Elder Jackson york Nielsen
New Jersey Morristown mission
Last week we traded our email for one hour of FaceTime and it was so great to get to see and talk to this sweet boy face to face. For 564 days I have waited for 2018. Somehow it seemed if I could just get to the YEAR he was coming home, it would all be okay. And here we are. Only 4 months and 29 days left. So Happy New Year. I have a feeling 2018 is going to be a great one. -K
Hi cute mom!!! It’s me! Your boy who loves you so much! Literally it is 2018. If I could caps lock numbers I would have just there. It is 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣. There we go. Better. But literally. Remember June of 2016 and how FAR AWAY this year seemed? And here we are. Good job, us. I think we both deserve ice cream today. Wow, we are now able to say 4 months left! (And like 30 days lol) that's crazy! I think we can do that. I think we can do anything if we can be apart for 2 whole years. It'll be a good year.
So, it's like impressive how cold it is. It gets to the point where your first thought isn't "wow it's cold outside" and more like "wow I am going to stop existing" (because when something theoretically gets to 0 degrees Kelvin then it literally ceases the exist.) that's me. But I keep warm though by wearing a lot of clothes and being outside as little as possible lol. If you try to talk to people outside then they won't even stop but if you go by people's houses then they let you in instantly because they don't want to stand at the door and let the cold invade their house. So that's pretty easy. This week this really sweet Bolivian girl sent me a message and was like "Hey Jack [people just call me Jack sometimes and I don't correct them because I mean, it's my name] you don't know me but I've been looking for a church here in Morristown and I see you go to church here and I would like to go." So that was cool. She came to church yesterday and she really loved it so I'm excited to teach her. Basically things are good and we had a good week and I'm staying moderately warm so you don't even need to worry.
I had a really spiritual experience yesterday when I reflected on the changes I've made since last year and the year before and the year before and I just feel so proud of myself! (In a humble way lol). But I just took a little but of time to pray and reflect on how I feel now as compared to past Jacks and who I've become and I just feel like a mentally healthy, capable, and responsible person. People always ask me what's one of the biggest miracles I've seen but I think that maybe the biggest has been redemption. I quite literally and frequently "stand all amazed."
Also, I love what you said about the excess Protestantism still found in our thinking. I've actually noticed the same. A lot of opinions are based on these really obscure views on Diety. I think we all need to take a lesson from my nice mom and see the Godhead for what they truly are: Merciful.
Anyway, I love you. I have to go buy some groceries. 😛. I love you. So so much. Sos sososososososooosso much.
It was a short email this week from Elder Nielsen but we are counting the days to be able to Skype him on Christmas Day. This will be the last call until 2 weeks before he comes home so the next time we talk we will be asking him what he wants for dinner! Yay!! Here is a little bit of his letter home. Merry Christmas friends! Thanks for supporting our sweet boy. -K
This week was pretty good. I really love the members here and they're all so nice to us. One of my favorite families gave us a little christmas present that was just so sweet and we have like 2 dinners on christmas eve and 2 on christmas lol. Whenever I eat food by myself I always have the smallest portion sizes because I'm so tired of being full. So it'll be nice. I sang a solo at a Christmas fireside last night in front of like 400 people and it went really well. I sang Angels We Have Heard on High. I accidentally changed the line "and the mountains in reply" to "and the mountains in disguise" but they're both as abstract so hopefully no one noticed my shout out to undercover terrain formations. It was nice though.
Other than that, this week was nice. This area is a lot like Red Bank so I know what I'm doing but I got so used to places like UC and Lizzy where there's just seas of people outside that the change is notable. But challenges are fun and I'm a happy boy so what else do you need amiright? I was a part of this cool Catholic tradition on Saturday night with some members and nonmembers and it was so fun! Also we ate yummy food. So basically my week has been good. I miss family but that's ok because I talk to them next week!!! So excited.
So basically life is good for me and I just really love you a lot ok.
Your boy. Jack. ❤️
Here is a little from Jack's last email home. Love this kid. -K
First of all let me express my upmost appreciation for the Christmas countdown packages. It makes every morning of mine so fun. I can tell you put a lot of work into it so i just want you to know how much i love it and how much i love YOU!! I love the Christmas season! And it’s especially nice as a missionary because you’re really involved in everyone’s lives and everything you do is about Jesus and it’s just cool. I have this family that I LOVE here and they’re moving to I think Orem in June which is going to be cool because then I can hang out with them there! They’re going to go check it out next month. They’re super nice and love us and their little kid got glasses that look like mine lololol. I think my favorite part of missionary work (aside from talking about what a nice guy Jesus is) is just being involved with people. And missionary work just flows when you just love people and you help them do things that will make them happier and it’s just low stress and kind and nice. Anyway I just love people. The most magnificent work of a Creator of worlds without number is the human condition itself. And maybe dogs.
So transfer calls were last night! Surprise surprise I’m staying with Elder Swain! (Not actually a surprise at all). I’m excited though because I got called to be a district leader again and that’s fun because I love being a district leader! It’s like the most fun assignment because you work really close to missionaries and also can be fun with stuff. I was only a DL for 2 transfers (like a year ago wowza) and then got moved to ZL so I’m excited to do it again, probably for the rest of my mission. Ojalá. Ojalá means “I wish, or I hope” in Spanish but it’s actually Arabic because one of the Muslim civilizations of North Africa of mixed Arab descent conquered Spain in the 8th Century and influenced their language. ~history~.
Speaking of history, I'm super into the Old Testament right now. IT'S LIKE SO COOL. Man like it's literally the foundation of modern civilization as a whole and the building blocks of everything we believe. I dedicate time at night and time during meals when we're not with someone to just reading it because it literally just makes sense to me now, which is a big deal because I've always strongly disliked the old testament because of the excess violence and weird things like when a donkey talks (Numbers 22:25-31) or when a drunk, naked Noah curses his son for covering his drunken nakedness. (Genesis 9:20-25) literally lol. But I don't know I just think that I have grown a lot spiritually and am able to understand things a little better. Like a lot of the Restoration of the Gospel is all about the Gathering of Israel and how are you supposed to understand that when you don't understand the Scattering of Israel? Or even like what Israel is? Or the scriptures that Jesus and the Book of Mormon prophets used? Wow very large tangent sorry. But look how cool things are!
Yesterday I went to a Christmas fireside in Newark and it was SO. NICE. The actual program was just alright but it was mainly awesome because several of my recent converts were there; including Marié! She is literally one of my all-time best friends ever. I had this whole spiritual confirmation where we came to the conclusion that we knew each other in the premortal life. She is literally exactly like me lol. She's getting married to this RM who is a chef and is moving to Finland! What the heck? Finland? But she is just the best and I literally served my mission to find and teach her. She's getting her endowments out in April and I'm excited to be there with her. I hadn't seen her since like June when I left Union City so it was just really nice and sweet and teary. Her sister was there who also got baptised and she's super cool too. And all my missionary friends were there and it was just the best night last night. Aww.
Anyway. That's my life right now. Fun. 😊 fast week and just keeps getting faster. This last transfer went by really quickly, which is nice because soon I'll come home and pretend to have nightmares so I can sleep on your floor.
Do you know that I LOVE YOU? SO MUCH. SO SO MUCH. WOW SO MUCH. I can't wait to hang out with you for the rest of eternity! I wouldn't accept anything less. I love you!
Note from his mom...I would have paid for the gas. Here's this weeks letter from a funny guy.
I’m glad your week was good! Things are normal for me. Same old same old. Last week was killer because we had so many things to do, including (but not limited to) causing me face pain. However my tooth is totally fine now and I just have to get the permanent one put on in a few weeks. The people were super nice through and the receptionist was super patient with the fact that I don’t know anything about being an adult. Also why the frick is the dentist so expensive?? Man, like just for laughing gas was like $60-100 more and I was like ??? looks like I’m going to feel the pain, as they say. But it was good and my tooth is fine now and if I had waited a little longer it would have needed a root canal they said so it was good to catch it in time. I’m so dumb sorry lol. Apparently cleanings are covered by insurance?? They want to give me a cleaning when I come in again which would be cool if I don’t have to pay anything but if I do then I’m out I can gum my food for the rest of my life. Anyway. Tooth is fine though now and I’m a pain-free guy.
This week I was on an exchange with a friend of mine who is my zone leader rn and it was nice. It’s good to have little vacations sometimes. It was in the English program through and I don’t even understand English. Weirdos. Spanish speaking is a big blessing. It was fun though. I came home to a big package from my cute mom that is making my Christmas so fun! Plus being a missionary for Christmas is a really good time and I love it. Right now my apartment is decorated with a cute lil tree and I’m just a happy guy because you know how much I love festivities. There’s this park in our area that’s really popular and they have it all decorated with a nativity and a Santa photo thing and it makes me wanna cry because it’s so nice! Christmas is a lovely time of year.
Speaking of decorations, yesterday we met with the literal COOLEST people. Martha and her husband Omar. Martha is a returning less active and her husband literally studied for 9 years to become a catholic priest and then like the last month of his studies he decided against it and married Martha. But he’s like SO smart. He and I are really good friends and I’m like hardcore studying the Old Testament right now and we spent some time talking about it. Super nice and I think he’s really ready to investigate the church for real. I’m excited about that because I love teaching really smart people because they teach me a lot and I love to learn.
Sorry this email is getting to you a little late. We got all of our groceries this morning and we taught a lesson and basically I’m just a busy guy. But I love you so much! So so much! I love this time of year because it’s so cute and everyone is kind. I wish we could be like that all the time but for now it’s nice to relish in the Christlike love all around. There was the crèche activity the other day and it was lovely and I took a video because I figured you would love it. Ok I’m going to send this so you have something to read. I LOVE YOU.
Jack had a really short email home last week. His p-day was moved to Wednesday so he could go to the NYC temple. He also apparently cracked his tooth on some "delicious Mexican chips" about a year ago and didn't do anything about it until this week. Luckily we caught it before he needed a root canal. Silly boy. Anyway, here's a little bit of his letter home;
Hiiii mom! It's me! Your busy boy! Man I have been running around literally all day. But it's been super fun! We went to the temple with Ibette and Yomairy and Ibette's brother who is going on a mission soon and it was just really nice. Other than the fact that it took me 1 and a half hours to drive like 21 miles to Jersey City where we took the subway (I am the king of the NY Subway) and then anyway basically it took the entire day and I'm tired!!!!
This week was as really good! We had some really cool miracle lessons. This area is undoubtedly pretty hard but President told me that it needs to be loved and taken care of because it hasn't been for a long time and that's why he sent me here. It's fun though. I love it here. I want you to know I'm a happy boy and I'm healthy and also sorry about my tooth. haha. I'm literally so dumb that's why I need a smart mom like you. Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment at 10:30am where I have to get a temporary crown and I'm excited. 😑
My Thanksgiving was so cute!! I loved it. I am literally a turkey. My companion gained 5 pounds in 2 days. Lol. SO MUCH FOOD. Please promise me when I get home I'll only have to eat as much as I want and no one will get offended if I don't lick my plate clean. But it was really nice and we spent it with the kindest people. I love the people here. They're so so so nice.
I'm sorry this is short but I'll talk to you in a few days and I'll write you a GIANT email. So it'll be ok. Just know I'm happy and healthy and the only thing you need to get me for Christmas is a new tooth and a Facetime call. I love you. SO SO MUCH.
This week was a good one. We’ve met a lot of people and they’re all so nice! I love nice people. They’re the best. Morristown is a cute little town and I like it here a lot. We serve with 2 other English speaking sisters but we’re the only missionaries in the branch. They’re nice though! One of them is Sister Flinders and she and I have served around each other for like our whole missions. She is very, very Mormón and she has this story where one of her neighbors in California gave her family weed banana bread on Conference weekend and it gets me every time I hear it. One of my favorite families here is moving to Orem next June which is fun! They have this little 3 year old girl that is like the cutest thing on the entire planet 🌎. There is a member here who lost her daughter to a drunk driver in Honduras this week. She was devastated. But the entire branch just rallied around her family and it was really tender to see. The greatest admonition that God has given to us is the necessity to empathize with others.
Elder Swain is chugging along. I was just in the kitchen and he came in to tell me a Dungeons and Dragons joke that I didn’t understand in the slightest but I laughed anyway. When I get home I’m forbidding myself from doing things like video games and excessive tv watching because they’re time eaters and time is important.
Also, I can go the rest of my life without rice and beans probably. Mom like. I can't even tell you with enough emphasis. They eat them for every meal. Like every meal. How? Like, how do they all not have scurvy or rickets? These are the questions that haunt me.
I haven't been able to listen to "The God Who Weeps" podcast yet. I'll do it today. I promise. I love those quotes you sent me from it though. Make me a list of things I need to read when I get home. I just finished the book of Exodus again. I'm on my second round of reading the Bible cover to cover. It's honestly super interesting. It's cool to see how different cultures grasp the concept of Divinity.
Today we're going to have a zone pday which is nice because I'm not in charge of it and hold no responsibility. I think we're just playing basketball which will be nice. It'll be a pretty calm day so I'll be here whenever. Send a picture of rowdy asap.
I love you to kolob and back.
HELLO MOM!!! IT’S ME! YOUR BOY WHO LOVES YOU SO MUCH!! I’m writing you from my desk in my little apartment. I ate pandebono for breakfast which is this really good Colombian cheese bread and my laundry is currently in the wash.
Let me first start off by telling you I’m good and happy and healthy. I’ve had a good week and we’ve met a lot of nice people. I’ve also learned a lot about Dungeons and Dragons which is just riveting. (lol) but actually it’s been fun. My companion is a really nice guy. Sometimes his anxiety gets to him or he gets frustrated because Hispanics talk 100 miles an hour but he’s growing a lot and it’s been fun to help him. He likes to tell me stories and I like to listen. He’s excited about missionary work and lets me drag him around so it’s been just fine.
We’ve met the nicest people here! This area has the nicest members and the most functioning branch council I’ve seen in NJ so it’s been nice. The branch has a finance class after church every Sunday which we help out with and so I’m teaching a bunch of hispanics about making and keeping budgets. Literally lol at that. The only thing I could think of during the whole thing is that I was not qualified for said teaching and if my mom was there she would tell everyone that I am as unfamiliar as possible with the concept. I’ve gotten better now though! I’ve learned some good (needed) financial discipline here.
I really like Morristown. It’s going to be a cute place to spend the holidays. I’m always in cute places for the holidays. Because you’re right, I LOVE CHRISTMAAAAS! I love Christ. And He is Christmas. I love my family too. I got my package of cookies and they are intact and delicious as ever. Yum yum yum. Thank you!
So this guy came up to us last night because we were giving away free hot chocolate in the park and also church stuff (duh) but he came up to us and started asking us a lot of questions and then was like “When can you come over to my house and teach me and my family?” And I was like ??? Cool. Then he left but then came back and proceeded to tell me about the fact that his house is possessed and he needs us to bless it. So that’ll be fun.
Other than that, my life is the same. Missionary life is reliably consistent. This week we have a half mission conference which is going to be fun. I think one of the 70 is going to come. We also have interviews with President which are fun because with me we just talk about fun and random stuff. Nice guy.
Anyway cute mom. I’ll write you more later today when you email me back. I love you so so so much. To the very brink of love possible in mortality and maybe even a little bit past it. 💕😘❤️
xo - your boy
So. Here I am in Morristown. I love this area! The members are literally the nicest human beings I’ve ever met. We had sacrament meeting yesterday and we hold it in the primary room (lol) because only a handful of people come. I got to bless the sacrament though, which was really nice! You know I love doing that. This whole week we’ve been running around trying to get to know the members. I love getting to know members. I’m glad I was doubled in here because it’s a challenge as well as a good training opportunity for the guy I’m training. Let me tell you about him. Literally LOL. He’s this really tall skinny guy from California. His name is Caleb Swain. Like he’s the funniest little guy. He graduated in 2015 and went to 2 years of college at BYU. Like every 2 seconds he’ll just go “I’m so excited to be a missionary!” This morning he was like “You know what?! I’m going to make pancakes!!!” Which is apparently very monumental for him. UPDATE: he just handed me a very burnt pancake. He’s making them in the kitchen right now listening to the same 5 poppy Jesus songs he always does. But I’m having a lot of fun. He’s a funny guy. I like him. My apartment is cute because it was a sister apartment until two transfers ago, when Elder Dove got doubled in here to train as well. So it’s cute. No food though. Cute neighborhood too. We have this neighbor downstairs named Bob who loves flowers and Persian rugs and I want to be just like Bob some day. Morristown is quaint. It reminds me of Red Bank to an extent. It’s nice here and I'm excited to work here.
On Halloween we had a lesson with this crazy guy in the park. After that we went back home and called a lot of people. Elder Swain’s spanish is very slow and most Hispanics don’t have the patience to listen to him because they can tell you their entire life story in 0.84 of a breath. So I’m talking a lot but also giving him challenging things to help him grow. We met the Morales family and they’re literally the coolest. They’re homies and they love missionaries and having us over. We also met the Gomez family and they’re also the sweetest. Same with the Lopez family. There’s also a few YSA guys here that are super funny. So I’m definitely in a good place.
GUESS WHAT. So did you know that in Morristown NJ was where Lafayette advised Washington and Hamilton that the French were coming to give aid to the revolution? There’s this main park in our area where there’s a statue of it and obviously I freaked out. How cool. Here’s a picture.
So basically my life is pretty good. I’m happy and healthy. I put this picture on a calendar and gave to to all the relief society to sign so we could get food. But jokes on them the real reason is because I want to teach their friends. It’s the golden method. 1. Visit the members, 2. Eat their food, 3. Teach their friends. Never fails.
Anyway. We can talk later today whenever you email me back. I love you SO SO MUCH. SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SOOOOOOO MUCH.
— your boy. X0x0x0x0x0x0x0x0x0x0x
Hello it is me! Your spooky boy!
Man, I love Halloween. The best. But we're not allowed to go out past 6:00 on Halloween itself and Mischief Night, which is the night before. I would go knock on doors but here we are...with rules. But it's been a really nice moth? We had a really sweet baptism yesterday. Ibette is a really sweet girl and she was super fun to see the change that happened to her.
You’re probably wondering what’s happening with me. So I actually am going to Morristown! Wao. Definitely a different pace than Elizabeth. But I’m really excited. Elder Dove is leaving that area right now and I’m getting doubled in with mijo. Mijo means “Mi hijo” which means “my son.” Because I’m a trainer. I’m a dad again! Hello. But I really am excited! It’ll be super fun and I’m excited for new challenges and experiences because I get bored.
I sure will miss Elizabeth, though. I love the people and everyone has been so kind with me leaving. The Chico family all drew me pictures and for church everyone took pictures with me. I love my hispanics. We also had this killer lesson with the Sanchez family, whom are investigating. They gave me a few presents and it was just really sweet. I literally love being close to people. I’m still my normal introvertedly extroverted self, but I’ve really really really just learned to love people.
Today I’m throwing a halloween party for the zone. 8 months of being a zone leader is like literally so much but it’s been really great. Might as well go out with a bang. Everyone is going to bring a costume (I’m wearing my morph suit duh) and we’re going to have games like bobbing for apples and eating donuts off the string.
Other than the baptism this week, things have been normal. I’m going to miss Elder Hunt a lot. Like a literal ton. But I’m excited for my new companion as well. I’m sure he’ll be great and I’ll love him a lot. He’s not going to know any spanish which will be fun. Training is fun. I’m glad I get to do it again.
I confirmed Ibette yesterday. I love confirming people. One of the things I believe is not understood as a whole is the doctrine of baptism by fire. Sometimes we think it’s just “I just got clean and now I have a ghost friend.” But I’ve learned that the baptism of fire is definitely a process. It is a continual cleansing. When we say “I say unto you, receive the Holy Ghost,” I think it is better understood as a priesthood injunction. Like at that point we have received the capacity to do so. I’ve read a lot of really cool stuff on that. Takes too long to talk about though. I’ll save it for when I’m home and can sit on the foot of your bed and tell you how much I love you. But anyway. I like making that distinction when I confirm people.
Also one of the cool things Elder Rasband said when he was here was that there is no better way to gain motivation and improvement in this life than studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Because like honestly. What a wonderful man. I love Him. And I love what He taught and teaches.
I had a dream just barely of me coming home and meeting you in the airport. How nice that will be. But you guys also formed like a weird London-bridge-esqe tunnel that I had to go through. Lol. Don't actually do that. Weird.
I just love you so much. Do you know how much?? So so much. I hope you know like a fraction because it is incomprehensible as a whole. I have the best family. Ever ever ever. I win.
You have my ❤️. --@me
Here is the latest from Elder Nielsen. Thanks for all your support!! -K
I got the call last night to be a trainer again. My 2nd child. President alluded to the fact that I'll probably go to Bayonne, which is a walking area and the chapel where the branch meets is literally a building shared with a Quik-Chek. Lol so hard. So I'll probably be heading there, but we won't know for sure until next Sunday. The catholics get their cathedrals and the JW's get their Kingdom Halls and Elder Nielsen gets a Quik-Chek. All I know is that I'm being tapped out of Elizabeth and getting doubled in somewhere, probably as a district leader. Fun changes. ☺️ but the only thing that matters in the long run is the fact that my mom is sweet and I love her with all of my bean and rice filled heart.
Right now I'm laying on my nice bed writing my nice mom. Today Elder Hunt and I are going to go fishing maybe at this cute pond we found that's very peaceful and outdoorsy. And we'll probably end up going to get a smoothie or something nice because this is our last week together as companions and we have to treat ourselves. Que sad btw! I love Elder Hunt. But I love all my companions. We need to do something ~spooky~ because it's Halloween and I love Halloween. Our decorations consist of pumpkins we painted at a fair and a few spider webs that aren't fake. 👻
I don't know if I told you in advance but this week we had the opportunity to listen to two men from the 70 and also Elder Rasband of the 12. Really cool experience. We got the entire mission together and we took a nice picture with a nice apostle. He gave a sweet talk based on the one given last conference "By Divine Design". We all shook his hand and he told us of some cool mission stories, one of which happened in a city that is currently my area. He was just a really kind man. It was nice and it was cool to see that an apostle of the Lord doesn't need to be bursting with eloquence to be an apostle. The very firsts were fishermen. The Lord qualifies who he calls.
This next paragraph is in regards to a few thoughts I shared with him regarding apologtics from a recent talk I studied;
I really like that verse in D&C where it says "reasoning with the people”. Because like God would never reveal a doctrine that wasn't rationally intact. Rational and critical thinking were the foundation of faith for me for a very long time. I like what part where he said, "Not everyone is interested in or has the ability to engage in scholarly apologetics, but all are under covenant to “stand as witnesses of God." Because it's true. There's a lot of people we meet, I would suffice to say the majority, who aren't interested in the logically soundness of the doctrine we teach but are more dependant on tribal and cultural influence. We are social beings after all. But that doesn't stop me from teaching the Restoration and Plan of Salvation as if they're the only things that could make sense. Because they are.
I'm going to go buy some cereal. Maybe a few snacks. I love you. So so much.
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.