Monday, July 29, 2013

Good morning everybody!
Well, that was a great round of emails from this past week, thanks for all the fun updates of things going on and glad to hear that you are keepin’ busy and involved in some good stuff.
We have had a good run at it this past week, we are doing a lot to get ready for President Schwab coming out and we are getting pretty excited. Just a quick update, he'll be getting out here on Thursday and the Sartoris heading home on Friday, crazy how this has all come up so fast. I swear it should still be 6 months out like it always has been.
Anyways, we took off on Monday up to Tol'yatti for some big exchanges. Elder Taylor took off with Elder Owen up to Izhevsk and I stayed there in Tol'yatti again and was with my other old companion, Elder Whittemore. It was a super fun couple of days and we were able to get some good work done. Honestly, we were still pretty hammered from our last week Saratov exchanges, but we went for it anyways and were able to get some good things done and hopefully got some missionaries excited in those areas. I wish I had a good story for you, but honestly, we just had a few days of raw missionary work with them, that is: finding people, and had some good successes and things. I like those kinds of days because you just keep on working and working and Heavenly Father just blesses you throughout the day. Pretty simple.
So, we headed on back here to Samara on Thursday morning and had a sweet lunch here with the office staff and President and Sister Sartori. It was a Russian barbecue for them heading home which was super fun. I love all the staff workers down here in the office, they are all fun to be around. I also think that President Klimov (one of the branch presidents here) may have emailed you a photo from that of me and president...just wanted to see if that made it. So, basically from that point on we had to spend some time getting things together for when President Schwab comes. We had to work on the upcoming transfer and things like that because he won't know anybody and things like that. Honestly, that is kind of how the rest of the week went. On Saturday evening we also had a fireside for president here in Samara and he spoke and gave a great talk. It was a good way for him to go out, and it was really cool too because Svyetlana gave the closing prayer. She is integrating well and just happy to be there.
That pretty much sums up the week, everything is going well as usual. I just had some interesting thoughts today as we were studying- honestly I was a little down just because of the fact that sometimes I see how easily people can be influenced by Satan.  Anyways, I was just reading and got to Alma 7- these are some verses that are often quoted about the Atonement, they are some good ones that I was excited to read as a good pump up. I would love to help people catch it. Something else kind of hit me though- right before those verses on the Atonement, it mentions of the Savior's humble and simple coming into the world. I was taken back a little bit to think of the simplicity in which our Savior came to the world and how that simple event really is what we are trying to turn people's hearts to. That simple night of His coming definitely has gained much more meaning in my life as I have tried to explain the greatness of a Savior when people have a hard time accepting such a simple thing. I am grateful for that though- there is just something warm and tender about imagining the simple form that the Savior took upon to help us out. I know that anybody that accepts this Savior into their lives will see themselves changed and their families will be happier- that's what we all want anyways.
I am super grateful for what the Lord has taught me on my mission. I hope you have a good week this week, I sure love you all.
Elder Nielson

p.s.- here's a shot from out there in tol'yatti. we felt pretty cool- pretty much we were hackin through this jungle until we baptized a family of 4.


This is outside our apartment.  We always see guys squatting like this and eating sunflower seeds and drinking a beer!  Ha!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hey everybody-

Well we're back already to Monday- I have no idea where July is going.  We were able to have a good solid transfer week and are pretty pumped for some big exchanges and things for the next couple weeks.

So we had the typical transfer week with running back and forth to the train station and getting people in and out of the apartment and welcoming in the new group and everything- honestly I don't want to bore you too bad with all the details and things. but that was how the first bit of the week was spent and then our "mission leadership coucil" on Thursday- we used to just have the zone leaders but now with the influx of sisters we now have sister leaders that come to those meetings once a month. (that is what you got the picture of)...good times.

However, we had the last little bit of the week to do some good work. we are really making a big emphasis on pushing all of this "work of salvation" broadcast and trying to make the member involved in the work here.  I hope that everyone back at home paid attention to that, I would honestly encourage watching that a second time. it is pretty awesome stuff, we are just trying to find the best ways that we can get people excited and helping out in the work. we are all super excited about that.  So, we have been trying to get together with the branch president and help out with branch council and things to try and get something going.  Super exciting.

As far as other things go though, Svyetlana is just doing great.  I always just kinda pictured baptism as the goal (which it is) but that getting somebody there is just all that matters. however, the real joy comes from watching these people grow in the church and having them testify in meetings and seeing what happens as a result of baptism.  It is a big blessing to see that take place in her life, even just a week after baptism. so that's exciting and fun to watch. of course we are working with other people and finding some great ones on the streets, Svyetlana is just kinda the star for right now. haha

Quick funny story- we're walking down the street last night with a member on our way to a meeting and all the sudden we hear down the street "no way! no way!" and all the sudden we see this kinda larger man (he looked like Newman from Seinefeld, don't know where that came from) running out from the trees and yelling "no way- it is just too far. mormon missionaries made it out to Samara?! there's no way!"  We were kinda taken back for a minute, but this brotha came running up to us and turns out he is an American guy from Florida.  Sounds like his parents were Russian and they moved toAamerica when he was six and so he speaks Russian but is a straight up American.  Gosh we were crackin up- we didn't know what to do with ourselves. He knew everything about us, he gave us his number and things because he is here for a month with his wife from here, so we'll see.  But definitely one of the more random things I've seen in my time.  Good times, we ended the night with a good smile on our faces.

Kinda goofy but all in all, things are just going great, we just keep pushing and good things happen every day.  I am blessed to be a missionary.  I hope you have a good week. love you all.

Elder Nielson
ps first picture is us with Svyeltana on a bench, she looks a little more like herself. there was some hat party they were doing at the branch so we were trying the hats on.  I like this picture because this is where we always meet, I'll always remember this spot. and it gives you a good taste of Elder Taylor. haha
the other is at her baptism. good times.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Game Film

Hey family!
I had to go with the title this week because sometimes when I write home it feels like when we would watch game film back in high school or college after our games or practice and sometimes you felt really good going into game film and excited to have the coaches be excited when you make a good play, or sometimes there isn't much to report and it's like those bad game film times that you just aren't too excited about, except on a mission we don't get chewed out...anyways, I feel like that sometimes going into writing home. haha however, this week had some really good game film.
Probably first and foremost is that our investigator got baptized this week! woo!  I also don't really know where that came from besides the fact that she was totally ready and it was just a matter of her deciding to go.  I'll put a picture on for sure.  Actually it turns out that we only took those pictures on Elder Taylor's camera, but he forgot it.  Bummer, next week they will come.  After the baptism on last Saturday, a lady told some other missionaries here in Samara that she wanted to be baptized this saturday, so we used that as a chance on Tuesday to tell our investigator that we would have a service and she could get baptized on Saturday.  She totally took it and made it happen!  The other lady ended up getting sick unfortunately, but we had a really nice service and it was so good.  She testified at the end which was the most gratifying part and also stood up yesterday in sacrament meeting and bore her testimony!  Oh man, it was so great.  She definitely is going to be a great member and things and is super converted.  She told Elder Taylor that she didn't really understand why we were meeting and things until she got an answer that the Book of Mormon was true.  That was great to hear, she loves the scriptures and was just so happy afterwards.  Don't tell anybody, but she just came up and gave us the biggest hugs after the service, we had to do the awkward missionary stand there and take it, but it was really cute.  It was a great time.
That was definitely the highlight of the week, we are working with some other people, had the final Ukraine visa trip on friday, and then are now a little full with the transfer going on and everything again- can't believe we're already back to that time.  We sent off the group going home last night and so had a late night (you might be getting a visit for the Stevens..a senior couple that just came home, just fyi- they are great people from Morgan as well) and then our exercise this morning was to take a lil jog to the train station and help a big incoming group from Saratov.  Good times, funny lil memories.
Anyways, it's all going great, hope that you all have a great week and thanks for all the prayers. they are felt that's for sure.

Elder Nielson

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Elder Nielson's week

Good mornin fam!
Well we have had a good week this week, glad to hear that things are going good on the home front and hope you all had a good time there in big St George. Looks like you had a good time, thanks for the sweet videos and pics, those are definitely the highlight of the week and it was fun to hear all of your stories this week...
Anyways, things are going pretty good around here. The big news you are all waiting for is with our investigator...things are going great with her. Basically she left the city and just thought things over and we met on Friday...basically she apologized and everything and is saying that she just wasn't quite ready yet and she was kinda "outside" of herself. Honestly we were super bummed after our last meeting but we honestly felt fine because she still had a testimony and everything, and turns out when we met Friday things are just fine. She even got a hold of our branch president and then came with us on Saturday to a baptism of a kid here in Samara which was really good for her. She made friends with another lady and it was a really good service and things and I think that she feels really good. Anyways, we are just going to keep working with her and getting her to feel that she is ready. She also came to church yesterday and stayed all three hours- we watched the big missionary/member missionary broadcast during second and third hour and I think it was a great thing for her to watch and feel the power of the apostles and prophet as well as see the support and love that is throughout the world for the church and it's members. That was awesome to watch, it is always a good reminder that the church is still true and functioning. But it was a great message and I hope that everybody is finding ways to help others be blessed by the gospel. That was way exciting to see and hear.
As far as other things go, things are going pretty well and just scootin’ right on along. We had a good couple of days on exchanges earlier in the week- we went out to Tol'yatti and honestly it's been way fun to just try and get everyone as pumped and working as hard as they can. It's been pretty fun, we have a ton of new missionaries that have come out over the last few transfers and so I always pick to be with that one and we always see a lot of cool things happen. Unfortunately, working with the younger companion we get the days without lessons, but it's ok because we just go out and find people and the Lord blesses us a ton with that. It's been a really good time.
In our area we have been working with quite a few other people- honestly the progress moves pretty slow with a lot of people just because they are pretty difficult to get meetings with but it has been really fun to see some great things going on in our area. As far as Dany boy goes, we have had a hard time getting a hold of him, but he is still around, just so you know. Turns out he's been in the middle of moving and so that has made it a lil’ difficult to get in touch. Anyways, just some random little side notes.
Well, we got a good week ahead and I got the final visa trip to Ukraine coming up- woo hoo...a lot of airplane food and sweating in an airport. haha But it's always fun to think a little bit and it always feels like I am coming back on my mission again as a new missionary when we fly back into Samara. Good memories.
Anyways, hope you all have a good week and we'll be looking forward to hearin’ from you this next week. Love you all.
Elder Nielson