July 14, 2020


Buffalo, New York, United States


Elder Justin Nielsen

Wiki 1: Brazil to Buffalo


For those of you who didn't know, I'm back on my mission. I left on Tuesday for the New York, Syracuse mission. I flew from Salt Lake to Atlanta and then to Syracuse. Flying during the pandemic was kind of interesting. Masks were required in the airport and on the plane so that wasn't very enjoyable, but I had nobody beside or behind me to maintain social distancing so I had a lot of room. I got to Syracuse that evening where I met my two companions (I'm in a trio), Elder Nielsen and Elder Benson. Both of them are from Utah as well, Elder Nielsen is from South Jordan and Elder Benson is from Farmington. When I met them the told me that I would be joining them in the only Swahili-speaking area on the mission. I was a little shocked at first but I quickly became super excited for the chance to learn another language on my mission. When I met my companions, we had to get right into the car and drive away, no dinner with the mission president, no trainings, and no large group pictures. New York state laws are still super strict on what you can and can't do so the most that President Vest could do is hand us 3 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and wish us good luck. We got to Buffalo that night around 11 PM.

Here on the mission, a normal day starts out with all the usual things, 30 min excersise, 30 min planning, 1 hr personal study and at 10, we start our day. Normally we can schedule about 5-6 lessons over WhatsApp or Facebook messenger video calls, about 2 of those usually work out each day. The rest of our time we spend finding new people, either through cantacting people in the area book or through messaging people on Facebook, having lessons with members, or sending messages to confirm appointments/remind about commitments. To break up the day, we have 2 daily walks where we usually play some Frisbee as well as 30 minutes of companion study and 1 hr of language study. For those of you who are wondering, the only time I have to learn Swahili is the 1 hr of language study, we have very few resources and none of us have been trained by anyone who really speaks Swahili, but the gift of tongues is real. I can't yet contribute to the lessons, but I'm starting to catch fragments of what is being said. I have also been able to make use of my Portuguese a little bit. On Friday, we decided to message some people from the area book who were no longer being taught because the missionaries couldn't get in contact with them. We were messaging a person named Kasimu and my companions told me that he speaks Swahili, Portuguese, and a little bit of English. We decided to send a voice message in Portuguese. The next day, we called him and for the first time in months he picked up. We started talking to him and he asked "where is the one that speaks Portuguese?" I then talked to him and I invited him to church and set up a lesson with him for the next day. On Sunday, he came to church! Unfortunately, he didn't answer at the time we set up the lesson, but we'll keep trying to get ahold of him. It was really cool to see the difference that I could make even in a Swahili area. I know that God really does know us each individually and that he directs his work. I know that he has called me to serve in an area that I can make a difference and it's no coincidence that I'm learning Swahili or that I'm here serving in Buffalo.

Have a great week!

Kwa Heri,
Elder Walker


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