Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Week 29 - May 26, 2014; Teaching the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people!

Well, I have to start by wishing the best Mom in the world a Happy Birthday! I’m so sad I can’t be there to spend it with you, but I know I’m where you want me to be. Every day I do my best to be the kind of person you taught me to be; To work my hardest and to love others. I owe a lot of what I am as a missionary and person to you and I just wanted you to know how much I love you. Thank you for sacrificing so much to help me be out here. 

We had a great start to the week. We taught a man that the sisters had found by the name of Toni. Toni’s an immigrant from Syria and he has been here as long as I have. He doesn't speak much Swedish and his English isn't much better, but he has an incredibly strong faith in Christ and a real testimony of prayer. We brought him to the church and found a copy of the restoration film in Arabic. In what little English he could speak, he told us how he completely understood how the young Prophet, Joseph Smith, must have felt looking for truth and how a knowledge of truth could only come from God. He asked if he could bring the DVD home to show his wife so they could watch it together. There are a lot of people like Toni here in Norrköping.  

We meet many people from Syria escaping the violent civil war that is still dividing their nation.  Many of them are Christian as they have been the most persecuted in the conflict. People, not only from Syria, but from all over the Middle East and from every religious background come to Sweden looking for a better life. I've gained a special respect for the Middle Eastern people we meet and work with. You can tell that they’re all here in Sweden for the right reasons, to have a better life in a nation that knows peace. They are some of the hardest working people I've ever met. They will take any job they can find and learn the language fluently as quickly as they can.  Within a few years most are very settled-in and established in Sweden. Regardless of their religious affiliation, they are some of the most receptive people who will at least listen to the gospel message.

It is amazing to see the Lord's promise of the gospel being taught to every nation, kindred, tongue and people here in Sweden. Many of the people we teach come from lands where it may be decades before their countries are stable enough to open their doors to the church. However, we see prophecy being fulfilled here in Sweden as people from every corner of the world are willing to listen to the message of the restored gospel in a country that is not typically known for its’ religious values. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways.

During Zone Training this week, Sister Newell conducted her last presentation to us before she and President Newell go home. Her discussion was focused on planning, which is one of the most overlooked and most important skills a missionary can develop. She taught us to make daily goals and measure our success as a missionary by how many of these daily “victories” we can achieve. Next she taught us to put first things first and make the most important things in our day our first priorities, but she also reminded us not to let the tedious, but important things get ignored. Lastly she taught us to put people before our plans and to make the people we teach our highest priority, not the numbers that we write in the planner. I’ve been studying planning for a while and it was great to get further direction on it.
Why? ...Because it was there!

Each week gets better in this area and I know we will see more miracles with every coming week. I’m so happy I’m working here in Sweden. I wouldn't trade it for the world. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to comment and I’ll try to respond next week. Thanks for reading!

Äldste Stoeltzing

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 28 - May 19, 2014; The Fine Art of Street Contacting

It's been a good learning week. It turned-out that this was one of those weeks that was hard to schedule, so we worked a lot on contacting. We focused on refining the questions we asked people on the street to be more compelling and interesting. Through some trial and error we turned this into one of the best contacting weeks we've ever had and put seven new investigator numbers into our phone from street contacting. We also focused on trying to turn our street contacts into lessons and we were able to teach three full lessons on the street about the restoration and we also prayed with them on the street. I've been way too scared to try this my whole mission, but we decided together to give it a chance and it went really well.  

Visiting Linkoping University

Art work is everywhere!

Tuesday was really cool we got to go to the University and see our friend Mahin from Linköping. It was great catching-up with her and hearing how her PhD work was going.

The highlight of the week was teaching a man named Chris. He's been investigating the church for a while and we set-up an appointment with him last Wednesday. We taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and he loved everything we said. He agreed with many of the ideas we taught him and said he would continue reading from the Book of Mormon. The question of baptism was tough for him. In his culture (he's from The Congo I believe) switching religions is a very serious issue, so he said he'd need a lot of time to think about it. We could tell he felt the spirit though, and I know that through continued visits he will draw closer and closer to baptism.

Street Contacting

We met with a really interesting investigator named Johan on Saturday. He believed in this religion called “New Age.”  It seemed like a weird Scientology and Christianity hybrid. And, we got to hear all about that for at least an hour. Some of it was surprisingly similar to what we believe and other parts were as different as you could get, like people turning into evil lizard monsters in the fourth dimension if they are evil in this life.  Needless to say, I am quite content with my faith after that lesson… Ohh, the people you meet on a mission!   
My new favorite P-day surprise!

It’s been one of my favorite weeks of scripture study. I've really come to some of the core doctrines of the Book of Mormon. If anybody really wants to know what the Book of Mormon’s all about, I'd suggest reading in the book of Alma, chapters 32-40. All of the core elements of the gospel are found here. Faith, repentance, baptism, and the atonement of Jesus Christ. These have been my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon so far.     

Mills and factories along the river in Norrkoping

Downtown Norrkoping - Beautiful and clean

Norrköping is coming together very well and I know it will get better and better each week!

Thanks for reading... I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Jag Älskar Er!
(I Love You!)

You never know what you'll find when there's a Swedish Dream Catcher on the door!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 27 - May 12, 2014; A Mother’s Day Treat

Hey Guys,
Another week has come and gone and now it’s Monday again, how does this keep happening? It seems like it’s been a longer week, but a good week. Scheduling has been a little tougher in this area, so the work has been a little slower. But I'm really optimistic there is a ton of potential in Norrköping and I know that working through weeks like this leads to better weeks in the future. Although we still had some really enjoyable things happen.

We accidentally celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Everyone wanted to eat at the taco bar on P-day, so we had Mexican food and found out later that night it was actually Cinco de Mayo, so we were proud of our timely food choice. After enjoying the tacos, which are surprisingly good in Sweden, all the missionaries in the district played capture the flag in a big park next to the taco place… My team lost really bad!
Tuesday was my six month mark! It was pretty fun. We got some pizza to celebrate, but we worked pretty hard most the day to find people to teach. Unfortunately, Sweden decided to be really mean and we had winter weather return again for the rest of the week, so it was back to the big coat. We had a couple of slower days in the middle of the week and we did some more finding work later… Knocking on doors for several hours each day. That’s okay, it’s all part of missionary work.

The best lesson of this week was a swing-by appointment that we had with a young mother from Vietnam, named Lovely. She had two loud kids and it was hard to teach her, so I occupied them a little bit while Elder Gray started the lesson. When they took interest in Elder Gray, I took over the lesson. It was initially very hard to focus, but through the help of the spirit we told her what she needed to hear, and by the end of the lesson, she said she would be baptized if she read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. It was the most positive lesson I've been a part of in Norrköping and I know that she will continue to progress.

A True Mother's Day Treat!
The best part of the week, however, was Mother’s Day. I don't think I realized how much I missed my family until I saw them again. We had a great talk over Skype and the crazy thing is it didn't feel like a weird or awkward conversation, but it felt exactly like the kind of conversation we would of had back home, which is really what I would of wanted from it. I know why Mother's Day is one of the two days we can talk to our families. First off all the missionary's mom's would freak out if they couldn't talk to their kids on Mother's day. Second, and more importantly, the truth is that none of us would be out here and willing to help others if we didn't all have great mothers who raised us the right way. I can say that I would not have been here doing this if I didn't have the most amazing Mom ever. It was so great to talk to her and the rest of my family and I'm so thankful for the impact she's had in my life.

Brotherly Love

Mother's Day Skype with Jacob at 4:30 AM, a 9 hour time difference
Well here goes week number three in Norrköping and I know it will be great! Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has an awesome week!
-Äldste Stoeltzing

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 26 - May 5, 2014; Six Months!!!

Its been a great week!  It was hard to leave Linköping so soon. We went all over saying goodbye to our investigators. I know I've only known them for six weeks, but I really grew to love the people there. It was a great experience with Elder Farnworth and the other missionaries there as well. Linköping was a really special time on my mission and I'm very glad I'm still close by in Norrköping because I can still go on splits there.

Welcome to Norrkoping
Norrköping has gotten-off to a great start. Elder Gray has been in my district for a few weeks and it's been really cool having a companion that I already know! He's super awesome and a really motivated missionary!  I know that we'll be able to work hard together and bring people to the gospel in our companionship.

King of the Swedes!
We had a super fun first day here! I got to experience the viking holiday of Välberg (Val-berry) where you celebrate the coming of summer by burning stuff!!! So we went to a huge bon fire and it was super cool!  Ironically, it's been really cold since then.

The Viking Holiday of Valberg

I finally started to do family history work and guess what! I found Swedish ancestry in my family!!! It turns out I'm related to Olafr the Tree Hewer, King of Sweden!!! Who would have guessed!! I followed the line back and guess what, it turns out I'm connected all the way back to Adam too!!! That was like my all time family history goal and I found him!!! I could be entirely inaccurate, but hey, said I go back to Adam, so I won’t argue with it!!!

Our family tree is connected to several Kings of Sweden! 
The i-Phone has been the star of this area so far! We teach a lot of people who struggle with English and Swedish here, so the translate apps have been put to work! We have used the phone to teach in Vietnamese, Persian, Arabic, and Serbian! We speak into it and it translates and they speak into it and we can understand them!!! Missionary work has really entered a new era!!!

Well, I'll write more next week as I learn this area better. I can't believe I’ll hit my six month mark tomorrow!!!  My time out here has flown by and I'm loving every minute of it!!! I can't believe I only have 18 months to go it's going by way too fast!!! I love what I do out here and am having the time of my life!  

I love you guys!
-Äldste Stoeltzing