Monday, September 26, 2016

Puzzles, Old Ladies, and a Hungry Hawk

Log of this past week: 

Carter with beloved Great Harvest Garlic Cheddar Bread -- Thanks Sherri!
On Wednesday we just had our normal visits and denials but we did visit this guy named Robert who is in a nursing home and he is awesome! He's like 75, knows a ton of doctrine, has a giant Dumbeldore-like beard, and he got the Melchizedek priesthood a couple months ago. He was raised as a Jew and still wears his Yakima everyday and then he became a Methodist when he was like 50, and now he's a Mormon! But during our visit with him, this lady from the Catholic Church came into the room and gave him Catholic Communion hahahaha so he's been everywhere and practices everything. It was kind of awkward but whatever. He considers himself LDS and he only believes in the LDS teachings, but he thinks that if he's humble enough to accept service from every religion then he will receive more blessings I guess which is coolπŸ˜‚… I think? 

On Thursday we drove to State College for Zone Conference which was all day from 8am-4pm, so it was a long day, but then on our way home we went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Harrisburg and it was so good! Then when I got home that night I had a package from Sherri that had the Garlic Cheddar bread in it😍😍 so I got BWW and Great Harvest bread in the same night and it was pretty much like I was back home!!πŸ˜‚ 

Carter, Ibarra, and Sister Missionaries at Buffalo WW
On Friday we had service all morning and we finally finished that stupid roof!! πŸ˜… In the afternoon we went to visit another lady in a nursing home and this nursing home is really funny, it's just a bunch of old ladies who do puzzles together and they are religious about it!! When they finish, they hang them up on the walls! Haha! So we went and did puzzles with them for a little bit and they are so funny.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Just picture me doing puzzles with three 85 year old ladies! LOL! Then later that night we had another normal lesson(nothing significant). Then we went to dinner at the home of a less-active member family and they reminded me of the Adams family.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ They had a daughter who was exactly like the teenage girl in that movie — hahaha — but we had a good dinner with them and shared a good spiritual thought! 

On the roof

Then on Saturday we did service again in the morning. We were helping this middle-aged single man named brother Alva with his yard. He has a lot of rats in his yard and while we were helping him this huge hawk showed up! It looked so cool! So I filmed it for a sec but then right as I stopped filming, it swooped down and grabbed one of the rats and ate it!!πŸ€ it was right out of the discovery channel but I didn't get it on camera.πŸ“·πŸ˜” 

After our service, we went to lunch with brother Alva and this old family from next door and they were all super uneducated.πŸ˜‚ I don't even know how to describe them, but they were hilarious! Hahaha, they are straight out of a movie I swear. The Dad is 75 and his sons who were like 50 and 45 and they had super strong Pennsylvania accents and they joked about everything and talked about how stupid they were in high school and stuff, but they were really friendly and they thanked us several times for helping brother Alva because he's had a really hard life. That night we taught ANOTHER lady in a nursing home!! We only teach people in nursing homes because they don't have any choice but to listen to us because it's not like they're going anywhere!πŸ˜‚ JK.  But it's kind of true. Anyways I had a really good conversation with this lady and I showed her the “Mountains to Climb” Mormon Message and it made her tear up and she talked quite a bit and thanked us several times for going to see her. 

"No, stop, stay there, do not walk on that roof!" -Mom
On Sunday I got to go to the Lebanon ward for the first time and they are amazing! You would have no idea that this ward was in the middle of Pennsylvania. They are really strong and have lots of young families. So there were 3 people(less actives and investigator) who we kept trying to get ahold of this week, we called them, knocked on their door several times etc. and we never got ahold of them and then they all showed up at church!!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ It was so cool!!! haha I'm not sure what the chances of that were but it sure makes our job easier! It was great, we talked to all of them and set up appointments for this week. My companion and I had to teach Gospel Principles last minute because the teacher didn't show up but we killed itπŸ’ 

After church we decided to go with the sisters to visit this guy named Don whom I had never met but I connected with him super well. During our visit I talked to him the most and helped share some things and put some things into perspective for him and I taught him about the priesthood and the importance of the Book of Mormon and a bunch of other random things that he had questions about. But I felt the spirit when we were talking to him and I could honestly easily see him getting baptized. He is super accepting of the gospel and can see God’s hand in things. 

After that we had dinner at this pretty wealthy family's house and they made us Cafe Rio pork!! It was delicious.πŸ˜‹ Their son in law was there as well. He went to BYU and got his degree in Business and now he's in Hospital management, which is something I've been considering, so it was cool to talk to him! And he played rugby at BYU! So that was a good visit, it's nice to hang out with a rich educated family every once in awhile!πŸ˜‚ 

After that we went and visited our friend Modesto. He's one of my favorites!! Haha, he's so funny! He’s this 50 year old from Puerto Rico and has some weird disease where his stomach fills up with fluid so he has to get it drained every other week. But he's getting a transplant surgery soon, because he's next on the list. So hopefully that goes well for him because I guess it's a really risky surgery😬 and we love Modesto and want him to live. He lives with this guy named Jose who is another 50 year old Puerto Rican who just takes care of Modesto. It's such a good example to me of a Christlike attribute, because Jose and Modesto would much rather be living in Puerto Rico where most of their family is and stuff but because of Modesto's condition they need to be in the US. But Jose sticks with him regardless and just takes care of him. It's really sweet. Anyway, we visit Modesto pretty often and just read the Book of Mormon with him because he loves the book! I love visiting him too because I get to practice my SpanishπŸ˜‚ anyways that's how Sunday ended. 

I don’t know what we are doing todayπŸ™† Other things, we have been biking a ton. We rode 12 miles on Wednesday and 18 miles on Friday and 13 miles on Saturday. It doesn't sound like much but on those old bikes — with the wood block seats, and gears that don't work, in church clothes, and humidityπŸ˜… it's pretty tough!!πŸ˜‚   

Anyways love and miss you guys tons!!πŸ’™πŸ’™ I included a few pictures of my apartment below. 

-Elder Nelson

Carter's bed. "Hey! It's made!! I'm so proud!" -Mom

Bedroom with somewhat askew door... 

Pictured: Dustpan and shoes. Not pictured: broom. Missing in action: vacuum. 

Desk for companion study :) 

Lovely bachelor kitchen. Featuring: Stan the Cockroach and his gang of grime bandits, currently living like kings!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Full Week and Trip to Pittsburgh

It’s been my first full week in the mission and I’ve have already had some cool experiences! I have already seen a lot of PA, Pittsburgh/Harrisburg/Hershey etc. 

Lebanon is a relatively poor, blue collar town. The people here are hard working and most of them are totally red-neck or inner city African American. There is a large amount of Puerto Ricans, a lot of which is who we are teaching. The town is exactly how it looks in the pics that mom sent me. My apartment is like an apartment that Spider-Man would have in New York if that makes sense. That's what it looks like on the inside, so pretty old/ghetto. However, it's pretty big actually and we have wifi/AC/hot water/ good furniture/beds etc. Its just gross because its old and there are a lot of bugs and stuff. 

Like I said, my companion is fluent in Spanish and English so I try to learn from him as best I can. He is a good trainer. We practice Spanish around the apartment and stuff. We teach like 60% percent Spanish lessons and 40% English. 

On Thursday I helped teach my first lesson in Spanish. During our companionship study that morning my companion said "yeah we are teaching Carlos today and he has tried a bunch of different churches and doesn't  which to join" and then I was like "well that doesn’t sound anything like Joseph smith" hahaha so I had the idea to apply his life to Joseph smiths and challenge him to pray about our message(the restoration) and he said he would. I gave him the invitation and all that stuff in Spanish so that was cool! We invited him to continue to read the first vision on his own so we will have to see how that worked out. 

We had a bunch of other lessons this week that were similar but not of any significance. We did service all day Thursday and Friday. We helped this old guy completely re-shingle and fix his roof. That was from 8-5 on Thursday and then we helped him again from 7-12 on Friday so I have been working like crazy. But I got some good exercise and a good tan from it and now I know how to fix roofs. Saturday was full of teaching and referrals just basic textbook missionary stuff. Riding a bike is good exercise but I look like such a nerd haha we ride all over the place, my legs have been pretty sore. I woke up in the middle of the night the other day with the worst calf cramp of my lifeπŸ˜…. 

Basically after my first week of real missionary work I can honestly say that nothing has prepared me more than home teaching. Home teaching is like identical to this especially when we are trying to reactivate less active families and people. 

Anyways we are leaving to go to Pittsburgh for my companions immigration stuff. He has an appointment at 8 in the morning which will be about an hour and then our bus doesn't leave back until 4 so I will have all day in downtown Pittsburgh😏. 

My companion and I woke up pretty early and the senior companionship took us to the immigration office at 7:45am and he was done before 8am so we couldn't do anything yet because 
nothing was openπŸ˜‚ so we went to half of a zone conference just outside of downtown until about noon. Then the senior couple took us back to downtown and dropped us off at like 12:30pm and our bus didn’t leave until 4pm. 

We got some smoothies, talked to some people, went to Point State Park and just walked around.

One guy came up and started talking to us who was mid phone call and hung up on whoever he was talking to. He said "I'm an ex-Mormon, I served a mission in Haiti but I left the church about 20 years ago and my wife is still a member" ...blah blah blah... anyways so he was just some business man from downtown but he said that he used to be anti-Mormon but now he's just ex Mormon but he said that he never regretted going on a mission regardless. It was cool because it seemed like he hadn't opened up like that in awhile and wanted someone to talk to. 

Carter and smoothie next to one of Pittsburgh's many bridges

Then this other businessman from downtown who is a semi-recent convert to the church stopped us and talked to us and tried to give us money for lunch, but we politely declined. 

People downtown are definitely interested in us though, they gave us lots of kind replies and stuff when we would hold doors open for people or whatever. It would be beneficial to have missionaries downtown more often. 

Anyway,  downtown Pittsburgh is really cool! The pictures don't do them justice.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Welcome to the PPM

This week we received an email from President and Sister Johnson of the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission. Granted, it's mostly a form letter, but it came with these photos of Carter's first few days at the mission home! I'll include a copy of the letter below. 

 This is at the airport. President and Sister Johnson are on the left. His companion, Elder Condie, came with him from Mexico. The other elder is a transfer from somewhere else. The Sister missionaries look like a fun group!

Chelsea and I debated about what Carter is eating. It looks like brownies and ice cream, but Carter doesn't really like sweets and wouldn't usually eat a brownie and ice cream. However, he has been in Mexico for six weeks, so he's probably enjoying American treats for the first time in a while!

 A group of missionaries from his mission. Carter is in the back right. 

 Training meeting at a church there in Pittsburgh. 

Carter and his new companion, Elder Ibarra.
He is thrilled to work with Elder Ibarra! 
There are only 12 Spanish speaking elders in the mission,
so he was lucky to get one who speaks both fluent Spanish and English!

Also, in his last letter Carter indicated that he would be able to attend the Philadelphia temple while serving in this area! Today was the dedication of that temple and his regular church meetings were cancelled so they could view the dedication sessions.

Here's a copy of the President's letter: 

We are very excited to welcome your son, Elder Nelson into the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh mission!  We enjoyed getting to know him at the mission home and having training together throughout the next day.  His trainer, Elder Ibarra joined him at the church and they were soon off to their area to get to work!

Thank you for helping him to prepare for this most important calling to serve as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ to invite and help people to come unto their Savior.  We look forward to serving together with him here in the PPM.

You can follow our mission blog at

Blessings to you and your family,

President and Sister Johnson

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Carter's First Area

Hey!! Okay so I am in Lebanon PA which is about as far away from Pittsburgh as I can get but its good! I will be able to use a bit of Spanish here! And I get to ride a bike! And I get to go to the Philadelphia temple in this area!!

I have been traveling and stuff all day and I'm exhausted so I will be quick. My companion's name is Elder Ibarra. He's awesome from what I can tell so far! He was born in Mexico and then lived in Ogden so he's fluent in English and Spanish. Which is sweet!

Okay I need to go to bed cause we are doing some service first thing in the morning but send any mail or packages to that address! Not the mission home!!! 

I got to drive through downtown Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and Hershey today so it's been really cool!! Downtown Pittsburgh made my jaw drop its amazing and I get to go hang out downtown next Tuesday! 

Okay I gotta go! With xfinity I have wifi pretty much everywhere in PA so email me all the time cause I can check it whenever. 

Love you guys!!πŸ˜…πŸ˜œπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜πŸ™‚πŸ™„πŸ˜…πŸ˜’πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‡πŸ˜☺️πŸ€—πŸ˜…πŸ“πŸŽ±⚾️⚾️πŸ†πŸ•΄πŸ…πŸ…πŸŽ—⚽️πŸ‡⛳️πŸ‚πŸ‚⛷⚾️πŸ„πŸ„⚾️πŸ§πŸŒ―πŸ§πŸ”πŸŽ‚πŸŒ―πŸ«πŸ£πŸͺ🍿🍳πŸͺ🍜πŸͺπŸ—πŸ©πŸ‘”πŸ‘‘πŸ‘”πŸŽ’πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘§‍πŸ‘§πŸ‘›πŸ‘—πŸ±❤️πŸ’œ❤️πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’”❤️πŸ’πŸ’˜πŸ’

 ⬆️⬆️-Because I have an iPad now 😏

My address is: 

Elder Carter Nelson
339 South 8th Street 
Lebanon, PA 17042

Email is the same:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Last Pics from the Mexico MTC

Well, Carter has officially arrived in Pittsburgh. He called me tonight! He's excited to be there, but already missing his MTC friends. He made some really good friends in the MTC and it's been a hard week for him knowing that they were all headed out. His good friend Eldredge is headed to Ecuador. 

He sent us a few final pictures from his last week there. 

We really only get limited information from him. Being a boy and a missionary limits us to minimal information. However, I know that these are some -- or maybe all -- of the Elders from his District. They all lived together in a little apartment. 
 Elder Eldredge, Elder Nelson, and another Elder who traveled with him from St. George, but somehow, we never learned his name. 
 More GQ poses from Eldredge and Nelson. 
 He entitled this the: High Priest Uniform picture. 
 This is from on campus. You can see the Mexican houses on the hill behind them. 
 Not sure what's going on here, but this is Carter's room. And maybe Eldredge on the floor? 
 They call this Mayan head the "Dum Dum Head." If you've seen Night at the Museum, you'll understand. Apparently, Carter and Eldredge loved it and would kiss it everytime they walked by. 
 It will be missed. 
This was just entitled: "Dirty Mirror." 
Once again, it looks like another on campus feature that the boys found interesting. 

When I talked to Carter this evening he was at the mission home. They'd just had dinner and were getting ready for an orientation and meeting with the president. He said there were 20 other new missionaries, but only 3 were Spanish speaking: him, his companion from the MTC, and another elder they didn't know. He thought he and his companion would definitely be split up and he was under the impression one of them was headed to Jamestown, NY and the other to Harrisburg, PA. Yes, parts of NY are in his mission! I've included a copy of his mission boundaries below. 

It will be exciting to see where he ends up. I'll post that as soon as I know. 

Also, he should have his iPad soon and he will be able to check email more often. He can't respond except on P-Day, but he can read them. So send photos, notes or letters anytime! He loves them! 
He loves hearing from you and keeping up to date on what's going on. Love you all :)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September 4, 2016

It's been a busy few weeks! Carter is now on the last week of his MTC experience. He leaves for Pittsburgh on Monday September 12th. I can't believe it has gone this fast! 

 Elder Nelson and a few of his District friends with an Aztec Calendar. 
Tyler also got one of these when he was in Mexico. 
Ours is larger and hangs in our familyroom. Carter was excited to see this cool mini-version. 

 This is a picture of the MTC workout room. There are spin bikes and some weights, etc. He doesn't go there a lot. Given the option, he'd rather play soccer outside. But it is interesting to get an idea of the layout of the MTC. I love how all the buildings and classrooms have external entrances. They are regularly exposed to fresh air and the outdoors -- which makes me so happy! 

 Elder Eldredge and Elder Nelson in front of a Mayan head on the MTC campus. Elder Eldredge is in his District and has become his closest friend. He is from Herriman, Utah and he's headed to Ecudaor.

 He entitled this one "Mega Desk." I don't know if they are re-enacting something, or why the desks are stacked on top of each other. But at least they are in class, hopefully learning something...? Notice Carter's gray hydro-flask next to him on the desk. Tyler gave that to him right before he left and Carter immediately covered it with stickers -- which is something he has always liked to do :) His car, his folders, his skateboard, the furniture in his room -- all covered with stickers. 

This is a picture we took at the St. George Temple before he left. 
I used this picture for his mission plaque at the church. 

 This is he and Elder Eldredge. I'm not sure the context. It looks like they are outside.
Must have been the evening of their last P-Day. 

 This one just said, "Sweaters and Shorts." I don't know the point.
But there seems to be some sort of habit of standing on the furniture....? 

 GQ Mission Pose with Umbrella

 His namebadge with scripture markers underneath. He thought they looked cool under his badge. 

This is "Arnold" flexing just outside the MTC wall. Bryce asked why there was a wire fence above the wall. "Are they trying to keep the missionaries from escaping?" Tyler explained that the fence leans out, which means they're trying to keep bad guys out, not the missionaries in. 

Carter and his friends Hunter and Caden Barney. The boys all went to high school together, played basketball on the HS team, and have known each other for years. They were in the MTC together until recently. The Barney boys left for two different missions in Texas a few weeks ago.
It was fun for the friends to see each other!

Here is an excerpt from his latest letter: 

Dear mom, this last week I had a really cool experience. I said a prayer this last week that I would feel the spirit while reading the first vision in my personal study but I didn't really feel anything. Then a couple days later our class was memorizing scriptures and stuff just kind of on our own and the first vision is one of the ones that we have to memorize in Spanish. So I grabbed the pamphlet that has the first vision in it and I started to read it out loud quietly just kind of to myself and right as I started the second paragraph my eyes started to water and I couldn't even speak the words anymore. I just kind of played it off like nothing happened then I read it again a minute or so later and the same thing happened. It was so powerful. 

My Spanish is improving everyday still, at the end of one of my lessons yesterday my teacher was like you are so close to being ready to leave! you are almost there! It was nice to hear that! 

I have less than 2 weeks left here and I am excited and nervous. I have grown to love my district so much and I am going to have to leave them and its going to be hard. My mission president sent me an email and he gave me the itinerary and the schedule for the first night there. I get to call you guys in the airport probably in Atlanta and my mission president said that if I don't have time at the airport then I can call you guys that evening at the mission home. 

I can feel your prayers everyday. I want you to know that I am having a good time here. I am hardly ever bored and I am learning a ton. Last night my district leader pulled me aside in one of our rooms and said.. I need your help, people don't really listen to me they only listen to you so I need you to help me get everyone focused and work super hard these next 2 weeks... it kind of made me feel bad but at the same time it was a compliment. I feel like there is a reason that I am here and I am in this district. Everything is working out for me perfectly out here and I know its God but I just have a hard time sometimes because like you said, the closer we get to god the more we realize our own imperfections.

The weather is perfect and everyone is nice. My hair has been growing super fast which has been a problem and it has been getting super light in the front which is weird haha you cant tell from pictures but in the mirror its like completely blonde ha. I will probably have to get a haircut today and I am scared because I have seen some bad haircuts come out of that place but some good ones as well. I need to look good for when I meet the Mission president though.

I love you all! 

Elder Carter Nelson