Monday, October 28, 2013

[His letter is so short, so I will add a couple of comments. First, we were online at the same time early this morning and he said this Sasha had just arrived and so he snapped a picture (attached). Also, yesterday was such a special day for us as we went to hear Elder Taylor speak (I’ll include a couple of pictures from going over to his house in Mountain Green, UT – just a few miles from Snowbasin). Elder Taylor and Elder Nielson were companions twice, first as very new missionaries, and then later they were together for 10 months serving as assistants to the mission presidents. What an awesome report and these two are nearly twins! It was so funny to have him come up to Sarah and Tanner and basically know everything about them! What a treat it was for us]
Well, so as you see, we are in a little bit of a rush, Sasha showed up here at the office (we usually meet with people here, it's just convenient and really nice). He could only meet right now so we are ending p day a lil’ early.
He is basically the highlight of the week, it has been such a joy to be helping him progress in the gospel. We had met with him about two weeks ago and he had some concerns about the difference between just science and religion and the way things have come about. Finally last night on our meeting he told us that he has changed from this thinking of just science being the only thing, to now being able to find answers on his questions and believing in God. You can see in his eyes that he is just happy. He already lives by all of the commandments and is just excited for his baptism on the 9th of November.
 Anyways, we are praying our guts out and he is going to be a blessing to the church here in Russia.

Besides that, things are going great, we are happy and healthy! Loving the mission!
Elder Nielson
Elders Nielson and Whittermore with investigator
Little Tanner and Sarah (Chris' siblings enjoying some of the Russian hats Elder Taylor brought back)
The family enjoying a visit with Elder Taylor.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Good morning everybody-
Things are going good around here, just keepin’ up the work and we have had probably the best week of my mission and have found so many great people!
We basically had a clean week this past week to just do some finding and teaching...and the baptizin’ is comin’ soon! Stay tuned...anyways, we have been able to see how the Lord really does go on our right and our left- the most important thing is that we are moving somewhere and relying on Him!
Like I said we spent a lot of time on the streets, but have found some sweet people, which we got some meetings with and I think I've recited the first vision about a hundred times, and at the end of the week we pulled out our planners and tallied up our lessons to find that we by far taught more lessons this week than any other week of my mission. We especially had the chance to meet and teach a kid named Sasha- he wanted to hear about the Bible because he hadn't read it before but wanted to. Anyways, he is just the most humble seeker of truth- he's 19 and a DJ! Anyways, he readily accepted a baptismal date for the 9th of November and had a good experience at church yesterday (even though he worked all night and got off at 8 in the morning) and just loves the Book of Mormon and I lent him my Bible. It's so refreshing to be around him and we have been praying super hard for him.
This is something that I have learned this week that has contributed to many good things happening and the blessing of meeting and teaching him- the simple blessing of prayer. There's a quote that we as members of the church we often live far below our privileges that are granted to us by the Lord. I think that us as missionaries fall into that category, and I have definitely lived far below my privileges to call upon our Heavenly Father for help. It doesn't mean that I haven't prayed, but I definitely have underestimated the fact that we are able to speak to our Heavenly Father as a man speaks with his friend and the ability to have Him open the windows of heaven and pour His spirit upon us. Who wouldn't want that? I have seen that as we have done that, faith has turned into confidence in the fact that He is with us, that we will meet prepared people, that we will know what to say, and in the fact that we are representatives of His one and only true church here on the earth. It isn't just some psychological game that many people attribute it to be, it is in fact the power of the Holy Ghost that has the ability to change lives of any person on the earth and confirm eternal truths in our hearts. Truth being that Heavenly Father and His Son came to Joseph Smith, that Thomas Monson is a prophet, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. It's a great blessing to be a missionary.
Love you all, have a good week!
Elder Nielson

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hey family!
Well thanks for all the good letters and the birthday wishes! You’re all the best, we definitely had one to remember yesterday. I will tell you about it...
First off, we had a good week of going to these zone trainings with president that were more of a mini zone conference that were just for the morning hours and a little into the afternoon to help with some training and get everybody pumped! It was really fun, we had some good things happen on the way. On Wednesday, we were here in Samara and had a fun afternoon- I was with an Elder Bucanov and we found a kid that was on his way to take a test and then was willing to meet. The first thing he said was "I need to repent." Man we were so excited! So we met with him, had a restoration lesson, invited him to baptism and he accepted and it was just awesome. We were on "bro hug" basis by the end of the lesson. Unfortunately, the next night, I called him and had a twenty minute phone call after he had said that it wasn't for him after reading the Book of Mormon. I was stumped, heart break hotel! But we keep movin’ on! It was a cool experience though, just too bad we couldn’t move forward. Anyways, had a lot of other good things, and then a great day yesterday!
So, we got up and had a good ol' bowl of cereal for the birthday breakfast and did a little contacting on our way to the branch building. We ended up getting to watch conference for birthday church! Russians love their birthdays, so Svyetlana came to church with a nice tie for me and things, and even Natasha that we had taught a year ago came to church with a present from her and Masha with a big card that Masha painted! Good memories. Usually we watch conference in English but I decided to sit in on the Russian translation for my last time and that was so cool to be with my Russian friends- we had a bunch of members from both branches here in Samara (they usually combine to watch conference) and so I got to be with them. It was a really touching day to sing hymns with them and feel their faith in the apostles and prophets. Anyways, after conference we had to help pick up the chairs and things, and when we came down stairs, Svyetlana and a bunch of other members had written little messages and put them in balloons and had "Happy Birthday Elder Nielson" written on a chalk board and everyone was in the room and sang me happy birthday. Man- of course my Nielson blood kinda cringed at that, but it was the best birthday ever. We got a picture, don't worry momma I just don't have it right now. Anyways, that was really cool. Basically we left from that and had a lesson and then the rest of the day and the whole night just pounding the streets and finding and teaching people the gospel on the streets! It was the best- I'll always remember that birthday. And we did find some good people by the way.
Well, things are just great. I love my mission in Russia, hope you all have a good week!
Elder Nielson
PS here is our birthday party last night with our birthday hats!- nothing tops off a long day like a bowl of cereal and this granola stuff they have here with some yogurt! I can't even express how happy that hat makes me every time I see it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Good Monday to everybody!
Good to hear from you all this week, good things goin on all over the world it sounds like!  Ha we had a pretty good week this week with the closing out of transfers and just keeping that all going and then just doing some good, raw missionary work around these parts.  Doesn't get much better than that!
Of course, the biggest thing is missin Elder Taylor around here. it is weird- feels like we were friends all through high school and stuff and there were just a lot of jokes made this week that nobody laughed at...I guess lookin at each other for a year made us have a few of those.  Anyways, just kinda made me have a lot of thoughts about my own mission and the reality of the time restrictions- I definitely love the mission.
So, we had a few good meetings this week and unfortunately haven't been able to get a hold of the miracle man Sergei and a couple others.  However, we have had a couple of sweet experiences.  First, we have a kid named Dimitri that wants to quit smoking and considered himself an athiest, but feels the spirit when we pray.  He loves it and it has strengthened my testimony of prayer so much and the power and influence of the Holy Ghost on somebody.  Last night we had a lesson with an older man named Aleksander that just went a little off for the first little bit but after settling him down for a minute we finally got around to the first vision- there wasn't necessarily some loud spirit that was there when we told him the first vision, but it was so interesting to watch as he changed and was willing to listen, then accept a baptismal date afterwards once we had told the first vision.  The Holy Ghost is real and acts upon people and changes them!  I've had my testimony grow so much of this as I have seen these things happen.  It's the kinds of things that you always hear about...but Heavenly Father gave us the opportunity to see it happen!
Anyways, things are just goin good and we got some great weeks ahead of good work!  Have a good week!
Elder Nielson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

(Just an update...In the past couple of weeks Elder Nielson's homecoming date has been up in the air.  We were given permission to talk briefly on the phone just the other night so Elder Nielson could tell us what had been decided between him and his mission president.  After all is said and done, Elder Nielson will be arriving home on December 18th!  We can hardly wait!)
Hey family-
Emailing is a little boring after being able to just talk for a second! Just kidding, it was good to get all of that out of the way and just focus now on what we got. Anyways, it was good to hear all your happy little voices there!
We're already back to transfer Monday- can't believe it. We had quite the last couple days with Elder Taylor and with him heading home and coming through our apartment. Because of travel and things he had to come in a day early and so we had a couple of days to do some work together and meet together with some members and converts that we have grown to love. It was a fun couple of days and then at about 1 this morning, they took off to the airport! You gotta be looking for a call from him in the next couple of days- I hope it's alright that I gave him your info. Hope it hasn't changed! Or that I remembered correctly! Haha… anyways, we went out on a bang for him by going on all the busses and public transports that we could find and "dan jones" style preach the gospel. He was pretty sad to leave and it was sad to see him go, but I guess that's a good thing. As he said, "we'll see each other way too soon."
We had a good week like I said down in Saratov and here in our area. I had one experience that I wanted to share- while down there in Saratov. I was with Elder Davydov from Kiev and on a lesson with a woman that they had been teaching forever. She's way awesome, just hasn't really had something click and is just "busy" like most people are. Anyways, after lots and lots of meetings, it seemed that on this meeting she finally allowed Elder Davydov to explain the value of reading the Book of Mormon (don't know how that's been missed...) and she really understood, but then said how she just doesn't understand everything that is written there. This is where I jumped in and just shared my experience when I was 15ish years old and President Hinckley gave us the 100 day challenge and for some reason I decided to read it. I finished by the end of the year, definitely didn't understand anything, but had just felt that it was true. I don't even recall a magical Moroni 10:3-5 moment, just with time I knew it was true without understanding anything in particular. Anyways, I shared that and she just looked at me and said, "I'm going to read the book every day now. I don't know what you said, but it convinced me to read it." she went off about how they have been meeting for over 6 months now and almost arguing even at times to try and teach her the message, but for some reason she legitimately (and since then has been reading) promised to read every day. Obviously, we know that it was the Holy Ghost that convinced her and that touched her heart. In Preach My Gospel, there's a quote from Brigham Young that says (paraphrased) "I could hear a man explain the Book of Mormon with the most eloquence and beautiful words, but if I heard a simple man simply say that he knows the Book is true by the Holy Ghost, I would be convinced..." something like that, you'll have to find it. Anyways, I for the first time was a personal witness of the divine power that comes from a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I personally didn't really feel anything when I shared my experience, but I was very humbled because as soon as she said that, I knew where the real power had come from. I am grateful to represent my Savior and help people to feel of His power which is from the Father, through the Holy Ghost. We are given no better tool than the Book of Mormon not only for doing His work but also in combating against the adversary. I challenge you all to use it!
Love you all-
Elder Nielson