Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Post Christmas - too much food!! :)

Christmas was great out here. All we did all day long was eat. Crazy week though! We arrived back here in Calapan at 3am after coming back from Zone Conference. Everyone slept over at our apartment. Next, it rained a ton and flooded out the road to the other areas, meaning everyone slept over again and spent Christmas here in Calapan. Too many elders! I am getting sick of everyone being here. Today again we have everyone over at the apartment. It's transfer week so we had to pick up all of the elders and their luggage yesterday night. It is so hard to sleep with that many elders in such a small place. I don't think my cold is ever going away! :) Hopefully the transfers run smoothly and everyone gets to their areas OK so it doesn't have to be such a head ache. 

My companion, Elder Pulido, is not transferred. We get to do one more cycle together. Hopefully everything goes OK because he has been here for 7 months and was really hoping to get out. It's fine by me because he is a really good elder and I can still learn a lot from him. 

Well Christmas was great! Fireworks should be even better. I can't wait to see what they will be like out here in Calapan. I was also super happy to see your smiling faces on Christmas. Mom didn't even cry - it was crazy! Sorry that I was sick though. I couldn't help that. I really wasn't in the right mindset for talking to people ha-ha but it went OK. 

Well like I said all we did on Chirstmas was eat. Hope you guys did more then that. Well love you all a ton. I didn't buy a camera yet but I am looking into them.

Elder Nielson

A Quick Note Before Skyping!! :)

Wow! How come I never got to go to the water park at West Edmonton Mall for Christmas?... Madaya naman yan. Lagi sinasabi nyo na ayoko pumunta sa West Ed. Ngayon, wala ako diyan at gusto nyo na mag-Water park. Putik naman kayo. (Not sure what this means but I believe the end is saying we are mud! - Guess he wanted to go to the water park!)

So my plan for skyping you is I will do it at 8 or 9 here on Christmas morning. Which will be 7 or 8 at night on Christmas Eve for you I think. Should be fun. Can't wait to see you all. 

I did manage to get a baptism last week. We baptized Joven but I think my camera is now broken. There is a problem with the connection between the shutter and the screen. My camera doesn't detect any light entering the shutter which gives me a black screen and because of that the camera also adjusts itself thinking that it is pitch black out so all my pictures aren't focused. It's like I am taking pictures of the sun or the first vision. Not happy about that. I didn't even drop the stupid thing once! 

Oh well can't wait to see you all!

Elder Nielson

Monday, December 15, 2014

Present Peeker!!

Wow! 15C in the middle of December, not unheard of in Alberta but crazy none the less. I am glad that you guys are having a good time back at home. Sounds like your Christmas program was the bomb. That's pretty cool. I think our branch has a good Christmas party planned - it should be a fun time. Ours will be on the 20th of December. We also have our Zone Conference on the 23 - can't wait for that! I think a lot of the members out in Batangas plan on meeting up with me and Elder Richards at the Zone Conference! Fingers crossed haha.

I just thought of something - tomorrow I will have been in the Philippines for 1 year. That means I will only have 10 months left. Think about that ha-ha. 10 months! You can count that on 2 hands! Elder Richards is almost down to 5. That is so crazy. I feel like I was just starting my mission like maybe 1 month ago. I can't believe how fast time actually runs here. 

What does our house look like? It is pretty bland actually. We don't have any decorations up or anything. In my last apartment we were going all out. Man I miss that. My companion doesn't like to spend unnecessary money. He is right. It is unnecessary. 

I have a confession. I did open the presents during the storm! :) I was a little worried that they might get soaked or something and I wouldn't be able to enjoy them properly. But thanks for everything! It definitely makes Christmas a lot better to have something from home. I didn't really go through them or open any wrapped gifts. I just grabbed some snacks ha-ha. I will save the presents and letters for Christmas morning. Which reminds me I will probably Skype at a members house. We really don't have any information about skyping from the mission yet this year but I will let you know as soon as I find anything out. ( I at least hope I can skype at a members, the internet here sucks...). That also reminds me - the internet back at home is terrible you should fix it up a bit or find a better place to skype because I could hardly see you guys last time. I will only have one more chance after this to skype you ha-ha. 

We also have some good meals planned on Christmas. It should be a good day. We are supposed to go out and get work done but that is super hard or at least was super hard last year. We will try to get some stuff done, if not lessons, visits to investigators. I will inform you more next week. Just plan to be near a computer on the 24 25 and 26 ha-ha. 

Oh ya - we had another Baptism. Jarom Ponce - he is a YSA and planing to go on a mission. He lives with Brother Koons (the old white guy). That is the 3rd prospective missionary and they all start with J. Jessie, Jarom and Josef. Next week we have another Baptism, Joven. He's not YSA but he is super cool and has had some hard times in his life. Well that's pretty much it. We haven't been able to work much lately because of all the meetings and stuff but that's OK. The work is still getting done. 

Well Love you all a lot!. 

Elder Nielson

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Here Comes Ruby!!

So, we were not expecting a letter this week due to Typhoon Ruby that is forecast to pummel the Philippines directly where Elder Nielson is located right now. Ruby is a class 5 "super typhoon" which is the same caliber as Yolanda that ripped through Tacloban a little over a year ago while Erik was in the MTC in Provo, Utah. Many people lost their lives in Yolanda and the area of Tacloban was devastated for quite some time. Erik has been through some other big Typhoon storms but nothing this size. And I am a mother that has spent her life worrying about everything that my children do that may be even a tiny bit dangerous or risky. Scout camp made me nervous!! But for some weird reason, I am not worried about my boy. I know that it will be a hard few days for him during the storm and it will mean very hard work for him cleaning up afterwards. But I really do not feel fear for his safety. This is very out of the ordinary for me. I guess I just know that my son is doing what he should be doing and he is living where he is needed right now. And I know that he will be protected and safe. I think Erik's Dad is confused because he keeps showing me the pictures of the storm and tells me how wide spread and dangerous it is - and I keep saying that I know all that, but that I really don't feel worried. I call it my missionary mom brain fog. I am grateful for it because normally I would be a gigantic wreck! :) Anyways, we got the following letter from the mission president (President Mangum) on Friday morning.

Dear Philippines San Pablo Mission Family,

You are probably already aware of Typhoon Hagupit, locally referred to as Ruby, which is off of the coast of the Philippines and headed our way. We have been tracking the storm for the past few days and have been working to prepare our missionaries for its arrival. The latest projections show it is tracking directly toward our mission and it will arrive sometime this weekend or early next week. The speed of the storm has been decreasing so it is difficult to estimate when it will reach us.

All of our missionaries have been alerted to prepare for the storm and have been given very specific instructions about how to prepare. We are working to relocate missionaries from coastal lines and areas that might be prone to flooding, mudslides, etc. We are being overly cautious and conservative in the approach we are taking to protect your missionaries.

Given the timing of the storm, you may not receive an email on Monday, which is your normal day to hear from your missionary. Don’t panic if you don’t hear from them. In July we lost internet service for a period of time following the storm and I assume we will have the same experience with this storm. I will allow your missionary to email home as soon as services have been restored. As soon as possible following the storm, I will send an email confirming that everyone is well and accounted for and give you a brief update.

Please continue to keep our missionaries and the Philippines in your prayers. Our hope and prayers are that the storm will weaken as it reaches us and all of our preparations will have been unnecessary. We are preparing for the worst while praying and hoping for the best.

Thanks for the amazing sons and daughters you have consecrated to the Lord’s service. It is Sister Mangum and I’s great privilege to serve them and serve with them!

President Mangum

We wrote to him anyways and were surprised to hear from Erik earlier Sunday evening!! Must admit I was relieved to get the following short message.

Hey I am still alive. I probably don't have much time to email you. I think the power is going off soon. We should be fine here. The storm is pretty strong but we will survive. The storm is just starting up - don't worry about me. Oh and yes I did get my Christmas packages. All of them. Well I love u lots. 

Elder Nielson

If you could keep Erik, as well as all of the other missionaries and people in the Philippines in your prayers that would be great. I am sure its pretty scary for all of them to go through a terrible storm like this. I am sure we will hear all about it next week if they regain power again by then. Thanks!!

We recieved this letter yesterday!

Dear Philippines San Pablo Mission Family,

I am happy to report to you that the core of the storm has cleared our mission as of this morning. Thanks to your fasting and prayers in our behalf, the typhoon was weakened to a tropical storm by the time it reached our mission. We had considerable rain creating some localized flooding, but did not have the high winds associated with a typhoon. We will be experiencing light to moderate rainfall for the next 24 to 48 hours as the tail end of the storm travels across our mission.

As of this morning, we are beginning to return missionaries to their areas as weather permits. I have instructed your missionaries to email you as soon as the services in their areas allow them to do so. All of our missionaries are safe and came through the storm in good spirits. About 50% of our missionaries were relocated to chapels or other missionary apartments in preparation for the storm to ensure they were in safe shelters.

We are thankful again for your fasting, faith, and prayers. Thanks for sending Sister Mangum and I such amazing missionaries. We cherish this time we have to serve them and to serve with them. They are an inspiration to us and we love them! We pray that all is well with you and your families and that you have a Merry Christmas as you reflect on the life and mission of our Savior Jesus Christ.

President and Sister Mangum

Then we recieved this letter finally today!! So glad he is ok!! Thank you for all of your prayers!

We are still alive and doing just fine. The storm was ampaw or just big and puffed up. It got bumped up to a category 3 storm just before it hit us and then wala. Nothing happened. It was no more then just a windy rain storm. Some super typhoon that was! I did get all of my presents. All 4 of them. Grandma Pat sent me one as well. You can except Jeff as a facebook friend ha-ha. He's harmless ha-ha. He is an RM in my ward. He is a pretty hard working ward missionary. We had 4 other missionaries sleep over for the last like 4 days. I am getting pretty sick of them. But hey, Elder Richards was one of those 4 elders. So we did have some good times. I still can't send pics. Sorry I don't know how I am going to send photos for the next few months. I will try my best. Well I am glad that everyone at home is still fine. Love you lots.

Elder Nielson 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello from Calapan!

You don't have to worry about me and the car mom ha-ha. We will be just fine ha-ha. I am only aloud to use it on transfer day... That is a new rule that came out like 1 month ago so that's kind of sad but whatever. 

So Elder Pulido is freaking legit eh?  ha-ha! That is super funny! He is a super funny guy and a good teacher. I am glad to be here. Ya,  I got made Zone leader... Not the most fun of callings this church has. That means I really got to step up my game cause I really didn't think I should have been a District leader either ha-ha. Oh ya, I am Elder Richards Zone leader ha-ha. So that's kinda funny! He is one of the District leaders in the zone out here. 

Earlier, we went to the beach which was super fun. Just hung out there with a couple of other missionaries. We didn't swim of course but we did do some good splashing. It was even semi decent sand but the island right across the bay had some really beautiful sand that we could see. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side, or the sand is always whiter on the other island. 

Either way we had a good week of work. I got to go on exchanges with my brother in the mission (Elder Richards trainee) and boy was their area tough. INC has that whole area tightened right down. I am glad I am not over there ha-ha. 

Well I am experiencing a new problem here in Calapan. I am having trouble getting close to the investigators here that were here before I got here. I have never experienced it before and it's different. Well I will just continue to do my best. 
Tell Tori happy birthday from the Philippines! I enjoyed the birthday pictures you sent! Surprisingly enough, everyone kind of still looks the same. 

Oh, there is this member here in my area. His name is Brother Koons. He is this kinda wacky old American that lives here in Calapan branch. He is an RM and served in Italy. He has pretty much a missionary machine running in his house. What he does is supports teenagers and lets them live at his house but requires them to take care of the place. He supports them through school and they eat together for every meal and the works. They are pretty much family. They have family home evening every Monday and family prayer every night as well and family scripture study in the morning. Brother Koons does it because he can't really survive without friends I think. But on the other side of things he gets everyone pretty much baptized and out on missions! I think he said he has sent like 4 missionaries into the field now and 1 is waiting for his call right now. We are also about to baptize another 2 future missionaries from his house. Cool right? 

Well I guess I got to go on a shopping spree :). My comp should be happy ha-ha. Well, have a good week. Love you lots.

Elder Nielson