Monday, June 20, 2016


This is probably going to be boring, just warning you now. There's not a ton happening around here. 

Speaking of boring, I'm reading the Old Testament. I'm in Numbers right now and it's thrilling. Trust me. On the plus side, I understand the law of Moses a LOT better now, which has made my reading of the Book of Mormon more clear.

We had zone conference this week and it was great but also the last time that I'll see President and Sister Schwab for...a while. Sad. But it's the circle of mission life. It goes on. 

Okay, I heard the coolest conversion story. Larisa is less-active, partly for health reasons and partly because she got offended, but we're dealing with that. I first met her at an activity a month and a half ago and we geeked out over chemistry together. But how she came in contact with the church: in 1975 her husband, a soldier/aerospace engineer, was working on this project that caused them to move to a different city, and there were actually some Americans there for a short amount of time who had been brought out to work on a joint project. Because of circumstances at the time, the Americans didn't talk to anyone other than their coworkers, and they were kept in a restricted area that no one was supposed to go in. But when you're like Larisa, a young mother and your young son loves to run around outside, you kind of go where you want and no one stops you. One day her son is exploring and runs up to show Larisa something he found- it's a cigarette pack. Larisa opens it up and inside there are tiny sheets of paper with writing on it, beautiful handwritten Russian cursive. She starts to read it to her son. It's a story. A story about a boy named Joseph Smith, his family, what he read and felt and saw and prayed. And it's a story about the contents of a book, the history of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent, about Nephites and Lamanites and Jaredites, their wars and eventual destruction. To Larisa this was surprising. She's extremely well-educated. She excelled in school, and remembered history, but all she had been taught was that Columbus came to America, and the Americas opened, and he called the people who had been living there Indians.
Larisa is a natural storyteller. You can tell just by the way she addresses you, by the look in her eyes when you ask her to tell you something. She told this story to coworkers, friends, family, over the course of 35 years before she found the church and was baptized. In 1988 she had a meeting with some Americans for work, and her coworkers were like "Hey Larisa! These are Americans, why don't you tell them your story about American history and see if they know it or if they'll laugh at you too" She did, and later one of the American women approached her and told her that the story was actually the history of a church about which she didn't know very much, except all the members of this church live in state Utah.
But anyway not too long ago she heard from her neighbor that that one church she'd known about forever is in Saratov, so she tracked down the address and showed up one sunday and told the elders there everything that she knew about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and they were kind of shocked and she accepted baptism a short time later.

Okay sorry that was long but it kind of blew my mind and I thought I'd share it.

But yeah, life is good, ice cream is delicious, weather is hot, accent is terrible. The gospel is awesome and we spend a lot of time trying to tell people about it, but we mostly just end up reminding them that they have somewhere they urgently need to be. But at least we're encouraging people to live more productive lives :)

I love you, be good!
Sister Nielsen

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