is doing well and she is extremely happy on her mission. She bore her testimony to us in Spanish and she told us she is grateful to know families are forever! She said she knows she is doing God's work and she has seen so many miracles already. She is grateful for the people she is with because they are so giving and kind.

We love you Hermana Nelson and we are so proud of your hard work and the type of missionary you are becoming! I am personally so proud of your positive attitude and tenacious spirit. Keep at it girl!

Amazing Hermanas!

Written by Elder and Sister Jones

My husband and I are Senior Missionaries at the Mexico MTC. We enjoyed getting to know and love your wonderful daughters. We miss them! I'm attaching their district picture and Departure Power Point Tribute. I thought you would like to see their cute faces during the holiday season! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

(Written Monday, December 22, 2014)

Merry Christmas from the Wonderful World of Las Vegas!

It's been another crazy week! When missionaries say they don't have a lot of time, they mean it!

My retainer broke while I was in the MTC so I had to go get a new one made and of course I was five and for anyone who knows me when I got to pick the turquoise sparkly one I was so excited... so that was great :)

We had a wonderful Christmas Conference where we received more training on how to be a better missionary and what we can do to draw closer to the savior. At the end there was a talent show and the president of our mission dressed up as Santa and brought us "presents" our mail. It was so fun!

I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life this week on so many occasions, but I have one I want to share. We went to an investigator's house and knocked on their door but they weren't home. We both felt like we shouldn't leave the area and we should walk around for a bit. It was like 8:30 and I was wondering why I felt like I was getting that prompting because I thought most people would be inside and just when I was about turn around, we walked around a corner and there was a lady standing outside looking very distressed and we went up to her and she immediately said, are you missionaries and we said yes and asked if she was okay and she said no and just started crying and said she couldn't believe we had come. She was waiting outside for her friend to come pray with her (she had just recently joined our church) because her 4 month old son had passed away 2 weeks ago, She said she felt like heavenly father hadn't been answering her prayers but now she knew that he listened and she was simply amazed that we were there. I felt Heavenly Father's love for this woman and we were able to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon in Alma 7:11-13 which talks about Christ's Atonement and how he knows all of our trials and burdens because he has personally experienced them alongside us so he can help us. I was so glad we had listened to that prompting because we were able to strengthen and help them in a time of trial. I love this gospel.

Another amazing thing we had the opportunity to do was visit a lady at the nursing home and simultaneously do service! I love making 3D snowflakes and learned how to make them in college and decorated my whole dorm and so we made some great friends with these sweet old ladies! The one standing next to me is Shirley, the girl next to me is Sam and she is a member of the ward, she is 18 and getting ready to serve a mission too and she is so cute! The Lady next to my companion is Gloria, I mentioned her last week and the lady in the wheelchair is Ella. Another lady that wasn't there for the picture is named Kristina and she is from Poland and basically they all have adopted us as their granddaughters which is great since we don't have family out here!

Kristina gave us beautiful dolls that she collected from all over the world AND necklaces! I am amazed at how wonderful these people are!
We are going back on Christmas day to sing Christmas songs and visit with them! I am so glad I have been able to use my singing talents on my mission, I have gotten to sing at church a couple times and at the church for sacrament meeting and for the Christmas party we got to sing a song for everyone! Check the blog for all the extra pictures! There will be lots!

Lastly, all of you have a wonderful Christmas, I know the spirit of Christ is very strong in so many hearts right now during the Christmas season! Share your beliefs about why we celebrate this holiday with your friends. When we put Christ at the center of Christmas and do service, we truly remember what this is all about. This is my first completely selfless Christmas and I can testify that I have never been so happy as I am now! I love you all! Enjoy this wonderful time with your family and friends! May God bless and Keep you! --Hermana Alayna Nelson xo.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Reindeer and Las Vegas

Hello wonderful sweet family and friends!

I am officially back in the states and oh how good it feels to finally be doing official missionary work instead of theoretical work! My goodness Las Vegas is wonderful and I have already seen so many miracles! I got all packed up and made it back to the states (my luggage was all right on the cusp of being overweight 23 KG exactly and then they weighed both my carry-ons instead of just my suitcase. They weighed my purse too and then I had to pay for like 2 KG over which was frustrating, but I made it in one piece!) My Mission President is super great and I got put with the most perfect companion ever to be my "mom" or trainer for the next 12 weeks to show me the ropes in the mission field! She is great! Her name is Sister Defreitas and she is from Hawaii! We are so similar and already best friends and I have only been here for a week! I couldn't have asked for anyone better!
I have met so many wonderful people and I wish you all could just meet them! I feel so much love for them and I feel so blessed to be here. I got put in the richest part of Nevada, in an area called Anthem which is really close to the mission home so everything is just great! It is so beautiful here and our apartment is really nice. For those of you who are curious. I do have a bike, but because we are Spanish missionaries, the area that we cover is much bigger than English missionaries so we use cars far more than bikes. Our apartment is great and super cozy, we each have walk in closets and our own full bathroom which is so nice when we are getting ready in the morning. I feel very blessed. Las Vegas is beautiful and I feel so happy to be somewhere familiar to me again.

Some of the people that we have met are this sweet older woman named Lydia who is investigating the church and made the BEST dinner for us our first night! Gosh I love Mexican food!
We also had another cool dinner of things I have never had before. The man was seriously a pro cook every plate was beautiful. This was the Navarette family and they are less active members as well! He fed us catfish and I basically had the whole head of a catfish with the jaw and everything in my soup and we had the whole shrimp, eyes head and all on our plate in this soup! It was good! As missionaries you learn to be brave and it was so great haha! The little boy Saul named his shrimp little Elvis and we thought it was so funny! It was a fun dinner!
We also met our ward mission leader which is just a member of the ward/branch that you are serving in who helps coordinate the ward members with the missionaries and helps get people to church! He's super cool, he's vegan and he and his wife love fitness so Wednesdays and Thursdays they do insanity with us in the early morning for our exercises. I haven't been able to go yet, but we are going to go do it and die this week! I believe! He also does realignments for your back because one leg has more pressure on it and your spine is quite straight, my was so bad, but he just yanks on your next and then it is perfectly aligned and you feel so good! He said our bodies can get out of line if we are stressed and it can cause headaches and I haven't had any headaches since then so who knows, maybe it works, but nevertheless it feels good!

Nelly is a lady investigating the church that LOVES Christmas, her house is decorated to the max and we love her! Everyone is so loving here and it makes me happy!
We met a man named Hector and he said my Spanish isn't too bad and I understood nearly everything he was saying. The beauty of this time is that so many people are willing to open up to you and hear a short message about Jesus Christ because it is Christmas time! So great :)

We met the Hoyos family who fed us another really good dinner. They are a less active family in the church and they have two little kids who are twins named Sophia and David and they are 6 years old! We love them so much! the second time we went over, David wasn't there but Sophia was having a sleepover with her friend Anestasia (spelling) and they wanted so badly to put barrettes all over in my hair. So cute! I love them so much! Also, I got to try something new here which was banana mashed potatoes. Like instead of a potato they used bananas and evidently something popular in Columbia and it was actually pretty good!
I know I have met so many people this week and me telling you about them does nothing to describe how wonderful these people are, but I have just one more. Her name is Gloria and she is like our adopted grandmother living in a very nice nursing home here. I love her so much, she reminds me a little bit of Gabe's grandma and that makes me smile! So many wonderful people live here and I can't wait to get to know everyone so much better!

I have a couple miracles to share with you. We were in an apartment complex where were trying to find a house and my companion felt like we should walk around the corner one more time and a man was on his balcony named Ali and he was from Iran and he came here because he wanted to be christian and follow Jesus Christ and we shared a message about Jesus Christ by yelling up to this balcony to him from the book of Mormon and we had been prompted to carry an English Book of Mormon with us and we were able to leave it with him! Blessings! How cool is that!

We were also walking in another apartment complex parking lot and we saw a man walking and normally we don't follow them and we even called out to him and he didn't turn around and normally we would go to our car and go, but we both felt strongly prompted to go talk to this man and so we chased him down, he spoke Spanish and so many bad things had been happening to him in the past month, he got his car stolen, his mom is sick and he went to a card reader and she told him he needed to turn to God and he had been praying for help and we showed up. I didn't understand everything and I didn't even know what to say, but just like a scripture we have in Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 says: "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." Words were put in my mouth to testify to him and bring him comfort! That was so cool!
One final miracle was that we were walking in an area for an appointment with a lady and noticed an LDS picture of Jesus on someone's door and wanted to go see if they were members of the church. Upon entering her home, Marty told us she had been really sick and was praying for the missionaries to come by and she was crying and we said a prayer of faith with her and it was so cool that Heavenly Father sent us to her! Even just in this week, my faith that this is God's work has increased immensely! I love being a missionary.

Today is Preparation Day and we got to go to a Christmas tree farm and take some pictures for a Cmas card we are going to send home to a couple friends. It's been so great already!
For my spiritual thought (sorry I know this is crazy long) I just want to tell you about a special tradition my family does every year. On Christmas Eve, my family gets in the car and drives around neighborhoods listening to Christmas music and looking at everyone's lights. We all vote on our favorite house and leave them a plate of cookies and a note saying thank you for bringing the Christmas spirit! I love this tradition and this is something my companion and I are going to try to do this year.
As for my goal to you, all I want for Christmas from all of you are letters about your family traditions and more importantly, I really want to hear about a Christlike moment you have had in this time of thanksgiving, love and service! I know that Heavenly Father loves you and I am so happy to be a missionary!
All my love,
 Hermana Alayna Nelson

My address for your letters is:
Hermana Alayna Nelson
Nevada Las Vegas Mission
9270 S. Maryland Pkwy
Las Vegas, NV 89123


Temples (Written by Ashley)

I noticed when we first looked at the Las Vegas, Nevada Temple that it looked strikingly similar to the temple where I served my mission in Johannesburg, South Africa.

See for yourselves...

Las Vegas Nevada Temple

Plans to construct the temple were announced 7 April 1984, Church leaders broke ground 30 November 1985, and President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Las Vegas Nevada Temple 16 December 1989.

 Johannesburg South Africa Temple

Plans to construct the temple were announced 1 April 1981, Church leaders broke ground 27 November 1982, and President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Johannesburg South Africa Temple 24 August 1985. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Your daughter's arrival

(Written Thursday, December 11, 2014)

Dear Brother and Sister Nelson,

I am happy to inform you that Sister Nelson arrived in Las Vegas with a smile on her face and a wonderful spirit. Thank you for preparing her to serve the Lord. We will do our best to build on what you have taught her by incorporating the principles of missionary work found in Preach My Gospel. When her service is finished she will be a stronger person with a deep commitment to the Lord.

We hope as you write or email her weekly to express your love, that you will also encourage her to live up to the commitments she made when she accepted this call. Missionary work is hard, and many times it is discouraging. Your letters of encouragement and love will help her continue to work hard and be happy. If problems arise at home we hope you will be thoughtful about what you share, so as not to distract her attention from the work.

Phone calls to family members occur two times a year, on Mother’s day and on Christmas day. As you can imagine, many people visit or pass through Las Vegas. We follow the church guidelines that there be no visits from family or friends. Visits are difficult for missionaries as their focus is interrupted. Please do not ask your missionary to see you or friends while she is serving. Please help your missionary live the mission rules including calling only on the designated days. Finally, the missionaries are provided a monthly allowance that covers their needs. This mission has some of the most generous members of the church. In most areas the missionaries are scheduled in a member home for dinner every evening. Please help your missionary learn to live on a budget. Don’t supplement her with unnecessary funds. If an unexpected expense or emergency comes up she will email you.

Your love and support are so important to her success. She will be blessed as she is obedient and she will be happier. Again we thank you for your faith in sending your sister out to serve the Lord. 

President D. Jack Snow

Hermana Nelson and President & Sister Snow

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Las Vegas Bound!

Hello Friends,

My final week has finally come and tomorrow I leave to come back to the United States.
Never did I think I would say that I would be sad to leave a foreign country and come back to something that I know better, but I really am sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful place and such kind-hearted and loving people here. I have made lifelong friends with so many and I hope that I have the opportunity to come back to Mexico someday and visit all my friends here once more (especially when my Spanish is much better).
This week has definitely been a roller coaster of just a little bit of everything. Between teaching our last lessons to our teachers (pretending to be our investigators),
cleaning toilets for service,
my companion got super sick with a cold and we had to stay home for a few hours in the morning.
We had a crazy day of nothing but meetings to prepare us for the mission field and we took a ton of pictures with all our teachers and friends before saying goodbye. It has been very sad, but I know that Heavenly Father has prepared us and it is time to say goodbye to each other so that we can more fully serve the Lord.

I know that my Spanish has gotten so much better. I know it's not perfect but I can at least keep a conversation and Heavenly Father will definitely continue to help me. Saying goodbye to our teachers was probably the hardest thing because they have changed my life. But I firmly believe that I will be able to see them again. I know this email is my least detailed yet, but there just isn't much time and really if you visit the blog, there are more pictures than anything! You will enjoy seeing everything that has been this wonderful last week in the most spiritual time of my life.

My spiritual message for you all this week is to start preparing for CHRISTmas. But more importantly start preparing for Christ. I have three videos about the Christmas Season for you that have touched my life this week!

“He is the Gift” - this is the new video released this year by our church about Jesus Christ and it is beautiful.

“Wisemen still seek him” -this one is phenomenal as well.

“Christmas Spirit” -this one warmed my heart.

You can also watch more videos about Christ and Christmas at www.lds.org/christmas but the best place to go is www.mormon.org/christmas
The message that Christ has for us is so beautiful: It’s a message of hope and joy and love. Please watch these videos when you get a chance and you will be filled with the spirit of Christmas!
I hope you all know that I love you! I don’t always have time to respond to everyone personally and that makes me sad, but I hope you know that I take pictures of every letter and read them when I have time. You all are a source of strength to me so even if I don’t respond, know that I read them and they help me so much! Thank you for your support and friendship! May God bless you and keep you!
All my love,
Hermana Alayna Nelson

PS- don’t forget to check out the blog (MTC Photo-A-Day) SO MANY GOOD PICTURES THIS WEEK!

Songs that we made up in spanish (tengo hambre to the I'm so fancy song and the AguiƱiaga song we made to the Lion King song).

I am singing tonight at a devotional with the choir and we are singing "He Sent His Son" and another song in Spanish and they are beautiful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sunsets and Sunburns

(Written Tuesday, December 2, 2014)

Hello friends and family,

It sure felt good yesterday to go home with rosy cheeks and a rosy nose after sitting in the sun for forty minutes. That´s right folks, while all of you are probably feeling very cold, I got a sunburn on December 1st. I love you all! I hope it isn´t too cold where you are! It´s been a really great week!
Not too many big things happened that I could share, but there have been some great moments. As you know (probably better than I do) it was Thanksgiving this past week! I was a little worried about getting a tad homesick on my first holiday away from home, but they made it really special for us. Latinos don´t celebrate Thanksgiving and most of them don´t even know what it is. It was pretty funny too, I was talking to my teacher about black Friday and when I told him that people fight each other for really good deals he just started laughing. We Americans really are crazy! But anyways, they set up really nice tables, made the tradition meal (the turkey was amazing) and they even played Christmas music in the background for us. Our district ate together like the cute little family we claim to be. I didn´t feel sad or lonely, I just felt grateful to be able to celebrate this holiday with these guys if it couldn´t be my family.
We also got to go teach Casy again this week! She has become one of our greatest friends and we are sad we only get to teach her one more time. I am sad that I am leaving and won’t be able to see some of these people for a very long time, if ever again. It saddens me. But good thing we have the internet right?
I also had quite a bit of luck outdoors this week because I got a lot of really cool pictures of the birds here and also some beautiful sunsets, but you will have to go look at the blog to see more pictures this week! Check out the MTC photos a day area too because there are some other photos that won’t appear in this blog post because they are just random and don´t have to do with anything, but you can see more of my house and where I do things!

We also were very blessed with kids who got pies for the holiday season but couldn´t finish them so they gave them to our district. We had pie in class almost every day. It was great!
We also got to learn a little bit about the history of this beautiful campus that we are living on right now. Originally in the 60s and right up until a couple of years ago, this campus was a Mormon School for Latinos. If you visit my blog you can see how underdeveloped this place was in the 60s! On January 29th, 2013 this campus was turned into a Missionary Training Center like the one that they have in Provo, Utah but for Spanish speaking missionaries. Since June of 2013 over 6,000 missionaries have come to learn the Spanish language here from 48 of the United States and have gone back to the US to serve in 34 of the states. It was pretty cool to see how much has changed and grown over this time!
At any rate, It´s December now which means that Christmas is going to be here before you know it! My spiritual message for all of you this is this. We had a lesson about faith on Sunday and how faith requires an action on our part. We have to exercise our faith in order to increase our faith, just as we would have to do with our muscles. A scripture in the Book of Mormon was shared. It is from a prophet by the name of Alma Alma 32:28--Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now if ye give place that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief , that ye will resist the Spirit of the lord, behold, it will begin to Swell within your breast and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves--it must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to Enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to Enlighten my understanding, yea it beginneth to be Delicious to me.

I love this scripture. We talked a lot about giving place to Christ and the gospel in our lives. We all have 24 hours in the day, but it is what we choose to do with that time that counts. I would encourage all of you to take this challenge and find somewhere in your life that you can give place to Christ or the gospel or to pray or to reading your scriptures daily and let it Swell within you and become something greater than you are. I know that as you do this, you will be enlightened because any time devoted to God blesses us and the things you do will become delicious unto you. With this time of Christ, invite Him into your life, make room for Him and you will see His blessings.

I love that I get to go out into my mission field right before Christmas to share the beautiful message that Christ lives, Christ loves all of us and that we can return to him and our Heavenly Father with our families forever. I love you all! Have a fabulous week!

Hna. Alayna Nelson