Sunday, January 3, 2016

More Pictures!

Natalya's emailing schedule has been sporadic during the holiday's. Sometimes she only has enough time to send pictures and not a general email. This is one of those times.

It is starting to get sooooo cold here. I might buy some fur lined boots. Especially if I get transferred up to the Stockholm area in a couple of weeks...

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

December 26th, 2015

Kära Familjer och Vänner,

Merry Christmas. Life is so good it's ridiculous. Happiness is an attitude! I love my family, I love my God, I love Swedish people, I love Syster Hong, I love immigrants in Sweden, I even love people that reject me or look at me funny. It's just so great. I am so grateful that I can always try again. I am so grateful to have a Savior who died for me! Don't worry, BE HAPPY! I think this is Syster Hong's motto in life. 

The other day, I sat on a bus and talked to a man from Somalia. He was Muslim and I am Christian, but I just felt so uplifted and so much love for this man. He talked about how he doesn't understand how people don't believe in God. I feel the same way. He said that Christians and Muslims both believe in God and that is good, the other differences don't matter so much. Last week we had Zone Conference and we talked a lot about pride. A missionary talked about how sometimes he looks at people and thinks that he has all the truth that they need, not acknowledging that they have truth also in their lives. That is pride. There are so many people out there clinging to the truth they know. We are only to build on that truth, not discredit the truth they already cherish.

Last week I felt strongly that we needed to go visit Gunnvor Lövgren, a really, really old woman in our ward who lives a good ways away. I had felt like she needed a Christmas visit- I couldn't help but think of President Monson and what he would do. I feel more and more inspired by President Monson's christlike example. I love elderly people. One of the first things I told Syster Hong when she got here was "There is something you should know about me: I love old people and old people love me." She thought that was pretty hilarious!

On Christmas I got to lay down and take a NAP. Yes, I just said nap. #bestchristmasever. When I woke up from my nap, I found sticky notes all over my desk with notes to me from Syster Hong, mostly telling me what she loved about me. I am obsessed with that girl. She is the best ever! Also, on Christmas eve eve, we got back to our apartment to find the Trejoes family from our ward outside of our apartment with Christmas gifts and notes for us. And lots of hugs of course. Wow, we were so surprised and blessed. And of course I felt SO loved opening up incredibly perfect gifts from my family. :)

Also... I included a picture that I thought was really poignant. It's of an iPhone chained to a persons hand. I see this all the time. Don't be addicted. :)

Love you all so so so much! Don't worry, be happy.

Syster Nielsen

Greenie coming to Borås!

Lucia Tåg!

A Savior is Born

 December 14th, 2105
  Cool Missionary Experiences!
On Tuesday, December 8th, we met with a man who became interested in the Gospel because I talked to him on the bus. Apparently I didn't even give him a card, but he looked at my name tag and remembered my name. And you know what? He looked my name up and found my blog and found my email and emailed me. And we met with him today because he is interested in our church. It feels good to know that I am having influence. It has been made very clear to me recently that my work is not done here in Borås. God still needs my brain and my talents here. I wanted to let someone else take over, but I am not done here. I know I still have a work left to do here, and it isn't finished. That is why I am not leaving yet. I have felt the Spirit confirm to me that I am not done yet. 

I love, love, love our investigator, Jackie. She is just incredible. She is so ready for the gospel. She was talking today in our lesson about how lots of older people begin to be cynical and think they can't learn from young people. She says she has tried to keep an open mind. I really appreciate that about her. She is someone that has really developed her spiritual side. She just expressed gratitude for us today and how she knows we were sent from God. It's incredible that God has them prepared and God knows where they are. It's just incredible. 

Thursday, December 10th, I had a pretty cool experience. I got on a bus and there was a woman that I had seen at the bus stop earlier, and I had the thought to sit next to her. In just a split second, I thought, "I am going to follow this prompting. Why not? I am just going to do it." I sat down by her, and we had a fabulous conversation even though there was hardly anyone on the bus at all. And it wasn't awkward at all! It felt so good to follow that thought.
December 7th, 2015

Kära Familjer,

God jul till er! Jul ska vara så spännande här i Sverige! Christmas is upon us. And you know what that means for missionaries? A really incredible time to spread the glad news of Christ. If you haven't seen this film, go and watch it right now: 

The film is called "A Savior is Born" and it is so powerful. Share it on your facebook! Show a friend. Help bring Christ back into Christmas. We have been now showing it to people here in Borås- even random people on the streets. We showed it to a couple of Jehovahs Witnesses on Saturday and they really liked it. And Jehovahs Witnesses don't even celebrate Christmas! Discover why Christ came to earth- this Christmas. I love the part in the video that says "The Prince of Peace." That is when I am most grateful for the Savior- when I feel the incredible peace that permeates my world. When I realize everything is going to be okay, even if I am imperfect, sinful and afraid. When the guilt washes away through an overriding peace. I have seen this video multiple times now and "A Savior Born" effects me everytime. Discover why!

On Saturday we met with a man named Arash that we contacted on the street a few weeks ago. He was one of those people you like to avoid talking to... Just because they are intimidating. Sharp looking, well dressed and carried himself with confidence. When we contacted him, we asked him if he believed in God. He very quickly said no, that he was completely atheist. We ended up having one of the most spiritual contacts I have ever had- just bearing witness of how God and the Church of Jesus Christ has changed our lives. He is an extremely intelligent man who is from Iran. He was raised Muslim until he started questioning and realizing that he did not believe what he was being taught. He could have been killed just for that very fact- if he had voiced it. He has completely broken himself off from being a Muslim, and anchored himself strongly in the world of science and tangible knowledge. He is an atheist, has lost a faith in God and is skeptical about religion. On Saturday we met with him with Peter Lundahl (a recently returned missionary) and taught him about God. It is incredible what the Gospel does to people and how it changes them. It was incredible because he listened so intently, he asked such incredible questions, he focused completely. He is the kind of investigator that everyone wants. He sure asks the hard questions, but he sure is sincere. He voiced his concern of why life was so unfair for so many people. He explained how he has had an incredibly difficult life, how it is easy for us to say that our trails are for us to grow when we are on the opposite end inequality. How would you answer this concern? Why does God let so much evil happen to some people? It's a question we get on a regular basis.

I love you all so much! I know that Christ is the light in this darkness! Go shine!

Med Kärlek,

Syster Nielsen 



November 23rd, 2015

Kära Familjer och Vänner,

It is FREEZING here. Just putting that out there. 

Alice's family took Syster Hong and I out to a really nice lunch this week. It was so nice. I love her family! They have been so incredibly good to me here. Alice, they sure love you! You have an awesome family. :)

I had a funny experience this week. I went on splits with Syster Stoughton and I had a trying moment. Back up a little. Before my mission, I had thought about if someone really needed my coat that I really liked, would I be willing to be Christ-like and give it to them. It was a hard discussion in my head, but I guess you can say it was somewhat put to the test this week. When we got back to Borås after switching companions, it was pouring rain. Being Sweden, there was an umbrella vending machine and Syster Stoughton went to buy herself an umbrella. After more trouble than it was worth, she finally got herself an umbrella. There was this Muslim woman who also wanted to buy herself one, but she literally did not speak Swedish or English. We tried to help her buy one out of the vending machine, but we couldn't get it to work. She pointed to her coat, I am sure indicating that it was not water proof and that it was pouring outside. I had a moment inside where I had to decide- would I be willing to give her my umbrella that my Mom had given me last year for Christmas? Ultimately, I offered her mine. She took it with a bright smile and I went on my way into the pouring rain. Once again, we only had one umbrella. Not going to lie, it hurt a little to give it away. It's weird how attached one can get to material objects. But the good side of things, I guess it was an indication that the Christ-like side of me won the battle- at least in that instance. But no worries, I bought myself a new umbrella.

I had a hard week this week. I am going to be honest. The mental battles you fight on your mission are unreal. I can't even believe them sometimes. I had a breakdown on Saturday night, so frustrated, tired and wondering if I could do this for another 9 months. But I think this is normal. I think a lot of missionaries go through this. I just want to see things happen- baptisms, members doing missionary work, golden contacts and a complete consecration in myself to this work. I have never been so exhausted in my life. Today and yesterday I read a talk that Syster Hong had given me and it was about enduring and fighting to the end. Anything good is worth fighting for. It helped me a lot! When the going gets rough, that is when you know what your character is made of. I want to be more diligent! I am working on this.

Happy thanksgiving! I love you all and I am so grateful for each of you in my life. Have a happy week!

Syster Nielsen

Christmas has already started here.

Alice's Grandparents- they took us to a nice restaurant in Borås. It was so nice!

This is a sport they play in Sweden called Innabondy. 

Making my half way mark Mexican feast. :) 

People Before Things

November 16th, 2105
Kära Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday today to Syster Helmick! How I love that girl, I am so grateful for all the good she is doing in Germany. She continues to change my life through our friendship. Also, shout out to Sterling for his birthday on Friday! Wish I could be there, but just know I'll be thinking about you here. I love you both!

Last night I sat on the kitchen floor, filled with frustration and anger. Things were building up and I just couldn't take it anymore. I just sat there on that floor and cried while Syster Hong was in the bedroom. She didn't know I was crying. I went to bed, frustrated. Something I have learned on my mission is the importance of filling someone's love language. There are five- quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts. Filling someone's needs are so important for a good relationship, something I am still working on. I had been feeling that my words of affirmation had not been filled recently. I know that is self-centered, but I felt like I was sacrificing so much without appreciation. I woke up this morning to find exactly what I needed sitting on my desk. Syster Hong had written me the sweetest, appreciative note. It was PERFECT timing, so considerate and caring. I get emotional just writing about it. It's the little things that matter. People all around are struggling and we need to lift the hands that hang low. Syster Hong did that for me today. She truly is a Christ like example. She doesn't know how incredibly much I needed that.

On Wednesday I had put my piano music in my backpack because I had been asked me to play the music at a zone conference. I went to take the music out on Thursday and I thought that I should leave it, just in case I got the chance to play something for someone today. Rare, but maybe, right? Of course, we walk into our less active, Annika Ternstrom's apartment and she has a piano sitting right there. Now, something about Sweden is that almost nobody has pianos in their apartments. Of course I got the chance to sit down and play and invite the Spirit through church music. I played her favorite hymn and by the end she was in tears. Wow, what a miracle! Of course I didn't leave the music in for nothing. It amazes me how much God is in the details.

Something I am learning with Syster Hong is to make time for people. It's important to spend the time to get to know them, be there for them, laugh with them. Don't rush through people in order to just do things. Of course, tasks are important. There is a time and place for both. But make time for the individual. My Mom told me earlier on my mission that Christ always had time for people. That has really stuck with me. I want to be the same way. We have been spending a little bit more time getting to know the members and I love them more than ever. I love this people. They are like my family now here in Borås. It's incredible!

It's cold, rainy and dark here! The sun is going down at kl. 15.50 tonight. But we are ready to light this Christmas season up with the light of Christ. Love you all!
Syster Nielsen

When I got to play the piano at the less-active woman's house.

A member told me that I could use their couch for a nap until dinner was ready. Syster Hong found this picture funny.

A man we work with. He was baptized by my MTC teacher!