Thursday, June 19, 2014

Week 32; June 16, 2014 - Good things come to those who wait!

Hey guys, 

It's been a good week. The first part was a little slow, but we saw some great things happen!

First, let me say, Happy Father's Day! I want to thank my Dad for being such a great example to me and for teaching me nearly everything I know about the gospel. I wouldn't be able to do this without you... Thank you so much for helping me prepare to come out here! My mission is really everything you promised it would be, and I want to thank you for encouraging me to go. I hope you have the best Father’s Day ever... Love you Dad!

Happy Father's Day Dad!
P-day was a little weird last week. We were meeting everyone at the church in Norrköping and the Sisters Missionaries called and told us to get there as quick as we could. They burned a pot of rice on the stove and the church’s fire alarm wouldn't turn off. So, we unsuccessfully tried to turn it off and decided to get tacos instead while we thought of a solution. When we went back to the church, Elder Gray took apart the entire alarm and found the right cord to pull and the alarm was finally fixed.  

We had a really cool lesson with Salomon this week and we taught him what a patriarchal blessing was. He says he feels ready to receive his. He was so excited to learn that he could receive a special blessing from God to help guide him through his life.

Hey Quincy (my dog), I found an Ikea rat - Just like home!
I spent Thursday and Friday working in Linköping with Elder Miller... It was super fun!  On Thursday night we went to a less-active family that was from California! She made the best hamburger I've had in Sweden with bacon and pepper mixed in! Friday was super fun too. We watched a Swedish graduation celebration that made our American graduations look completely dumb. Instead of having Senior Ball and dressing up in silly robes for graduation, they combined the two and made it way cooler! They all got on giant floats, wearing suits and sailor caps, and had their senior ball getting pulled around the city by a tractor! It was the coolest thing ever! After the parade, I saw an old investigator that Elder Farnworth and I taught for a few minutes at her bakery, then we went back to Norrköping.

Sunday was an incredible day! I translated for Salomon for the first time in Sacrament meeting because there were so many non-Swedish people there... Let’s just say there was room for improvement, but Salomon was patient, and he was probably too tired to notice how bad I was doing because he stayed up all night watching the World Cup.

Later that day we called a bunch of people to set-up the week. I contacted about thirty people and no one answered... That was a little depressing. But, Elder Gray got a hold of an awesome guy we met a few weeks ago named Simon. He's from Syria, but he grew-up in Sweden. He said we could come into town and meet him on the spot. He was super cool! He said that he has seen churches with all kinds of names like the Church of Matthew, The Church of Luke, The Church of John, The Catholic Church, and the Syrian Church. But this had always confused him... He's always had a dream of starting the Church of Jesus Christ! He said, when he saw us, he knew that we were special and he believes our church must be special too, so we’re hoping he comes to church next Sunday!

The rest of that day went really well! We met some kids and asked them if they believed in God. They said no at first, then one of them said, “kind of,“ then another one looked around to make sure no one was looking, and he said he kind of believed too. It was really amazing to see that young Sweeds really do have faith, but they’re just afraid of being judged for their beliefs. I wouldn't have expected this kind of response, but we talked to them for ten minutes and they said they'd try praying! Elder Gray has been wanting to try to and stop people on bikes, but I've been too scared to try. I told him he could go for it if he wanted to. So, he just said hello to a man on a bike who jumped-off and asked if we believe in Jesus... We ended up talking to him to for 20 minutes. Sunday was awesome!

Hopefully Sunday will set the tone for the rest of the week. That would make me really happy. Norrköping is finally picking up and I think I'm finally settling in here. Thanks for reading!


Äldste Stoeltzing

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Week 31; June 9, 2014 - Faith Precedes the Miracle!

Hey Guys,

This week was a lot better!  We had our last interviews with President Newell and he helped me so much!  I'm going to miss him a ton!  When I was in the MTC, President Cook gave a talk and explained that there are a lot of factors that go into deciding where young men will go on their missions. But, the main one is determining which Mission President could do the most to help you individually. I absolutely know President Cook was right about that, and I am so grateful I got to serve under President Newell, he has been an incredible example to me and has helped me immensely in the short time that I've been here. I am so thankful that I've been blessed to have him as my mission President and I look forward to having one last zone conference with him in two weeks. The advice he gave me this week was incredible and I hope I can apply it throughout my mission.

We had two really great lessons that I want to talk about this week. The first, was with a man we met named Johannes. He is an immigrant from Syria and was raised in the Syrian Orthodox church. His religious background is really different from ours and the idea of the restoration was extremely foreign to him, but he exercised great faith and said he'd read the Book of Mormon if we could truly promise that it would help him come closer to Christ.

We finally taught Evelina this week! It went amazing!!! She told us about her conversion story and how she and her boyfriend found Christ. She had a lot of questions about Mormons and all she knew about them was from a piece Oprah did about the Fundamentalist LDS sect practicing polygamy, and she thought that was us (Thanks Oprah!). We clarified that polygamy hasn't been practiced in the church for over a hundred of years. We taught her about the restoration and she loved it!  She loved the idea of there being a living prophet on the earth today and the idea of reading new scripture testifies of Christ! She had a question about a confusing verse in the Bible and we clarified it for her with one of my favorite verses from the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi, Chapter 4. She said, after reading the passage, that the book must be from God and she committed to reading it!  We also got on the subject of the Word of Wisdom (Our standards for a healthy lifestyle). She said she had prayed about what she should and shouldn't eat and felt that she shouldn't drink coffee, alcohol, or tobacco. All her friends thought she was weird for believing it, but we said that was inspiration. We showed her Section 89 of the Church’s Doctrine and Covenants and she almost cried when she saw the things that she felt written in her native language of French in front of her! It was one of the best lessons I've been blessed to be a part of on my mission and I can't wait to keep teaching Evelina and David!

We had national holiday in Sweden kind of like the 4th of July! We rode the bus to an outlying town called Finspång to teach an investigator. We later realized we'd had a miscommunication and he was actually in Norrköping, so when we were going back to our bus stop, I realized that my wallet had fallen out of my pocket. I freaked out a little bit and prayed that we would be able to find it. After a few minutes of panicking, to my joy, the bus that had taken us out came back to the same stop and picked us up. He had finished his loop nearby and when we got back on, my wallet was sitting right where I'd left it. Sometimes I think God puts us in situations like this to see if we'll remember to pray and then He blesses us as soon as we remember Him. The bus came back about a minute after I stopped freaking out and prayed.

After the excursion to Finspång we went back to Norrköping and met our investigator, Adrian, in the Park. Afterward, we looked at a classic car show that was put on for the national holiday. Funny thing, Swedes love old American cars!  I saw more old American cars this weekend than I had seen in a year back in the states! It was an awesome day with an awesome end to a really good week!

Thanks for reading and God Bless!

-Äldste Stoeltzing

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Week 30; June 2, 2014 - Trials Bring Blessings

Hi Guys! 

It's been a challenging week. We've struggled to set up appointments and things moved a little slower than usual.  It has taught me some patience though. I think I needed an area like this to learn new things about missionary work.

Last P-day was super fun! We went down to Linköping and traveled to a town called Motala and hiked around a lake. It was very refreshing and absolutely beautiful!  Sweden has some truly breathtaking views!  

The highlight of the past week was working with a new member named Solomon. He is from Uganda and last time we met he was convinced that he would be sent back to Africa. He wasn't upset though, quite the opposite, he put his trust in the Lord and he was completely faithful that anything that was to happen would be God's plan. Because of his faith, we saw a miracle this week… His case worker got an appeal and another year for him to stay in Sweden. It is miracles like these that keep me going and remind me of God's master plan in everything. I hope that on my mission I will learn to trust God like Solomon and put absolute faith in the Lord.       

I know things are looking-up here, and with a little bit more pushing we'll see great things happen.  I'm still loving my mission and I am just as thankful for the trials I experience as I am for the good times.  

-Äldste Stoeltzing