Friday, January 30, 2015

Week 64: January 26, 2015 – It’s All About The Food! 

Another fantastic week! Things are going so good and the work is really picking up!

Monday we visited a less-active member named Riana. She’s probably the coolest lady on earth! She's in her 60's, but she plays video games recreationally, and she is a crazy good cook! She taught us how to make authentic Swedish meat balls! They were 100 times better than the out-of-the-bag stuff we usually eat. 
Swedish Meatballs Anyone?

Tuesday was awesome too! Elder Cushing taught a district meeting about planning. Afterward we ate at my favorite place, Cleopatra's, and had another outstanding pizza. The rest of the day was pretty cool. I finally got to go on splits with Elder Corbin, one of my old MTC friends. We taught a lesson then set-up another lesson while doing swing-byes.  

Elder Cushing and I set a goal that we would both find as many new contacts as possible during our time apart on splits, and the number we were shooting for was 40. We had an open hour and we decided to buckle down and go on a contacting marathon. It was amazing! The first guy we talked to said he had investigated the church in a city called Borås and he had lost contact with missionaries after he moved. He said he would be excited to meet again and he wanted us to call him early next week. I feel like we set a big goal and had the intention of doing it, so we were blessed right away. We had enough positive energy to speak with 30 more people. We also ended-up teaching a good street lesson, before we went to our last appointment.  

We taught a less-active named Carl who is one of the ward’s few young adults that lives close enough to get church, and they really want to see him come back. We're trying to build a close relationship with him, so he will want to come back to church. He opened-up to us about some of his struggles and gave us an idea about how we should move forward with him.  

Afterward, we went back and I shared a lesson over the phone with the best new member in the world named Claus. He is the most fired-up person for the gospel that I think I've ever met. He has been going through some hard times, so I called to give a little support. It went really well and we shared some scriptures and prayed together before ending the call.  

On Wednesday we switched back to our regular companionships and we met with Ingvar again. She said that she'd come to church this week, so that was awesome! Then, on Thursday, Carl got us some free gym passes and we both lifted weights for the first time on our mission. I had a big ego in the weight room before I left, but this time I was going as light as possible. Carl kept telling me to lift more, but I had no desire to show off. Even going super light we both felt really sore and realized we need to get gym memberships when we get back. Neither of us are as strong as we used to be. Ha-ha!  

Friday was a great day of contacting. We both felt super tired from lifting, but we planned another big contacting day. We didn't know where we'd get the energy to do it, but we got a nice helping hand almost as soon as we got out the door. We both felt like we needed to contact the first lady we saw, and as soon as we stopped her she just lit up. She spoke English and was from Croatia. I told her about my old Stake President, President Hill, who had served there as a Mission President for three years. She thought it was so fantastic that people like us were serving missions in Croatia also. She absolutely loved Christ and shared her testimony of him with us. 

She was one of the happiest people I've met during my whole mission. We asked her what her secret was about being happy. She said, in Sweden and America people have money and they like to buy things. She explained that people get so caught-up in social media and buying bigger and better toys than everyone else, that they forget each other. She said her secret to being happy was to focus as much energy as possible on other people and making them happy. She said she plays the accordion in the street for a living and she couldn't possibly be happier, because she gets to share her passion, music, all day long with people. She taught me a lot that day and we’re so excited to meet with her again this Tuesday. Her name is Goga, by the way.

We had another great contact later that day and we met a girl in her early 20's named Victoria. She said she was an atheist, which is a pretty common thing to hear for people her age. But, I felt like she was different, so we kept talking and she said she'd actually be really interested to hear what we have to talk about, so we'll also be meeting with her in the upcoming week!  

That night we had our last innebandi (Floorball) night with one of the YSA's named Sam. He's probably the best player I've ever seen and he scored more goals than I could count! I'm really sad that he's moving, but we'll see him around, he's just going down to Helsingborg. I'll probably score a little more from now on… Ha-ha!

Saturday was another awesome day! We helped a member move his daughter out and then went to the Bishop’s home to do some service for him. We moved fire wood into his cellar and we rode in the back of his tractor. We had a giant sausage called korv, stuffed with cheese and onions for lunch. It was kind of ironic because a few nights before, we made a similar meal, except we stuffed it with bacon and put garlic butter over the top. That was pretty good too. They used a Finnish mustard that I've never had before and it defiantly beat ours! But yeah, the Lindahl's was still the best!  

Later that day we went over to Lassie's house. Trang was out of town, but we kept him company and played some guitar with him.

Sunday was great. The stake Relief Society came, so we got to teach the primary kids, it was the best! The Stake Relief Society actually said that she served in the Sacramento Mission! That was way cool and the best part was that she served in Rancho Cordova and Carmichael was in her district! You've got to love the small world of Mormonism! She's probably the first person I've ever met in Sweden that actually knew where Carmichael was and had also been there!  

After church we planned some more and we had a family night with Karin and her son. She's recovering really well from her broken knee. We got to help her feel better, but she always leaves us feeling a lot better too!  

Well, awesome week… I love it here and we've been really blessed!  I love you all and I hope everyone has a great week! 

Aldste Stoeltzing

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week 63: January 19, 2015 – The Metropolis of Malmö!  

Wow, this has been one of the best weeks of my mission! The work in Halmstad is going really well! We did our best this week and the Lord has blessed us so much!  

The week started great! After our P-day we went to dinner with the Bishop’s family. They are the best people in the world! The ward here is tiny, but the two of them are fantastic! They make you feel like family right away! 

Tuesday was great as well. We visited another member that was just as fantastic! Her name is Karin. We've been visiting her a lot because she fell and broke her knee, but she's probably the toughest person I know. She broke it less than a week ago and she’s already walking on it. In fact, she's so determined to recover quickly, you can barely tell she just had a major injury. Anyway, she is a super positive person and she also helped me feel super welcome here. Later that day we visited a member by the name of Paula who is just starting to come back. She had some questions about prayer, so we did our best to help her understand her challenges associated with prayer. It was a really good lesson and it gave us a lot to prepare for our next meeting.

The following day, we held “open church” and we made tacos with Marcus, one of our investigators. That night we visited another less-active lady. She used to be in a traveling jazz band called The Five Swedes. We played guitar together then we listened to her stories about her old band.  

Thursday was our zone training meeting. Finally, after months of waiting I got the opportunity to go to Sweden’s southern metropolis of Malmö. I've wanted to see it my whole mission and it was awesome! The training was super good. Elders Barker and Krebs presented goal setting messages and taught us about becoming united as a zone to find and prepare at least three people for baptism before the end of the next transfer. 

After our training, I got to go on splits in Malmö!  It was awesome, I went with Elder Krebs and we taught four times during our half-day together. We literally had no down time! The best lesson we taught was with a guy from Gaza. He had an amazing story about how he became a Christian and how he made his way to Sweden. He had some concerns with the Book of Mormon, but we clarified them and shared our testimonies. At the end, he committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon! Next we went to a member’s house and ate African food, it was a bit different, but it was super good! It was beef in a traditional spicy sauce. It was a chunky dark brown sauce, that didn't look like much, but it packed a punch and had a great spicy, tangy sort of flavor.

We ended the night teaching a less-active member that spoke a very old version of the Skånish dialect. Many people consider modern Skånish one of the hardest dialects to understand in Sweden because of the Danish influence on it. Old Skånish was next to impossible to understand, but fortunately we brought a member that had lived there his whole life and he covered for us. Elder Krebs understood most of it, but next to actually hearing real Danish, this was the hardest Swedish dialect I've ever heard.  

The next day we got to have lunch at one of the best Pizzeria’s in Sweden, Lamari's, and it was quite an experience! The kebab meat was incredible. I was honestly expecting a little more because the place was pretty talked-up, but it was still potentially the best pizza I've had in Sweden. We've found a place in Halmstad, however, that gives it a run for its money, Cleopatra's. The kebab isn't quite as good there, but the sauce is world class! After lunch we did another open church, unfortunately Elder Krebs got sick. We think the African food caught up to him. Later, we went to a lady the Sister missionaries were working with and we gave her a blessing. We ended the evening with sports night with innebandi (Floorball) and soccer. My team didn't do so well, but it was super fun anyway. 

We switched back with our regular companions the next day and Elder Cushing said his time with Elder Barker went fantastic. They found a new investigator named Mulay from Eritrea, the small country between Ethiopia and Sudan. They'd also taught a ton of lessons in Halmstad, so things went great. We taught a few more discussions and ended the week with 20 lessons! It was a fantastic week and things are really moving forward with in this area!

Love you guys!

Aldste Stoeltzing    

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 62; January 12, 2015 – At Home in Halmstad!

Great week! My last P-day in Stockholm was super fun. A lot of us met in the Young Single Adult (YSA) center to hang out before transfers. I'm sad to leave everyone up in Stockholm, but at least Elder Mott will be in my new district. Elder Moe trained him and he's been in Stockholm for the last six months. I said goodbye to all the other missionaries and I went to my last dinner at a member’s home in Stockholm.

Hello Halmstad!
It was a dinner to remember! So, one of our favorite members, by the name of Mama Phyllis, wanted us over before Elder Neilson and I moved. So, she made her specialty, an African dish called Fufu.

Enjoying a traditional African dish called Fufu!
Basically, Fufu is a giant ball of dough-like stuff that you put in a soup that's sort of similar to gumbo. It was made with shrimp and beef. The dough ball sticks out of the soup and you eat it with your hands. What you do is rip-off a peace of the dough and dip it in the soup then swallow it whole. It may sound a little strange, but I thought it was awesome! Mama Phyllis will actually be going back to Ghana for an 18 month service mission and she is very excited.
Farewell Stockholm
Tuesday was pretty uneventful. We did some swing-by's and I taught my last lesson in the area with a nice less-active guy named Ralph.  Afterwards, I spent the night packing. And boy, was it hard to get my suit cases zipped-up!  

Wednesday was the big move! We went in to Stockholm and I said goodbye to Elder Ogaard. I couldn't sleep much on the train though, I was a little anxious about the transfer. I got to Göteborg central after about three hours. It felt like coming home. I've missed Göteborg so much. A man saw me struggling with my luggage. He said let me help you and brought me to my platform. He sat my bags down and looked me in the eye and said don't worry, everything’s going to be okay… You'll do great, and then he walked away. Very Christlike!

The train ride down was awesome! I sat next to a lady with a young kid. She was afraid her kid would cause trouble, but I played with the kid the whole time and kept her laughing the whole ride down. I made her laugh so much we kept the whole train entertained! People like watching happy little kids as much as they dislike crying kids, so her Mom was super thankful that I was there! 

Halmstad is beautiful! I met my new companion, Elder Cushing at about 8:30 and he took me to the apartment. The town is perfect, it’s not too big, and not too small. It's the 20th largest city in Sweden and it already feels like home. The apartment is awesome! It's not too big and not too small as well. Everything here already feels really good! 

On Thursday we went down to one of the most beautiful cities in Sweden, Helsingborg, for district meeting! It was amazing, it had a huge castle in the middle of town, and you can see Denmark across the bay from there. We met the rest of the district and I'm super happy to be working with these guys. There are a lot of good friends that I've met through my mission in this district, so everyone already loves each other! 

The meeting started in literally the coolest way possible. We were all talking in the lobby before the meeting and a women walked in and said that she felt the strangest impression that she needed to look into our church. We we're all a little shocked actually. It’s very, very rare in Sweden for someone to just walk in! We were a little taken back at first and thought that we were being pranked, but Elder Clausen jumped in and started teaching her. She said she wanted to move across the street and asked if we could actually give her a blessing, or if we even did those things. Surprised, we said of course, and we all gave her a blessing. She said she'd be happy to come back to the Church when she gets the apartment! It was the coolest way ever to start-out in a new district! Elder Cushing’s lesson in our district meeting was awesome, it was about being a light to everyone we meet. 

Elders Stoeltzing and Cushing
That night we met a handful of investigators and less-active members that we will be working with. They we're awesome and I already feel really connected to the people in this area! Friday was another great day. We met a guy named Marcus that came to play floor hockey with us! It's really good to participate in sports night and play my favorite sport again!

Church was great! The ward here is small, but they are mighty and they make you feel like family right away. I love them and can't wait to work side-by-side with them. The stake President came and helped the ward build a vision to re-activate young adults. It was the best way to start-out in a ward and it helped us feel united in the work! I can't wait to get to know them better! 

Well this has been a beautiful start to serving in a new area! I love it here, I love the people here, and I can't wait to give it my all! 

I Love you guys and I hope everyone has a great week back home… Your all the best! 

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Week 61; January 5, 2015 – Happy New Year!

Wow what a week! This one was really special. We had a really hard time setting-up appointments during the holidays, but we decided to do everything we could to make this week great!

Monday was incredible! We started off the day with nothing planned other than swing-byes. We just started contacting people right away and we were super bold with our approaches. The first girl we met was agnostic. She didn't sound like she cared for any religion too much, but I bore my testimony about the importance of religion and what God has meant to me and I invited her to meet with us… She gave us her number! Later we met a Doctor’s Without Borders worker who had met with missionaries before and we talked to him for about 15 minutes and got his contact information. We taught two street lessons that day and found six people to call back! 

Tuesday was really similar. We found four more investigators and spoke with others that were willing to listen to us on the spot! We also taught a less-active member who was very lonely and super glad to have us stop by. 

New Years Eve was awesome! We didn't have much planned, but we ended up going up to the tenth story balcony at the other Elders apartment and we watched fire works! It was beautiful and Sweden sells huge fire works for cheap, so we saw fire works for 360 degrees everywhere around us.  

We met with that Spanish guy I found a few weeks ago. It was awesome! It turned out that he barely understood my Spanish. However, on the day I talked to him he was having a horrible day and he felt really depressed. He told me that it made his day when I took the time to speak with him out of the blue. Although he said he wouldn't be that interested in embracing the lessons, he said his wife was really interested and she came to church! A less-active member who hadn't been to church before turned out to be a good friend of Ines, our new investigator! They talked the whole time and Ines set-up another time for us to meet again!

It was a great week, but I got some bitter-sweet news. I've loved working in Hägersten, but I'm be transferring on Wednesday. I'll be going to a city called Halmstad down in the Southern part of Sweden. It's beautiful there! Also, it’s where the Johnson's family is from, so I'll finally get to meet them! I'm sad to go, but I feel like it's an inspired move and I'm excited for another new experience!  

I Love you guys,

Aldste Stoeltzing

Friday, January 2, 2015

Weeks 59-60; January 1 2014 – Thank You Tomte!

Wow, it has been an amazing few weeks. My last Christmas in Sweden has been incredible and I've loved every second of it! 

I'll start with the Friday before Christmas. I had a great chance to go through the Stockholm Temple with Elder Farnworth with the first person he baptized. I got to know her when I served in Väster Haninge. This was also my first time going through the Temple in Sweden. This experience really got these past few weeks off to a special start. I felt a wonderful spirit there and I really felt the Savior’s love. I am so thankful to enjoy the incredible blessing of the Temple.  

Elder Stoeltzing loved visiting the Stockholm Temple
The next Monday was a really good day. We went over to a less-active family’s home for dinner and they made us Italian food. They are the nicest people in the world. It was a great meeting and they shared a lot with us about the challenges they've experienced. I was thankful they were so open to us and I hope that we will be able to continue helping them. 

On Tuesday we taught an investigator named Lamin. He didn’t have much time to meet because of school, but this was the first contact he’s had with missionaries in about two months. We taught him about prayer, but he sounded a bit hesitant, but respectful of what we were teaching. We left him with a scripture from Alma, Chapter 32, in the Book of Mormon to read and better understand how someone can develop faith in Jesus Christ.

Winter in Sweden
Christmas Eve was a really fun day. We got up early and bought some small gifts for the members who'd invited us over. We had a lot of travel ahead of us. We started on the far end of our area with a member we call Mama Phyllis. She's from Ghana and is one of the nicest people on earth. She made us an African chicken dish and gave us some super cool African drum key chains. We couldn't stay long because she had to work, but she was super happy we came over for Christmas Eve. 

Next, we had the crazy trip back down to Vendelsö to see some members from our last area. To get there quickly with the holiday schedule we had to switch subways twice and take a bus for 45 minutes. It was a long trip, but it was definitely worth it. We went to see one of our favorite families, the Karumo's. We we're a little late, but not too late for dinner, fortunately Swede’s do a huge buffet-style Christmas dinner, so we didn't interrupt anything. 

Jacob dressed as Tomte (Santa) Clause
In Sweden, Christmas Eve is like Christmas Day for us. I love the way they do it here. Santa actually comes and drops off the presents personally. So, we heard a knock at the door and it was Santa (Tomte)! Their little son, Axle ran to the door. He's like two years old, so he's old enough to remember Christmas, but not that much about what happened last year. When we opened the door he said Papa? Then his Dad responded back and said, “No, it's Tomte (Santa). They went back and forth like this a few times and then when he actually thought it was Santa, Axle started crying. His Dad took off his Santa mask for a second and winked at Axle. As soon as he saw it was his Dad, he smiled and understood what was going on. Tomte unpacked all his gifts and Axle passed them out to everyone. He was having the most fun handing out gifts! Everyone would say, “Thank you Santa!” when they got there gifts, except Axle, he'd laugh and say, “Thank you Papa!”  It was super funny!  They we're very nice and they got us a ton of candy and some reflectors for our back packs.

Lastly, we got to watch the Disney movie, Wreck it Ralph. I don’t know how I missed it when I was home, but it was awesome! Marcus drove us home afterward and we actually went to bed a little early so we could get up early and skype with our families.

Christmas Skype with family and younger brother Josh
Skyping home for Christmas was so cool! It was the best Christmas gift ever! It felt just like I was talking to my parents back home and they got me so excited to keep going and make sure I keep giving my best every day. It was super crazy seeing my cousin Brooke too! I can't believe she's already home from her mission! I can't wait to see everyone again… And, that alone, was enough to make Christmas perfect!

Later that night we went to a member’s home for Christmas dinner. They were from Chile, so we actually had enchiladas for dinner and flan for desert. I was very satisfied to actually have Chilean food for dinner and it was probably the best flan I've ever had! They spoke Spanish most the night, so we didn't understand all that much, but we still had fun! She got us sowing kits and she gave me a children s Spanish book, so I could get some practice.      
During the next few days we helped some members move and we spent some time with a few other families in the ward. We also played a really fun Monopoly game on Saturday.  

On Sunday, we got to help the other Elders set-up a baptism for a man named Masood from Iran. He was one of the most spiritually prepared people I've ever seen and he was so ready to be baptized. He also gave one of the most sincere testimonies I've heard on my mission after he was baptized.  

It was a great week and the next week should be really great as well, but I'll save that for next Monday! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

I Love you guys!

Äldste Stoeltzing