Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 12 – January 27, 2014 – Celebrating a Milestone
Fun week!  Elder Miles and Elder Beus just hit a year in Sweden!  We've been celebrating a bit this week.  It's hard to believe I'll be there in ten months too, but time is really flying by out here.  I'm loving every day in Sweden and I really am having fun with missionary work!     

Elder Miles Celebrating one year in Sweden
We taught a lot this week and we found two really good new investigators.  One of them said he heard about the church while watching South Park, so I didn't think he'd like us much at first.  But, he was actually super interested and we had an amazing lesson with him.  So, thank you South Park, referrals are coming from the weirdest places here in Sweden, but we'll take them any way we can get them!     

Working in downtown Kugsbacka, Sweden
We met another kid this week that gave us his home phone number.  We were trying to set up an appointment with him and his mom answered the phone.  She wanted to know who we were.  We explained that we were missionaries and told her that we teach people about Christ.  She said, “Oh, good… I thought you wanted to give my son cigarettes or something, I'd be happy to have you teach my son.”  So, that was super cool.  We will be teaching him on Wednesday!   

Where's Elder Stoeltzing?
Other than that, it wasn't the most eventful week here, but I just want to say I am super proud of Josh.  It's so cool that he baptized his friend Max.  That is so awesome!  Josh you are an excellent missionary and the coolest brother ever!  And, way to throw it down at the basketball game on Saturday!  You’re the best bro!  Well, I'll write more next week.  Have a good one guys!  

Max was baptized by Jacob's little brother, Josh (16)


-Äldste Stoeltzing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 Week 11 – January 20, 2014 – One Month in Sweden & Lots of Pictures!

I passed my first month in Sweden this week! Time is just flying out here! It's been a really good week. I had a few “greeny” moments this week that were really funny. First, on our last p-day we were originally planning on driving into Goteborg and play laser tag, so I decided I would wear shorts. Unfortunately, it was about 20 degrees outside. When we got into town the other Elders that were coming to join us cancelled and we didn't have enough people to play. So, we decided to walk around town and look at all the cool old buildings and stuff instead.  

Enjoying the Goteborg Architecture

Shopping downtown... I need those pants!
We walked around some of the classiest parts of town in freezing weather and I was only wearing basketball shorts, I looked crazy!  An older Swedish lady even pointed at me on the street and asked if I was crazy. The moral of the story is, don't wear shorts in Sweden in the winter!

Sitting in a heart-like sculpture with shorts and a parka?  Not advisable for sightseeing 20 degree weather!

Beautiful urban parks in Goteborg

Greeny moment number two was on sports night. The picking of the teams for soccer was done mostly in Swedish and I don't know any Swedish “sports words,” so naturally, I was confused. The only thing I understood was Sister Hill saying, "I got Stoeltzing," and I assumed I was supposed to be on her team.  So, when the game got started, I passed the ball to a person on her team and no one said anything about it. I did it a few more times and I got a few weird looks, but still no one said anything. Finally, I stole the ball from Elder Tietjen and got around another player, and I scored in the open goal. It was the proudest moment of my life playing soccer because up to this point, I have never done anything that athletic while playing the sport. Yet, sadly my moment of ecstasy lasted only briefly until I realized the horrible mistake I made. When Sister Hill said, "I've got Stoeltzing," she actually meant I'm covering Stoeltzing, and when my team looked at me in shock and disgust, I realized I had scored for the sister’s team! We had a good laugh about it, but it made me realize that I need a lot more Swedish practice and I definitely will not be playing for the Swedish soccer team anytime soon!

Playing street Hockey with the kids is more my speed!
Darn... Blocked by a seven year-old!
And yes, we have been doing missionary work, and lots of it. We had a cool experience this week where we drove out into the countryside and tried to meet with and old investigator. No one was home and no one in the area seemed to be interested. So, we decided to drive back, disappointed by the unprofitable trip. On the way home I took a picture of a really cool old wooden church. When we got back into Kungsbacka we only had half hour left in the day and we wanted to get something done. We decided to just knock on a few doors next to the church and see what might happen. It was an amazing night, as we watched family after family invite us back to meet with them again throughout the week. We ended-up having 6 of the 13 doors we knocked ask us if we could come back. I always thought that finding new people to teach would the part of missionary work I would be most afraid of, but we have been blessed to find people who want to learn about Christ put in our path every day. This night in particular, we saw the Lord’s hand in action as we found person after person willing to hear the gospel.

Old wooden church near Kungsbacka
The ward has really started to open up to us as well.  We've met with a few families this week that have kids who are less-active in the church. It has really given me a testimony that Elder Miles and I are supposed to be here as we've gotten to know them. One kid we met loves nothing more in the world than soccer and classic rock music. Elder Miles loves soccer more than anything and I love classic rock music more than anything, so we hit it off right away. We also met another kid in a similar situation. I played guitar with him for about a half hour last night and we got off to a really good start. We found out that he wants to study economics and law. Likewise, I want to study law and Elder Miles wants to study economics, so it was amazing to meet another great kid that we were able to relate to so well. 

Kungsbacka LDS Meetinghouse
My companion, Elder Miles, working in Kungsbacka
I'm learning that a mission, more than anything, is about people. Sure, we want to teach and baptize lots or people, and I'm confident in time, we will find them. But, looking back on this time, I won’t remember if we surpassed 20 lessons for the week, or if 4 less-active members came to church on any given Sunday, I will remember the amazing people we met. I will remember that my unique set of talents, as simple as playing guitar, can be enough to help a kid want to talk to us more, and hopefully be comfortable talking about church. When it comes down to it, there is nothing that gives me more joy than meeting people that I will remember for years to come. They are all doing as much or more for me than I am doing for them. I love everything about my mission and this is truly the best experience I've had in my life so far. 

Goteborg Zone Meeting
My first month in Sweden has been amazing and there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be!  Here is a recap in pictures:
Arrival tour of Stockholm on the first day!

Royal palace
Largest amusement park in Scandinavia
Visiting Jonkoping Sweden on Lake Vattern
Celebrating New Year's Eve at the Sagelstrom's with the sister missionaries
Watching fireworks with Sisters Anderson and Larson

Elder Miles and I enjoying our newest favorite food... Kebab Pizza!

I love you guys so much… Thanks for reading! 
Äldste Stoeltzing   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 10 – January 13, 2014 – Advancing the Work in Göteborg

Great week! We started by helping Luis Hurray set up the Göteborg Young Single Adult (YSA) Center.  Luis is a really cool guy. He's the LDS Seminary and Institute director for all of Sweden and we get to work with him every week. They used to have a huge YSA center in Göteborg but it was closed because attendance was low. Institute classes have been held in the Västra Frölunda chapel for the past few months, but we have a new center in an awesome old Victorian building. We helped set up the center and the grand opening will be this Friday. It is located right across the street from Göteborg University and I think it will really help the missionaries find new people to teach in that area. 

Goteborg University
 We had a great experience this week with a referral from this sister missionaries just north of us in Utby. They met a man named Safwan on a train who lived closer to us, so we started teaching him on Wednesday. Safwan is an immigrant from Sryia and has only lived in Sweden for about five months. Over the last year I have closely followed the horrific civil war in Syria, so I had great compassion to teach someone who recently escaped from there. I have seen few people with such a strong faith in Christ as Safwad has. He has a powerful testimony of Christ and he is so excited to learn more about the church. It was so inspiring to meet someone that's seen so much adversity and still has such a great love his fellow man. We will teach him again later this week.

Saturday we went to teach an investigator in her 70's that had been facing some health issues. We explained to her what a blessing was and she let us give her one. She said she had a warm feeling and she felt as if a blanket was placed over her during the blessing. It was a really amazing experience to see the comforting power of a priesthood blessing in action.  

A Priesthood Blessing

Last night we got to see a fireside discussion led by a missionary about to start his mission here in Sweden. He had such a strong testimony and I'm certain he'll be an incredible missionary here in Sweden. It was cool to see the way they conduct youth firesides here. It was led by YSA's and there were no members of the Bishopric or Stake Presidency on the stand. It felt really cool and I think the youth really connected with the message.

Well that’s about it for the week. I love you guys and can't wait to tell you about next week!  

Due to technical difficulties, Elder Stoeltzing's camera has not been uploading pictures in recent weeks.  As a result, stock photos have been inserted into the blog until Jacob's pictures can be submitted.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week Nine – January 6, 2014 – Holiday Recap

What an amazing two weeks I've had. Kungsbacka's a great area, I'm loving it here. Christmas season has been so amazing. We had a beautiful Sacrament program filled with music from our incredibly talented ward. This ward is great and filled with some incredible families. They all really make you feel right at home.  

Vastra Frolunda Sweden LDS Meetinghouse and Family History Center
In Sweden, Christmas Eve is the day of festivity and Christmas day is a day to rest. We had an amazing time at the Hauglund's home. They are a really nice family with three young kids. It is a national tradition in Sweden to watch Kalle Anka, which is an hour of Donald Duck cartoons. It was really cool and I wish we did the same tradition in the States.
Afterward we had our Swedish Christmas dinner. We ate all kinds of great classic Swedish dishes, such as Swedish Meatballs, sausages, brussel sprouts (which were surprisingly good!), and glazed ham.
The most important part of a Swedish Christmas dinner though is Jul Must. Jul Must is a Swedish soda that is only served around Christmas and Easter and it is the best thing ever. I will be buying several gallons at a time at Ikea when I get home. The best part of Christmas Eve, however, was watching the family open presents. In Sweden the Dad dresses up like Santa (Tomte as they call him) and passes out gifts to the kids. On Christmas I am usually focused on what I'm getting, but it felt much better to watch others feel the joy of receiving. It helped me understand what Christmas is really all about.    
Tomte passes out gifts to the children in Sweden

JULMUST Christmas Soda

On Christmas day we had breakfast at Molly and Joel Hurray's house. Molly is from the States and Joel speaks perfect English, so I was happy to have a comfortable place to spend Christmas. They made us and the Sister Missionaries French toast, and then we watched A Christmas Story. It was a great way to spend Christmas. After that, we went to the home of a family named the Whites and we got to Skype home. It was great seeing my family and the perfect way to end Christmas. We didn't have a formal dinner on Christmas, so Elder Miles and I decided to go into down town Göteborg to our favorite pizza place, Mario’s. We had kebab Pizza for Christmas dinner, and I think it just might be the most memorable Christmas dinner I've had in a long time.  
Another Christmas tradition in Sweden is the day-after-Christmas sales. We went to the mall after Christmas and I've never seen more people in my life! The crowds were crazy, but I got a bunch of cool Swedish stuff for really cheap.  
Swedish Christmas choir - First night in Goteborg
Monday before New Year’s Eve we drove down to the train station to say goodbye to Sister Lowe. These sisters have been serving in the same area with us (Sister Lowe and Sister Anderson), and they have been together for about six months. Sadly, it was time for one of them to get transferred. Both of the Sisters have been really cool and it was sad to see sister Lowe go. The whole ward loved her and she is a great missionary. We met the new missionary, Sister Larson, on New Year's Eve. She was really cool also and I think she'll be fun to work with.

New Years in Sweden was awesome! We went to the Sagelstrom's. They made us some great homemade Pizza and we played games until New Year's. New Year's is basically like the Fourth of July in Sweden. We could see two great firework shows from the Sagelstroms balcony. Every sort of firework is legal in Sweden as well, so we saw fireworks going-off at every angel. It was an incredible way to start the New Year.
Memorable Experiences
Now, on to the missionary work. When I got my call to Sweden I thought there wouldn’t be anyone that wanted to hear the gospel here, but I couldn't have been more wrong. We teach at least two to four lessons every day and find at least one new person daily. Elder Miles and I have had a lot of cool experiences in the past three weeks, but I will share three that have been extremely memorable.  
On week two here, we had an appointment that wasn't home, so we started knocking on doors in their area. We were just about done, but Elder Miles felt we needed to knock on one last door. It was a Christian man who said he respected what we were doing, but he was not that interested. He said we could maybe come back later. As we were walking back to the car a girl literally got off her phone right as we walked past, so we contacted her. She said she would love to meet with us and gave us her number.  As we got to talking, we found out she was the daughter of the man we had just talked to. If we had not followed the prompting to knock on this house, the girl we met would have still been on the phone when we walked-by, and we never would have met her or her father. 

 The second great experience we had was about a week ago as well. We tried to swing by an old investigator’s house, but they weren't home. We started knocking doors again and I came to a Swedish man who was about 24 years old.  I gave him the usual introduction in my poor broken Swedish.  He said, “I don't really understand why you’re here, would you like to speak English.” He had been wanting to practice English so he was open to speaking with us. He explained that he was an atheist and believed in science. He wasn't sure if anything we could say would possibly help him. We explained that religion and science did not necessarily have to contradict one another and we asked if he would be open to talking about God and religion. He let us in and we taught him about the restoration of the gospel. We were able to address many of the problems he had with organized religion and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon.  We ended by having him pray and he said he felt a warm tingly feeling. He was willing to try religion, but only in baby steps.  We have another meeting with him in a few days and I am really excited to teach him again.
The third amazing experience was last night.  It was the end of the evening and we had nothing planned, so we decided to tract one of the largest apartment complexes in our area.  We went through a whole building of No's, then on the top left apartment building, we finally found a man that sounded excited to hear the gospel and we set-up an appointment to teach him later in the week. We felt we should go to a building on the opposite end of the complex next. We then went through three straight buildings of No's until we were just about ready to go home, but we felt really strongly that we should do one more building. The entire building said “No” and I was really upset that I had felt so good about something and no one was interested. As soon as we walked out of the building we saw a mother and her young daughter and we contacted them. The mother said she wasn't really interested, so we asked her if she knew anyone that would be. Her little girl said her daddy would like to learn, and she gave us her number and agreed to meet with us. It was so great to be guided by the spirit into such a heartwarming experience and I can't wait to teach them. I know that if we did not follow the direction of the spirit to do one more building we never would have been in the right spot to meet this great family. 
I love the work that we do and I can’t believe today marks two months on my mission. One-twelfth of my mission is already done… The time is flying by.  
I can’t wait for another week of great work!    
Love, Aldste Stoeltzing