Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week 16 – February 24, 2014 – Stuck in the mud!

Tjena Tjena (Hey Hey),

It's been a really great week, an unusual week, but a great week. We started out our P-day touring some of the historical landmarks in Göteborg that we hadn't seen yet. First, we saw the Dome Kyrkan, a massive church built in the late 1600's. Afterward, we went to see one of the two large watchtowers that are on both ends of Göteborg, and we got a picture looking over the city. We finished the day at what I believe is the largest church in Göteborg, Oscar Fredrickson’s Kyrkan from the Gothic architecture era. It was one of my favorite P-days so far in Sweden.

That night we weren't sure where to go in Kungsbacka, so we prayed about where we needed to go, and we felt that we needed to visit a less-active member that lived about 45 minutes away. We decided to take a drive out to a town called Valda. We met a lady there who gladly let us in. She had been struggling a lot recently and she hadn't been home taught in over 5 years. She was so thankful that we had come by. We left knowing we went exactly where the Lord wanted us to be that night.

Tuesday was another interesting day. We have to renew our Visas after a year, so we had to spend the first half of the day in the immigrations office so Elder Miles didn't have to get sent back to America. I met a really cool guy named Moses from Uganda there. He's been in Sweden for 6 months playing semi-pro. We talked about religion for an hour and we had an amazing conversation. He said he's seen Mormons in Uganda before and he met with them a few times. His dream is to build a nice chapel in Uganda for his mom and he said he'd love to build a Mormon chapel there because he really likes our church. He lives in a town called Barås, so we referred him the Elders in that area.

Because our immigrations visit took so long, we missed our cable car. So we took pictures at Ullevi Stadium across the street were Göteborg's pro soccer team plays. 

Later that day we had an interesting turn of events in Kungsbacka. We were late for a teaching appointment, so we took a short cut through some grass. We thought that there would be dirt at the end of the trial, but it was actually a mud pit about a foot deep. It was so sticky I lost a shoe and Elder Miles had to help me fish it out of the mud with a stick. Both of my shoes went from black to brown and they had a good half inch of mud on them. As we were cleaning them off, President Newell called and said that Sister Newell would be flying in on Wednesday for the Sisters Conference and he asked if we could drive her to Göteborg from the airport. Needless to say, I spent that night getting my shoes back to their normal condition again.

Wednesday was crazy. We picked-up Sister Newell at about 9:30 with my newly refurbished shoes. We also spent an hour cleaning the car the night before, but it was dirty by the time we got there due to the rain. We had a good ride with Sister Newell and then we drove across town with Elder Beus and Elder Forsyth to pick up a mountain of pizza for sister conference. Of course, we got some pizza from the trip, so I was more than happy to help! The conference went really well and we took Sister Newell back to the airport later that afternoon.

Saturday was another really good day. We have been a little sad that people don't ask us to do any service, but we got our wish this week. A lady in the ward had to move and only had a day’s notice, so the two of us and some ward members went to her apartment to help. Elder Miles and I had the privilege of taking all of her large pieces of furniture down from her fourth floor apartment. It was the longest move I've ever helped with… Coming in at four hours, but she really needed the help and we were both really glad to be there.

Afterwards, we had an amazing lesson. I wrote about Yvonne last week, the Brazilian lady we met in the train station. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and it was really touching to her. We taught her about the power of prayer and she started crying after she prayed. She said she would be baptized if she felt that the Book of Mormon was true and she started reading it this week. I can't wait to teach her again and help her prepare for baptism.

So, it was another great week here in Sweden and I'm so thankful to be here doing this work. Thanks for reading… Love you guys!

Hej Då (Ta Ta)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 15 - February 17, 2014Magic Happens

Great week! We started with our usual P-day meet-up in Göteborg last Monday and, believe it or not, I'm no longer the newest missionary in Sweden!  There are two newer missionaries in the area now. I can't believe that an entire group has gone through the MTC since I left! They are both really cool guys and I'm glad to finally have other missionaries that are where I am with my Swedish language skills... Just beginning!  

Romanian Street Performer in Goteborg - Floating in air!

While we were in town, we saw a Romanian street performer that looked like he was holding a pole and floating in the air. There is a new dude on it every time we go to town doing magic for donations. We also found a cool shack when we went to visit a less-active member. The GPS said he lived in Kungsbacka, but little did we we know, he lived way out in the sticks of Kungsbacka, but we had a really cool drive out there. This old shack was behind their house. 

Quaint Country Cottage in Kungsbacka

Elder Miles has been trying to get me to do more solo contacts to practice my Swedish. It's helped me a lot but, the first one I tried this week became sort of a train wreck. It went something like this (translated to English):

Me - "Hey, we are missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ and we have a message about how Jesus Christ can help us find happiness in our lives.  Do you have faith in Jesus Christ?"  

Contact - "Yeah" 

Me - "That's great! How have you seen Jesus Christ help you in your life?"  

(What I Thought He Said) - "Jesus Christ caught my attention and I have faith in him."

(What he actually said) - "Well I think Jesus caught a lot of peoples attention, but I don't think he was anything special."  

Me - "Super cool!"  

(What I thought he said) - "So how long have you been speaking Swedish?"

(What he actually said) - "So, how many people have you stopped like this today?"  

Me - "Well I've only been speaking Swedish for about two months, so I'm not that great but he (Elder Miles) has been in Sweden for almost a year so he's really good! You should talk to him!"  

And then somehow Elder Miles salvaged it and we ended-up getting the guy's number, so it will be interesting to see how that lesson goes. The rest of my contacts have been going really well though. To practice, we sometimes split-up apartment complexes, so I have been able to set a few appointments on my own... It's getting better! 

Contacting people door-to-door in Kungsbacka
Really cool experience this week. We got stood-up at a teaching appointment at the train station, but we found this awesome South American lady to teach. We invited her to church and she committed to come. In missionary work, it's often true that at the times you are the most frustrated you finally run into the right people.  

Yvonne, the lady we met at the train station, was the first investigator we've ever had to church. She took a bus for 45 minutes to get there, so it meant a lot to us that she she made the effort to come. We saw another guy that we had contacted in the middle of the week walk into church when we drove up as well. We both had forgotten his name and we never would have guessed he would actually come to church. He stayed for an hour and we hope to work with him next week. It was a great Sunday and it was great to finally see people coming to church after all the hard work we've put in.

 I'm loving my mission and can't wait for another great week!  

-Äldste Stoeltzing 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weeks 13 & 14 January 3rd &10th, 2014 - Tracting at Downton Abbey (Well… Almost)

A lot has happened over the past two weeks. The first week was a little slow, but we ended it by attending a baptism on my birthday. The sisters found an investigator named Jami from Afghanistan about three weeks ago. He loved the gospel from day one and he was ready to be baptized super quick. Elder Miles got to baptize him, which was super cool, and I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost.  

Jami's Baptism
After the baptism, we went out into the countryside to have Semlor (A Swedish cake or pastry kind of thing) with the family Jami lived with, a Swedish lady and her husband from Iran, Hommie (the coolest name ever). They were giving Jami a place to stay while he got established in Sweden. Although they were part of the Swedish Church they were super happy for Jami joining the church and they supported him 100%. We got back to Göteborg kind of late that night, but we had just enough time to grab a Birthday pizza and we celebrated my 20th with Elder Beus and Tietjan, so it was a great birthday! 

My 20th Birthday Pizza
Unfortunately, the beginning of the next week was sad for everyone. We had one of the largest transfers in months and Elder Tietjan and Sister Anderson got transferred to new areas. They were both super cool and they helped make my first seven weeks in Sweden awesome. Elder Tietjan got sent up to Jacobsbörg (Yacobsberry) and Sister Anderson went to a really cool little city down on the Southeastern coast called Karlskrona. I'm sad to see both of them go, but I know they'll keep doing amazing work in their new areas.

Saying Goodbye to Elder Tietjan and Sister Anderson
The Elder that transferred to Göteborg is super cool. His name is Elder Forsithe. He came down from Umeo and was training one of the missionaries from my MTC group before he left. The new Sister who was sent to Kungsbacka is really nice. Her name is Sister Pearson. She grew up on a farm in Nevada and has 12 younger brothers and sisters. It's hard to see my friends go, but it’s part of the mission and I think I'll really like the new members of my zone. Oh, I'm no longer one of the newest missionaries in Sweden. A new group came in from the MTC, so there is a newer missionary than me in the zone now! It seems crazy that an entirely new group has come and gone from the MTC since I arrived. My time in Sweden has gone by a lot faster than it did in the MTC.

Tracting at Downton Abbey... Well, not quite!
We had a lot of cool stuff happen this week, starting with the giant castle we found in the middle of nowhere. Elder Miles and I were driving through the countryside, and then, out of nowhere, we saw this big pink castle and we had to stop to take some pictures.  We found out later that night that the castle/summer home was owned by a member of Sweden’s royal family, so it was a pretty cool stop.

Gasevadholm Castle in Kungsbacka, Sweden
Practicing my Swedish door approach
We also found two really cool investigators this week. The first one is a guy named Olan, who we met on the street.  He told us he used to play stick ball with missionaries when he was about ten years old. He has always had good feelings about Mormon missionaries, but he never met with them to talk about what they believed in. Olan really liked speaking English, so I got to be more effective in the lesson. He believes in a higher power, but has a hard time believing in God with all the evil that's in the world. We taught him part of the Plan of Salvation lesson and he really liked the conversation, so are coming back to teach him again later this week.

The next promising investigator we met was a referral from an older member in our ward. He's an older guy named Stieg who was super excited to have us over. He told us all kinds of stories about when he played soccer growing-up and about the trip he took to America about 20 years ago.  We started teaching him about the restoration of the church. Then he stopped us and asked if we believe if we will see our family members after we die. He explained to us that his son had been hit by a train over 40 years ago when he was only 15. He has been wondering if he would ever see his son again since that time. We told him he would absolutely see his son again and we started teaching him the Plan of Salvation. The lesson really touched him and he almost committed to a baptismal date at the end of the lesson. I am really excited to keep teaching him. It means so much to me that we could help someone to find the peace that he’s been struggling to find since the death of his son 40 years ago. Experiences like this are what make every second of my mission worthwhile.

I can't believe that by the end of this week, I will have been in Sweden for two months! It has been an amazing experience so far and I'm loving every minute of it. I’ll write more next week.

Love you guys!