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

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