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!