Sunday, September 27, 2015

Inadequacies and the Plan of Salvation

September 14th, 2015
Kära Familjer och Vänner,

Transfer calls came and Syster Lund and I are staying together in Borås! I am happy she is staying with me. She is fantastic and helping me keep my energy going. She is a consecrated missionary.

A mission is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is pushing, stretching and growing me in ways I didn't think I needed to. It is super testing my commitment to God and how much I am willing to humble myself. In the depths of humility. I don't think it can really be explained until you experience it. We met this man tracting last week who seemed so prepared for the Gospel. We were so excited about his potential. We probably taught him for about 30 minutes at his door, but then we got in contact with him and he doesn't want to learn more and he wanted to return the Book of Mormon we gave to him. We also got told by our investigator, Mattias, that he doesn't want to progress. We taught him about Temples this week and he said that it makes him sad, but he doesn't want temples. Kind of a stab in the heart. 

I feel so much desire to see people accept the Gospel, but God is trying to teach me something about the plan of salvation right now- agency. I often wonder if I could have done more, if I had tried harder, if I had had a more spiritual lesson, if I could have said something better or different, if I had talked to someone that I didn't talk to- if something would have been different. I want people to understand how this message can change their entire life, but I don't feel that I can adequately express it. I can't express the depth and breadth of my feelings towards God and the Gospel. I just want to teach with the power of the Book of Mormon prophets!

It is crazy in Sweden because so many people don't believe in God (often they say they believe in "something" but they aren't sure what it is) or a lot of people are Muslim. We talk to a LOT of Muslims. I am going to be honest, I struggle to know how to share the Gospel with them. Any suggestions?

But back to to the bright side of things- I got to play the Organ in Church yesterday for the first time since I have left home! I really miss playing it and it was such a fun thing.  Also, I want to share a scripture: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God  unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 2:16. Don't be ashamed of what you believe! It is the only way to life and salvation. 

I love you all! 

Syster Natalya Nielsen

Object Lesson.

Borås Chapel! Super cute.

My District this transfer. Elder Perkins, my somehow relative has been in it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Miracles Happen

September 7th, 2015
Hejsan Familjer!

It is FREEZING here! Oh my goodness, we went from summer to this ice cold weather! Luckily the sun is out today, but it sure got cold fast! We have seen some INCREDIBLE things here this week. Syster Lund and I are starting to see results from our finding efforts! It's so exciting! This week we handed out Book of Mormons in Swedish, Serbian, Albanian, Mandarin, Spanish and Persian.

Remember the man we met on the bus that I talked about last week? We met with him again earlier today and had an incredible lesson on the Plan of Salvation. His name is Mathias and he is Swedish. He said at the beginning of the lesson that he wasn't really interested in joining a religion, he just wanted to develop a relationship with God. As we went through the Plan of Salvation, he had all of these INCREDIBLE questions. We started talking about the Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms and he pointed to the Celestial Kingdom and said "How can you get in there?" Uhmmm, HELLO. At the end of the lesson I asked him "If all of this was true, would you be baptized?" He said yes. Holy cow. God is blessing us. The prepared are out there. People are really seeking! I can't describe the excitement that you feel! Also, we have a baptismal date with our other investigator, Mattias (Mattias the 1st.... we have to say Mattias #1 and Mathias #2 to remember) in December! He is a 23 year old Swedish man who is incredible. He is a seeker and has stepped away from drugs and a criminal life and has completely changed.

We also met a lady on the street this week that is from Finland, but has lived in Sweden for many years. We taught her a street lesson and invited her to church. She had visited a bunch of churches and was interested in trying ours out. We called her on Saturday and invited her again and then we contacted a member to fellowship her at church. She came and her and the member got along SO WELL!! Syster Lund and I could both see her in white... We are SO happy and excited for the work that is moving forward here! God is blessing us for the hard weeks of finding work we have had.

The other day we meet a couple of people that were struggling with some substance abuse. The one woman was from England and she was very drunk. She asked us to take her back to Sjöbo (where we live), she had no idea where she was. She said that this is the first time she has drunk since December of last year. She said that her boyfriend was doing drugs today and he wouldn't come to an art show with her. The other man was smoking, drinking and had something in his hand that possibly was some kind of hard drug. The mission takes you places you never would go otherwise. You are with people that come from all walks of life, you spend time with people that you would have never spent time with before. This drunk woman turns to us and says: "You can do one thing for me. You are religious right? Say the Lord's Prayer with me." Or something like that. She then held both mine and Syster Lund's hands and sang to us. Syster Lund goes "Can we sing something for you?" We took the hands of these two children of God, who were very much under the influences of the world, and sang "I Am a Child of God" to them. I was holding hands with this VERY dirty, sketchy man, who was probably missing a bunch of teeth, singing him a song that means so much to me. I just felt the Spirit confirming to me of God's love for his children. This is an experience that is so unique to a mission. I really feel like I am in the Savior's shoes sometimes.

The last thing I want to record is when Syster Lund and I talked today to the three very tattooed, pierced and very non-LDS looking people basically possible. I spent most my time talking to one of the guys and he was basically a Satanist who believed in Satan, and he was smoking right in my face and I was breathing in that cigarette smoke like crazy. But something incredible happened. I just felt SO much love for this man. Not in a romantic way at all. I felt God's love filling me. I saw him in the way I believe that God sees him. It was an incredible experience. The mission is incredible- it fills you with love like you have never experienced before.

I love you all, I love my Heavenly Father. I am grateful to see things through His eyes in a small way. 


Syster Nielsen

Life in the Sweden Mission... Book of Mormons in about 500 bizillion languages.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Obligation vs. Opportunity

August 31st, 2015

Kära Familjer,

This week filled with it's own challenges and miracles. Something I've learned so far on my mission is that you can never stop improving- you always have things you can do better. Each week is filled with challenges to overcome human nature, to keep progressing as a missionary and to progress as a human being. I have never been so stretched and had my character so examined in my entire life. I have never been so aware of my shortcomings. And I don't know if I have ever had to be so reliant on the Lord.

Something that I have really been aware of on my mission is the need to talk to more people. God says to "open our mouths" and I am constantly needing improvement on that. Here in Sweden, we take a lot of public transportation, and I have just felt the need to open my mouth more when it comes to public transportation. Something you should know about Sweden is it is not the culture to talk to each other. A bus can be completely silent with no one talking. People rarely start conversations with each other or wave or say hello unless you do it first. When you do it, they seem a little bit surprised. That means as a missionary, we are breaking a lot of social rules at once. This week I had about a 2 ish hour bus ride home and I sat by this woman on the bus. I really spent a lot of energy trying to get to know her and trying to take the opportunity to bless her life with the Gospel. It was a full energy contact and it didn't end super well. We have been doing a lot of finding work here in Borås and I was discouraged. I broke down on the next bus and was just so frustrated. But thank heavens I decided to bounce back. The next day we met the most awesome guy- and where was it? On the bus of course!  I had the most successful bus contact I have had on my whole mission thus far! Syster Lund and I went and sat by this young looking man on a bus on the way to a dinner appointment. We sat down and I complimented him on his backpack- he had a fjallraven like Syster Lund and I both have. We started to talk to him and we got the chance to teach him a lesson on that bus and we got his number. It was SO cool because he actually seemed legitimately interested and curious! I am guessing he is about 23 ish. It was a testimony to me that those that are prepared will actually SHOW interest, will actually want to talk to us. It won't likely be those who we have to practically drag along. Sometimes I talk to people on buses and it is like pulling teeth to get them to have a conversation- a real conversation. But when they are ready, I believe they will show some extent of interest. We are meeting with this man later today!

We had an AWESOME District Meeting this week and I just have to share an approx. quote that our District Leader shared with us: "Think about what you're thinking about when your effort is low. If your effort is low your probably thinking about the obligation instead of the opportunity." I love this!! Wow, it says it all. Do we think about the good things we do as an obligation or an opportunity? I know I need some work on this.

I love you all! Have a fabulous week!

Syster Nielsen

I thought Dad would appreciate this meal I had this week. :)

Yes, Syster Lund is cutting my hair.... Scary...


Knocking, Knocking

August 24th, 2015

Hejsan Family!

This week was a finding week and a miracle week. We knocked a good number of doors, talked to a good number of people, and had a good number of "I'm not interested"s, but it's been fabulous.

I got to go and see Alice (my family's soon to be Swedish Exchange Student) and her family and I LOVE them! Such a fantastic family and Alice will fit in like a piece of my family. She is bubbly, cute and happy. We ate some really good seafood right next to an incredible view. They live in the most gorgeous place. Sweden is unbelievable! 

This week I got on a bus and I felt a  prompting go sit by a man who was in his wheelchair on the bus. Syster Lund turned to me and said "Do you want to go sit by that man?" and I said yes and moved seats to sit by him. I just want to help you understand even a little bit the feeling and the absolute joy I felt. I can't describe how good it feels to serve. It is something I can't put words to. It makes me realize how stupid it is as human beings that we put all these walls up and we don't connect with eac hother more. We need those human connections and we have so much to learn from each other.

I have felt some reasonable discouragement a few days this week. People have been unkind and have been shutting us down. It feels like nobody is interested sometimes. But I know God sent me to this land because He knew I could do it. Amidst my struggles, Syster Lund has kept a really positive attitude and a desire to work hard. She is so awesome and a person I really respect. When I thought life was getting pretty tough, God started blessing us. He REALLY loves us. On Saturday we had 3 street lessons and got a couple of possible investigator's phone numbers. That was an AWESOME day here in Sweden. Wow, God was so good to us! I love this land and I love this people, and most especially, I love my Heavenly Father.

I love you all so much!

Syster Nielsen

I think Sterling will appreciate this friend I found during service...


This is the view from the back of Alice's house!

The front of Alice's house.

Alice and Family!

Swedish Pancakes! I had them twice this week! It was awesome!


The man I sat by on the bus. Syster Lund secretly took a picture.

Somtimes you get really tired and your companion takes a picture of you when you fall asleep on a bus.... Okay, only this time.

That is me! Our run this morning.

Our apartment- especially for Mom.


Kitchen. Let me just say, we have cleaned this place up. The Elders left it quite horrible... 

"Create Peace Not Fights" -Nielsen Family Mission Statement

August 17th, 2015

Kära Familjer,

What a GREAT week! I LOVE being a missionary! It's the best.

Yesterday we had an absolutely AWESOME experience. Over a week ago we meet these two Jehovah's Witnesses on the street and in the end we ended up exchanging numbers and agreeing to meet. Of course (as any good missionary would do!) we called them and set up an appointment. Yesterday morning we were studying during personal study for specific insight on what we could say to the Jehovah's Witnesses; basically how we could prove them wrong or "out Bible" them. We came together for companionship study and Syster Lund said something like: "I just was marking all these scriptures in the Bible that I could use against them and I thought to myself 'this is so wrong! This is sooo not what Christ would do-study to prove them wrong!'" We decided to take the approach of letting them teach us something that they believe in and then in return share a message with them. Basically a friendly swap of beliefs instead of an argument or Bible bashing session. It went SO well. We went in there and Robin and Angelika started teaching us about what they believe in. Robin specifically was showing us all these scriptures in the Bible, showing evidence for their beliefs. We listened very intently, asked questions, complimented them on the good people they are and the way they lived their lives and were super respectful. It was amazing to watch the change in Robin. I think as the lesson went on and we made no attempt to argue or put them down or Bible Bash, he became more and more surprised. At the very end, after over an hour of mostly them teaching us, we shared a message. We showed them the "Because of Him" video and testified of Jesus Christ, both of us. We didn't try and prove them wrong, we didn't try and say we are right, we listened and testified and found common ground. It was incredible. Seek first to understand, then be understood. Robin's whole countenance had changed- he seemed dumbfounded. I cannot believe the change I say come over him. The Spirit was almost tangible. It was an incredible experience. I am reminded of our Family Motto: "Create Peace, not Fights." It works so much better!

We had the COOLEST tender mercies the other day. Syster Lund and I had a couple of swing bys to do and it turns out both of the buildings were port coded and we couldn't get in without a code. Outside of one of the buildings we decided to say a prayer that Heavenly Father would help us get in. We had been punching random codes, but the amount of possibilities that the code could be was thousands. After we said the prayer, Syster Lund started punching random buttons on the code thing and all of the sudden it turned green and the door unlocked!! Literally, the door unlocked for us!! We couldn't believe it. Then we went to our other swing-by and the door was also port coded. Once again, we said a prayer outside of the door and just moments later a man walks up and says something like: "Do you need to get in?" He unlocked the door right then and there and we were able to walk right up to our referral's door! Coincedence? I think not! Wow, God is watching out for us, even in the little things we do every day! I am constantly reminded that God is leading this work, that God is at the helm. 

I love you all so much! Create Peace not Fights this week.

Syster Nielsen

Look at this gorgeous garden we were working in this week, Mom!  I had to show you how beautiful it is- we were doing service for a member.


August 10th, 2015
Hey Family and Friends!

I made it to Borås! After a plane, three trains and a bus ride, I finally made it here. My travel here was also a witness to me that God is watching out for us. I had a little miracle. One of my trains was about 20 minutes late, and I had a bus to catch from Alinsås to Borås. I was traveling that part of the journey alone, and I had to handle all of my luggage (2 big bags, a carry on and a backpack) by myself. I got all my luggage up two flights of stairs, hoping to catch my bus after getting of the late train. Sadly, I watched in drive by and realized I had missed it. As I was deciding what to do next (I had no phone or phone numbers at this point), a guy jumped out of the car and said "Hey! We are Mormons! Do you need help?" Wow. I am in Sweden, where members are far and few between, and of course one happens to be there right as I miss my bus. God is looking out for me. The guy helped me out and looked up the next bus to Borås for me. Eventually the Alingsås missionaries showed up. I am sure that man sent them to me. All was well and I made it to Borås, safe and sound!

Other awesome news- the man I taught in Luleå. Ali is getting baptized this week!! Yay! I won't be there, but I am so happy for him. The joy that you feel when you see someone coming to Christ is immense.

We have had a couple of tender mercies the past couple of days. One happened yesterday when we were trying to get to a member dinner that lived outside of Borås a little ways. We got to one bus stop, but it turned out that there wasn't another bus that went out to where we needed to be. The travel to get to this member had already been a bit complicated. We talked to one the workers at the bus station and he offered to give all four of us missionaries a ride to our member dinner. He knew at least one member of our church (I think he knew a few actually) and was just doing us a really nice favor. He was SO nice and we got his number and asked him if he would be interested in learning about our church! He said he would think about it. It was such a tender mercy! God knew we would not have a bus and prepared a better way for us. God had a plan!

Another tender mercy happened when I saw a lady that I felt like we should contact. She just seemed like she was not having the best day, and I just felt the Spirit leading me to tell her that God loves her. She asked us to pray for her and we knelt down right there and said a prayer for her. The Spirit was so strong- it was such a neat experience. It really testified to me that God loves and watches out for each of His children.

I love you all! I love Syster Lund, my new companion- she is from California and is super cute and hard working.  Look for the tender mercies this week- God is watching out for us. 


Syster Nielsen

Our investigator, Mattias. I thought this picture was kind of cool. :)

Borås is gorgeous!

Cute ladies in Luleå before I left.

This is the Branch President's Family in Lulea.

This is the Larsson Family in Lulea.