Feliz Navidad!

What a special time of year to be a missionary! One elder pointed out that it didn't feel like a normal Christmas, partially because when we are at home, Christmas is the time of year when we think the most about Christ... but as missionaries we are learning about and talking about Christ 24/7! Christmas is just a natural extension of missionary work!

Christmas was a special day, for many reasons. We had a sacrament meeting entirely in Spanish! Our English bishop still presided, but he had someone in the ward translate for him. Bishop Skabelund is awesome, and he has so much love and support for our little Spanish group!

I learned a lot of fun Hispanic Christmas traditions this week! I ate tamales (sooo many tamales!) and had "poncha," which is like cider but with all sorts of fruit boiled inside... so you drink it and eat it at the same time. I also ate raw sugar cane for the first time, which was cool... but I think I'd rather just eat chocolate. I also made up my own recipe for pastel de tres leches (three-milk-cake): I just made a cake from a box, then mixed a can of sweetened-condensed milk, a can of evaporated milk, and some normal gallon milk. I then cut the top off the cake (so the milk can soak in!) poured the milk mixture on the cake, and put whipped cream on top! It was probably the most delicious cake that I never should have let myself eat in my life. (don't worry, I shared...)

Being a missionary truly changes you... this year some of my favorite presents were notebooks and laminated illustrations to teach the Plan of Salvation! It is funny to see how drastically my desires have changed, haha! Of course, my favorite present was being able to talk to my family! I'm pretty sure that they are already trunky.

My favorite scripture to share this week has been 2 Nephi 19:6. We can learn so much from all the names and titles of Christ, and this scripture gives just a few! 

I hope you all had a muy feliz Navidad, and are ready for the new year!

-- Hermana Nielsen

On Christmas eve, the Winder family made a "Crazicake"(?). Apparently it is a traditional Danish dessert (it's cool that most of the big families here came from Denmark, like the Nielsen's!)

Moroni 6:4

This week we had a mission Christmas party with all of the "West side" missionaries. It was great fun, and I enjoyed being able to see all the missionaries from Reno again! Our mission president and his wife gave all of us towels with a "Nevada Reno Mission" logo on it!

We have seen so many miracles this week. We had one lesson, where just about everything possible went wrong. We just wanted to watch the restoration video, but it took forever to set up their DVD player, and then apparently our disk had a bunch of weird Asian languages, but NOT Spanish... Luckily Josefina (a member) was with us, and she pulled up the Spanish video on youtube on her phone to listen to... and then she got a call right in the middle of the First Vision. It was quite the lesson, BUT the miracle is that the spirit was still there, and our investigator was able to feel that our message was true, and he said he wants to be baptized!

Another day this week, one of our lessons canceled, so we decided to try someone else, and we invited the member who was going to come to the lesson with us. When we got there, we found out that our investigator just had a miscarriage. The member we brought was able to share his own experience of losing a son, and we were able to share a couple scriptures and our testimonies of the plan of salvation. It was a miracle that our plans changed so that we were able to see her at that time, and we were able to see her bitterness and anger turn into a desire and willingness to be healed by the savior.

This week we want to focus on less-active members, and do everything we can to at least get them to church for Christmas! It's sad that we have so much less-active work to do, and it made me think Hmm, we really need some missionaries who's only job is to get and keep people active. And then I realized... it's called HOME AND VISITING TEACHNG! Seriously, if everyone did their home and visiting teaching, missionary work would be so much easier. So my scripture of the week is Moroni 6:4, and if any of you have been slacking on your duties as a member of the church, I would like to call you to repentance and invite you to start the new year by committing to care for those sheep who have strayed from the fold. 

-- Hermana Nielsen

1 Nephi 21:15-16

It's been another awesome week in Fallon! Hermana Escobar and I have seen so many miracles!

One cool thing that happened this week: we started teaching Mary. That isn't her real name, but it is the English name she chose, because she is from China! She married someone in the ward where we are serving. He doesn't speak any Mandarin, and she doesn't speak any English, but they've been married for about a year now! She has come to church with him every week, but she hasn't been able to learn anything because no one speaks Mandarin. This week we got approval to teach her, in English, with some sister missionaries from Temple Square translating via Skype! She is very different than most of our investigators, because she doesn't have any kind of Christian background. We've only had one lesson with her so far, but it's been such a cool experience! She is so ready to learn and she is accepting everything we are teaching. We are so lucky to have this opportunity to teach her!

This past Sunday I translated for one of the English sisters who came to relief society with the Spanish sisters... it was my first time translating at the same time as people are talking, and it was so difficult! It's one thing to be able to listen and understand, but to then say it in English while still trying to listen to what they are saying in Spanish... I have gained a deeper appreciation for people who translate for General Conference. 

My scripture of the week is 1 Nephi 21:15-16. I love love LOVE this scripture. It illustrates how deeply Christ loves each and every one of us! He will always remember us, which is why we must always remember Him

-- Hermana Nielsen

-We had a cool demonstration about how the Book of Mormon keeps everything in "balance"

-Beautiful Fallon Sky

-Breakfast at members home

Life in Fallon!

Last Tuesday I arrived in Fallon, my new home! This tiny town is definitely a big change from life in Reno! Just about all the members here are related, and they are all named Brother/ Sister Sorensen. Everyone here either owns or works on a dairy (So it smells like cows everywhere. Hermana Gatten said that someday I am going to love the smell... someday haha) There used to be a Spanish branch here, but too many members became less active so now we are just over a Spanish group in an English ward. It is amazing to see how the English and Spanish members work together though. There is a translator every week for sacrament meeting, and the Spanish members have their own classes. Some of the English members come to the Spanish classes, and they try really hard to use the Spanish that they know to communicate with the Spanish members. I love how much of an effort all the members make to include one another! 

My favorite thing about Fallon so far: The stars!!! There is hardly any light pollution so I can actually see the stars at night. I never really thought about it, but I don't think I ever saw stars in Reno.

Other favorite thing about Fallon: We have a tradition of eating breakfast with one of the families here every Monday morning. Today it was biscuits and gravy. I could have been back in the South!

My new companion is Hermana Escobar!!! She is amazing. She came to the mission a transfer after I did (so I am senior companion and I have to drive even though I still feel like I just got here). Hermana Escobar is from Guatemala, and she is working on learning English. She is so diligent in speaking English at every opportunity (I don't speak Spanish nearly as much as I should...) but it's awesome because we are able to help each other a ton during language study. Hermana Escobar is so sweet, she is always serving me! She makes my bed in the morning before I even have a chance to do it, and last Friday she wouldn't let me make breakfast for myself haha. 

It's been a great first week in Fallon, full of of miracles! Last Wednesday we were walking down a street, and we saw a woman and her two young kids struggling to get a refrigerator out of the house. We were able to help her get it out the front door and down the steps, and of course we had a great conversation with her about the gospel! She speaks English though, so we won't be teaching her. 

I found a really cool scripture in personal study this morning: 1 Kings 6:7. This scripture helps us understand how sacred the temples are. It made me think about how construction workers who work on the modern temples aren't allowed to swear or smoke on temple grounds, which is so cool.

I'm definitely excited to be serving here in Fallon! Have a great week everyone!

-- Hermana Nielsen

John 8:12

The Hermana's in our zone!

This was quite an exciting week! Thanksgiving was awesome! We got to have breakfast as a zone with the Wanlass family! After that our zone played 2-hand-touch football, which was so fun. We had a potluck lunch with a smaller group of missionaries from the zone. We ended up having 2 dinners Thursday evening! Our first dinner was with the Dominguez family, and our second dinner was with the Coto's! So no worries... I definitely ate well on Thanksgiving!

So, transfers... I had always heard about them, but somehow I never thought it would actually happen to me. Turns out that for at least the next transfer I will be serving in Fallon! Apparently Fallon was hermana Gatten's favorite area, and everyone keeps telling me how amazing it is. I will only be about an hour away, so the drive won't be too bad. I am excited for this opportunity to go serve in another part of the Lord's vineyard and to meet new investigators and members. At the same time though, I am heartbroken to be leaving the Sierra Branch... I wasn't really expecting to leave this transfer, so it's been hard saying goodbye to all the members and investigators that I love SO MUCH.

If any of you haven't seen the new Christmas video yet, you need to see it!!! It is such an inspiring video! You can find it on mormon.org(mormon.org/spa to find it in Spanish). Share it with all of your friends, share it on social media, and LIGHT THE WORLD!  I would like to encourage all of you to take the initiative and "Light the world in 25 ways, in 25 days," starting in December. This is a great, non-threatening way for everyone to share the gospel with their friends. 

I am so excited for this holiday season, and the opportunity that we all have to think a little more about our savior. Sé que Maria dio a luz a Jesucristo, para que nosotros podamos dar luz al mundo! (Haha it's a pun, but it only works in Spanish...)

-- Hermana Nielsen

My new address:
Hermana Kayci Nielsen
675 East Virginia Street
Fallon, NV 89406


-Turkey breakfast!

-Yes, those are nursery chairs

-I'm going to miss my companion!!!

 -"Squad Goals" (You can always tell the missionary cars because they all have the exact same bike rack)

-zone football

Tu Me Has Dado Muchas Bendiciones Dios!

This week Hermana Gatten and I got to host a "mini missionary" for a day! Her name was Aria, and it was so fun having her! She didn't have a lot of experience with Spanish, but she translated her testimony during studies and practiced reading the scriptures so that she could participate in the lessons! I wish that I would have done something like that before my mission, because I had no idea what mission life was really like until I got here!

We have seen so many miracles lately! We got a referral to go with the elders to give a blessing, and now Paola seems like a solid new investigator! We also had a member bring their friend Blanca to a branch activity Saturday night, and now we are going to go teach her family this week!! Members are the best. Before I came on my mission everyone told me how important members are, and I now have a personal testimony of member missionary work. There are some things that full-time missionaries just can't do. We can't give people rides to church, and we can't be effective fellowshippers. So: invite your friends to activities!!!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:
-Jesus Christ
-My family that takes care of me from thousands of miles away and sends me warm clothes
-The opportunity I have to be a missionary!
-Random acts of service (giving them and receiving them!)
-Friends who write me letters
-My wonderful companion
-My wonderful companion's laugh
-Our new branch mission leader
-Members who feed us the most delicious food in the whole world
-All my investigators
-(almost) knowing Spanish
-Cold weather
-My feet don't hurt too bad even though we walk a ton and I haven't worn Chacos in 5 months

I could go on, because I have so many things to be thankful for, but I will just leave my testimony of gratitude: the more thankful we are, the more Christ-like we will be!

Scripture of the week: 3 Nephi 19:24. We can learn so much from this example of prayer. In particular, I am trying to work on having my prayers be guided by the spirit. I know that as we have the spirit with us, we can have more sincere prayers and we can be "filled with desire"! 

-- Hermana Nielsen


-On exchanges, eating salad in the car between appointments!

-I love refraction!

-Aria, our "mini missionary"

Alma 62:41

One cool thing about this week was all the opportunities that we found to do random acts of service! Most of the time people don't let us serve them (don't be like that!) but this week we were able to help people carry groceries inside (on two separate occasions!), wash and put away dishes, take out trash, and help Evelyn and Roberto with their wedding invitations! I love service, especially unplanned service!

Fun facts about how different my brain is after only a couple months on a mission:
-My stress dreams now are about when I get separated from my companion
-Numbers = Scripture references. For example, when I look at the clock and it is 2:25, my first thought is Adan cayo' para que los hombres existiesen, y existen los hombres para que tengan gozo!
-When I hear instrumental hymns, the lyrics that pop into my head are in Spanish!
-I get nervous when I watch other cars back up without someone standing behind them...

My favorite part of the week: at the end of the last transfer, Hermana Martinez and I met this adorable little family. The couple is Alejandro and Celia, and they have the cutest little 4-year-old son I have ever met in my entire life. We fell in love with this family. Hermana Gatten and I were able to see them a couple times, but they told us that they were happy to talk to us but they didn't want to change religions. That was a hard experience. However, Hermana Gatten and I felt we shouldn't drop them completely. Last Monday evening, one of our lessons fell through and I felt impressed to go see them again. We showed up and Alejandro was there, so we talked to him for a moment, and then he told me: "Pienso que conoces mi madre," (I think you know my mom). I asked what his mom's name was, and he said Leonor... It took me a second, but then I realized that his mom is one of the women I met on the plane ride here from the CCM! Leonor (his mom) and Silvia (his sister) came to visit their other sister, Monica, when we were coming from Mexico. They both accepted a Book of Mormon, but Hermana Martinez and I were never able to find them before they went back to Mexico. I never thought I would see them or hear from them again, but when I found out that Alejandro was part of their family my mind was blown. The best part is that Alejandro told us that they are going to be visiting for Christmas, so we should be able to see them again! What a cool miracle, I am still in shock!

My scripture of the week is Alma 62:41. I love this striking example in the Book of Mormon about how who we become is completely subject to our agency. We can talk about nature and nurture all day long, but ultimately, we have been given the ability to choose everything. We choose which parts of our nature to keep, and which to change. We cannot always choose what happens around us, but we can choose how to respond to it. As we make these choices we change and become, and this process is made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Les quiero, que tenga una buena semana!

-- Hermana Nielsen

-When doing paperwork in the car the evening after daylight savings

-Graciela loves to make us "paint our lips" (pintarse los labios)

Be thou like unto Abish

This has been a good week, trabajando duro! Lots of walking, talking and teaching. Hermana Gatten and I are trying to be better at asking for referrals from everyone, so when we get home every night we have to do 10 push-ups for every time we didn't ask someone for a referral! 

Fun Spanish fact: "every week" is "cada ocho dias" (every eight days) because they count today, plus the next seven days. Apparently that only applies to weeks though, because "three days ago" is still "tres dias atras."

I went on two exchanges this week! On Tuesday I went to Tahoe with Hermana Monroe, and on Friday I went to Fallon for the first time with Hermana Hale! They are definitely two very different places. Tahoe is starting to get really cold already. I'm glad I'm not serving there at the moment! Fallon is beautiful, and I was able to meet lots of cool members and investigators! It's always good to return to my own area though, I missed my own investigators!

I would like to invite everyone to read Alma chapter 19, focusing on the story of Abish! I love this chapter, especially as a missionary. I want every member to be like Abish, looking for opportunities to share their testimonies. I love applying this chapter to the missionary life, and seeing how members, missionaries, and recent converts can work together for the salvation of many souls. 

-- Hermana Nielsen

-Snow in Tahoe!

-Fallon sunset

-My companion is so funny. We left this on the elders' car.

Fear Not...

This week we had the opportunity to go to the temple again! We are so blessed to have temples here on this earth today. I really love to see the temple. When we visit the temple it really is like being close to our heavenly home. 

We have been teaching Maria's family again, and this week her son, David, has actually been reading the Book of Mormon! (If you aren't a missionary, you have to understand how hard it is to get investigators to open the book by themselves...) He is only 12 years old, but he is actually interested in the thing's we are teaching. I have gained such a huge testimony of the great spirit that children have! They are so humble and willing to learn. It is no wonder that we are commanded to be like little children. 

In honor of Halloween, I would like to share my thoughts on fear. I have actually been thinking a lot about how faith can counter our fears. When we have sufficient faith, we won't be afraid of acting on spiritual promptings. When we have faith, we won't be afraid of how someone will react to our invitation to church or to reading the Book of Mormon. When we have faith, we don't need to fear knocking on doors or talking to strangers on the street. I would like to invite you all to study D&C 6:34, Moroni 8:16, 2 Timothy 1:7, and Joshua 1:9.

-- Hermana Nielsen

P.S. If any parents out there want a scary story to share with your rebellious children, read them Deuteronomy 21:18-21. That should straighten them out for a bit

Alma 34:38

This has been such a great week! I have so many reasons to be thankful.

First of all, Hermana Gatten is amazing, I absolutely love her! Ella me cae muy bien. We get along well, and we laugh lots. Hermana Gatten has a laugh that cannot be described... seriously. When she gets going, her laugh goes through about 5 layers of hilariousness, and then everyone around can't help but laugh at her laugh, which makes her laugh even more... it's quite the experience.

My favorite experience of the week: We were walking down a street, and a man was walking the opposite direction with a box of pizza. As he approached us, he opened the box of pizza and said "It's from God!" At first we said oh thank you, but we're fine, but he insisted and said "Why, because God gave this pizza to me and not to you?" so, we got a free slice of pizza! As missionaries, we get to see all kinds of people, and I love it! People are awesome.

Yesterday was the primary program in the branch, and it was so cute! If you think it's hard to understand little kids in sacrament meeting though, try listening to them in another language! What I did understand though, was beautiful. Primary children have such perfectly simple testimonies!

This week, we have seen so many miracles, including teaching THREE new families. As missionaries, teaching families is the best thing we can do, and I'm so thankful for these opportunities!

So, the theme of this week is gratitude! Give thanks for all the blessings and miracles you see each hour of each day!

-- Hermana Nielsen

3 Nephi 8:12

-The biggest rainbow I had ever seen in my life. The picture doesn't do it justice.

This is a week of changes all around! First of all, the weather is changing rapidly! The leaves are changing, it is getting cold, and the past couple days it has actually been rainy! Yesterday it was raining so much I could have been back in North Carolina. I didn't know so much water existed in the state of Nevada. 

Secondly, transfer season is here! I am staying in my area (which makes me really happy because I don't want to leave this awesome branch!) and Hermana Gatten, my sister training leader, is going to be my new companion! She is an amazing missionary, and I am so excited. Hermana Martinez will be going all the way to Elko (English speaking!) and it's going to be hard to let her go. 

This week we had a "specialized sister training" for all the sister missionaries in the whole mission. It was awesome to be able to receive training from so many great sisters.

Yesterday Evelyn and Roberto (who are now fiances by the way... no big deal) spoke at the "Why I Believe" fireside! It was so powerful because just 6 weeks ago, Evelyn was there as an investigator. 

Spiritual thought for the week: Life is full of changes. Change is one of the most important and fundamental parts of our Heavenly Father's plan for us. Change can be hard, but as long as we have the gospel in our lives, no matter what happens, we "might with surety hope for a better world..." (Ether 12:4) Remember to have hope in all things!

-The Castiblanco family!

-Evelyn and Roberto at "Why I Believe"

 -The Coto family! They are recent converts and they are amazing!

-I finally got to use my umbrella

1 Nephi 10:19

This Saturday we had a "Noche Latina," where all the members in the branch brought food and decorations from their native country! It was so cool, I ate so much good food! I love how much culture their is in Latin America. It made me think about if I went to another country and had to represent the United States, what would I do? Probably make hamburgers... but that's all I can think of. I love that, since I am serving in the states, I get to experience a little bit of almost every Spanish speaking country!

Yesterday, Evelyn made the missionaries real Mexican enchiladas for dinner, and they were amazing. I ate 10 of them.

Yesterday, Presidente Castiblanco was released! Hermano Batioja is the new branch president. it was such a bittersweet sacrament meeting. Presidente Batioja is awesome, and we are excited to work with him, but we are definitely going to miss Presidente Castiblanco. He was branch president for 8 years, and he and his family do SO MUCH for the missionary work in the branch. 

Something interesting that I have been thinking about this week is the concept of work. One of our investigators, Jose, tells us that he never prays for money, but he often prays and asks God for work. I think that is such a great perspective to have!  We can find the same concept in 3 Nephi 6:3. It is important to apply this principle to our spiritual needs as well as our physical needs. We shouldn't ask Heavenly Father for immediate answers to all of our questions, but we should absolutely ask him to guide us as we search the scriptures and help us to recognize the answers.

Conferencia General!

So we got snow yesterday. I guess I said that I wanted cold weather, and we are rewarded according to our desires! Heavenly Father is probably just laughing saying "Just wait until January..."

I have discovered that I love "finding" time as a missionary. My companion hates knocking on doors, but I have come to enjoy it. It's like a mystery game! They could laugh, they could cry, they could yell, they could look at you through the curtains so that you know they are home but they don't open the door anyway, they could slam the door... you never know! You see it all as a missionary, but it keeps me going knowing that the Lord is preparing people to hear the gospel. What I have found, too, is that most people are actually really nice! We find the occasional grumpy person, but most people are at least willing to have a bit of small talk with us. I also have yet to find a correlation between someone's religion and how they treat us. We meet really nice Catholics and really rude Catholics. Really nice Atheists and really rude Atheists. We get to see it all as missionaries, and I love it! 

Isn't General Conference the BEST?! I hope you all watched all of the sessions, they were amazing! They talked so much about missionary work, and so many of the talks were centered on the pure doctrines that we teach from Preach my Gospel. I can't tell if Conference was really that much different this time, or if my perspective as a missionary is what is different (probably some of both!)

One of our investigators, Jose, walked all the way to the chapel to watch the Sunday morning session of conference! He lives at least 3 miles away, and he's probably about 60 years old. He is SOLID. 

My favorite talk was Russel M. Nelson's talk about having joy during all times in our life. What an awesome reminder that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy, and if we choose to mope or whine excessively, we are just listening to Lucifer, who wants us to be miserable, like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27)

If you didn't watch general conference, I would like to invite you to do so. I can promise you that if you will, you will be able to feel the spirit and you will find answers meant specifically for YOU!

Have an awesome week!