Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Last Stand

Hi family!
Well, it's a little bit bitter sweet to be writing home now.  It's been quite the ride the last couple weeks, and years I guess.  Sorry about missing last week, we had a pretty intense couple of weeks working down in Saratov working with the companionships down there.  Man I love that place so much.  I guess to give you a heads up of plans for the next little bit i'll write that in so that you aren't surprised by anything:  this week i'm going to head out to Penza and do a couple days of work out there and head back on Saturday, then be here for my last Sunday in Samara (ouch) and jump on a train back to Saratov that night with Elder Glavatski.  we're basically just going to do round two of what I just did, except this time it will be two of us rather than a three sum.  We'll be there for a week, then next Monday (16th of December) we'll jump a train back to Samara, work that day (Tuesday) in Samara and then the middle of the night take off to the airport...pretty weird to write that.  What I mean is that I think president will give me a chance to write a quick message to you this weekend, but this could be the last email time.  sorry that took so long to explain, wanted it to be clear.  We'll try to keep the tears back...
So, that being said- there isn't a ton to write about.  There was lots of contacting and pretty tiring work down in Saratov- it was such a blast though.  Just raw missionary work.  Definitely can't replace that!  I just headed down and worked with a different companionship each day, then get up a lil early the next day and head to the next companionship and work with them.  Thanksgiving was riding in the car back to Samara, which was sweet and some sick work that night in Samara!  It was fun to give all the missionaries a little bit of a pump up every night and things, I guess you don't really understand what it feels like to be coming to the end after two years. 
I guess all of that "information" out of the way, I would just like to write a little bit of a wrap up because I don't think i'll get that chance again-  I think probably the biggest blessing that I have seen was to just be standing in the branch yesterday with my friend Sasha and just chat, then to have heard he received the aaronic priesthood yesterday.  I think that is what I have worked for the last couple years to have happen- I can't really explain the kind of brotherly love that we have.  That moment for me was the period mark to the last two years to look back upon some of my favorite memories in my entire life and some good sweat with gratitude for the gift that my Heavenly Father has given me to be a missionary and represent Jesus Christ.  Don't worry- I am not giving up when I say that it is the period mark because there is a lot of work to still be done.  However, the term that I have been granted to represent Jesus Christ in a specific area has been the greatest two years of my life.  I am grateful for the confirimations that I have received of the divinity of this work, that starting from the time that God the Father and Jesus Christ came to Joseph Smith and began this last "harvest" in his vineyard to this time, Heavenly Father has been in the details of bringing his children back to the fold and fulfilling his promises.  The Book of Mormon testifies and teaches us of this, anybody that will read that book will be immediately blessed in their lives.  There is no greater tangible, physical gift that we have from Heavenly Father besides our families.  There is definitely no greater work than this- and even better that it is not just a work to make people live better lives (although it does that)- it is to allow us to achieve eternal life with our families.  I can't really imagine what that will be like.  Of course, it is all made possible because of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The reality of his sufferings for me personally have become much more real as i have been able to stand where he would stand, try to love people like he would, be made fun of maybe a little bit as people would have mocked him, and taken a couple steps that he would have for my Russian friends.  I love my Savior, he has been with me all the way.  We have a pretty cool blessing to remember his birth together as a family pretty soon. 
Sure love you all family, I'll be happy to hear from you, but if not, we'll see you later!
Elder Nielson
ps here is a little shot from today- we ran all around the area to get some pictures- I realized  I didn't have many of my area! Great snow today!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Church in Russia

The following is the wonderful story of the Church in Russia.  What a wonderful thing to be a part of this work in this prepared land!!

So much to do, so little time!

Elder Nielson has been travelling a lot these past few weeks and knew he would probably miss emailing this past week.  I thought I would post some great pics in its place...Enjoy!

 Sasha's baptism!


Elder Nielson's efficient way of eating...make a big "vat" of rice and meat once a week and eat it all week long!
Hey fam!
Sorry about last week- I promise that I wanted to get a good report written up for ya, but it just kinda didn't work out. Gotta love them transfers!
First and foremost- as far as the last transfer goes for me, I didn't get one. But we have some good plans for this upcoming cycle. We ended up with an odd number of elders and so since we just had a lot of things going, it didn't make much sense to leave for a few weeks. However, we needed some new blood in here and so I am currently in a three-some- kinda funny! Anyways, Elder Davydov came up and will be with Elder Whittemore and I'm just kinda the third wheel here to work in this area and go out on exchanges with our driver. We are especially focused on beefing up Saratov a little bit (trying to get things going to create a Stake!) and so I'm taking off in about a half an hour here to go and work down there for the next several days. Because of that- I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be able to write home next week...sorry momma...
But, we have had a good week around here. We were kind of in rebuild mode after having transfers and zone conferences that made us have to be working in different areas and things and so we had a lot of working on the streets just building up the pool to work with. Gotta do the time to do the crime! So, we had some fun little successes with that. Definitely affirmed my theory that it doesn't matter if it's 32 degrees or -32 degrees….it gets pretty cold after a few hours of walkin’ around and standing and talking! It's still pretty mild, but definitely not warm right now!
Anyways- it's been a good week with Sasha. Unfortunately he hurt his back at work and so wasn't able to make it to church to get the Aaronic Priesthood. Just a little side note- I'm not sure if I had said this earlier but he works all night on Saturday and gets off at 8:00 in the morning and still comes to church on Sunday at 10:00. Pretty cool. Luckily he got "raised up" this week and in a couple of weeks will not have to work at night and not work at all on Sundays! Blessings! Anyways- we had a great meeting on Saturday with him and taught him about the priesthood and he is just ready and things to continue progressing in the gospel. I know I already said this to mom and maybe Sarah- but he is just such a treat to be around. With a lot of these members (especially priesthood holders) it is almost baffling to try and think where they come from. The Russian people are great and things, but guys like Sasha that are in our branches are just a different breed and for some reason the gospel just makes sense. It is so evident when somebody has the blood of Israel in them!
Well, besides that we are just working- truckin’ to the end as those mudflaps told you, dad! It is such a blessing to be a missionary and have the name of Jesus Christ on my chest and testify of him every day. I love my mission.
Love you all, have a good week! Don't forget to read and pray!
Elder Nielson