Monday, July 30, 2012

Elder Nielson's Address

For those of you that would like to send Elder Robert Bryan Nielson a letter here is his address:

104 Camelia Court
Brunswick, GA 31520
This is his actual physical address and as he is transfered, I will keep it updated.

Week 2 of My AMAZING Mission!

Hello Family and Friends!

It's been another great week in Brunswick. We are preparing for a baptism on Sunday- my first in the mission! I will not be baptizing her but will probably end up speaking or something. 

We definitely have our hot days here- the heat and humidity put the heat index at about 112 about 2-3 times a week (or more)- so that makes walking around outside real fun! Of course, last night we had a big thunderstorm and it poured for about an hour. We were in the car/a member's home so we didn't get too soaked. I told my companion my mom said if it rained I couldn't go outside (haha).

Honestly- so much happens in a week and the days all run together that it really is hard to put anything down in this email. If anyone wants to know anything... let my mom know or send me a letter (I love those!)

We went on exchanges last Tuesday. I went up to a town called Kingsland and spent the day with our Zone Leader- Elder Baczuk (sounds like Bay-z-ick). We taught a great couple named Chris and Krystal (who identified themselves as "Jesus Lovers"- which was great) we taught them a great lesson and really felt the Spirit. After that we went out to their garage where Elder Baczuk rocked out on Chris' drum set. He looked so happy!

We hear a lot in the Church that we are called to a specific area to serve a mission for some reason. I've only been out here for 2 weeks but I know that that is true. I have felt a number of times a witness that I am here in the Swicky Wicky Brunswick for a very important task. I may not know what that is until many years from now, or I may know tomorrow, but the Lord knows all things and will guide me and Elder Reid in all that we do as we go forth to teach the gospel.

The people down here are great- some more than others, but it's that Southern Hospitality. They LOVE their Bible and Jesus and their Church and many are set in their ways, but they'll take the time to listen to what we have to say. People that give us water are the best (we carry a huge thing of water in the car, but if it's parked a block down the street...)

I met President and Sister Barry's daughter at a zone conference, who served an ASL mission. We talked (or rather... signed) and got all the missionaries confused! I also met an Elder whose father is deaf- so maybe we will get to work together in St. Augustine (where the Florida school for the Deaf is located)  The Headmaster of the school, as well as a number of staff are members of the church, so I hope I can spend some time there.

Honestly, this experience has been the best of my life. I can't wait to see what is in store and where I'll go next.

Love and miss you all! Thanks for all you do! I will upload some picutures next week.

Elder Nielson

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

Hello Family and Friends!!!!

My first week in Brunswick, Georgia had been great! I already love it here and am so excited to spend the next 3 months here. My first day it rained (of course) and we drove up to Brunswick from Jacksonville. (About 45 minutes north) Within a few hours of our arrival I already began teaching people. It was a great experience and our first lesson was very spiritual.

We are lucky enough to have a car here- so no biking yet. (But we are allotted a certain number of miles each month so if we run out then we will bike.) My trainer/companion is a great elder named Elder Reid. We also share the apartment with Elder Crosby and Elder Foulger- who cover the rest of the town. They are great too and we have some fun times! The smell from the nearby paper mill mixed with the humidity produces a smell that I really can't describe in words but it's certainly something I will have to get used to. :)

The bishop's extended family owns a BBQ place here called Baby Mack's where the missionaries eat for FREE! We don't go there too often but a free meal sure is nice. Bishop Wilson is a very down-to-earth man who is hilarious!

The ward here isn't huge... around 100-175 people- if that, but it's still great.

It's kind of funny really- at the MTC we prayed a lot, before meals, night and morning, in class. etc. but here we pray so many more times! For our work to succeed we must rely on the Lord for strength and guidance. He really has blessed me so much and I know He is preparing many people in this area that I will teach over the next 2 years.

Thankfully I have not been chased by a dog or had a gun pulled on me. But I think that's all part of the experience. (Don't worry Mom, I'll be okay!) The people here are pretty nice and will at least take the time to hear what we have to say, even if it's just for a minute. It helps with both members of the church and those we meet on the street when they find out I'm from Austin. I think my southern accent is coming out real strong especially when I'm around those who have lived here their whole life. Sometimes I have it and other times I still sound like I'm from Utah. Unfortunately- after 5 years of refusing to acknowledge its existence, I have started using the word "y'all". I guess that's ok... I'll probably stop using it when I get back home though.

I'm eating pretty good. Cereal in the mornings after we run and play basketball. Sandwiches or chicken or something for lunch. And dinner depends. Very few dinner appointments at members' houses- but they have to have an investigator there so that's really the reason. We had a breakfast at the church for the ward on Saturday- I had grits (I think for the first time) but now feel like a true Southern Boy! :) I've had homemade creamed corn and mac & cheese as well... it's wonderful! (We missionaries do love our food!)

We are teaching lots of people and seem to be doing pretty well. Not so much tracting because we seem to have enough people to teach but we are always finding more as we go around to visit different people. These Southerners do love their prayer, so when we pray with them they open up more so.

The days kind of blend together here and a lesson we taught yesterday feels like it happened a week ago. I'm scared to blink in fear that my mission will be over. (But that's inevitable so I'm not going to keep thinking about it- just focus on the work!)

If all goes well *knock on wood* we have a baptism scheduled for the 11th of August for a great sister named Sarah. (That's another mission-ism, everyone is Sister Jane or Brother so-and-so... it helps us remember that we are all children of God and that is our purpose here- to bring them back home.) Anyways- we began teaching her on Thursday (my first night here) and she committed to be baptized! Hopefully the Lord's will can be so that Sarah can come to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Well- it's about that time. There's no red countdown clock on my screen but we've got shopping and things to do.

Love and miss you all. Keep those prayers coming!


Elder Nielson

Elder Bryan Nielson's first week

These are pictures that were taken of Bryan his first couple of days in Florida.  They were posted on the mission blog so I thought I would move the ones of him here.
This is him being introduced by his companion- Elder Reid

This is a picture of the missionaries he arrived in Florida with.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 2 - July 10

Hello Family and Friends:

It is now week 2 here in Provo and it continues to be both stressful and exciting. We got our travel plans last weekend and we can't wait to fly to Florida. It's getting harder to focus as the next big step is in sight but we are trying hard to learn all we can.

I don't see Elders Oldroyd/Chandler really anymore, and since they are SYL (Speak your language), my lack of Spanish prevents me from talking to them beyond "Hola! Como Esta?" and "Bueno!" I still look for them and love them tons!

It is so beautiful here. The mountains are my favorite part of nature so I'm taking in as much as I can before flying to Florida where mountains are unheard of. The fires have added a nice smoky smell and we could see tons of smoke coming over Mount Timp. and the peak to the south- a little scary since it got so close but nothing too bad.

My district and I are getting along great! We are split- as 5 of us are going to Jacksonville and 5 to Birmingham Alabama, so we will all miss each other but promise to keep in touch. We are all working on our Deep Southern accents in preparation for the next 2 years.... I am now the senior companion (we switched off on Sunday), but here that doesn't make much of a difference, oh well.

The food continues to be trying on our bodies at times, and we pray that we will make to Jacksonville alive! :)

The investigators we are teaching are really special. Even though most of them are "actors" of sorts, it gives us good practice for the field. Teaching by the spirit is SO important, and our teachers stress that over and over again. There really is such a difference when you can bring that conformation to the lesson and help them see that the Church is true and desire to be baptized.

We have settled in to our new residence hall as we were "kicked out" last week of our old one. Just enough time to get it all set up, and then pack it all up again in a week.... :/

The firesides here are just wonderful. No general authorities yet, but fingers crossed! We heard from an Emeritus Seventy last week and a man named Ted Gibbons (Grandpa Prolo probably knows who that is!) last Tuesday- and the MTC Admin. Director last night. Tonight's fireside speaker is still unknown but our district is rooting for President Uchtdorf. ;)

So much goes on in a day and they all run together that it is hard to keep track of what day of the week it is or what day it is. all we know is how many days 'till we fly out!

To say I am learning a lot is an understatement. I have grown so much here even though I feel so far behind at times. The Lord gives unto man both weaknesses and strengths. That's what so great about the MTC- we all help fill in the "gaps" both spiritually and mentally, and personally that makes us all so strong and unified. 

I am so lost as I write this out, I have no idea if what I am saying makes sense, and the clock in the corner of my screen ticking down the minutes isn't helping.... I plan out during the week what I want to say in these emails, and then just blank out when I sit down at the computer- so if anyone has any questions or anything, is great. Pose your questions/thoughts/whatever there and I can either write you a letter or include it in the mass email. We each have our "Fan clubs" that we write to each week and so far it keeps us pretty busy while we sit for 2 hours doing laundry (The number of missionaries doing laundry against the number of available machines is a challenge.)

I used to think 8 hours of sleep was enough to go on... but here that is often not true. We do the best we can to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and crash down at night. Our branch president says enjoy it while we can... 'cause you'll be begging for 8 hours of sleep once you get home and eventually have a job, family etc.

On Sunday we looked at our family histories, I followed the Nielson and ancestors lines back far enough to somewhere around 200 BC in Denmark... (of course at that time everyone in Europe was related to one another) It was still amazing to see how much of their ordinance  work had been done- for people that lived thousands of years ago! The Church's love of family history really is great. 

Love and miss you all- Not sure when the next email will be- since we will be going to Florida! Again... DearElder,com is a great way to keep me posted on everyone

Elder Nielson

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bryan's First Email- 7/3/12

Hello family and friends-

I'm not really sure this email makes since, so I am just writing whatever come to mind

This week has been one of the best in my life. The amazing feelings of peace and spirituality are so strong it's amazing. Right now we are waiting in line to use the washing machines so I decided to write you.

The food here isn't too bad- like Elder Oldroyd said- it does things to your body... and we all regret eating some things. Our district leader, Elder Madsen, got some real awful sickness from eating the seafood salad here- so it is now "forbidden" to say the word seafood around him. (It's things like that which help being a little humor to the day) Sarcasm is something we are told to avoid, so that makes  conversations more difficult since we are all sarcastic people in our district. 

My companion's name is Elder Derr from Hyrum, UT (near Logan or something)

The first day was crazy but fun. We got pushed around from person to person being given our name tag, room key, ID access  card, etc. We have 10 elders in our district and we are all getting along really well and learning and growing together. The main thing being pushed here is teaching people, not lessons. It really makes a difference when you are trying to plan a lesson and personally catering it to the investigator's needs. Right now we are teaching a progressing investigator named Jose and his wife Hely. They struggle with finding God's love for them in life and I think we are starting to get through to him by showing him that God knows him and loves him personally. We also are practicing on 2 other "investigators" in a role-play situation that actually helps us a lot.

We were told our first day here to make it to 3 main "checkpoints"
-Gym time (on Friday)



We have made it to all 3 and now can relax. Gym time is only 50 minutes but helps us relax and unwind after being in class all day. Sunday was amazing. Since it was Fast Sunday we had Mission conference. All 2500 missionaries got to hear messages from the MTC presidency and we learned a lot about emphasizing the main points of the Gospel. We also had Testimony meeting which was really uplifting. Lastly, we got to hear a really cool "reenactment" of the days of the early church from the point of view of Willard Richards. We got to walk up to the Provo Temple and walk around on Sunday (It is being cleaned so sadly, we won't get to go in while we are here.) Nonetheless, it was still very cool and very nice outside.

Side Note- It's really cool to walk around and hear all the different languages being spoken. There are 2 elders right next to me now speaking Korean or Japanese or something.... (also- I found the ASL missionaries and talked to them for a minute, they looked a little lost but it is still cool to see them signing along with the hymns in conference/devotionals.)

We were moved from our first residence hall which was perfectly placed right next to our classroom, cafeteria, bookstore, and basically everything. Now we are the furthest away from all of that, but the better accommodations make it worth it.

Each day we spend about 8-10 hours in class, teaching. or studying. It gets pretty intense but has helped me immensely.

Thank you for all who have written me so far- I have received the most amount of letters out of anyone in my district, and the other elders are starting to think I left a lot of girlfriends behind (ha ha!)- I told them it was just my awesome family!

Even though we are right here in the middle of Provo, it feels like we are in a separate world. which I think is a good thing. The only problem has been the smoky air from all the fires in the area.

We all enjoy getting up at 6:30 and going to sleep at 10:30 (......not really) It pushes us to make it though each day when sleep is something we all miss and often need,

Aunt Jill- I found that painting you wanted me to look for and pointed out the discrepancy to my district.

Wow- 30 minutes goes by fast.

Mom- please post whatever of this you want on my blog.

Everyone- letters are great ( works best)

I saw Elders Chandler and Oldroyd on Wednesday and Elder Kaiiahue (sorry if that's spelled wrong Sister Oldroyd) on Sunday.

Thursday will be nice because we get a new group of elders in and will no longer be the "newbies" (As if the Dork Dot on our nametag on day 1 wasn't humiliating enough)

I love and miss you all. I am so excited to be out here serving the Lord and learning lots.

Elder Nielson