Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hey there everybody!
Glad to hear things are going good, things are just going awesome around these parts as well. It has been one of my more favorite weeks on my mission and there are just good things.
We had a sweet week kicking off with a couple of good lessons at the beginning of the week, especially one good one with good ol' Svyetlana. She is doing super well and is ready to get baptized. She leaves today to Germany to meet her daughter coming out from America and will be there until the 1st of June. She will talk to her about being baptized, but she will not really be stopped. She seems to just have a little more of a light in her eyes- I'm going to be honest I think this is the first time that I have experienced that on my mission. It was a blessing to sit next to her yesterday and just talk to her after church- she is happy with the gospel. It's a pretty cool thing to see and feel. She has a strong testimony, so we will wait and pray for her till she gets back.
Anyways, we took off on Wednesday morning with our driver, Roman, and headed up to Tol'yatti and picked up the zone leaders there. Elder Glavatski and I got dropped off in the city Ul'yanovsk and Elders Taylor and Whittemore continued up to Kazan. So, we spent a few days there in Ul'yanovsk and probably had a few of the best days of my mission. There are two companionships there in the city, both with a senior companion and a trainee- that was so fun to work with a "newbie" and just be pumped up with them. Anyways, Wednesday was spent working with Elder Tippets, one of the newbies. From the get go, we just had people stop and talk to us and just listen. It was so awesome, there must have been something in the air. After about 20 minutes, we stopped a kid named Dimitri and talked a little about the Book of Mormon. It was so funny, I would kind of explain something, then turn to Elder Tippets and give him the nod. It's like I would hit the play button on a cassette tape and a little tid bit of testimony would just explode out of him, then hit pause and explain a little more, explain what I said to him, then push play again and he would just testify. It was such a funny picture. Anyways, this Dimitri kid was just a cool guy and had about an hour so we went and sat down on a bench, prayed, taught the whole restoration and invited to be baptized, and prayed and got on our way. It was probably the coolest thing that I have had on my mission, Heavenly Father was definitely looking out for us.
We had the same thing at night when we were on our way home and had a kid stop us at about 8:30 and say that he wanted to know what we do because he felt like he couldn't get away from bad influences and he just wanted to get free of it...that tickled our fancies. We asked if he had time, so we plopped down on another bench and had a repeat from earlier, we taught him about the Atonement and Book of Mormon and gave it to him. Pretty cool. We ran home to make it home after that- anyways we just had things like that for three days out there in Ul'yanovsk. It was so darn fun…and fun to just get them pumped. That is probably my favorite thing to do. Anyways, we had a good time, and it was fun to be with Elder Glavatski, you will have to meet him some day. Me and him go home on the same day, he is the most humble just cool guy in the world.
Anyways, things are going super good around here. We are happy to be working with Svyetlana and others and just making a lot of good things happen. Good times. Hope you all have a good week, love you all!
Elder Nielson

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hey family!
We're right back at ya this morning, Elder Taylor came down and called home early this morning from the office, so we just stayed here to get the emails done as well. Man that was such a treat to have a little bit of time to chat with all of you yesterday. Can't believe that we're already back to that, and that it was the last time! Yikes! Time seems to just be slipping through my fingers...
But I guess I'll write a little bit of what went on this past week, we had a good one and it was capped off well of course by calling home. We had a pretty open week and good opportunities to get a lot of stuff done...we kicked off stuff on Monday night with some cool contacting, I forgot to tell you about this last night. On Thursday (May 9th) is their big "victory day" that is the day that they won world war II, it is basically their fourth of July. So, on Monday they had a practice for the big parade/presentation thing that they do here. I explained a little bit about the big square here in our area that is just this huge asphalt square with a big theatre, it's actually really cool. And people rollerblade really good there, it's cool to watch as we're passing by. Anyways, they had these stands all set up on the asphalt and we came around the corner and saw the streets just lined with cops. They all came out of their holes, I have no idea where they came from. Anyways, so we kinda just froze, and see over on the square just masses of soldiers for their parade thing. They were all in their big trenchcoats and helmets and things- we both kind of just stopped there on the corner. I'm not gonna lie, to see that sight our stomachs kind of dropped, it felt like I was sitting up in Anne Franks closet and we were gonna have to start sprinting down the street. We kept walking a little bit and came to the road that leads up to the square that had tanks and trucks and all those kind of vehicles and things- it was pretty crazy looking, pretty submersed in Russia that's for sure.
Tuesday was a good day, we met with president and had a good meeting to do the transfer and things, we do those about 2-3 weeks early every transfer so that we can get people registered in their cities and things, so we did that this week. It's a cool process, it's fun to see how inspired president really is with the things he does. It's taught me a lot.
As far as investigators go though, Svyetlana is just chuggin’ right along and doing well. She loves church and loves just learning which is cool. Our other investigators are also doing well, but because of the big holidays and things, we didn't have a chance to meet with any of our other "big hitters" this past week, but we'll definitely have some good meetings squared away for this coming week. We did have a cool experience though on Tuesday, we met with a guy named Reshat who is a total Muslim guy. We had met him a week ago on the street and gave him a Book of Mormon, usually Muslims are so ridiculously against hearing anything from us, but he was super open and took the book. Anyways, we got a meeting with him and he came and has already read 1 Nephi and was wondering about baptism and things! We were so excited, it's quite the miracle to have somebody like that because most of the Muslims are just taught that they are Muslim and that's just the way it is. He even has a wife that is Russian and is an Athiest, but also started reading the Book and is interested! Woo! Anyways, we are excited to continue to work with them and help them learn more about Christ. That is what's sad, all the Muslims are such good and nice people, they live their religion and everything- but they don't know about the Atonement in their lives and Jesus Christ.  I want to share my testimony of the Savior in our lives.  We cannot become clean or do anything without Christ. I am grateful that we have that kind of knowledge.
Anyways, those are just some highlights of the week, things are just good. We are excited for a good upcoming week and some good exchange action coming up. Sure love you all and hope you have a good week.
Elder Nielson

Monday, May 6, 2013

Where did April go?

Hey there everybody!
Sorry I'm running low on time, but just thought I'd give you a little update and hopefully get some pictures attached. I hope you all are doin’ good and things are going super well here.
We had a cool week going down to Saratov and Tolyatti for zone conferences. While in Saratov, I was able to be back in my dojo in Zavodskoy and even got to call Sergei (the old bro investigator) and talk to him for a little bit. He has moved away from the members, but I also called his "mom" (Galina) and was able to talk to her for a little bit while I was down there. Just a trip down memory lane from last summer. I love those people so much, I sure miss them. Anyways, Sergei is just kinda chillin’ but doing well. He still remembers me at least. Anyways, the zone conferences went really good and it was really enjoyable to listen to President Sartori. He talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and things and we were able to learn a lot from that.
As far as our area goes, Svyetlana took off to Moscow for the week, so we didn't have a chance to meet with her. We have some new people that we are working with and just need to get some good meetings going with people and get them moving to baptism. I love the people that we have, we just need to teach people how to plan so that we can get meetings with them because that is the only way that they can learn about the gospel. But, there have been a lot of good times doing some contacting and finding new people, many which are searching for truth which is the first time on my mission it seems like that I have actually heard that from people. Anyways, things are going very well.
Here are a couple pictures, I will attach them and hope that you enjoy. (He only sent one!)
 Just our first day in short sleeves! I'll look forward to next week and hope that you all have a good week. Love you all!
Elder Nielson
[little extra note from Elder Nielson]
First things first- business. I think we will probably actually shoot for skyping on Saturday night (before Mother’s Day)...dont' know if that would work for you all but we were just thinking with church schedules and things that would be easier. Anyways, let me know what you think...we will shoot for the usual time at about 7:00 in the night here, I think you are 10 hours behind us, but we can use next week to make plans final. Just an idea, if that's a problem let me know. That is fun to hear about talking with Sister Sartori, I love those people. They take good care of us. Ok, I fully endorse you to be my agent in schools, I think that I will shoot for BYU, I haven't really thought about going anywhere else, so I guess I can decide later if I don't like it.