Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011 (Finland... soo beautiful!)

Dearest Family,

A POODLE?!?! ohhh noo... haha well... That is ok... I still have Rocky :D lol I do hope that you enjoy the new poodle whenever you pick it up! Sounds like a fun adventure for you all. fun fun fun. I hope that you are all just loving this summer! Wow, it is nice and toasty here. Finland is quite likely one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love it here. The heat is pretty intense though, I don't know if it is just because the winter here turned my whole body to hibernate mode or what, but when it gets up to 85-90 degrees I feel like I am just about to burn up and die. Life is wonderful here though, the past couple days have been nice and breezy I love it!

This week was great. We were in Joensuu for the entire week that made it nice. I do love our investigators, but sadly we are going to have to drop some this week because of lack of keeping commitments and for other various reasons. We shall see how all goes. It has been incredible being here in Joensuu to see how many people the Lord places in our path. We Have yet to go a week as far I as I can remember here without finding a new investigator, some weeks have been just insane how many new investigators. We are working with Wuru and Yinsi, but we don't feel like they are quite ready for their baptisms, so we are going to wait on those and see. They are very good, but I think not having a christian background has been a big obstacle for them. They have come soo far... They are great and we had a super powerful lesson with Wuru. The kind of lesson were everythign just clicks and you can see them get enlightened I LOVE IT! haha sorry It's like i'm reporting to my mission president not my family right now... I'll think of family stories.

We had a couple Elders over for splits again. We had a good day, did good work and it was funny, we had a service project lined up for the evening (the member needed help trimming down his fence/bush thing) So we all 4 get there, and no one was home. We thought about it, and decided we know what needs to be done so lets just do it. So we did. We scavenged around and founded the needed equiptment and got to work. I thought we did a very good job (My daddy taught me well) While we were doing the project though Elder Perry fell into a bush, I don't know what it was, either poison oak or stinging nettle, but it got his legs pretty good. Luckily we had a swede with us who knew how to handle these nordic kinds of problems. All is well! Also, he had a ton of red currant berry bushes, so we treated ourselves to some delicious berries as we worked! He called us and was grateful that we didn't even though he wasn't there so it all worked out!

We have been working with one investigator for quite some time, he couldn't be baptized because he doesn't have residency. He had to transfer out of Joensuu last week. It was a pretty sad day for us, but It was a neat experience to see what the gospel has and will continue to accomplish in his life. I will talk more about him someday with you because I can't go into too many details! :D I love him though.

Alright I think that is all of our not finnish investigators, lets talk about the finns! Tiia is great! Launi is well... a work in progress. Sam is one of my favorites (is it ok to have favorites?) The Turen family is just about the greatest people in the world! Timo makes me laugh. all right I got to stop haha I forgot the name thing lol and that is going to make for a boring blog with just a bunch of random statements haha what can you do?

Fromage, I would love to do that thing on the 16th for the YM and YW lol, It sounds fun! I LOVE FINNISH STUFF! We were at a dinner appointment last week and this lady made the most delicious blueberry pie/cake in the whole world! Whoa! I got the recipe from her... we will see if we can get all that stuff from america. How many YM/YW are going to be there? would it be worth bringing a euoropean chocolate surprise? I love chocolate! I don't think I can get Ice cream to go through the mail... so probably none of that. What things do you think would be good? Is it just going to be about Finland? or are there other missionaries? I guess we can worry about all that later...

I've very excited that you got a hold of president Brown. He is quite the character. I love that man, I'm thinking his talk is going to be pretty intense! I think you should write down the main stories he shares and see which ones I know :D hehe sneaky sneaky. I hope he talks a lot about Finland! He really accomplished a mighty change in the Missionaries here. I doubt he will go into details because he has such a kind heart, but he took this mission from where is was and really taught it how to Love God and be be obedient. In my last email with president Rawlings he shared something that stuck in my head and really was because of president Brown's hard work. He said "the Finland helsinki mission is probably the most obedient mission in the world" haha that is a pretty bold statement... but president brown accomplished miracles!

I have been reading in 2 Nephi and I like a couple verses in chapter 2. verse 25 we hear all the time but I like 24 a TON!

24But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who aknoweth all things.

25aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy.

God created a perfect,precise plan for us. We are where we are for a reason. Circumstances, families, Etc. If we trust him and really learn to love the journey it will all work out for our good!

28And we know that all things work together for agood to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I Love Finland and my Family!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. LOVE LIFE (haha 3 weeks in a row!)

July 18, 2011 (Email # 104...)

Dearest Family,

Whoa, traveling, working, and traveling again. It was a fun, but very travel filled week. We meet some really nice people on our travels. We were given a pretty big challenge just before we left to Helsinki for Elder Perry's kieli koulu by Elder Jones. He challenged us to extend a baptismal commitment on the train. HAHA and we did! lol. It was pretty intense. I do enjoy a good challenge. Elder Perry was super bold as we did it too! I really like him, wow, good elder. Sounds like like all is going well with you all.
WOW!! The Brigham city temple is pretty incredible! I can't believe that they are already putting moroni on top! They announced it while I was in the MTC. The church is pretty much down to business when they announce something. KELSEY IS GETTING MARRIED TO ROSS SUMMERS!?!?! WOW! that is exciting! Tell her congrats from me. Good timing ;) I honestly have no idea on my flights and stuff. I doubt I will know until right before :D I'm sorry, but I can't help there.

We had interviews with President Rawlings, I really like him. I think that if I were to have as much time with him as I did with president Brown they would be tied! That is saying ALOT, President Brown is the man! Haha I love hearing in every email mom's updates on figuring out when his homecoming talk is, because I know that it involves about 10 hours of phone calls every time! hehe just kidding not that much. Good luck! The temple trip was extremely good. I love the Helsinki Temple! Wow. I went with Elder Sharp, Elder Jarvis, Elder Cassity, and a couple sister missionaries sister Rawles and Sister Anderson. I loved talking with Elder sharp again. He really is one of my favorite companions that I have served with. He is great. We have a lot different personalities (Because well... he is a genious... and as you can see I just spelled genius wrong haha) but I felt like we worked well together and just loved life there in Espoo!

Well, in between the traveling all around Finland this last week, we were able to have some really good teaches with investigators, and 4 were in church this week. Good work investigators. They are doing well. I really love teaching them, I learn soo much. We are working with a couple children of a member. The father isn't a member and is very much against the church. We'll have to have a sit down and talk about the whole situation someday, but now is not the appropriate time. It is really neat to see how much the children feel the light of the gospel and how much they really enjoy learning about Christ even though they are fairly young. Our onther investigators are doing well. Tiia is one of my favorite investigators because she is so willing to follow God's will and do what he wants her to do. We haven't had any after prayer prayers lately. haha A new investigator gave a really really nice first prayer. I don't know what it is, but everytime I hear someone's first prayer it really makes me happy. I think it is because they are usually very sincere and from their hearts. They haven't heard prayers all their life so the simple speak what is in their heart, not the vain repetitions that I feel I sometimes tend to fall into. It was awesome!

My thought today comes from a talk that really struck me while I was in Jyväskylä and really helped me align my priorities and help me become more like Christ. I'm pretty sure I have quoted it several times to you, but that is because it is sooo full of good quotes! "The love of God" by Predient Dieter F. Uchtdorf he says:

"Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.

When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden."

I am finishing up the book "Jesus the Christ" and it has really struck me how pure his love was for those around him. He was constantly doing the right things for the right reasons. Sometimes we get caught up doing the right things for the wrong reasons. I have tried to change that in my life, but for a while it was something I just wrestled with trying to man-handle my motives to make them pure. I believe that this is one of many things that can only be fixed as we pray, repent, and change. We can't simply force ourselves to change it. When we pray to be filled with love, repent, and change so we can be filled everything just aligns and our walk as disciple of christ, according to President Uchtdorf, becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden.WHOA!

He goes on "My dear brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you."

Radio said "don't quit, don't never quit" :D I kinda like that motto, The grammar fits me!

Anyways, Thanks for the pictures mom! haha Kyle eating a cactus haha I like him :) I hope that you all have another wonderful week and I hope that you remember how much you all are loved by me!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen


June 27, 2011 (Whew, we made it through change call.)

Dearest Family,
What a fun week it has been here in Joensuu. We have had some pretty intense things going on (as always) and I really enjoy this town. Working with a small ward is fun, but it really breaks my heart to see so few, and the trials they face to be there. There were actually about 40 people in church last week, They are soo faithful. I see all the sacrifices they give to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it makes my heart happy. What a blessing this gospel is, and how humbling it is for me to see some of these Finnish Pioneers make the sacrifices in their lives necessary to follow Jesus Christ, and receive "Peace that passeth all understanding" that is not "as the world giveth" but His peace. WOW!
Wow, President Brown is off to Utah this week. I hope you can make it to his homecoming. Last time I talked with him he didn't have any clue about a homecoming, but if you can find out through your little network of Finnish missionary moms, fromage, I would absolutely LOVE for you two to be there! (Maybe through Elder Quinn's mom, well is Elder quinn still in Jerusalem? I don't know... somehow find out!) haha Is ist possible to bring a tape recorder and record his talk so I can listen to it someday? haha I remember Jake did that at his homecoming or farewell.. lol but if it isn't kosher don't worry about it.
Speaking of cousins going on missions, Tell lance congrats. He is going to be a fantastic missionary. All 7 feet of him. Ohh man I can't wait to see what is in store for him. lol I get giddy when I think of the MTC and the experience I had there. God really molded me and prepared me for Finland.
Alright, the New mission president will be in Finland this week (I think tomorrow, and president Brown leaves on thursday) I will be meeting him on friday, he is flying up to oulu and we are going to take a train for a "meet the new president" meeting. His name is President Rawlings. I feel like I already know him because he is from the same ward as Elder Pace (my 2nd greenie) When we all found out who the new mission president was elder Pace gave me the run-down (well kinda) I'm pretty stoked and I feel that it is going to be a wonderful time. He is coming at a crucial time, we are breaking out of our little shell and really moving the work forward. Around 40 baptismal dates around Finland... Whew... Intense. Lol he is going to be fighting jet lag and is going to be in meeting after meeting after meeting! The Lord will provide!
Elder Perry and I made it through change calls so it looks like he will be my last companion... WIERD. I'm excited for this next change. BONUS ROUND!!! Extensions are sweet. Thank you Ryan for the advice... Let's see what happens :)
It made me laugh when mom told me that two of the 4 trees have a chance of survival. Lol when I found out that the 4 trees I had plucked had all died I also found out from another missionary that plucking trees from nature is illegal, so I resolved that I couldn't send anymore (now it would be a sin because I know the law lol) which leads me to wonder... bishop was the one that said "there elder nielsen is a koivu tree" anyways. Finding out these two things I was kinda bummed out because I couldn't bring myself to go pluck more trees. So that was good good news to hear! tender mercies :) hehe
Dad, that is pretty amazing success story! I like hearing those types of stories of things that just kind of seem to work out as we follow the spirit and do what is right because I have felt that in this work, and it really strengthens my faith. I was listening to a talk entitled "to aquire spiritual guidance" by Elder Richard G. Scott. and he says something pretty interesting in it he says "I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit"
He then goes on and says "I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear."
Ever since I heard that quote and really thought about the power behind it, it has just blown my mind. More certain than your dependence on what you see or hear. God knows how to help us become and it happens as we are on the move, as we willingly listen to that spirit when it prompts us. It isn't that the spirit works for us on our timetable it is more that we are willing to yield to the will of the father and go and do even though it might not be optimal timing for us. Thanks dad for your example!
Life is good and I really am excited about this change with Elder Perry. He is a great elder and it really is fun to see a younger me in the mission. He is great!
I hope that you all are doing well, sounds like you had quite the week. Congrats mom and dad... 29 years being married?!? whoa! I'm glad to hear about oakie, sad, but at the same time he is definentally a dog that likes chasing cows and stuff. Whenever I need a good life I think of the time that oakie chased my lazer pointer for about an hour straight... I thought I was going to give him a heart attack! haha good times! With that said, I am off,
Love you all,
Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen
P.S. You may notice a little larger than average charge on my card (like 50 euros) that is part of "Operation suklaalevyt" pay no mind to it ;D

June 23, 2011 (3 days in Joensuu, 4 elsewhere :()

We had splits this week with Elder Jones (from my MTC group) and Elder Lindén (who is swedish.) They came over to Joensuu and we did work together last friday. It went very well and we all learned a lot. Elder Lindén and I had a ball together. We also saw a ton of miracles. We got a couple new investigators that day and really had some good teaches. We were busy busy busy. I think we had like 4 or 5 teaches together and the other elders had 2 or 3 haha.. We win :) hehe (not that it is a competition or anything) It was pretty funny, Elder Lindén has been in Kuopio for a few changes so he has been to Joensuu a few times. A ward member stayed at his grandparents house in Sweden like 15 or so years ago... small world. Anyways we were at this members house a couple weeks ago and she said "hey, is elder lindén still in kuopio" and I said "Yes ma'am" (well kind of).. and she said "I found some pictures in an drawer that I want you to give to him". Took the pictures home... then the idea came to me... Elder Lindén has no idea these pictures exist... I hung them up on my wall along with some other picture so they would look like they were my family :) Then towards the end of splits we were in for dinner, and I showed him the pictures of my family :D (Insert punch line here.... LOL that's pretty much the story... I thought it was funny :) ) lol just kidding.. then he looked at them and said "hey wait a second that is me"... I said "What?!? no that is my brother kyle and my little sister whitney" he said "oh ok... wait.. no really that is me, I had that same shirt as a little kid" then we laughed.

I guess I'll keep going with stories about Kuopio. So they left friday night, and we went to work just like normal. We were biking to an appointment or something a little further away. We were going along and I see this man and I think to myself "I Think we need to talk to that man" as we biked right past him... I stopped and flip around my bike and start talking with him. Come to find out he is an investigator from Kuopio. He was visiting Joensuu for the weekend. He said to us "Hey I have a couple friends like you in Kuopio" and then we had a really good talk and it just felt good. We were where we needed to be and we talked to the person to Lord prompted us to, even though it was a little awkward to turn around, and chase down a guy we already passed :D We called Kuopio and come to find out they were about to drop him because he wasn't really enthusiastic about meeting and stuff. Well, just before we called this investigator called them and he was stoked about running into us here in Joensuu, and for whatever reason the talk we had made him excited again about meeting :) Pretty cool like happenstance (is that a real word or did I make that up?) It showed me really how simple revelation is. A lot of times we wait for something big or something really profound. But as we are simply out doing what is right and planning by the spirit, the Lord will let us know who we need to talk to and what we need to do. Revelation comes on the move... and alot of the time we think it is our own thoughts, until we look back and see what Heavenly Fahther accomplished through that. We couldn't have known.. but he sure does! This and literally thousands of other little things like this have really strengthened my testimony out here... I LOVE IT!

Dearest Family,

What a fun week it has been. Sad, but President Brown gave us his final discourse. We had our final meeting with that wonderful man. It was a good meeting. It is wierd to be up in the North. We live so far away from Oulu that we had to leave thursday and because of the Broadcast we weren't home until sunday evening. Crazy. Speaking of homecomings (Congrats to trent!) I asked president and Sister Brown about theirs and they said they have no information whether they even have a homecoming. They have kind of a wierd situation because they moved into their new ward a little bit before they left on their mission. If I get any information I'll let you know... I'm pretty sad about that because I was looking forward to you getting to see the man that I wrote about in pretty much every single email home. haha He has really changed my life and giving me a burning desire that has helped me change and become more like the Savior. Just a good good man!

In the little broadcast that was just for the Nordic countries, Per Mahn (70), Sister Beck (relief society), Elder Bednar, and President Eyring spoke. It was really good! Sister Beck's talk was super good, she was talking to the women (but I just applied it to myself haha... and my future wife). She talked about how they need to be a Loiness (I would be a lion) protecting their homes from the advesary. She then talked about prioritizing our time according to 1.Essential things 2. Neccesary things 3. Nice to do things. and she explained what goes in all these catagories. Elder Bednar and President Eyring talked about following the prophet and increasing our faith in the current prophet. They we BOLD haha I loved it. Sounds like you had quite and intense sunday... Busy Busy Busy!

Our investigators are doing well. There are a couple chinese students here who are investigating! We have been working with them and they are now preparing to be baptized on the 23 of July! Whew whew! we shall see how that goes. They are great! It is crazy to teach in english, and to teach people who don't have hardly any background with religion. I'm sure Annie understands a lot better than me of how the people of china are. I actually told them I have a cousin teaching english in China. Haha maybe when annie gets her call she will open china up to missionary work, and these two will be recent converts who will go on teaches with Annie! We shall see.

Sure I can give a talk on the 14th of august... haha That is like 2 days after I get home I think. So you will have to let everyone know when, where, and all that good stuff. Maybe kimberlie could put it on my blog and myspace... but I Still have a long time till that happens. We are still in this change #18, We will worry about #19 when it comes. BONUS ROUND!!!!! This weekend is change calls, I'm almost 100% Elder Perry and I are staying together, but I have been wrong before. Juhannusis this weekend Juhannus is an holiday in which many finns drink :( so we have to come home early and stuff. Crazy finns... I'm debating pulling a dan jones and preaching the Word of Wisdom on a soap box in the middle of town... what do you think?

Life is good and our investigators are doing well. Hey, happy Father's day dad! I'm sorry I didn't even know it was coming up. I don't think they celebrate father's day on the same day here in Finland, wierd! Hope kyle's trip went well, and that everything is going just fine.

We are working with a family, The turt. The mom is a member, but the dad isn't. The children are so great! The dad won't let them come to church or be baptized and stuff like that. So would you keep them in your prayers. The mom is so great and our teaches with them have been great. The father just needs his heart to be softend. We like to keep our lessons very simple and to the point, especially with the kids being there. We did an activity with prayer that turned out pretty well. We bought some candy bars and then we hid them and they were to find the "Happiness" (like eternal life) The lesson had been about praying to God and asking for help. We made sure to explain that for this activity they could ask their mom (haha we didn't want them to really go off and pray to find a hidden candy bar) and she could help, but only if they asked questions. The kids just wandered around for the longest time trying to find it by themselves. Then they final humbled themselves and asked questions and found it a lot faster! I thought of how we kind of are like that often. We, because of pride, don't ask as often as we can and as often as we should. What a privilage it is to be able to have that, but often we live under our privilages because we are too stubborn. It went well I thought. I was scared they would find it without prayer for a little while lol, then our whole teach would have gone down the drain hehe

So, kind of a wierd week here, lots of traveling but lots of good opportunities to learn. I'm going to miss President Brown, but at the same time I am pretty excited to see what it is like to have a different mission president. Katsotaan. Love you all, hope this email isn't too boring ;) Mom, if you could get me the subject of my talk whenever you can so I can think and ponder and have some ideas flowinng through my head, that would be lovely. thanks!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. I'm struggling with spelling, I have to stop and think on every word that is longer than 6 characters... Hopefully i'm guessing mostly right so I don't look too foolish :)

May 23, 2011 (Joensuu... More like russian mafia-ville)

Dearest Family,

Wow... It is pretty intense here I won't lie... we have a lot tighter rules being close to the russian border so it has been an interesting expierience training Elder Perry as I myself am trying to learn this new adendum to stay safe here. HAHA Just kidding, life is great and this place is just about as finnish as it gets. There are no problems being closer to the border... haha mommy you make me laugh! :) life is just hunky dorry... (spelling?)

So I will just give a quick run-down of this place and my new companion. I am in joensuu.. this place almost reminds me of Jyväskylä... not quite as amazing, but I'll put it in my fav-five of my cities I have served in here in Finland. It is pretty, and a super nice summer city. My companions name is Elder Perry and he is from Provo Utah. He is a stud.. and a really down to earth elder, who wants to work really hard! It is awesome! When I found out I would be whitewashing a city again with a greenie it made me laugh, because I made a joke in one of my emails to my mission president after the last whitewash that I think 2 is enough whitewashes for me. I need to watch my mouth. 3 whitewashed cities in a row... This is becoming almost ruotine for me. Which is wierd, because there have probably been like 10 whitewashes in all of Finland my whole time here... I'm going to count them up sometime... I'll get back to you on that. The ward her is great... SUPER small... toistaseksi (for now)... but it really is inspiring how strong the members here in Finland are. Their gospel just burns deep in their souls... It is AWESOME! We have some pretty good investigators here and the work is going forward thanks to some pretty incredible miracles last week.

So Elder Perry and I arrive wednesday about 9 oclock and the branch president was waiting for us at the train station to give us a ride to our apartment. Thursday we get our heads on strait and get some good work done haha that was a fun day... Calling people, not even knowing which way is up (actually I'm still not quite sure which way is north here.. I better get that figured out) Elder Perry fighting Jet lag and a language barrior. LOL it has been AWESOME! I wouldn't have it any other way. We are totally dependent on the Lord and his tender mercies, all we need to do is get our feet moving and revelation comes. (I also need to at least look like I know what I am doing so Elder Perry doesn't panic shhh... we will it a secret) "Revelation comes on the move" as Elder oaks taught, and I am thankful for that. The tender mercies are abundant, so after we got some appointments lined up and had been meeting people we feel like we are on the right track. In fact one of the tender mercies this week was when an investigator brought her friend to a teach. She said "hey I accidently brought my friend today" and we said " She is welcome to stay" haha the member at that lesson did great and the friend became an investigator! The miracles here are abundant!

One of the downfalls of coming to the eastern part of finland is that they speaking kinda funny here haha it is really easy to understand... it just sounds wierd. Like kind of a hick version of Finnish. I refuse to conform, haha. We met a member for the first time and we were talking and getting to know her and she immediately know that I came from the southern Finland. She said "You just came from the southern Finland huh?" I thought it was pretty cool that she could pick up the dialect of Finnish I was speaking... rather than just an american acccent! The gift of tongues is another tender mercy from the Lord. (I just hope the spirit doesn't know Eastern finnish) hehe is that a bad hope?

Thanks for the wonderful emails again... Major disappointment with no update on the garden other than it is trying to get through all the rain. Man, I hope all goes well on the Nielsen side of the Family, I hope Layne and aunt Teresa are doing ok. I don't know why though things happen but I do know like I shared couple emails ago "I firmly believe with all my heart that the peace of which Christ talked about is really one of the most beautiful things we can experience in this life." I myself have felt that peace more surely as I have come across things I simply could not do by myself. I no that the little expeiriences I face on my mission like going to a brand new city with no idea what to do shrink in comparison to some of the things they have faced and are facing, but God's laws are eternal and apply to whatever situation we are in. Alma the younger teaches his wonderful son shiblon this principle in Alma 38:5 he says:

5And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your atrust in God even so much ye shall be bdelivered out of your trials, and your ctroubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

The more we are able to put our trust in God the more we are comforted and the peace comes. I love my mission so much for that very reason that I have learned in a small way how that works, I know God refines us and I know I will have a lot more moments of refinement in the future. The gospel is true and as we apply these principles taught in the scriptures our tesimonies grow tremendously, even though we may not understand the Why questions we know the How.

Life is wonderful and I couldn't be more happy in my absolute dependance on One far greater than I.

Have a great week... Love you long time family!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

May 30, 2011 (Wow, I love this work... for reals!)

Dearest Family,
What a wonderful week here in Joensuu. This week has been full of miracles and tender mercies. We got 4 new investigators and 3 investigators came to church. Not bad for a couple Elders who have absolutely no idea which way is up. It has shown me how kind and understanding the Lord is, as we simply do our best he will take care of the rest. We don't have much skill or knowledge of this place to offer, but all that he requires is a pure heart and willing hands and he can change our little sacrifice into a consecrated masterpiece for the salvation of souls... The guy is good :)
YESSS!! Glad to hear that Ryan is back on american soil... He gave me a little update of his life once and boy did that get me praying for him haha... I don't think I missed a night of prayer for him after that ;) lol. I did like the offical certificate that mom mentioned in her email, It is a wonderful thing that Ryan has been a part of being the good guy taking care of the bullies. It is pretty sad stuff, and I don't even have the slighest clue of what is going on compared to what Ryan knows.
Thanks for the picture and stories! I got a kick out of dad's eagerness to get on his brand new bike and take a 2 hour bike ride with some insane hills. That sounds like a fun little adventure you are embarking on. Good luck and be sure to wear a helmet ;) pg 48 of the white handbook... (I may be wrong on that reference haha but close anyways) WHITNEY IS GRADUTATING?!?!?! Holy moses... That is just a wierd thought... tell her congrats from me. That'll be a fun trip to the redwoods. I love showing off those pictures to companions and members and stuff. lol I feel kinda dumb when I have to explain why "i'm kind of a big deal" haha oh me and my pridefulness before... funny funny stuff.
The pictures you sent look very nice, The house looks really nice! A couple months ago we were at a dinner appointment at a members house and they had an Ipad and they wanted to google our homes... The picture in google maps of our house was back when we had the red truck and there was absolutely NO lawn whatsoever. I kinda forgot that there was at least a backyard when I left and a little bit of Front yard coming in. Fun to see things change. I hope the Sprinklers are still in tact ;) hehe
This week was super good and we saw a ton of miracles, I'll share a quick story about one of our new investigators. His name is Kam... he is a good good man. We were going inbetween a couple appointments or something like that, and we decided to contact a little bit and talk with the people that God is putting in our path. We took a wrong turn `(go figure.. we're in a new city) but got back on track to where we wanted to go. We contact this nice man and the discussion goes very well. He was super nice and took our card and gave us his phone number so we could meet, we thought that that was that for the day, we were wrong. Later on in the evening He gives us a call so we can arrange a time to meet. While we were talking we had a really good talk about God and how much he really cares about every single one of us. He said to me through the Phone "This really was a miracle that we met today, I was thinking about 100 meters before we ran into eachother about how I need Jesus and God in my life... I have had such an empty feel" he said that a couple times... It was a pretty neat experience to see how many things really are in God's hands... we just got to trust him. It was neat and has really kept Elder Perry up on Cloud 9 with missionary work. Elder Perry is a wonderful missionary and we get a long really well! He is an incredibley hard worker and has such a desire to do the work! I LOVE IT!!
Thanks for all you guys do to support me and let me focus on missionary work. I really love it here and wouldn't trade this experience for the world! This week we are going to be down in Helsinki for another week long leadership training meeting. I'm excited... it will be fun to go again as a guest rather than a host... I enjoy hosting... but being a guest is a lot less stress :D
Have a fun graduation! happy birthday to Kyle in a couple weeks!
Elder Thomas Neal Nielsen
P.S. Speaking of wierd package coming in the mail... i'm sending a white and orange box with specific instructions... open that one up quick... like as soon as you get it and follow the instructions given. I hope it works out.
P.P.S I play sähly left handed... Don't get any ideas Ryan ;) lol
P.P.P.S I still love you Ryan, and I am glad you are home:ish

May 16, 2011 (City #5 to be announced...)

Dearest Family,

HAHA Whitewashing a city with a greenie... Sound familiar? haha I guess there is still a bit more the Lord wants to teach me with a greenie whitewash experience. I don't think it will be as intense this time because I am not going to be in the capitol city... I'm going to a much calmer.... smaller... Closer to russia city... (I think mom will like that one :) ) The City's name is Joensuu (which means river's mouth translated) and I don't know who my companion is yet because he is leaving america... Probably within the next 12 hours or so. Joensuu is the most eastern city in Finland where missionaries serve... (at least from the map I have it looks like that. It is a very small city... Probably the smallest city I will have served in. The branch has 15 members that attend every week and 25 total on the records. A bit smaller than This Espoo ward which seriously reminds me of a ward in Utah... It is packed every sunday and the little kids are running all over the place... I love it! All the members told me that Joensuu is one of the most beautiful places in the summer, and that makes me happy because it is almost like I am going back to Jyväskylä :) I will be in the "North Zone" which means that Zone Conferences will be in Oulu... Probably a 8 or 9 hour train ride... I'm STOKED to learn all the things the Lord has in store for my cute little new greenie and I. They made a change in how greenies are trained from when I train Elder Pearson and Elder Pace... We have an extra hour in the day for 12 weeks that we take to go over things, to teach him thoroughly how to do missionary work and to practice together. This is all over the world and the goal is that the New missionary could, if needed, train someone after 2 transfers... pretty intense. So that is an answer to your change call question.

This last week has gone super well here in Espoo! The members are SO nice and I really have grown very attached to them. It was neat to see that by serving faithfully and doing it with a smile on my face the Lord was able to touch peoples hearts and strengthen them as well as me... A LOT. There was a man... who pulled me aside in the middle of classes and shared some really neat things with me... It was awesome family! The gospel is so true! We have a busy couple days meeting with investigators and members before I leave on wednesday morning to get my new companion... I hope I have time to pack haha our p-day today is full of 6 or so appointments... 2 of which are Dinner/lunch appointments... wish me luck on packing ;)

Sounds like you had a fun week and thanks for the wonderful things you shared in your emails... I love the updates of everyone... but mostly the updates of the garden ;) sounds like dad is getting pretty fancy, growing herbs and stuff... Chocolate mint.. pretty fancy ;) That means I can probably stop sending the Chocolate mint chocolate home because dad is growing his own for you mom ;) heeheee (that one is for the finding a wife joke ;) hehe lol) (I told Thomas about spending the Weekend with Julia and Jessica, and how "I hate to have to try and find someone as neat as those two are" heehee)

Zone conference went super well we talked about working effectively with members and building relationships with them. We compared it to building fire and that the closer we are together the brighter our testimonies will burn... and we compared it to a finnish tradition which is on midsummers eve they make HUGE bonfires and burn them on the lakes. Finland is the place for me :) Even though I can't play with fire... and I am asleep when they start burning them the knowledge that they like huge fire warms my soul. Sähly went well... to anwer mom's question it is just like playing floor hockey... or lacrosse with hockey sticks. I loved it! but we keep it pretty mellow as missionaries. I am sending a super nice stick I found in our apartment home so I can find others and teach Dad, Ryan,Nate, Kyle, and of course boston how to play! I'm sending some other random stuff home so it should get there in like 3 weeks or something... nothing for you guys :( sorry... Maybe I'll sneek a little surprise in, we will see.

Life is great and I really am excited to see what happens in Joensuu. I hope that all goes well, I'll be excited to hear the news about when Ryan is back on american soil. I'll bet he has learned a lot being out there serving even though it was a little bit different from the service that I am doing... there is a lot of spiritual things to learn wherever you are at. It'll be fun to hear about those after the actual experience. Glad to hear that mom is still a pretty big deal haha... Life is great and I love being a missionary in Finland!


Vanhin Thomas Neal Nielsen

P.S. thanks for the package mommy, I'll be picking it up wednesday with my new companion.