Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28, 2009

December Zone Conference

Yep, I'm moving from Pori

Dearest family,

Good to hear Christmas was a fine one! Fromage, I loved those pictures thank you so much! But unfortunately my inbox is getting close to full (only can hold 52 megabytes) So at least for this next week don't send pictures and I'll try and get it all cleaned up and ready for more pictures :)

Hold on, THE BFG!?!?! [Whitney got the movie "The BFG" for Christmas] Where on earth did Santa find that? lol that's hilarious, I remember that was like one of Whitney's favorite shows in the entire world, they only thing that I remember from that show is the song "wiz pop wiz *something* feel the bubbles go down" haha Whitney, is that the same Show? Also I really like that hat Sarah, Í could use one of those here ;) haha jk. What did Natalie get from Santa I didn't see a picture of her stuff! Oh ya and the Wii, you guys are lucky! So that picture of the phone call was pretty much exactly how I pictured it when I was on the phone with you guys :D I look back to that phone call and really all I did was make jokes... lol sorry I should have been a little more spiritual, but like Fromage said in her email "Perfection comes slowly" I really like that thought, thank you. Thank you for that scripture dad, I'll try and get some things that president said about change sent off to you, maybe they will help you in your quest for the perfect passage to describe your feelings.

For now I'll just share some things that president Uchtdorf shared in last general conference (p.s fromage thank you for these ensigns, my last two weeks of teaching have pretty much all came from these talks) First off about change. His big quote from the talk "Two Principles for any economy" says "It is often in the trial of adversity that we learn those most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny" sometimes it takes a bum kicking to learn what you need to learn, sometimes you don't. I've had a few off both of those out here in Finland, both are incredible and both have helped shape me little by little. (read this talk, I'll let you guys learn from your own personal thoughts and revelations) :) haha

Another thing that I would like to share about change was a couple quotes that came up last Zone conference (I don't remember if I have shared these yet. Sorry if I repeat) One was an Elder (Elder Struthers) that said "the potential of the Clay is not in the Clay. It is in the hands of the Potter" I think there is a lot to be learned from this, one that we are going to be molded by Someone who can see the big picture, One that can see what we can become. He knows that we can become somethings greater than this blob of clay we are right now. Second thing I learned from this was when I thought even a little deeper because yes it is true that the potential of the Clay is in the Hands of the Potter, but if that clay is dry and useless (hard-hearted and lazy) the potter wont be able to use him. It is up to the clay and its agency… Hopefully that was understandable.

Next thing I would like to share was a quick little thing that President Brown shared in Zone conference. It is in reference to a man that made beautiful carvings of horses (I thought Nat might like this one ;) ) So this guy takes ordinary blocks of wood and turns them into beautiful sculptures of horses. Someone asked him, "How do you do it?" The sculptor said “It’s easy, I just cut away anything that doesn’t look like a horse.” Such is the same with us. We are becoming like Him, we are nowhere near. But little by little, scrape by scrape we are transformed into different creatures. That is why Perfection comes slowly. Eikö niin?

Ok so I guess I better tell you guys where I am going Wednesday. I’m leaving this beautiful town of Pori and going to a town named Jyväskylä ( good luck pronouncing that, I struggle saying it right ;) ) I’m going to be there with Elder Slade, I think he is one transfer older that Elder Quinn. Elder Hamner is staying in Pori and training (same age as Elder Quinn when he trained me) It is crazy to see so many young missionaries as leaders. I think it is because #1 they are super solid missionaries and #2 Because there are 8 more missionaries in Finland this transfer. Finland is getting incredible amounts of missionaries. It is one of 2 places in Europe that is actually increasing missionaries rather that decreasing. President Brown said it is because they are trying to get 1 set of missionaries for every single ward in the world (probably except Utah) So we are getting tons of missionaries! YAY!! Ok so I’ll tell you all what I know about Jyväskylä… It is in central Finland pretty much smack dab in the middle of the bottom half. It is surrounded by lakes and I hear that it is absolutely gorgeous! (everyone always says its gorgeous only in the summer though)

Yes, my boots are soo warm, I’m enjoying them! They make tracting a lot better! I haven’t heard of that negative 30 degree rule, maybe. I think Finland was a lot colder when Brother Rockhill was here. It only gets that cold up in the north like in Rovaniemi. Oh yes my boots, They are legit! They were on sale from 155 euros to only 99 pretty sweet deal! They are eccco and they are also gore tex so i think they will work just great! Thank you for the Christmas you guys sent me, I laughed when I saw the remote controlled helicopter, I might have to check the white handbook on that one ;) hehe jk the cards were great! Thank you. I’m glad you liked your letter fromage, I hope everyone else did too. Did Kim and Nate get their package? I’ll try and get your birthday package off with my SD card full of pictures. Unfortunately its going to be late for your birthday. (don’t worry it’s nothing too serious.. I not going to lie I’m re-gifting some of it ;) hahaha frugality)

Congratulate David on his eagle from me!

I love you all so much, it truly was nice to hear your voice! Thank you all for all you do. Hope you followed some of my random thoughts in this email and in the phone call. Hopefully this season continues to be as great as it has been.


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

p.s The Finns celebrate Christmas season for about the same amount of time as us… Maybe a little longer.. and maybe a little more extreme ;) lol

p.p.s Did you get the Zone conference Pictures?

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009

Christmas is here already!?!

Dearest Family,
Wow, I can't believe it is almost Christmas Day! it feels just like yesterday I went into the MTC, that was 5 months ago tomorrow. Time flies by!
Sounds like all is going well! That picture of Boston is quite likely my favorite picture I have seen in my life. I want to talk to him on Friday, deal? haha
Wow sounds like everything is going great in America! I loved the package I received It was like a dream come true! It had everything! Ensigns, paper, binder, SD card, my watch in there (thanks Sarah) I loved the Ginger bread house Whitney, the Note from Natalie was probably one of my favourites (Ace I hope you are ok I share this) She said “I’m Proud of you that you are sharing the Gospel with others around Christmas time” That really touched my heart. Thank you Natalie!
Good to hear Kyle is doing well! Have him say hi to Jared from me, I saw Jared at USU last year, That kid is tough! I’ll bet he is teaching kyle a few things about lifting. HOLY COW! Kimberlie and Nate had their 4th anniversary; they are getting kinda old now! haha ;)
ok so I would like to share a little bit about my last week with you guys, because it was incredible. So we had ZONE Conference (that’s when I picked up my stocking/amazing package) and President Brown taught some things that really hit home, and that really have and will strengthen me beyond my mission years. Faith is a huge thing! Developing a relationship with The Savior is one of the most enduring/strengthening things imaginable. I would like to share some things that President Brown shared (I’m going to photo copy some things and send them your way as well) He started off with this movie Clip (off of I think) It was called Lifting Burdens. It teaches about the Savior and how he helps us overcome our weakness as people. It is a bunch of sound clips from conference talks all put together, well put together. I hope you guys can find it and watch it sometime. It is powerful. One thing that Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said in this was “We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t. For He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.”
I really branched a lot of my thoughts of this quote as we continued to learn from President. I really saw how important change is, without it there is no such thing as progression, Really they are the same. The Savior is the one that made it possible for us to change and progress. That is why He is so important. That is why the atonement is absolutely essential!
Go watch that Clip, Its incredible, it teaches soooo much!!!
Ok also this week I had splits with Zone Leaders and the district leader. I learned so much, I’m running out of time now. Sorry, I’ll maybe share some stories with you during the phone call! I told S to practice her English! I don’t remember how much I told you guys about her. She is an incredible lady but has been less active for a few years. She just started coming back to Church, I love the discussions we have with her because I always learn so much. She never lost a testimony in this Church when she was less active, she just was offended at some of the members. She is P’s Friend!
Ok I got to go, I hope Kim and Ryan get their packages before Christmas. I will hopefully get those boots bought this week, I’m going to Turku, a bigger city tomorrow and I will check prices etc. I love you all and look forward to talking to you on Friday! Have a merry Christmas! Remember what its all about! I love this Gospel and this people with all my heart! Finland will have a little piece of my heart forever, just under to your guys section of my heart ;) (that actually sounds kinda creepy… sorry)
Love you all,
Vanhin Thomas Nielsen
p.s I might have got a speeding ticket this last week…. I promise It was innocent speeding…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 14, 2009

Dearest Family,

That was a good letter! Kiitos paljon! So as of 1:30 this afternooon it was -13.5 Celcius, the cold has finally hit. It was about -1 yesterday and then somehow it just dropped! Pretty cool, Fortunatelly I enjoy the cold weather. P.s I think I am going to Buy some winter boots, My little toes are getting Cold in the snow, is that ok? I found a really good sale at a store 79.50 euros for some heavy duty winter gore-tex boots. What do you guys think? I’ll actually buy them today probably so this is kind of a redundant question… hahaha Love ya still!

Good to hear that everything is going great! He really is in Charge of everything, I love hearing the little stories like that! Haha good to hear the little girls got their packages on time, I hope the rest make it soon. (not sure ryan’s and kimberlie’s will I forgot to put priority stickers on theirs.. uhh ohh) haha I have a funny story about mom’s christmas package. So I stuffed it super full of just random odds and ends (one candy bar for jessica from Kyle ;) ) but it barley fit. I nearly tipped over the postage sending machine trying to stuff it in there…. People looked at me and probably thought 'what americans!'.

Wow, so I was able to watch the Christmas Devotional Yesterday and Wow It was incredible. So much to learn from it! I really like the emphasis they put on how the worldly things really can gum up the spiritual things if we let them. Also when President Monson said “The Christmases we remember best usually have little to do with the worldly things” SO TRUE! I think back and I don’t remember the gifts I gave or the gifts I received, but I remember the traditions we had and the time we spent together. I remember the sledding, I remember the Snowmen, I remember the Christmas eve drive to look at the lights. I remember the happiness and the peace felt at home. It is a great time! Ah I love Christmas time! I don’t remember if I have shared this or not, but last district conference sister Brown talked about how we are hear in Finland and that we are only here for a short time (2 years) then we go back to real life. So why not make these 2 Christmases unforgettable. So that’s what I am going to do 

Cool stories of the week, I was mistaken for a finn. Some person we were talking to on the street thought I was finnish. I only said like 3 sentences, but it boosted my self-esteem haha and then just yesterday my pride bubble was popped by the realization of how little finnish I know. I discovered a whole new world of Grammer rules, Pretty humbling. It was good to be humbled, pretty sure I needed it after that experience.

I’ll tell you a little about my investigators:

J is going to be a bishop someday, I just know it! He is hilarious, he signed a waiver that says he is going to follow the word of wisdom from dec 12 2009 until forever! He really liked the Idea and he has such a different countenance about him now-a-days, The power of the Book of Mormon.

P is sick right now, but other that that is doing great. We committed her to baptism last week, but she said she doesn’t think she is ready yet. Any suggestions you returned missionaries on how to get her ready now?
R is doing ok… We have a dinner appointment for christmas lined up with her and her daughter S (recent convert) she really needs to understand the reason church will help her

Oh yes about the phone calls, Did you guys double check the time zone difference to make sure that 10 am your time is 7 pm my time? Because I don’t want any mistakes! Lol Christmas day is filling up fast (2 dinner appointments already) also I lined up one of those dinner appointments to be at the time of the phone call. It is at sister S’s house, and I really wanted you guys to be able to meet her (kind of) She doesn’t know very much english at all! (1 english Phrase) she understands a lot though. But she is my favorite person in finland right now. If you guys don’t want that, if you want me to just be at my apartment and not at her house for the phone call that is ok with me. What would you like? I’ve already lined it up this way though  I can maybe translate between you guys! Also I only have like 40 minutes to talk on the phone so take that into consideration as well.

This was kind of a lame email, sorry I’ll try and make the next one better. I love you all and I hope all goes well as we continue to get closer and closer to CHRISTMAS! Remember why we have Christmas. I LOVED the first presidency christmas message (watch it again if you can ;) I wish I could) I’m grateful to be here in Pori with Vanhin Hamner, Man I am learning so much, It is incredible! Miracles happen all around me daily, wow… It is just undescribable (I think that is spelled wrong) Love you all

Merry Christmas (Hyvää Joulua)
With Love (Rakkaudella)

Teidän Poikanne (your son)/Teidän Veljenne (your Brother)

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S Brad Is going to be the most incredible missionary there ever was! I know It! What a powerful example he is to me!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 7, 2009

Dearest family,

It's pearl harbor day I think we should have a moment of silence together (each . is 5 seconds I was silent) ............ Ok that was kinda random haha
Wow this was an incredible week. President Brown taught us about a need for more faith in our work. He said we are doing incredible, Finland is at a 10 year high right now. But he thinks that if we have a little more faith 2010 will be one of the most incredible year Finland has ever seen. He is so inspiring. He taught from and helped explain 3 talks that I think apply to everyone in the world who wants to increase their faith they are; "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" Elder Richard G. Scott (last conference) "Faith yields Priesthood Power" Elder John K. Carmack (Conference report april 1993) and "The Message: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" by Gene R. Cook (New Era Oct 1982) I challenge all of you to read these three talks in the next week, I promise they will be worth it!

I especially like what President Brown taught in reference to the talk by Elder Richard G. Scott. It's in the middle somewhere and it talks about the grape and the jalapeno how the flavor of the grape is completely overcome by the flavor of the jalapeno. What a great analogy! It teaches us about the destructive and corrosive power of sins and addictions. It then goes on to teach that the Holy Ghost is so sensitive of a feeling that even our emotions can overpower it. Good stuff! Because I think that everyone can learn at least a little bit better how to follow the Holy Ghost in everything.

That following of the Holy Ghost is something that is absolutely essential to this work here. President taught about that and then he tied that into faith. He said that a change is coming to Europe (I think I wrote about this in an earlier email) have faith and help that change with all your might. So that's what I am going to do :)

Then we had an incredible district meeting from our district leader Elder L (Elder Horne's companion) He taught us a lot about faith as well. He also gave a very powerful testimony of how the Lord prepares people. He shared his conversion story, and I'll try to share that real quick. He lived in Latvia. He was 17 and he wasn't supposed to be home at the time he was that day. The missionaries rang his doorbell and he talked with them and something felt good about what they had to say. They set up a return appointment and the rest is history. But the incredible part was how the missionaries got to be at his door at that time on that day. So they went to cross the border (into Estonia because they had a meeting) in their car, one of the elders forgot his passport they had to go back. Get back to the border and their registration was overdue. They decided they were going to take the bus through the next day. Their phone (alarm) died in the middle of the night so they slept in and missed their bus. So they decided they should do the registration stuff real quick. For some reason it was going to take 2 hours, so they decided to go tracting (knocking door to door) talking to people. They ended up at Elder L's door. And Now Elder L is one of the best missionaries in the world (that happened 3 years ago) It is incredible how much we are guided... Every single day! Ahh it's incredible!

Ok I'll tell you about a family. The mother and the son (9 years old) are both members, but the father is not. So we have been going over and teaching him. It is awesome! The mom is an incredible lady, I don't know if I have said much about her, but she one of those ladies that does everything and helps everyone. We went to their house yesterday for a dinner appointment and a lesson. We had a really good lesson about God's love and families. I really felt the spirit and learned a lot. It was pretty humbling though because their boy (9 years old) was correcting every single word that I pronounced like an American. He helped me put some cases on some words, but all and all it turned out well! I am learning so much how to be teachable... even from a 9 year old :)

P is another investigator and she is friend with S (greatest lady on earth) She is incredible and extremely intelligent. I love the teaches we have with them, I feel and especially strong bond there. It is awesome!

I hope you guys get your Christmas packages before christmas! I love you guys thank you all so much for what you do for me! you guys are incredible! Sounds like all is well in good old Utah.
Love you all,

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. I saw my first double digits in Finland (-10) whew whew (that's only like 15 in F though).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November 30, 2009

Dearest family,

Sounds like Thanksgiving was a blast! I had quite an uplifting one myself! It's so weird, I would have made fun of myself if I were where I was a year ago(if that makes sense), but it is amazing at all the opportunities we have in this life to grow and actually (some what) grasp what really matters in life. It's incredible! I have some pictures of that magnificent feast sent via mail! haha the turkey cooking in the oven, potatoes on the stove and the pie... in a pan (i think) but I'll get that memory card sent to you as soon as i get my other one, Deal? ;) hehe

Wow, I cannot wait for Thursday. We have our district meeting and this is when I get to interview with president and talk with him. The last one was soo incredible and so inspiring. I was amazed at how individual the advice president gave to me. He is always very in tune with the spirit. Someday, I want to be like him! so first I guess I will answer all these questions asked! :) (I really like that you sent pictures through the Email, thank you!)

How is your new companion doing? So good, He is a champion it's been tough though for us to speak with people... But the language will come, we just have to do our part!
Where's he from? he is from indiana and half his family is in japan right now with his father (who is a Green burey, pretty cool huh! not sure I spelled burey right) [Green Beret is what we think he's referring to :)]
I'm sure it will be good to get a bit more organized with a military man guiding you :) HAHA OH YA!
Have you been able to wear your under armour yet? yes ma'am and it is toasty in the under armour, don't even worry about me getting cold. For some reason we have been having really warm weather here in pori, sounds like it is warmer here than there (in utah)! Mom must be praying with A LOT faith! haha I'll be fine! the coat I bought is huge/warm and was on a really good sale, don't worry :)
How's the ward/branch in Pori? This ward is incredible! thats funny I even wrote down in my little outline to talk about how amazing the ward is here, fromage you must be inspired! but, so there is actually a story about the dilligence and determination of this ward, I will tell it now. So yesterday, We had this thing called YstäväIltä (friend evening) The ward and Us (missionaries) Slaved away for the last month getting this all prepped. We decided that we were going to teach a little bit about our church to people that don't really know much about it. We (missionaries/ward members) have been inviting people and telling everyone about this. I think elder quinn/elder Hamner/ and I handed out a million flyers and testified about how this will help people! We had It all set! last night only 1 person showed up... I felt like crying a little... I started getting down, and saying to myself "what did I do wrong" I had all these thoughts racing through my head of what I could have done better "maybe if I knew the language better" maybe this maybe that..... Then I looked at the ward, It didn't even phase them. Here I was soo concerned about myself and what I had done the last month, I didn't even think about the ward. They were still smiling, they were still happy, They realized something I didn't. They realized that they had done their best and that the Lord doesn't look at our numbers. He looks at how much effort we put into something, He understands us so perfectly that he can see our growth that we attained from a certain opportunity or trial (as we sometimes say). The Lord really only cares about our growth as individuals (every single individual on the planet) I think that was a little life lesson that I needed to learn, Hopefully I can remember that the rest of my life! because if you think about trials and hardships under that light, they really are just an opportunity to grow and it takes A LOT of growing to reach perfection! I hope I said everything I felt clearly and understandably... if not, once again I am sorry. But yes this ward is incredible, every single person!

Have you been pretty good at guiding Elder Hamner in Pori? Oh man It has been intense! Growing, Growing, Growing, that's what its all about! haha I'm loving it though :)! haha it
Do you have a nice apartment...what's it like? Does it stay warm? yes it's warm.. I promise I'm fine! haha maybe I will give you guys a little virtual tour with my camera! :)
I can't wait till after this life when I can talk freely with her and not have a language barrier, because she is a philosopher... and she says a lot of big words! (I always have a dictionary nearby when talking with her)

haha ok now I only have 10 minutes haha sorry to dwell on the questions so long, but mom asked some good ones!

Wow, So yesterday elder Hamner and I had to talk in sacrament meeting for 10 minutes each. haha it was intense. It was on the word of wisdom I actually was surprised, because people understood what I said! (i think) haha I shared something that you said dad, in my recipe book you talked about how people feel more than the hear, so don't be nervous about the language. What wisdom :) I'll send my talk home to you guys! the english outline doesn't really follow the way I actually gave the talk... but you get the idea!

Oh yes, I will hopefully start sending your guys christmas packages home today,(i'm trying to send them one at a time so that the Postal service place doesn't get mad) haha so hopefully they will get there before christmas! good to hear that the priests are getting those, I was going to ask about those. good good good.

Can I get annie/ katie's address?

fromage your broccoli soup is now famous among the missionaries here in finland, I got a text from the helsinki zone leaders asking for the recipe! :)

Random question time, Does jake (cousin) have a Girlfriend right now? just wondering... hhaha :)

Can you guys mail me a page of my blog so I can see what it looks like? (physical mail, not email please)

Can I get a picture of baby ian with matt and alisha? I wanna see him :)

Kyle looks like a schmuck in that picture you sent! is he growing a beard!?!? haha jk I love you kyle! Oh man, I'm so grateful for that 45 minutes in the MTC I really can honestly say that was probably one of the most inspiring times in the MTC. Oh man I hope Brad is excited! Tell him that the MTC is the 2nd best place in the world next to finland for learning! (argentina is 3rd, finland 1st, home is 0th (the best i guess) )

thank you for all you guys do! You guys are incredible I love you all so much! Fromage, I like that Missionary attitude, Keep it up :) You guys are such powerful examples to me, every single one of you. I love you, thank you! Talk to you next week! Pray for Pori (not just the weather, mom ;)) and keep Päivi and Janne in your prayers if you could!

Rakkaudella, (with love)

Vanhin Thomas NEAL Nielsen

p.s Natalie, is Rocky getting fat? ;) lol
p.p.s little girls I saw a dog just like Oaky (same breed and attitude) last wednesday.. But he was HUGE! It was a tender little mercy to remind me of you guys! love ya!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009

Dearest family,

Ok, I think I got this whole email thing figured out, who to send it to and all that stuff ;)

Ok wow. These past two weeks have been incredible and I have learned so much more about myself, language, Gospel, and most importantly what is most important in this life! haha Though I don't know all of these even close to perfect yet... I will try and share what little knowledge I have.

First, the language. WOW, this is incredible, What an opportunity I have to really just immerse myself into this language with a companion who is barley 3 months older than me. President Brown emailed me some very encouraging things. I love that man.

Ok I'll tell you a little bit about Elder Hamner. He was just in college at West Point Military Academy. (pretty smart kid) He is a very extremely disciplined elder. I would do well to learn from him :) He is an incredible missionary and really works with all of the attributes that D&C 4 says we should work and strive for. It nice to learn so much at a time... He does everything at the very fastest pace he can, It's awesome! Not a minute wasted! Pray that I can have the strength to keep up with him, because I know that if i can I will see SSOOO much growth. It'll be awesome!

I'm so thankful for the time I had with Elder Quinn, he really was the perfect trainer for me. He taught me how to be a missionary and really be humble and everything good like that, he is the MAN! hopefully you guys will meet him someday! He is going to do great things with his life, I firmly believe that!

Wow, so many stories, so little time. Stake conference was amazing! It really was the spiritual boost that I needed! It was in a city named Tampere, one of the biggest cities in Finland (I think), but we saw a little miracle. We drove to Tampere and no one in the car really knew Tampere very well, all we had was the address. Haha, so we went and I know that we were helped, because when we went to ask someone how to get to that, it was straight down the street. Eli (in other words) we were on the right street. Pretty cool! Little miracles, small and simple things like that are such a testifer to me of how much God really is in control. I'm not going to lie I was scared driving from Pori to Tampere, but with a little faith we made it there and learned tons!

There was a children's choir, it took me back to the days when our little Elwood primary would sing and you could see which children were not happy to be up there singing. And then the ones who sang with all their heart but couldn't ever seem to find the right note! I chuckled a little, and realized again that we are all God's children. We all are similar, we all came from the same place and I think that we carry a lot of the attributes that we learned there. That is why little kids in Finland, singing in Finnish are so similar to the ones in Elwood singing in English! Oh man, I love little testifers like that! This Church is true!! I love it!!!

I learned so much from this conference (even though it wasn't in my mother language :) ) but one thing I liked was President Brown's talk, in Finnish, I have never really heard him talk that much in Finnish. He is the exact same loving, caring, inspiring man in Finnish that he is in English. I really do have the best mission president in the world. Although Kyle's was pretty good... not quite as good though ;) Oh man President Brown is a man of humility and power, what an example.

During this conference I learned a lot of who the person I want to become. I think the person I would like to become is very similar to the man that President Brown is. He carries such a powerful testimony of the scriptures and yet he is so humble about his knowledge and about everything. He knows all, but wants you to learn by your own means. He provides a way that you can be taught those lessons in life that can't be learned other than experiencing it.

I wish that I could truly express how I feel... because it is an incredible indescribable feeling of love for everyone in this world! haha wow...

Pori is doing great! I actually think that we are in a super warm-spell, because we have stayed in the positive degrees for a while, the other day our car thermometer said it was 9 degrees celcius (like 45-50 f)! wow! sounds like it Utah is colder than that! haha but I'm so prepared for winter here, I'm just waiting for it to come! With all the warm stuff mom packed and the giant coat I bought, it's impossible to get cold :)

I'd like to share some thoughts I had as I read the Book of Mormon this week. This is actually something that I learned in the MTC but I'm reading through the Book of Mormon again. ALMA 5:45-46 (I don't remember if I shared this in the MTC) but, Alma the younger says he came to a knowledge of this gospel not because the angel he saw, but the small things like prayer in his life. I love it! I loving searching for other small things I can do to strengthen that knowledge! I challenge all of you to do the same! Search for what you can do to strengthen that knowledge so that when times of trial come, nothing can stop you. Man, what if our whole family just became this unstoppable force for good in this world, we could help find and save our other brothers and sisters in the world! We have been blessed with so much! What a better time to remember that than this Thanksgiving week! Remember what the Lord has blessed you with and pass that same love and tender feelings on to others. I've seen joy come to the faces of the hopeless (Janne) There is nothing in this world that feels better than seeing that joy illuminate people ohhh... It's indescribable.

I thought (as I was reminded by that awesome Thanksgiving package) about how every year we always express what we are thankful for before we eat our thanksgiving meal. I thought about what I would say, I'm with out words. I think that 2 Nephi chapter 22 states it better than I ever could. This gospel is everything to me now because I know that through it we (our family) can live together forever. We can return to that loving Heavenly Father who has given us everything we have! I wish it hadn't taken me this long to realize this. But now I know more than ever!

Little girls/Ryan/Kyle/Nate/mom/dad! thank you for all that you do for me! You are all such examples to me! I love you all! I thank you for the amazing things I have learned from all of you. This is the true church, through it we can be together forever


Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 20, 2009

Dearest family!

Wow... So this has been an insane week wow... I'm in Helsinki emailing you guys (4 hour train ride) because I'm getting a new companion. He is actually sitting right next to me! His name is Elder Hamner, He is my grandpa finn. Eli (in other words) My group replaced his group in the mtc. So we are a pretty fresh companionship in Pori. Both of us together total 4 transfers old haha. I hope we will be able to communicate to people in Finnish :) I wasn't able to email on monday because our library was closed. This is going to be a really short email sorry...

Glad to hear that Kyker is safe and sound... Oh man that is scary. I'm so grateful for his example of missionary work! what champ. man I have so many good examples in my life! haha So I have 2 packages waiting for me in the other room you guys are awesome :)

I will try and remember everything for next week because I have a ton of good stories! Thank you all very much :)
love you all, Have a great week!

Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

p.s Next weeks letter is going to be better! promise!
pps you guys played ping pong with Katelin and Karen? fun!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 9, 2009

Dearest family,

Wow, Zone conference was everything that I had expected/been dreaming about for the last few weeks! President Brown is the man! I think Kyle’s mission president hit it right on the head when he said the President Brown is one of the most spiritual people in the world. He teaches with such an amazing understanding of the scriptures. He shared experiences that were truly from his heart. He corrected with complete and uttermost love! Oh man it was amazing! He taught us a lot of the vision we need to attain here in Finland. I started thinking as I started this email of how applicable that is to each of your lives. Anything can be done as long as it is expedient of the Lord and as long as we have the faith and the “vision” necessary to achieve it. To me what I learned from the discussion about the vision is that if we can truly attain the “Vision” of what we are supposed to do we will have that eternal perspective that I talked about last week, and once we get the vision and eternal perspective we have the power and motivation to do what is expedient of the Lord. Then we won't let anything get in our way (in a good sort of way) for example this language, we will see the need to constantly strive to do better so that we can portray to the Finns how much God loves them, and how important this life is. haha I love it! I hope that make sense, or at least I hope there is something in there applicable to each of you in your lives.

President Brown talked about a change happening in the mission as we become better and more obedient missionaries. It is amazing, I caught a little glimpse of how he uses Zone conference to teach missionaries about how they can act and learn and grow. He sets it up so we will use the 6 weeks in between to test some of the things he said, to really understand what he talked about. Then (at least from what he said) we will be ready for the next Zone Conference. We will have the experience needed! He is just molding Finland into a machine through which the Lord can do what is expedient :) I love President Brown so much.

We talked about some amazing things… maybe I will send a letter home because I don’t have my notes with me and I don’t think I could do it justice, just know that I was truly inspired and nurtured from an amazing Leader! A little bit about President, he was a CES Teacher for like 30+ years I think, he worked in their main office. He truly understands how to portray the feelings and thoughts he has… as I write this email I realize how much I lack in that aspect. I will hopefully get better because I want to be able to truly express how much I have learned here in Finland, and in the MTC. :) I know that there is no other way to learn some of the things that I have learned, Fromage you need to help the youth realize the benefits of a mission! Teach your young women to teach the young men! haha because I know at least for me that’s how I learned best ;)

This week in Pori was an amazing week! Not because of some of our numbers, we didn’t have any investigators in Church. :( but we had 5 less actives come to church. It was amazing to see them as I passed the sacrament, take it and the light in their face as the realized what they had been missing, Some of them for 17 years. Sister Salmi is one lady who knows the Church is true, but quit going to church because she got offended at one of the members. She has come for 2 weeks in a row, last week (yesterday) she gave the prayer in sacrament meeting. From what I understood she really gave a true heart-felt humble prayer and it was inspiring! Some of these people here are going to affect the way I live for the rest of my life. She is such an example to me! I don’t know if I have shared an amazing scripture finding story with you about her, have I? if not I will send it in my next letter home!

Let's see… what else happened, I went on splits with Elder Ranzemberger (my papa finn) at conference and that was amazing, we saw some miracles and help from the Lord. I’m going on splits with Elder Horne (MTC companion) on Wednesday!
haha I’ll tell one quick funny story, I was actually going to tell it in last week's email but I forgot. So my hair was getting long and I decided I needed to cut it, so I did. Fortunately we have a razor in our apartment; I busted that thing out and just started to go to town. I was feeling pretty good about it, got the top and sides looking nice, then I did the back and that’s when I almost started to cry. I guess I pushed to hard and the razor “clicked down” from a level 9 to a level 3 haha uhhh ohh I put two huge streaks in the back of my hair before I realized what I had done, it looked awful, but thanks to a little help from Elder Quinn I’m looking as good as ever… almost ;)

Good to hear all is well! I LOVE the Hall boys, they are champions! I still remember the day when alex’s beat me in an arm wrestle in like 2 seconds flat. That hurt my pride a little because he is like 4 years younger than me haha. He is a stud! Next time you talk to them say hi from me! The Halls and the Fronks truly are remarkable people, I’m grateful for their examples in my life!

Sounds like you guys had a blast! Good to hear! Those are always needed to help relax from all the stresses of life!

Fromage don’t even worry about the letter/package ordeal. Letters get forwarded to us from the mission home the day they are sent. So only Vanhin Quinn saw my lack of letters hehe. It really is O.K. as for packages, could I get some filler paper (like loss, lined paper like 800 sheets) that is 8.5x5.5 inches and like 3 or 4 black binders for them! just the little ones that fit that paper! That’s what I want for Christmas, deal? And some face stuff, I ran out ;( haha other than that I’m set. so don’t worry about sending anything else! maybe a letter for me and something little for my companion!

Holy cow I finished my whole checklist for my letter home! haha Love you all so much! continue to do what you are doing right now, Be Great! ;) Love you Love you Love you! Someone go play fetch with Rocky for me, He is prolly getting fat ;)


Vanhin Nielsen

p.s Is there anything Mitzi is missing from Finland?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No News

Nothing this week from Elder Nielsen, but we did hear from his companion, so we're sure all is well. A computer glitch of email draft deletion is our best guess at why he didn't write. We're hoping for an extra good one next week, otherwise his mother is liable to call the mission home.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009

Dearest family,

I totally forgot to tell you that last week I was going to the temple! haha uhhh ohhh. I was able to go because Elder Quinn was going to Kieli Koulu (language School) and it is in Helsinki. Kieli Koulu is when a missionary has been in the country 6 weeks and they just barely started this, but when they are in the country 6 months. Pretty much they just answer Language questions you have, and I heard that you get to make smoothies... yumm :) It's Kinda funny that I get to go to the temple this early in my mission because Vanhin Quinn still has even been.. :D lol but he will go when I have my Kieli Koulu in like 3 or 4 weeks.

I would like to share some things I learned from that visit, that I think apply to everyone not just missionaries. I challenge you guys as I share this to find a very personal way that applies to you and see how you can more better be a servant of the Lord, a better example, or whatever you feel you need to do better on. I know you will be able to because that's what this gospel is essentially based on, Eternal progression. Which kind of leads to one to the most eye opening things that "dawned on me" It was that I need to always keep my mind in a very eternal perspective. If you force yourself to think in this manner a whole new world opens up. You aren't bound by the little day to day problems, the financial burdens of today, the catastrophic ailments that are plaguing the earth (that's pretty profound, I can't believe that came out of my head) and once you are free from those you can start to think cleary about Christ and Everything that he did on our behalf. Then you realize the importance of living life in a manner that is pleasing to him, Which in turn makes your life happy and blessed and blesses the lives of others around you! It's like the Circle of Life in the lion king... but a little deeper ;)

This led me to think about how important it is to help other people, because if we truly understand how much God loves people we will feel, in a very finite way, that same love. We will do anything to help them realize It because it become "most desirable fruit" as Lehi put it. His example is the kind of attitude we need to have, he started searching for first his family, and everyone that he could share it with. (I might have added a little, But really everyone is our family so i guess not really :) ) We will go out to Germany (dad) and work our little hearts out and be just as obedient as we can. We will come home find an amazing wife (mom), who loves this gospel just as much as you do. We will live according to the gospel so that they will want to do their absolute best in life and achieve the full potential and that we can return to live with them forever! They will do the same because that was how they were shown to live life! I hope that all made sense, so in other words, I would like to thank you mom and dad for your powerful examples to me. Dad always living a life with an eye single to the work (or word) so that you could always be worthy so that you could, when the time called for it, bless the lives of others. I know God's power is real! I can't believe I haven't realized it until now (although I'm sure that I will be schooled again and learn just as much as I did last week) The priesthood is amazing!

The last thing I kinda talked about (actually they all kinda molded together as I typed haha sorry) was about about the Love and Sameness of that love throughout the world. The session was in russian, but there were finns, and a few americans! haha but I saw them and this overwhelming feeling came to me and testified, God knows each of them and loves them just as much as he loves you and knows you Thomas (Elder Nielsen) it was amazing!

Then throughout the week I had some amazing Scriptures studies! I learned about the power of example, I don't have time to share all the things I felt, but just know they were good! I was in mosiah and I saw the insane contrast between King Benjamin and King Noah and how the people that looked up to them acted according to what the saw! study that! deal?

Those were my "spiritual spankings" for the week. Can I say that? (mom If i said anything blasphemous or shared anything too personal you need to edit it, I don't have time haha)

Just the other day a lady when she realized what we were doing in finland, trying to help people. She just started crying and said (from what I understood) that people, especially young adults, need to hear this message so that they can have hope and be obedient essentially. She was very nice. That was just a little tender mercy I thought I would share :)

I've been humbled like crazy! it's good stuff! My first zone conference is Thursday and Friday, I can't wait. President Brown is the man.

Haha every week for the last month the missionaries (Quinn and I) had a part in sacrament, Pretty much just bearing testimony, lol I'm always feel a little sheepish going up there in Finnish bearing my testimony. I found a scripture that was brought forward through my talk with kyle. Alma 26;12 so good! read that and remember what it says :)

Good to hear you got my package and everything. I bought a coat in Helsinki, it was only 60 euros that about it for this week!

Love you all so much! you are the best family in the world! mom I hope you could read all my handwriting for the pictures! love you all so much!

Elder Thomas Nielsen

p.s. Mom could you find out from the teachers, if they could pick one candy bar or something of similar size and value from Finland, what would it be. Because I think I'm going to send them a package... Because they are pretty cool ;)

October 26th, 2009

Dearest Family,

Wow I love it here in Pori. Ok, so here is how this email is going to go. I'm going hopefully write about the last two weeks if I can remember everything ;) and then I will answer your questions that you asked, I will answer all of them. (Fromage you have my permission to delete anything boring that you don't want to send to the rest of the family) and then I will ask some of my own questions, deal?

Ok so, these last two weeks have been the most amazing weeks of my life. It is insane how much the Lord prepares people, something came to mind when I was thinking about that. Something that Veli said in my final interview with him. He said "Working for the salvation of His children is what God does" It has been amazing to actually see that first hand :) I told you that story about Pauliini last email (the one you actually got) and I guess it is all the little things that I have seen recently that have really stuck out to me, Because it isn't always going to be "big" stories like that bring people to the gospel. It is in the little things like feeling the Holy Ghost bear testimony of the truthfulness of things after a First Prayer. One of our investigators (English speaking) Darryl gave his very first prayer with us and I was amazed at the sincerity of his prayer he gave. It really was like He was talking with God, He knew he was there, Awww It was amazing :) So I guess I would like to tell you all about the power of prayer and that He really does listen and that He really does care about us all individually. His love is so infinite I can't even comprehend it! Crazy! So I Challenge you each to find a way to make your prayers little more sincere and I promise you, that you will see a huge difference. I love this gospel.

hmmm… I’m trying to think of some other things that have happened these last couple weeks, maybe I will just talk about some of our investigators. We had 8 Last week but this week we only have 4 because we had to talk to a lot of them that weren’t progressing that we can’t spend as much time with them I felt really bad because I love these people but P.M.G says that we need to spend time looking and teaching those who are willing to keep commitments. But we are going to go back and hopefully they will feel what they have been missing and then they will know that it is the Holy Ghost and that God loves them and it will be awesome.

Ok so one of our investigators names is Janne, He is like 24 years old and he decided that he wants to change his life. He has been meeting with the missionaries for the last couple months and it has just been the last week or so that he has really decided to change. He quit smoking and he quit drinking! This is a HUGE step for him, because before he hasn’t really seen the importance for it. It has been amazing to see his countenance change as he has really decided to do this, love it! So tonight we are going to go clean his house, because there are cigarette butts and alcohol bottles everywhere I guess. I think this will be such a good thing for him. It made me think of dad when he cleaned “wild bills” house, I hope the end results are better though ;) haha. I will give a more detailed description of the apartment next week because I haven’t seen it yet! I’m excited! lol

Pauliina is still in Africa, on her honeymoon. She gets back a week from today! She is such a spiritual person. She would really be a huge strength to the ward if she were to become a member, and I think her husband is actually very supportive of her, good stuff.

Alright that’s the rundown on the investigators, here are some funny stories I guess you could say. The language is coming faster than I thought I have grown a lot since the MTC but there are still Infinite amounts of growing to be had yet. (does that make sense) Ok so we were at a less active ladies house, Sisar, who is an amazing lady, but became offended at some of the members in the ward so hasn’t gone to church in a while but does everything else. We were at her house and I saw a spider plant, (the one plant I gave you (mom) when I was in 5th grade) and I said minun äitini on samaa kukka, but I meant to say minun äidillani on samaa kukkaa. Translated (if I spelled it all right) I said my mom is the same flower, when I meant to say my mom has the same flower. Kinda a dumb story, but I thought it was funny.

Alright time to answer some questions.

You said 12 weeks. Is each transfer for you twelve weeks (normal is six), or just this one?
a normal transfer is 6 weeks but when you are with your trainer you usually stay with him for 2 transfers (knock on wood)
How many Elders traveled with you?
My whole district 7 elders and 1 sister. Didn’t I already say that? haha but I should have pictures and labeled all their names in my package I sent you, have you guys got that yet? because there was some delicious chocolate in there;)
What is the basic temperature? Are you freezing? Can we send you anything to warm you? Have you had time to get a coat? Boots?
It’s not way way cold yet it stays above freezing in the day. no I fine mom, the two sets of under-armor shirts and pants and sweaters and everything else you sent with me is still holding up fine, It’s only been two weeks! haha but I might go buy a Coat what do you think about that? give me feedback, If I don’t see a super warm one for a super good price this week I’ll just wait till next week and you can give me some specifics on what kind of coat you want me to get.
When you say good food, what type are you talking about?
Everything you could imagine! we have 3 Dinner appointments this week and we just went to the store and bought amazing bread and all sorts of Finnish goodies (sorry MTC teachers, you are missing out on some amazing cheese)
Where is Elder Quinn from?
Elder Quinn is from Park City. I have talked all about Elder Quinn haven’t I? he is the man! out 6 months and already training me! Crazy! He really knows how to work! its awesome! Dad, guess what his dad served in Frankfurt Germany from 1976-1978 I think, When were you there? Did you know an Elder Quinn? How random is that! I thought that was pretty cool!

Did you guys get my package? I hope my SD card isn’t broken when you send that back can you take some pictures of the whole family on it and rocky, oaky, our house, whatever else sounds good. haha and there is a huge cut in the letter because I was making the box and I.. ya but I taped it back together! that is all! tell me what you think about the chocolate? I enjoy it. I’m trying to think if there is anything else…. The Book of Mormon is powerful! I love it! Read it and keep tract of some of the feelings you have, It is amazing to re read those!

Glad to hear all is going well with Kyle. Give him a hug from me as he heads to college… I love him. I love you all! I’m so grateful for all the examples you set for me! you are the best and I want you to know how much this work means to me! It is an amazing experience and I have learned so much already! I’m being humbled left and right.
Love you all

Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

pps this email is big :)