Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stocks are through the roof!!

Hey there everybody!

Well it's been just another good week this week. First things first... we baptized somebody!  We baptized Ryslan and Tatyana!  Oh man that was a pretty cool experience, Iwas able to perform the baptism for Ryslan and it was all good.  We hope he stays just as solid and keeps everything in order, he's got a couple funny ideas in the head, but is very solid in the doctrine and has read just about everything.  Elder Broekhuijsen was able to Baptize tatyana because he served here forever and so she loves him.  It was a good evening...so there you go.  Good times.

As far as other things go, I am glad that the last weeks e mail was appreciated, and the little references for making the top 10 list with that, those remarks were very much appreciated.  I guess I gotta write 9 more of those to make it a legit list of 10.  Anyways, it sounds like everybody is just having their own good time back at the ranch.  Crazy to think how much time has passed by since we even just talked on skype and just everything that is going on.  Even the lone peak knights are moving on with out me.  Haha I was also able to get a letter this week from Kim Jensen and had a ton of fun looking at those pictures.  Good heck, I think Preston could eat me if he wanted....gosh I was laughin so hard at those pictures.  Preston's side of the truck is about rubbin the ground and Tanner's havin to hang on so that he didn't get thrown into the air!  Haha and cal looks really pumped to be on the railroad tracks.  Haha I love it.   I hope tanner is havin a good time, it sounds like he is getting a run for his money down there in Brazil.  That's way awesome to hear about him.  Also got a fun letter from Aunt Tana, thank you!  Anyways, just a few fun random things...as far as weather goes its strangly warm, it snowed a bunch and then yesterday the snow turned into rain.  So that was really fun to trudge around in, but it sounds like tomorrow we'll wake up to some chillier stuff.  Just a lil update.  Just another random thing, that perhaps was my last visa trip of that type because they have come out with three year visa's.  However, there is a migration card that we have in the visa that has to get renewed every 6 months and so we might just have a quick jaunt outta the country that doesn't require a second passport every 6 months.  But there are a whole bunch of complications that are surfacing right now with that, so we will see.  Anyways, kinda interesting.  I will also keep a keen eye peeled for a package coming in, thanks for taking care of me!

Well, as far as other things that went on around here, there isn't a ton of craziness to report on besides the baptism.  We were able to do exchanges with the zone leaders here in Samara (both my old companions- Elders broekhuijsen and my trainer Elder Christensen) which was a good time as always.  Probably my favorite parts of mission work are the exchanges.  Anyways, I was able to go with Elder Christensen on a lesson to good ol' Natasha and Masha in our old area and that was super fun.  They made geneology trees at school, and so Masha made "Chris Nilson" a geneology tree.  pretty cute.  That will definitely go in the "mission stuff" box when I'm back home.  We have been super blessed with a bunch of other lessons and things going through and a bunch of new investigators we have been finding.  It's funny, we are busy with different administrative stuff and things that just interfere with doing normal missionary work (transfer schedules, visa trips, any other problems, etc.) but it's been the most amount of lessons that actually go through, and even as I said, my first baptism.  Pretty cool how Heavenly Father helps us out, and it goes to show that it definitely isn't us who makes it happen, it's Heavenly Father.  Good Stuff.  The baptism was a very gratifying experience, at the end we were able to have a few minutes for testimonies and both Tatyana and Ryslan just said how grateful they were for the missionaries and for the chance to be in the church and things. it is good to see how the gospel can take root and help to change and bless any person's life, regardless of the circumstances.  We are pretty blessed to have had that for our entire lives to impact us in all aspect of life.  Pretty humbling.

Other than that, I am drawing a blank on other things that we had happen this week, but it was a good one.  We are super blessed with such a great mission president and Elder Taylor and I have such a good opportunity to work with him.  Like I said, we have that office meeting once a week and then we meet just us two and president to discuss different things.  This week, we were finalizing this next transfer and he just took a minute to pour out some wisdom on us at the end.  He is a very inspired man, he is definitely one of my role models.  It will be a different place when they go home in July.  We are in good hands here.

Well I think that does it for my rambling on of random thoughts this week.  Hope you all have a good week and that you are able to keep the spirit in everything you do.  Sure love you, see ya next week!

Elder Nielson

Monday, January 14, 2013

Good morning to you all back at home!
Man those were a lot of fun letters I was able to get from all of you this week, sorry I wasn't able to get too many replies back, but I will definitely take care of those the next couple weeks. But just so you know I really appreciate those. Also, just so you know, I got the nice Christmas cards and envelope. Thanks so much! Those were some sick cards and good to hear from Megan. It sounds like your all doin’ well, just keep on keepin on! And thanks for the pictures, it gave me a good guilt trip to get some sent to you. :) So here you go. This is in front of some cool graffiti we found last night, so I couldn't resist. We also got me and Elder Taylor and Broekhuijsen and Langston, they are my buddies out here. And then we got us chillin’ on Christmas morning! And last we had to take a picture of our streets here in Samara! Right behind that is a big walking street and we live on the right and the office is down the hill to the left. Anyways just thought you might want an idea. Enjoy!
As far as things go here, it is just all good. We had a fun visa trip week with keepin’ track of groups coming in and out and then flyin’ out myself. There really isn't too much with that, we had some good time in the airport, just kinda chillin’ and goin’ to the next flight. We can't go to the temple anymore, the winter flights just don't line up right and plus some missionaries were dumb in Kiev and so the Area Presidency said no to the temple for now. But it's all good, it's pretty much getting up at two in the morning and then there are 4 flights to Moscow, Kiev, and then back at about midnight. It's a good time.
As far as other things go, we are just workin’ round here. We are actually going to get there with Ryslan and he is just a miracle man that's for sure. They had him stand in priesthood and say why he was getting baptized and he stood and just said, "well I have found answers here that I couldn't find anywhere else. In the name of Jesus Christ amen." It was a pretty cool thing. I'm super excited for him. Tatyana, we will see what goes down with her. She loves the missionaries that served here with her and we are honestly just trying to just push for her to be baptized in a regular font when we have Ryslan's service. Pretty lame details, but there will be a better report next week on that!
We had an interesting experience this past week with an investigator, her name is Anya. We actually met with her in McDonalds (there is one in the center of the city here and it is probably the nicest thing in the city). That is the place that just all the young people just flood and love to just hang there. It wasn't my favorite atmosphere, but we met with her and she just started rattling off all these problems she had because of...well sin. She just kept talking circles around herself and just didn't want anything that the Gospel had to offer and then would just start talking again about how she could make herself feel better. Anyways, in the end she wouldn't take a Book of Mormon and just wouldn't hear anything from us, just wanted to come up with some solution on her own. It was a really weird feeling walking out of there, my testimony was very strengthened by the effects that I could see the gospel has had in life and how perfect of an example that was of somebody that doesn't keep the commandments. We are just sad when we don't. She was a young, smiley girl, but was really so sad and wouldn't take what would really cure her problems. And the whole place was just full of that kind of those people, we were able to talk to one of them. Everybody trying to find happiness in some kind of healing by spending whatever little rubles they have at pleasure island. I was brought back to many times that perhaps I wasn't deeply sinning, but how immersed in that kind of nonsense in life. It was almost a joke how sad of a scene that was going on. We were a couple of flys on the wall of the great and spacious building. I am so grateful for the perspective the Gospel gives to us because I think of how much I have been saved from that down spiraling path to nowhere. I hope that we can all recognize that because as we read in the Book of Mormon, there really is no other way. I really want our family to remember that and it sounds like you are doing a good job of that. Anyways, just one of those good mission experiences.
Well besides that, I would like to close out with dad's questions! I think those were really fun, and a good way to end up on a higher note!
1) What "fun" stuff do you do on P-Day? Do you ever play any ball? Do you get to see much of the Russian sites?
P day is a little more different than I thought we usually have spent the rest of my mission searching for somewhere to write home, then the last hour or so to chill or cook up something in mass size. It saves the rest of the week. People here in Russia just aren't ballers, so that has been a dark part of my heart. As far as sites go, there isn't too much at least in Samara. We have the scenic area, so as we go we see some cool stuff.
2) What do you do for personal study time? Do you focus mainly on the Book of Mormon or something else? In English or Russian?
Personal Study is pretty much Book of Mormon and PMG. I have been reading through the Book of Mormon in Russian, and sometimes get switched up depending on what lessons we have and things. It's a good time, I'm in Mosiah right now. :)
3) Do you do "service" as missionaries? Like are there many opportunities to do community or personal or church service projects?
We don't have a ton of opportunities in the community to do service. The Russian community doesn't quite have the organization, so any service we do is random helping a member with this or that. I haven't been able to do any for a while....
4) Besides your family, of course, who else faithfully writes you?
Writing other people hasn't exactly been a forte of mine. I've gotten a few letters from friends, but we are only able to write on p day and I honestly just haven't had time to write much. So, it's a two lane road. I've gotten a couple from Tanner J, Brayden, Megan, Natalie, and lil’ Jess. I haven't helped myself out with that too much and time goes so fast, I honestly forget about that.
5) How are your clothes, shoes, supplies holding up?
All my stuff is holding up really well. I have a real good coat and bear hat and other jacket. My other clothes are doing well. Garments are going to need some looking over by the end. If you sent another package, another set of black suit pants wouldn't be the worst thing ever.
6) You don't say much about getting down or frustrated. Yet in the MTC, it seems like you mentioned you experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Do you ever get down or frustrated or discouraged?
To be honest, there is honestly some hard stuff, but I haven't had too hard a time for a while. My last cycle down in Saratov got a little tough because I started understanding what people were saying and I think the rejection gets a little old sometimes. And having the ability to reply back and understand doesn't help. I think everyone goes through that, but to be honest there hasn't been too much.
7) I get better looking each day. How is that working out for you?
That must be hereditary.
9) Are the Russians superstitious too? See how I skipped #8? In Spain, it seemed like none of the elevators went to floor 13 or something like that.
Yes they are outta control superstitious. That to them is their religion. They don't whistle, shake hands through the door way, drink cold beverages, eat "chemicals" (anything that's not natural) and just have a bunch of other funny things. It is a crack up.
10) Can I get rid of Charley yet? Ok, ok, just a joke.....taking good care of the crazy dog.
Thank you I appreciate it. I gotta have at least one girl when I get home.
Anyways, hope those are answered well, those were fun for me. Hope you all have a fun week! Love you all! Have fun at the dance Sarah!
Elder Nielson

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hey there Family!
Can't believe we're already back to another week of writing home, it just goes faster each time.  If you were wondering, it is actually Christmas today here in Russia, for some reason the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, so Merry Christmas again.  Sorry mom, can't call home again. 
 Man it sounds like you have all had a cool week and have had the traditional Christmas skiing and chillin’.  Way to go, that sure sounds like a good time.   As for these parts, it's been quite the week that's for sure.  We kicked off the week with some crazy new year parties.  Ya baby!  Actually as I said we spent the rest of p day inside the apartment.  We scrubbed that place clean and she is lookin’ pretty good now.  We didn't get a chance to see any of the fireworks, but our neck of the woods was a little more quiet.  The next day was New Years, and so we got to have the day inside as well.  We actually got to break out of jail and came down here to the office for a meeting with President Sartori to start doin’ stuff as far as transfers go and other things.  So that was pretty fun that we got to get a little bit of fresh air to ride down here in a taxi and back.   It's interesting, our mission didn't seem like it was going to get too impacted by the whole age change because of members and registration and everything, but we are going to be going from about 50 a few months ago to 80 by May.  It's gonna be some fun planning that's for sure.  Bring it on.  Just some fun stuff for ya.  We got to come home and finish up all our cleaning projects at home and get a couple other things done.  Kinda a weird day that's for sure.  
Wednesday was pretty cool- so we have this miracle man (named Ryslan) that is probably actually going to work out!  I don't know if I told you the story, basically he called us my second day here and wanted to meet.  We have met a few times now and he's come to church for two weeks, he told us how a long time ago he got a Book of Mormon and then woke up the other day a few weeks ago and just wanted to read, walked over to his shelf, and read the Book of Mormon.  Anyways, he is pretty set that this is his thing and stuff, so we are totally game for that.  He is pretty rad.  He cracks me up to, we had a member on one of the lessons that was trying to give some kind of explanation about how it's so important to know all these details about God and things when praying, and Ryslan just turns back to him and says, "I don't care about that, the most important is that I can just pray to him and he hears it!"  It was so cool, I hope he stays strong and just solid.  
There is another lady here named Tatyana that has been meeting with missionaries forever and loves my old companion Elder Broekhuijsen (who is coming home on Feb 4, you'll have to find him, he lives just up the road) and decided she wants to get baptized on the 19 in the Volga and that Elder Broekhuijsen should baptize her.  Crazy.  But hey, we'll take it.  That'll be so sweet, he will have a nice wake up that day. Good times.  The rest of the week flew by, we had our zone leader council and actually had a special one where we invited all the sisters (we have 15 now) in for a day and to do some training because they are all super young on the mission.  That was some fun plans and riding in taxis to make sure everybody had mattress pads and everything for the sisters, but it turned out really well.   One of the cool things was that after the zone leader council, when we just had us and the zone leaders, president let us go around and bear our testimonies.  At the end, Elders Broekhuijsen and Langston (just a good buddy fellow missionary) got to bear testimony because this would be their last zone council meeting.  Man- I don't know if it's seeing someone at the end, but I was filled with so much appreciation for my mission being able to hear some veterans bear testimony.  It is cool to look back and see how much I have been blessed to come to know the Savior in my time here on a mission.  That is something that I think I never would have gotten at home, and I even tried to be a pretty good guy.  I have had to learn a lot of what it means to repent, and what it really means to be a holder of the priesthood.  I am so grateful that these things have been restored on the earth by a loving Heavenly Father.  I have thought a lot about how I would be without the gospel and without my mission.  I have grown to see how these two things mean everything to me, because it has been here on my mission that I have made the gospel a part of who I am, not just something every now and then.  It truly is the only way that we get happiness in this life, and what's even better is that I can at some point come home and live it.  That was a comment made on the council- I am excited to live the gospel for the rest of my life.  I love my mission.
Anyways, I hope you all have a good week.  We'll have a good time around here, got the ol' visa trips back around and so got the quick jaunt to Kiev on Friday.  I'll wave from the airplane.  Sure love you all. LoveElder Nielson