Monday, August 31, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale West 8-31-2015

That's a big spider!
What the junk!? My little sister is in college! haha I don't why that is so weird to me but it is! Kylie just look out for all of my past companions or other people from the FFLM. Basically everyone that has gone home is now at BYU so I'm sure at some point you will see one of them! It sounds like everyone is getting back into the groove of school which is great! I remember that first week always being super rough, but then it just felt normal again once you survived the first week. I wish I could say it was the same way for the mission! But unfortunately it's not! Especially as an Assistant there is never 2 days in a row that are exactly the same. The past week was pretty low key, but this next week is the one that is going to be wild! Because it's the week of transfers! It's crazy to think that another transfer has come and gone, and now I only have 2 left! Please just pray that I will have the physical strength to just keep going! Transfer week is always long just because of the long hours, and I'm starting to feel a little old so I'm going to need some divine help! 

I normally don't share just dumb random stories because they're not what's important, but this one was just too funny that I have to share! So a week ago on P day we went fishing. We were certain that we were going to catch a fish, we  even prayed that we get something to cook up!! but we got nothing!! Not even a small bite or nibble, just nothing. So we were pretty disappointed that we spent a whole day doing nothing. Then a few days later on Thursday were over in Naples. We had an exchange for that day so went out for lunch. After lunch we come back to the car and sitting on the ground in the parking lot is a giant catfish!! Still alive and flopping! I don't know how it got there, but somehow it had flopped out of a nearby canal into the parking lot and over to our car!! We about died laughing! God had answered our prayers and sent us a fish!! Haha so of course we went and asked for a to go box and picked up the fish and took it home with us! Such a classic mission experience. I'll send a picture of it swimming in our bath tub! haha
Catfish in the parking lot
Sorry, I don't have much time left but I just want to share something that I have learned over the course of my mission about prayer. And believe it or not this experience with the Catfish reminded me of it! ;)  A lot of times people pray for things and expect immediate results or crazy direct answers to their prayers. And most times answers to our prayers don't come that way. So then because of it people doubt God or even deny his existence. Answers to our prayers come in God's timing and not ours. That was a super hard lesson for me to learn on my mission, because I always wanted immediate results! I wanted to find people that very moment! Or I wanted something to happen instantly! But prayer isn't for God to align His will with ours. It's for us to align our will with His. I'm so grateful for the answers that I have received to my prayers over the course of my mission. They have never come in the ways that I expected but they have always come! Love you guys so much and have a blessed week!

Elder Nielsen  

We have a deep fat fryer at our house so of course we had to make some deep fried oreos! :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale West 8-24-2015


Wow!!! I am so jealous right now of your trip to the Grand Canyon!! That looked like the most gorgeous backpacking trip ever! I can't believe school is already starting again!! Have fun little sisters! ;) Like always it's so weird to just see how much everyone lives and situations have changed since I've been on my mission. I always appreciate all of your letters and pictures! Thanks so much for that! 

This week was definitely a busy one. One with some very memorable experiences as well! We started off this week with Zone Conferences. So basically what a zone conference is, it's a meeting where 3 zones all meet together and it's a super long meeting with a whole bunch of different trainings, and talks and a lunch break in the middle. They're always really good and uplifting! Usually the assistants don't give a training, but this time President asked us to give a training around 45 mins to an hour. . . AHHH!! E. Hayward and I were super stressed out as we were preparing it last week, but God helped us out so much and it ended up being the best training I think I've ever given. It was so sick! Everyone left just feeling super inspired and understood everything that we talked about. We had 3 zone conferences this week that we had to go to on Tues, Wed, and Thurs. And you would think that just sitting in a chair, and then talking for just a little wouldn't be exhausting, but for some reason it was!! I don't know why, but you're just so exhausted spiritually by the end, that it wears you out physically! Good stuff though! 

Also another memorable experience was on Friday. I wish I could tell you everything that happened! It was one of the craziest experiences of my life! BUT. . . It's going to have to wait until I get home to tell it in person. . . So just ask me about what happened on Friday, August 21st, and I will know exactly what to tell you! ;)

The last memorable experience, was on Saturday our good friend Shanice was baptized! Woohooo! She is way cool. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned her before. She is an awesome lady, but she can be really shy. I don't know why but for some reason she was super nervous and shy about her baptismal service. I think it's because most black people are scared of the water. . . But anyway she didn't want anyone to be there for her baptism, but us, and the bishop. And we told the bishop that, but for some reason he still invited a bunch of people! So we show up with her expecting there to be no one and there's two huge families already there! I thought she was going to have a heart attack! She basically had a little panic attack, and we had to politely ask everyone if they could wait outside during the baptism and then all come in after. Haha so that's what happened! Also, luckily E. Hayward got her all the way down on the first try!

 But all in all it was great and she's excited for a fresh start on life!!

That's about it for this week! I sure do love you guys a lot! I can't wait to see you soon! I promise I'm not trunky, but it's just starting to hit me how old I am in the mission right now! it's the worst! Have an amazing week! 

Elder Nielsen

Things you see in the "hood"

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale West 8-17-2015


What a great day to be alive! It was so good to hear about all of your adventures on your last week of summer! I can't believe summer is already over!!! Have fun in school everybody!!!

This week I learned some super valuable lessons that I would like to share with all of you: 

#1: the Book of Mormon can truly change people's hearts and lives. We have this investigator her name is Shanice. She was really cool from the very first time we met her. But 2 weeks ago she came to church, and at church she was asking all these dumb anti questions that she had looked up on the internet the night before. We answered them all, but it didn't seem like it was enough for her. I don't know what it has been, but I have never encountered so many people being anti-ed as I have here in Ft. Laud. I'm so sick of it! But anyway, at church we promised her that if she would read the book of Mormon every night that week her questions would be answered. But we left church still feeling a little bit unsure as to what she was going to decide. Then on tuesday we go over again and follow-up with her reading. She then tells us about how she had read all of the introduction testimonies of the witnesses and from 1 Nephi 1 to 1 Nephi 20 in 1 day! Our jaws about hit the floor! The best part about it was that she could tell us everything that she read in full detail! One quote that she said was, "Nephi's Brothers, laman and Lemuel, man those dudes are bums! They complain about everything" Haha it was amazing! She did a complete 180, she went from almost dropping us to now accepting everything that we teach her. She's gone from smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day, to now smoking none, in just 5 days! It all just came because she actually took the time to not just read, but STUDY from the Book of Mormon. Now she's in 2 Nephi 9. She came to Stake conference this past weekend, loved it, and should be getting baptized this Saturday!

Just like with Shanice it was the same with me. I look back to before my mission, and no real change or preparation for my mission happened until I actually started to study the book of Mormon. I'm so grateful for it, and for the changes it has helped me make in my life! I know it is true, and that it can help us all change if we just do our part! 

Alright, Lesson #2: All we have to do is just be obedient!   

 So in Personal Study I was reading in Jacob 4, and I learned something important from verse 14. It says, "But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble." The part that stands out to me is that it says the Jews, "looked beyond the mark", and because they looked beyond the mark, they fell and became confused. It was literally just too simple for them to understand!! They were looking for some giant sign or miraculous appearance of the Messiah when He was right in front of their faces! I related this back to myself because I think sometimes I do the same thing. There is a scripture in Mosiah 2 that says something along the lines of, "all that God asks of you is too Obey." Sometimes as missionary I get caught up in trying to look, "beyond the mark". Maybe it's trying to look for some secret to a finding approach. Or looking for a secret to teaching skills. When in reality none of that matters at all. ALL that God asks of US is to OBEY. To be EXACTLY Obedient. I remember at the beginning of my mission I was always trying to improve my teaching skills, or my people skills, and stuff like that. Then one day I went on an exchange with the assistants. I was with E. Ovard. I really looked up to him, and I thought he was some "Super Star Legendary Missionary" that knew how to teach perfectly and just baptized everyone. And while we were on the exchange working, it hit me. There's nothing that E. Ovard does that I couldn't do. His spanish wasn't perfect. He got tired at times too. He didn't always know how to best help people, or what to do in certain situations. But the reason why he was so successful as a missionary was because he was obedient. That was it! And now here I am in his same spot and I look back to that day, and I can honestly say that not much has changed in my missionary skills! My spanish still isn't perfect. I still struggle to make perfect plans. I still struggle knowing what to say in certain situations. Yes, I have improved in a lot of aspects, but none of that ever would of came had I not first been as Obedient as possible. I'm still just as immature as I was at the beginning of my mission, but I know that I've been able to see so many miracles just from Obedience. 

I know it is the same for all of us. We all can see miracles in our lives if we will just be obedient! I'm so grateful for my mission and the lessons that I have learned. I know that Jesus Christ died for us. That He lives today, and can truly bless us with peace if we will just come unto Him. Have a blessed week! Love you all!
Elder Nielsen 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale West 8-10-2015


HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLIE!! Holy cow you are so old!!! I can't believe my younger sister is now legally responsible and is starting college! So weird! I realized the other day, that on the mission you just think that the rest of the world is stuck in time and when you get home things will just be the same way as when you left. Man, am I in for shell shock when I get home!! haha! And don't worry Mom, I didn't forget about you birthday either! Tomorow right!? Happy Birthday!!! You really are the best! I'll be sure to write you all some sweet letters today! :) 

I don't know what to say about this week other than that we hit the pavement HARD this week! It's kind of funny, there are times as a missionary when you think, "Ok, we went hard today, we should be good to slow down a little tomorrow." NOPE!! Haha there are no breaks! I love it though, I've come to realize that for me I can never have just down time. Nothing good ever comes from it! Our Bishop here has been a good example to me of that. Bishop Brown works night shifts at his job. So when he comes to church on Sundays, he usually only has like 2 hours of sleep. And then he's at church basically all day and then goes to work again that night. Haha he's crazy! But so legit! Yesterday we were talking to him after church, and we were trying to tell him to go home and get some sleep. And he just said, "I'll sleep when I'm dead! Right now there are people that need my help!" Kind of crazy but so true! 

Right now in our area, we are working with some cool people, but mostly we're in finding mode. The people we are teaching all have smoking problems or law of chastity issues. So please, pray that Shanice and Jessica will be able to work that out so they can be baptized! Other than that there's not any other crazy stories to tell! 

I would just like to end by saying that I know that living the gospel is what brings true joy! I love Florida, but in all honesty there are some places where it's just an awful place to live. Super dirty, stinky and just hood I don't know how else to describe it. But I have met some of the happiest and most active members of life in those places. It wouldn't matter if they lived in "Happy Valley" Utah, or the Depths of Fort Laud the gospel would be just as sweet to them as it is now. I'm so grateful for the experiences that I've had here on my mission. It has taught me how to see people as what they can become, rather than what they are at the moment. I know that each and everyone of us are children of God. We all have the same potential regardless of where we come from. We all have the potential to return to live with Him, and return as families. I love you all so much! 

Elder Nielsen 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale West 8-3-2015


Wow, I am so jealous of the week you guys had! That birthday party for Rod looked so fun! I love that man so much! Please, make sure you tell him Happy Birthday from me as well! And that I will definitely come and visit as soon as I get home! It was crazy to see the pictures of everyone and just how different everyone looked! It really has been almost 2 years. . . AHHHHHH!!! 

This week was another great week, just like every other week! ;) haha I'm sorry all of my emails probably just sound like the same thing every week. . . But really there were some awesome highlights. First, we had MLC this week. It was legendary! President Richardson gave probably the best training I've ever seen, and just melted all of our faces. And then we came in and just wrapped everything up with our training. I don't think it could have gone any better! Which was a huge blessing cause I was super stressed about it, since it's the first training I've made without E. Burgoyne here. Also, this week I went on an exchange into Ft. Myers, which is like the furthest away place in the mission. It was fun, there's a lot of Haitian people there. So we were meeting with this super old Haitian Mommy, and I only know how to say a couple things in Creole. But I made a joke about how I was born in Haiti, but my Mom drank Clorox while she was pregnant so that's why I'm white. She about died laughing, and then gave me this giant Haitian Mommy hug. So that was funny! Also, this week our Recent Convert Pascaline went to the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead. We went by the night after she went, and she told us this super crazy story. So, she went to the temple and was baptized for one of her ancestors. Then the night after she had a dream where she was just sitting in a room and across the room was the ancestor that she had been baptized for. She said that the lady was just crying really hard and just kept saying, "thank you Pascaline" over and over. Haitians and their dreams, it's something else! But it was so cool!

I don't have much else to say about this week, but I will do like you guys did and send a bunch of pictures since I haven't sent any in forever. I love you guys so much! I love the Gospel. It has changed my life forever! 

Elder Nielsen