Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 55; November 22, 2014 – Six Areas in 12 Months

Hey guys!

So, our P-day was changed to Saturday this week. We had a large group of missionaries going home, so we are having transfers a few days earlier and we’ll be taking today off instead. 

The Narrowest Street in Stockholm
Believe it or not, we're both getting transferred. This will be my shortest transfer yet, we’re only switching bedrooms in the same apartment. President Beckstrand has decided to close one of the two Vendelsö areas and we will be replacing our two roommates who were working in Hägersten, just outside Stockholm. 

Elders Stoeltzing and Ogaard
This is probably the strangest transfer yet. I'm super sad to see Elders Kapp and Sandquist go, but this has been a really fun six weeks. Although we won't get to keep working in Vendelsö, I feel good about the opportunities we are leaving for Elder Williams and his new Greeny. 

Getting All Decked-out for the Holidays!
Hägersten will be an awesome area and there's a ton of work to do there. I can't wait to get out and work hard next week and hopefully settle down in one area for a while.

I wish I had more to report this week. Unfortunately, I got pretty sick with an ear and sinus infection, so I've been down much of the week. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go by Monday. Until then, I'm going to get a little more rest and, by next week, I'll be telling you guys all about area number six! 

Love always,

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Week 54; November 17, 2014 – I Have Kept the Faith!

Hey Guys!

It hasn't been the busiest week, but we've been blessed and the work is moving forward!

We taught a less-active member named Jamie on Tuesday who still has a powerful testimony of the restored gospel. It was our first lesson with him, so we learned about how he joined the church and we shared our testimonies of Christ with him. He's fairly busy with work, but he wants us to come back and he will come to church as soon as he can.

Later that night I went on splits with our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Brändh. We taught another less-active member, Jamaal. Brother Brändh led the lesson by telling a story. He's super good at origami, so he folded-up a piece of paper as he told the story and he made one tear in it. The pieces spelled-out the letters “Love,” with a cross, and he explained that the atonement of Christ is because he loves us. I really hope I remember how to do that lesson because it was a super cool way to teach that principle and keep your attention.

Later, we found our second new investigator named Lisbeth. She was a lady that Elder Nielsen and I found on splits about two weeks ago. She was really receptive at the door and said she'd read a little out of the Book of Mormon. We didn't have much time, but we reviewed the principals from the first lesson and answered some of her questions. We hope to meet her again next week to teach the Plan of Salvation.

Last weekend we had Stake Conference. It was great to see members from my last three areas. The conference was wonderful. Nabeil from Norrköping was one of the speakers and he told an amazing story about how his family came over from Syria and how he found and accepted the Church in Sweden. All of the speakers were great, but what I'll remember the most is the news from the members in Linköping that Carl-Arne had passed away. I don't know if you guys remember me writing about Carl-Arne, but he was a man in his mid-90's that Elder Farnworth and I used to teach. Of all the people I've met on my mission I don't think anyone has had the impact on me that Carl-Arne has had.

When Elder Farnworh and I met with him Carl-Arne was fighting cancer and dealing with the trails of old age. He was sick enough that no one would have blamed him if he stopped coming to church, or even if he left his apartment for that matter. Despite his health challenges, Carl-Arne felt it was his priesthood duty to pass the Sacrament in his small branch in Linköping every week. Carl-Arne was almost blind and hard of hearing, but even still, after the Sacrament was blessed, he would drop his cane, pick up a tray, and pass the Sacrament to each member.

Carl-Arne showed me that even the most basic responsibilities of the priesthood have a significant meaning to someone who has given a life of service to the church. He still considered passing the sacrament to be the most valuable thing he did every week. He was the best example of enduring to the end that I've ever met. And I hope that no matter what I do to serve in Church, whether it be leading an Elders Quorum, or greeting people at the chapel door every Sunday, I hope to do it with the same devotion and love that Carl-Arne showed in his last act of service.

This verse is for Carl-Arne; 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

-Äldste Stoeltzing  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 53; November 10, 2014 – Half-way done?  I’ve only Just Begun!

Happy November everyone! 

I can't believe I've been away for a year already… It doesn't feel real! This has been the fastest year of my life and I've loved every minute of it. It feels really weird to be in the middle of my mission. I've learned a lot out here, but I don’t feel like I'm nearly where I'd like to be as a missionary. So, I’m really grateful for one more year. I'll probably get things figured out right about the time I'm ready to hop on a plane and head home next year. 

Celebrating One Year as a Missionary... Shirt Burning to Follow!
So, it snowed this week too! That made for a cold, cold day of tracting. The weather was pretty unexpected, but it warmed-up quickly, so the rest of the week wasn't too bad.  Regardless, the cold, dark winter is coming soon. Glad we have mittens!  

A gift of mittens at Zone Conference - Warm hands and warm hearts!

We finally had a sit-down investigator lesson with someone who was really interested in our message this week. His name is Mono and he came prepared with a lot of good questions. We will hopefully teach him at the church this week, so expect to hear more about him soon! 

Translation: "Beware of Dwarf Hamster"
We spent a lot of time trying to find a ton of new people this week and we had some good successes. We feel like we’re finally developing a good potential investigator pool. So, hopefully the area will be moving forward, full steam ahead, very soon. 

Other than that, not a lot has happened in the past week, but I'm ready to start my final year as a missionary… I can't wait to go one more round. Thanks for a year of reading my blog. This has truly been the best experience of my life and I'm so glad I get to share my adventures with you guys!               

Jag Älskar Er! (I Love You!)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 52; November 3, 2014 – A Halloween to Remember! 

Hey everyone!  

It's been a tough week, but it’s been a good week. We worked very hard and made this a finding-centered week. We are both pretty tired, but it felt good to work so hard. Even though we didn't see a lot of success, we did make some progress.  

On the road in Norrby
 We've been trying to work with members to bring them a message about the power of friendship to encouraging them to develop at least one new friendship in the month of November. It can be scary for members to be put on the spot, and asked for a name of someone to teach. So instead, we're trying to show members that by just being themselves, they can bless the lives of others if they open up and are willing to make a new friend. If all goes well, we can move forward and help them to share the gospel. This message seems to be going well. We also used the Ward Halloween party as a way to help members strengthen their friendships and invite someone to the party.
The beautiful Norrby countryside
We had our Zone Conference on Wednesday and the Beckstrand’s did a great job. Their message was about mission unity. Basically, if we could all be united in purpose, effort, and obedience, we'd see miracles in Sweden. Sister Beckstrand taught a lesson about being a light in the darkness (because the sun goes down at 4 pm now), and she explained how we need to be warm to do that… So, she gave us all a new pair of mittens that some awesome sisters from the Relief Society made for us. We also had the best lunch I've had at a Zone Conference in a long time, so thank you to the senior couples for your wonderful cooking!   
That night I went on splits with Elder Farnworth's ‘greeny,’ Elder Nielsen. We had the best night of work I've seen in Vendelsö. It was a miracle! Literally the first door we knocked was interested in our message and listed to the whole first lesson. She took a Book of Mormon and invited us back in about two weeks. Later that night we met a girl from Mongolia that talked to us for 20 minutes in English and said she'd also be interested. She took my other Book of Mormon and we got her email address. I was so thankful that Elder Nielsen got to experience a great night of missionary work and that I got to be part of an awesome evening.     

Crossing a bridge in Hägersten
Thursday was a tough, tough day. It started out well when the first lady we talked to was interested in a meeting and gave us her phone number. But, the rest of the day was a shut-out and we had a lot of doors closed on us. It was a good day for patience building, but I am thankful for the one person we did find. And, if we can teach her, the whole day would have been worth it! 

Halloween was interesting… First we helped Nikolas with an English lesson and then we went out to start tracting. We made it through 5 or 6 large buildings and we started walking to a different area when we found the coolest looking playground ever. I asked Elder Ogaard to take a picture of me, but when I hopped down, I put my hand out to catch myself, and when I got up my hand kind of hurt. I looked down and saw a big piece of broken glass where I landed. Then I looked at my hand and realized I had cut it pretty badly. Fortunately, there was a small clinic nearby and we got in right before they closed. I'm sure I looked like I had the best Halloween costume in town because no one looked the least bit concerned despite seeing a lot of blood. The cut was deep enough that I had to get stitches for the first time in my life, so that was cool! After getting five stiches, I was finally put back together… We decided we'd call it a night. But, it was certainly a Halloween to remember.
Hi Five... Stitches, that is!

Saturday was awesome! Elder Steen had been helping to put together a ‘Trunk or Treat’ Halloween party for the Stake, and it went really great! We've only been planning it for about two weeks, so we had no idea what to expect, but the turn-out was really good! We had over 100 people come and all of the parents thought it was an amazing night. Yesterday, the ward told us they hope this becomes a yearly tradition and they thanked us for our help putting it together. Also, we found out that a good handful of kids in our Ward invited their friends to the activity, so we'll be following-up this week! 

Salamon Came to Church on Sunday!
Afterward, the whole zone took a walk around the Västerhaninge graveyard to look at the lights. Halloween is a little different in Sweden. They actually put more of a focus on remembering their dead than focusing on candy, so the graveyard was filled with people lighting candles to honor the dead. The whole place was lit-up with candles… It was really beautiful!  

A Halloween tradition of honoring the dead with light
Well, that was the end of an interesting, but good week. The work here is tough, but it is moving forward. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers. That really, really does help. 

I love all you guys. Have a great week! 

Äldste Stoeltzing