A couple of pictures from one of Chris' friends mom who ran into Elder Nielson at the MTC. We love these people who surprise us with wonderful little stories of seeing Chris and sharing with us!
Here is Elder Nielson's email for the week...
Once again, where does the time go? I am pretty sure I was just writing yesterday. What a good week it has once again been at the MTC. Good times on the mission. It has been fun, and as always humbling to continue my preparation for our friends in Russia. To start, Mom you had asked about cultural things we are learning; culture class etc. To be honest, we don't have anything like that which is a little dissappointing. But it's alright because we get bits and peices of mission stories. Our two teachers both served in the Ukraine, and our other teacher, Sister Chenina is from Vlodivostok. So although Ukraine is similar, it is always more fun to hear from Sister Chenina about the real country. She has quite the life story and has given us a little foresight of what it will be like. The main obvious issue is simply that nobody believes in God. They have just been taught that. It is pretty interesting to hear Sister Chenina describe her family and their views on things. She is the only member of her family and her parents will basically refuse to admit the existence of a God. Pretty interesting as she described how their family has a bible that has been passed down for generations through her family. However, with the reign of communism, anybody possessing a bible would basically be taken, killed, and have their homes burnt. I would say that is a little bit of a culture difference. She described how this bible has burnt edges and things on it. Pretty crazy to hear first hand how strange of a time it was for the Russian people. It is easy to see how they would have no belief or perception of God. They just lived 70 years of not being able to admit it! It will definitely be a humbling next couple of years. I would go on more but I think you would rather hear about other things. All in all, I have learned most of the simple need of somebody that cares for the people, and particularly to learn that God lives and loves them. It's almost like everyone needs the gospel!
It has been a fun and interesting week with the arrival of the new district of Ukrainian speakers into our zone. There are two zones of Russian speaking missionaries, each with five districts each of about ten missionaries. Making for about 50 missionaries per zone and 100 in all. An overwhelming majority are actually going to the Ukraine. It will be interesting to see where the new group of Russian speakers are going that will come in next Wednesday. It was good though to go orient the new group and have a minute to reflect on how things have changed since I've come. My perspective, my purpose, and my understanding of the simple principles of the gospel which are so vital. As we sat in our little orientation meeting, I reflected alot about my purpose. It was a good contemplating time to realize why I really am here. Yes our purpose is to invite others to Christ, but what that really means to me is something personal that I believe all need to find. In order to invite others to Christ we need to know where Christ is for us. It was good to have a second and think about how my perspective of Christ has changed over the course of the past few months. Also, my love for the first principles of the gospel. We as humans tend to want to find the deepest and most interesting gospel truths. I echo what I believe I said last week, never tire of the first principles of the gospel! (Pres. Uchtdorf) I have noticed how some of the missionaries that have the hardest time are always searching for the deep mysteries of God rather than receive precept upon precept, beginning with the first principles. How blessed we are to have a knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, the first principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring.
Elder Davis and I continue to just have a good time. I am very blessed with him as a companion. I would describe him as just solid. Just easy going and has a testimony. It is a blessing to have that in a companion that we together help each other progress. We are trying our best to be obedient and help the new missionaries and our zone just be obedient. This is another thing I have learned a bunch about this week. We are currently having to now teach our investigator about the qualifications and commandments needed to follow for baptism. So, I have had to study a bunch on these, not to mention learn to teach it in Russian so it really has forced me to learn the principle of obedience. Everything we receive comes as a consequence of our obedience. Preach My Gospel teaches this so well and it has become something that I really need to have as a priority. Especially if I expect to teach with power and be protected while in Russia. I continue to be so grateful for my opportunity to serve. I am excited to see what two years has in store for me and to change how I live the rest of my life. I love that I get to serve the people of Russia. I am excited to just make friends and help them see the light. Because that's what the gospel is. Not to mention, the olympics will be held in 2014 just next door to my mission, just as I finish-so we'll just say I got the coolest mission. I know the gospel is true and that through the Prophet Joseph Smith it was restored. Christ is at the head of it and He is my Savior. I love him, and love each of you.
Until next p day!