Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 21 - March 31, 2014; Traveling Far and Wide!

Another great week and I'm loving it up here in Linköping! We've done a lot of traveling this week, so it's been really fun! On Tuesday, Elder Farnworth and I went visiting members and a few less-actives in a town called Motalla. We met this awesome guy named Michael who said that he wanted to start coming back to church, so I'm excited we get to help him return.

We also visited an older lady way out there who takes a taxi more than an hour to church every Sunday, so she's just the most devoted person at church ever. She made us spaghetti, then she helped us with our Swedish for awhile. She also loves singing, so we sang a bunch of hymns with her, then we read the Book of Mormon for a bit. It was a lot of travel to get out to see her, but it was so worth it to know how much our visit meant to her.

The ride home was super cool. Motalla is so far away from our little branch that we’re not supposed to contact new people because it would be really difficult for them to ever get to church. But, Elder Farnworth was able to meet this awesome guy named Nick on the bus! He just said Hi, and the next thing we knew, this guy was totally willing to talk about the church. He said he'd love to talk with us more and he sounded really excited. So, it was a great day working the far side of our area.

We have the most amazing investigator ever. Her named Mahin. She is from Iran and she has lived in Sweden most of her life. She's currently a Phd student at Linköping University. She has also been taught for several years by missionaries. She might just be the most Christlike person I've ever met!  Seriously, I don't think I've ever met anyone so kind since I’ve been in Sweden, and I've met some pretty nice people so far!  She never had kids, so she considers all of the missionaries to be like her kids.

I met her doing a very unconventional service project. Elder Steen and I were on splits and we went to her house to help her translate her PhD paper on Patterns of Ethnicity in Dementia Care. Elder Steen wrote most of it, but I also thought-up a line or two. It was definitely a little different than what I studied in school, but it was fascinating to listen to her talk about it. She has studied sociology and psychology, both of which I'm really interested in, so we had a great conversation while we were there.

We went back to Mahin's on Sunday with a member that's she's really good friends with. It was an incredible experience. We taught her the Plan of Salvation lesson and she felt the spirit so strong. She's one of those investigators where I'm growing a lot more from being around her than she will from being around me. I feel super happy I'll have the chance to teach her every week! Not to mention, she's going to take us to her fencing studio sometime and teach us how to fence!
We'll that's about it for now. I really lucked-out with my second area. I love the branch here, the other missionaries in this area are the coolest, the town is awesome, and the investigators are great! I can't wait for the weeks ahead and what they will bring!  
Hej Då,
Äldste Stoeltzing       

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 20March 24, 2014; From Perfect Pizza to Street Dogs!

Wow, Crazy Week!

So, it was finally time to say goodbye to Kungsbacka. We started out on Monday with one more trip to our favorite pizza place, Mossens. They love the missionaries there and we may be their best customers! Then we sailed out to the islands off the coast of Göteborg one more time and had a ton of fun. We spent the rest of our time saying goodbye to the families and investigators we got the closest too. 

The Best Pizza in Sweden!
Mossens Pizzeria
We actually had to drive 20 minutes to and from our area every day. Now I’m kind of really good at driving. Elder miles and Elder Knecht were both crazy good drivers so they broke most of my bad driving habits. Elder Knecht said I was close to perfect before I left, so I finally can say I feel very confident driving, especially on the freeway.

But, it definitely won't be the food or the cool cities we served in, or even the car that I’ll miss; the thing I'll miss the most about Kungsbacka, will be the people. I couldn't have asked for a better place to start my mission than with the people of Kungsbacka. Saying goodbye to everyone was really hard. It made me feel so good to hear members say they appreciated what we did and how we helped them in their lives. I learned so much from the two companions I served with there. I really had a better start to my mission than I could have ever imagined and I hope to take everything I've learned and go forward with it. 

Prepping for the transfer went a lot better than I expected. I listened to Elder Knecht’s wisdom and started packing four nights before, so the last night was pretty low stress. I'm going to miss the Västra Frolunda apartment a lot. I've had some incredible memories there and I hope I can go back there later on in my mission. I was really sad to say good bye to Elder Beus and Forsyth. I've been around Elder Beus longer than any other missionary, so moving out was tough. Elder Knecht and I rode together most the way to my new area, Linköping, then we had to say goodbye. He's picking up a short-time Swedish missionary, who is a recent convert named Elder Morely. I don't know too much about him, but I have heard that he will take excellent care of Kungsbacka, so I know Elder Knecht and he will do amazing things there.

Linköping has been great so far. I came in with high expectations, but it's even better here than I thought it would be.  My new companion, Elder Farnworth, is super cool and the other Elders, Hills and Steen, are awesome too! They've all done amazing work in Linköping and I was lucky enough to come in at a very good time thanks to their hard work. I've gotten to meet just a few of the investigators here so far. Elder Farnworth got sick so we've all been taking turns caring for him at the apartment, but he's finally better today. 

Dome Kyrka
Elder Steen and I taught this really cool investigator named Valentine on Thursday. She's actually Jewish, but she says if she can feel that Christ is there, she would convert.  She is only 17, but she’s almost done with her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and she will most likely finish her PHD before I’m done with my mission. So, I did my best to talk to her about whatever I could and it turned out really good. She wants to meet with us again soon. 

The branch here is really different. There are maybe 12 active members, but they are all supper devoted to missionary work and I know if we work together we can do great things with them. I'm excited that I'll have a closer relationship with the whole branch. As an added bonus, we have the second largest missionary apartment in Sweden!  It's kind of huge for the two of us, but I definitely won’t complain!

Researching Family History... Swedish Style!
I'm super optimistic for the time that I'll be spending here and I feel like it's going to be great. I'm loving my mission and I can't wait for another great week. Unfortunately, I will be eating only hot dogs in Linköping. Sadly, I started out with the best pizza in Sweden, but Linköping has some of the worst pizza. They do have excellent street dogs though.

Oh, one more thing for you to reference, so you know how to say the name of the city correctly; Linköping is pronounced, Lean-shipping. This is a huge city, but it feels like a little Göteborg!

Jag Älskar Alla Er!, 

Äldste Stoeltzing

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 19 - March 17, 2014; Goodbye Kungsbacka... Hello Linköping!


So, this was my last week in Kungsbacka.  I feel like I'm leaving too soon.  I've really loved my time here.  This ward has been incredible and I've had two awesome companions and a lot of great people to work with here.  I know it’s getting left in really good hands though.  Elder Knecht is picking up a new missionary from Sweden (a native) on Wednesday.  He joined the church about two years ago and he is going on a three month short-term mission.  I'm sad to leave Kungsbacka, but I know if I only had three months to serve a mission, Kungsbacka would be the place to do it, so I'm excited Elder Morley gets to experience his mission here.  It's been a really great last week and I'm really happy with how we left it. 

Saying Goodbye to our friend, Johanes
Monday was a really fun P-day.  There is an Island chain off the coast of Göteborg, so we went out there to hike a really cool trial around the island.  We were hoping to go back out today for my last P-day and hike around the biggest island. 

Exploring an Island off the coast of Göteborg

Tuesday we had our Zone Conference and it was really good seeing a lot of my MTC group and Elder Miles again.  We’re all done with training now, so it feels really weird, but good to be done.  It's hard to believe it was three months ago yesterday that we landed in Sweden, it's gone by to quick, but I've really loved my time here.

On Wednesday, Elder Knecht and I had an awesome experience.  We drove out to teach Fredric, the man who walked into church last week and wanted to be taught.  We played guitar a little before we started.  Fredric might just be the best guitar player I’ve ever met; he played Eruption from Van Halen perfect, note for note, which is like the craziest song you could ever learn, so I was very impressed!  We had a member come with us and he loved the lesson.  At the end we asked him if he'd like to be baptized and he said yes!  I'm really sad I don't get to teach him all the way through to his baptism, but I'm so glad I get to leave Kungsbacka knowing we helped at least one person prepare for baptism. 

Visiting an old castle in Varberg
On Friday and Saturday Elder Knecht and I went on a road trip through the outskirts of Kungsbacka to visit some of the less active members that don't get visited very often.  Saturday was really cool.  We went to a city that used to be Denmark’s capital, in Sweden, called Varberg, and naturally we had to visit the old castle while we were in the neighborhood.  We almost struck out there, but then the last family finally let us in.  It turned out that the lady we met there actually helped Elder Knecht's mom decide to get baptized years ago, so it was super cool that we got to meet them.

Ruins of a 13th century Christian Church at Varberg Castle
Sunday was really amazing.  We sometimes teach a class for new members and investigators on Sundays.  I've seen three people in the class before, but this Sunday most of the sister’s investigators and a few of ours came as well, and I got to see almost 20 people in class… By far the best turnout I've ever seen in the class yet.  It was hard saying goodbye to people after church.  I sat next to Yvonne and her baby in Sacrament meeting.  She was the first really strong investigator Elder Miles and I found and the ward is being super supportive of her.  I'm sad I won't get to teach her any more, but I know that she'll be ready for baptism soon and she’ll make a great member of the church.  Saying goodbye to the ward was super tough.  I think the highlight was talking to one of the parents in the ward who said Elder Miles and I helped solidify his son’s desire to go on a mission.  It was one of the best feelings of my mission so far and it really made me feel good about the work I was able to help with here.  I'm going to say goodbye to more families tonight and I’ll leave on Wednesday morning.  My first area went bye to quickly, but I'm really grateful for the start I've had here. 

Marcus is super cool.! He was the first guy I taught in Sweden
Saying Goodbye to our Bishop and his wife
Brother Mardby taught us some pretty deep doctrine!
 So, next week I'll be working in Sweden's fourth largest city, Linköping.  It will be really different. The city is way bigger, but the ward is way smaller, but it looks like it will be a lot of fun.  Linköping used to be the capital of Sweden and it predates Stockholm, so there will be a lot of really cool history to explore there.  My new companion will be Elder Farnworth.  I met him a few times before he transferred up there and I'm really excited to be missionary companions with him.  He seems like a really cool guy.  I'm really excited to see what chapter two of my mission will look like… I hope it will be everything that Kungsbacka has been for me. 

From Goteborg to Linkoping, Sweden
 Love you guys!

Äldste Stoeltzing                      

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 18 – March 10, 2014; Change is Good!

Hej (Hello),

It's been a crazy week!  Elder Miles was transferred to Malmö on Wednesday. It's been a great nine weeks. I really couldn't have asked for a better trainer to start my mission. Elder Miles taught me to love every minute of my mission and work hard at every step along the way. We had a super fun last couple of days in Kungsbacka. We also had one last pizza with our friend Jonas, a young single adult that we've gotten super close to. After that, we went and visited all the families that we'd gotten close to in the ward and he said goodbye to everyone. It will be hard to do the same thing myself in the near future when I am transferred. I'm sad we didn't get to finish our training together, but I know Elder Miles will do great work as the new Zone Leader in Malmö.

My new companion, Elder Knecht, is super cool. He only has six months left on his mission and he grew up in Sweden until he was nine, so we have been practicing Swedish a lot. He spent much of his mission as the secretary in the mission office, so he never got to train anyone. He will be finishing-up the next few weeks with me and then he's actually going to train another Swed in Kungsbacka, making them the only double Swedish companionship in the mission.

Ironically, Elder Miles and I have been trying to plan a day to teach a high school English class. The teacher expected two American's to come in and teach a class about American culture. He had to cancel a few times and the day we finally set up is March 19th, which will possibly be the day I leave the area and Elder Knecht's Swedish greeny gets here. So, what was going to be a class about America will now be taught by two Swedes, one of which will have been on his mission for a day, so that will be interesting to see. Fortunately, Elder Knecht lived in the states for a while and the new missionary has lived in England, so it will all work out fine, but it’s still quite ironic.          

Our first few days together have been really good so far. We went to visit an elderly investigator on Wednesday to do some service work. I made a wrong turn on the way out and we got really lost in a really big apartment complex. It took us about 20 minutes to find the car, but I haven’t gotten us very lost after that, so all is well. Elder Miles actually switched areas with Elder Knecht. The night we got lost Elder Miles's new companion got lost too and called Elder Knecht for directions. After the call I said, “Well, it looks like both of our directions guys got transferred.”  We had a good laugh!  

This Sunday in church we had one of those crazy situations that you only here about, that never really seems to happen, happen to us. A man walked into church off the street who found out what time church was meeting all on his own. He said he wanted to learn about the church and he really likes everything he's read so far about the Mormons. He also wants to speak English with us, and, oh... he's a professional guitar player and he wants to jam with me and then have us teach him on Wednesday. So, yes, the "golden investigator" does exist!  I couldn't be more excited for Wednesday! 

Golden Investigator!
Elder Knecht is teaching me a lot about missionary work. He is really good at working with members, so we've set up meetings with every ward leader this week to share our vision for the work with them. We've also been setting up a way to help the ward with home teaching as well. I've been extremely fortunate with the start I've had to my mission so far and I am blessed to have another great companion. I hope to finish strong in Kungsbacka and learn all that I can with the time I have left.  

Thanks for reading!

Äldste Stoeltzing            

Monday, March 3, 2014

We received some terrible news this morning that one of our fellow missionaries, Elder Mason Bailey, was killed in an auto accident in Vasteras, near Stockholm, on Sunday. It's hard to believe that a tragedy like this has happened here and I want to express my deepest condolences to his family and friends. Please keep them in your prayers as they go through this difficult time. 

Week 17 – March 3, 2014; A Tragic Loss

It's been a sad and interesting week in Sweden. We found out it Elder Miles will be transferring to be a Zone Leader in Malmö (Mal-mu), so we've been trying our best to finish-out strong this week. Elder Miles has been an awesome trainer and I'll be really sad to see him go on Wednesday, but Malmö has been where he's wanted to go his whole mission so I'm really happy for him. We've had a great nine weeks here in Kungsbacka and I couldn't have asked for a better start to my mission.  Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden and it’s one of the most culturally diverse places, so it will be a big change from little Kungsbacka, but it looks like it will be super fun.

Enjoying Home-made Fried Chicken Dinner in our Apartment
Of Course it's Good - Look at ALL These Spices!
My new companion will be Elder Knecht. He grew up in Sweden and lived in the US for four years. He'll finish up my training. I don't know how long I'll stay with him, but it would be wise for me to use the opportunity to practice my Swedish as much as possible before I'm transferred.

A Missionary Serving in the Field!
Monday was a really cool. We stopped by to see a less active member and got in for the first time. We started off just getting to know him and were going to end by leaving a quick spiritual thought. We asked him a question and he opened up to us and told us the full story of how he became inactive. We talked for almost an hour after that. He's got a long way to go, but he is open to talking to us now and I have a lot of hope for him.

Tuesday was absolutely crazy! Elder Miles and all of the other District Leaders and Zone Leaders went to Stockholm for the day and I spent the day in Kungsbacka with two of the newer greenies. I was super nervous that day, but it ended up being really good for all of us. I planned every swing-by visit in the book and we walked the whole day to contact even more. We easily talked to 70 people and found a couple people that were willing to learn more in the future. It was really good for the three of us. I think we realized that we can do a lot more than we felt we were capable of doing. Even though we didn't get in to teach, it was one of my favorite days on my mission so far because I realized I really can do this. What I'm learning is that there is no reason for me not to be confident in myself because this really is the Lord’s work and he's going to help me with everything I need to succeed in my missionary work.
Working Hard With New Missionaries
Kungsbacka, Sweden
Proselyting by the Baltic Sea
It's been an amazing start to my mission and I'm super thankful for my time with Elder Miles. He's taught me how to work hard and enjoy missionary work. I really feel like I can do this after my training with Elder Miles and it will be exciting to take what he's taught me into the next chapter of my mission with Elder Knecht.

-Äldste Stoeltzing