Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Working with the less active

Greetings Family and Friends,

Once again the weather over here has been unpredictable for the last week.  It has started of really nice and sunny and then about 7 at night it just rains all night.  I guess that's England for you though. This week has been a kind off long week. We had lots of appointments but most of them fell through so we had to come up with other plans.  The one thing we are really struggling with is finding new people to teach.  We have been working with the less actives and have gotten two back to Church so that's always good.  We have been working with an investigator named Graham.  He is marrying a member from our Ward and wants to know what the LDS faith believe.  As we started to teach him we asked him to do everything that we would ask anyone else interested in the Church.  To read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  The first couple of lessons went pretty good then this past week we had a miracle.  As we finished the lesson we ask him to pray.  He said he would, which was the first sign of a miracle was about to take place.  As he prayed, he asked Father in Heaven in the most sincere way to let him know if this is the true Church.  And that if the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.  It took both Elder Davis and I by surprise.  We had not really asked him to pray about those things, but he did.  After the prayer the Spirit was really strong and we hope he felt it.  We both have a good feeling that in a couple of weeks we might have a Baptism here!

The other good thing that happened this week is that the Starbridge Ward, which is the District right above Kidderminster, had a BBQ that was really will attended.  They invited our Branch to come and so we went around Kidderminster inviting all the people we are working with.  There ended up being about 200 people at the BBQ and about 80 of them where less active families or investigators, and maybe 20 of them where less actives, members or investigators from Kidderminster. Woot, woot!  It was so cool to have that many people together.  It felt like a proper Ward activity that would happen in the States. There was a bouncy castle to which was a massive hit with the kids, teenagers, and the Missionaries.  I must say, that I did not jump for fear of splitting my pants, so I just sat back and watched and laughed while the other Missionaries split their pants.

Sunday was a great day.  We had a couple of the less active members show up to Church.  Some we have been working with but others just came.  It was so cool to be sitting in Priesthood and have a man that we have visited once a week since I have been here in England finally show up to Church and stay for a good portion of the meetings.  Sunday a Sister in the Branched talked about why we have certain Hymns in the Latter-Day Saint versus on Hymns.  As she was speaking, it made me think that these hymns are for worshiping and singing praises and should be doctrinally correct.  It was a really good talk.

A funny thing happened to me this week that also happened to me before my Mission while on the campus of BYU-I.  We where walking into town and we passed a group of girls. They where kind of attractive but we walked past them and one of them gave me a look that I hate.  The look is the I fill sorry for you but I'm trying not to laugh.  Since I have gotten that look before I knew exactly what to do.  As soon as the group passed I zipped up my zipper that was wide open.  I thought after the time at college I would never have it happen again, but it did.  I guess that I need a sign on the bathroom mirror that says "check you zipper".   HA it is all good.

That is some of the stuff that has happened this week.  I know that the Lord blesses his Missionaries.  I know that the Lord has prepared people for us to teach we just need to find them.  And that the Gospel is the only way for true happiness in this life to come.  I love this Gospel and the chance I have to be a Missionary for the Lord to help build and strengthen His kingdom.

Love Elder Nielsen

Elder Nielsen and Elder Kulow

Monday, July 22, 2013

Keeping Busy

Hello Friends,

This week has been a good week.  It started off pretty normal with all the craziness of trying to get everything sorted on Monday so that we could work the rest of the week.  Nothing too exciting really happens on Mondays but that's pretty normal.

Tuesday was a lesson on obedience.  We had a really full day on Tuesday with many plans on what we could do and who to see.  But as it happens so very often out here in the mission field, all the plans fall through.  We had from about 2 pm to 6 pm that had completely fallen through.  Nothing to do so we did what we do best which is to improvise.  At the end of the day we didn't really get to talk to really anyone in particular other than a less active that we talked to on her door step.  What I have learned from this day is that the Lord is the only one who can help this work progress.  He decided to teach us that lesson on Tuesday by seeing what we would do with our spare time.  The only thing we could do was to try our best.  Sometimes it feels like we waste a day doing all that walking but we are still trying to do the Lords work.

Wednesday we had a really good District Meeting.  The meeting focused on how to overcome apathy and discouragement and to focus more on the work at hand.  I really did learn a lot.  I have had my struggles with discouragement and also with disillusionment also.  But I have put all my trust in the Lord and worked through the worst of the problems.  After the meeting, we had a dinner appointment with a member.  Her name is Ann and she is a single lady.  Her sister, who is not a member, was also there.  We had a really nice dinner out in her garden and talked to Ann and her sister whom we have been working with.  Those two gals are really funny because they both seem to have to much time on their hands and love the to feed the Missionaries.  Now that I think about it we have been over to their home three times this week for a meal.

Thursday we had another lesson with Ann's sister and then with one of the part member families we have been working with.  The lesson with the part member family went great.  We challenged the husband to just read and pray, but to ask if he should be baptized.  So we will find out on Thursday of this week how everything has gone.  We then headed off to an Branch council.  It was an okay Branch Council meeting.  It just turned into a debate and nothing really got accomplished but it helped us realize what we can best do to help the leadership in the Branch.

Friday was a pretty short day with traveling to do exchanges so we didn't really have much time to work.

Saturday Elder Robertsen and I had a lesson with a potential investigator.  It went pretty well.  She has talked to the Missionaries before and really likes our dedication to the work.  One thing that she asked us was "did we have our word" on us".  I was confused thinking what in the world is "the word".   So we asked her what she meant by the "word" and she said our bibles and I thought of course we do, we always have our bible and book of Mormon with us.  But we will see her this week and hopefully she will want to be retaught.

Sunday we went to Church and I felt a little overused.  I played the piano in priesthood and in sacrament meeting.  Said almost every closing prayer and felt just a little picked on.  But I have been enjoying the blessings that have come from all that stuff.  After Church we went to a members house for dinner.  They had a BBQ and had lots of food.  There where only four of us Missionaries but the members cooked for ten.  I have not eaten that much food in a long time.  But it was really good food. Hopefully they will not cook like that too often for the Missionaries.

I am so grateful to be serving a mission and for the amount I have grown during this time. I can't believe that a couple of months ago where I was and where I am now.  I have been so blessed by the Lord.  My testimony of the Gospel keeps growing every day.

Have a great week!

Love, Elder Nielsen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hard work and Dedication

Hello everyone!

Once again, I hear that it has been hot in the States.  But don't worry!  It has been really hot here in Kidderminster, England as well.  We have been having heat waves that are just terrible.  It has been getting into the 90's.  I like the heat when I don't have to be out in it.  But being out in it sometimes gets challenging.  I wouldn't mind it if I could wear shorts and a t-shirt but being in the service or my Savior, the shorts and T-shirt are out for a while.  I know that the Lord blesses us more when the times get hard and it is hard to walk and teach in this heat and humidity for more than and hour.  But that's that.

This week has been a good week.  We watched the Missionary broadcast for a Zone Conference.  What inspired messages we heard.  It has given the Missionaries new dedication and a new hope to press forward with the work.  Elder Davis and I are trying to set up a time that we can show the broadcast to the whole Branch to get them inspired to do more to spread the good news of the Gospel.  So far that meeting has been one of the best meetings I have been to so far.  I really liked how they outlined what the members should be doing and what the missionaries should be doing.  I know that it will take a long time to get the areas to the "perfect" situation.  But it gave us hope to try and get Kidderminster there eventually.

Also this week we have been working with some less active members and helping the Branch out as best as we can.  The Branch has planned an open house to celebrate 170 years of the Church in Kidderminster and 25 years in their new building. This is going to be a great Missionary opportunity for the Branch and we have been trying to light the fire of excitement under the Branch.  They are starting to get really excited about this and hopefully all will go well with it.  The celebration isn't until the 28 of September but I know that if it isn't planned soon and advertised it might be a flop.  But I have faith in the Branch that it will work out for the best.

I think that is about the only thing that has changed over the week. We worked hard to try and further the Gospel in this part of the Lord's vineyard.  I have been reading in the Book of Mosiah recently and I read something that has really stuck out to me.  It was that the Lord will not give us a trial that he knows that we can not over come.  I have felt at times that I am in trials that I can't overcome but with faith in the Lord anything is possible.  I have learned to trust in the Lord more because I see a line in my patriarchal blessing coming true about discouragement.  It says that discouragement will be one of the things that Satan throws at me.  I have seen it but I have also seen that it has been through a negative attitude, also.  I have been working on overcoming both of those.  So I started to hum hymns or to sing them to keep me going.  Elder Davis keeps wondering how I can remember so many of them.  I guess that is what playing the piano has done for me.  I love this Gospel and the message that it is.  I can't wait to see what will happen this week with hard work and dedication.

Love, Elder Nielsen

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week of Miracles

Hello everyone,

This week has been a good week full of miracles. I think that the biggest couple of things that happened this week was we got in with an old investigator and started teaching a new one.  We also visited some less active families.  But to receive these miracles, we did lots of walking, praying, and discussing as to how we could help this area grow and how we could help the work to start to pick up.

The biggest thing I think that happened this week is we went to visit some less actives. The first one we went to is a part member family where the wife is the only member.  She has the biggest desire to go to the Temple and to be sealed to her parents.  So we are working with her to return to full activity and to work towards going to the Temple.  After we visited with her we then went and visited her married daughter who also is not very active along with her husband.  They have three little girls.  So when we started to talk to them they also expressed the desire to go the Temple and to be sealed to one another. What a great goal!  Neither the mother or daughter know the others goal but it is so cool to see the Lord work with them in the same way.  Elder Davis and I were talking about it and it is just amazing.

We have been working really hard to find some new people to teach and it was suggested that we start with the part member families.  And the cool thing is that we are now teaching them the Gospel.  The Lord has seen our hard work over the past couple of weeks and He is starting to bless us for it. England is a really interesting country though.  In the States, everyone is friendly and open.  Here in England people are more closed and reserved until you get to know them.  Except for the members that are active are really strong in the Gospel just because there are so few of them.  But I like it here, I just need to get use to the culture.  The members in this part of the world are so nice and have such a strong desire to live the Gospel to the best of there abilities.  The thing about people in England though is that they take a long time to make a choice as to join or not to join the Church.  Most of them investigate for six months to a year.  Once they have made that commitment though they are stuck for life.

I have a funny story.  So as I have mentioned before, we go on companion exchanges once a week because Elder Davis, my companion, is the District Leader for our Area.  So we went on one last week and I have been out for about a month so I was the more senior companion and the Elder that I was on exchanges with which has only been out for almost a week.  So we went around trying our best to find investigators but it felt like the blind was leading the blind. Ha Ha. In the end everything worked out and we had a pretty good day.  The members we visited that night were a little concerned to say the least.  But we worked hard and to the best that we knew how.

We had a Missionary meeting on the fourth of July.  The Senior Couple in this area is from Florida.  So we arranged to have a little fourth of July party after the meeting.  It was so much fun!  We also have a couple who are not from the States so they where a little confused about our celebration. We had hot dogs, potato salad, cookies, fruit, chips, and apple pie!  The Senior couple found an apple pie at Costco and brought it so we could have a good old 4th celebration.  Even though the food here in England is pretty bland, it still tasted good to have some old favorites.

The Mission Home is about a forty minute car ride or about two hours by public transport from our flat.  I have included some pictures of our flat and the view from our flat window.  We catch a train from Kidderminster to Birmingham New Street Station, then get on a tram and that puts us about a mile to mile and a half from the home. Then we walk the rest.  Our weather has been abnormally hot. Or so I'm told.  It has been in the eighties to nineties this week and isn't supposed to cool down until Wednesday.  We started our Fast Saturday after lunch this past week then we worked the rest of the night.  I had to break my fast early and drink some water because I had sweated the rest of the day and was feeling a little light headed.  But Elder Davis made it and drank pretty much a gallon on water.  But in the end we had a good fast Sunday.

I am excited to be here in Kidderminster, England.  It is the hardest thing that I have done in my life as well as a big shock and change.  The hardest part is that we get some really nasty things yelled at us.  So we try to overcome these comments and just try to focus on the Work and not what's being said or done.  It has taken me a while to have a little more thick skin to being rejected and stuff like that.  I don't think a Missionary ever really comes to terms with it.  But it doesn't affect you as much in the end as time goes by.

But hope all is well.  I love this Gospel and the message that I get to share.  I have come to love it with each and every passing day.  The Book of Mormon has a special place in my heart with all the things I learn and read.  It is true and I love it.

Elder Nielsen

Our Flat in Kidderminster, England

View outside our Flat, Kidderminster, England
Kitchen in Flat, Kidderminster, England
A bridge in Bewdly, England

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Progressing In the Lord's Work

Hello Friends and Family,

Well everyone I decided to type my blog entry first just so that I can try and make it more readable and not so rushed, I guess.  This week was transfers and I'm staying in Kidderminster for maybe one or two more transfers.  Because I came in late to Birmingham due to Visa problems, I'm not sure if I will stay with the group that came in at the same time I did or not.  I'm not sure anything really out of the ordinary happened this week but we will see.

To tell you a little more about the encounter with the English girl that I had last week.  My mom asked if she was cute or not.  The answer is yes, mom, the girl was pretty cute and she started to talk about marriage with me as soon as I sat down.  She asked if the Mormons get to choose their mate or they are chosen for them like an arranged marriage.  But then her follow up question was would you marry me! I was not sure if she was messing with me or not, so that's when I started to wrap up real quick and get out.  If anything happens with the Mormon.org card I left with her it'll be a miracle.  But anything can happen and I have learned that over my short two months out as a Missionary, anything can and will happen. 

To tell you more about the apartment/flat that we live in.  The apartment is pretty small I'll try to send pictures next week but I left my camera cord at the Mission Training Center.  So I'm trying to find a card reader.  The food here isn't anything to interesting. It is mostly really bland and the food that we typically would eat in America just tastes off now.  The UK has very strict food laws and don't use a lot of artificial flavors. So like the Pepsi and Coke just taste off but there not too bad.  I don't have an accent that I am aware of.  The sad thing is that most Missionaries come home with a neutral accent. Birmingham doesn't have an accent like a typical London person.  So for example, Elder Davis speaks normal English and sounds normal and he has been out for 15 months.  So ya no accent.

Elder Kulow from Price, Utah is my Zone Leader.  It is really cool since Elder Davis my companion is the District Leader I get to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  So Elder Kulow and I went on exchanges for a day and got to catch up.

In the UK it is pretty much unheard of to have a three week baptism or anything like that. The Sister that recently got baptized that I played the piano for a couple of weeks ago had been investigating the Church for over a year.  So it's pretty common over here to have someone investigate for at least six months and longer before making that step.

I have heard that the weather in the States has been horrible. The hottest its gotten here in Kidderminster has been maybe 80 but with the humidity it is just muggy the whole time.  One of the days this week it was really bad, and I made a joke to Elder Davis after we had lunch about how my back still wasn't dry from all the walking around with my backpack.  I thought it was pretty funny but I'm not sure about him.  Maybe it was too much information. HA

Monday was just a normal preparation day with shopping and emailing and tracking. 

Tuesday was a busy day with trying to make plans for the rest of the day and to try and rebuild this Area. There have not been a set of Missionaries in this area for about three weeks because of the delay of Visas for Missionaries to the UK.  So a lot of the people that were beening taught dropped us or are not interested.  But that's life and we are trying hard to get the work moving in this area.

Wednesday was transfer day but since we were not transferred it was a pretty normal day for us because we both stayed in the area. 

I had an interesting experience though.  Last Sunday, I was asked to give a talk in Church about my favorite parable.  I had been trying to think of which one I should talk on.  So I took that matter to the Lord and asked him.  I started to run through the list of the parables that I was thinking about and then the Holy Ghost said to do the parable of the seeds and sower.  It is the one where seeds fall on stony ground good ground and so on. It was just a really cool experience to have that thought come so clearly when I least expected it.  This week has been a busy one and full of little miracles.

Saturday we traveled to the different small towns in our Area.  In the morning we went to Droitwitch Spa to visit some less actives and a member.  It's about a fifteen minute train ride there. Then when we got back we walked to Bewdly.  Which is a little old town that seems more like a tourist attraction.  But a very picturesque town.  It is about a four mile walk from our flat to the edge of the town. And then about another two mile walk to the other edge of the town. So all together we walked about ten miles just to have no one home.  It was a good walk though and it gave Elder Davis and I time to talk with those whose paths we crossed and to visit and reflect on the Lord's blessings.  I find that my testimony is strengthened every day as I devote myself to the work of the Lord in progressing his Kingdom.


Elder Nielsen