Friday, March 2, 2012

Let the games begin!!

Hello family!

We have made it to the final p-day of the mtc! And somebody is takin off to Russia on Monday morning! Travel plans are in hand, just pray for no visa problems pleeeeease. I'll give you the low down on this first, because that's the most exciting part of the week for sure. I report to the travel office at 5 in the morning. Sister Moe and I are the two that will be going to Samara, so I will be hanging out with a Sister companion-we will see how that goes. I might be a little nervous. But in all seriousness she's awesome-it'll be like travelling with Sarah or Emily. So we have a flight leaving to New York at 8:30 with a short layover there. We then have a direct flight to Moskow, arriving sometime Tuesday morning. We will be in Moscow for about 11 hours, I believe we are taken to the embassy there where we will get Russian passports for the whole visa trading deal every three months. I feel a little like Jason Bourne. Supposedly if we have time they will take us to Red Square which would be just fantastic. Following, we have a flight from Moskow to Samara, arriving in Samara at about 1:30 Wednesday morning! woo-we're in for a doozy of a few days. But it's all good because I am going and that's all that matters. They are supposed to get visa stuff in the next couple days confirmed, so pray for that. I really don't know logistics on calling and things, but I believe each time I land I will be able to call. At least count on some time Monday morning between 6 and 8:30. And then with time differences and things I don't know what to expect for the following calls. But that is the plan at this juncture. Much to celebrate about.

Just a couple more business items. Don't know if you remember sister hope but she will be here tomorrow and if I have anything to send home, she will bring it home. So don't be alarmed. Also, I am just kinda stocking up on basics. Could you maybe just send a couple soaps and shampoos for elder Davis and I. We just don't know what to expect and thought we would just bring some over. That would be divine. Thank you Nu Skin. I believe that's it as far as business.

The travel plans were probably of course the highlight of the week. Last week seems like a month ago. We are just working on getting last minute things together and cramming all the Russian we can up our ears. We will see how that goes. I would like to think I know it decently well, but then we took some survey thing yesterday that I thought I did well on. However after we could listen to a native say the stuff we said, and I don't even know if they were speaking Russian. We are definitely in for an adventure. But it has come well and I feel that the progress I have had has been a blessing. I know the lord will continue to bless with the gift of tongues. It is fun to find some funny things to say. Our favorite is "вот" which translates directly as "behold!" but supposedly they say it for everything so it's pretty funny in english context. I know, I have a strange missionary sense of humor already. Also when people ask a question and nobody replies they say 'sailor's don't have questions.' pretty goofy but it's kinda fun the different weird translations.

They are sending us off well here though! On Sunday it was sad to have our branch president get released. Elder Davis and I got really close working with him and he will always be a special person to me. Luckily it was our last week and not in the middle of things. Our new branch president is brother Cranney who is the former mission president of Moscow. He had a lot to do with organizing the stake. He has been our first counselor and is so good to have around. I am happy for the new missionaries to have him. We also got to hear from Elder Holland last night! Holy cow he is my favorite. If I can be like one person it would be him. I was so excited when I saw him walk in. If you think he is animated in priesthood, you should come see him at the mtc. He knows how to speak with power. He spoke a lot about how we need to have our own conversion. We can't guarantee any conversions except one, and that's ourselves. He told us how preach my gospel was created not to teach us how to teach, but rather to convert the missionary in order to teach with the spirit. Yes it puts forth what to teach, but that won't mean anything if the missionary is not converted. Just another reason to love that book. and I think another reason that everyone could study it. I think that is why I have come to love it- because I have felt that it has began that conversion process because of the way that it puts forth the most basic doctrines of the gospel. We learned yesterday in a workshop about the doctrine. I love how Elder Packer taught us that true doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior. Elder Bednar expounds more by saying that we can discern which doctrines will change someone in particular's attitude and behavior. I thought how much the world could use this concept. It's no wonder people are confused. I think that if people could utilize the doctrines of the gospel to change attitudes, parenting and raising good people would be monstrous. The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are infinite and eternal. I would think that this could apply to any need that needs to be addressed in any person.

Well I hope some of that made sense. I just wrote a bunch of thoughts I have had over the couple of the days. I love the gospel. It is for everyone and for every family. It is our source of hope and the means by which we can change and become even as our savior.

Thank you to all who have sent nice notes and packages. I haven't had the time to write most back, but appreciate the love and support. I love you family and love the support. Can't wait to bring our message that makes us happy to our family in Russia. I love you.

Elder Nielson

Elder Nielson, Elder Davis with Sister Hope who has become a good friend to these two Elders. Thank you Sister Hope for your kind words and pictures you have shared.

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