This Wednesday Elder Nielsen celebrates his 21st birthday. If you have a minute, send him a birthday wish at email@example.com. I know he would love to hear from his friends and family. Thanks for all your support and prayers. He's another year older and definitely wiser. Here is some of his funny letter home this week. XO - K.
Hiiii mom! I LOVE YOU! IT'S ME! THE BIRTHDAY BOY. 21 years of life. How did I get this old? It makes me feel better when you think that around 1/3 of your life is spent sleeping so I'm about to reach my 14th year of conscious life. I can't wait until I'm 15. Maybe we can throw a quinceañera.
I'm doing really good. Just chillin in bed right now. We just helped this guy move. Who would have thought that a huge part of missionary work is helping people move houses? Elizabeth is the DMV of America. People come here with intent to leave as fast as humanly possible.
Elder Hunt, what a nice guy. He is very funny and also a shy guy. His been out for like 18 months and has had some pretty hard companions and he thanked me for being normal. Lol jokes on him amiright. But he's a really nice guy and works hard and I couldn't ask for more.
A package just came from Jean and she gave me some cookies and a ton of money. What a nice woman. Will you send me her address so I can write a quick thank you note?
Speaking of birthdays, I have like 5 meal appointments I'm going to on Wednesday. Literally lol. Some people have wanted me to tell you that they're taking care of me. You know what I want for my birthday? Regular portion sizes of meals. If it wasn't for the ridiculous amount of exercise we do every morning I would be like 399 pounds. Last year I was with Elder Jacobs and he bought me a cake and then ate like 96% of it. A man amongst boys. I'm happy to be here and to be loving our Father's children and to be as happy as I am.
I love the talk you sent me on Criticism, Compassion and Charity. LOVE. IT. I love the whole thing. I like his integration of the secular and the spiritual. Because it's true; I've felt the Spirit while listening to Bach as well as listening to Handel's The Messiah. "God isn't interested in the distinctions we make between the sacred and the secular." I also like his approach on doubt and faith because things have answers and the Church is alive and perfect because Jesus Christ is alive and perfect.
You know what I can't feel the Spirit with? EFY music.
EFY music hurts my testimony. (lol)
This week I thought it would be a good idea to do a lemonade stand/ spiritual survey booth and it should be very fun. I can't wait to meet a bunch of weirdos. All weirdos live in NJ. Weirdos are awesome.
Going to the store. I LOVE YOU!!!! I hope you know it. I think about you all the time and you help me keep going more than you could possibly realize. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Xoxoxoxoxoxo
--your boy. ❤️
Transfers this week for our cute missionary. He's doing great! Here's his letter home. -K
I forgot I'm almost birthday guy! Days aren't really a thing for me. I have officially lost my sense of time. Just strait up lost it. Is it August? July? 2016? I live outside of the social curve, even with respect to time. But that's ok. One of the things I've noticed with respect to sociological development in different countries is that less-than-fully developed countries live a few years in the past with respect to fashion, music, etc. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in 2009. Which sounds weird because I literally am in the US but it's honestly hard to find English speakers sometimes. But all of this is beside the point. The point is that I
love my family.
I have some transfer gossip for you. Sadly, I'm losing Elder Sanhueza. My heart is broken. He got called to train and be a DL and get doubled in to Trenton. So he's pretty stressed but also really excited. I'm staying in Lizzy and my new companion is Elder Hunt (Caleb Hunt so you can Facebook stalk him) I've heard nothing but good things about him. He seems just like a nice guy. He has more time than me in the mission and he's had some hard companions so I'm excited to add onto that list. Just kidding. Or am I? But I'm excited. Lot of changes to the zone which is exciting. It'll be a good transfer.
We had a really nice baptism this Saturday. Luz is so funny. It was a really lovely baptism. It's been nice to see the progression of her family. After the baptism we went to this Colombian restaurant and I again asked myself the question why Hispanics have no sense of portion control.
I'm sad to hear about Uncle Larry, but at the same time relieved. He suffered a lot. He was a nice guy. He came to my basketball games. Remember him during that one final game where he was super into it? Lol. Death is a very merciful thing, sometimes. I'm positive that he is happier. God's plan is so good. I'll be sure to keep his family in my prayers.
I love FAIRMORMON. I'm so glad it was a good conference. The thing is there's always answers to questions. Sometimes they take awhile but even doubt has a place in the growth of a testimony. I like the part of that paper we were talking about that says, "That’s the story, incidentally, that the Lord has always expected us to tell. I don’t think that people who stand up in a testimony meeting to praise this as “the only true church” realize that they’re misquoting the Lord, who never actually said that. What he did say was this was the only true and living church. (See D&C 1:30) Plenty of other churches have truth in them. Some have gobs of it. But this church is both true and living. It is more than just correct principles and authority; it is the living people doing everything in their power to apply them. And the Church, like all living things, develops, grows, and learns from it's mistakes." I am so grateful for my smart mom who was patient with me in my spiritual stubbornness. I have come to know my Savior and I am so thankful for the testimony I have since developed.
I'm about to go get my haircut and then after we're going to a park with Luz's family for a little bit. Should be a pretty chill day. That's so fun that Jenna is home and that grandpa and grandma are coming home soon. It turns out that people actually return from these things. I love my mission and I love my family. So much. So so so much. Elder Sanhueza loved his package. Like he was giddy. You're so kind. OK. Haircut time. I love you. ❤️
Love this boy. Here is part of his latest letter home. -K
Hi mom!!! I love you!!! It's me! Thank you so much for sending me Jenna's talk. Love that girl. She'll be married within the vicinity of a few months. She's just the best. But you know who is the best of the best? You. I love you. Literally so much. I'm the luckiest boy in the world. How fortunate I am. And blessed. In every way.
I'm so good mom! Since last transfer was only 5 weeks, this one is 7 so I have another transfer with my cute Chilean guy. He's literally so funny. He says hi. I probably won't be with him next transfer though because he already has been here for 7 months lol. But that's just how it goes. I'm excited for the future, always.
This weekend we helped 4 people move houses. Literally. I am dying. But it was fun. One of the people we helped gave me a couch that fits in our small apartment very nicely. Big fan. Don't worry. I cleaned it.
Also President Hess came out with us teaching the other day! Super fun. What a nice guy. Love him. He puts a lot of trust in me, which is flattering. He fell asleep in our last appointment that day. Cute guy. President has to deal with a lot of stuff. I admire him a lot.
Guess what? Started my mission with 24 months, and as of yesterday we're working down from 10. Don't get me wrong though, I love being here. I love being a missionary and I am so much of a better person. And I really do think I've been able to be an instrument of God in the lives of people. I've seen it. And I've seen my testimony and relationship with Jesus Christ change from something of a conceptual theory to that of a genuine relationship. And that is something that I know I could not have obtained in any other way.
Also, this week I ate a soup made of hearts and old corn. Probably couldn't have obtained that in any other way either.
I haven't listened to the talk from Sam Brown but I can today because I have time to put it on my flash drive. Send me that podcast too. There are a lot of talks that I've been listening too that I like a lot. One is called "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson, another is called "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane" by McConkie and the other called "Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity" by Neil A Maxwell.
Today we're going to the mall!! How exciting. I'm quaking with anticipation. But actually it will be nice because our only real options are go to the mall or sleep and we've made time for both of them today.
Send me any cool things that you learn at the Fairmormon conference. I like fairmormon. 10/10.
I'm online all day. I love you mom. With every fiber of my heart. Xoxoxoxoxox
your boy, Jack
Pioneer Day! How fun. We don't have that here. We just have a lot of protests against Chris Christie. Same kind of deal.
We already finished buying groceries and doing out laundry and it's only 10:30!!! So much time to be a literal vegetable. It's raining super hard right now and our car almost became a boat no joke. The weeks pass by incompehensibly fast. I can't believe that I've been in Lizzy again for as long as I have because it certainly doesn't feel like it, which is a good thing. So things are tranqi. I've learned a lot of Spanish cool words from Elder Sanhueza. Love that guy literally so much. Our conversations consist of statements such as "Porque eres tan guapo man?" "Porque eres así man?" And "Man tu no sabes nada." Such a good guy. We started doing P90X Insanity every morning and we're dying.
This week we had a lot of nice lessons and talked with really nice people. The Aponte family (Jenny, her little son, and her nonmember mom who we're baptizing in August) invited us to a picnic in this really lovely park and we ate homemade Colombian pancakes. I am definitely taken care of.
I miss Rowdy. Every time I see a dog I have to pet it. Like I have no option nor fragment of agency. I need to love them.
In other news I'm learning Portuguese right now and it is very fun. It's like French and Spanish had a baby and then gave that baby alcohol. It's great. You're great.
That's so crazy that Jenna is coming home. I love that girl. I'm going to send her a lil email today. I bet she's happy to come home. In retrospect, 2 years is not that long. I mean, actually it's long as flip but in the grand scheme of eternity it is but a moment. And a good moment at that. I've learned lot and I have a relationship with the Lord. I feel confident that I can provide for a family. I have (finally) learned how to budget. All good things. The best of which is my testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
Tell Sam Brown that I love him. I can't wait to go to all the big brain conventions with you.
XOX. your boy. Jack
First things first, I'm super happy. I love our area and companion and I'm just a happy lil guy.
We just finished all the things we had to do today so we have the next literal 7 hours to chill. That's so nice. I miss chilling. Chilling is a commodity that I cannot afford. But just so you know the second I get home, I'm yours. Until then I'll keep working really hard.
We found this super cool family in the park last week and they're literally the coolest. They are super into reading the BoM and do it as a family every day. That's one of the things that I've really come to appreciate on my mission. How important families are. Because they're the best!
I've learned a lot of doctrine. I love doctrine. Here are a few things I found that are pretty cool about our spirits:
"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; we cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:29; 131 7-8
"The spirit of man consists of an organization of the elements of spiritual matter in the likeness and after the pattern of the fleshly tabernacle. It possesses, in fact, all the organs and parts exactly corresponding to the outward tabernacle”
(Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 79).
The beginning was when the councils met and the decision was made to create this earth that the spirits who were intended for this earth, should come here and partake of the mortal conditions and receive bodies of flesh and bones. The doctrine has prevailed that matter was created out of nothing, but the Lord declares that the elements are eternal. Matter always did and, therefore, always will exist, and the spirits of men as well as their bodies were created out of matter. We discover in this revelation that the intelligent part of man was not created, but always existed. There has been some speculation and articles have been written attempting to explain just what these ‘intelligences’ are, or this ‘intelligence’ is, but it is futile for us to speculate upon it. We do know that intelligence was not created or made and cannot be because the Lord has said it.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:401
“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life”
(Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
Kind of cool stuff. The more I learn about our Father the more I realize how wonderful and merciful he is. And I love learning because I feel closer to Him. I like this quote from Joseph Smith that says "The Glory of God is intelligence." I know that to be true.
I hope you are having the best time on your trip. I want pictures. Drink a lot of Pina coladas. They're free if you just charge them to the room and have your parents pay for them.
Your boy, Jack
Elder Nielsen went to the beach this morning with his zone and maybe forgot he's not been blessed with olive skin. He's now slathered in aloe but other than that, he's happy. The work must go on, right? Here is the latest from his letter home. -K
Hi you. It's me! Your real boy! I'm still alive! I'm am sooooooo sunburned lol. But that's okay. People need sun. Especially Jack Nielsen. But I'm really good and really happy. The beach was so fun today. Pictures are attached. Life is good.
We had a really nice week this week! As always. On the night of the 4th my companion got super sick so I spent the 4th of July listening to fireworks outside the window while I read a few talks. I loved it honestly. Our area is super fun and there's always a lot to do. We're working with this woman named Luz and she reminds me a lot of you if you were Colombian. She's super funny. She's the mom of this less active girl who we've reactivated and are going to the temple with. We have been able to give her a few Priesthood blessings lately. The Priesthood really is a real divine power that we are permitted to use. I have grown my testimony so much, mom. Like I was such a punk before lol. I mean I'm still a pretty big punk but I know who I am and I know who God is. And I love Him. And the best thing he has ever given me is my family.
So I'm going to send you these talks today. I was going to send them last week but I didn't have time. They're so good. They're from this senior missionary who used to serve here that has all these podcasts that are CRAAAZY. He talks about everything from the Priesthood to Missionary Work to the Temple to Eternal Progression and they're so good. I'm going to send you a few. But one of the things that I've recently leaned in my personal study and whatnot are the Estates and Eternal Progression. SUUUPER interesting. The Gospel is true. Not only is it true, but it works. It's perfect.
I love my mission. Things are so fun. I love my Chilean companion. And I love President Hess! He's so kind. We had zone conference with him this past week. He's so sweet. And his wife used to work for Viewmont High! She worked with Ms. Merrill! President Hess has gone through a lot. He lost a child and his first wife to cancer. But instead of making him hard or bitter it has only made him kind. That's very admirable to me.
Know that I'm good and happy. And I'm so happy I'm your boy.
Sorry for the late post. Jack's PD was moved to Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day. He is doing great. Thanks for your love and support. -K
Happy 4th! Independence is great! I love the founding fathers. Today is great! I wish I could be at the parade with you but that's ok because my mom sent me a box of really yummy saltwater taffy so I'm happy. We just got back from a party. Super fun. I played ping-pong with this woman named Luz who is the mom of a less-active that we're working with. She's super funny. I love colombians lol. They all have fun personalities. They're making us food tomorrow and I'm excited. Also the other day I ate like 44.3 flautas and I thought my life was in danger.
We had MLC with President Hess! He's so nice!! Like so SO nice. He seems like the perfect amount of strict and relaxed. He's super funny. I love him. He even came to our baptism on Sunday.
We have been teaching this guy named Charles and he loves America. He loves it. He loves Eagles and the American flag and everything. He's great. Attached is a picture of him and the statue of liberty and it is the best thing you've ever seen. Love him.
I love my companion. He's literally the funniest guy ever. I always go, "Hey Elder Sanhueza, do they have electricity in Chile?" And he goes, "...they do not." Lol. I love him. Funny guy.
Tonight we are allowed to stay out to watch fireworks! I'm so excited. Blessed.
Other than that, things are the same. I'm a happy guy. I hope you're a happy mom. Tell everyone that I love them so much!
Your boy. Jack
Elder Nielsen is happy in Elizabeth, NJ. Here is a section of his letter home this week. -K
We have 11 months left after this week! I'm not even counting down though. I love being a missionary. Best decision I've ever made. I'm super happy! Remember Yomairy? Her sister got baptized this last Sunday. How fun. We have two for the upcoming week as well so we're pretty busy. I love this area. There's always so much to do! And I love doing stuff lol. My companion is Elder Sanhuesa and he's from Chile and he's so nice. We speak in Spanish all day every day and I love it. What a guy. He only has one left here in Lizzy probably but maybe he'll stay because president Hess is coming in and I'm sure he won't want to change everything right away. We'll see. President Taggarts last day is this Friday. Que sad! I love that guy. He and I just chilled for a little yesterday as we were waiting for a meeting to start for the Stake I'm in and I'm just going to miss him a lot. But I'm sure P Hess is going to be fantastic. But anyways. I'm just good. Hope you know that.
This week we met this super cool family who has the strongest Uruguayan accent you've ever heard. I love it. It made me think of Jenna and her accent lol. Also this week I met this guy who found a baby deer that was almost dead and be nursed it back to life and now it's his pet lol. So funny. Oh, and also I met with these members yesterday that are SUPER cool and he taught me all about Masonry and so I've decided that I want to become a Free Mason. Hope you're cool with that.
I love the church in NJ. I have a whole new respect for the apostles post-resurrection. If you read the new testament after the book of John you really can just see how hard of a time the apostles had. Their entire job was to go to different parts of the Eastern world and try to correct the inevitable apostasy and insidious heresies taking place in every church establishment. Although here we don't have to stop infant baptisms or cults based on who baptized them, sometimes in New Jersey you have to tell bishops that it's not ok to ask for a sustaining vote on a blessing for a baby in sacrament meeting. Also: I've really learned how important home teaching is.
Because of the new rules in which you can't leave your area for p-day, E Sanhuesa and I are going to take a nap and then go shopping for food (which I hardly even need because my mom is so sassy and sends me
things) and then to the mall. I'm pretty sure I can get packages here. Send me a super cheap one and we'll see if I get it( lol).
So basically any take aways that you want from this letter can easily be summed up into 3 points:
Those 3 points are that:
1. I love my mom
2. I'm still a hoodlum
3. The church is true.
Well, another transfer down and Jack has been sent to his last area. He had loved Union City and all the wonderful people he has met there. Now it's off to new adventures. -K
Hi cute mom. It's me: your boy. 😊
So I have some news! I'm going back to Elizabeth to be a zone leader there! Like what? That's so fun!!! I get to hang out with all of my Lizzy friends again! My companion is Elder Sanhuesa who was my zone leader while I was there. He's from Chile. So basically I'm filling the spot of Elder Justice while I was there. I'm really excited about it. I'm sad to leave my friends here but así es la vida. I'm super excited about Elizabeth.
We had the nicest baptism of Jean this past Friday. What a funny guy. He's from Haiti. He got baptized and then when he came out of the water he lifted his arms up like he got a touchdown and was like "YES!" Lol at that guy.
We just ordered a pizza. I have to pack tonight which is never that fun. But that's ok because I get to go see some of my friends because I'l be in the same ward that I left! It also is a super successful area and that's cool. I love Elizabeth. And guess who is coming to fill my spot in UC? ELDER DOVE! How fun. Love that guy. So things have worked out really well. I love being a missionary.
Since this is my last P-day here and we won't be able to play basketball every morning at 5 from now on so we're going to ball all day today. I'm excited.
I listed to that one talk from the son of Elder Holland again today about Pain. I've probably listened to it like 5 times. I love it so much. It honestly is so interesting. Not only the view of God throughout time, especially in early Protestantism and whatnot. But pain is such an interesting thing. I still haven't really figured it out but the paradox of pain and love is beyond interesting to me.
Also, I love you. Thank you for all that you do for me. I am so so so appreciative. I lucked out in the parental department. I love you.
-- your boy. xoxoxoxo
Burned shirt to celebrate his half-way home day!
This Thursday our sweet boy will have served one year. That's a LONG time to go without a hug! We are over the hump and we pray for smooth sailing on the downhill. We are so proud of him!! Here is a short but sweet letter from this week. -K
PS...I'm in China for 2 weeks hence the China references.
I'm writing this email to you from my car right now which is a Rav 4 which is too nice and it makes me uncomfortable. We're waiting for our laundry right now and then after I'm going to take a NAP! WHAT? A NAP! I'm so tired lol. We had a super busy week this week. We went on like 3 exchanges and we just went super hard. And you know that when you stop moving for more than 6 seconds and you fall asleep that it's time for a nap. So those are my plans today. And we're also going to play basketball, like always. When life is as repetitive as mission life then it goes by pretty fast.
We have a baptism this week! My homie Jean. He's this Haitian guy and I like him a lot. He's super funny. So hopefully that proceeds well without any hindrances. I had to drop my favorite family this week. They know it's true and the husband had a dream in which Joseph Smith chastised him for not being baptised. Lol. But they just don't act on it despite what we do. And they know that. So everyone has their time. Including the people in China. I'm excited to see missionary work eventually start there.
I actually ate Chinese food this week in honor of you. But you're right, I eat hispanic food every day. And it varies drastically from country to country. But mainly I eat some variation of rice, beans, and meat. And if they're dominican: plantains. Literally I have never eaten at a dominican household without eating some form of plantain. Like it's almost ridiculous. You know what else IS ridiculous? How much I love you. I'm so lucky that I was born to you.
On my year mark I'm going to burn a ruined shirt probably. Who knows. Vamos a ver. I'm not usually one for echoing traditions but I might just be pulled into this one. But hey! One year! That's a long time! Like a year from now I'll be with you. That's doable. We can do this.
I know it.
I love you mom. I hope you're being so safe.
Also we found a bag of cocaine in a Subway restaurant. Lol. -your boy, Jack
Called to Serve June 2016-2018
My son is currently serving a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Blog is for family and friends interested in following his adventures for the next 24 months.