Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011 (I LOVE THE FINLAND!!!!!!)

Dearest Family,

WOW! What a week. God really has just dumped out his tender mercies. I only have like 17 minutes to type this email so I don't know how much I will get shared, but if I don't just remind me :D What a joy it was to be with Ville Jäkkö. A tender memory of Jyväskylä. God knows how much I love speaking finnish so for this past week straight he gave me the oppurtunity to speak nothing but finnish and serve alongside a wonderful young man who's heart was touched by missionary work. It was a powerful week. Ville at one of our last meetings with a member or an investigators spent 5 or so minutes just testifying about how excited he was to serve a mission because of the love he felt. He shared some pretty personal things with me about his own conversion earlier in the week. He felt the Love God had for his children even on the street, and even when they didn't always say yes :) haha It was a sweet joy to see the Light that missionary work brought to this wonderful future missionary. We were able to see some pretty good miracles this week. We gave a blessing to an older lady who had been having back problems, She stood up in testimony meeting and testified abotu the priesthood and the blessings in her life. She was a great! Testimony meeting was powerful!

We had 5 investigators there and total of 33 people... So subtracting us 3 missionaries makes it an even 30.... 1/6 of the people at church this last week are investigating and coming closer to baptism. We taught the class in Pyhä koulu... sunday school and commited 2 investigators to baptism right on the spot. It was such a wonderful week here. I really can't even begin to describe how much of a tender mercy has been for me!

I had to spend about a half hour of my 1 hour of email time today writing a departing message.. I'll past it in for you if you would like:

Dearest Finland Helsinki Mission,

We are lucky to be in such a wonderful mission at such a marvolous time of growth. I see missionaries coming in so prepared to serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. I couldn't be more happy. Finland is very dear to my heart, and has been a place of joy, and growth for me. So I would like to share a couple quick thoughts.

"As we share the gospel, we appreciate how precious and maningful it is to us, and we feel greater love for God and others" (PMG 84) Pitäähän paikkansa! I belive that is because as we are focusing on others with all our heart, we can't focus on ourselves, thus bring the true peace which passeth all understanding (Phil 4:7)

Jesus Christ said it this way "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt 10:39)

God has helped me understand His plan and His will for all of His children, that knowledge makes me happy! Seeing conversion has been one of the greatest joys of my mission. The Light that comes into an investigators eyes as they repent and begin living the laws of God is something worth about a thousand times more that all the hours of work it took to find that particular investigator. (2 Tim 2:10) God wants His children to repent and be baptized so they can return to Him (2 Nephi 9:23)

God Lives, Joseph smith is the palautuksen profeetta. The Book of Mormon and the spirit are our 2 greatest tools for conversion. God loves you and knows your situation. Jesus Christ is my Reedemer... I really have never been more happy in all my life! I LOVE FINLAND!

Love:n kanssa... eiku... rakkaudella,

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

We have a crazy schedule today haha I don't know if I am going to get packed in time. We have to leave today because we are going to kuopio to help teach a family there. I haven't done any packing because well... I was focusing elsewhere. SO... we shall see if my few hours I set aside to pack will be enough to make weight and get everything folded nicely. This past week has been so great... it really has.

As for all your questions. Sure if the stake presidency can't get there I will do that... They are my leaders :D!(He can't be released until Saturday afternoon, as the Stake president is away at a Laurel training camp) I would follow them where ever they wouold have me go! Maybe you could get a hold of the missionaries in the area and I can spend my friday with them doing work because I know that the techology stuff might be a temptation! lol. Just put me to work. I would actually really enjoy working with them for a day... I don't know how possible that his, but I know that if mom can figure out how to get to president browns homecoming she can line up this ;D

As for the calling... I don't know about that. I have those numbers, I'll ask my president If I can call. If I can I will, if not 7 hours really isn't too much time... especially being surrounded with a few of my favorite missions is a city that desperately needs help! SUPERMAN TO SAVE DAY ;) maybe we'll go fight crime or something! The Food... I trust that whatever mom makes is just wonderful. Dad's dutch oven potatoes and peach cobbler are something that sounds ohh so tasty.

I love life.. I really do. Missionary work has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever been a part of. Well... we better get going haha we have a teach in 10 minutes lol! Have a wonderful week!

Love you family,

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 1, 2011 (Mini missionary, Round 2 :))

Dearest Family,

I LOVE JYVÄSKYLÄ!!! haha and guess what! Ville Jäkkö from Jyväskylä is coming to Joensuu to be our "Mini-Missionary" for a week! I don't remember how much I shared about the Jäkkö family while I was there in Jyväskylä, but Victor was one of my favorite youth there. He took Elder Slade and I out to eat some Kebab a couple times. He is a stud! His cousins live in las vegas and a couple summers ago he went there to visit for a while. He LOVES walmart and how cheap root beer is in america haha (Here it is like 2 euros a can.. bluh!) He is crazy hyper and really a big ball of fun. I think it is going to be a very fun week. A little blessing from heavenly father... He knows how much I love being around finns and learning how to speak finnish better. I am not going to lie I AM STOKED! Ville is the man! When we got the letter I was actaully in shock, because last year there were only about 1/4 of the missionary companionships who were able to have a mini missionary, so I figured it would be a 1 time experience. It was a wonderful week last year. Then to get Victor one of my favorite finns. It is like mana from heaven. Elder perry is in for a treat!

This last week has been great. We have been doing a lot more finding and the tender mercies of the Lord are without bounds. It really humbles me to think of all the things he arranges in a simple day, or even a block of finding. We met a lady who had just lost her husband (avomies actually), She was so humbled by the death. She had never really thought about life after death, she didnt' understand the Plan of Salvation. She was humbled and so she listened, she was blessed greatly for listening and I know she will continue to be blessed! We met a ton of people just back to back. We were actually talking to another man when we met this lady haha so I finished talking to the man really quick haha it was great. Sometimes I think we take the knowledge we have been blessed with for grantide (spelling?) We really are blessed to know both the plan of salvation and the message of the restoration. As people though it is easy to look past the mark, I know I do it too often. Elder Perry and I taught the combined lesson for relief society, YM/YW, and preisthood this week (so it was just like everyone stayed seated after sacrament meeting haha I love small wards!) We taught about missionary work of course. It really hit me as we were teaching how much we know. We watched the restoration and afterwards asked them to share the blessings they have had from the one boys prayer. They shared tons of good things, but one in particular hit me, Peace. He said "Peace knowing that I am in line with god's will, peace knowing that Christ died for me" (or something like that) and I really can say that Peace is the thing I am most grateful for.. The thing I have seen again and again on my mission. The tender mercies of the Lord are so abundant... the peace he grants is something that you cannot get from the world, and yet something the world so desperately needs. I think that is the underlying theme of missionary work. Peace comes from obedience to God!

President Brown :D I love that man! haha he has a story or two! I was blessed to be around him for 2 years and just bask in all his stories and wisdom. He is a man who just understands the atonement, and how to apply it to life... I think that is why he is so happy. One time he said something I really like he said "the atonement has to be applied daily, becasuse if there isn't daily applicaiton of the atonement it has no value to us eternally" I'm telling you... president brown is a good one! YOU SAW THE SHARPS AND JONES'S?!?!? Lol I love both their sons! I don't know if I have told you this, but Elder Sharp is one of my favorite companions... and Elder Jones is my favorite district leader... He's a good one.

Alright funny things from this week... HAHA ELDER PERRY! Lol, I feel like I am serving with a brother. He is great. We are getting along pretty well. I told you about how he fell into stinging nettle right? haha he is still recovering from the iching wounds it left... It has been almost two weeks now... maybe it wasn't just stinging nettle. We have been doing some serious contacting and tracting, and we have met some pretty interesting... people. We had a guy invite us back after tracting into him to sit there and try and bible bash like 2 hours.. thing is that he would let us talk... or leave... and when we simply testified he didn't like that because he wanted us to bash. It was a patience growing experience... lol I'll have to tell you the whole story when I can do my interpretation of "the gift of toungue", haha just kidding... I probably shouldn't have typed that... too late now.. I only have a few minutes left :D Life is good and the work is fruitful! I love all the range of people we meet. I really wouldn't trade any of these experience for the world. Remind me to tell you all about Momad (our investigator who moved just barely) He has a great heart! Our investigators are great!

I don't know how much I have shared aboout the Turuset because the whole situtation is sensitive, but they are a couple children (ages 9 and 11) whose mother is a member, and father is against the church. I learned a little bit about what it means to be childlike. We talked with different investigator about mosiah 3:19 because his reading commitment was chapters 2-5. It just came to my mind actually as I was typing and thinking about what I want to tell you this week. The situation was that the dad had to leave for something and the children and the mom had an extra half an hour in the city. The mom says "kids what do you want to do?" As a kid I would have answered... "ICE CREAM" but, these two kids are very childlike. They said, mom can we go meet with the missionaries. I believe very strongly it is because childlike people are sensitive to the spirit. They long for connectiion with God. They understand and can see with clear eyes (apostle Paul's phrase)

This is mos 3:19-21... often we don't read the 2 verses after this scripture mastery scripture...

19For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchild, ksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
20And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the aknowledge of a bSavior shall spread throughout cevery nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found ablameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

Childlike people are the ones who make it back to God's presence... Childlike after the age of 8 means that we repent and have faith on the name of the savior. That is why Alma commanded that nothing should be preached save it be "faith and repentance" So my commitment (slash personal quest) is that each of us become a little more childlike every single day!

Thanks family, sorry I didn't throw in a little more funny stories... I just really wanted to share that thought :D Thanks for the wonderful emails! Thanks for being so great! I am glad you love president Brown, and I am glad that dad agrees that rocky is a man's dog :D


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011 (Finland... soo beautiful!)

Dearest Family,

A POODLE?!?! ohhh noo... haha well... That is ok... I still have Rocky :D lol I do hope that you enjoy the new poodle whenever you pick it up! Sounds like a fun adventure for you all. fun fun fun. I hope that you are all just loving this summer! Wow, it is nice and toasty here. Finland is quite likely one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love it here. The heat is pretty intense though, I don't know if it is just because the winter here turned my whole body to hibernate mode or what, but when it gets up to 85-90 degrees I feel like I am just about to burn up and die. Life is wonderful here though, the past couple days have been nice and breezy I love it!

This week was great. We were in Joensuu for the entire week that made it nice. I do love our investigators, but sadly we are going to have to drop some this week because of lack of keeping commitments and for other various reasons. We shall see how all goes. It has been incredible being here in Joensuu to see how many people the Lord places in our path. We Have yet to go a week as far I as I can remember here without finding a new investigator, some weeks have been just insane how many new investigators. We are working with Wuru and Yinsi, but we don't feel like they are quite ready for their baptisms, so we are going to wait on those and see. They are very good, but I think not having a christian background has been a big obstacle for them. They have come soo far... They are great and we had a super powerful lesson with Wuru. The kind of lesson were everythign just clicks and you can see them get enlightened I LOVE IT! haha sorry It's like i'm reporting to my mission president not my family right now... I'll think of family stories.

We had a couple Elders over for splits again. We had a good day, did good work and it was funny, we had a service project lined up for the evening (the member needed help trimming down his fence/bush thing) So we all 4 get there, and no one was home. We thought about it, and decided we know what needs to be done so lets just do it. So we did. We scavenged around and founded the needed equiptment and got to work. I thought we did a very good job (My daddy taught me well) While we were doing the project though Elder Perry fell into a bush, I don't know what it was, either poison oak or stinging nettle, but it got his legs pretty good. Luckily we had a swede with us who knew how to handle these nordic kinds of problems. All is well! Also, he had a ton of red currant berry bushes, so we treated ourselves to some delicious berries as we worked! He called us and was grateful that we didn't even though he wasn't there so it all worked out!

We have been working with one investigator for quite some time, he couldn't be baptized because he doesn't have residency. He had to transfer out of Joensuu last week. It was a pretty sad day for us, but It was a neat experience to see what the gospel has and will continue to accomplish in his life. I will talk more about him someday with you because I can't go into too many details! :D I love him though.

Alright I think that is all of our not finnish investigators, lets talk about the finns! Tiia is great! Launi is well... a work in progress. Sam is one of my favorites (is it ok to have favorites?) The Turen family is just about the greatest people in the world! Timo makes me laugh. all right I got to stop haha I forgot the name thing lol and that is going to make for a boring blog with just a bunch of random statements haha what can you do?

Fromage, I would love to do that thing on the 16th for the YM and YW lol, It sounds fun! I LOVE FINNISH STUFF! We were at a dinner appointment last week and this lady made the most delicious blueberry pie/cake in the whole world! Whoa! I got the recipe from her... we will see if we can get all that stuff from america. How many YM/YW are going to be there? would it be worth bringing a euoropean chocolate surprise? I love chocolate! I don't think I can get Ice cream to go through the mail... so probably none of that. What things do you think would be good? Is it just going to be about Finland? or are there other missionaries? I guess we can worry about all that later...

I've very excited that you got a hold of president Brown. He is quite the character. I love that man, I'm thinking his talk is going to be pretty intense! I think you should write down the main stories he shares and see which ones I know :D hehe sneaky sneaky. I hope he talks a lot about Finland! He really accomplished a mighty change in the Missionaries here. I doubt he will go into details because he has such a kind heart, but he took this mission from where is was and really taught it how to Love God and be be obedient. In my last email with president Rawlings he shared something that stuck in my head and really was because of president Brown's hard work. He said "the Finland helsinki mission is probably the most obedient mission in the world" haha that is a pretty bold statement... but president brown accomplished miracles!

I have been reading in 2 Nephi and I like a couple verses in chapter 2. verse 25 we hear all the time but I like 24 a TON!

24But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who aknoweth all things.

25aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy.

God created a perfect,precise plan for us. We are where we are for a reason. Circumstances, families, Etc. If we trust him and really learn to love the journey it will all work out for our good!

28And we know that all things work together for agood to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I Love Finland and my Family!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. LOVE LIFE (haha 3 weeks in a row!)

July 18, 2011 (Email # 104...)

Dearest Family,

Whoa, traveling, working, and traveling again. It was a fun, but very travel filled week. We meet some really nice people on our travels. We were given a pretty big challenge just before we left to Helsinki for Elder Perry's kieli koulu by Elder Jones. He challenged us to extend a baptismal commitment on the train. HAHA and we did! lol. It was pretty intense. I do enjoy a good challenge. Elder Perry was super bold as we did it too! I really like him, wow, good elder. Sounds like like all is going well with you all.
WOW!! The Brigham city temple is pretty incredible! I can't believe that they are already putting moroni on top! They announced it while I was in the MTC. The church is pretty much down to business when they announce something. KELSEY IS GETTING MARRIED TO ROSS SUMMERS!?!?! WOW! that is exciting! Tell her congrats from me. Good timing ;) I honestly have no idea on my flights and stuff. I doubt I will know until right before :D I'm sorry, but I can't help there.

We had interviews with President Rawlings, I really like him. I think that if I were to have as much time with him as I did with president Brown they would be tied! That is saying ALOT, President Brown is the man! Haha I love hearing in every email mom's updates on figuring out when his homecoming talk is, because I know that it involves about 10 hours of phone calls every time! hehe just kidding not that much. Good luck! The temple trip was extremely good. I love the Helsinki Temple! Wow. I went with Elder Sharp, Elder Jarvis, Elder Cassity, and a couple sister missionaries sister Rawles and Sister Anderson. I loved talking with Elder sharp again. He really is one of my favorite companions that I have served with. He is great. We have a lot different personalities (Because well... he is a genious... and as you can see I just spelled genius wrong haha) but I felt like we worked well together and just loved life there in Espoo!

Well, in between the traveling all around Finland this last week, we were able to have some really good teaches with investigators, and 4 were in church this week. Good work investigators. They are doing well. I really love teaching them, I learn soo much. We are working with a couple children of a member. The father isn't a member and is very much against the church. We'll have to have a sit down and talk about the whole situation someday, but now is not the appropriate time. It is really neat to see how much the children feel the light of the gospel and how much they really enjoy learning about Christ even though they are fairly young. Our onther investigators are doing well. Tiia is one of my favorite investigators because she is so willing to follow God's will and do what he wants her to do. We haven't had any after prayer prayers lately. haha A new investigator gave a really really nice first prayer. I don't know what it is, but everytime I hear someone's first prayer it really makes me happy. I think it is because they are usually very sincere and from their hearts. They haven't heard prayers all their life so the simple speak what is in their heart, not the vain repetitions that I feel I sometimes tend to fall into. It was awesome!

My thought today comes from a talk that really struck me while I was in Jyväskylä and really helped me align my priorities and help me become more like Christ. I'm pretty sure I have quoted it several times to you, but that is because it is sooo full of good quotes! "The love of God" by Predient Dieter F. Uchtdorf he says:

"Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.

When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden."

I am finishing up the book "Jesus the Christ" and it has really struck me how pure his love was for those around him. He was constantly doing the right things for the right reasons. Sometimes we get caught up doing the right things for the wrong reasons. I have tried to change that in my life, but for a while it was something I just wrestled with trying to man-handle my motives to make them pure. I believe that this is one of many things that can only be fixed as we pray, repent, and change. We can't simply force ourselves to change it. When we pray to be filled with love, repent, and change so we can be filled everything just aligns and our walk as disciple of christ, according to President Uchtdorf, becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden.WHOA!

He goes on "My dear brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you."

Radio said "don't quit, don't never quit" :D I kinda like that motto, The grammar fits me!

Anyways, Thanks for the pictures mom! haha Kyle eating a cactus haha I like him :) I hope that you all have another wonderful week and I hope that you remember how much you all are loved by me!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen


June 27, 2011 (Whew, we made it through change call.)

Dearest Family,
What a fun week it has been here in Joensuu. We have had some pretty intense things going on (as always) and I really enjoy this town. Working with a small ward is fun, but it really breaks my heart to see so few, and the trials they face to be there. There were actually about 40 people in church last week, They are soo faithful. I see all the sacrifices they give to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it makes my heart happy. What a blessing this gospel is, and how humbling it is for me to see some of these Finnish Pioneers make the sacrifices in their lives necessary to follow Jesus Christ, and receive "Peace that passeth all understanding" that is not "as the world giveth" but His peace. WOW!
Wow, President Brown is off to Utah this week. I hope you can make it to his homecoming. Last time I talked with him he didn't have any clue about a homecoming, but if you can find out through your little network of Finnish missionary moms, fromage, I would absolutely LOVE for you two to be there! (Maybe through Elder Quinn's mom, well is Elder quinn still in Jerusalem? I don't know... somehow find out!) haha Is ist possible to bring a tape recorder and record his talk so I can listen to it someday? haha I remember Jake did that at his homecoming or farewell.. lol but if it isn't kosher don't worry about it.
Speaking of cousins going on missions, Tell lance congrats. He is going to be a fantastic missionary. All 7 feet of him. Ohh man I can't wait to see what is in store for him. lol I get giddy when I think of the MTC and the experience I had there. God really molded me and prepared me for Finland.
Alright, the New mission president will be in Finland this week (I think tomorrow, and president Brown leaves on thursday) I will be meeting him on friday, he is flying up to oulu and we are going to take a train for a "meet the new president" meeting. His name is President Rawlings. I feel like I already know him because he is from the same ward as Elder Pace (my 2nd greenie) When we all found out who the new mission president was elder Pace gave me the run-down (well kinda) I'm pretty stoked and I feel that it is going to be a wonderful time. He is coming at a crucial time, we are breaking out of our little shell and really moving the work forward. Around 40 baptismal dates around Finland... Whew... Intense. Lol he is going to be fighting jet lag and is going to be in meeting after meeting after meeting! The Lord will provide!
Elder Perry and I made it through change calls so it looks like he will be my last companion... WIERD. I'm excited for this next change. BONUS ROUND!!! Extensions are sweet. Thank you Ryan for the advice... Let's see what happens :)
It made me laugh when mom told me that two of the 4 trees have a chance of survival. Lol when I found out that the 4 trees I had plucked had all died I also found out from another missionary that plucking trees from nature is illegal, so I resolved that I couldn't send anymore (now it would be a sin because I know the law lol) which leads me to wonder... bishop was the one that said "there elder nielsen is a koivu tree" anyways. Finding out these two things I was kinda bummed out because I couldn't bring myself to go pluck more trees. So that was good good news to hear! tender mercies :) hehe
Dad, that is pretty amazing success story! I like hearing those types of stories of things that just kind of seem to work out as we follow the spirit and do what is right because I have felt that in this work, and it really strengthens my faith. I was listening to a talk entitled "to aquire spiritual guidance" by Elder Richard G. Scott. and he says something pretty interesting in it he says "I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit"
He then goes on and says "I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear."
Ever since I heard that quote and really thought about the power behind it, it has just blown my mind. More certain than your dependence on what you see or hear. God knows how to help us become and it happens as we are on the move, as we willingly listen to that spirit when it prompts us. It isn't that the spirit works for us on our timetable it is more that we are willing to yield to the will of the father and go and do even though it might not be optimal timing for us. Thanks dad for your example!
Life is good and I really am excited about this change with Elder Perry. He is a great elder and it really is fun to see a younger me in the mission. He is great!
I hope that you all are doing well, sounds like you had quite the week. Congrats mom and dad... 29 years being married?!? whoa! I'm glad to hear about oakie, sad, but at the same time he is definentally a dog that likes chasing cows and stuff. Whenever I need a good life I think of the time that oakie chased my lazer pointer for about an hour straight... I thought I was going to give him a heart attack! haha good times! With that said, I am off,
Love you all,
Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen
P.S. You may notice a little larger than average charge on my card (like 50 euros) that is part of "Operation suklaalevyt" pay no mind to it ;D

June 23, 2011 (3 days in Joensuu, 4 elsewhere :()

We had splits this week with Elder Jones (from my MTC group) and Elder Lindén (who is swedish.) They came over to Joensuu and we did work together last friday. It went very well and we all learned a lot. Elder Lindén and I had a ball together. We also saw a ton of miracles. We got a couple new investigators that day and really had some good teaches. We were busy busy busy. I think we had like 4 or 5 teaches together and the other elders had 2 or 3 haha.. We win :) hehe (not that it is a competition or anything) It was pretty funny, Elder Lindén has been in Kuopio for a few changes so he has been to Joensuu a few times. A ward member stayed at his grandparents house in Sweden like 15 or so years ago... small world. Anyways we were at this members house a couple weeks ago and she said "hey, is elder lindén still in kuopio" and I said "Yes ma'am" (well kind of).. and she said "I found some pictures in an drawer that I want you to give to him". Took the pictures home... then the idea came to me... Elder Lindén has no idea these pictures exist... I hung them up on my wall along with some other picture so they would look like they were my family :) Then towards the end of splits we were in for dinner, and I showed him the pictures of my family :D (Insert punch line here.... LOL that's pretty much the story... I thought it was funny :) ) lol just kidding.. then he looked at them and said "hey wait a second that is me"... I said "What?!? no that is my brother kyle and my little sister whitney" he said "oh ok... wait.. no really that is me, I had that same shirt as a little kid" then we laughed.

I guess I'll keep going with stories about Kuopio. So they left friday night, and we went to work just like normal. We were biking to an appointment or something a little further away. We were going along and I see this man and I think to myself "I Think we need to talk to that man" as we biked right past him... I stopped and flip around my bike and start talking with him. Come to find out he is an investigator from Kuopio. He was visiting Joensuu for the weekend. He said to us "Hey I have a couple friends like you in Kuopio" and then we had a really good talk and it just felt good. We were where we needed to be and we talked to the person to Lord prompted us to, even though it was a little awkward to turn around, and chase down a guy we already passed :D We called Kuopio and come to find out they were about to drop him because he wasn't really enthusiastic about meeting and stuff. Well, just before we called this investigator called them and he was stoked about running into us here in Joensuu, and for whatever reason the talk we had made him excited again about meeting :) Pretty cool like happenstance (is that a real word or did I make that up?) It showed me really how simple revelation is. A lot of times we wait for something big or something really profound. But as we are simply out doing what is right and planning by the spirit, the Lord will let us know who we need to talk to and what we need to do. Revelation comes on the move... and alot of the time we think it is our own thoughts, until we look back and see what Heavenly Fahther accomplished through that. We couldn't have known.. but he sure does! This and literally thousands of other little things like this have really strengthened my testimony out here... I LOVE IT!

Dearest Family,

What a fun week it has been. Sad, but President Brown gave us his final discourse. We had our final meeting with that wonderful man. It was a good meeting. It is wierd to be up in the North. We live so far away from Oulu that we had to leave thursday and because of the Broadcast we weren't home until sunday evening. Crazy. Speaking of homecomings (Congrats to trent!) I asked president and Sister Brown about theirs and they said they have no information whether they even have a homecoming. They have kind of a wierd situation because they moved into their new ward a little bit before they left on their mission. If I get any information I'll let you know... I'm pretty sad about that because I was looking forward to you getting to see the man that I wrote about in pretty much every single email home. haha He has really changed my life and giving me a burning desire that has helped me change and become more like the Savior. Just a good good man!

In the little broadcast that was just for the Nordic countries, Per Mahn (70), Sister Beck (relief society), Elder Bednar, and President Eyring spoke. It was really good! Sister Beck's talk was super good, she was talking to the women (but I just applied it to myself haha... and my future wife). She talked about how they need to be a Loiness (I would be a lion) protecting their homes from the advesary. She then talked about prioritizing our time according to 1.Essential things 2. Neccesary things 3. Nice to do things. and she explained what goes in all these catagories. Elder Bednar and President Eyring talked about following the prophet and increasing our faith in the current prophet. They we BOLD haha I loved it. Sounds like you had quite and intense sunday... Busy Busy Busy!

Our investigators are doing well. There are a couple chinese students here who are investigating! We have been working with them and they are now preparing to be baptized on the 23 of July! Whew whew! we shall see how that goes. They are great! It is crazy to teach in english, and to teach people who don't have hardly any background with religion. I'm sure Annie understands a lot better than me of how the people of china are. I actually told them I have a cousin teaching english in China. Haha maybe when annie gets her call she will open china up to missionary work, and these two will be recent converts who will go on teaches with Annie! We shall see.

Sure I can give a talk on the 14th of august... haha That is like 2 days after I get home I think. So you will have to let everyone know when, where, and all that good stuff. Maybe kimberlie could put it on my blog and myspace... but I Still have a long time till that happens. We are still in this change #18, We will worry about #19 when it comes. BONUS ROUND!!!!! This weekend is change calls, I'm almost 100% Elder Perry and I are staying together, but I have been wrong before. Juhannusis this weekend Juhannus is an holiday in which many finns drink :( so we have to come home early and stuff. Crazy finns... I'm debating pulling a dan jones and preaching the Word of Wisdom on a soap box in the middle of town... what do you think?

Life is good and our investigators are doing well. Hey, happy Father's day dad! I'm sorry I didn't even know it was coming up. I don't think they celebrate father's day on the same day here in Finland, wierd! Hope kyle's trip went well, and that everything is going just fine.

We are working with a family, The turt. The mom is a member, but the dad isn't. The children are so great! The dad won't let them come to church or be baptized and stuff like that. So would you keep them in your prayers. The mom is so great and our teaches with them have been great. The father just needs his heart to be softend. We like to keep our lessons very simple and to the point, especially with the kids being there. We did an activity with prayer that turned out pretty well. We bought some candy bars and then we hid them and they were to find the "Happiness" (like eternal life) The lesson had been about praying to God and asking for help. We made sure to explain that for this activity they could ask their mom (haha we didn't want them to really go off and pray to find a hidden candy bar) and she could help, but only if they asked questions. The kids just wandered around for the longest time trying to find it by themselves. Then they final humbled themselves and asked questions and found it a lot faster! I thought of how we kind of are like that often. We, because of pride, don't ask as often as we can and as often as we should. What a privilage it is to be able to have that, but often we live under our privilages because we are too stubborn. It went well I thought. I was scared they would find it without prayer for a little while lol, then our whole teach would have gone down the drain hehe

So, kind of a wierd week here, lots of traveling but lots of good opportunities to learn. I'm going to miss President Brown, but at the same time I am pretty excited to see what it is like to have a different mission president. Katsotaan. Love you all, hope this email isn't too boring ;) Mom, if you could get me the subject of my talk whenever you can so I can think and ponder and have some ideas flowinng through my head, that would be lovely. thanks!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. I'm struggling with spelling, I have to stop and think on every word that is longer than 6 characters... Hopefully i'm guessing mostly right so I don't look too foolish :)

May 23, 2011 (Joensuu... More like russian mafia-ville)

Dearest Family,

Wow... It is pretty intense here I won't lie... we have a lot tighter rules being close to the russian border so it has been an interesting expierience training Elder Perry as I myself am trying to learn this new adendum to stay safe here. HAHA Just kidding, life is great and this place is just about as finnish as it gets. There are no problems being closer to the border... haha mommy you make me laugh! :) life is just hunky dorry... (spelling?)

So I will just give a quick run-down of this place and my new companion. I am in joensuu.. this place almost reminds me of Jyväskylä... not quite as amazing, but I'll put it in my fav-five of my cities I have served in here in Finland. It is pretty, and a super nice summer city. My companions name is Elder Perry and he is from Provo Utah. He is a stud.. and a really down to earth elder, who wants to work really hard! It is awesome! When I found out I would be whitewashing a city again with a greenie it made me laugh, because I made a joke in one of my emails to my mission president after the last whitewash that I think 2 is enough whitewashes for me. I need to watch my mouth. 3 whitewashed cities in a row... This is becoming almost ruotine for me. Which is wierd, because there have probably been like 10 whitewashes in all of Finland my whole time here... I'm going to count them up sometime... I'll get back to you on that. The ward her is great... SUPER small... toistaseksi (for now)... but it really is inspiring how strong the members here in Finland are. Their gospel just burns deep in their souls... It is AWESOME! We have some pretty good investigators here and the work is going forward thanks to some pretty incredible miracles last week.

So Elder Perry and I arrive wednesday about 9 oclock and the branch president was waiting for us at the train station to give us a ride to our apartment. Thursday we get our heads on strait and get some good work done haha that was a fun day... Calling people, not even knowing which way is up (actually I'm still not quite sure which way is north here.. I better get that figured out) Elder Perry fighting Jet lag and a language barrior. LOL it has been AWESOME! I wouldn't have it any other way. We are totally dependent on the Lord and his tender mercies, all we need to do is get our feet moving and revelation comes. (I also need to at least look like I know what I am doing so Elder Perry doesn't panic shhh... we will it a secret) "Revelation comes on the move" as Elder oaks taught, and I am thankful for that. The tender mercies are abundant, so after we got some appointments lined up and had been meeting people we feel like we are on the right track. In fact one of the tender mercies this week was when an investigator brought her friend to a teach. She said "hey I accidently brought my friend today" and we said " She is welcome to stay" haha the member at that lesson did great and the friend became an investigator! The miracles here are abundant!

One of the downfalls of coming to the eastern part of finland is that they speaking kinda funny here haha it is really easy to understand... it just sounds wierd. Like kind of a hick version of Finnish. I refuse to conform, haha. We met a member for the first time and we were talking and getting to know her and she immediately know that I came from the southern Finland. She said "You just came from the southern Finland huh?" I thought it was pretty cool that she could pick up the dialect of Finnish I was speaking... rather than just an american acccent! The gift of tongues is another tender mercy from the Lord. (I just hope the spirit doesn't know Eastern finnish) hehe is that a bad hope?

Thanks for the wonderful emails again... Major disappointment with no update on the garden other than it is trying to get through all the rain. Man, I hope all goes well on the Nielsen side of the Family, I hope Layne and aunt Teresa are doing ok. I don't know why though things happen but I do know like I shared couple emails ago "I firmly believe with all my heart that the peace of which Christ talked about is really one of the most beautiful things we can experience in this life." I myself have felt that peace more surely as I have come across things I simply could not do by myself. I no that the little expeiriences I face on my mission like going to a brand new city with no idea what to do shrink in comparison to some of the things they have faced and are facing, but God's laws are eternal and apply to whatever situation we are in. Alma the younger teaches his wonderful son shiblon this principle in Alma 38:5 he says:

5And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your atrust in God even so much ye shall be bdelivered out of your trials, and your ctroubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

The more we are able to put our trust in God the more we are comforted and the peace comes. I love my mission so much for that very reason that I have learned in a small way how that works, I know God refines us and I know I will have a lot more moments of refinement in the future. The gospel is true and as we apply these principles taught in the scriptures our tesimonies grow tremendously, even though we may not understand the Why questions we know the How.

Life is wonderful and I couldn't be more happy in my absolute dependance on One far greater than I.

Have a great week... Love you long time family!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen