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