Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hey there everybody!
Well, things just keep on a rollin’ here and goin’ good. I'll keep doing the big email then, it's kinda fun like I said to think about some things that went on during the week. It has probably been hands down the craziest week of my life, I am pretty out of control tired. I guess that's a good way to be. I'll try to give a little shot of how things went this week.
We actually had a pretty chill p day and finished up most things with the transfer and things. We actually had a way cool experience on Monday night when we went to meet with grandma sher- Svyetlana. She came up and said hi to us and we were just walking around a park. First thing, she just says that she got an answer that the Book of Mormon is true! Elder Taylor and I just kinda looked across at each other and were like, "do tell...” Anyways, she told us how she was just thinking about it and walking around the park and kinda praying in her heart and felt the spirit confirm to her that the Book is true. Woo!! That is the first time that I have had somebody give us the storybook conversion like that. It was way cool, definitely the highlight of the week. I am very grateful for the Book of Mormon and the power that it has.
Anyways, so we got people off on trains and things seemed pretty calm. Tuesday, we got up and got down to the office for our office meeting and things and that went good, we met with president and just had a ton of things to do to get ready for the incoming group that was coming at about 5:00 that day. We just ran around the office like a couple chickens with our heads cut off and got done what needed to get done, and got out to the van to ride out to the airport. We got out there and picked up our train of news- all 14 of them! Holy cow! It was so fun to be around them, and they are all big boys- they must be growing them bigger back there in America or something. Even the sister was taller than me. Anyways we came back and ate dinner with them and while they were interviewing we took a couple groups out and got some contacting in for about 45 minutes. It was pretty crazy, both of us with our flocklings got a couple phone numbers each in about 45 minutes. A lot of missionaries could go all day and only get a couple numbers. Pretty cool, faith really works. Anyways, we had the whole craziness of getting them and trainers out and then getting things set up for zone conference on Friday and took the missionaries out to the airport. Long story short, it's been pretty outta control.
I like your questions about the Book of Mormon, we have actually been really making a focus to use the Book of Mormon more in our mission. It is incredible all the prophecies and things connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon- not only the message it contains converts people, but the Lord touches hearts through the book because it is His tool for the gathering of His children which is what the entire bible prophecies about. It is so exciting to be involved in that. I have realized since i have been on a mission that everything I have in a spiritual sense is because of the Book of Mormon. My testimony started when I was 13, 14 years old and I read the book for the first time when President Hinckley asked us to by the end of the year. I read it like a novel. I have ever since actually. There are good things to studying it and going deeper, but even on a mission I continue reading it just like a novel. I have actually done that my entire mission- of course we have lessons that is study for during the last part of personal study, but all I do is just read the Book of Mormon. I am currently in Helaman reading it through in Russian. I don't know that there is any better way for any person to come to know the Savior and to know what to do in life. There have been few, and although i haven't baptized them, but any investigator that will read the Book of Mormon with any real intent becomes converted and will be baptized at some point. It's pretty cool. Probably the most important thing about the Book of Mormon is the fact that Heavenly Father can touch anybody's heart through that book by the Holy Ghost. Everybody has their own concerns and things and the Book of Mormon serves many important functions in proving the restoration, giving us a witness of the Savior, etc. but Heavenly Father speaks to people through the Book of Mormon and that is what solves concerns. I love the Book of Mormon.
Elder Nielson

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Monday to you all!
We had a good week this week and it just continues to all roll on pretty well around here. It sounds like you all had a sweet trip down to California and things and sounds like you’re right back in the swing of things.
I wanted to first answer a couple questions from momma, just a few things about it out here. First, as far as Easter goes, we actually still haven't had it yet. I can't remember if I said that, but the Russian orthodox Easter is going to be on May 5. Kinda funny, they do the same with Christmas, I don't really get it. But, they love carrying their eggs around and give out their boiled eggs. The main thing would be that everyone you see on Easter says, "Christ is resurrected." They don't even say hi or anything and you could probably walk past the same person about 20 times, and they would say "Christ is resurrected" each time.  
I would say one thing that Russians love is to be dressed up and feel fancy. Walking around here, you would think that everyone was very well off by the way they dress, and nobody just walks around in sweats. Women are always in high heels- always. Anyways, they love to go to their little plays or operas or different shows and they just get decked out for that. There is definitely a difference. Then, when you are at the plays or the shows, they just love getting into it and things. And then when they really like something, they all clap so loud and then start clapping in unison. It's kinda strange but it cracks me up. They love that whole fancy arts feeling and getting dressed up for it- however there is not really programs to teach people music and things so either people are playing the piano on the big stage or singing, or they can't sing at all. But they love to sing, we sing at the beginning of Sunday School and at the end and always have some kind of hymn for everything, but they kinda struggle a lot to keep a tune. I don't know that was a bunch of random things.
One other funny thing is that they close everything with "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen." For example, if somebody makes an announcement or at the end of the branch business or anything, it is always closed that way even if there is nothing spiritual whatsoever said. It's pretty funny. It seems like I say that about 50 times at church every week. I can’t really pick out my favorite thing, I just love those little quirks that are different from things we do, there are a lot of them.
One hard thing here is just that religion is pictured as nothing but a patriotic symbol and a superstition. The Russian orthodox church has just become the "Russian church" and anything else is just a "sect" or it's the "American church". Everybody thinks that we are Catholics because they think that we are from America so we are Catholic. And then for any Middle Easterns here, they say "I am not Russian" when we ask if they have faith because that is their way of saying that they are Muslim.    There are about four common statements that you hear in every conversation with somebody: "God is one, faith is different" "Most important is that faith was in the soul" "Don't need it" and "I am Muslim, that is a sin to hear about Christ". I don't really know how to translate them, but they are the most broad statements that they make towards the fact that faith is something real and not just a claim to belong to a nationality or just some superstition that when things go bad I pray and it gets better. 
As for my companion, he's so great. Me and him are pretty much the same person, like identical. We both move at the same pace and have the same views on things and so it makes it super fun. He's kinda a Tanner Jensen. Of course, because we both work at the same speed and take control of everything that is our only down fall, but we get along super good and it's been super good to work with him. We'll be friends for the rest of my life.
Anyways, I'm running short on time, we have to do our office meetings today. But things are going good. We have the same investigators and Grandma Sher (Svetlana) is doing well and came to church yesterday. We will have a good week and I'll talk to you next week!
Elder Nielson