Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Well good day to you back at the ranch!
 First things first, I am attaching pictures for ya here!  So our first one on the list is me and my new companion Elder Whitermore!  I am going to be kicking another one out here in Zavodskoy and I am very happy about that.  There is so much good to be done here and I love this branch.  Some of my favorite members are here and I am very happy to do the work here.  Elder Whitermore is from Texas and is starting his second cycle here, so I will be doing the second half of the training with him!  I am so excited (and a lil’ intimidated) to have some new blood flowing through this place, he is the first missionary that is younger than me here in the mission and I am so excited to do the work with him because he is just a new little fireball (actually a big one, he is a bowling ball)!  Anyways, we are very ready to get the work just rollin’ here. 
Our next picture was our last meeting yesterday with our “boiz”… Ivan and Sergei.  They are back on track so to speak, and we had a nice little meeting for Elder Cowley to share his testimony with them and parting words.  They came to the train station with us for a crazy evening and have already taken in our new friend Elder Whitermore.  Just a quick update, Ivan seems to have gotten over his whole rebellion against us and recognizes what he needs to do and that his conversion and preparation will come with time.  So, I am very glad to stay here and help out our friend get ready.  Sergei is a little bit more wild and doesn't have quite the motivation, but shared in priesthood yesterday an experience he had of sharing the gospel with someone.  Elder Cowley and my jaw dropped as we listened to him.  It was pretty cool, so we will see what kind of progress we can make.   There is not a ton to report on, some good times on the streets, Jehovah's Witness meetings (Old Testament in Russian- tasty), and now the new companion would highlight the week!  That said, I wanna answer some of dad's questions because I haven't explained some of that very good. 
Dad’s question 1)      Eric McGill talked about how they give a short lesson to see if someone is interested enough to move on.  If not interested, they just skip until they find someone ready.  What do you do for a first approach to people you find or meet or run into? Well, I have found that with some things my patience has grown, and with others my patience has shrunk.  As Eric said, I like to move on when people start wasting our time.  Many times a day I will have to tell a babyshka thank you for the story about World War II and communism and give her the pass along card after about 20 minutes of listening.  As far as a first approach, we mostly just say "hey we are missionaries, how are you?  Yes, we share a message about Christ.  No we are not a sect.  Yes we are from America, and yes Russian is very hard.  No we don't study here, but we would like to meet and share this message that can help you/family/etc."  Most people recognize us, and of course the conversation varies upon the situation.  But, the above statements are made a lot, and a lot of conversations have to be cut before you get caught having to learn a person’s entire genealogy.  For me, on a bus, I just start to get to know somebody and the conversation always gets directed to the fact that I am here as a missionary and want to share a message about Christ for them and their family.
Dad’s question 2)     At what point do you introduce Joseph Smith?  Is that hard? We introduce Joseph Smith right off the bat a lot.  Mostly it is through the Book of Mormon.  I like to just carry one in my hand and so the attention is always directed and there are pictures in the front to help explain.  People usually see that and are turned off or are willing to talk about it, which always brings up Joseph Smith.
Dad’s question 3)     How would you compare the branches you are in in Russia to the various wards you have been in USA or have visited in USA? The branches here are pretty small, we have a very strong branch with about 60 solid members and 10 active priesthood.  The main difference is the Russian's ability to organize things.  The teachings and doctrines are still the same, most people have been baptized for over ten years that are actually active.  But the main thing is the fact that they just do not organize many things very well.  It is a little wild sometimes.  Good times.
Well darn I am running outta time, but wanna answer more, those are good stuff I wanna describe but just haven't had the direction in my letters, I will be sure to keep goin’.  Those are fun. 
I sure love you guys and am so grateful for you.  I feel so much support and love from you and hope you all know that.  For now, we are gonna roll up our sleeves and do the good work!  ‘Till next week!
Elder Nielson

(The pictures Elder Nielson sent will not fully download.  Sorry we can't post them today.  He looks good and happy as always!)

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