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    

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