This week I had a birthday and received the BEST gift I have ever received. The sweetest song from the sweetest boy. If you haven't had a chance to see it, here is the link.
Here is a portion of his latest letter home.
"This week has been very fast. It's crazy how fast time slips. This past Friday we were able to hear from a member of the Seventy; Elder Dube. He is this super cool guy from Zimbabwe. We were even in Accra at the same time he was and he knows Stephen Abu which is kind of a fun thing. He has one of the most powerful testimonies that I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Like seriously. And that man basically has his scriptures memorized. One of the things that I really loved that he talked about was opposition. Obviously we know it's necessary, but we read in D&C 121 which is started by a desperate prayer by Joseph Smith and then answered with "My son, peace be unto you; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment." I am just so impressed by Joseph Smith and his dedication to what he knew to be true. Even unto endless persecution and death.
Also, Wow! Look how cool this thing is. So in 1 John 4 we read (18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fourth is not made perfect in love.) and in Moroni 8 we read (I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear). Different prophets at different areas of the world at different times; one universal truth. That blows my freaking mind. I believe in perfect love.
So I've been reading a lot of Jesus the Christ and I love it. It's an absolutely beautiful book. One of the things I thought was interesting is Talmage's use of a plant metaphor. Basically summarized is that a plant simply cannot change it's nature to become like that of a living creature, like an animal. However, when the animal descends and partakes of the plant, only are the very atoms of that plant able to become part of an animal biology, and therefore transfigured into a higher plane of complexity. (i.e. Spiritual death, necessity of the fall, and the need for a Redeemer.) Anyway, I just thought that was beautiful.
There's this verse in Alma 7, which reads "12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon Him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh how to succor His people according to their infirmities." I like this because it states that part of the atonement was the fact that Christ came to understand the people of the world in their entirety. and he was filled with mercy.
SO, there's this guy who lives right across from us who has autism, right? Literally the sweetest old man. I see him carrying around like 7 polo shirts every day. I don't know to where. But anyway, we always have the exact same conversation. Here is a manuscript:
"Hi, how are you?"
"I'm so good, how are you?"
"Fine. I hear it's going to rain soon."
"Oh yeah? That's perfect. I love rain."
"Do you have a baby grand piano?"
"No. I wish. I love the piano."
"I love to play the piano."
*He always mumbles something right here*
"I'm a slow eater."
"Me too. Well, I should get going. We have some work to do."
"Okay, have a good day!"
"You as well, sir."
So...you can bet that when we drove by a dumpster and saw this little kid toy piano, I picked it up and put it in our trunk. Not quite a real piano but it makes for a good little stool and now technically, I have a baby grand piano.
Also, these members made me jello cake this week and I'm still hyped about it. Also, there are these three Jehovah's Witnesses that are outside of Juanitos from time to time and they are just these three hispanic ladies and they're my best friends. I've started a collection of stuff they give me.
I'm learning so much. And I love this gospel. And I love my mom. And I am full of love every day. Love, Jack"
Thanks for your continued support of this sweet boy of ours. We love him and we love you. Till next week! -K
This boy...he has my heart. Here are a few paragraphs from his last email.
"This week has been just dandy. On Monday I was fed "mongu" by my sassy dominican friend. I had no idea what mongu was except for the fact that it was delicious and it SO WAS. Wow. But it's also like leaven bread in the fact that I didn't eat again until the next day at lunch time. That was a good time. The day of my birthday we had district meeting and Elder Jacobs bought me a super good mexican cake. It was cute. I even had a lil piñata (thank you). That night we were fed by more members. The guy there always gives us guava juice so obviously I love him. We ate these cool tacos and they sang to me and it was cute. Basically I still had the opportunity to feel like it was my actual birthday, while being able to serve people in the capacity that I am. So #blessed.
This past Saturday we had literally 3 separate lunch appointments. THREE. We didn't even have dinner. Just three lunch appointments. I wasn't hungry until Sunday at lunchtime. I literally exercise so hard in the mornings to counteract all of the heaps of mexican food. On the bright side, I'm probably in better shape than I've ever been in, so my energy levels are good and I feel good and I love the Gospel so much that I cry all the time out of so much love...so that's how things are going for me.
Every Wednesday we get to go to lunch at this place called Mumfords, which is this super cool restaurant that grows their own food. Whenever they serve plates they have flowers from their garden on them. I love it. The only reason we can even go is because of my best friend Martin (not drunk Martin, although I'm hoping he'll call me again). Martin is this lil mexican guy who is literally the funniest man I have ever met. We go visit his sister every Monday now, and last time we were there she cried because she was so thankful that the missionaries came by to see her. I cried too, obviously. I always cry. Anyway, Martin is the best person in the entire freaking world and he pays for our food because he's the cook there. WOW. I LOVE HIM.
I get to take a side trip in two weeks to Philly to go to the temple open house with Justo and his wife. Justo isn't a member and his wife is, and I didn't even know Justo but one day he comes up to us on the street and tells us that the church is true which was confusing and also sic. He has been an investigator for so long, and hasn't felt like baptism was his thing, but yesterday we had dinner with him and his wife and talked about baptism and I read him Moroni 8 verses 25-26. He says he doesn't want to commit to a date but we're now returning every week to teach him more so that's pretty cool. Oh yeah, and we're going to bring him to Philly so estoy muy animado.
We volunteer every Wednesday and Friday at the local library and stock books and prepare crafts for kids. That's always a really fun part of my week. Especially because the old women who work at the library love me. And even though I can't read any of the books, I like being around them.
I've learned so many doctrinal mind-blowing things while I've been on my mission. Literally. Like things are crazy. I'm writing a paper right now called The Origin of Significance. Lame title, I know. But I'm liking where it's going.
Basically I just love my mom a lot. Here are some pictures as an apology for last week when I didn't have any. Every day I have three goals; Learn something new, see the Lord's hand in my life, and benefit the life of someone else. I'm thinking that by the time I come home I'll have a whole lot of all three. I feel so happy. And I feel like I'm making people's lives a little better and that's the only thing I want to do.
Okay. I have to go. I love you. Like. A ridiculous amount of love." -Elder (Jack) Nielsen
Also...a shout out to Elder Bylund for helping me decorate for Jack's birthday. Looks like the silly string worked.
This week Elder Nielsen turns 20 years old! It seems like just yesterday this 9 lbs 1 oz little butterball of a boy made his entrance into the world. Our lives have been infinitely blessed by having him a part of our family. This birthday he will be having dinner with a "super sassy and cool dominican woman" who is making him "mongu, which is apparently like the best" so he is excited. His cute zone leaders and I have a special surprise for him too...but we will keep that a secret for now. Hopefully we will get some good pictures next week. Here is a part of his last letter.
"Hello. I just love you a lot ok. I miss you a lot too but that's ok. So don't get mad but I opened my Birthday package. I got too excited. BUT don't think that it ruined my birthday whatsoever. In fact, I wanted to open it when I had time to appreciate it. Plus, I think of birthdays as more of like a week thing than anything. But anyway, the reason I am telling you this is because I wanted to tell you that I love you so much. You are my best friend in the entire world. Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you.
This week was a fast one. We taught a lot of people. I went on an exchange on Tuesday-Wednesday in Freehold. Super fun. I was with Elder Laceste who is this super funny Asian guy. So I was speaking English for about a day, which was SUPER HARD. No me gusta. It's hard to condense everything I want to say into something that is of value to investigators and whatnot, so learning Spanish is an absolute blessing because I talk too much in English. We (my friend Elder Bylund and I) do this thing when we're contacting where if we get nervous or hesitant then you just say "Oh. You're not down" and then you have to. Like, I'm so down. No one will tell me otherwise. So I think that in my head whenever we're contacting. Anyway, I was with Elder Laceste and we were doing this table in which we give out pamphlets and BoM's etc. and this guy stops his car in the middle of the intersection and just sits there. And cars just went past him. So Elder Laceste turns to me and says "You're not down" and I HAVE TO BE DOWN ALWAYS so I walk up to this guys window with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and ask if he wants it and he unrolled his window a little so I could slide it in. It was a good time. I'm so down. Don't worry though. I was safe. I always am. I have to make it home to my mom, obviously.
Another good one is this guy came up to us when we were outside my favorite Mexican grocery store and this guy comes up to us and he smells like straight up vodka. So naturally, because I love drunk people, I engage this man in conversation. He gave us his cell phone number and had us call it so he could prove it was his. So he leaves and calls me like 5 minutes later to tell me his name and to tell me he loves Jesus. I responded in the same manner. 5 minutes later I received the same call. I kind of felt like Joseph Smith when he received the visit from angel Moroni 3 times during the night but instead of an angel of the Lord it was Drunk Martin. That was fun."
Jack ended his letter with this.
"So know that I feel very loved this birthday. That's the best thing I could ever receive. I'm happy. And I love my mom. I am currently sitting at a computer in the Family History Center wearing my new tie (that I love) and my grey slacks and brown shoes and belt and ankle socks because *shrugs*. I am always your boy. I am just away for a little bit so I can show people how beautiful this all is. The gospel is breathtaking. Everything I do is about love. I just want to show people how loved they are. And I feel like that's a noble work. I'm honored to be able to do it. I love you more than anyone has loved anything ever."
Happy Birthday Elder Nielsen. You are loved.
Jack has settled into life in Red Bank, N.J. He is busy, happy, and filled with love. He is working hard and loves his mission president. Here is a part of his latest letter home;
HELLO! IT IS I! I love you so much! My week has been really nice. On Thursday, we went down to a Facebook training thing that had the entirety of the mission there so I was able to see my old companion and also some other friends from the MTC which was fun. And, as it turns out, I'll be getting my iPad before 6 weeks! Probably next week or something. They had this whole speech about how the people who are new are erupting into a new age of missionary work, and there's a reason that we're here when we are. It was pretty cool. So I'll be on Facebook before long. I have this idea to write a once a week lesson/paper and post it in both English and Spanish. So soon you'll be hearing from me more often. Not directly, but still. I'm excited. We also Skype for lessons when a person can't meet face to face and we keep in super close contact with the less-actives and what not. The problem is that since I don't have an iPad yet, we are both using Elder Jacobs' and we also don't have WiFi at our apartment so we literally rob it from Burger King but whatever.
Everything is going swimmingly (except not because missionaries can't swim). The problem is that the hispanic community is constantly working, so it's hard to get a hold of people. And people are too nice to say no to us so they give us their addresses and phone numbers but then they're never home. One time this guy gave us the address for a grocery store. Ha. So I'm hoping with this Facebook dealio that we will be able to keep in contact with more people and people will be more willing to talk to us online first. We get fed several times a week. Also, I only shop at this grocery story called Juanitos which is all mexican stuff and it's awesome.
President Taggart is the best. I couldn't have started out with a better one. He's so sweet. But yeah, I get to go to Philadelphia with some investigators once this month and once next month for the temple open house. Also, apparently at the main room in the temple there's two quill statues. One is to symbolize the translation of the book of mormon and the other is to symbolize the writing of the declaration of independence which is SICK.
Anyway, that's my life. I spent a long time today cleaning our apartment and doing dishes and that place is spotless. I've decided that I love cleaning. (Well, that's new :) I just listen to that wonderful CD of the Mo-tabs singing Handel's Messiah that you gave me and it's the best. This week is going to be pretty fun. I get to do an exchange with our district leader on Tuesday, so I'll be english speaking for a day. And we go to interviews this Thursday with President Taggart. All is well.
I love you more than I could ever say with words. I miss you horribly but I'm happy. I hope you are too. Here's a picture of me and E. Jacobs getting macaroons because we were jealous of you being in France.
PS. Also, the guitar? Best idea ever. I'm playing "Onward Christian Soldiers" next month in church with my companion and our zone leaders. I love playing it. Also, I drink guava juice like it's my job.
Jack made it to New Jersey safe and sound and had a lot to say about his first week there. Typically, I sat next to my computer most of the day on Monday pushing refresh about 10 billion times before his email finally came up. I call Jack "my firefly" because I'm always trying to catch him online. The end of his letter melted my heart.
Here is a section of his letter;
This week has been wonderful, and eventful, to say the least. As you know, we got delayed and sent to the Baltimore airport for a decent amount of time in which we talked to a lot of people and basically almost baptized this cool guy named Eric. Anyway, as I was walking on the plane, I ran into SAMUEL BROWN. MY HERO. I literally left my body. He's so cool. I talked to him for a brief second and then afterwards in Baltimore I talked to him and thanked him for writing such a beautiful book. I sat next to this little kid named Dylan and he talked to me about Pokemon Go and whatnot. Landed in Jersey around 1:00ish, and then met the mission president and his wife. THEY'RE SO NICE.
In the personal interview with the president the next day, we had an absolutely delightful conversation about love in the Gospel. I ranted (like I always do here) about love and how it is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spewed out scripture like it was my day job and how charity is the pure love of Christ and "I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love" etc . AND HE STARTED CRYING. He's so nice! I love him already.
My companion is Elder Jacobs and he is the sweetest man you will ever meet. He literally does not forget where anyone lives, knows flawless spanish, and knows everything about ever sci-fi movie and tv show ever made.
The first night we were here we were literally homeless. We didn't have a key to get into our apartment so we spent the night at the zone leaders apartment. On the floor. I showered using the sink. I ate a tortilla for dinner. In the morning, we went to the apartment and I broke in by the unlocked bathroom window which is literally so small. I'm so hood. We have a key now though so no worries.
We live in this little apartment in Red Bank. I'm in one of the southernmost missions in Jersey and there are literally so many trees. SO MANY. Garden state for a reason. We went to a fiesta a few days ago which was freaking the best and also slightly awkward.
Everyone is so nice. I love everybody. I don't even know what to do with all this love. It's literally going to erupt out of my face. I love you so much. Being able to call you last week was the best thing ever. I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU.
I'm so happy. I could not be better. Everything is great and your boy is doing just fine. Also, there's fireflies here. Every time I see one, I think of you.
I love you. -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.