Friday, January 29, 2010

January 25, 2010

Dearest Family,

Wow, this place is incredible, and Elder Slade and I have grown so tight here. It has been a neat thing to grow. Maybe after my mission I can share some stories out of my journal with you guys, but unfortunately I don't really have time to share those stories.

Jyväskylä is booming, Wow, this place is such an amazing place. I have been so fortunate to see this place grow like bamboo (that grows fast right). Like the very first week when we had our call from the district leader, I was feeling pretty sad about our numbers for the week. But as Elder Slade and I have really pushed ourselves, we have been able to see miracles. For example last week was one of the most incredible finding weeks I have ever seen in my mission. We were on splits with the district leader (elder Kelley) and his companion Elder Sharp (the one in the MTC with me) and while Elder Sharp and I were out doing work (we most definitely received help) we received 2 phone numbers of people who were interested and we tracted into this lady who was very interested and we taught the restoration right there on the spot. She is now a new investigator, and so last we we got 2 new investigators. That's pretty incredible when you think about the Finland it used to be. The average was 1 new investigator per companionship per 10 months and that was 18 months ago (right when President Brown got here) and for us to find 2 in the same week... I was just dumb founded... The Lord uses us to accomplish the things he needs. I doesn't matter how addequite (that's spelled wrong) we are, All that matters is that we are willing to go out and try with our whole hearts. This is such a motivating principle for me because it shows that like Alma 26:12 says we are nothing, but with the Lord's help mighty miracles can be wrought wherever we are. Whether it be Finland on a mission helping other, Utah helping others, or Iraq serving selflessly and helping others, God is there.... He knows every single one of us. He will protect us and our loved ones. He will comfort those that stand in need of comfort. This Gospel is soo personal and all encompassing. I think that is something that President Brown has really helped me understand.

Oh man President Brown, I can't tell you enough how incredible of a man he is, he has helped change the Finland mission around. I know I am here serving in Finland because there is so much for me to learn from this man. He is so funny too. LOL last interview he said "The Bees Knees" haha and I laughed a little because if I recall correctly Kyle and I heard dad say that one time and laughed a lot, then we acquired it into our speech.. anyways President Brown is the man.

No we don't go in early at nights, other than we push our dinner back till 8 o'clock because then it is pretty ineffective time so elder slade and I decided that would be more effective. haha finns are so weird about their sleeping. yeah I think they go to bed earlier in the winter.. Because Elder Slade and I have got chewed out a few times for knocking on the doors at like 7:30 at night.

Hmmm... what else.. haha you guys do have to worry about packages and letters and stuff.. lol yes they are nice ;) but don't feel obligated... emails suffice :) Yes I got all that stuff fromage! that lots of moula was part of my 2nd Christmas I received. The stocking was part of the 1st one though :) hence the pictures with all the cool presents!

So fromage I got an email from Kim Thornley and she is going send out newsletters with all my missionary friend updates. So I will start sending out a paragraph a month for you to forward to her... I'll figure all that out and be a little more specific next email.

Zone conference is this week (tomorrow) :) :) :)

Like I stated earlier, We are so blessed. We are so taken care of. I think one of those quotes on that paper that I sent last package says Something along the lines of that If our lives are centered upon Christ and his teachings we are set :) Christ is soooo Important, I'm grateful for parents who taught me that at a very young age... now I understand why it is that way :) I love missionary work sooo much... Negative 26 degree weather and all :)

This gospel is true, and I love the comfort it brings to me and I know it has and is yet to bring more comfort into our lives. Wow... You would think the Church is true or something ;) lol (President Brown says that all the time)

Love you all, Have a wonderful week... I was going to add a funny picture to this email.. But I ran out of time! I Love you all!


Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010

Dearest family,

Wow, thank you! I just got 2 packages and a very nice card from Ryan and Julia, the Andersons (or Andersens I always forget which way to spell it hahaha) and Fromage, Holy cow! Thank you! Don't worry about me I won't starve, I love the mail in Finland because as long as you can fit it in the post box thing, It only costs like a max of 4 stamps (3.20 euros) pretty cheap :) That's why I can send so much stuff... So I guess Ryan and Kyle can be comforted in that it was probably a lot more expensive to send stuff in the mail.

Sounds like everything is going well for you guys! Everything is going great here in Jyväskylä. Elder Slade and I are becoming extremely unified in the work. Good stuff! It takes me back to an email I got from Kyle while he was still in France and I was still in the MTC. He said "unity and personal worthiness are two of the most important things to having the spirit, and the spirit is the most important thing for doing the Lord's work" Pretty profound, he is a good one. I can't imagine the stress of being a trainer at 4 months, Kyle is just the man! My 4 months in Finland mark will be Febuary 7th and my 6 months on the mission mark is this week sometime (22nd) Holy cow time flies when you are in the work. I'm so grateful for the examples I had, Ryan and Dad and Kyle, you were all such great missionaries. When it gets tough I just think of you guys going through some of the same trials, Just in Germany, Korea, and France. :) It really helps me a lot!

This week I had my interview with President Brown... I love that man! Wow, he is incredible. He shared a lot of things with me that are just for me :) lol... But he gave me a reading assignment. D&C 5-19 He talked about how this is where Joesph is instructed on how to be a Prophet. So far from what I have read it talks about desire and obedience. I thought you guys might like to read that and look for things that stick out to you on how you can improve and become better :)

So, I was at this family's house for a D.A. and they had this book that had all the missionaries that served in Jyväskylä and guess who I found, Layne Rockhill, from Kamas, Utah! haha That was pretty cool. Ask him if he ever served in Jyväskylä, and if he remembers the I family.

haha ok so I wrote this on my little agenda of things to write about... it was a pretty funny experience that I thought I would like to share with you guys. So, Elder Slade and I were tracting last Saturday, I had done this door and they were pretty short with us and then they said some not very nice things about our church. (one of those times you don't really want to understand what they are saying) but I was feeling kinda down after that. Then we went to the next door, I was on the side where you don't really see the people. Elder Slade rang the doorbell, and this man answers the door... I think in my head... Is that man naked? I just saw the very edge of him.... Elder Slade was not so lucky... He got the full fledged view of a very naked Finnish man... HAHA I have never laughed so hard in my life... I waited til we were where he couldn't hear us and I laughed so HARD hahah it was a well needed laugh... Pretty funny story that if I remember right Mitzi can relate to, right?

So this letter is kinda short, but I just want to thank you for all you guys do, I'm doing great out here. I love every minute. One of the few chances in life where you are able to serve the Lord with every fiber of your being... It's exhausting.. but incredible! I love FINLAND! Wow, you guys need to come here someday, it is great! Thank you dad for that spiritual thought... I enjoyed it. Thank you all! You guys are the best little family a missionary could ask for! :)

Love you,

Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

p.s. Fromage, could you maybe send some hunting pictures of grandpa and some of the cool things he has shot. There is this non member guys that we are meeting with and he is a BIG hunting fan (that vocabulary is difficult for me) but I think he would really like to see some of those pictures.


January 11, 2010

Dearest family,

That´s never fun, poor little kyle. I could crack a joke here... but I'll just show a little compassion ;) haha. Sounds like all went well, Thank goodness for prayers, that sounds like it could have turned out to be quite a nasty scar. Hope he just keeps getting better.

Happy birthday yesterday! Sorry my birthday package did not get sent of in time, but you can only do so much haha. Hopefully it will get to you this week sometime. Also, today I am sending my memory card and it has a lot of pictures, hopefully if i remember I will show you a tour of the new apartment. The apartment here in Jyväskylä is awesome. haha It even has it's own sauna, but unfortunately we can't use it... ohhh well!

I love this place so much, It doesn't have quite the teaching pool that Pori did, so we don't get very many teaches a week... but it will soon! we just got a new investigator this week, his name is M. I'll share his story with you guys real quick because it is so amazing! so there we were, one of our investigators (A and S) we had a teach lined up with them and we brought a member with us (V) and we went to the teach, but for some reason they didn't answer, we didn't know really what to do because we really wanted to get a lesson with V. I always feel really bad when stuff like that happens because it's hard for the members to come out and all that. But we just pressed forth with faith! Then we decided to go visit a potential investigator in the area. He wasn't home. So we were pretty sad that we had wasted V's time. But we pressed forward with more faith. Then we were all walking to the bus stop (I don't actually know why Elder Slade and I were) and I decided, let's at least contact while we have a Finn with us who can correct our bad grammar. So we did. I stopped this particular man (M) and talked about God's love and how knowing our purpose in life can really help us, and how the gospel can help him. He said "my life is kind of a mess right now, I'm ready to hear the gospel" I didn't think I heard him right so I asked the Finn (V) if that is really what he said.. He said yep. So then we all walked to Mikko's house and talked a little about him and the gospel. Then we had a teach about families and happiness in this life. It was a miracle, I was so glad that V was there because he was about the same age as M (30) and he testified about his family and I really felt how deep and truly he meant it. It was pretty incredible. Moral of the story, the Lord provides. He is the master of timing and the master of planning. Although we weren't able to go through with our plans, he used our plans to help accomplish something bigger. It is incredible the things like that that happen every single day. I love it!

This ward is incredible! I love talking with them, I found out the secret to making Finns think you really know the language. You just ask them a question, (a good one) listen a little bit, and then talk a little and they basically think you are Finnish! haha this ward is so kind and so thoughtful! Yesterday in Church we had this lady come up and she asked us if we needed some giant wool socks, because she has too many. So we are going to get some super cool Finnish socks :) and then we get like 3 or 4 dinner appointments a week! yum! What else.... Oh yes, so yesterday I was talking with some of the youth in the ward, and they play this game called Sähkly (floor hockey) and they play every Tuesday, but as missionaries we can only play on p-day, so I was talking to them and we lined it up for today. So at 4 o'clock this afternoon I will be playing Sähkly with the youth. I'm pretty excited, because I miss playing sports! Tender little mercies :)

So we had this dinner appointment with this American family this week (the Ames) that was my first dinner appointment in English. They were great. They are about 26 and they have a little baby girl named Adiline or something like that. They were super nice. He is a smart man, and very dedicated. I really like them. He talked a lot about college and we talked about what Elder Slade and I want to be when we grow up. He gave some advice that really might help me figure out what I want to do with my life. He said don't ever be afraid of doing a little work because there is a lot of room on the top, because not very many people are willing to do the work to get there. Then I started thinking of president Dieter F. Uchtdorf's last conference talk "two things for any economy" He really stresses the necessity of work and an education, college is both. Brother Ames talked a lot about science and it really interested me. Maybe I will go into medical physics because it sounded just like something I want to do! But anyways, that was my little tender mercy of help for the week, because when I left on my mission I didn't really know what I wanted to do.. but now I'm getting closer to knowing! :)

I love Jyväskylä!!!

"For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him" Elder Jeffery R. Holland. I really liked this quote because it kinda goes along with some of the things I talked about in the last few emails about making Christ the center of our lives. I love my mission so much, I would not trade being out here for anything. I have learned how we can make Him the center. Love it!

I love ticket to ride, I played that game at college I think.. I don't remember who with though... maybe my roomate Dallin... It's a fun game!

Love you all so much, thank you for all you do for me, You guys are the best! Keep pressing forward with steadfast faith in Christ, because that is what really is important, no matter what circumstances we are in.

Love you all!

Vanhin Nielsen

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 4, 2010

Dearest Family,

Wow this place is incredible, I liked that description you gave of Jyväskylä, It is quite accurate. Yes it is a college town, yes it is beautiful. But the Finns only say it is beautiful in the summer time, I kind of enjoy it right now. Yes it is quite a bit colder than Pori, hahah I am so thankful I had those boots on my feet when we were tracting last Saturday, lol it was -22 degrees hahaha and we thought there were apartments where we were going, but we were wrong. It was a good experience though :) I learned that I need to keep those little hand warmer things in my backpack at all times!

Jyväskylä has one of the most incredible wards ever. It is just like the ward in Pori but bigger. The ward has 230 or so members, but only about half are active... Lots to do here :) the people here are so friendly and so nice I love it. I'm had my Finnish vocabulary stretched quite a bit being here talking with these people as I try to get to know them. Yesterday was fast Sunday, I got this little paper passed to me at the beginning of the meeting asking me to prepare myself to bear my testimony to the ward. I thought I did a pretty good job, but I'm not going to lie it was a lot more intimidating in front of 100 people rather than the 30 in Pori. I think I am here in Jyväskylä because I was developing kind of a comfort zone with the people and the members in Pori. You can't grow when you are comfortable where you are at. It's been good.

Haha Sorry to laugh about your story cheese, But I just imagined it all... I had kind of a similar day my 2nd day in Pori. You learned to be more careful, I learned to not get caught up in a rush and do things wrong haha. So here is how my day went. It was a Wednesday, we were a little late out of the apartment to get Elder Beard (the elder I replaced) to his train on time. So we had to jog a little bit to get there. We got there and the train did it's little departing message and was about to leave for Helsinki. We hurried and stopped the train (opened one of the doors) and went and got his ticket that we hadn't bought yet. We had to show the ticket attendant the phone that had the train voucher on it. Elder Beard then slipped the phone in his pocket and left on his train. Walking home, Elder Slade and I realized that he had the phone... We had no phone and there are no payphones here. So we had to go to a member's house ask if we could use their phone to call him. We got that all figured out and he was going to send it in the mail. We still didn't have a phone, but we had peace of mind. We went to get a few things done later that day, I had to buy groceries so we went to an atm... I guess i was hurrying too fast and typed my pin in wrong... the ATM ate my card... I wanted to cry a little... But we used some other people's phones and got it all figured out.. hopefully! So anyways I learned that I need to just slow down, relax and plan. So that is what that 40 euro charge is on my card, I took out some back up money.

So wow I had an incredible week, I learned a lot. It sounds like you guys did too! First I will go through and clarify some things I noticed in the emails :) haha. First Kyle, thank you for your email, I love that little PMG you gave me. Every missionary that sees it complements it and yes it is extremely useful. I love reading it and imagining the stories you had in your mission. No we don't have our meetings in Finnish, they are in English. Just the songs and the prayers are in Finnish. I like it that way because you are supposed to hear the gospel in your native tongue :) Sounds like a fun weekend with Elder Chung!

Those pictures I just forwarded from president. They take one of those every zone conference, So hopefully I will be a little more on the ball and forward them right when I get them. Thank you Kimberlie for taking care of my blog, you are a champion! I'm looking forward to having that picture of Boston, because he is a stud! :) oh you Waddoups :)

Ryan and Julia sound like they are doing good! Hope you enjoyed your christmas vacations! love ya!

Fromage that is a pretty lofty goal... when I read that I thought... Wow I guess that much faith is really the end goal. Why not cut to the chase and make it a goal now ;) HAHA I'm so glad I have the family I do. I learn so much from your stories and examples, but there is always a good laugh intermittent (I don't know if that is the right word).

Challenge for you guys this week. Find the February 2003 ensign and read Three Parables by James Talmage. Then read Strenthening the Inner Self by James E. Faust. Then I really liked teaching children principles of happiness by D. Micheael Barret. And our thorns in the flesh was good! Wow that Ensign is loaded with tons of stuff that applies to everyone whatever stage they are at!

I'm so thankful I'm here in Jyväskylä. This place is incredible I love it! Love you all and thank you for all you do for me!

Sincerely, With love

Vanhin Nielsen