Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting Ready ...

Kirk & Jan Nielson

Our Background

We are Kirk and Janice Nielson. We have lived in Salt Lake City, Utah since 1979, when we moved there from Richland, Washington, where we moved in early 1975 upon finishing graduate school at BYU in Provo, Utah. Jan is a Registered Nurse. She worked in pediatrics at St Lukes Hospital in Boise, Idaho; at the BYU Health Center in Provo; and at several nursing homes in Salt Lake as a medicare case manager. When our children were young, Jan was a stay-at-home mom. Kirk worked at Battelle PNNL in Richland and at URS Corp and its legacy companies (Dames & Moore and Rogers & Associates) as a consulting scientist on radioactive material characterization, risks, regulations, and disposal. We have both enjoyed our work over the years, even passionately, but more importantly we have enjoyed our children and our church activity, which have been most important to us. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, and as Sis. Dibb put it last October at general conference, we know it, we live it, and we love it! 

Kirk & Jan surrounded by our five children, their spouses, 
& 10 grandchildren.

Our family includes five children, their spouses, and ten grandchildren, all of whom we love greatly. Our lives have been blessed by the kindness and mercies of our Father in Heaven, to whom we owe all that we have and are (actually, just the good parts). We have looked forward, for years, to retiring and serving the Lord on an LDS mission, and that time finally came on June 10, 2013 when we started this mission. We love the Lord because he has loved us; He has been merciful and forgiving of our sins & weaknesses as we have worked to repent and come unto Him; and He has answered our prayers, protected, and inspired us in the big and small decisions of life. 

Getting Ready
Because of Kirk's 1967-1969 LDS mission to Brazil (Sao Paulo, Brasilia,
and Rio) as a 19- to 21-year old, he requested that we serve in Brazil again if possible. We received a mission call to the Brazil, Sao Paulo East mission to begin Oct 7, 2012. Kirk set up his retirement for Oct 1, 2012 and we began studying Portuguese and waiting for our visas. After many delays and prayers, we finally came to understand that we needed much more than a week of "retired time" to get ready, to learn & re-learn Portuguese, and to get our house in order. Kirk finally retired Jan 4, 2013, and we continued the visa wait. We took a Bahama cruise in April of 2013, where we talked (even in Portuguese) to a number of Brazilians about our upcoming mission and exchanged e-mails with some. We went to church in Miami, where the bishop told us we could find plenty of Brazilians in Florida without having to go to Brazil. We also made some new friends from the Orlando area during the cruise. 
On returning, we came to understand that we should accept a change in the mission call. During this time, we learned that some dear friends were going to preside over the Florida Orlando Mission. Jan, (more inspired) immediately started praying to go to Orlando, while Kirk (slower to catch on) continued to pray for the Brazil visas. Finally the morning of May 22, we exchanged a flurry of calls & e-mails with various LDS mission people to request reassignment to the Florida Orlando Mission. Our reassignment to Orlando was soon approved, and we got written confirmation of our call to Orlando on June 4.

Our Mission

Our Senior MTC district, bound for Russia, Florida,
 Canada, & Oklahoma, with our Instructor. These
people made our MTC time fun & enjoyable.
We started our mission on June 10, 2013, when we entered the LDS Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT for our training & orientation. At check-in there, we learned that our papers showed Kirk still being scheduled for the Brazil Sao Paulo East mission but Jan now listed for the Florida Orlando Mission. The Lord indeed has a sense of humor! After the MTC week in Provo, we came home for the weekend and spent the following week in Salt Lake for medical training and a day of computer training.

We learned from the mission president that our apartment in Orlando would not be available until July 2, so we could take our time getting there. Jan worked hard to find something we could do with the extra time! We left home Monday, June 24 and arrived in Orlando on July 1. We stopped along the way for a great visit with Kirk's nephew's family in Olathe Kansas; enjoyed a great night with Jan's Niece & husband in Peoria, Illinois; and participated in sessions at three temples (Kansas City, Nauvoo, and Nashville) along the way. We also visited the temple sites at Winter Quarters and Atlanta, but they were not open during our times there. At the cemetery at Winter Quarters, Jan found the grave for an infant son of Joseph Fielding, her great-great-grandfather.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Orlando, and have enjoyed our first week in Orlando as we've participated in a mission leadership meeting, our zone training meeting, and a July-4 dinner & farewell for some other senior couples over in Titusville. Our mission president was kind to let us stay at his home for our first night here. After our apartment lease was signed on Tuesday, the Portuguese-speaking elders helped move some furniture in for us, which was kindly donated by several people in our zone. Our elders are awesome! They live close by, and have treated us very well, even giving us some chocolates that one of them received from his family in Brazil.

Jan gave a presentation on stress management in our Tuesday meeting and Kirk gave one on emergency preparedness for hurricanes (we're in hurricane season) and reducing risks from lightning. We've seen heavy rains most of our days here so far, accompanied by lots of lightning, but only light winds. Jan also gave other medical presentations yesterday and spends a fair amount of time in medical support at meetings and by phone to missionaries here in our mission, mostly counseling about symptoms and referrals for medical tests and treatment, and offering encouragement. We're looking forward to our first Sunday here tomorrow. We'll be going to a combined Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking ward. Today has been our preparation day (P-day), differing from the Monday P-days observed by the young missionaries.

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