Today is Halloween and an all-day P-day for Elder Nielsen. He got to celebrate by golfing with his zone leaders and planning a Halloween Party for 2 tonight! (Elders are not allowed out of the apartment on Halloween night. What a good rule follower.) Here is a little from today's letter home;
It's me. Your boy. Happy Halloween! I love Halloween. Obviously we can't do anything and the idea I had of contacting on Halloween night isn't going to happen. "Trick or Treat! Do you know what's really scary? Not knowing how much God loves you! Can we come in for 5 minutes?" I still think it's a golden door approach but tonight we're going to stay in and shoot each other with marshmallow guns. Which, by the way, are literally the funniest thing. Who knew they would be so fun. Like the day we got them (too impatient to wait until p-day sorry) we started playing with them and we still do every day. We try to shoot them in each other's mouths and it literally is the funniest thing in the world. We've gotten really good. Also we leave some marshmallows out sometimes to dry out and a fun game of soft marshmallows becomes a game of "let's see if I can leave a welt on your forehead." Very fun.
This week was really good! We had a super bomb lesson with Manuel and his wife and Glenda. This month we're going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead with both Jose and Marta, and we have two baptisms but I'm not so sure they'll both pan out but I have a lot of hope. Also this Wednesday we're going to the Philly temple! I'm really excited. I love the temple. And we only get to go for no reason twice a year because we don't have one in Jersey. So I'm a happy guy. This past week was Martin's birthday and we gave him a tie and a giant BoM and Bible. I love him more than I love chocolate twizzlers. And I love chocolate twizzlers. Which also I can't find so if you wanna send me some I'd be a happy guy. Also yesterday we had a fun little party where literally everyone was there and it was super fun. Man I just really love these people.
I'm going on an exchange this week with Elder Doria whom I really like. So I'll be English speaking for a day which is the worst but also fun. And we go to the temple and we have a basically all day p-day and wow I'm just very excited for this week.
Yesterday we had this super random lightning storm and it was super fun. We were teaching the restoration to an investigator and it made the whole thing very dramatic. (lol)
Oh so we didn't carve the pumpkins last week but we're going to today so I'll be sure to send you pictures ok. I'm excited. I love Halloween. We can open the door to trick or treaters but we live in a place with nothing but old people so I super doubt anyone is going to come to our door. So just more candy for us.
Ok. I love you. So. Much. Sosososososo. Much.
Thanks for your support of this missionary guy. He loves letters so if you have a chance to drop him a line, he would love it. Have a great week! -K
Jack is a happy boy. He is loving his new companion, his area, the gospel, and the Savior. Here are a few comments from his latest letter home.
From his letter to his dad;
Thanks for the email. I like your thoughts on remembering the past. I'm reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Great Gatsby when he says (forgive my paraphrasing) "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." I've always liked the way he writes. I miss reading books, but I'm compensating by a lot of scripture study. I've found some things that have just rocked my world. Seriously. This church is very true.
And his letter to his mom;
So mom. I love my new companion. Elder Dove is literally my best friend. He's super funny and we work hard while also being funny the whole time. It's like I'm just hanging out with a friend 24/7. Two days ago we were buying some Takis, the best mexican invention ever, and Kelly Clarkson started playing and we danced so hard and then the lady was like "there's a $10 minimum for cards" so we were just like "what more do we buy" so we just bought more Takis and it was super funny. But anyway. I love him. Big change. I have a feeling these next few weeks are going to go by pretty fast. He's also the district leader so that means I'll go on an exchange every week with my friends and I'm really happy about that.
Also, I was reading in Moses 6 in the PoGP today and it was talking about how God gets sad not because he is subject to emotions in the same way we are but because he loves His children so much. So he chooses to feel the spectrum of emotions out of love. And that's cool.
Other points of interest; He has two people set up for baptism, one at the end of this month and the other, the first week in November. He's rocking the piano and guitar...even playing in church on Sundays. I guess he didn't need piano lessons after all #teachyourself. And he is just all around happy and full of love for the people of Red Bank. We miss this boy but we are so proud of him. Thanks for your support. Letters and email make his world go round. Have a great week! -K
Jack found out Sunday night that he is getting a new companion. His name is Elder Dove and he is from California. He is just hitting his one year mark. Apparently they had already become friends from different district meetings so he is so excited to get to spend the next 6+ weeks with him. He says he is a fun-loving guy, a great missionary, and really funny. Here is a little bit from his last letter home;
Happy Transfer Monday! How fun is it that I get to stay here in my favorite area with my favorite people and one of my favorite missionaries as a companion? Thanks Heavenly Father! What a good day. Like it seems almost unreal to me. It's just like hanging out 24/7 while also talking about Jesus! We (Elder Jacobs and I) just barely ate crepes at this lil crepe place by where we live because we went there once like 8 weeks ago and we went again as a "goodbye" celebration. Elder Jacobs is so happy to get out of Red Bank. To be fair, he's been here a total of 4.5 months so I understand his eagerness to head up north. He's heading to Dover. Elder Bylund stays too because he's still training and that makes me happy because he's my homie. And he's the new district leader! He just got released being a zone leader like last transfer. But that means we get to go on exchanges with each other and I'm super hyped about that.
I loved the talk on obedience that you sent me. I read it like 8 times. I've been thinking a lot about a lot of things this week. One of the things I really liked was this summery of a talk that I listened to over the course of the week that talks about the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost. Basically summarized it says that we think the remission of sins happens at baptism but it doesn't. The baptism of fire comes when we allow ourselves to be changed and have no more disposition to do evil. Doesn't mean we won't sin, obviously. If us, as humans, are good at anything, it's sinning. But we no longer have the desire to sin, so when we do, the repentance process is shorter, more sincere, and with more of an understanding of the Atonement. I like that.
Also you remember the story of Manuel, the sassy guy I talked to last week? He came to church. First time since like 2009. He brought his nonmember wife and kids. I cried. What a good day. I've been a little sick this week but that's ok! Satan's just tryin to slow me down but I say nope!!! Not today!!!
There are only 2 missionaries in Red Bank. We have a huge area, too. But all the hispanics either live in Red Bank or Keyport, which are both at opposite ends of our area. Also being a facebook missionary is so funny. My friends and I have just started accepting anyone that adds us and now we get like 200 friend requests a day. I'm pretty sure I'm friends with the entire Asian population.
Oh, and one more thing. I got someone on date yesterday! His name is John and his 22 and super cool. We still have a ton to teach him but I'm excited for that. Seriously, it was so out of the blue. Like wow. My goal this week was to get someone on date and we didn't and then he was like "hey, are you guys free? I'm in the street, come talk to me" and we put him on date and it was a miracle.
So that's what this cute boy has been up to. Thanks for your continued prayers. There has never been a boy more loved. See you next week. XO
Jack had a great week. He's sporting a new haircut (thanks to his zone leader Elder Hebertson), teaching temple prep classes, eating LOTS of mexican food, and serving the good people of New Jersey. I had a chance to meet up with the mom of his MTC companion this week and it was so fun to talk with her about their shared experiences. She is a wonderful woman and I'm so glad she raised such a wonderful son that was so good to mine in the time they were together. Here is a bit from this weeks letter. Have a great week.
Hello. I love you. It's me. lol at you. I just talked to Elder Johnson over the phone because sometimes we call each other and we talked about how weird our moms are. You're so weird. And I love your weirdness. I love all of you.
I went on an exchange this week with my zone leader Elder Herberson and it was so fun. We taught a ton . Also, I had one of the literal coolest lessons I've ever had yesterday. I went by Martin's house to see if he was home and he wasn't so we were getting into our car and this guy was like "Why are you driving? Missionaries should always be walking." And I was like "who the flip is this guy" so I go talk with him real fast and I was like "you know the missionaries?" and he said "I'm a member but I don't go to church." and I was like "Can we come over to your house sometime" and he said "you would have to pay me" and I said "I'll pay you in blessings" and he laughed and gave us his address and said that we can come over anytime we wanted and if he was home he would talk with us but if not then we would have to just keep trying. And it turns out that he's this less active that I've been trying to find. God is so clever. So I've been driving by every day because I'm persistent. And we went by last night and he and his nonmember wife and her friend were home and it was so fun because it was so fast and witty and spanish. He's a super sassy guy and he's super smart. We ended up talking for an hour and a half. It started with him and I jokingly bantering and ended with him and I and Elder Jacobs teaching the Plan of Salvation TOGETHER to his wife and her friend. And she asked about the baptism of little kids and I instantly gave her Moroni 8 (fav chapter) and she was super interested. He's the coolest guy. He invited us to come back every week. And he told me that he really liked me and the fact that I study so much philosophy and so each time I visit I'm going to give him a common philosophical topic and answer it with a Gospel Principle and he was super excited about that. i.e. self continuity, sensation and perception, the God argument, etc. Anyway, It was just one of those moments where I just knew that I was where I needed to be, doing what I needed to be doing.
We also had a really good lesson with Marta this past week. We read Alma 32 together and she's doing really good. She's going to start taking the temple prep classes. I love her. Transfers are this next week and I hope I don't leave because I still have so much work to do here. But I will go where I am needed. I just know that everything is in God's hands and that gives me comfort. I love Him.
Investigators are doing good. We have a few progressing. It's hard because people are so busy but everyone is doing good and I like making people happy. We talked to this guy the other day who was the coolest hippy I've ever met. Literally. It was so fun. We talked and watched the rain. Like he kept saying the wisest things. Like he said "I know I lived with God before this life and I will live with him after too, but better. I'll know more than I did before." And I was like who are you? I asked him what he would say to God if he were here and he said "I would say 'Daddy, I love you. I will do whatever you need me to do'," And I also said "if you could teach me one thing right now, what would it be?" and he said "God first. And know that our job in this life is to talk to everybody because one day we will all understand each other. And Israel will never fall." Like what? I'm still thinking about that. What a guy.
Basically I'm happy and I love my mom so much. Almost 3 transfers down. I love you and miss you and I want you to know that I'm happy and healthy and full of love, ok?
Your boy, Jack
Top: Elder Johnson and Jack in the MTC as companions
Bottom: Elder Johnson's mom and me
Neither of us noticed the stripling warriors picture in the background until after we posted the picture. So tender to us. I love this sweet mom that sacrificed so much and let me stalk her so we could talk about our sons.
1.) His new hobby collecting art people throw away.
2.) Jack with his current companion Elder Jacobs.
3.) Cool, wise hippy dude
4.)The cutest boy on the planet.
This last weekend was tender to my heart realizing that Jack and I were watching the same thing at the same time, listening to the same inspired council during the Saturday and Sunday General Conference meetings. Here is a little about what he had to say about this week;
This week literally went by so speedy fast. We taught a ton this week. I had this lesson yesterday with this guy who I found on Facebook what was so powerful. He let us come over to his house and I taught the introduction to the Book of Mormon without hinderance. The Spanish flowed and the Spirit verified every word I said. I really can't tell you in words the power I felt while I was in that small bedroom, but it affected me deeply.
I also cried happy tears at lunch yesterday. In between sessions of GC, they had this huge meal with all of the Spanish branch, aka all of my friends. I just looked around and beheld these people whom I have come to love. Marta was there. She seemed so happy. And Yemeni was too, my homie who was less-active before I came into the area. Now she is active and brings her kids to church. I owe one of them ice-cream next time I see him. And everyone was full of love for each other. I think about this ward when I first came here and I compare it to how it is now and I am filled with such gratitude. Obviously, my efforts are nothing without the help of our Savior, but I had a moment in which I looked around at these people that I love, and who love me, and who all love the Lord, and I felt like everything is worth it. The pains of missing you. My often-unfruitful hard work. All of it. Just to see these people as they are... children of a Divine Being.
This week I finished reading Jesus the Christ, which is my absolute favorite. I have seriously learned so much in the short few months that I've been out here. It's ridiculous. I've learned so much about people and language and human connection and most importantly, my relationship with the Godhead. I can honestly tell you that I feel truly converted to the teachings of Jesus Christ, because they are so full of compassion and love. And I have come to know with an unshakeable certainty that this is His church. I have seen and felt things that can only attest to this fact that this is real and this is beautiful. And I am filled with perfect love.
I LOVED CONFERENCE. Literally, I was so enthralled the entire time. Conference is insane as a missionary. I've written freaking novels of notes on each one. I loved Uchdorf's saturday morning talk. And I love every word ever uttered by Elder Bednar and Holland, obviously. One of the most significant feelings I've ever had came to me when I was looking over my notes last night. Throughout every session, I not only understood the scriptural references that were made, but have read them recently. 1 John 4, Alma 5, Alma 8, and Moroni 7 were all quoted, some more than once, and I have intensively studied each one of those in the past few weeks. I'm not saying this to boast about how "spiritually in tune" I might be. None of this about me. But I felt participant in this marvelous work and that made me really happy.
So basically know I'm happy. I follow every rule. And I help people feel important because they are. I love you so much. So much. Like a ridiculous amount. More than oatmeal and dogs and those are two of my favorite things.
-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.