Monday, March 29, 2010

March 22, 2010

Dearest Family,
Holy cow, you guys are planting stuff?!? that is crazy to me lol there is stil a lot of snow outside here. We are flirting with 0 degrees all the time, sometimes -1 sometimes +1 haha but I'm not going to lie I think that the temperature is perfect... Just throw on a coat and you are set :) Finland is So Beautiful
Well, Change call was last Saturday and we didn't get a call, so we are going to be staying together for another 6 weeks... 3 transfers together. Did any of you (dad, Ryan or Kyle) serve with a companion for 3 changes? if so tell me what it was like. haha as for war stories... maybe I will write a letter lol :)
This last week was pretty exciting, We had a meeting with R B (one of the people from the list of brother Rockhill's) He was a really really fun guy. He talked about a lot of the things they did with Layne. He talked about how Layne was a Cowboy Through and Through. He was a very nice man, his wife even had some delicious blueberry cake stuff (mustikka-piirakka) Fun Man :) We shared our spiritual thought with him, and he really enjoyed it. It sounded to me like he became less active because he feels like at Church it isn't "fun" I really think that as we teach him he will learn and remember the reason why he joined the Church. we just have to help him feel the spirit like he did back when he joined. He is an incredible man!

Also I told you about O R didn't I? well he is doing great, he has been a strong member even since he was baptized. When I talked to him and said Elder Rockhill, He was like ya! That is who baptized me. Pretty cool to see what a little world it is.

I can't remember if I said this or not last email, but I was talking with K K, one of the coolest people in the ward, about when he served in Sweden. I asked him if he knew elder Eric Merrell, He said yep. He even thinks he went splits with him a couple times. K is the man, I really wish you guys could come visit the ward here in Jyväsklyä. These people are soo incredible. haha almost too much help (actually I'm pretty sure too much help is impossible... but I wanted you all to know how amazing they are) haha

We went to a castle last wednesday in Hämelinna after a district meeting.. It was incredible haha it felt so cool being in a real castle, I took about a million pictures. I'll try and send some cool ones with next weeks email :)

Dad, how is Jeff John Doing? I love that man, when you see him tell him Hi :) Also could you get me his address, I would like to write him a letter.

Fromage that's pretty cool that you got your bee! :) Pretty funny how that timed out because just this morning I finished the book of Mormon again. *Kyle I am so glad that you told me the importance of a study journal in the MTC like wow... I'm pretty stoked about my study journal, I'll have to show you someday... It's pretty legit :)

I was reading Moroni 7 and charity was something that really stuck out to me. I guess charity is something that I just said "oh ya, charity, love your neighbor, be nice" but it is absolutely essential, I wish I could explain some of the feelings I had as I thought about how perfect and example Christ is of charity. He loved people so unconditionally. He didn't judge the wicked or cast out the lame. He helped make them whole. what an amazing example :) I love Him :) :) :)

I'm still trying to learn about pride haha and here is a good quote that president shared in my last email:
Elder Richard G. Scott. He said, “Humility is that quality that permits us to be taught from on high through the spirit or to be taught from sources whose origin was inspiration from the Lord, such as scriptures and the comments of the prophets. Humility is the precious, fertile soil of righteous character. In it, the seeds of personal growth germinate. When cultivated through the exercise of faith, pruned by repentance, and fortified by obedience and good works, such seeds produce the cherished fruit of spiritual direction.”

So to me Charity is a sign of humility. It shows that we are willing to try and follow Christ's perfect example. I know that as we try he will strengthen us and help us when we are weak . I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY :D

Well that is all I have for this week, You will probably get my letter I sent last week sometime...

I love you all and am so grateful for you support. Miracles are happening all around. just the other day we ran into a former investigator and just the perfect time. She attended church yesterday and I truly feel like God has been preparing her. I know that it was not an accident that we were there at that time and she was in that exact situation where we were able to help. God takes care of his people :) we just need to have the faith to "trust in him with all our might and lean not unto our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path" Pretty intense promise there! Conditional upon our faith and actions.

Love you all! I'm excited for you dad to start your new job! I know you are the man for the job... You aren't THAT old ;) hehe love ya!

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

March 15, 2010

Dearest Family!
Wow, I'm just ecstatic.. This was a great week here in Jyväskylä and It sounds like it was just as great for you guys. I love good news! Sometimes we have to go through the trials to experience the joys. Elder Slade and I have taught a lot about the Brother of Jared and that whole little story. I love how God helps prepare his people for the trials, and doesn't lessen the trials to fit the people. We wouldn't be able to grow without them. "You would think the Church is True or something" -Quote from President Brown :)
Wow, Little miracles happening all around the place. Haha I thought it was kinda funny yesterday... a little spiritual slap in the face. As after 3 weeks we haven't been able to find some keys to the church (that were lost) by some little miracle one of the members found them in their church bag. No one knows how they got there... but they were there anyways. Miracles happen. He is in charge.
Sooo... unfortunately this email has to be really short. But yes I found some of those people Brother Rockhill asked about. We now have a meeting with the B family this Thursday, he seemed very cool over the phone. He says "happy Christmas" lol
Also we talked to O R, He sends tervesia (greetings?) to Brother Rockhill. He seemed surprised when we said Elder Rockhill! He said Oh, He baptized me :)
So much to say no time... I'll write a letter this afternoon.
Love you all !
Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 8, 2010

Dearest Family,

First I would like to direct your attention to the fact that my email address has changed. I think I would still get the emails that you sent to my old address but I don't think it is worth the risk. It would be lovely if you all would send my emails to my new address.

TECHNOLOGY!!!! haha we got our phone about an hour after I sent that email to you guys. Missionary work is about 1000 times more effective with cell phones... I don't know how people survived before cell phones were invented. haha I feel a little guilty because the new phone we got is way nice, and the one we lost was... not as nice haha.

Also, Elder Slade's mom is trying to find you on missionary moms... are you on that? I think I remember asking you about this about 6 weeks ago... but I don't remember the answer you told me.

We had a wonderful week. We had splits with our district leader who is going home in about 2 weeks. He is incredible at speaking Finnish. Like, wow. I had the opportunity to serve along side him all day. I realized a lot of things he does that would help me be a more effective servant of the Lord. He really talks to people with his personality... He mastered the language so that he could talk with his personality. People like talking to people I guess is the main lesson I learned. like I already knew that... but it just strengthened my knowledge of this... Does that make sense? haha Sometimes I feel like I just ramble on in these emails and I picture you guys reading it... Oaky asleep on the floor because even he is bored.. haha just kidding (kinda lol)

Anyways, on splits Elder Slade and Elder L (the district leaders companion) were tracting and this man named T let them in and really listened to the message they shared. Elder Slade and I went back to teach him. After the teach he told us that he didn't want to meet anymore. After that I felt kinda bad... but then I realized... Don't feel bad, you shared with that man the restoration of Christ's Church. I did my part and I testified with every fiber of my being... That is what I was called to do.

Anyways I gotta go (another short email lol sorry) anyways, I was reading about the brother of Jared the story about when they crossed the sea. God prepared the people for the sea, he didn't prepare the sea for the people. Here is a little quote I found that illustrates kinda how I felt as I pondered about the Brother of Jared and his faith:

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of you work shall not be a miracle, But you shall be the miracle" -Phillips Brooks.

Then this Chinese proverb says it pretty well:

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."

That is what life is about, learning things that really matter and learning how to overcome the weakness of man. I had a little taste of this this last week, I hope my thoughts are coherent enough that you all understand at least a little of what I learned!

There is probably 15 youth in the ward, Fromage. Good to hear all is going well with dad and Nucor :) :) The Lord truly does understand how much we can bear and he is the Master of timing! Finland is the greatest place on earth! I'm serious! :)

Love you all so much! I pray all continues to go well!

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.s Fromage, with this new email there is a ton of space, So I can start getting pictures through email if you would like to start sending them :)
P.P.S Elder Slade and I tracted in to a fat man in a speedo last week... :) haha
P.P.P.S Fromage, could you send me one of those gospel art books? A member in our ward really wants one and can't figure out how to get one... so I offered :)
P.P.P.P.S E's mom was overjoyed at the letter from Sarah I gave to her Sunday.
P.P.P.P.P.S I'm done writing p.s at the end of my emails lol.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010

Dearest Family,

Guess what, Today I looked at the thermometer and it was positive 1 degree. Looks like Winter is over. haha It was weird to think back and I couldn't remember the Last time I saw the temperature above freezing... At least october. I'm not going to lie I was grateful at times to have an zealous mother who stuffed my luggage so full of warm stuff... and then sent some more warm stuff for christmas haha :)

So the snow is melting and turning into slush, and the little birds are returning to good old finland. The sun has pretty much always shined.... just now I can feel the warmth :) haha I'm loving this place... I'm learning so much here in finland. I would be interested to here the list of people that Brother Rockhill had of people from Jyväskylä... did he get that to you yet dad?

Thank you sarah, i think that E is going to be thrilled to hear from an american girl!

In response to dad's questions about the euro. We have actually noticed the euro's value go down, but that is good for us (at least as missionaries) because we get our money transfers from american dollars so the less valuable the euro is the more valuable the american dollar is. Food prices and everything have stayed the same. I heard that greece went bankrupt but I didn't think that was the reason we were getting more money...

It's crazy to think of all that is going on around the world, all the different life situations and all the different attitudes about these situations... I'm so thankful for you guys and the attitude that I learned at a young age. The attitude that happiness is a choice. Whenever we are in a situation we can choose to be happy or to not be happy. Mom is pretty much the perfect example of this, it doesn't matter what is going on around her, she is just a happy little busy bee helping others be happy.

This week has been a different week from all the rest in my mission so far. We have had to resort to the old fashion way of doing missionary work... No phone... But we actually had a really good week I thought. We still were able to set up a few teaches with people regardless of our lack of phone. It was a good experience. I will say that I'm going to be glad to get our new phone (arriving in the mail this afternoon) Technology is fast and efficient... but old fashion is good too... just not as fast :) lol

We have been so blessed here in Jyväskylä, it is an incredible place, I really really enjoy it here.

We had a pretty fun opportunity this last friday in that we hosted a "mini MTC" for the young men in the ward. We had a few sets of challenges of things we would do in the MTC. like basketball, tying ties, Scripture mastery, and Language study. I thought it turned out really well and the young men really seemed to enjoy it.

hmmm... I think that that is about all the exciting things that happened on this side of the world :) Glad to hear that all is well over in Zion ;) haha funny stories about Sacrament meeting. I cannot even describe how much I have learned over here so far in Finland, I'm looking forward to more and more and more learning experience. So that is about my week in a nutshell! :)

Love you all!

Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

P.s. I'm going to start sending a bunch of packages home with selfish gifts for me haha like some finnish books that I wanted etc. lol... Maybe I will throw in some chocolate for you all ;)

February 22, 2010

Dearest Family,

Holy cow! I know why Layne Rockhill loved Jyväskylä so much... It is just incredible. I am so grateful to be where I am at! haha I appologize for last week's worthless excuse for an email... I hope this one will be better. So, We have had quite a busy week. (I guess I'm going to have to update you on the last two weeks huh?) We have seen so many miracles its incredible. Europe is changing, I want you guys to see If you can find a talk by Elder K (the europe area president) He talked about how the vision he has of europe doubling it's activity rate of the members is the next 10 years, PRETTY INTENSE! I hope you guys can find it... It was in the liahona (at least the finnish one) a few months ago (maybe within the last 6 months) Anyways, He talked about that, and I see the little things going into place to help that vision become a reality. Right here in good old Jyväskylä!

Haha So I guess I will try and remember everything I talked about in the last email real quick. Well, Sisar T printed off the email that you sent her. Wow! Mitzi's finnish is pretty good, lol like better than mine by a lot! Lol, I hope I catch up to her finnish soon :)

I blessed the sacrament last week in church and just yesterday I gave a talk... haha It's crazy how much scarier it is talking in front of 130 finns rather than just 1 or 2 haha.

So, This last week we had district conference and president was there and he taught us some things that I hope I remember my entire life! So mom, Do you remember when we were driving home from logan and you asked me what I think one thing I am going to learn on my mission was. Do you remember my answer? My answer was humility... President Brown just taught us about Pride.... I was Humbled.... It was pretty intense. It really showed me alot of things that I need to work on that I thought I had "in the bag" haha wow. It brought my thoughts to something maybe it was einstein... whoever it was said "The more you learn the more you come to the realization of how little you know" (that entire quote could have been made up... but I still give the credit to Einstein) That is pretty much how I felt about what I learned last wednesday... He shared with us this talk by President Ezra Taft Benson entitled "Beware of Pride" I'll bet mom and Dad remember this talk because it is one I will not forget. It goes through and teaches about pride and the great stumbling block it is. C.S. Lewis simplified pride pretty well when he said " Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone" Then President Benson teaches how pride is one of the roots of all sin and how so many nations fell because of pride in the Book of Mormon. Crazy intense stuff. President taught it with such love though... he really taught us this so we could see where we need to improve. He is a Good man :) So ya.... I was pretty humbled thinking back to all the prideful things I do and Think. haha

Then he taught us how to overcome pride... Humility and Prayer. He shared some things in our interview together that really have helped me understand better these two things.

This week has been incredible. We are getting teaches with new people all the time. People just keep saying yes, and I love it! haha but we kind of had a stumbling block just yesterday we lost the phone :( somehow it fell out of elder slade's pocket. We hope that someone found it and gave it to the police office.... only time will tell. We spent some time today backtracking our steps from yesterday, but no luck :( I think everything will turn out for the best :)

So good to hear that all is well in utah! haha Sounds like it was cold though! Haha I kinda have a funny story about the cold. So it was saturday and We took a bus clear out to this familes house (the V) they are less actives and we were going to set up an appointment because we never have been able to get an appointment with them. Anyways we went out there and we lined up an appointment and went to catch the bus back but we missed it... and elder slade slipped (but wasn't hurt)... haha so that was kinda funny, but kinda sad... I had mixed emotions at the time. We realized the next bus didn't come for an hour and it was like negative 24 or so... it was cold, So we walked for a half an hour in the cold, and when i got to the other bus stop I had Ice all over my eyelashes! so I guess it wasn't funny... But really cool!! Haha I got a picture of it! (don't even worry fromage I didn't get cold with all my layers on ;) )

Holy Cow I got 3 packages this last week at district meeting! Thank you all (family, waddoups, and tori wennergreen) The treats were delicious and I'm probably going to get fat now! Normal peanut butter was probably the highlight of all the packages! Mitzi was right when she saide the peanut butter is wierd in Finland. haha you guys are little sweethearts :)

Holy cow, So we were at this amazing Dinner appointment yesterday with the J family, and they have this daughter about sarah's age that just loves english and really wants to visit america someday. So this morning I had an Idea pop into my head. Sarah this is a request from you, I think this little girl (E J) would love to have an american pen pal... how would you like a finnish pen pal? I think her mom would translate... So sarah do you want to write a letter to my address but address it to E J? She is like 10 years old and loves america... thats about all I know about her haha that would be cool if you would do that!

Well that is about all my ideas for this week! I love you all and hope next week is as good as last one :) :)

Love you all!

Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen