Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27, 2010

Dearest Family,

I love finland haha and it is starting to look and feel alot like the finland I came into almost an entire year ago! Can you believe that? I hit my one year mark in finland next wednesday (Oct 6) That just blows my mind! Finland is definentally the greatest mission in the whole world (not comparing or being prideful... just stating the facts as I see them :) ) It has been incredible to see the change that has happened in the missionary work just in the last year that I have been here! President Brown is doing an incredible thing among the missionaries here! I can't remember if I told you this or not, but someday I'll have to tell you all the stories about "the old Finland mission" haha it was... different lol. Now we are truly relying on the spirit and finding those people that the Lord has been preparing. This new program has aided quite a bit in that process.

Because of this new program I have been in Helsinki for a couple week long leadership meetings. This meeting is all about the more simple and more trust on the spirit way of being a Preach My Gospel Missionary, I love it! I really can't tell you about all the things that are so simple, but make an incredible difference in the Lord's work. I love learning all these and hope that I can apply these correctly... haha maybe one day I'll have time to sit down and share all my thoughts about this into a tape recorder so you guys can know how I feel. I feel like every week I just leave you a little more and more confused... Finland is AMAZING!

This week was a great week and there was A LOT to be learned in this meeting. My thoughts actually were quite influenced by what dad shared in his email last week the "lift where you stand" principle. It was increidible to have the holy ghost testify and so cleary explain to me that truely God has called you here at this specific time because he has a specific work for you to do. Man... He truly is omnipotent and can comprehend things a lot more thoroughly that man can. It was a tender mercy to have a testimony brought to my heart that I am here in Jyväskylä for a very specific purpose and that God has not called me to fail, He will help me as I humbly and sincerely seek his guidance. I think this principle applies to everyone everywhere. We showed God that we are willing and desirious to follow him earlier, and now we are here in our specific appointed place, calling, family, whatever it may be, to succeed. Lift where you stand is all that we can do, it is all we are expected to do because God knows what is best for us... we just need to learn! :) Sorry that was a lot of jumbled thoughts I have had over the past week!

Throughout the whole mission we were given a book of mormon challenge (from the end of chapter 5 in PMG) President gave us each a fresh clean copy of the Book of Mormon and gave some guidelines for underlining and marking, unfortunatelly I don't have time to go into detail, but I have learned a lot about the Book of Mormon and the powerful testimony it has as a testimant of Jesus Christ... INTENSE!

So questions... Week was wonderful, I was in Helsinki and stayed the week in Elder Quinn's (my trainer) apartment, I love that Elder. Funnest part of the week was hearing the amazing things president Brown shared, and being with Elder Higginson who is quite likely the funniest person I have ever meet. Dirty rotten part of the week... I would have to say that I don't really know (I try and block those from my memory ;) lol) Food, Ihan Hyvä... it is good.. ish :) lol... Nope not gaining much weight, Elder Fuchs likes running too much haha. No I think I'm good on a suit and shoes, i really am surprised at how well these eccos are holding out! I will however accept as many black pens as you are willing to send :) especially the Bic ones that write really smooth... I'm down to my last one (they are white, kinda opaq, and aren't anything fancy, just from walmart and they come in a pack of 10 for like 2$) That is one thing Finland doesn't have cheap pens... or good deoderant haha.

District leader is going well. Our district meeting is going to be all about the Book of Mormon this week!

Love you all! Glad everyone is doing great! haha sorry my emails are all pretty much the same... I'll try and get some variance in there someday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY W!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

September 20, 2010

Dearest Family,

What a wonderful week in Jyväskylä. haha 11 months.. that is almost exactly how long I will be staying in Jyväskylä if I am transfered at the end of this month. Must be something about the Elwood boys and Jyväskylä :) (well.. I guess Brother Rockhill is from kamas.. but now is an "Elwoodite") I Love Jyväskylä with all my heart... I really can't even begin to describe how amazing this place is. If you ever come to finland go strait to Jyväskylä :) hehe just kidding Pori is pretty good as well :) ( and I have always dreamed about going to Oulu) anyways... Want to hear some more pretty cool facts? I am one of 2 missionaries right now that has been in the same city for 7 transfers (and I know of 1 other, but is no longer in his city) lol this transfer is an extra week long so that will make me and elder schoof the altime kings of our cities haha unless someone stay 8 transfers... Eli if anyone else stays 7 transfers, we can say we still stayed longer. haha Elder Schoof is in Lapeenranta which is pretty close to the russian border. so there is some random info about Jyväskylä and my time here thus far!

This week was a really good week. We have been staying busy between all our meetings and teaches and random odds and ends like a Takkavalkeailta (fireside) at which we spoke for 15 minutes yesterday evening. It was really good, about the savior's atonement. I was thinking yesterday how wonderful it is that the gospel is all around the world and that it is the same unchangable truth from God. I remember thinking about that as a little kid when we went to colorado and church was exactly the same I was in awe that that far away they do the same things! lol now I am a little wiser and a little further away... and yet it is the same unchangable truth and I am still in awe at it's glory! :) I love it! Just before our fireside yesterday evening we had a teach with the Pitkämäki family (translated their name means "long hill".. lol I love finnish last names they are all like indian names little bonfire= Kokkonen (the last name of a potential investigator we met last week) haha that last name seems like a contradicting statement... little bonfire...anyways wow way off subject) The lesson went really well haha they are intense I love it! they are pentacostal and study the bible a lot, they are however very open and are coming to church next week! I know they will be able to feel the wonderful spirit that Jocelyn decribed as "warm" when she came to church for the very first time... Family... the gospel is true and the spirit is "warm" in everyone's heart who is willing to listen.

I really liked a couple things that dad and Mom said in their emails. Mom talked about how the savior knew and understood people capabilities and succored them according to these. I know that is true that God provides a way that we can accomplish the things he has for us. I really liked the way, mom, you shared that nice little ahh hah you had about that. brilliant! Maybe that will be the next district meeting topic :D And dad's thought was wonderful! I can still hear Elder Uchtdorf's voice as he said to the brotheren of the church "lift where you stand" Wow... man in a week an a half we get to participate in general conference AGAIN! I cannot wait! :) I LOVE general conference. Elder fuchs are making our way through previous general conferences ( thanks mom) and it is wonderful the new things we can learn...

This week is looking like another crazy week haha I'm going to be in Helsinki again all week and Elder Fuchs is going to be in Lahti. We have another week long training meeting... i'm way excited! I think there is a reason we are having all these... we have something we need to learn. The new simplified principles from Preach My Gospel are really focusing us on teaching with the power of the holy ghost, and we are having all these leadership meetings so that we can learn so we can teach our districts. Wonderful opportunity to become a better teacher so in the future we can teach our families and children!

Thanks family for the wonderful support you are to me! through prayers, emails, letters, packages ;) haha and so forth, I am eternally grateful for the family I have been born into! Happy Birthday Face! Have a fun FHE date :) Mom enjoy being with boston! love you all and hope you have a wonderful week and enjoy the wonderful life God has blessed us all with!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010

Dear Family,

ONNEKSI OLKOON FACE!!!! Boston is having a baby sister/brother! haha Congrats! Fun Fun Fun! Good to hear that Boston recognizes the missionaries as Thomas :) that's my boy! I can just picture fromage when she found out she is having a second grandchild... Joy i'm sure :) fun to hear you guys had a great week all over the place, whitney in provo following a tom tom! (Fromage... mine is lost?!? uhh ohh... haha just kidding I think Ryan said he would "take care" of it while I am on my mission) I love hearing all the neat little things that happend in your guy's lives.

This week was another really good week... but unfortunately I don't really have much new to report. The district is doing well and we are having a Zone conference this wednesday which should be great. Elder Fuchs and I tracted into a neat couple a week and a half ago and they became investigators this week. They really know the bible and are married, which is rare for young finnish couples. We have been staying really busy here in Jyväskylä and I love it! The work of the Lord is incredible. We are having some troubles getting the missionaries in Cameroon to get a hold of Jocelyn's husband. he still hasn't heard anything from them :( I think it may have to do with the address we got, because it was in french and really really confusing and so we call our office in helsinki and had them forward it to africa... I am thinking that somewhere down the line it got changed.

hmmm... This week we had some change in our district, Elder Horne (My mtc companion) is now one of our Zone leaders! Yay! I had a good chance to talk with him yesterday evening as we reported the district numbers up through the chain of command. I guess I could tell you what our district consists of. In it is missionaries from 3 different cities. Jyväskylä (just us 2) Tampere (2 sisters and 2 Zone leaders) and Lahti (2 elders) Because we are so spread out we are only able to hold district meeting twice a change (eli every 3 weeks or so) which is rather unfortunate... how did that work in Dad, Ryan, and Kyle's Missions? I would assume pretty similar. So the Missionaries in our district are tampere Zone leaders- Elder Sharp and Horne (both in Mtc with me :) ) tampere Sisters herde and Christiansen (spelling?) and Lahti- Elders Newman and Higginson. What a great district!

Wow... Fromage if probably going to cry if I end my email here... I better think of something to write haha... we stole some carrots (with permission) from a members garden... this week we had some really good teaches... I love finland :)

Lol... yep I'm drawing a blank... I'll do better next week :) lol I love you family and I am so grateful for the many wonderful things you all do! Do what is right :)

Love Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 6, 2010

Dear Family,

Here is the News.... Dun Dun Dun.... haha I will be staying another 6 weeks (at least) in Jyväskylä haha that means 7 transfers in the same city. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit shocked lol. I all but had my bags packed. It was a really good experience for me to see that things don't happen the way I plan sometimes, but a peaceful realization that the Lord is in charge and that this church is lead by revelation really struck me deep. I'm thinking this is going to be a Good 6 weeks.. lol maybe kind of a reward for all our labors here... Katsotaan :) (eli we will see)

So that means Elder Fox (Fuchs) and I will be together another 6 weeks. I'm pretty excited because it has been pretty fun to have a foreigner as a companion, Good experience. This is a pretty cool little fact about his itavaltalainen (austrian) heritage, His grandfather was the temple president of the switzerland temple in the 70's and he tanslated the book of mormon into German for the Church (I'm sure with help) so the Translation of the German Book of mormon that you (dad) read, shared, and invited others to read was translated by yours sons 5th (6th if you include the mtc) companion's grandpa haha pretty cool!

Speaking of pretty cool. Yesterday we had a special training meeting in which President Rasband (yep the same one that was in tremonton 2 weeks ago) was there and Elder Texiera from the Seventy. It was an amazing meeting. I wish this had come to my mind earlier, because we were shaking hands and talking and asked where I was from and He said that he was just there spliting and creating a new stake. It didn't come to my rememberance that You (dad) were in an interview with this man just 2 weeks earlier, that would have been a fun thing to chat about. Still pretty interesting to talk to a man who had just had a good heart to heart discussion with my dad 2 weeks earlier! haha

Elder Rasband is an incredible man and he shared a lot of wonderful things with us. We had a couple hours of just question and answer time with him. Just us (2/3 of the mission eli 40 missionaries) and 2 general authorities (and president brown and his wife) (and sister texiera) It was an incredible 2 hours and we were shown a lot of wonderful things about the work, ways we can improve the sharpness of our teaching and ways we can follow the prompting of the holy ghost better. It was truly inspirational. He is a loving man with a big heart! and a deep soothing voice haha it was wonderful

Our investigators are doing... pretty well.... Jocelyn is actually doing amazingly well, Minna has been hard to get in touch with. I think she feels like the ward is going to be disappointed... We keep praying for her and doing all we can to help her! Press forward! We will have a nice Family home evening lesson today and Minna hopefully will be there... we will see! i'll tell you how that goes. I can't seise to be amazed at the tender mercies of the Lord that surround me, and really everyone, daily. I really can't even begin to explain everything

This week has been pretty great, we have a few good potential investigators lined up this week, one couple in particular stand out in my mind. The Pitkämäki, They are are about 25ish years old and we tracted into them. We were talking at the door about the gospel and the wife had a lot of good questions and was very interested in our church, her husband (that is a small miracle in and of itself... a lot of people that age in finland are co-habitating) comes home and he had a lot of good things to say, they study the bible and have just incredible amounts of faith... We have an appointment tuesday and I think it is going to go great!

So that was my week here in Finland, I'm grateful for you family and love you all!

Vanhin Thomas Nielsen

Thursday, September 2, 2010

August 30, 2010

Dearest Family,
Wow, Sounds like you had a great week. Boston Boston Boston... I'm going to teach him some Finnish when I get home! lol this last week I had the weirdest dream, You all were in Finland just visiting and I taught you a bunch of random words in Finnish... like bunny and words like that... Pretty random!
Our week here was incredible. Elder Fuchs and I are getting along great... We have had one of the busiest changes of my life so far. This last week we had splits with two sets of elders and a baptismal interview, the week before that was the week long meeting, week before that was district meeting and one other thing... I don't remember... The week before that was our mini missionary week, and Zone conference haha its been nuts! This week we just have district meetings.. and Change calls. I can't believe this change is almost over already. We will see if I survive another 6 weeks in the blessed city of Jyväskylä
This last week was really great, but we had a couple of heartbreaks, well just one. Minna called mid-week and asked us to postpone the baptismal date, sad (especially if I get transfered) she is still unsure and is having a tough time praying with real intent. I know that if she prays and truly desires to know God will answer her. I know that because he promises that in many different scriptures, and through many prophets (latter day, and ancient) Keep her in your prayers, She knows it is true, but unfortunately the natural man inside us all wants to doubt the things we have received as personal revelation.
Jocelyn is doing soooo good, we are sending the missionaries to her husband today and we will see how that goes (Cross your fingers... but mostly pray lol) we had a teach with Jocelyn that went so well yesterday, I will give you the run-down, because the teach itself didn't go very well, but the knowledge and confidence of jocelyn grew so much as she testified of the restored truths! So Jovin is Jocelyn's friend that just comes to the teaches whenever he feels like it haha, he is a nice guy but kinda of a distraction because he asks weird things and doesn't like to listen for answers. This kind of infuriated (in a loving way) Jocelyn who wanted to hear about the temples and the wonderful lesson we had prepared haha. Jocelyn talked to Jovin about how understand comes through prayer and that if he really wants to know he just needs to ask God, and listen. She then talked about the book of mormon and bible... Man she is sooo great! True conversion my family... She is awesome. We hopefully are going to be holding a baptismal service on the 11 of September, we are keeping that as our goal and it pretty much just depends on the husband.
Also this week (in between the two splits) we had a baptismal interview with a man by the name of Santtu. He is an incredible guy, he has asburgers syndrome, but it doesn't affect his mind or thinking. I really enjoyed our time in the interview and he is a very humble man and really devoted to God. He loves the Book of Mormon and he has a powerful testimony of it. Good good guy!
Mom, there is a missionary in the MTC from jyväskylä and I promised him some krispy kreme donuts... Would you like to do me a favor? lol :) I think through you can send things like that... I'm not sure but I know that there is someway online that you can send them to the MTC. (gives name;/address)
He is a great guy, and is going to be a great missionary. He lived here in Jyväskylä, and we actually had a dinner appointment with his family just yesterday. He leave the MTC September 28... so before then would be the time to send them :) thanks mommy, Love ya!
Thanks for the blessing you all are to me, Know that I love you, and that I love Finland more ;) hehe just kidding family... I love you more :) thanks for all you do. Love you tons and I hope you have another great week! (with no fair rides ;) )
Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen
P.s Enjoy school little girls!

August 23, 2010

Dearest Family,
Wow, What an incredible week here in Finland. We (elder fuchs and I) were in Helsinki from Monday to Friday in one of the longest training meeting known to missionary work. I guess they re-did how mission presidents are to train and teach, and this meeting for the leaders is one of those. It was so good, we talked about some incredible things that will help us far beyond the mission field (but they sure will help in the mission field as well!) We talked about the holy ghost and about a lot of the little things of missionary work and teaching, but how as we do them right pretty much the powers of heaven will come down and touch people hearts, that is when true conversion happens. It was really neat, and I hope I can take and apply the things taught... It was ALOT about being a teacher that teaches to the student (in our case right now investigators) needs. Really really good!
Yes, fromage I did get Ryan and Julia's Package, sorry so slow to tell you all! Tell them thanks, it was great. haha I really have been kind of scatterbrained this past little while... all over the place! and this week is looking like it is going to be the same haha we are going to lahti for splits on tuesday and wednesday a baptimal interview in Tampere. Thursday the Zone leaders are coming here for splits and hopefully (depending on Minna :) a baptismal interview for her) So if all goes according to plans, there will be 2 baptisms in our district this week! YAY! I just hope I can keep my head on straight as we are getting all this travel planning done lol. Man, what a good experience missionary work is. I'm serious there is nothing better in the whole wide world that a young Boy/Girl could do.
Alright I will answer any and all questions I find in your emails.
Q. How is jocelyn and husband doing?
A. Hmmm... Tough to say, Jocelyn is doing wonderful and is just about the closet you can be to being perfect without being twinkled :) haha Husband is hopefully reading and learning about our church and having his heart softened. we are going to send the missionaries in Africa to his place to teach so he can understand what an incredible inpact this will have on his family!
Q. How was the training this week?
A. Really good! I loved it! Lots of training now we all have ALOT of responcibilty to apply these eternal principles to our lives and see how it works for reals!
Q. How is Minna Doing?
A. Whew.... keep praying! She is so great, and I just hope and pray that she will see what she has already found out to be true. Doubt and second guessing are nasty stuff... But I truly believe she will come through because I have seen how much accepting the gospel has changed her life so far, She knows it is true family! Katsotaan!!!!
Q.(from Kyle) How is your health? Weight? Height?
A. All is just dandy haha I am about the same as I left (although it would be nice to grow a couple inches so I could be at least a little taller than Kyle hehe) is your companion?
A. haha he is really great! Really intense... I love it. Lol we do some serious running in the morning and some serious work all day everyday, couldn't be happier! :D
Well I believe that that is all the questions you had. Nice to hear from Kyle and is new wifey! Fun Fun Fun. Life is so happy! I love it! Kyle is an Aggie now! nice work!
Good to hear about everyone and I hope Ryan gets some Gilletto in Rome! haha
Thank you for all your support, prayers, and love! I love this work with my whole heart and I really can't explain the blessing you, and your examples are to me. You are the greatest!
Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen
P.s send thanks to both grandparents for their birthday cards and gifts! I need to write them an offical thanks lol :)