24 February 2012

Reporting from Porto!

I have no idea where to start so I will just start from the day I left the MTC. We left Tuesday around noonish for the airport after I finished packing my extremely over weight suitcases and mailed nine boxes of stuff from the MTC. Seeing mom and dad at the airport was wonderful. I love them so much. The PMGs are perfect! It was funny because there were so many of us on our flight. It was hard because they played three of my favorite movies on the plane but I read my scriptures and slept instead. 
We had a long trek from one side of the Paris airport to the other to our flight so I started talking to people. I met this cute couple from Canada that was going to vacation in the Algarves. Apparently it’s super glam down there. The guy is like, oh I have an article to show you and it’s about why people shouldn’t trust Mormons from some Canadian magazine. We were like uhhhhh you can trust us! Then we met a cute French girl and gave her a pass-along card as well. 

On our flight to Lisboa I sat next to a Portuguese couple with a cute baby and out of nowhere the lady starts breastfeeding in the open and doesn’t cover herself so I get really uncomfortable and pretend to sleep for the rest of the flight. We landed and it was the coolest view of Lisboa. When we got there 15 bags in our group were lost but not mine thankfully.  

I met President Torgan and Irma Torgan. I love them! We got to the mission office and he gave us our assignments. I am assigned to Porto!! We have the cutest chapel ever, I’ll send pictures next week. So then after we get our calls we had the best dinner I’ve ever had. Then we had a testimony meeting where I fell asleep. After the testimony meeting we went to bed. Sister Gourley, Sister Walton and I slept in one giant bed because we are clingy and it was our last night together. 

We all woke up at 4am because of jetlag. We had another really good meal for breakfast. We went to the mission office for orientations and I met my new comp. Okay so....she doesn’t speak one word of English. She is from Brazil and finishes her mission in 5 weeks so I will get trained by someone else who doesn’t know our area. When she leaves I will have to show my new trainer the area and introduce her to the members and investigators. Scary. So after we had all our meetings we were off. And because of my ginormous suitcases and the box that mom sent to the mission home it was tricky getting everything to Porto from Lisboa. So they piled like 10 of us in a van and we drove to the train station. We took a three hour train ride to Porto, then a metro, then a bus and up a giant hill to our apt. 

Our apt is on the top floor so that was fun getting all of it up the stairs. Our apt is big but old and there’s no light in the kitchen, no washing machine (so a member in our ward does our laundry) and very little warm water for showers. The apt is freezing so we study with blankets and coats on. It’s colder inside the apartment than outside the apartment. So imagine doing all of this and trying to communicate with a native comp. HAHA it’s been tricky. So our first night we went out tracting which was fun. I met Vanessa at our chapel and she’s from Mozambique and looks exactly like Rihanna. She’s adorable and speaks English. On Friday my first full day we had weekly planning. I wanted to cry because my comp kept handing me huge stacks of progress reports and I had no idea what she wanted me to do with them. So I acted like I was doing something and she obviously figured it out. So funny.

We have some awesome people in our ward and it’s a pretty big ward. We had 80 people in church this week. There’s a cute senior couple that speak English and we have a Gospel Principles class in English with two recent converts from Ghana. I love them. Oh and they have RS, then Sunday School and then Sacrament Meeting. At church a man who was completely drunk walked in yelling at people. We were like uhhhhhh that’s new. I cooked a meal for my comp after church, then we went tracting and I had my first meal at a member’s house. It was with two sisters, one speaks English and is 23 and her sister is 19. They have a Brazilian member living with them. They are awesome and can speak a little English. They made a casserole with tuna, pineapple, noodles and cheese. So different and I had to eat the whole thing because if you don´t they will get offended. I loved desert it was rice pudding but they use noodles instead of rice, with cinnamon on top. They call is aletria. It’s a traditional Christmas dish but they like it so they made it for me. I swear the only food here that is the same as home are green olives and diet coke. So great. 

We have some awesome investigators. I don’t talk much but they think its endearing that I’m here and trying to learn the language. Lucia is so cute and reads the book of Mormon but is nervous to go to church, Americo is like 70ish and we met with him at the church and had this awesome member present and it was the most intense debate that I could barely understand. We have many others and it is amazing. We were walking down the street and this guy Leonardo, who was so drunk with a cigarette in his mouth yelled to us. Normally I would have kept walking but we stopped and talked to him and he actually listened to us. We told him about our church and how drinking and smoking is very bad for us and Christ wouldn’t want us to do it. We handed him a pamphlet with the picture of Christ on it. He started crying and kissing the picture of Christ and then I started crying and we said do you want to be baptized and he mumbled yes I do. Even though we had no idea what his problems were and even though he was drunk, we knew he was sad and wanted a different life. We got each others numbers and set up an appointment to meet again. When we said goodbye he tried to kiss me on the cheek and Sister Dos Santos was like NOOOONONOOOO! I like the whole kissing on the cheek thing they do here, obviously not with the males but every woman I meet does it. I feel so European or something hahahah. 

Two days ago we wanted to drop by Leonardo’s house so we spent two hours trying to find it and he wasn’t home and wasn’t answering his phone. But we left a note and he called us this morning and we are going to teach him tomorrow. I can’t wait. Yesterday was our pday but we had zone conference so two zones Porto and Porto North got together and President Torgan taught us. We met a bunch of Elders. They speak so fast it’s so hard to understand. I was talking to one of my friends from the MTC, Elder Palmer about my bus pass and Irma Torgan’s mom yelled at us for speaking in English. It was funny because she doesn’t remember that I’m new. So because of our conference yesterday we have our pday today. Sorry I’m out of time. I love you all. 

Irma Nelson

Irma Nelson
Rua de Aries de Omelas Nº7 2
Porto 4000-023

[Images via google. Just an idea of where she is serving :)]

15 February 2012


I feel like I've been here forever. I'm so ready to leave but it’s so very true how my companion put it, she said that the MTC is like our womb. We're so safe, protected and comfortable here but it’s our time to leave. I have loved every minute here and all the wonderful people I've met and relationships I have made.
This week was great. We were so excited to go on our last temple walk yesterday but we were snowed in and weren’t allowed to go.  So we took tons of pictures inside with the branch and made it fun.
We had infield orientation on Friday which was pretty cool. They talked about how we contact, find and how to work with members in our missions.  We were able to meet some of the missionaries from “The District", they're like MTC celebrities. It's funny because we've watched video clips from their missions every class for the last two months.  We had our departure devotional last night; it was nice so see all the missionaries that are departing.
At orientation they told us they have a 12 week training program that started in August where all new missionaries have one extra hour of companionship study in the morning.  In Portugal we wake up at 7am not 6:30am and go to bed at 11pm instead of 10:30pm because Portuguese people stay out and eat dinner around 8-10 pm.  So this should make us more effective as missionaries.  Our teacher Brother Mateer was in our same mission (he has been home for about a year).  He told us about the food, culture, President Torgan, and different areas in Portugal.  I don’t think I've ever been so excited in my life! I'm nervous because when the Portuguese people start talking to me and I will think to myself this is not what I have been learning the last 2 months!
This week what I have really been learning over and over is to stop wanting what I want and want what the Lord wants and to completely subject myself to the will of the Lord. Every time I pray I should pray for help to make His wants, my wants. This Mission is not about me. The more I serve others and completely trust in the Lord He will shape me into the person He wants me to be and help the people He wants me to help. If I do so, then I will feel closer to the Spirit and let it guide me to people who are prepared to accept the Gospel.
Yesterday during our fireside I was thinking about all the powerful testimonies I have heard over the years that have stuck with me, especially the testimonies of all the members of my family, my friends, my seminary teachers, my advisors, my church leaders and powerful converts.  These testimonies have always resonated with me and helped strengthen my own testimony.  Thank you all for your faith.
As soon as I get to my new area in Portugal I will email my new address.  I'm so excited I can barely stand it. A man from orientation challenged me to make the first contact before my trainer does.  I'll probably just run up to some random person and yell OLÁ!....and then not know what to do next.  It will be awesome and awkward all at the same time.  I can't wait!
Well I love you all and I'm looking forward to writing you all next week from PORTUGAL! Ah I wonder where my first area will be. I know it will be just what the Lord wants :)  Have a wonderful week. You're all in my prayers!
Irmã Nelson

08 February 2012

Last Week In The MTC!

This week was so great. I miss all of you very much.
I would NEVER leave my favorite people in the world behind for this long if it wasn't for something THIS important. This work changes LIVES and in a week I get to witness it first hand in Portugal. It is necessary that every soul hears this message so that all of us as Heavenly Fathers children can return to His presence.
EPIC story of the week....ELDER NELSON AND ELDER HOLLAND CAME AND SPOKE TO US ON TUESDAY. I almost died. Literally. It was the 50th anniversary of the MTC so many general authorities were here. Since there were many visits only a couple hundred out of 2000 missionaries were allowed in the gym so see them speak and the rest had to go to the over flow and watch from a screen. We didn’t want to wait in the 2 hour line so we just hung out and studied in the basement until the doors opened. So when people started going in they only let like 50 in at a time and for some reason we were way in back and did not think we would get in the room.  Then a bunch of elders yelled LET THEESE FOUR SISTERS GO! And I was like huh? And so they parted the crowd and let us be the last missionaries in the room.  I said no that’s too nice but we literally got shoved in the door.  We were split up but then they decided to bring in a couple more to fill the floor so my companions and I booked it to the floor and found seats together that were 15 feet away from the apostles. Irma Walton and I were squeezing each other for a good 15 minutes. Elder Holland bore a very powerful testimony about our obligation as missionaries to honor those who came before us. And Elder Nelson spoke on the history of missionary work and the MTC.  He then rededicated five buildings on campus. I think this was the first time I had ever heard an apostle pray. It was amazing and very beautiful to hear. Definitely one of the highlights of my stay here.
Well, my health is good, the language is coming along, and I'm ready to leave for Portugal. I'm nervous but ready.  Nine weeks is a long time but I've needed it. Our branch President said they are starting a pilot program here where they delay all the missionaries three weeks that are scheduled to be coming in this week and are only keeping them here for six weeks. They want to see if six weeks would be better than nine.  They think by six weeks you can't speak well but you can communicate. I'm really curious to see how that works out.
Well I love you all with all of my heart. This Gospel is so true and perfect and I'm so honored for this privilege to serve. Our branch Presidents wife made the sisters of our branch this book mark and I’m obsessed with it! It says...
"Many young women are serving missions. Many are preparing to serve. Not because they aren't married or have nothing else to do; but because they have a desire to serve and therefore are being called to the work. The reason so many are going is because in the next generation, Heavenly Father  will be sending His Priesthood Army to the earth and wants to send them to Mothers who have been properly trained and taught in the Gospel. What better training can a young woman have than that of serving a mission?"
-Gordon B. Hinckley, Brazil Maceio Mission, 2000.
This is what it's all about. If any sister is reading this and is considering to serve please pray and seek confirmation from the Lord to serve a mission. I've only been here eight weeks but it has been the most rewarding and satisfying experience thus far in my life. I'm in love with the Gospel and women are such powerful missionaries.
Thank you for your wonderful examples and prayers. I love each of you individually.

Irmã Nelson

01 February 2012

Happy Monday!


Almost two weeks left! I seriously feel like I’ve been here forever. I’m actually really, really nervous for Portugal. The language is very intimidating, but I know Heavenly Father takes care of His missionaries but I'm so stoked at the same time.

I can't believe Jami is almost home. You have no idea how much I missed that girl. She means so much to me and her choosing to serve a full time mission has influenced me. I know she will have the most vibrant glow about her and the most powerful testimony. Tiffani sent me her blog post last week about the Savior. I was in tears I felt the spirit so strongly. I know she changed so many lives in Cordoba.

I ran into Jenny and Meags at the Temple yesterday (I died I was so happy)!  By the way thank you for the bag of goodies. The letters from the party crew were hilarious!  It looks like a bunch of nursery kids drew them for me. SO FUNNY.

This week I hosted new missionaries (I also host for the next 2 weeks).  It was super fun!  It was hard seeing them say goodbye to their families and awkwardly trying to change the subject and act like they didn't just leave their family and friends behind for 18 months.  I think I did okay. I saw Sister Whitney Wilde, the cute one that worked at Nordstrom in Orem who is going to my mission but I’m a different Portuguese branch. She is so adorable.  I love her. Also our Stake President’s son Tyler Clason came this week.  I see him quite often, he is a sweet Elder.  Elder David Livingston (a friend of Ramsey Carroll from Newport) came this week as well.  He is heading to Honduras but will spend 3 weeks here and 6 weeks in the Guatemala MTC.  Speaking of Ramsey, Rique is on the exercise and wellness slideshow for new sisters in her exercise clothes. I was like, I know her!!!

I got amazing letters/emails from Sara Little, Sheree, Lexee, Kristin, President Gilbert and Ray this week. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

I know this church is true. I know it from the bottom of my heart. I know the Spirit works through us when we want to help others. I am forever indebted to my Savior for His infinite Atonement. I love Him with all of my heart. I love this work and I can’t wait to teach the people of Portugal! 

Irmã Nelson