Well good morning to my family!
First, let’s get apologies out of the way. I can't believe the kind of son I am to forget my Momma's Birthday in last week’s email! Happy Birthday Momma I love you more than you know and sure hope you had a good day. A card may be a bit delayed but is on the way none the less mother. I love you. Also, sorry if the letters wind down quick and have been picture-less. We only have an hour to read our emails, write home, and write our weekly report to president. so it gets a little crazy. All in an internet cafe with Russian computer functions that I can't figure out how to find my camera to attach pics. So I do my best! I am actually writing from a senior couples’ apartment right now. Elder Taylor and I had to come into Tallyatti again for his visa trips and a leadership conference. Another "surprise" of a travel to cap off a crazy week. So I will see what I can do with pictures. I have not had time to get any letters in the mail here. We do have Monday afternoon as p-day but the way things are spread out, we really don't have much time. So if I sound a little crazy in these letters, I am. Just kidding, I am doing quite wonderful. :)
I was very happy to here Preston made it back. HI PRESTON! DRRRRR! Man that's so fun. And nice work to my buddy [Tanner] getting to the temple. That is such a special experience. What a blessing we have of having a temple by our house.
You also asked about the branch. We average having about 40 people to church. Ours is definitely the largest in the district. We have about 150 members, 50 of them being active. No, there is another lady that plays the piano so I will fill in every now and then, but nothing too serious. We have a great core of about 20 members that are awesome. We are just so spread out here across a huge city that makes things a little difficult. Our branch president lives about 45 minutes away going on the metro and bus, etc. Transportation is very fun here. Definitely ain’t your ol’ I 15 to drive down.
I will try to describe this whirlwind of a week. Holy cow it was crazy. I would be lying if I said I couldn't fall asleep standing up right now. We started off the week just with a good ol’ week. We are working with a 19 year old kid named Bylat who is looking very good for baptism on the 12th of May. We had a great meeting with him and are excited to work with him, he just had a little bit of an issue with answering his phone to meet again this week. Good times. We spent a lot of time on the streets this week and had a lot of fun and a lot of miracles come our way. One kid walked up to us while we were mid- getting rejected in a shirt and tie. We kinda joked with him because we were too and he goes "oh your mormons" we said ya, and he basically said "oh I've heard of you. I'm interested. Here's my number. Let's meet back there on Saturday." Our jaws were a little open and just handed him a Book of Mormon and he went on his way. It was so cool. We didn't get to meet with him, but are excited to get a hold and hopefully work with him. We also were walking on Friday and a lady says "you look like twins!" in perfect English. (just a side note, Elder Taylor and I may very well be twins. We are basically the same in every way and it is so fun to work. We work hard together, we are so drained every night, but we also have a blast working together. Also, we stand out like sore thumbs now that it is warm and we are in clean, white short sleeve shirts. We get some good looks from people.) So she says that in perfect English. We got talking with her and she is an English professor in the art school in the center. It was the first time I think I haven't had to carry on a conversation with a native Russian. It came up that we were Mormons and she said, "oh you don't have a good reputation. Like you have a lot of wives that's all people know." We got a good laugh outta that and said no we only have one momma. She then stopped and was like "the way I see you I can tell you come from wonderful families." We of course pulled out pictures and showed her. This was one of many times this week that people saw our pictures and exclaimed how happy we are, and how they see something different in our eyes and in our family. So cool. It is so fun to almost literally be a light house here in our white shirts. Anyways, she took us to her house to meet her grandson and we are looking forward to visiting with them. She wants us to come to her art school and show us around. Yes momma, you better believe the camera will be out. I do the best I can with that. :) We then found out that we had to move apartments by the 1st of May. Very convenient huh? Since we were having to come in to Tolyatti, we found out on Friday that we would be moving. so, Friday night, we ran and signed the agreements (with member help of course) and then ran home to try and begin a little bit of packing for about 30 minutes. Saturday was spent throwing the apartment together and cleaning it out and all our supplies, moving, and setting up another apartment. All in one day, all done by Elder Taylor and I. I think we deserve a medal, but we both would not have minded dying on Saturday night and Sunday. It is hard to be in a hot Sacrament meeting, in Russian, after moving apartments. Let me tell you. And now, I am somehow in Tolyatti, about 7 hours away from Kazan. I really cannot do justice to the days let alone an entire week, but that is the idea of things.
Ok, another apology. I just scrambled to type that to have a minute to attach pics, only to find that I do not have a cord for my camera. Man alive I am sorry but I will do my best to get you pictures next week. Just know that I am trying to get things to you and do my best. Man, I am just a mess aren't I? Well it has been such a blessing to be a missionary. Elder Taylor and I always talk about how it feels like we are in a dream. Every now and then, I kinda step back and have to take it in that I am in Russia, speaking to someone in semi-Russian, and a missionary. I love it though. Yes there are many disappointments that happen. However, Heavenly Father always has something greater in store if we remember Him. It also makes it fun to have a hard time, because then we always know that something great is going to occur. It's kinda fun to have the Lord's promise in things. He definitely looks out for us as missionaries and as members in His Church. I feel His love every day, and have learned a little bit what it feels like to have that towards someone. You are definitely forced into looking at someone as the next Elder's Quorom President or a fresh, clean new member. It changes the way you view people, because I know that is how Heavenly Father views them. What a blessing I have to extend the invitation to people to accept the wonderful gift of the Atonement in their lives and become what Heavenly Father knows them as. People have a hard time accepting it, but they always want it. I love the family we have and the light we have, which is the light of Christ. I love you and will see you next week!
Love Elder Nielson
P.S. sorry just realized, I believe we will call on Sunday evening, Sunday morning for you. We can Skype if we have a member with it, just don't know if we can find that. Love you!