Thursday, January 26, 2012

One month out...

Hello my family!

Well another week come and gone already. It was a great week- so much goes on that I will try to think of the most noteworthy to use my 30 minutes with. so buckle up. I must first say how much I love being a missionary. What a sweet blessing it is to take part in the Lord's work...even though I am not quite yet fully doing it. Simply, it is immersion in the Atonement and the Gospel. Allowing the Atonement to change me and change others. A mission isn't simply giving two years to talk to people about some nice message (although it is a nice message) but rather a process by which the Lord takes us and molds us into the person He needs us to be. Luckily, I have the opportunity to be called to do this for two years, but it is something that we will pursue our entire lives. It makes me so happy.

Thanks for all the fantastic snacks and goodies. Wow those ├ęclairs I think literally made me die and go to heaven. Nobody would take any so I think I housed three of those bad boys. And the salsa and chips were a fantastic way to celebrate the weekend. I took a picture of my district all in our room enjoying our snacks and the salsa. Thanks so much it is so fun to get those packages no matter how funny or obnoxious they might be.

We sent off all the "old" guys this week in this fashion. Our zone had 5 districts and we are now down to 2. 2 of the districts that left were Ukrainian speaking and the other Russian. 2 of those missionaries in the Russian speaking were off to Samara so that was fun to chat with them...but now they are gone. Basically the rest of the missionaries who left are off to Ukraine. Supposedly Ukraine just re-did their visa process, so all of the Ukraine bound missionaries got reassigned. My favorite, Elder Hughes, was the last to leave to Boston this morning. I really looked up and loved the elders that just barely left. Even though we're the same age, it felt like they were our older brothers because of their knowledge of the gospel and language having been here for 7 weeks when we came. I will see what pics I have because those are some special elders that I will look forward to meeting again at some future time. So it will be interesting to see how things pan out with the new incoming missionaries. Next week we should get two more districts of Ukrainian speaking, but we don't know about the district of Russian speaking elders. Word on the street is they are changing Russian from a 12 week to an 8 week program! Supposedly ever since they implented this whole pilot program of learning the languages, the language learning abilities have just skyrocketed. So we are basically the last 12 week group which I am somewhat grateful for because then we get the 'good' program for the full 12 weeks and don't have to be an experiment. Although- leaving in a couple weeks would be wonderful after watching the excitement of our other elders as they left out. Just pray for no visa issues poxjowlsta. (that means please-i tried my best to sound it out haha kinda goofy)

Well not too much is different- just the same ol’ class and teach! Not same ol-but it is a little monotonous. Elder Davis and I got assigned on Sunday to be the new zone leaders. It is fun to have a solid companion that we can be trusted to basically be the eyes and ears of the branch presidency. It is a little intimidating though because we will have 3 new districts coming in to look after. It has been a blessing through the last few days to have this assignment. It has forced me to begin to always be thinking how I can help and reach out to each member of the zone rather than how I can be strengthening myself. The cool thing is, as I do this- I am strengthening and growing myself! It has brought new light to my eyes of what missionary work really is. A main focus this week has been on charity. I have learned how every week this has to be the focus. As we know it is the pure love of Christ. As I've learned a little more about this, I have learned how important this pure love is. There are 2 things to love that have stuck out to me. 1 is to love my message. People won't care if I don't care about what I am teaching. We are taught that before we declare the word, we must obtain the word. So what is the word? Christ. Everything must be centered around Christ. I must feel of His love, His charity, in my life before I can try to implement that to somebody else's. This has brought new meaning to my purpose as a missionary. Everything I do, everything I say is a reflection of Christ. We've got to love Him and allow His Atonement to work through our own lives, constantly molding, shaping, and changing our character to take on the character of Christ. #2 is obviously to love others. Turning outward is how the Savior taught and that is how I must teach. It really doesn't matter what I want anymore. I have learned why charity never fails, why it's so important. It is because that is what Christ is. As we love Him, our faith grows. As our faith grows our desire to share is increased and we take upon ourselves the character of Christ. Isn't that the goal? Wow what a blessing I have to be raised in the gospel and have these simple truths. I am not perfect, but that is why we have the Atonement. I love it and I love my Savior. This is His work because he also participates in it. I hope that we can all have this charity by first feeling it in our lives and second giving it to others. It isn't just something for a two year assignment, but has begun to change my life and my happiness. I hope I can obtain more each day as I learn more.

Well not too much else to be said. The Russian is still chuggin’ along. Oh guess what- I had the proudest moment of my mission. I woke up the other day and our roommate Elder Atterton said he woke up in the middle of the night and heard me say something- in Russian! I mean, I was excited. It's tough, but the Lord is helping me learn which I'm grateful to have. I love you all and continue to pray for you!

Elder Nielson

Some MTC pictures

Elder Nielson finds his good friend Elder Flinders

Elder Nielson and his district outside Provo temple

Christmas Decor!

Christmas treats!!

Christmas lights at the MTC

Elder Nielson and Elder Davis - December 2011

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week #?

Hello family!

Wow another week gone by, who knows what day it is or how long I've been here. I think Heavenly Father plays games with your mind with judgment of time in the MTC. The only way I know the day is on Wednesday and Sunday we get icecream. Other than that, who knows which day it is. Well it's been a wonderful week this week. It seems that about a year's worth of life has gone by in the past six or seven days. First I'll answer your questions mom.... things are good with my companion. To be honest we do a very good job of staying focused, working the hardest on Russian, and staying focused on our purpose which is to bring others to Christ. I have been blessed in that aspect I feel of a companion.

Ok so now for the week. I will just try to go through each day, because it seems that each day something special happened. Thursday, Friday and Saturday all kind of blended together so I don't remember exactly how they went, but I remember things felt and learned. Most comes from teaching our investigators. I love the program they have implemented into the MTC. Although it's kind of scary to teach, it has helped so much. Although we just teach our teachers, they act as people they converted in their missions. It makes it much more meaningful because you know they care about the person and know how the investigator would react to certain things and what their needs are. It makes it real for us. I have begun to feel that I am not simply practicing on Brother Dobry and Brother Porter (whom I love by the way) but rather teaching Denees and Vova who are real people with real needs. I learned a couple things over those few days.

First, I began to feel a little bit of the gift of tongues. Not just to simply use and learn a language, but to understand and teach. It is interesting that although I have learned a lot and know some Russian, when we go into teach it seems that my ability to speak and understand is largely increased. When I allow the Spirit to come, I am able to speak as I need-not perfectly- but i can feel help as I speak in lessons. It is interesting because at other times, I have the hardest times recalling words that I use frequently in lessons. Very cool.

Second, I have begun to feel the grasp of the atonement in our lives. This would also incorporate Sunday into my report here. It seems that I have heard several times over those past days the council to allow the mission to change you. It is kind of funny though to think …. how is simply just learninig about teaching others really changing me? But then the thought occurred, everything we do as missionaries- our purpose, our titles, our motivation- everything is focused around Christ. What a blessing His atonement is in each of our lives. I have begun to realize that the reason the mission changes me is because it is complete immersion in the gospel which is completely centered around that atonement. It is not simply serving the mission that is changing me, but rather allowing Christ to change me. It is realizing the atonement and the importance it is in my life and letting it change me. As I have learned this, I have begun to really love what I do. Simply striving and desiring to allow the atonement to change us brings so much happiness. I am loving what I am doing. Sunday was just a great day. I love Sundays here-singing in sacrament meeting is so fun because we are in a zone with Ukrainian speakers. so our songs are in Russian, Ukrainian, and English by our branch presidency and their families which just creates this mess of language. It is so funny sounding but I have never felt the Spirit so strong as I sing. I love it. Temple walks and everything about Sunday is just great.

Now on to Monday. Monday was a great day because we got to teach twice. Our first lesson was with Denees who is a drunk who’s family has left him. This was such a powerful lesson as it gave me a glimpse of what it will be like in the field. It was the first time that I felt like the Spirit was speaking through me. I was speaking rather animately and kinda in his grill as I bore testimony about the atonement and how it can change his life. Good times. However, later we taught Vova and kinda got destroyed. I felt so down and felt so-sorrowful for lack of a better word. But it taught me a lot. We got a little excited after Denees's lesson and I feel that we didn't rely so much on the Spirit in Vova's lesson. So in the end, it was a good teaching moment.

Yesterday felt like a year long. I think I experienced all aspects of the MTC. First we had a workshop. I love the Tuesday workshops. It was on the priesthood and really left me contemplating the blessing the priesthood and the restored gospel is in my and our family's life. Good food for thought, I would encourage you all to think about that and what we would not have experienced without the priesthood. Then I got some mad four square and sprained my ankle pretty hard throwin’ down on a kid. It's a little messed up but it's all good- I'll be fine mom. I am icing and advilling. :) Then last night was awesome. Bro Nally was on me again and I had to say the opening prayer at the devotional for the whole MTC. kinda scary. But it was cool to sit on the stand and I got a couple big bear hugs from Brother Nally and some good grandmotherly love from Sister Nally. I love them.

Phew, well I did as good as I could to try and convey how awesome of a week I have had. I love everything about this and even when I am feeling a little down, I think of these good times and always end up going to bed with a smile on my face. I love my Savior and how He continually can change me through his atonement. I know that if we will allow Him to, not just on our mission, but our entire lives that each day we will become better and better, loving others more and more. Because that is what the gospel is-a never ending cycle of faith, repententence, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring. I love this and love you so much. Hope all is well.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

P-day mail!

Hello family!

Wow, this isn't fair to have us only be able to write home once a week. Too much goes on in this place to remember or think about what to write. But it has been a good week, I'll say that much. Last week’s package was fantastic! I definitely put those cinnamon rolls in a good tummy! I think I am slowly shrinking in my chest, shoulders, arms etc. and am going to start seeing progress in my gut. This ain't no southern virginia cafeteria that's for sure! I think they feed us very well and I've learned what brain food really is. I do nothing but sit in a class room, and for whatever reason I am starving by the time it get's to meal time! So I get my money's worth. Two more months in here could have some disastrous results on my health, but it's alright, I am enjoying it. Health wise I have been totally fine. Nothing worse than a runny nose here and there, but I've done alright. Definitely better than how I left you guys. and I have learned how much I really do love gym time. MTC hoops are the bomb! Its pretty fun to just play and get it all out of me. The only problem is, gym time is only 50 minutes long. But atleast it gets my blood pumping a little bit. P-days are also a great day to make it to. I love going to the temple in the mornings. What a relaxing and enjoyable time to just take a minute and feel the presence of our Heavenly Father in His house. I love the temple.

We have TRC tonight which I actually love. We just teach volunteers who come in and act as themselves and we give them a little bit of a message. This is in Russian and so it's a little bit intimidating but I love doing it. I have learned how much I love teaching here though. There is definitely help that comes from a divine source to help us if we allow it to. That has been a big thing that I have learned this week. As I've been teaching, it's caused me to take a step back and realize the importance which the things we teach have been in my life. Basically, the blessing the gospel has been in my life. We have two progressing investigators which we basically have started from lesson 1 and taught them a few times. These are the most basic of principles, but have caused for some searching in myself to realize the blessing these are and the testimony I have of them. As we teach about God being our loving Heavenly Father, the Restoration, and the Atonement, it has caused me to step back and think, how have these blessed my life? How have I been made happier because I know this? We teach our investigators that the gospel will bring them happiness, and as I have done so I have realized the blessing it has been in my life. As I think of what to teach Denic and Vova, (our investigators) I look at our picture in front of the temple. I realize how happy we are and that we are happy because we have the gospel. Thank you mom and dad for raising a family in the gospel. What a blessing it is and a blessing I have had to realize it. The teacher really does learn the most in lessons.

We also had a great devotional last night. Elder Nelson came and spoke to us! If anything, I felt the strongest spirit when he came in the room. A reverenced hush went over everybody and everyone stood when he came in. How lucky we are to have living prophets and apostles. Everything he taught was pure scripture. It's like we're supposed to read them or something like that! It was a pretty sacred evening we were able to have.

Thanks dad for the pictures too! Those were so fun to see and I still die laughing when I see the picture of charley. She thinks she is pretty cool in her shirt. I bet she will rescue a lot of people in distress. I was bummed to try and go print pics out to send home today but found out it will take a couple days to print them out. Sorry, I wish I could just email pics but I guess that's been disabled so look for some pics coming in next p-day! We'll show you some Russian MTC Christmas!

I'm trying to think what else went on. The Russian is slowly and surely coming, sometimes more slow than sure but coming nonetheless. It is one thing with the words but the grammar is just goofy! Basically you conjugate everything- verbs, nouns, adjectives-everything. But it's alright, it will come. I've definitely gotta be very patient with it. What a humbling experience it has been to have to rely on the Lord to help me with this.

Not too much goes on outside of the class, gym, and meal time! It's a pretty repetitive routine, but it's a good routine! Days go by pretty quickly-it makes me a little nervous that the next two years will go by this quickly. I love what I have the opportunity to do and hope I am pleasing our Father in Heaven. I know this is His work and that it has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. We have a Savior who has Atoned for our sins and has the divine ability to help and forgive us. I love Him. He has been my best friend these last few weeks. I love you all and pray for you! Love you!

Elder Nielson

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Week 2!...Already?

Well hello again!

Feels like about a year ago that I wrote you, but about yesterday that I did at the same time. Time is starting to move here. Ok some business stuff first: I am doing pretty well temporally, especially with my recent discovery of hot pockets and chocolate milk in the vending machine in the basement. AND by the way thank you so much for the christmas package. I am embarassed that I got rambling and completely forgot to say anything about that. We made our room very festive, and thank you gma and gpa nielson for the treats. It has been greatly appreciated and utilized.

Ok so now for the week. I don't know where to begin or where to end. So much going on here. The Russian is slowly but surely coming. I can pray relatively well and we are beginning to feel more comfortable going into our lessons. We are very limited on what we can say, but everyone understands the language of the Spirit. That has been the first thing that I have learned this week. What power there is in simple testimony. We teach our poor investigators that have to endure a broken up message. However, we always close out or bear testimony at some point in the lesson. All we can say is "ya znayou schto..." (I know that...) about so many gospel principles but that's all we need. If that is all I can say, and I feel it for myself, in comes the Spirit to do the rest. What a lesson for my mission and the rest of my life. The ups and downs continued through the end of last week, sadly with a lot of the downs prevailing. It is interesting that I now realize how self inflicted they really were. As I said, I was having various thoughts and feelings which were very unwanted. All of this plus the stress of learning a very difficult language was not the best. All of this kind of came to a pinnacle on Sunday with a little bit of a breakdown. I do not break down, so as you can imagine it was a little rough. However, I am so grateful it was then because it needed to happen. We learned on Sunday about having faith in Christ rather than ourselves. I realized that my faith was completely misplaced to being in myself. Yes I did have faith in Christ, but not completely. Heavenly Father helped me realize this by letting me experience these downs over the course of those few days. I believe that is the refiner's fire. I have been ground down to the depths of humility in a way that is only good for me. I thought I was demonstrating faith in Christ by giving my all for Christ. I thought that pushing myself at a pace that I wanted to and trying to learn Russian at the fastest pace possible was giving my all for Christ. Although my motives were correct, it was completely a misplacement of my faith in myself. Rather, I must be giving my all TO Christ. It is not the language of Russian that I must learn to convert. It is the language of the Spirit. By placing my faith in Christ, I will do whatever He wants at the pace He wants and in the manner He wants. This is giving my all to Christ, not simply for Christ. The way I can do this is learning to take upon myself that character of Christ which Elder Bednar spoke on. What a blessing that talk was that will now influence the rest of my mission as well as my life. That character of Christ is simply overflowing in charity and humility. If I am to in essence represent the Savior to the people of Russia, it only seems appropriate that I love them in the humble manner which the Savior does in the manner which the Father directs. Simply coming to this realization does not mean in the least that I am good at it, but rather has become the aim of my preparation to serve. What a blessing those last few days have been.

Now the happy part. Since having this divine chastisement, I have been happy. I have more energy the last two days. I have a reason and a source of help to learn Russian. And the key to that has been this recognition of how much I need my Heavenly Father and my Savior in my life. I hope that stays. I started to write each night 10 things I am grateful for as my new year's resolution. What a contribution to my happiness this makes. As we begin to recognize God's hand in our lives it truly does make us happier. This causes and allows us to turn outward as Elder Bednar taught.

Well, not too much stuff in the way of the actual course of the day is very noteworthy. Pretty much days full of class, Russian, and more Russian. It is all good in this hood. Oh and by the way I got a hymn book from that elder that I had told you about. Kinda funny that he got it for me and had it passed down since August to me. It was super nice to get and I will definitely thank him when I get a chance. I love the hymns. Singing in Russian is also a joy. Each Friday night all of the Russian elders gather for the 15 minutes we have between class and the time we have to be in our room, and sing a few hymns in Russian together. What a blessing that music is. It is extra special to sing in Russian. That is definitely one of my favorite things of the MTC. Sounds like you guys get some updates from our secret spies in the ward down here. I feel like I have some underground network that I'm able to get secret messages to you guys. It is so refreshing to see people you know, just adding to the happiness. What a blessing I have to participate in this work. I feel that Heavenly Father is beginning to shape me into the missionary that I should be. Not the one I would like to be or think would be good but rather the one he wants me to be. What a blessing I have to teach in the Russian language. It adds meaning to my testimony, however simple it may be, to bear it in another language. I hope all is well at home and the Spirit continues to be there. I love you guys and think about you often.

Elder Nielson

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello family,

I hope you got my Christmas email, based on the fact you didn't reply, perhaps you didn't. I'll just go ahead and send it again. I'm glad you guys have been able to get bits and pieces here and there. sister hope has become my friend and the Nally's are definitely my good buddies. They are looking out for me. what a memorable christmas i was blessed with. i hope you guys enjoyed Christmas, it was a little funny to be leaving the devotional on christmas eve thinking, "I wonder what my family is up to." sounds like you had an enjoyable, quaint little christmas together. I definitely had a very happy Christmas here in the mtc. I'm sure I will remember it the rest of my life. I explained in the last email that we (my companion and I) got to go and eat lunch with the mtc presidency, elder bednar, and about 30 other elders with a question and answer portion at the end. it was definitely a special day. if you didn't get the last e mail tell me and I will send it because i talked about that in more detail and I don't have time to talk about that. a lot happens in three days here! just to give a synopsis, my companion is fantastic. sounds like you have gotten word that he is also a lone peak knight. his name is elder davis and we are working our little bottoms off. we start at 6:30 and end at 10:30. that's basically how the day goes. we have been running to classes to be on time and 100% obedient and working hard on the russian. My chest pocket sticks off my body about six inches because it is packed full of flash cards and the white bible of course. That brings up the language. Holy cow who knew that a language would be this difficult. it can be a little overwhelming to look at some of it, but we are working as hard as we can and praying as hard as we can and have felt the blessings and progress already. I've definitely been able to see how as we try our hardest, our Heavenly Father will make up the difference. Russian is actually a very pretty language. We have a native as a teacher and it sounds so pure the way she speaks it. Again, through prayer and wearing ourselves out, elder davis and I are progressing little by little. the days are beginning to go by pretty quickly now. The food is good, I am sure at some point I will get sick of it but it definitely blows the southern virginia cafeteria out of the water. And yes, I have a date of somewhere around march 5 as my leaving date. How exciting! It is fun to run into elders Eisinger, Flinders, Van Dyke, Murcoch and other guys that you can see the light that comes into our lives as we participate in the lord's work. It is hard to believe that I have been here a week and was walking past greeting elders as they came in. I have learned so much and felt the spirit so much that it is hard to try and convey the blessing which my mission has already been in a single week. I had one of those experiences dad talked about and was hoping to hear about yesterday. We had a break from class and had a little workshop with a bunch of other elders. It was on personal revelation and how important that is to our work. He had us write down a question at the beginning. Mine was to get over feelings of inadequacy and unnecessary fears that although i am working and happy, sometimes slow me down. as we listened to various talks the spirit was beginning to enter the room. For the last fifteen minutes, he gave us time to pray and to just ponder with heavenly father our question. As I finished my broken russian prayer, immediately my thoughts were turned to the temple. I remembered the feelings I had as I had several opportunities to relax in the celestial room. I remembered looking around at each of our family member and feeling so much love. I remembered just pure peace and solace that only the spirit can bring. As these memories came into my head, suddenly the feeling came to me. How can I feel inadequate, scared, nervous etc. with such a special memory as this? How can I be slowed down by temptation and discouragement when i can remember and ponder upon the feelings felt in the house of the lord? What peace this brought to me in the busy and overwhelming schedule of a new missionary. I felt so happy and ready to bring the message of the gospel of christ into the lives of the russian people. It truly is a message of comfort, peace, and hope. I love this gospel. It brings so much happiness to my life and I have realized how much it has blessed us as a family. I love you guys and will try to write some more personal letters. I think about you and hope all is well. Tanner keep ballin, Sarah keep bein awesome. Love you all!

Elder Nielson

First Email from Elder Nielson

Merry Christmas to my family!

We got 30 minutes to write home today, a wonderful Christmas gift. Wow where to begin! I am going to type as fast as i can so excuse all grammar and spelling. What a rollercoaster ride the last six months..i mean four days have been! I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows thats for sure. People are not kidding when they say the mission is the most difficult thing that they have ever done. After I left you guys we had a couple meetings and I was able to meet moe naparneeka, elder davis. (phoenetic spelling for your enjoyment). Elder Davis went to lone peak as well, i had no idea he had gotten his call. he will be serving in st petersburg. what a blessing stareeshna davis has been. we work and push eachother to the maximum each day and it has been fun to work with him. we have goals of being on time to everything, which is inherently impossible for me, so we sprint from meeting to meeting in the midst of a bunch of walking elders. it is pretty fun and funny. following our welcoming meetings, we went into our district classrooms where the headache called russian began. holy cow who would have thought you could create such a puzzle with words. our teachers are wonderful, but i find myself having to hold back as i try and understand their speaking nothing but russian. it has been helpful though as i feel that i have already graduated from a semester of russian 1. basically the rest of our days are in that classroom, learning russian and trying to teach a broken russian lesson to our investigator, alexeeyuh. you get the idea. so now we get into the juice and the fantastic christmas which i have been blessed with. on thursday i think it was, elder davis and i got called out of the classroom to go to the main desk. scary. however, we were greeted by president brown (mtc president) where he took us in his office and asked if we would like to eat lunch today with them and the general authority! sounds like bro nally hooked us up. anyways so that was exciting. we then got called down again yesterday to meet pres brown again and have him ask us to help with the sacrament today. we have become good friends with president brown and the nallys. last night instead of class we went and had a fun sing along devotional and then got to watch christmas carol with popcorn. what a treat! it was very relaxing and just enjoyable to think about the christmas spirit. we got pics by the lights that i will send at some future time. so then this morning we got to take part in the first mtc-wide sacrament meeting. elder davis and i ended up only being alternates, but prepared the sacrament and had a reserved front row seat! it was awesome! at the beginning of the meeting, in walks elder bednar! he and his wife gave beautiful talks and the spirit was very strong. so, as promised we were able to go and eat lunch with about 30 other missionaries and the mtc presidency and elder bednar! holy cow what a blessing that was. he truly is a representative of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. I got to shake his hand, he asked where i was going, i replied samara. all he had to say was, "i've been there. it's cold." hmmm i take that as a good luck. anyways at the end of lunch he stood and asked for question and answers. what a spirit that was felt during that time. i learned a lot about my calling and about myself. i took two things away from this day. first, we must follow the character of Christ. elder bednar spoke on this and i thought more about it throughout the day. he showed how at times when we would turn inside, that is when the savior turned outside himself and loved others before himself. in a nutshell, put off the natural man. what a blessing this was to learn and to influence my work. he also talked about testimony is simply a means to conversion. we must be converted. how do we do this? continue to gain testimony by the simple things: scripture prayer etc. this brings up the next point that he has become a man of god not simply because some crazy ability, but rather his knowledge of the basic gospel doctrines which are so true. all of his answers at lunch were based upon the simple doctrines established by prophets and scripture. so what do we get from this? quit asking the lord for simply blessing us with spiritual gifts and knowledge, and do the work needed to work on our testimony, and eventually conversion. i know the scriptures bear testimony of the savior, and that He lives. I hope to solidify this testimony into conversion so that the people of russia may know that i know this, and come to know this themselves. i love this gospel. i have never been so stressed, so challenged, so stretched to my limits, so tired. but for whatever reason i am entirely happy. this is the effect and blessing which the gospel and our Savior's Eeskuplenyuh (Atonement) can have upon us. I love you guys and love that we are an eternal family. I hope our hearts and thoughts can be turned to the savior this Christmas as i have seen an apostle of the lord have his entire life focused upon the savior and his service. Have a C Pajnyestvom! (Merry Christmas)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A whirlwind of a goodbye

Chris arrived home from SVU on December 15 before he entered the MTC. That meant we had 6 short days together. They were filled to the brim visiting friends, speaking in church that Sunday, taking care of last minute items, attending the temple together and getting in a celebration of Christmas or two. Here are some pictures that kind of tell how the week went. It was a wonderful time to reflect and be grateful for family, friends, the gospel and for missionary work.

Close friends of Chris' who stopped by to wish him well.

Awesome Aunts, Cousins and Grandma

Goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Nielson

Babushka Comes to Visit
For family home evening we had a special visitor! Now, we thought this was really Russian tradition, but we found out later that it is just a made up folktale by an American. Ha! Oh well, it was a good time anyway. As the story goes, Babushka was visited by the wise men on their way to find the baby Jesus. They invited her to come along with them but, sadly, Babushka was too busy to leave her cleaning. So, the wise men traveled on. Babushka had a change of heart, however, and set out to find the wise men with her own gifts. She never found the baby Jesus, but travels around now bringing gifts to other children. Babushka found us and left us with gifts too. (Thanks Sister Janda! What a good sport!)

Best friends...Brother and Sister Jensen and Tanner with Elder Nielson

The Died's...awesome friends and Chris' big boss

Grandma and Grandpa Arnett...this is not goodbye, just "See ya later"

First companionship study

One last throw with Charley

Translation - Elder Nielson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Caught this shot right before we left home. Football will go with him after all.

The reality of the goodbye was not an easy one for a little brother and sister.

If you look closely, the name badge of this Elder says Elder Arnett which is Elder Nielson's mom's maiden name. This Elder was there to greet Chris. Two Grandson's of very close cousins meet as one welcomes to the MTC. Just a little coincidence we thought was so cool.

Elder Chris Nielson on his way!!

After 3 days in the MTC, we received the greatest little email from a complete stranger reporting to us on how Chris was doing. Sister Hope is a volunteer at the MTC who's friend in her ward is assigned as Chris' mission companion. He is also a Lone Peak Knight and the two are said to be very excited to be companions. They were having a rough time sleeping because there is just so much to be absorbed. Other than that, Chris is doing well. We are looking forward to our first email. So grateful to Sister Hope for letting us know and for sending along this picture with his first companion, Elder Davis!