Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 47; September 29, 2014 – Lost Sisters and Found Opportunities!

Wow, fast week! This one’s been really fun! So, P-day was awesome! Sisters Gambles, Clingler, and Verolla went home last week, so we had to do something awesome for them. It's pretty sad to see them all leave. They came to Sweden in one of the most famous MTC groups in the mission. Some of us lovingly refer to them as the Relief Society, because that group made-up at least a quarter of the sisters in the entire mission. So, to go out with a bang, we arranged a scavenger hunt to take unique pictures throughout Stockholm. I was on Sister Gambles’ team, so we ran through the city trying to see as much as we could in an hour. 

Scavenger hunt... Taco anyone?
We got to the Royal Palace and one of the challenges required us to get one of the guards to smile and take a picture with us. Sister Gambles tried, but he wouldn't flinch, so I told him, “she's about to leave the Country and the last thing she wanted was to see a Palace guard smile.” He agreed and cracked a little smile for them! We may not have won the scavenger hunt, but that picture was Epic! 

Smile and say... Cheese!
Tuesday we had another great lesson with Andreas. He said he'd gotten some tuff news that his father had been diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and he probably wouldn’t live much longer. He said that he could handle the news. Despite the fact that he's still struggling with some parts of the gospel, he knows that families can be together forever, and he knows he'll see his Dad again. Afterward, he told us a few incredible stories about how the spirit helped him do some amazing things. He said he feels the spirit so much stronger when we come by and he wants that feeling so bad. I told him that we're not the reason he feels the spirit, but he was feeling the spirit because he was saying things that he knew were true and the spirit was testifying to him that the things he was saying where true. We ended the lesson a little teary-eyed. I know that he is going to be okay because he's starting to realize that the truthfulness of the gospel that he feels in his hart is more important than the questions he hasn’t been able to answer yet. 

District Breakfast
 Wednesday we had our last district breakfast before sister Gambles and the others went home. She will be missed and she was super fun to serve with. We actually lost the Sisters in Västerhaninge because Sister Sandalin was transferred up to Gubbangen, a Little North of us. That meant our area got bigger, so we inherited a ton of new potential investigators! I think that will be a good shot in the arm that will help us get the area going even better. We'll be running up and down the train tracks, trying to get in touch with all the new people we now have to work with! 

On Sunday we had one of the coolest experiences we’d seen in a while! We felt like we should go down to a town called Ösmo that we had just gotten from the sister's. There were several people that we wanted to swing by and see, but there was no one home at our first stop. On the second try, however, we were looking for someone named Therese and when we walked into the apartment complex we saw a lady walking out of the basement with a ton of clothes that she needed to carry upstairs. We asked her if we could help, but she didn't want us to bother. We insisted, and helped her take her stuff up three flights of stairs. I asked her at the top if she'd be interested in taking a few minutes to talk about Jesus Christ. She said she'd actually met with some missionaries before and she stopped talking with them because school had gotten too busy. I said we can teach her a lesson in five minutes and she let us in because we were so helpful to her. I asked her name at that point, and she said, “Therese!” It was the lady we came to see! The timing couldn't have been more perfect and I know we were directed to Ösmo at that time for a reason. The short lesson went really well and we taught her about finding strength through prayer. She liked having a quick lesson and invited us back in two weeks! It was a great experience and I'm so thankful for the Lord’s help in crossing paths with Therese at exactly the right time. 

Get off the fence!
Have a great week everyone… I’ll see you guys in the relatively-near and not-far-distant future!

-Äldste Stoeltzing 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 46; September 22, 2014 – Locked-out!

Well, this has been a strange week, but it’s been a good week too. Our P-day got off to a fun start. Everyone got together and played floor hockey in the Gubbangen Chapel. I hadn't played since I was in Kungsbacka, so it was super fun to play again, especially because I could be competitive against the other missionaries. But the Swedes are all pros at floor hockey. We're hoping to start an inter-mural floor hockey league back at BYU. Anyway, it was a good start to the week. Until we went home...

So, there's a construction project going on at our apartment complex and the managers only issue two keys at a time. However, they have these little tubes attached to the door to put your spare key into and the construction workers can get in if needed. What's really annoying is that the doors are self-locking. You never have to worry about whether or not your door is locked, which is nice, but you just have to make sure you don't lock your keys in the apartment.

We returned home from our P-day hockey game and I realized I had locked our keys in the apartment. We thought it would be easy to get in because a member of our ward works for the apartment complex. Unfortunately, the only key to the spare key tube was in the office and they had just closed, so we stayed the night at the other Elder’s apartment that night. The next day we went to the office to sort-out the issue. The man in the office was a really bitter person and he would not let us explain our situation in English. He looked-up our info and thought we were illegally renting the apartment because he couldn't find the correct paper work. We explained that the church would never rent an apartment for missionaries without filling-out the proper paperwork, but he still wasn't convinced. He said he would talk to Stephanie that night and if she could vouch for us, then maybe he could arrange something. So, we spent a second night at the other Elder’s apartment without our toothbrushes. 

Finally, they called us the next morning and gave us our key. After two days we finally got back into our apartment. Stephanie told us that the secretary that we spoke with is very serious about his job and he had to ask her if we were trustworthy before he was convinced to give us back our key, so she really ended up saving us. Well, the lesson I learned from this experience is that I will never forget my keys again... Hopefully!

Dala Horse folk art is symbolic and found throughout Sweden
In between the craziness of the apartment situation we had a great lesson with a less-active member named Andreas. He is a science teacher at the local high school and he told us about NASA's upcoming Mars mission. After a while, he really opened up to us about church and explained a little bit about some of the obstacles he is dealing with in the church. Despite his trials, he still feels that the church is special in his heart. We bore our testimonies to him and he invited us back next week. I feel like he has a lot of potential to move forward and I can't wait to keep teaching him.  

I also got sick this week, so we took it easy for about half of Thursday and I rested a little. My cold hit me pretty bad in the middle of all the apartment lock-out craziness. So, it was a good day to rest. I also finished reading the book of Mark in the New Testament that day, so now it's onto my favorite book in the New Testament, John!    

This is what you do when you're sick and locked-out of your apartment for 2 days
On Saturday morning we helped a family move and then we had dinner with a Danish lady in the ward. The Danish language is kind of like Swedish if you don't enunciate anything. We can understand a bit of it, but it's incredibly difficult. Elder Peterson had no chance of picking it up because it's only his third week in Sweden. Elder Pearson did okay, and Elder Sahlin could understand almost everything because he's actually Swedish, so they carried-on the conversation through most of the evening. I understood most of the topics, but she talked so fast and changed topics so much, that every time I wanted to jump-in, she was onto something new. I finally understood something about turkeys and ducks and I finally took the opportunity to make a comment about ducks. Ironically, she couldn't understand my Swedish at all, so she just kept on talking and moved on to another topic. Needless to say, I'm very happy to be serving a mission in Sweden rather than Denmark.

On a brighter note, she served green Jell-O as part of our meal and it was the first time I'd had Jell-O my whole mission. I don't particularly like Jell-O, but it's good when you haven't had it in a long time. As I said earlier, it's been an interesting week, but a memorable one. Thanks for reading everyone!

I Love you guys! 

-Äldste Stoeltzing   

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 45; September 14, 2014 - Edified by an Apostle! 

Tjena allihopa! (Hey everybody!),

It has been an awesome week! I finally got to walk around downtown Stockholm and Gamla Stan (old town) for P-day! It was awesome! Stockholm is a beautiful city and it will be super fun to explore the sites every few weeks!

Touring Gamla Stan (Old Town) Stockholm

We had Family Home Evening with the Young Single Adults (YSA's) afterward and we played a game called Chair Soccer where everyone sits in a circle and then they get up and try to kick the ball into another person’s chair which gets them out. Needless to say, I got out a lot… Sweds are really good at soccer! The YSA's here are really cool and there are a ton of them, so it will be cool to have activities here!  

Elder Pearson & Elder Stoeltzing Discovering Stockholm
On Tuesday, we did a ton of swing-by's and found some new less-active families to teach, so that was a long, but productive day.  

On Wednesday, we had one of the most fun dinner appointments I've been to in a long time! While I was in Norrköping, one of my favorite families was the Stålbergs, and Leif Stålberg’s brother's family lives in my new Ward! They are super cool and really funny. We were playing catch with a balloon with their five-year-old daughter… She's probably the funniest kid ever! She saw that the balloon makes static electricity, so when her Mom brought the ice cream out, she tried to stick the balloon into it! Sister Stålberg tried to stop her, then we realized that the she was trying to suck up the ice cream with the balloon’s static. It was super funny! I love the way little kids think!  

Elder Sahlin baked them some Banana Bread for the “Banana Bread Challenge.” It was basically a Secret Santa gift with Banana bread. When he went to bring it out, there was a big chunk missing and we realized that their dog had eaten a large piece! Another good laugh!  But anyway, they were a super cool family and they will be fun to get to know better!

Okay, Thursday was the big day! Elder David A. Bednar, an Apostle of the Church, came to Stockholm for a European tour this week! It was probably the coolest meeting I'd ever been to! He said he was not giving a prepared talk, but we could ask him any question as long as we weren't trying to show off or ask something irrelevant… Ready, go! I don't think I've ever seen anyone as comfortable in front of a crowd as Elder Bednar. He said he enjoys giving conference talks, but he hates having to read off teleprompters. He strongly prefers open forums like he had with us. 

Elder David A. Bednar, Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Mission Conference
He started-off his remarks with an incredible differentiation between the culture and the doctrine of the church. He explained how the gospel is perfect, but the culture isn't. And, he said we should stop some of our silly traditions. One, which he explained, was to never take notes on everything a speaker says ever again. Just write down what really matters the most to you. I thought that was great advice and it helped to make the conference way more meaningful.  

The big piece of advice, he reminded us repeatedly was incredible. It was basically that everything in the world is either an agent or an object. Objects are acted upon, where agents are intelligent beings with the capacity to act. As intelligent beings, we can still be objects if we choose not to use our ability to act, whether it’s out of out of laziness, or following social norms that are counter intuitive to becoming effective and happy in our lives. He admonished us to exercise our ability to think and act everyday so we don't fall into the trap of being an object and not taking control of our lives. It was an absolutely incredible conference and I've never heard or seen anything quite like it before. I'm definitely going to work hard to do what he said every day!  

This was a week to remember and we were so blessed to learn from an Apostle of the Lord. I'm defiantly motivated to work harder and become better. Next week is looking great and the area is really starting to take off… Good things are coming soon.  

Thanks for reading everyone. Have a great week!  

-Äldste Stoeltzing

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 44; September 8, 2014 - Hellos, Goodbyes, and a Fresh Start

Hej, Hej,

Last week was awesome! We finished-up really well in Norrköping and it's been a great start here in Västerhaninge.
Farewell to Sherstien, my Swedish Tutor

We had our last P-day together in Linköping and it was super fun! The Sisters made me one of my favorite pies, Coconut Cream! That was great, so thank you guys, if you ever read this! Afterwards, we played some miniature golf and I was reminded of my lack of putting abilities, but it was really fun nevertheless. I'll miss the District there… They all helped make my time in the Köping District very special.    

Saying Goodbye to the Dolmya Family

Äldste Lindquist and I finished-up strong. We visited a lot of homes to say good bye to all the members that helped me so much there. I had a wonderful time in Norrköping and Äldste Lindquist helped me a ton.  

Yoga Rocks... Becomming One with Nature

Exploring a carved Viking Standing Stone

On Wednesday I hopped on a train headed to Stockholm so I could make my way to my new area in Västerhaninge. My new companion, Äldste Pearson, is super cool! He just finished his training, but he has great Swedish language skills and he's really cool to work with. We've been doing a lot of finding work this week and we found two new investigators and a potential convert. It was a great start in a new area and I think we'll see some amazing things this week.  

Lost in Vasterhaninge... Where's my GPS?

The Ward (Congregation) here is huge by the way! It looked like a large American Ward, so it will be awesome to get to know everyone and serve here. I’m excited for a fresh start and I think I'm really going to like this area! 

Visiting the Stockholm Temple

Well, have a great week everyone… I love you guys! 

-Äldste Stoeltzing 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 43; September 1, 2014 – Temple Bound!

So, my transfer call came on Saturday and it looks like I'll be starting a new chapter of my mission this week. I'll be transferring up to the town of Västerhaninge, just South of Stockholm, to work with Elder Pearson. It’s a great area with a great ward, right next to the Stockholm Temple! I’m super excited and I’m looking forward to what I'll get to experience there.
Transferred to serve near the Stockholm Sweden Temple
It's been a great four and a half months in Norrköping with a few ups and downs, but it has taught me a lot about working hard and keeping a positive attitude. We've also been really blessed to see some miracles happen here, especially this week.
Saying goodbye to the Astrom family
Last Monday started-off great. We went to visit a member named Toby who we've gotten really close to here. He's a prison guard and he works a ton, but he loves helping the missionaries whenever he can. We taught him a lesson and we were going to ask him for a referral, but before we could, he said, "Hold on guys I need to go pick up my daughter, but if you come with me, I'll see if I can find you guys somebody to teach." And he did… Toby introduced us to a family who said they wouldn't mind hearing about what we teach. Their Swedish wasn't too great, but we taught them a little of the first lesson and it went well. They invited us back and hopefully we will be able to bring one of our members from Syria to help them understand the lesson better in the future. 

Tuesday was awesome too! We went out to Finspång to see a less-active member and we had an extra hour before the bus came, so we decided to tract a little. After knocking on doors for a while with no luck, Elder Lindquist suggested that we should try street contacting. It's not always the easiest thing to do in residential areas, but I don't really love tracting, so I was open to the idea. 

Passing a Swedish home outside the window of the train 
We met a few kids who were mildly interested, then we walked a few more blocks and saw three guys cooking in their apartment. I waved to one and they waved for us to come over. Then they asked us what we were doing and we said we were trying to get to know the people. To our surprise they invited us in for lunch. That was the first time on my mission that any stranger invited us in for a meal! We taught them a little of the first discussion and then we offered them some Swedish language lessons because they were all very new in the country. They were super excited about that and said they would invite their friends. Now, because Elder Lindquist acted on a prompting, we finally have a good opportunity to connect with a part of the Syrian community in Norrkoping.  This is a people that I feel are some of the most prepared you could ever find to accept the gospel.
My friend Adrian has decided to be baptized next month!
The best part of the week came on Saturday. Adrian is an investigator that the missionaries have been working with since before I first got here. Elders Gray and Avinoues originally found him, or rather he found them. They were trying to find a less-active member and couldn't get into the apartment because they didn’t have the gate code. Adrian happened to live there and he opened the door for them. Elder Gray asked if he knew anything about Mormons and that started a friendship. Only five months later, we went to lunch with Adrian and he brought up baptism. He asked his girlfriend what she thought about getting baptized. She wasn't really sure, but we asked him how he felt about being baptized in a month. He said he felt great about that date and he was so thankful we asked him! It’s so amazing to see that one of the investigators I've grown the closest to is ready to accept the gospel. I know he is ready and I'm sad I can't be here to keep helping him to prepare, but I know that Elder Lindquist will take great care of him and Adrian and I will continue our friendship after my mission. 

Downtown Norrkoping at night
I'm so thankful for my time here and for everything I have learned about missionary work and about myself in Norrköping. Serving with Elders Gray and Lindquist has been awesome. I'm really going to miss working with Elder Lindquist. We had a great time together, but his family only lives ten minutes away from my new area and he'll be done with his mission in three months, so I know I'll see him again soon. I'm excited to see what will happen next, but I know every step of the way is going to be great! 

Thanks for reading – I love you guys! 

-Äldste Stoeltzing