Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Well hello family!
Man, sorry I got all in the mix of transfers and got me cheated an e-mail day.  But it's all good because we can write you right now.  I don't know what you know, but I am now down in Saratov!  It's so good here, good things afoot round these parts.  We left Kazan last Monday on a good ol’ 9 hour bus into Samara and worked the evening there.  Yes father, I then left at about 4 the next morning to go catch a plane to Moscow, from there to Lithuania, got back on the exact same plane a couple hours later, back through Moscow and then to Samara.  It was a good time.  I was with a senior couple who came out a week after I did and Sister Moe who travelled out with me.  That was a good time navigating the airport and where we needed to be!  Good language practice!  We then worked that following afternoon in Samara, then jumped on an overnight train down here to Saratov!  I was so hashed I slept the whole way like a baby.  Good times!  So that is what was going on while I was missing out on writing you.  All in about 2 ½ days.  Good times on the mission.
So I gotta first say thanks so much for the fun package!  Holy cow I finally got it when I got down here a couple days ago.  So funny.  I gotta say, my favorite part was the pictures.  Man you all look so darn good and it was so fun to see you all.  Good things.  We got a good lookin’ fam if I do say so myself.  I got pretty famous down here for that big ol’ package.  Pretty funny.   We had such a good last week up there in Kazan.  Sergei and Tonya came to church which was so awesome.  I am anxious to catch wind of what happens with them.  There were so many cool investigators.  I really grew to love the branch there. Hopefully you get this picture of us 4 missionaries with the priesthood of the branch.  You sure don't realize how much you love 'em till you gotta leave.  There were a couple minutes extra in the sacrament meeting, and so they had me speak.  Whoa- bring back some good memories from my first Sunday.  I would be lying if the combination of memories, Spirit, Sergei and Tonya, and the fact that I was leaving after a solid 3 months didn't get to me and I went all softy Nielson up there at the pulpit.  Man so good. I sure hope I get to head back up there at some point in the next time.   So I came down here to Zavadskoi area of Saratov.  It is definitely not the nice Muslim population of Kazan, but man I already love it so much.  It's definitely real Russia here.  Not as many people stop and talk, but those that do are so prepared I love it so much.  They are very real about things.  Our branch is about the size of our Kazan one, we have about 50 members that come.  And they are da coolest.  Our branch president is so good and I had a great day at church getting to know them all.  As far as the work goes, I kinda am coming into a dead area.  A few things have gone down that have left the area basically missionary-less for the last 2 weeks, and it sounds like there wasn't too much before that.  But it's ok- I like working on a clean slate like this.  It's been such a blast the last few days.  I am working with Elder Cowley now.  He is such a good guy.  He's been out about a year and just is good for anything.  He's a little more quiet so it's been a good opportunity to really stretch outta my comfort zone.  But we work well and are happy together.  Like I said, there are so many prepared (and I mean legitimately prepared) people here.  So long as we are doing our part and working hard with faith, they almost come to us.  It is so good I love it here so much I can't say enough about it.   Last night we had such a cool thing happen.  We are just going through the phone and calling all the investigators saved in the phone.  Most didn't answer, and our lessons fell out last night.  We were heading to drop by a less active, when we got a call from an investigator we had called that had met with missionaries a bunch a year ago and wanted to meet at one of the member's house!  So we got right on that.  He ended up being so cool and had been taught pretty much everything.  As we prayed to start, I had the strong impression to simply testify of the Savior.  So after a minute, I did.  It was nice and brought a nice Spirit, Luba (the member)  also then testified, then Elder Cowley.  It was just a large testimony meeting and there was such a sweet Spirit.  Anyways, his name is Sasha and basically told us without us asking that he will be baptized if he finds the Book of Mormon to be true.  He hasn't read in a while, so that was his commitment.  Man we were so excited and so blessed.  Heavenly Father was definitely looking out for us.  IT"S RAINING IN ZAVADSKOI!!! That's the slogan. 
Well I am writing from the senior couple's house on a good computer and hope to get a few photos attached!  It sounds like you are all doing so well and I am so glad to hear it.  I will tell you what I told the branch in Kazan- please read the book of Mormon together as a family every day.  Pray together.  I have gained such a strong testimony and we can't miss out on those blessings Heavenly Father wants to give us from that.  How blessed we are to have the gospel.  I love you so much and pray that all is good!  Love you fam!

Elder Nielson

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