Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Week of Blessings

(Written Monday, August 3, 2015)

Wow Everyone,

I can't express how grateful I am to be a missionary for my Savior Jesus Christ. I have seen nothing but miracles and blessings that I know can only come from above. How privileged I am to be part of this great and marvelous work.

This week, I got to do an exchange with one of the Sister Training Leaders in an English area and met some wonderful people. I met a woman who had part of her leg amputated and I loved what she said "I never knew what to say when I was around people with disabilities so I don't want people to feel that way around me, so I just call him Stumpy" I thought she was so funny and cute. She is far more concerned with the people around her and helping them than she is about all the challenges and hardships she has been through. She is the definition of optimism and it helped me see things in a different light too! I want to be happy no matter what my circumstances or life challenges. She really proves that it's a choice, it's just something I need to learn!

I also got to watch Jaime bless the Sacrament in church yesterday! I am so happy to see him progressing along so well here, it is the most beautiful blessing ever.

We also had a wonderful training this week about helping our members set visions and goals for themselves to really achieve further steps of conversion in the church! That was really neat to learn about and we've been working to apply it with many of the people that have recently been baptized here! I love helping people see higher and reach higher than they think they can!
We also learned about doing member missionary work. So many of us don't have a testimony of it because we never did it before our missions. I was guilty of that way too many times before my mission and they helped us realize that if we don't start doing it now that we won't do it when we get home because we will still be afraid to do it. So I just want to let all of you know that I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that He knows me by name and He loves me. I am sorry if there has ever been a time where I have not lived what I believed to the fullest and made you confused about my beliefs. I can honestly say now that I have changed for good and bettered myself to represent what I believe. I know that change is possible with Jesus Christ and that without him, I would be nothing. I look forward to continually sharing with you what I know and how it can bless you! You are my friends and you are so important to our Savior too.

We were also asked to teach the Young Single Adult class at church on Sunday and it was about how we can accept the atonement and make changes. I feel like that has been a theme for me recently, making changes to be better and recognizing that we can only do it through our Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Nephi 2:6-8 <--read it, it's sooo good!)
I shared with them the poem "The Room" By Joshua Harris It's beautiful and talks about what Christ has done for us. We all were crying about how grateful we are for this gospel and we committed them to share it with their friends now too because it's one of our biggest regrets! I love everything that I am learning. I love the person I am becoming and I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything! I love you all and I'll be done before we know it sadly, but I still have so much time to learn everything!
Pursue something Great this week, Love,
Hermana Alayna Nelson

PS: Parangaricutirimicuaro is a city somewhere in Mexico evidently and my recent convert Becky Garibay has been trying to teach me how to say this really fast for the past couple of weeks. I couldn't get it forever until the other night and now I can say it really fast. She said in her Spanish accent English "okay, now you can marry a good Mexican boy, you are practically Hispanic yourself" The best compliment is when people tell you that you look Latina. I love this culture so much :)

The Room by Joshua Harris

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

Bring The Towels!

(Written Monday, July 27, 2015)

Hello friends and family,

This week was simply incredible! We worked even harder this week and saw so many miracles from it! We hit the Standard of Excellence for bringing members with us to lessons and even exceeded it which made us feel so happy because in my whole mission I have never hit that goal.  We have many people working towards baptism and just watched a family get baptized on Saturday! The dad will shortly be following this family but the spirit was very strong for the Rodriguez-Garibay family! We watched on the side of the font as each one got baptized and watched their other family members, the mom was last and when she came out we asked how she felt and she said clean and smiled and laughed and then grabbed me and Sister Haycock into one big wet hug, but we didn't even care because we were so happy! I'm so excited because Emely will be able to go to girls’ camp on Tuesday and have so many wonderful experiences that will change her life even more! It is such a blessing from God to be able to know them. This family is incredible and will do such wonderful things!
Ignore the poodle hair and just see how happy we are!
Their blessings were beautiful as they received the Holy Ghost, each of the kids was promised to grow up strong in the church and to be wonderful teachers, serve missions and marry in the temple! I was so overjoyed! Also, Matthew, who is 15 got to get the priesthood and Jaime my other recent convert got to help give it to him, it so wonderful to see the gospel change and bless lives!

Jaime was also called as a ward missionary meaning he will come out and help us all the time! He has a wonderful testimony and he will be a great asset for us! We also hooked him on indexing for the church and he loves it! So many wonderful things are happening in the land of the happys :)

We watched the Book of Mormon touch another woman's heart as she recounted a story about reading Mosiah 4 and cried as she said she wants to be a better mother and friend and serve harder. I know the Holy Ghost touched her heart and she will be ready to be baptized soon too! I love the power that the Book of Mormon has to help us desire to be better people!

Although we are still running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we are so happy! I love the mission, I can't believe I'm already halfway, it goes too fast and it will never be enough service!

I love you all!
Have a safe and wonderful week,
Hermana Alayna Nelson

PS: This is us today, emailing like taken an hour ago! Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2015

"What the Heck is a Webelo?" And Other Life Questions.

(Written Monday, July 20, 2015)

Family, Friends, Universe!

I am so privileged to be serving here in Las Vegas. I am in the best area of the mission and I wouldn't change a thing about what is happening here! Heavenly Father is blessing us so much and I feel His love every day, but more importantly, I feel His trust now, which is far better in my opinion than His love.

We have 11 people that are getting ready for baptism (they have a date set) and we've been having so many join us for church and also steadily finding new people that Heavenly Father has sent to us to teach. I know it is not by my efforts at all, it feels as though these people have simply fallen into my lap and I just get the privilege of teaching them the simple things I know to be true. This is truly an amazing thing I get to be a part of and I feel so happy going to bed exhausted every night. I am working harder than I ever have in my mission let alone my life and I LOVE IT! But the only thing I wish I had was more time. Time is going way too fast now and it's only bound to go faster. I feel like I am running after the train of time that is speeding me along saying, wait for me to catch up, this is too fast.

Two incredible things happened this week:
Jaime got baptized and we took a very ready family to the temple to teach them about how they can be a family forever.

Saturday started when I woke up from a dream where we were at Jaime's baptism and I was giving a talk on the Holy Ghost and in my dream, I was using some scriptures, so I made sure to include those scriptures in my talk. We went to do our personal study on the lawn of the temple (literally the only place in all of Las Vegas that has a giant green lawn, it reminds me of home) and it was so peaceful that morning. Afterwards, we met up with the Garibay family who are getting baptized this upcoming weekend and we did a tour. As you can see in the picture, they are such a special and wonderful family!

We took them into the courtyard and talked about eternal families and the mom grabbed all her kids into a big hug and said I want to be with them forever and I want to help my ancestors. We have to do this. She began to cry and it was such a special moment. The spirit is very strong at the temple and this family will do so many wonderful things here!

In the afternoon, I got to watch a dear friend and brother of mine get baptized and it was so special! I am so proud of Jaime and the spirit was there! He is an incredible man and I know he will do great things for the church. When he got his blessing to receive the Holy Ghost, it was straight from Heavenly Father because the things the man said were things that he didn't know about Jaime.

I know this church is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and I know he is proud of what we are doing.

To answer the above question, I learned what a webelo is, I never knew. A Webelo suggests an inner change or advancement of becoming better. I think that is so cool because that is what I am here to accomplish I guess, becoming a webelo in life and you are too (yep, this email just got cheesy) I love seeing these inner changes that make such bigger outer changes for us!

To close off with some other life questions, when asked what superhero would we be, we have discovered them in a book of superheros. I would be Kitty Pryde (yes with a Y) and my companion would be Dazzler. You will have to go to the blog to see our superheros, but they definitely look like us! When we asked Jaime what names he would guess we had, he obviously guessed Spanish names, so I evidently look like a Martina and my companion looks like a Sandra. Life questions answered!

I love you all have a great week!
Hermana Alayna Nelson
AKA Kitty Pryde
AKA Martina

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hey, Sister Hay

(Written Monday, July 13, 2105)

Hello wonderful friends and family,

It has been an amazing first week to transfer number 7! I am so happy to be working with Sister Haycock, or as Veronica (one of our 8 year old members) calls her: Sister Hiccup. She's a Georgia peach and lives two hours away from Sister Stark, but didn't know her until they met in the MTC in Mexico (she came in with Sister Stark) she is fun and crazy like me and has a wonderful bubbly personality, we already have crazy jokes and laugh way too much but we are having so much fun doing Heavenly Father's work, I feel so privileged to be able to work with her. We will see many miracles together this transfer :)
Me and sister Haycock this morning
We did all kinds of random things this week:
Monday Sister Stark and I celebrated an end to a beautiful transfer by going to DI and I bought so many things, five shirts and five skirts for 25 bucks. All good things and much needed! (One of the shirts is a t shirt that I won't get to wear as a missionary, but it was too good not to get, it says I want to believe and has a UFO on sweet)
We also went to go say goodbye to some of the people we teach and while we were with Jaime there was a crazy rain storm! (Check the blog for pictures! It was so pretty) I really miss Indiana rainstorms so any time it rains here it's such a treat for me! There was a beautiful rainbow over the chapel just as we got there for another lesson.
This week was 7/11 so we got free slushies, we got chocolate covered strawberries at our dear friend Isabel's Missionary farewell (she'll be serving in Anaheim, California) and we made lots of cookies and ate way too much food so we both probably gained 20 pounds this week, but who cares?
I have always wanted to take a watermelon picture like this
and I finally got to with the Hernandez family and Sister Stark :)
I love the opportunity to serve a mission, I see blessings and miracles every day and I feel so grateful to be able to do this. It goes way too fast and I feel like I'm running to hold on, but it feels so good. Jaime and Pepe will be getting baptized this weekend and we had the miracle of this new family that we are teaching come to church with us, and the dad who was not interested before he came with them for the first time! We had 8 people in total at church today that are learning from us and we felt so happy helping these people feel of the blessings and peace and love that Heavenly Father has for them.

We went to the funeral of the young man who passed away last week and one phrase really stuck with me, one of his brothers said that "the trials come after the preparation is finished" I believe that is true because although it has been hard sometimes, I know I have been prepared to handle the trials that I have passed through. This family's strength has been incredible to me and it reminds me of two scriptures.
Alma 13:28 " and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit" I like this scripture because I think we can apply it to say that we won't have trials that we can't bear either.
I think Heavenly Father is helping us so much with everything we go through and it reminds me of this scripture which is one of my favorites in Mosiah 24:14-15 "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in... 15And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." 

I love this church. I love the scriptures because they are proven true to us daily and I love being a missionary!
May Heavenly Father bless you this week! Please think on how he has helped you through your trials and you will see that you have never been alone.
Hermana Alayna Nelson

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

God's Army

(Written Monday, July 6, 2015)

Hello Everyone!

What a crazy quick week it has been and we are at the end of another transfer! The verdict is that I will be staying here in Los Feliz for another transfer and Sister Stark is moving one area over so I will still see her once a week in meetings, but she will be working in a different area. My next companion's name is Sister Haycock and she came in with Sister Stark, she is super cute and I look forward to working with her! We had a wonderful fourth of July by going to a pancake breakfast with the sisters in our area that day and we tried to go and look at the fireworks on the mountain for a few minutes, it was a crazy party and I really want to come back sometime for the Fourth of July festivities as a regular person! It was so cool to see fireworks all over the valley! I tried to take picture of it but it just didn't do it justice.

4th of July pancake breakfast with the sisters

We didn't end up having any baptisms, but I know that this next transfer we will see so many miracles with people coming into the fold of Jesus Christ. There are so many ready people that we have that are right on the cusp of being ready and I look so forward to all the miracles we are going to have.

We had a very powerful moment this week with a new member of our church, her name is Jackie and her daughter is Veronica. We did an activity where we reminded them how far they had come and how much their testimonies had grown by having them write them down. We played church music and had a bunch of photos of Jesus Christ. It was pretty spiritual as I was writing down what I knew to be 100% true and how much I had learned.

I am so grateful for who I am and who I can become. I know that my Savior loves me. It was so cool being a part of God's Army on the Fourth of July, this will be the one time I will get to say that I got to do that. I wear His son's name on my chest and I am part of the most important army that exists. How cool is that? I read a quote in one of our church magazines this week talking about the importance of Religion and Government working together separately but how they are important together. This quote has quickly become my new favorite because I have seen this come true first hand. An apostle of the lord that was also working on the president's cabinet committee during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower said
"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold people by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature" --Ezra Taft Benson

I have seen the gospel of Jesus Christ change broken homes with abuse, drugs, alcohol, little or no purpose and bring them into a refuge, with more unity and love and a purpose in this life. I have also realized that this gospel that I was privileged to grow up in has protected me from a world of hurt and sorrow. I know Jesus Christ lives, He knows and loves me and you and he can help us become who we want to be and who HE wants us to be.
Much Love,
Hermana Alayna Nelson
The last of Sister Nelson and Sister Stark