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