Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Week 3 – MTC
November 26, 2013

Long Week...!  We had to prepare lessons for two hypothetical investigators.  The teachers gave us profiles of people like the ones they taught in Sweden and we prepared different lessons for their needs, all in Swedish.  We actually taught the teachers and they took-on the persona of the investigators.  They ended up getting really close to all the people they met out in the field, so their acting can be extremely realistic.  Some of the people we taught were very open to our message and others, not so much.  They asked us a lot of questions during the lessons, so I had to improvise some complicated answers with only 50 or 60 Swedish words that I know so far.  It's great practice though and it’s really helping me to teach the simple, pure message of the gospel without getting sidetracked.

Sister Hulewsky and Elders Stoeltzing and Jones
The food was hit-and-miss this week.  Mexican food at the MTC can be scary.  The enchiladas should never be tried, but the fajitas were actually pretty good.  Yesterday two of the three meals looked terrible, so I tried a meal I didn't recognize.  It was called a chicken stacker.  I guess it’s based on a KFC mashed potato/chicken bowl.  It was actually really good.  
Jacob with DL's Elder Rasmussen and Elder Schmidt going to The Netherlands

The MTC actually does a Thanksgiving lunch, not a Thanksgiving dinner so that will be interesting.  It will be weird having my second Thanksgiving away from home; I missed it last year when I was in Idaho.  At least we get a Thanksgiving, although, it's definitely not a holiday in Europe… Ha-ha.  We asked Elder Noso from Finland if he knew about Thanksgiving, he said "I think it's something where you Americans talk about Indians and eat turkey."  We told him yeah, pretty much… Ha-ha.  He's really funny.  He learned a lot of English from watching American action movies so he knows every pop culture reference known to man.

All Scandinavian missionaries currently at the MTC
I was released as the district leader.  It's only a three week calling in the MTC, so it has been passed on to Elder Noso.  I think he'll do a really good job and I'm glad someone else is in charge of getting the daily mail.  The new zone leaders were picked on Sunday as well.  They are my two roommates, Elder Smith and Elder Rasmussen.  I recommended them to the President as excellent leaders as well as a cohesive companionship.  It looks like he listened to me and I know they'll do really well.  I've seen this group grow so much and I know the Lord has amazing plans for Sweden.  
Aldste Stoeltzing's roommates, Elders Brown, Smith and Rasmussen

We got an email from the mission home in Sweden today and were thrilled to see that they have scheduled 40 baptisms for the month of December.  Sweden may be a very secular place, but people are most certainly embracing the gospel there.

Jacob found Sister Harvey (London) from Folsom and his buddy Tyler

On Sunday I was out of energy and just didn't feel ready for a long week.  So I attended a great devotional from the general authority in charge of the missionary department, David F. Evans, and it really lifted my spirits.  He asked everyone that thinks they get too much sleep in the MTC to stand up.  Nine or ten kids stood up and he said, "Well sit down because no one likes you."  I knew then that he was a kindred spirit!  

Provo Temple Panorama
There was also an opening musical duet from two sisters singing “Come Thou Fount” that was really beautiful.  At the end the speaker called an audible and asked if we could change the closing song so the whole MTC could sing “Come Thou Fount.”  I don’t think I've ever felt the spirit stronger than when we listened to 2,000 missionaries sing my favorite hymn.  That song has so much meaning to me and it completely lifted me up and prepared me for another week of service.  Every time I here that song I'm reminded of Christ's immense love for me and how He's been with me through everything.  It's really cool to here all 2,000 of us sing “Called to Serve” every week too, but singing “Come Thou Fount” with that many people was amazing.  

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,

Mount of God's unchanging love…

Aldste Stoeltzing and Elder Howe from International Relations class

Former pre-missionary training companions, Jacob and Luis from BYU-I

I love every day I'm out here and can't wait to finally get to Sweden.  I think I can speak just enough Swedish to write my simplified testimony, but please don't try to translate this because this computer isn't set up for Swedish accent symbols and my spelling is very bad, but here goes nothing.     

Jag vett at Gud och Jesu Kristi alscka me.  Jag har kanna den helgen anden hjelpa me kanna Gud och Jesu Kristis karleck.  Jag vett att Mormaons Bok ar Guds ord och sanningen.  Joseph Smith ar profeter och genom honom Gud atervana honom evenlium till jorden.  Genom evenlium jag vett att ve can atervanda till Gud och liv med vor familer igan.  Nar jag vill att vett Jesu Krysti Kyrka ar sannigen jag laste Mormons Bok.  Nar jag laste den helgin anden hjepa me kanna mormons bok ar sanningen och kanna fred.  Jag alscar me missinar och vill hjepa undesacara en Svergie.  En Jesu Kristi namn amen.  

Really, don't try to translate this. I’m sure it will come out bad.  However, I can speak it a little better than I can write, so it's a good start, I think all of the tenses are wrong too.  But anyway, it is progress and I can't wait to get to Sweden to use the language!   


Aldste Stoeltzing  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 19, 2013
Sorry I haven't been able to write ‘till now.  This week’s been crazy.  We get up every day at 6:30 AM and work straight until 9:30 PM!  This schedule is tough but I know the work that we’re doing is worthwhile.  This past week we've been teaching a fake investigator that turned out to be one of our teachers.  It was really cool.  Oh, by the way, when we practice teaching it all has to be in Swedish.  The language is coming along slowly but surely and I would definitely say I'm learning Swedish much faster than when I took high school Spanish.  I still am very limited in what I can say, but hopefully next week I'll be able to write you my testimony in Swedish. 

MTC Classroom Panorama
As I mentioned, the investigator we were teaching actually turned into our teacher.  It really helped to get his feedback after teaching him and now he's one of my favorite teachers.  I admit I was feeling a little down and overwhelmed last week, but Brother Bloomfield, the teacher, gave some great advice, “If I lose myself in this work, I'll find myself.”  I've heard this advice dozens of times in the past, but it hit me super hard this week.  If I want my mission to be great I have to forget myself and focus on others and serving the Lord, there simply can be no other ulterior motive.  Ever since this fact really hit me I've been much more driven and motivated to learn and serve. 

Scandinavian MTC Branch

The MTC district I'm in is so great!  Everyone is incredibly smart, driven, and motivated to succeed.  It is nothing short of humbling to work every day with 11 other individuals that in many ways are far more talented than I am.  It is clear to me from those that I am blessed to serve with that the Lord has great plans for Sweden.  Our group of 12 is exemplary and fully capable of changing the hearts and minds of those that we are called to serve.


The meals have been really hit and miss… Some days they taste really good and other days the food is downright terrible.  Regardless, it always seems to make you feel a little sick.  

The devotionals, on the other hand, are so good.  We saw L. Tom Perry last week!  It was my first time to see an apostle in person.  That guy is so tall!  He's easily 6'-4” and he basically skipped up to the pulpit.  His talk was great and he told us how he opened a new mission in Ohio and built an entire ward.  He was with the same companion almost the entire mission because it was hard to get new Elders during the war.  He and his companion enlisted in the war after their missions and got to spend their entire military service in Japan.  The talk on Sunday was the best though.  This little old lady gets up and I thought I was about to be put to sleep, then she went into a 20 minute stand-up comedy routine and just got the whole room laughing...great talk!

I finally got to see Taylor Anderson and it's a really cool story how I found him actually.  I was brushing my teeth and met an Elder going to Jacksonville, FL.  I asked him if he knew Elder Anderson and he said he had an Elder Anderson from California in his room.  I followed him to the room and said hey Elder Anderson... but it was a different Elder Anderson.  He told me there was another Elder Anderson two doors down and he also ended up being a different Elder Anderson, but he said there were some more Jacksonville missionaries on the first floor.  So, I went down to the first floor and asked everyone if they knew where I could find an Elder Anderson from Jacksonville.  After 15 minutes I found one person that said they vaguely remembered an Elder Anderson on the second floor.  On my first knock after 20 minutes of searching the other two floors I finally found Taylor.  It was quite the man hunt, but it made for a fun evening and I got to meet most the floor in the process.  We ended up talking for half an hour and now we usually run into each other at least once a day.  I still haven't seen London yet, she may be on the west campus.

I am so excited that I got into BYU-Provo.  It was quite a process but I'm so glad all the hard work paid off.  I know that’s where I'm supposed to go to school and I am so happy to finally be a student there.  All the Elders going to BYU were really proud of me. 

I'm so happy everything is going well at home.  Sorry I couldn't be there to run to store with you Mom, I know you like that.  Thanks for letting Josh go the gym more often, I'm sure that makes him happy.  Tell Dad I'm really proud of him for the new job.

Love you guys!
Aldste Stoeltzing

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Greetings from the MTC:

What a crazy 2-½ days!  I love it here, but boy things are moving fast!  When you dropped me off they herded me through a huge line where I got my meal card, reading materials (7 books (some quite large), and then we somehow ended-up at my dorm room.  The next thing I knew, I was in a deep immersion Swedish language class for two hours. 

Then we went into an orientation session afterward and I don’t remember much of what they said other than realizing that of the 600 missionaries that entered the MTC with me, there were 30 countries represented by the Elders and Sisters, ranging from places as close as American Fork, Utah and from as far as Latvia.

The food’s not bad.  I’ve taken to salad wraps, which are probably the highest quality food in the cafeteria.  My companion is a real nice kid.  His name is Aldste (Elder) Brown and he’s from Arizona.  We work well together.

Aldste Brown & Aldste Stoeltzing in front of the Provo Temple

We had another hour and a half language session after dinner.  After three days, I’m starting to get it, but the first day was rough.  On day two the language classes got ramped-up to three hours.  We spend all day in the same classroom and it’s a little tough to stay in one seat for 4-1/2 hours on end, but we are learning quick.  I feel like I will have a Bachelors Degree in Swedish in six weeks!  Probably not, but the classes are far better than my high school Spanish classes.  My only complaint is that it's difficult to balance gospel study with language study.

The end of the second night was crazy!  The branch President interviewed all of us and for some reason, he chose me to be the District Leader.  This mostly means that I deliver the mail and have longer meetings with the Branch President than everybody else.  The responsibilities are limited and I know I’m capable, but there are two Elders in our group that I think would have made far more obvious choices.  One is a 21 year-old Fin who is a convert to the Church and who served in the military.  I think he is a very capable leader.  The other is a Finance Major at BYU.  He doesn’t like public speaking and he is a bit quiet, but I know he will do great things when it is his time to lead.  It feels weird to be the only one in the group with a title and it is somewhat of a struggle to know how much of a leadership role I should take.  It is a good, strong, intelligent group and I pray that God can help me make them better.

So, fun fact… We’ll have no girls serving in the MTC studying Swedish as of tomorrow and by Tuesday, we’ll have just two Sisters left in the ward.  I guess they had a hiring freeze for Scandinavian sisters or something… Ha ha!  But, all of the teachers are extremely excited for our group.  The 12 of us make up the largest group going to Sweden in several months.  The teachers are great and I think that it would be a fun way to continue to serve and keep the language alive when I get back and study at BYU, Provo. 

Keep me posted on what’s happening day-to-day.  I love you guys so much.  I’ve missed you a lot, but I know what we are doing is good work!


Aldste Stoeltzing

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Well this is post number one.  I don't have a lot of time to write since I'm leaving for the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in one hour, but I just wanted to say that I couldn't be more excited to serve the Lord for the next two years in Sweden.  I had a great opportunity to meet with a wonderful Swedish lady named Liz who lived back home in Sacramento.  She made me Swedish meatballs and taught me a great deal about Sweden.  Last night in Provo I got to meet a couple named Brother and Sister Hunter who have served several missions in Sweden and talked for three hours with them.  This was the best way ever to kick off my mission!  I am so excited and will post more in the coming weeks.

Aldste Stoeltzing - Entered the MTC November 6, 2013
I can't wait to be in Sweden!   

This is where it all starts: