Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 25 - April 28, 2014; On the Road Again!

Hey everyone... It’s been a crazy week! I got a transfer call from out of left field. After only six weeks here in Linkoping, President Newell is sending me to the next area up the road, Norköping. Honestly, I didn't expect a transfer at all. Things have really gotten moving up here so I'm sad I won't get to finish all that we've started in Linkoping, but I know Elder Farnworth loves everyone we work with and he will continue helping our investigators as they grow.
Members of the Linkoping Branch
Although I'm really surprised to leave, I feel really comforted that God wants me to be in Norköping and I trust that I will meet amazing people there that will help me grow tremendously as well. Every companion I've had so far has taught me a ton and helped me with skills I have needed to develop. I’ll really cherish the time I had with Elders Farnworth, Steen, Hills, and Kiiko in this area and I know we’ll all stay friends after the mission. Although I’m sad for this companionship to end so soon, I know that I will learn a ton from my new companion, Elder Gray, and we will have an amazing time in Norköping.  

Getting transferred from Linkoping to Norkoping
We've had some great experiences this week. Tuesday was a really special day. We were contacted by a man in the street who had met with missionaries before and he was extremely happy to meet us. We talked with him for about 20 minutes and hope to meet with him again soon. Afterward, we met with a member named Sten in an old folks home and we were approached by one of the care workers there. She asked us what makes our church different, so we ended-up teaching her the first lesson before we left. 

Spring has arrived in Linkoping!
Later that day we had one of our best lessons together so far. We met a man named David who we've been trying to set a lesson up with during our whole time in Linköping. He has a lot of Mormon family members in Arizona and he thinks extremely highly of the church. He loved the first lesson and promised that if he finds the Book of Mormon to be true, he will be baptized. It was great to start working with such a positive investigator and I feel confident that he could be baptized during Elder Farnworth and Elder Hewitt's time together.

Dome Kyrka
Well, we’re going to try our best to Finish-out strong and have as much fun as we can in these last few days. Linköping has been great and this has been a really special area of my mission. It feels a little weird that I’ll have as many areas and companions as my trainer, Elder Miles, had in one year during my first six months, but I guess everyone's mission is inspired and different. I know I’m no exception and I am very excited to start the next chapter of my mission.  

I Love you guys,

Aldste Stoeltzing  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 24 - April 21, 2014; The True Meaning of Easter

It's been quite a week. It started off pretty sad with Elder Steen leaving. He has been super fun to serve with and I'm glad we got to have an awesome last few days before he left to Malmö. We had an awesome last dinner with Mahin before he left. She loved Elder Steen and was super sad to see him go. He's been helping her translate her Phd paper, so I think I'll be taking that over… wish me luck!  

Missionary goodbyes with Mahin and Annaly
Elder Steen was transferred to Malmo - He and his guitar will be missed!
After we dropped Elder Steen off at the train station we went to visit an investigator that we've been trying to see for weeks. Her name is Beatrice and we had an awesome first lesson with her. She has met with missionaries for quite some time and we had a great time getting to know her. She had the funniest little daughter ever. Her name was Briann. Beatrice has a great foundation of faith and I believe she will be very open to accepting the gospel as we continue to work with her.
Modern Art or Monkey Bars?
Right after that lesson we picked up Äldste Kiiko. He was in the group of missionaries that came to Sweden right after me. He’s a super cool guy and great at speaking Swedish because he studied it in school. We went on splits on his first day and I took him to see our investigator, Mijid. It was scary doing my first lesson with a younger missionary. I can honestly say that was the lesson where I relied on the promptings of the Holy Ghost the most and we spoke Swedish for almost 2 hours. At the end we asked him to be baptized. He said he didn't like the idea of renouncing his last baptism.  I’m hoping we can clarify what this actually means in our next lesson.

Beautiful downtown Linkoping
This Sunday was crazy I gave my first sacrament talk totally in Swedish! I really needed the Lord’s help on that one! I felt like was a rambling mess, but the branch was nice and said they liked it. It felt good to speak in church for 15 minutes in a different language, even if it didn't sound great to me!
Dome Kyrka at night
Afterward, we went to the Siikavara family’s house for Easter dinner. They are half-American and half-Finnish. I got to try a classic Swedish tradition for the very first time. I have been deathly afraid of eating pickled Herring, but it was actually a lot better than I thought. Not my meal of choice, but I didn't have to choke it down. The main course was awesome, roasted lamb... That was great!
Our view from the train...  $70 a month will take us anywhere within a 2 hour ride
It’s weird that I've spent the past two Easters away from home and I’ll miss a third Easter before I finally have a Stoeltzing Easter again. Every day I am reminded why my mission is worth it though. This has been the best experience of my whole life. It is so incredible to wake up and help change the lives of others and myself in the process. Easter takes on a whole new meaning when you spend everyday inviting people to accept the atonement of Jesus Christ. I truly understand now that Jesus died for everyone and all He asks of us is that we accept His simple invitation to come and follow Him. The Book of Mormon states, "Behold, He sendeth an invitation to all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and He saith: Repent, and I will receive you." (Alma 5:33)

I love helping people accept the gift of our Savior. I can truly say that I know that it is through him that we can transcend our past and overcome our station in life to be made clean and pure through His grace and mercy. There was a time when I thought it was hard for people to change who they were, but now I realize that I was wrong. I know that all people are endowed by the Savior to receive the blessings and gifts of happiness and joy through accepting Him and following after His teachings. I see it every day in the people we teach, and even more so in myself. I owe this whole great experience to God and thank Him every day for the chance I have to be an instrument in His hands.  

I love you all so much!  I hope you had a wonderful Easter and I hope that you will all remember the true meaning behind it.

Aldste Stoeltzing    

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week 23 - April 14, 2014; All in the Family!

Hej Hej!,
So, it's been a slower week, but a good week! A lot of the people we are working with have been out of town, so we had to get a little creative. 
Missionaries waiting for the train heading to zone conference

Some appointments canceled on us last Tuesday, so we ended up going around to some high schools in the area and asking if we could guest teach there. Elder Farnworth tried this approach in Skjövda and it worked really well for him. On the way in some kids talked to us because we looked lost and they thought it was the coolest thing ever that we were from America! They actually ended-up walking us to the right office so it was really cool. We talked to the head of the English department there and she said the students were testing for the next few weeks, but maybe in a month or so we can teach. She also thought it was cool that I had worked in politics before my mission, so she's trying to set-up a day where I can work with one of their government classes! I really hope it will work out because it would be an awesome way to find good people and it would be super fun to teach!

Elder Stoeltzing and Elder Steen (Selfie)

Thursday was really fun as well! We went to Södertalje for our zone conference. It's about a 90 minute train ride north of us. We got there a little late, but it was a good reunion. I got to see some old buddies. Elder Jones was there again and Elder Alan from the group before me. He's my uncle now. In the mission everyone is considered to be part of a family. Your trainer is your dad, your trainer’s trainer is your grandpa, and so on and so forth. It goes further actually, if you’re a missionary’s last companion before they get sent home, you "kill” them. Elder Knecht is the current assassination champ with three kills. Anyway, Elder Allan is my uncle now because he was trained by my grandpa just before I got to Sweden. He's in a really cool area right now, the “family” area I guess you could call it. Elder Miles was born (where he started his mission) on the Island of Götland and he stayed there for six months. He actually trained my older brother there, Elder Lofgren, who stayed there for another few months. So, with Elder Alan there now, we've had family member on the island for almost the last year! I've heard more about Götland than anywhere else, so I'm hoping when it comes time for me to have a son, I can raise him in the “family area!”

Elders Farnworth, Steen, and Stoeltzing, hiking in the woods near Sodertalje

I guess I got a little side tracked. So, after zone conference we had a really fun hike through this huge forest next to the church since our train wouldn’t come for a few hours. We got some awesome pictures up there and found this grove of trees that looked just like a sacred grove painting! It was a blast! We finally got into Linköping at about 7:00 that evening, so no teaching got done on Thursday, but it was a really great day nevertheless.   

Linkoping missionaries with church members, Annaly and Elizabeth

Sadly, we figured out that Elder Steen was leaving on Saturday. He's been an awesome missionary and super fun to work with up here. I'm really sad to see him go, but he'll be in a really good place. He's going to Malmö, which is one of the most we'll loved areas in the mission. Every area in Sweden is cool and I think with hard work, you could love any area, but Malmö is one area that everybody has just fallen in love with, so he'll have allot of fun there. Even though he has really loved his time here, he'll be in good hands with Elder Miles as his zone leader there.  

Meeting our investigators, Carl and Gore for family night at the church

The coolest experience of the week actually came on our P-day today. Elder Steen and I were walking to the music store to get some new guitar strings and two kids noticed us from the library earlier and started taking to us. They thought it was super cool to meet a pair of Americans. One was really interested in the kind of music I like, so they came to the guitar store with us, and afterward they came to the church.  We showed them around and then invited them to family night and they said they would come!  

A fun FHE visit!

Well, its been a good week and I can't wait for more fun in Linköping in the coming days!  

Jag alsker er!

Äldste Stoeltzing

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 22 - Five Months... Fencing, Cats, and Dogs... Oh my! 

Hey Guys!,

It's been an awesome week!  We had a lot of great, cool, and fun stuff happen, and I'm loving it up here!  

Our investigator, Mahin from Iran, teaching me how to fence with a real Sabre!

We had a really good lesson with a guy named Mattis who is studying for his masters in Religion. He got put-off by a talk one of the members gave a while ago and he had a lot of questions, but we were able to help smooth stuff over with him a lot.       

I think I found out where our dog Quincy came from! He is a Bichon/Bedlington Terrier mix, both of which are somewhat uncommon. So, me and Elder Farworth were walking to a teach (teaching appointment) and we saw a lady walking two Bedlington Terriers which was really cool because I've never seen one in person before, and literally, the next dog we saw was a Bichon.  So I'm officially convinced that Quincy must be Swedish!

I think I've found my dog's Swedish relatives... A sweet Bedlington Terrier

Later in the week we had a great teach with a girl named Tsnut from Africa who is studying in Sweden. We helped her start to read the Book of Mormon then we challenged her to baptism. She had some questions about baptism because she had already been baptized before. We did our best to answer her questions and I think she really understood what we were trying to say! I'm really hoping she’ll be ready for baptism in a few weeks!  

Not to be outdone... Have you ever wondered where cats really get their energy!

We just had a really good weekend. Elder Jones, my friend from the MTC, and Elder Landeen, who worked in Linköping before me, came down here to watch General Conference! We only got to see the first two sessions so far because we were all crammed together in a little computer room to watch. But the talks were really good. 

The Linkoping Arch

I also got to go on splits with Elder Jones for the night and that was super fun! They both got to stay with us through P-day and it was great to celebrate my five month mark with Elder Jones! I can't believe it's been five months since I started my mission!!! Time seems like it's flown by out here!  I love it so much!  

Have an awesome week everyone... I love you guys!

Äldste Stoeltzing