Monday morning Elder Nielsen headed to the Salt Lake City airport to check-in for his non-stop flight to Newark, New Jersey. From there he was able to make a phone call home and we were able to talk with him for 20 minutes or so. It was the best phone call we have received all year! He sounded great. We talked about his experiences at the MTC and his excitement/nervousness for the next part of his mission. He was traveling with 20 or so additional elders and sisters and was able to make a quick stop to Jamba Juice before he boarded the plane which he said was one of his most exciting purchases EVER. I think after being in a bubble for 6 weeks, being out in the real world felt both wonderful and terrifying.
The next morning I got a Facebook post from Samuel Brown. Dr. Brown is a physician/professor at the University of Utah and an author of several books, one of which made a significant impact on Jack before his mission entitled "First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple" (A link to the book can be found at the bottom of this post). Anyway, Dr. Brown is a rockstar to Jack and someone he admires, but hasn't had the opportunity to meet. Well, he was on Jack's flight to New Jersey! I can't wait to hear from Jack about this experience!! What a tender mercy.
We aren't sure what day Jack's new P-day will be, but we are hoping Monday. We can't wait to hear all about his first days in the mission field. We continue to pray for him daily (even hourly) and appreciate all your support.
Two days ago I got on an airplane to Europe with my family and left behind my 20 year old son. It was tough...but then I got the sweetest letter from him and realized he is so happy where he is that it didn't even phase him to miss out on a family trip.
Here is his latest letter;
I am currently sitting in the MTC computer lab for my last time. Hard to believe that I've been here for more than a month. I lucked out in all aspects. My companion and I are best friends, and I honestly and truly love my district. We get released as zone leaders this Sunday which will be nice. I dream in Spanish sometimes. Everything is so wonderful basically and I don't know what to do with all this joy so *shrug*.
Everything is going very well with me. It's our last P-day today which gives me cause to reflect on my MTC endeavors. I've made a lot of genuine friends, and I've been excelling with language and well as doctrinal study. I've decided to write an entire book on the chapters of Moroni. However, I know where my priorities are, so I know that it'll take me a while to write with all the other stuff I'm doing. But what the heck; I have (a little less than) two years. That has turned into my long term project. My companion said something that I found particularly enjoyable while we were studying. He said, "If Joseph Smith wasn't a prophet, then he would have been the greatest poet of all time". I am finding so much beauty in this book. I bought a cheap copy that I read all of and have destroyed with annotations, quotations, and whatnot. Anyway, it just gives me joy. It's something that I feel proud of representing.
Elder Bednar was here on Sunday! He did a whole Q and A session. I didn't feel impressed to ask anything but it was really cool to watch him interact with the missionaries. Sassy guy.
So in summary, everything is going perfect for me. I couldn't be more happy. Like I literally don't know what to do with this happiness. I even found a friend that loves Hamilton and we rap it together. OK. I love, love, love you.
Your obedient servant,
J (dot) Niel
That last bit is a Hamilton reference if it confuses you. Thank you for your prayers in behalf of Jack. He is one of our greatest blessings. Have a wonderful day.
Have you ever spent hours pushing the refresh button of your phone hoping for an email to arrive? Welcome to my Saturday! But guess what?! WORTH IT. What a busy and happy boy I have. He is entering his final week of training before he is New Jersey bound. He has his travel arrangements and is nervous but excited to enter the next phase of this journey.
Here are a few paragraphs from his recent letter;
"I got back from the temple just a bit ago which was wonderful. And I just got back from playing volleyball with my zone. Turns out I'm awesome at it but whatever. Gotta be humble. Let me tell you about my week. I wake up. I go to class. I eat. I run 3 miles. I go to class. I go back to the dorm. I sleep. Just kidding, I'm actually having a really phenomenal time. I'm so happy. Right now I am teaching an investigator named Ivette and it's so incredible. You'd be amazed at how much Spanish I know."
"I think we get released as the zone leaders this Sunday which will be nice. We're busy people. This week, we got 3 new districts and our zone has doubled in size so that's been exhausting trying to keep up with. But we were talking to Brother Lusvardi who is like the secretary of our branch presidency and he was telling us about how good we are at our job and how he is going to be very disappointed with whoever takes our spot. It was super nice."
"Regarding my spiritual studies: I've read Moroni and Alma continuously. Like. Nonstop. Why do I read like I'm running out of time? (Nice Hamilton reference Jack) I've started a paper that I hope to have finished by the end of this week. I'll make sure you'll be the first to read it. I have a notebook full of Spanish and stuff that I came across that I love so I kind of just have to turn that into something readable. This gospel is so in depth but also ridiculously simple. I don't know. It's blowing my mind. I'm learning so much and I feel like this whole thing isn't changing who I am but is just making me a more Christlike person. I know that I'll never become close to how absolutely wonderful He is but I can feel myself getting closer and it manifests itself in a ridiculous amount of love I feel for everybody. Even in a crazy world."
I had a chance to ask him about his Spanish and this is what he said;
"I keep thinking 'what the? I don't even know Spanish. What am I doing?' but then I have to remind myself that I do, in fact, know a lot of Spanish and especially enough to buy me a funnel cake and tell people that Jesus is the best so what else do I even need?"
I asked him if he had any good stories I could put on the blog and this is what he said;
"Once there was a boy,
who loved his mom very much.
and wanted her to know that he was more than just words on a phone,
but a real boy who loves her with a real love.
(Okay...I definitely cried over that story.) He ended his email with this;
"I love you. I love Dad. I JUST FREAKING LOVE EVERYBODY. Especially my family. wowza."
Thank you for your letters, thoughts and prayers in behalf of Elder Jack Nielsen. He is loved with a real love. Have a great week. -K
This Boy! I love to hear from him and all he is learning and accomplishing through the week. He is happy, busy, and healthy. Just what a mom wants to hear. I even received a surprise email from him later in the day that I wasn't expecting. It was like CHRISTMAS! We love this kid and miss him so much.
Here is an excerpt from this weeks letter;
"Everything is going so well. We're teaching 3 people right now and it's a hoot. Sometimes I forget that I'm speaking spanish in a conversation. Zone business is going very well. We got a new district this week and they're really nice. We hosted their orientation and a bunch of stuff. I sing in church tomorrow with some friends in my zone! Know that I'll be singing with you in my heart."
"That you so much for sending the Brown devotional! I read it twice. He's the coolest guy. I was thinking a lot about what he said about the clouds of meaning. I've been doing a lot of (extracurricular) study on something like that. While I don't believe you can deduce the nature of theology such as Mormonism down to a singularity, I've been trying to look for love. I've found that you can derive any ordinance, commandment, activity, etc. in the church to a core of unadulterated love from a doctrinal standpoint. Like it says in Moroni 8 (I'm paraphrasing) "A meekness and lowliness of heart brings forth a visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, until the end shall come and all the saints shall dwell with God." I've been making all sorts of these super cool parallels. I've even started writing a paper on it. I'll send it to you when it's finished."
"I am currently running a shoe shining business out of our room for people who don't know how. I charge 10 pennies per pair. Not a dime. Not two nickels. Ten pennies. Why? Because it's inconvenient. If you really need your shoes shined you can find 10 pennies."
"I loved the 4th. It was a global celebration of freedom. We went outside after a devotional where this guy talked about Columbus."
Side note: Jack isn't a super big fan of Columbus so I think I'll leave the next part out :) Do me a favor. Never ask him about Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla. It's not a pretty conversation. The guy knows his history. Okay...back to Jack.
"Anyway, we went outside and watched fireworks and it was so fun. We had the glowsticks you sent me (THANK YOU) and it was just a good time."
"My companion is the best. He and I have intellectually stimulating conversations and it keeps me sane. I'm so happy. Honestly. I'm doing such good work and I'm not even in the field yet. I'm so happy. Know that I love you more than words on a screen can ever say. You are my sunshine."
Please pray for our sweet boy. Our home isn't the same without him but knowing he is happy and growing helps fill in the empty spaces. We feel blessed. Thank you for your love and support. -K
It was so great to hear from Jack today. He is happy, and healthy, and busy. Our family always gets anxious for the Saturday email. It's almost like Christmas including waking up several times a night in anticipation of the big day.
Here's the latest that has been happening in his life;
"Things are going super great for me. My companion and I are now the zone leaders, which means we have supreme authority and dominion over all the earth. It also means that we're in charge of the entire zone, which is almost a hundred people. WE EVEN HAVE A CELL PHONE. It's a flip phone that can only call the front office but still. We have to interview our district leaders and hold all the meetings and stuff. We also have to approve blessings and report to the branch presidency. There isn't a position higher than what we have so that's a lot of responsibility, but it's an honor."
"So you remember Jorge? Yeah, not only is he a member but HE IS OUR TEACHER NOW. His name isn't even Jorge so I feel betrayed. He served a mission in LA. He is so nice. He and I are super super close. We had an hour discussion last night during his interview of me in which he said that he feels like he sees a lot of really wonderful things in me and that he knows having a heart as big as mine can hurt sometimes but it is the most God-like in nature we can get."
He also let us know that the days go by like hours, his spanish is great, and he is a host to incoming missionaries every Wednesday so he's now the boy that escorts the newbies away from their crying families and into a two year adventure for the Lord. Seems like that was just yesterday for us!
He finished his letter with "I am honestly so happy mom. The MTC is actually super fun. Anyway, I just hope you know that I love you so so much and I'm so thankful for you every single day."
We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers for our sweet boy. We miss him but know that God has great work for him to do.
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.