Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New City, New Companion

Hey All,

Well as you are probably aware, I was transferred last week to Cannock.  My new companion, Elder Bass, is from Salt Lake City, Utah, he also one of the District Leaders for this Area.  It is funny how we missionaries travel thousands of miles away from home and then meet and become companions with people around our own homes.  Elder Bass is almost done with his Mission, he goes home around the first of March.

The area so far is pretty good.  Elder Doty and I left Worcester at about 11:03am on Wednesday, January 22nd and got into Glouster at 11:50am. We then jumped on a Charter Bus and drove an hour and a half to the Mission Office in Birmingham.  Where Elder Doty met his new companion and I met up with Elder Bass.  We then walked to the train station and had about a forty minute train ride to Cannock.  So it was a long day of traveling.  I am adjusting to the Ward pretty well.  I think that it will be a good area.  I have had this feeling that I will be here in Cannock for a while though.  Not just your regular 1 to 2 transfers but longer.  I was looking back at the last sets of Elders that have served in Cannock and they are in the six to nine month range of being here.  So, it might be a while, but that will be good.

I was asked in my new Ward if I knew the Pope family in Blackfoot.  They are a family that lived in England and attended the Cannock Ward but now live in Blackfoot, Idaho.  My mom just happens to work with Liam Pope, so it is a small world.  So it will be interesting to meet Ward members who have friends in common with us.

Well anyway, this week has been a pretty busy one that is for sure with transfers and such.  Tuesday was mostly just packing and getting things ready for the new Elder coming into Worcester.

Wednesday was travel and then we had dinner with the Elders Quorum. We went to an American Diner.  It was pretty good. 

Thursday we had meetings so it was lots of busing and traveling to get to the Chapel.  Friday we just went and worked and set up appointments for the next week. 

Saturday was fun though. We went to another meeting which was in Lichfield.  So we traveled into Lichfield and there where some very black clouds as we got there.  I said to Elder Bass, "the way the wind is blowing it should miss us", made me think of something from Mary Poppins.  But we went into a corner shop to get a drink and when we came out, the black clouds were right over us.  I said, "I guess I am wrong".   So Elder Bass and I walked quickly to the Chapel and as soon as we got in it began to dump.  I have never seen so much rain come down in so little time as I have while being here in England.  I was was really grateful that we where inside when it dumped.  Saturday was also  Burns Night.  Burns Night is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, author of many Scots poems.  The suppers are normally held on or near the poet's birthday, 25 January.  The supper usually will include haggis and Scotch whiskey and the recitation of Burns poetry.  We had a supper that consisted of haggis, neaps, and tatties and not the Scotch whiskey.  I did not think that the haggis was bad at all.  Haggis is a savory pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in a casing.  I really liked the haggis.  The neeps are turnips I think not sure though and the tatties are potatoes.  It was a really fun meal and I had a great time the the Scottish family in our Ward that put together the who Burns night. 

Sunday I met the Ward and introduced myself to them.  It will be a great Ward to be in and I hope to make many new friends.

I love this gospel and hope to be able to find those that are seeking the plan of happiness.  Thanks for all your prayers and emails.

Love, Elder Nielsen

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Transfers, Farewell Worcester

Hey All,

Well the big news has come and I am getting transferred!  I am going to Cannock!  Cannock is the largest of three towns in the District of Cannock Chase in the central southern part of the county of Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England.  It is above Birmingham, not to far from the Mission Home.  So it will be fun to head up north again.  I have enjoyed my time in Worcester and the people that I have met.  But it is time for change and time to move on.  I will be serving with Elder Bass, from Utah.

The other big news is that I finally got a new bike on Saturday.  The lady that hit me tried to get me to go to a store like Halford's with is like Walmart in the States.  I said, no because it was so far away. She said it will not be that far, I can drive you.  I was thinking um no!  I am not getting in a car with you!  So we came to the agreement of going to a place right next to my flat.  I am now the proud owner of another Specialized bike.  And made a pretty good dent in the women's pocket book.  But during the past few weeks that I have been without a bike, I borrowed a bike from a member that was not good at all.  I felt like I was riding my little brother's bike, so I rode it only when I had to.  It is nice to not have to worry about having to come back to Worcester and get this mess settled because I have been transferred.  The funny thing that happened is after she bought the bike she had me signed some papers saying I would not tell her insurance about the whole incident.  So with the instruction from my Mission President, I signed the papers.  After I signed she looked at me and said, "Elder Nielsen, anything else"?  I said, "no, hope you have a good life and don't hit anyone else".

Later in the week my companion and I were street contacting people at our usual spot that we have been on since I have been in Worcester and a guy came up to my companion and said, "this is private property and you need to get off".  So my companion starts to leave and the guy then comes up to me and tells me the same thing.  He interrupted my conversation with a lady who was semi interested in who we are and what we stand for.  So I turned to him and said thanks when I am finished visiting, I will be glad to leave and kept talking.  I hope that we at least planted a seed to this stranger and that the next set of Missionaries will seek and find this gal. 

Saturday we where at a dinner appointment and the next thing I know the sister comes up to me and says,  "Elder Nielsen, can I talk to you for a minuet".  I was like okay.  "Can you play the piano on Sunday".  I said sure.  The problem was that the music chair picked some hymns that no one really knows and this sister had never heard these before and was feeling a bit uncomfortable.  I only knew 2 out of the 4 hymns.  So the whole night this sister kept asking me if I would practice the hymns at their house while we were there so she could get to know them.  Sunday came and it turned out pretty well.  The Spirit really blesses us when we prepare no matter what it is.  I have found that if I prepare that the Lord will bless me with just a little bit more than I thought I could do.

The other days of the week were filled with signing lessons, contacting and meetings.  It has been a great week and a great few months in Worcester with many ups and downs of Missionary work.  I have learned a lot about relying on the Spirit, prayer and trusting in the Lord.  May the Lord bless you all.  Thanks for all the emails, I really appreciate them.

Love, Elder Nielsen

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"The tower of all strength which stands four square to all winds that blow"

 Hey all,

It has been another week of contacting and finding those that we can plant the seed of happiness.  Elder Doty and I have one new investigator and he is from the Philippines.  He is pretty cool and way funny.  He has been telling us about how he failed his drivers test because in the Philippines they don't use their brakes they use their horn instead.  Swerving in and out of traffic and pedestrians.  This made me a little nervous since my recent events with a car.  I told him that I secretly hoped that he does not get his license soon. Ha Ha 

Signing lessons have started back up since our holiday break.  I had the opportunity to translate all meetings on Sunday since I was not needed to play the piano.  So it was time to get back into the swing of the new year.  I can honestly say that it has been about a month since I have really signed seriously.  My mom had asked if I would use this skill in other Areas of my Mission here in England and I am not sure.  I guess the Lord will direct me in that direction when the time comes for transfers again.  A cool thing happened though, my companion, Elder Doty stopped a lady as I was talking to someone else on the street while I was talking to someone else.  I could see him pointing to me and motioning for me to come over and visit with them.  So I went as quickly as I could and the lady he stopped was deaf.  Elder Doty just looked at me like get those hands moving and talk to her.  So I started to sign.  We had a good conversation but nothing really came of it, but it was cool to use my new skill of sign language in more than just at Church and what not. 

The rest of this week we have just been finding people to teach and running to meetings.  The Bishop of our Ward asked us to hold a Young Single Adult activity and invite people to attend.  So we did.  We played ping pong, basketball, and every ones favorite Uno.  It was fun we had about 15 people there and it seemed that they all had a great time.  Then Saturday we did more service for the family that I know from Kidderminster, my first Area, who are moving to Worcester.  It was fun we just moved some big furniture around and such. 

I heard a quote from Tennyson, "The tower of all strength which stands four square to all winds that blow".  I have been thinking about this lately as I have been reading and studying.  The four areas that are suggested are mental, physical, social, and spiritual.  I have been working and doing well at three out of the four but it is getting that balance right.  Some weeks it is the physical part others it is the spiritual part.  But I have found that when I focus on building each area it really helps. I have found that if one goes or is out of balance they all are out of balance.

So on that note, I will leave you all with a testimony of the knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is the tower of all strength.  I know this to be true!

Have a great week!

Elder Nielsen

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Learning from past General Conferences

Hey family and friends,

This week has been a pretty normal week.  As I mentioned last week and the photos that were attached, we have been flooded most of the week.  So we have had to find alternate paths to get places.  The only thing that was different and exciting is that this week we had to take our shoes and socks off and roll up our pants to wade through the flooded paths to get to Church on time.

We have pretty much just been doing finding and trying to restart the new year.  The people here in England have the post holiday blues.  They are hitting the reality that they have to go back to work. So people have been pretty negative about everything including talking to us on the street or letting us in.  We have hit the rainy season though and it has rained every day this week.  I feel like a drowned rat, but other than that nothing really happened.  Hopefully things will look up as life starts to get back into a routine.  On Monday we hiked the Malvern Hills with another set of Missionaries in our Area and their investigators.  Pictures to follow.

I am still well physically, mentally still a little bit shook up from my bicycle accident.  I have lost my aggressive bike riding which you need here in Worcester.  We were at the round about a few nights ago coming back from a meeting and I froze at the entrance that I got hit at when a car was there.  No bike yet, I am using another Missionaries until I get another one.  The first ride wasn't bad just a little slower than usual.  The lady who hit me is complicating everything so I have no idea when a new bike will come.  I was told that if she wants me to sign a paper or anything I had to send it the Mission President.  Then he will send it to the Church Lawyers to have them look at it.   So I am letting President deal with it.

New Years eve we were required to be in the flat at 6 pm.  So it was pretty boring.  We cleaned, threw the ball against the wall, listened to music, and ate.  That's about all we could do. 

I recently read a talk by Carlos Amado from the October 1993 General Conference  An Eternal Vision.  His talk is about being a servant and doing service.  "Servant and service are common words in the restored church. Someone said, “The one who doesn’t live to serve doesn’t serve to live”—wise words which are applied to each priesthood holder.  Another word to describe the priesthood is service; literally, every man who receives the priesthood is “called to serve.”  He also talks about a mission being very hard.  He is right, it is hard.  It is not just contacting people that you don't know but the adjustment of living with others in another country.  I think that the best way for us to learn about serving a Mission is to serve.  I don't think anyone could have told me how hard a Mission was going to be.  I have had to find that out for myself and I have found that each Mission is specifically for the person who is on it.  The trials that I go through may not be the same as someone else.  I think we truly don't understand what our duties are and how we will respond until the time comes to fly the nest and use the priesthood that we have been given.  That's when I started to understand.   I have enjoyed reading and studying talks from past General Conferences.  I am currently reading from the October 1971 General Conference.  I had no idea that it was a three day Conference.  It has been good.  Take a look and see what topic catches your eye.

Well, that is about it for this week.  I hope that all is well with you and yours.  I have a testimony of this Gospel and of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Love,  Elder Nielsen

Malvern Hills, one of the Elders

Investigators and Elder

View from Malvern Hills, England

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

I hope you all have had a great holiday season.  It was a crazy week the week of Christmas so a blog post did not get done.  Elder Doty and I have been busy teaching and getting ready for the many travels of the Christmas week and of course setting up Skype times at members homes with our families on Christmas Day.  I guess the biggest news and miracle would be that on Sunday, December 22, 2013 I was hit by a car coming home from Church.  My companion and I were in a round about when a woman going about 15 to 20 T-boned me.  I flew onto the hood of her car and into the windshield and then onto the ground.  All I can remember is thinking "this is going to hurt".  The Lord has watched over me and after laying on the ground testing all my bones and joints, I got up and started to walk.  The Paramedics came as well as the Police and put me in the back of the Ambulance and did an extensive exam.  The Paramedics could not believe that there was not one broken bone or cut other than my rain jacket is torn up, on my whole body.  The Miracle is that I walked away with no visible injuries other than a torn coat and a very damaged bicycle and of course my pride has been hurt.  Since the accident was the fault of the driver, I was given the option of sending the woman to jail or just get what I can for a new bicycle, helmet and jacket.  Apparently, in England if you are a foreigner, this gal is from Poland, you can have your drivers license taken away for any accident and you can also be deported.  The Mission President and I have decided that it seemed pretty harsh to send her to jail and we are working out the legal issues of getting my bike and other stuff replaced by her insurance company.  The first few days afterward my body was pretty sore but I  have no brusing to date.

The other great news is that I got to Skype with my family on Christmas!  It was great to visit with them for a while.  I am sure that my mom was glad to see that there really were not any broken bones, etc.  My Companion and I went to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve night which was a great experience and then Christmas Day was spent with some members in our Ward.  They fed us and made us feel welcome.  We just had fun at members houses all week pretty much with some meeting thrown in there.  Another great thing we did was service for some members in our Area.  Of course it has been raining and so we were soaked by the time we were finished.

But in England they have Christmas Crackers.  Which you and another person pull and whoever has the bigger half gets the prize in the middle.  They are pretty fun.  They have like dollar store prizes so nothing really worth keeping.  The one problem is that as soon as you pull it and win you have to wear the paper crown that comes with it.  You look pretty ridiculous that's for sure. 

Christmas in England was fun and a memorable one.  It was really cool to focus on the Savior more and not all the "tradition" that comes with Christmas.  The cool thing that we have talked about was new years goals.  And how it is great to have a goal but it is just a wish if we do not plan to do anything about it.  In Sacrament Meeting someone spoke on the goals.  He Google new year goals and the first one was lose weight.  He then said that by the end of January most people stop or quit their goal.  If we don't plan we don't finish. 

One thing that I have learned on my Mission is how to set goals and make plans to achieve goals.  As Steinbeck quoted, "The best laid schemes of mice and men/Often go awry".  If we don't plan and prepare and follow through we will not make it to our end goal of Eternal Life.

I hope that you all have goals in mind for this new year and to know our Savior Jesus Christ is part of that goal.

Happy New Year,

Love Elder Nielsen

It has been raining so much here in Worcester that the rivers have overflowed.  Below is a path that we normally take to Church.  Also below is a picture of my poor bicycle.  Enjoy