Friday, June 21, 2013

Hello fam!
Well glad to hear that you all had a good trip and the fun stuff going on. Also glad that you had a chance to enjoy the letters from last week, it has been such a blessing the last few weeks of my mission to be serving. Things keep going good and we had another great week.
We had a good couple of first days and then split up for some big exchanges on Wednesday and Thursday of this week...we have really found that the best way to help missionaries out is just to get on exchanges with them as much as possible and just be as pumped as possible and trust that Heavenly Father will make good things happen. So, I actually stayed here in Samara with Elder Boyer (a Mesa dweller, former Toro) and Elder Taylor took off to Orenburg with his companion.
So- the big story of the week was with Elder Boyer. We honestly spent about five hours in the afternoon just pounding the streets- we didn’t have much success to be honest. We met a cool lady and also dropped by the former Natasha and Masha to say hi- they caught wind that we were back in the area. Anyways, they have slowed down meeting with missionaries, but they were pumped to see each other again and Masha made me a cute little book. Just a fun blast from the past. Anyways, it was pretty hot- not going to lie. We had a meeting in the evening at the branch and then had planned to end the night over at another set of elders for exchanges with them the following day- unfortunately we rode all the way out to the branch to have this guy fall through on we dropped our bags off at the branch and then just busted out for our 57th hour of contacting on the day. Within about three minutes, we stopped this husband wife and their little daughter walking around. They actually stopped and talked to us- they are definitely the type that I usually have low hope for because they just have things going good for them and don't need the gospel for the time being. But they stopped- long story short they talked with us and we even got them to come with us to the branch and showed them around- they just drank that place up. It's a pretty shabby building, but it was a nice little tour. However, we took them upstairs and showed them the nursery and primary room which was fun for their little daughter. Anyways- we were pretty pumped. But the biggest thing was that when we came out of the room, I kinda had a feeling to stop them- there was a good sized painting of the First Vision on the wall there. I don't know if you've really seen a good painting of that- but that thing just seems to glow. Anyways, we just stopped them and said, "you remember how we said that our church is different from others, this is why." We continued to just testify of the First Vision and pointing at the Father and Son appearing to Joseph Smith- there was definitely quite the tender spirit that was there as we were able to stand in a rather holy feeling place and have a family feel that together. Long story short, we got their number and gave them a Book of Mormon and they are pretty awesome.
I definitely have thought a little bit about what the difference has been with some of these cool events happening over the last little bit- definitely it has been the simple fact that the spirit has touched peoples' hearts and that is what causes people to change and moves this work forward. I had always heard that but never really knew what it meant. I will be forever grateful for my mission and what it has taught me because I will want to have the spirit in my life not only to help an investigator, but for the rest of my life. There is a "quickening" power that the Holy Ghost has that as we daily repent and do all we can, we are strengthened and obtain the happiness and peace that is written about in the scriptures. I think I tasted this a little before my mission and throughout my mission, but wasn't doing really what it took. Don’t take me wrong- I've worked hard and everything, but this hard work was done with the expectation that Heavenly Father would make something happen for me. However, I have seen that we are placed in the same circumstances, but have the ability to call upon heaven for help and our loving Heavenly Father can quicken us or touch the lives of others as we sincerely repent and have that change of perspective.
Anyways- just a couple of thoughts that I have had and I am grateful for the experiences that my mission has brought me, but even more grateful for the lessons learned and the spirit which is felt.
You are probably wondering about Svyeta and Danil- they are both doing great. We taught Svyeta tithing and are just getting her to the finish line. Danil came to church, unfortunately was too busy to meet but came to church and that is what is important. He most likely won't work out for the 29th due to that, but it's ok, he'll get baptized and will be able to be more ready.
Sure love you all, hope you have a good week.
Elder Nielson
P.S. here's a pic at "revolution square" on our way down to the office every day. good ol' lenin

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hello everybody-

Hope your having a good ride down to big Sedona, be sure to say hi to Chief Yellowhorse for me.  Have a good trip and some good times down there for me will ya?!  Anyways, glad to hear things are good, things are going great out here, it's been a good good week. I'll tell...

We actually had quite a bit of time to do some normal missionary work this week which was pretty awesome, but for some reason the fish just weren't bitin’ on setting up meetings.  Got to spend a lot of time doing some finding on the streets, but that never hurt anybody.  At long last, we had our long awaited meeting with our investigator on Friday night!  She called us and just like usual wanted to meet at the usual place on the usual bench and everything!  She made it back from Germany earlier in the week and she was doing well and had a good time in Europe.  Anyways, she was happy to see us and we sat down and started just making small talk about her trip and things.  Finally, Elder Taylor just said, "we have a lesson like normal"  she kinda got all funny and was like "no, no, I don't really have time, but I did want to talk to you about something..."  Honestly, my blood ran a little bit cold, I've seen that situation a few too many times.  Maybe I just need more faith.  Anyways, she just looked back at us and said, "does the 29th of June work FOR ME TO BE BAPTIZED! Can you get me ready for that?"  We assured her that we could, and we were so pumped!  That was such a good thing to hear.  Her daughter was fine with it and even said that she will probably get to that point in about 20 years herself.  phew!  So we talked a little bit and turns out she had drank a little coffee and wine on her trip which was a bummer, but it gave us a great chance to teach her a little bit about repentance and for her to have an opportunity to feel what the Atonement really feels like before baptism.  We were actually kind of happy to hear that to be honest.  Anyways, we had a good lesson even though she didn't have time we snuck it in and gave her Alma 36 to read, so we are super happy for her.  She is just a good lady.  And she understands that she needs baptism.  Pretty cool.

The next thing is what I gotta get written down because we had probably the best experience of my mission yesterday...unfortunately we didn't have Svetlana make it to church, her daughter was still in town with her but Elder Taylor had gotten a hold of this Danil guy to come to church.  He had found this guy about a year ago when he was serving in Tolyatti and the missionaries there called him and turns out that he had moved to Samara...that make sense?  So those missionaries sent us his number and things and he wanted to come to church when Elder Taylor called him earlier in the week.  Turns out about 4 years ago he had also met missionaries as well.  So, we get off the bus on our way to church and there is just this absolutely norm 25 year old bro standing on the bus stop waiting for us...pretty cool.  Anyways, we went to church and he just loved it.  We had a great Sacrament meeting with great talks simply focused on Jesus Christ (those are sometimes a little tough to come across).  He loved the hymns and the words and so we took him in a class room afterwards and taught him the Restoration.  When we asked him if he understood the difference between our church and others he said, "here there is just a great feeling and things that you don't find in other churches...I have never seen a group of people that are unified and just good like this.  I have been looking for something like this for a long time"  ya- we were pretty pumped.  So we taught the Restoration and had one of our best lessons together and read Moroni 10 with him.  We actually understood it and we said that he needs to get an answer about the truthfulness of the Book.  He cut us off and said "I already got an answer in there." Elder Taylor just said, "we are supposed to get baptized then, will you get baptised?"  He straight up said, "I will..."  We paused for a second and he just said "look at me"  and pointed at his eyes and he had tears in his eyes.  Holy cow- I can't really explain to you the sweet spirit that was with us there.  I don't think- in fact I'm sure- that I've had really anything like that yet on my mission.  It makes the rest of the year and a half 100% worth it.  Heavenly Father blessed us yesterday, it is interesting what happens when a person allows the spirit to touch their heart.  Anyways, he is our bro and we will keep workin’ with Danny boy to get baptized on the 29th of June as well.  That will be a good day. 

This is getting long, but I have to tell you something else- we had a girl named Elya with us on the lesson who was baptized about a year ago.  She has kinda been in and out of being active and is just a funny, 20 year old diva type normal girl for lack of a better term, she is a good buddy of ours.  Anyways, she really was able to feel the spirit on that lesson, it is evident that Satan definitely has been pushing her as well-it's way too easy for people to not stay active here.  She rode home with us and while we were walking she said to us, "when I was walking to church today I was thinking to myself that this was going to be my last Sunday."  It was a super big blessing to have seen that the spirit was also able to touch her and hopefully that very well could have saved her as well from a lot of heart ache.  Pretty cool that Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives in that way.  Big blessings these past few days. Anyways, as you can tell things are going awesome.  This is one of those times that you don't really have a desire to come off your mission.  It's been a blessing and we will pray for these people so that the Lord can continue to touch their lives.  Sure love you all and hope you have a good trip.

Elder Nielson