Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello Family and Friends!

First of all some housekeeping items. I have been getting all your DearElder.com letters except one day July 14th when they had some sort of fluke and the letters sent to me got put in someone else's box. So...it works and I love them! Keep them coming! Also, thank you for all the packages and just so everyone knows...I like Sour Patch Kids...just saying.

Anyway, this week has been a roller-coaster ride but so amazing. So in my last email I told you about our investigator named Maria. She's a young mother in her twenties with a two-year old daughter named Abby (this is really our teacher Hermana Arroyo but she plays the part of an investigator she baptized on her mission). Our first time meeting her was on a COMPLETELY FAILED door approach. So, for our second time meeting her I memorized this long phrase in Spanish basically saying that we have evidence that God and Jesus Christ live (as I held up the Book of Mormon) and that if she read and pondered it she could know for herself that it is true. She let us in and we taught her about the restoration. The Spirit was so strong and I was able to say exactly what I wanted to say to her in Spanish which was amazing. At the end of the lesson I felt impressed to give her the baptismal challenge and to my surprise she said yes! For the first time, I felt the joy I would feel when my brothers and sisters in Mexico have that desire to be baptized. I was so happy. I couldn't stop smiling.

I love this gospel and this work. My goal as a missionary is to be effective the moment I step off the plane in Mexico. I pray every night that I will be able to accomplish this goal. Already I have seen miracles. As of the last 1 1/2 to 2 weeks I have taught all my lessons without a script and the language comes. I have been able to memorize D&C 4, the baptismal challenge, the missionary purpose, and the first vision in Spanish. I read in my Spanish scriptures every day and I am able to comprehend so much more every day. I am also able to understand 90% of what the investigators say during our lessons. The more I think about it, the more I feel happy and joyful. It feels so good to know that I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be, doing exactly what the Lord wants me to be doing. It isn't always easy and I feel nervous and anxious a lot, but I know that if I work my hardest to learn and remain humble and teachable that the Lord will make up the rest for me.

So Question Time

1) District Leader: Last Tuesday I fasted for my district with the hopes that something would happen that would help us grow closer. After the devotional I felt prompted to change our meeting into a testimony meeting. The Elders bore such powerful testimonies of this gospel. They all said that is has transformed them into something they never thought they could be. They also said how much they look up to me as an example and that they were grateful that I am the leader. That meant so much to me. Every week I lose inhibition and I try to move my district closer to perfection in studying and being obedient. I always try to lead by example but it was nice to hear that they appreciate the work I do. I always tell them not to waste a moment of their mission. I don't want anyone in my district to feel regrets about their missions. So, we work hard. We study our brains out to the point that we are physically and mentally exhausted at the end of each day. But it is so worth it. We are blessed with the Spirit. We are beginning to understand the work that Heavenly Father wants us to do. And we are growing closer.

2) Provo Temple: The Provo Temple has not been open since I've been here because it's being cleaned and rennovated. I get to go on my next P-Day though! I'm so excited. I miss the temple a lot.

3) Funny Story: One of our teachers (Hermana Castillo) served her mission in Salta, Argentina and was telling our district about how she was making chocolate milk for herself and the three other sisters living with her. To make a long story short, a MASSIVE cockroach fell into the milk and she had mixed it up and all the sisters drank the milk. This was in addition to a massive spider that they baked into their brownies and that they all had lice at the time. For some reason this was really funny to me. I know that in Mexico I'll probably have a lot of war stories to tell about food, insects, rodents, being mugged (everyone that has served in the area has assured me this will happen at least once), but I am not afraid of it. I'm actually sort of excited. Weird huh?

Anyway, this week my companion and I taught TRC which is basically teaching family-home-evening style lessons to members of the church that volunteer and come in. We taught an elderly man named Brother Hinckley who served his mission in Mexico (back then it was only one mission) and another  recently returned missionary from Mexico. The Spirit was SO strong in those lessons. We taught how the first vision of Joseph Smith is a perfect example of how to pray. Question, Study, Ponder, Make a Decision for Yourself, Act on that Decision, and then God promises an answer. I love Joseph Smith. I love all the sacrifices he made for this church and to bring so much truth and light back into a world that was sitting in darkness and confusion. Before I left for my mission, I remember standing at Carthage Jail in Illinois thinking how proud I was to be LDS. How excited I was to serve a mission. Even though it will be hard and there will be so much opposition, I know that there are brothers and sisters and friends of mine that are waiting for me.

Elder Davis: Elder Davis is doing great! He's increased his desire to study better which makes me happy and we are truly starting to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses. He got a letter yesterday that his newly born niece had a heart condition and that she was being treated with surgery in the hospital. Please keep that baby in your prayers. I love Elder Davis. Sometimes his farting and other things get annoying but I know there is a reason that we are companions, I have something to learn from him and the Spirit he carries.

If you ever need any comfort, read 3 Nephi 11 and 3 Nephi 17. I love those chapters. Well, my time is almost up. I want to bear my testimony. I know God lives. I know Jesus Christ died for me. Sometimes I don't know why but he did. He loves me perfectly and has lifted me up with so much mercy and grace that I can't even describe it. This work is true. Don't be afraid to open your mouths and share this beautiful message with others. It is hard and scary but so worth it. I love the Spirit in the MTC. I know we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. I'm grateful for all of you. For your letters and your support. Thank you so much.

Elder Nielsen

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