Friday, March 22, 2013

Good morning fam!
How are we all doing? Man those were a lot of really good letters to get from each of you and it sounds like things are just tickin’ right along. I can't believe that we are already back to Monday, these things keep on coming faster and faster it seems. Thanks for all the fun reports and things, it is always fun to read and hear what's goin’ on whether you think it’s important or not. That's crazy dad that you are going to be taking another trip over to China- good luck with that. Come on by, we're not too far away. Anyways, hope that things go well and that you can enjoy your big travels. That is a lot of travel for 2 1/2 days.
Just to answer your question on what the sister missionaries do- well they pretty much do exactly what all of the elders do. Except every branch begs until they can have sisters and the sisters kick all the elders' trash with investigators and things. They are all super good to have around- I have a lot of respect for all of them. And thanks for all the fun updates of things that are goin’ on with missions and stuff like that momma. Those are super exciting things to hear that are going on. And finally, lil’ Tanner that is way fun to hear that you are doin’ well with your ballin’ and things. Sounds like you've been hittin’ well and stuff and that is way cool to hear. I hope you have a good season, man I'm super jealous those are such good times. You better save up some good games for when I get back to come watch you bro. And Sarah, love you lil’ sis. Anyways, good to hear from all you and hope things keep goin’ good.
Well, we have had quite the week. We are all back to transfer time and so today and the last few days and the next couple days are some nice busy ones. However, this week has gone really well and we have been able to have some really good things happen. The big one- Ryslan- is just movin’ along as usual. He is definitely a slower mover, but man we love that kid so darn much. We were only able to meet with him because the store he works at is closing down and so every time we pass by the place is buzzing and so we don't want to bother him. But we just need to help him realize how important faith really is, for some reason there is just something holding him back from trusting God because he will say that he trusts us, but will not trust God. Kinda interesting to see how that works.
We then spent a couple days back in the old area on the other side of town with the zone leaders. Man it seems like a dream ago that I served there but I forgot about how many good memories I had at that place with Elder Broekhuijsen and how much I loved that area. Sometimes things move so fast that you forget to smell the roses, but luckily I got a second chance. We pretty much contacted the whole two days which was really fun, it's funny sometimes that "dirty work" of contacting and knocking kinda drags on you, but heck we haven't had a free day to do any of that for two transfers now and it was actually super fun to just be a normal missionary for a couple days it was so good. Anyways, we also had a great meeting with big Anna this past week and taught her the Sabbath day. She has a hard time getting’ to church as do most Russians, so I hope that made an impact on her so that she started to come and take all this seriously. She is so cool though, she showed up to our meeting with little post it tabs in her Book of Mormon with questions that she had about what she read. Then we realized that she was asking about Isaiah in 2 Nephi and luckily we had a member to help us out- I don't even understand that in English! Haha it was pretty funny. We all have a lot to go that's for sure.
We then spent the day on Saturday doing the big transfer calls for the upcoming cycle. Phew- I know I wasn't very good at talking on the phone at home so I hope that I have learned a thing or two since I've been here on a mission makin’ a few calls. It was pretty fun. It is exciting to be having all the missionaries coming in- our next incoming group will be 14 missionaries! We are trying to find places to put them because half of these branches will now be missionaries! They're gonna have to start spraying for us. Probably the coolest thing from this past week though was yesterday at church- we weren't able to get anybody to church which was a bummer and so we ended up passing the Sacrament just because that was needed yesterday. So, when we went to sit down after the sacrament, I looked up and saw a kid sitting there that I hadn't seen before, so I went and sat by him. He said, "sorry, this is my first time here. I don't really know what to do, but I have been learning a lot about you guys and have even been writing back and forth with the people on the internet and have a ton of questions. But I think that I have maybe found my answer." Holy cow- it was so sweet. His name is Ivan and is about 22 and just a cool, norm dude. When we come across those types, that are actually interested, we pounce all over them. Anyways, we had good church meetings and things and he is going to come next week and wants to find answers to his questions that he thinks he can find here. Pretty cool stuff, I think it really shows how much Heavenly Father really is in charge of this work and is looking out for us.
Besides that, we have been running around helping people get on trains and sisters lift their big ol' suitcases full of who knows what in and outta the trains and getting people all switched around. Transfer time is actually pretty fun. But, we've got it mostly taken care of till we go pick up the new group from the airport tomorrow, so I can sit here in the office and write with my big snickers that President Sartori gave me. Doesn't get much better than that.
Anyways, we are doin’ well and things just keep on keepin’ on. It has been another good week down on the mission and we're lookin’ forward to another good one. I sure am lovin’ it and hope you can all feel my love at home. Have a good week!
Elder Nielson

Monday, March 11, 2013

Good morning family!

Well it is a good day here in big ol' Samara! We've had such a darn good week and it has probably been one of my favorites. I really don't know why, there have just been a whole lot of good things and probably more hard things, but it's cool how much I have been able to learn and grow from them. Those were all a bunch of super fun letters that I was able to get from each of you, I was able to answer a couple but am super grateful for all the support that I feel from you there at home. And don't worry about it momma, I totally understand, you still wrote a nice letter and I appreciate it. Anyways, it sounds like everybody is doing well and that is good to hear. That sounds way fun to be going down to St George with dad and Tanner to meet Tana and Grandpa. That will be so fun, reminds me of goin’ down and playing with dad and then getting a migraine down there. Good times, hope you do well down there lil’ Tanner! Anyways, thanks for the updates everybody and hope all the missionaries headin’ out back at the ranch have a good time. Because it's a good time.

This week has definitely been an interesting one as I said earlier. There is a whole bunch goin’ on and I am grateful for all the little experiences that happen out here on a mission. We started out the week with the big visa trips coming in and out. We are actually coming to a close of having to do those every 3 months because they now have come out with 3 year visas and we only have to leave the country every 6 months to renew our "migration cards" which we get at visa renewal time as well. Anyways, it will be a lot simpler basically and only every 6 months, just kinda some fun facts for the day for you. And, there is a possibility that we will be flying straight to Prague where the visas are made which would also be cool. Kinda random.

So, we had our last groups coming in and out which made for a good full apartment for the first part of the week. That is definitely a funny aspect of my mission that I wouldn't have thought I would have had. But, we came around to the last part of the week and were able to have some meetings with investigators and there are a lot of good things going on there. Ryslan is just still our bro. We are definitely trying to work to make him build some foundation of faith for him. He is funny, he says how things are just bad here in Russia and that nobody can really build a good life here and that anybody that does is pretty much just lying to them self because it really isn't that good. Anyways, it is really twisting us to try and help him to see the light and how much he needs the faith, he just needs to be humbled a little bit. I sure love that kid though. He's so darn respectful and probably the nicest Russian kid that I have ever met. He is always paying for our bus fares going to church or other things and always has some kind of surprise for us. Man, I can't even imagine what the gospel would do for him.

And with Anna, things are still just kinda moving slowly but surely with her. We weren't able to get a real meeting with her this week but we were able to get her to come with us to our weird culture night that we walked out of - some remix of Nutcracker - and then she came with us with a couple other members and Ryslan to get some dinner and was able to make really good friends with them and things. It was so cool, that made the torture of nutcracker fluke all worth it. You'll have to ask Sarah a little more about it, I explained it to her. Anyways, we were able to have a good couple of days and had the Sartoris come to our branch which was awesome as always. I had to go up and translate for President Sartori which was pretty cool, a little scary, when he spoke which actually turned out pretty good. Kinda fun. But church went really well besides that and big Ryslan came and gave his little donation again. And yes mom, that is the same name as the other guy we baptised. There aren't many names here for some reason, it has just kinda turned out to be that way because of the grammar and things. Kinda weird, everybody has the same name. And just so you know, that Ryslan and Tatyana that we baptized are doing super well and it is super fun to be around them and watch them grow in the gospel.

Anyways, that is about the jist of things that happened over the last week. I say it every week, but it has been such a blessing to be on a mission and to learn so much. The Atonement definitely takes more effect in our lives as we strive to be better and as we get better because it becomes that much more important. And then it is cool to see how even those things that were good remain good in your memory, and even the bad things become a good memory because we are able to be healed of the embarrassment that comes with mistakes and gain all that we learned from those experiences. It is such a blessing to have that in our lives and in our family. I sure love you all and hope that you have a good week! See ya next week!


Elder Nielson

P.S. can you believe that this time last year I was just getting’ here and writing you from Kazan? So crazy how the time goes. Year in Russia baby!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hey family!
Man those were some fun letters to get this week and hear how good things are goin’ back at the ranch. I'm glad to see that you made it home mom and dad and that you were able to have a good time and have that relationship. That's one big thing I've learned on a mission- that talkin’ time is so important. Even if there's nothin’ bad goin’ on, we have the companionship inventory. Definitely gonna be doing some of that with my wife someday. Haha that was such a sweet pic though with Charley in the back of the truck...and with Mister Tan sitting in the front seat. Lookin good there dad. And that is sweet to hear about the big Lone Peak Knights taking care of business. That's pretty cool that they got all that national publicity stuff goin’ on, I actually heard a guy talkin’ about them on the streets of Samara here. Just kidding. But that is cool, and even better to hear about the mission commitment that they have. I hope that stays that way. But a super big bummer to hear about Coach McGeary, I wouldn't believe any that for sure.  I'm glad you were able to see him though. He's a good guy, pass along to him that I support him and sure respect him for everything he did for me. And also good to hear about the ward doin’ well back at home and the good leaders and people that we have to associate with. We are very blessed with that, I agree with you dad. Anyways, sounds like you’re all getting’ along well and be sure to put your hand over your heart in my honor as you fill out March madness brackets.
Things around these parts have been goin’ super good and it has been a super fun week this week. We had our zone leader council and also brought in all the district leaders for a day to have a similar meeting that we do every other month. It is actually a really good thing. We had a really sweet meeting and then the next day had our meeting with the zone leaders. It all went really well, but my favorite part is that at the end, we get to interview with President Sartori. Man, I am so darn blessed with my mission president. I sure hope you get a chance to meet him in July when they come home, but he is definitely a huge blessing in my life. I have never known how important it is to just love people genuinely the way that he does and when that is combined with the spirit, you got a pretty powerful instrument for the Lord. Anyways, he is such an example of that and how when we combine that pure love with true principles, we can solve any problem in any person and respect their free agency. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done, but that is just something that I have been learning from interacting with him. I sure love him. Also, quick update I can't remember if I said it in the last e mail, but we now know that our new mission president will be President Schwabb from Farmington. Anyways, you should try to get a hold of him. :) We are super excited about that.
We had some sweet stuff this week, mostly with our bro Ryslan that we are working with. Man, the best way to explain him is a bro. He's probably the nicest kid I've met- he works at this shoe store and kinda manages the store (he's only 19) and showed up to a meeting on Tuesday with a pair of shoes for both me and Elder Taylor! He's so rad, I don't really know where he came from. He basically lives on his own- his dad is in prison for life and his mom got remarried and the guy was a jerk, and Ryslan didn't really like that so his mom kicked him outta the house. Pretty crazy stuff. I think a lot of people would be a little sour after that. Anyways, he came with us to an activity on Saturday and then we went and met with him after so we got to chill with him basically all day which was so cool. But, we taught him a little about faith and how it helps us and gave him the commit to pray. We came back on Sunday to him at his store and he explained that he prayed and explained to Heavenly Father that "Taylor and Nielson (nobody calls us "Elder") asked me to pray, so I did" and this and that and ended up praying for like 20 minutes. We were so pumped on that! Man he's so cool, he just said he really didn't feel anything, but I am sure he will have some good things happen because of it. He's so cool, we love that kid and he loves us, so we can get him to do anything- so, we are definitely trying to help him the best way that we can. We have also been working still with this Anna lady who is a way cool gal. We finally got meeting with her last night and were able to teach her the same principle of faith. I think she is kinda finally starting to get it. It is pretty cool to see that somebody that thinks it doesn't matter realize that it does matter. I think we all go through that at one point or another. Anyways, keep those two in prayers, they are some good people and we are so happy to be working with them. They will definitely be getting’ baptized.
Well, I believe that is about it for things that have been going on around here. A lot of good things and a lot of reasons to be very happy in my mission. I am sure grateful that I can do this, I am grateful for the changes that have and will take place in my life because of my mission and the gospel of Jesus Christ. What's cool is that this is something that can be taken home with me and have for the rest of my life. Anyways, sure love you all and hope you have a good week!
Elder Nielson