Monday, September 17, 2012

Hey there family!
I am sure glad you enjoyed the pic of the hat, because I sure enjoy that hat.  I hope I am not too obnoxious, but I will be warm that's for sure!  It's still pretty warm here and so for now it is my planning hat in the evenings.  It sounds like in the twinkle of an eye here we'll be having some of that nice ear-frost biting weather that guy was tellin’ you about momma.  But I am ready.  
 Those were fun little reports to get, and as you say- no news is probably good news.  But thanks for your descriptions and comments as well dad, that was a really nice letter to read.  I hope you enjoyed some time takin’ care of momma there in Arizona.  And Grandma, I love you too.  :)  I hope and continue to pray for each of you, but especially Grandma as she's going through this.  You never really understand the testimony and the beauty that the gospel is until that faith is tried.  We are very blessed to have that.  
 Dad, you had asked a couple questions that I wanted to answer real quick...first was about the Syrian friends.  Maybe I never told you, I can't remember if it was when we talked on mother's day.  But, Elder Taylor and I had dipped back by their house again and their "land lady" came to the door and told us they had left to Germany.  For whatever reason, they knew German very well and had the intention to go there but more down the road.  Anyways, that was such a relief to hear to me that they are somewhere safe, somewhere that they actually speak the language, and somewhere that the gospel is established.  So, I already have my plane ticket to Germany to find those two.  
 As far as exercise, it is mostly just doin’ some mean pushups and sit ups and stretching.  I feel like an old man. Eric Mcgill always talked about being tired and now I understand.  My exercise has been pretty lame the last week- I ate something that didn't comply and I have spent a lot of time in the special room and couldn't eat too much or I'd have issues.  Exercise was more spent to stretch out we'll just say. I had been getting’ pretty skinny, but now am officially down a belt hole and the shirt collars are becoming more of a v-neck.  I'm gonna be a bean pole!
As far as the week goes, it has just been a great week and we have been spinning we've been goin’ so hard.  The first part of the week was spent doing a lot of contacting...gotta do it sometime.  But Thursday we got to have what is called a culture night, which once a cycle we have so we don't go crazy.  We went to some conservatory here and there was a violinist that played some good stuff with an orchestra, then he came out with an accordian.  It was pretty cool, brought back some good Amy Merkley memories.  I wanted to send you some pics of the wall, they had the composers heads such as Bach and Mozart carved in with their names all written in the Russian alphabet, it was pretty cool I thought mom would be pretty pumped on that.  That's my tourist bit.  
On Friday, we had a sweet old lady call us that had been baptized about a year ago, and then moved outta the city, call and say she was comin’ back and wanted to meet.  We went to the branch and she was there with her son, who is 28 and not baptized.  We were able to teach them, and are totally gonna be baptizing her son, Gyorgi (George) soon!  It was a way cool meeting, but at the end she tells us she has nowhere to sleep tonight.  Holy cow, we couldn't just leave her so we got a hold of a member, Lyba (my favorite member in Russia) and she said she could stay there so we had to take her there and sprint home to get home on time.  It was a crazy night.  but, very good and very rewarding.  We had a great day with some good meetings on Saturday, and yesterday was just a doozy of a day.  We usually have members come up and ask us to give blessings after Sacrament, so yesterday we had to do that and had the branch president needing help, and we did some work with our Elders quorum president to get a home teaching program up and going.   Mom, you had asked if a stake would be here.  The answer is yes there will be here in Saratov IF people start to do their home teaching.  We have about 400 members in this branch alone, but only 50 active, if that.  And maybe 6 or 7 solid priesthood holders.  It is so exciting to think of what could really be done, and our branch would be the stake center!  Plus, we are going to have another companionship here in our area, it is just so ready for so many great things. 
I feel like I am telling you just a lot of random things, but man so much went on and there is so much growth occurring here.  I am so blessed to be on a mission and see changes in myself spiritually, attributes wise, and even physically.  I love it.  And I also love you. Have a great week.  Love ya!
 Elder Nielson

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