Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good Morning Family!
It sounds like you all had such a good time together this past week. Man that is so fun, I'm so glad to hear that. It sounds like you all got along pretty well and had a good time on the lake. I can't even imagine swimming right now! Haha that is so fun, I'm glad you all enjoyed the time, I'll be looking forward to the big 2014 bash comin’ up then. That'll come all too quick. Thanks for sending the picture, that was awesome to see and see everyone all together. I know it hasn't been too long, but man you guys all look grown up! I almost said old and thought better of it. You're all lookin’ good, and I'll sure keep an eye out for a fresh copy of that one comin’ my way. We definitely have a great family, I think you can all agree. As far as needs momma, I'm doin’ alright. I can't exactly think of anything that is in dire need, and supplies and clothing I am fine on. Mr Mac is holdin’ up well. The green chilis and peanut butter were definitely enough to keep me happy. :) Not a bad diet if I do say so myself.

Well I will try to now report on my whirlwind of a week. We have been so blessed here in Zavodskoi with a lot of really good things going on. The first thing to report on is Sergei and Ivan! Man these guys are the coolest, and especially Ivan. Here's some pics from sports night to give you an idea...Sergei is definitely a little bit on the wild side if you will. He has shaved the beard by now, but he is just a crack up. And yes, Blake Griffin is representin’ in Saratov...with the elite socks. ;) We seem to always split up when we meet up with those two, and I end up chattin’ with Ivan, and Sergei with Elder Cowley. So here's the story...after I wrote you on last Monday we had family night that evening back here at the Williams (now the Stevens, the Williams are flying home right now...) so we picked them up and rode into the center on the bus. Ivan and I had a good chat, and he is always proud to tell me that he read some outta the good Book of Mormon. Once we got here, Elder Williams announced a youth conference that will be in Moscow. He immediately turned to me and said "I'm going there." Pretty cool! We had a good lesson and game here, and he asked me a lil’ about the temple cause they had a picture on the wall which was cool. After we left the apartment, we started chattin’ again a lil’ bit and he popped the question, "what do I need to do to become an Elder?" (he had been at church the day before where we talked about priesthood organization, and a lot about worthiness was said which was awesome) I was so pumped! It gave me a chance to give him the low down that first he's gotta be baptized, and then with time and worthiness he could, and then also attend the temple. It was so cool, anyways so we chatted the whole way home about temple and baptismal covenants and he said "ya it's just like another step on the iron rod!" It was so awesome, I was pretty "stoked" (thought i'd throw in some missionary speech, I know you love that one mama). The coolest part was, when we left the bus, he turned to me and just said, "thanks for coming man. Thanks for meeting me. I always considered myself an atheist, but now I believe in God and that's my first step. Without you I wouldn't have gone to the Williams, and I wouldn't have gone to church." That was definitely one of the more tender moments I've experienced on my mission. It meant a lot to me, and he just gave me the biggest hug when we got to our apartment building. I sure love that guy. Anyways, long story short, he is totally on his way to being baptized. We need to sit him down and get a calendar to show him what we gotta do, but he will be pretty willing. He and Sergei live together, Ivan's parents died, and Sergei's left him when he was 5 or so. It's pretty amazing that they are so happy. They get along with everyone in the branch. They came to family night on Tuesday at a members' house, and then on Friday they all the sudden show up to the branch building to help with cleaning! We were cracking up when we heard about that one. We just need to help them quit smoking, and luckily they can't afford alcohol so we just gotta help them avoid their punk friends. It's pretty funny, here in Russia everyone just asks everyone for a cigarette. We always get asked for one, it's pretty funny to see people's common tie is that they smoke. But it's also sad of course. Just a random side fact about Russia.

Besides those two, we are just kinda rollin’ along here in good ol’ Zavodskoi. We have many other people we are working with, including a family with 4 children that we found! I can't remember if I mentioned that or not. Anyways, I say that because the work is just good here. We definitely have been wearing ourselves out these past few weeks, and it has just been good. I actually will be flying to Kiev tomorrow, already back on another visa trip. Pretty crazy how fast time flies. I hope I getta go to the temple, I don't know if I will. Then we'll be back through Moscow, Samara, and then an overnight train back to Saratov. Pretty crazy. I loved your little journal entry, dad about getting the call and going to the temple. Short, sweet and to the point. I will definitely have to compare when I get back. Good stuff.

Also thanks for the nice replies. I will definitely have some good study from the help mom and dad. It is interesting because some of these people just have lost all sense of that eternal perspective. It is tough, and we all have a hard time coping with things. But, some people do have that perspective and are prepared. And those are the people we are searching out. What a blessing they are, the Ivan's and Modar's and Kymait's of the world. I love you all and hope the week goes well back at the ranch. Tanner with baseball, Sarah with tennis...you'll be in my prayers, and grandma of course. :) and of course everyone else. Have a good week!
Elder Nielson

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