Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Well hello to ya there Family!
Well jump aboard the rollercoaster!  Holy cow what a week it's been.  It sounds like you can all relate and it sounds like it's been good for you as well.  I am glad to hear that you were all able to make it down to the big AZ for a quick visit with Grandma.  You even did it Russian style!  Now you just need to be in a sweaty prison bus weaving in and outta potholes.  Well done!  I am glad to hear that you were able to spend that time together.  We are definitely very blessed to have the comfort and knowledge of the plan of salvation and the hope of things to come in times like this.  It is hard to explain this, but as we experience and feel these blessings, we know it's true and good.  We are definitely very blessed with the gospel.   I am also just happy to hear that it sounds like things are just goin’ good.  I liked to hear about the tennis game, I will definitely have to rotate in at some point.  Well done my friends.
Well as for my week here it's been an interesting one.  A rollercoaster if you will.  We kicked off with some good times with Ivan at fam night here in the center and also sports night on Wednesday.  We have a fun line up of activities to be with him at.  We were definitely up and goin’ for a good downhill stretch to get him ready for baptism.  Things were great and we had some other good things happen, but then hit a road block as we went over for just a few minutes to talk with him at the member's house on Friday night.  We had to squeeze in our time because we were then going over to our branch president's place, which is pretty important.  So we dropped in for about 20 minutes and talked to him about prophets and it was just great.  However, on our way out the member, Galina, stops us and asks if we could fast on Saturday.  We said "yes, probably.  How come?"  And she replied by tellin’ us that we should fast to help Ivan quit smoking.  That was one of those moments that makes the blood run cold.  We turned to him and asked him if there has been a problem, and he said there has been.  That was a super bummer because we had talked about how he couldn't smoke two weeks before baptism and that we would have to push it back.  It was a little tough too because we were under the impression the whole week that he wasn't smoking and things.  He got really down and we had to hurry out the door to make it to president's place, which fell through anyways, and then the rain came. And we had 15 more minutes.  I was definitely hit with the realization that I was in fact on my mission.  It was fantastic.  We definitely ate some leftover cake that night to calm our sorrows.  Good times on the mission.   Saturday was an interesting day as we went clear out to the boonies with some members and Sergei (Ivan's bud) for a little activity.  It was just a crazy few days.  However, Ivan did come to church yesterday and stayed for a couple hours which was super cool.  However, we dropped by yesterday later on and Galina was the only person home.  We ended up just talking in the doorway with her for a while about the whole situation, because she knows better than we do.  She is like Sergei and Ivan's momma.  Long story short, we got some work to do with these guys, but it is good to have that outta the way. It was a weird few days that's for sure.  But now we know where we are going and we are just gonna do some real work with them now.  The worst thing we can do is slow down or lose enthusiasm, because that just brings loss of faith.  We are super excited to kind of start anew, and it is going to be a solid week.   We have so many good things going on here, and are just having a good time.  I don't know how much I have mentioned of the branch, but they are so great here.  We were over at some members to meet with a less active family, and they have been baptized since 1994!  I can't believe how some of these members have stayed active for 20 years, and were probably the first in Saratov to be baptized.  It is very difficult to be a member here in Russia, and I have grown to love this branch so much.  They work very hard to remain active and they are just happy and so blessed because of it.  It's been so fun to be here in Zavodskoi. 
As far as things to report, there weren't too many big highlights for that, but here are some photos!  I can't remember what I have sent you, so don't be offended if I have sent these before.   Well I take that back because the computer is being funny and I'm running outta time.  I will be prepared and get you some fantastic shots of the place next week for sure!   We find out about transfers already, can't believe it, so I'll be sure to get some good shots to ship on home to ya!  I sure love you all and hope things continue to go good.  Good luck to big Tanner J getting’ out on the mission, love ya man good luck. And I love you too fam, hope all is good!  We'll go get 'em for another big week here!
Love ya!

Elder Nielson

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