Friday, February 27, 2015

Week 68; February 23, 2015 - Photo Album

The Lord of the Rings!
Viking Graffiti? 
Halmstad Ward Members
Claus with Elder Cushing and me
Elder Cushing saying goodbye to Trang and Lassie before transfers

P-day at the beach!
Seems like a bit of California in Sweden

Helping Heekee dig-out his guest house foundation
Removing large rocks
Raina saying goodbye to Elder Cushing

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 67: February 23. 2015 – The Secret is Work, Work, Work!

Well our last week together has been good. Yep, sadly Elder Cushing is moving back up to Stockholm this week and I'll be getting a new companion, Elder Bybee. It's been an incredible six weeks with Elder Cushing and he's taught me a ton about working hard. We've had some amazing experiences together and I'm so thankful for our time together. He helped me work harder than I've ever worked, and it feels great! He's one of the best missionaries I know and I’m sure he'll do a fantastic job in Stockholm.  

P-day was clear and sunny, over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. By the way, that would be like 4.4 degrees Celsius, but it felt nice to have the temperature well over freezing again. So, we went to look at the ocean and we took some pictures there, it was beautiful and looked more like California than Sweden.   

Later that night we did a swing-by to see a Syrian girl we met and her whole family was there and they listened to the lesson! They didn't have much time, but they invited us over whenever we’d like and they seemed really interested! 

On Tuesday we helped Hekke with his project. We removed some large rocks out of the foundation he was laying for his guest home and we did a lot of digging. I think the worst part is out of the way. One of the members came over later in the week and helped Hekke blow-up the last two large rocks, so the worst part is done and now we can get to the good stuff! 

We visited Karin on Wednesday and she gave me some knitting lessons. So far, I’ve finished about three inches of a 55 stich wide scarf. So needless to say, I'm pretty proud of myself! Later that week we gave her son a blessing and it seemed like it helped. 

Elder Cushing conducted his last district meeting on Thursday and he did a great job teaching us about the atonement. He explained why we need to focus our lessons on Jesus Christ as our top priority. It was a great lesson and we finished-up the transfer with a district party and went bowling! 

Afterward, Elder Clausen and I went on splits to Landskrona about an hour and a half south of Halmstad. We had a great time there, teaching a Muslim guy on the street and then we had a quick meeting with the ward mission leader, ending the night with a fantastically good kebab pizza!

We went back to Halmstad and had a busy day teaching Lena and another family. That night we had our last Innabondi (floor hockey) game. I tried to give Elder Cushing a run for his money. I had one of my best nights and scored a ton, but Elder Cushing scored even more and went out big! I hope my new companion will be as competitive when we play! 

On Saturday we had an amazing lesson together! We found a man named Stefan a few weeks ago and we went by to teach him the second lesson! He loved it and he felt like the plan of salvation answered a lot of his questions. He said he's going to study the Book of Mormon really hard this week and then he hopes we can show him some scriptures to read to build on the lesson. He's definitely moving forward and making great progress!
 Later, we went over to Raina's and she was pleased with my knitting process. I think I've mastered the art of knitting, or at least don't ruin it every time! So, she taught me how to do the pearl stich, and I can do it now! 

Sunday was really good. I gave a talk on charity and Elder Cushing gave a talk on hope. They went really well, but Elder Cushing’s talk was fantastic.  

This was one of the busiest and fastest transfers of my mission. Ezra Taft Benson's quote that the secret to missionary work is just, “work, work, work,” is so true. We gave it everything we had over the last six weeks and everything went great! I am super thankful for this area and the time I've had with Elder Cushing and I know we’re both going to sprint to the finish line and give our last month’s our best effort!  

Jag alskar er! (I love you!)

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 66, February 9, 2015 – The Healing Power of the Priesthood

This has been quite a week… It's been up and down and everything in between. But it has left me with a stronger testimony of the power of the Priesthood and a knowledge that God's hand guides this work. 

The beginning of the week was really fun. We found a place where we could go bowling super cheaply and we spent the afternoon trying to remember how to bowl. It's been awhile, and I was rusty, but it was still really fun! Afterward, we finished up our letter writing and we planned our week a little more. We ended-up with a fantastic list of goals and high hopes for the week. 

Bowling in Halmstad
On Tuesday, things started getting interesting. We had planned to meet two new investigators with a handful of other lessons. So, we started by teaching Goga, the lady from Croatia we met a few weeks ago. It was up-and-down with her. She has a strong faith in God, but she has no desire to go into a church building. She is very uneasy about organized religion, so she did not seem excited to learn any more about the church. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she said she would at least read it. We've heard so many amazing stories about the Book of Mormon's power to change hearts, so we are praying that as she reads, her heart will soften towards the church in ways that we would never be able to accomplish on our own.   

Later, we went out to tract and we had one of the more interesting experiences I've had on my mission. Right away we found someone that was interested and they asked us to come back next week. After that we got a referral at another door and the family ended-up being really interested as well, and they asked that we come back the next week too. 

The next door approach was funny when this lady opened her door really fast and said “BOO”! She actually startled us a bit. We asked her about faith and she said that she was very religious. We asked her what religion she belonged to and she said, Jehovah’s Witness. There was an awkward silence for a few seconds and she smiled at us. We exchanged cards and moved on to the next door laughing that we had been scared by a JW. The last door we knocked-on ended up turning into a full lesson about family history at the door. She was an interesting lady, probably in her late 40's. But, when she heard we were Americans she reached-out and touched both of our faces... It was pretty weird. But, in the end, she wasn't interested in the church. She just thought that family history and Americans were really cool, so she listened to us for a while. Unfortunately, I started feeling sick, so we went back to rest before teaching our next lesson.

Mohamed was a man we met during my first week in Halmstad, who finally had some time to meet. He's from Syria and he comes from a Muslim background, although he was very respectful of our message and had lots of great questions. He took a Book of Mormon in Arabic and committed to read it. He was really positive and we are hoping to keep meeting with him every week and start teaching him in Swedish as well. 

After visiting with Mohamed I started feeling really sick. I got the shivers and a very bad headache. I was really scared, because we had such a great week planned and I did not want anything to get in our way. We went back to our apartment and we ended-up canceling our last appointment for the day. I tried to rest and got about 30 minutes of sleep, but I woke-up and felt supper hot and I was achy everywhere. I had a temperature of 103. Elder Cushing gave me a blessing and then we called Sister Beckstrand and we decided it would be best if I went to the hospital. José helped us out a ton and drove us across town to take me in. They ran some tests and said I had tonsillitis and possibly the flu. They gave me a bunch of medicine and sent me back. I actually ended-up sleeping really well that night and I slept late into the next day.

When we woke up, I actually felt a lot better. But, Elder Cushing started feeling sick as well, so I gave him a blessing. We took it easy the rest of the day, and by that evening, we were feeling pretty good again. We called Sister Beckstrand and told her about our recovery, and she said that it would be okay if we came down to Malmö the next day for our mission conference.  

Welcome to Malmo!
When we woke up for conference we felt great! It was a miracle! The conference was awesome!  President Beckstrand introduced our new standards of excellence and then we got to watch a new movie called, Meet the Mormons! It was really good and it was a very cool surprise that we all finally got to see it! The Beckstrand's had to pull some strings to get it here for us to see and we were all really excited. 

Later that night we taught Raustin, the man that we had met Sunday night when we felt like we needed to go back out and street contact. He was awesome! He's only lived in Sweden about as long as I have, and he’s been looking for some friends. He's interested in studying religion and he thought it would be cool to learn about a new faith that he didn't know too much about. He accepted a Book of Mormon as well!  

After the lesson Elder Cushing told me that he knew we'd regain our health on Wednesday. He asked me if I remembered the words that were said in both of our blessings that we had given each other, I couldn't recall, but he said in the blessing he had said that my sickness would pass quickly and it would not hinder me. He said when I gave him a blessing, I had used the same phrase that the sickness would not hinder him. I didn't remember too much more about what I said, but he told me as soon as I said that, he knew everything would be okay with us. It was incredible that on Tuesday night I felt as sick as could be, and by Thursday night we both felt close to 100% again. It was scary that we both got so sick, but we really felt the hand of the Lord take care of us and we both received a powerful witness of the healing power of the Priesthood.

We felt so good, we even helped our ward mission leader with some construction work on Friday and we still felt like we were getting better. 

The rest of the week we ended-up finding three more potential investigators and setting-up two more lessons with new investigators, and I even learned to knit along the way! Even though our contacting time was shortened due to our illness, this week was incredible. God saw that we turned to him when we were sick and He quickly helped us back on our feet. Despite the loss of time, He helped us find as many, or more people to teach than we would usually find in a normal week.        

I know the power of the Priesthood can work miracles. And, for me, this week was nothing short of a miracle! I thought I'd be sick in bed for at least three or four days, but the Lord’s work needed to be done and were blessed greatly!  I am so thankful for every week I have to serve here in Halmstad, and for the amazing help that God is giving to us! 

I hope everyone has an amazing week… Thanks for reading!!!

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Week 65; February 2, 2015 – A Birthday to Remember!

Wow this has been an amazing week! There were some challenges along the way, but the Lord really blessed us and some great things happened. Oh yeah, I guess I'm an official adult to now… I’m 21 years old!  

On Monday we met with Jeff and heard his stories of when he used to work in a recording studio in Los Angeles. We also got to hear his story about how he was married to David Hasselhoff’s sister, so that was interesting. We also started talking about how we could help him start preparing to attend the temple.  

Tuesday was hard. A lot of appointments cancelled on us, but we contacted a lot of others and just worked hard, and it felt good! 

On Wednesday, we had the apartment inspection couple come by our place. They liked the job we did cleaning it and then took us shopping for some new lamps and they got us a fast boiling kettle for hot chocolate. Later, we provided some service for a member and helped her take down her Christmas decorations. We then visited with Ingvar again and gave her a message about the Plan of Salvation with our ward mission leader. 

Thursday was a really cool day. We were going on splits, and we had a beautiful day planned that just sort of feel apart. All three of our lessons called us and said this week just wouldn't work for them, so a busy day turned into a pretty open day. Elder George and I decided not to let it get the better of us and we decided to go for it. We contacted about 30 people in the middle of a snow storm, and the decided that wasn't going anywhere, so we started tracting and doing swing-bys. The first door we knocked on was someone that Elders Brown and Cushing contacted. He'd been kind of hard to get ahold of, but he said we could come back on Saturday! Afterward, we tracted a little more and we found a man that accepted a Book of Mormon and we taught him a lesson about the restoration of the gospel. We stopped by another person’s home, but she said she wasn't interested, but she asked us to try her neighbor up stairs. Her neighbor let us in and we taught a lesson to her. It turned-out that she wasn't too interested either, but it was allot better than tracting in the cold. Otherwise, it turned out to be a great day that actually began with nothing.  

Friday was awesome! Before we went back to our regular companions, Elder George and I taught one of our investigators named Ann-Sofie. We had a “get to know you” lesson during our first-time meeting with her, but this time we taught her a full lesson about the restoration. She really enjoyed the message and accepted our challenge of Reading the Book of Mormon. She also said if she knew it was true she would be willing to take action, but wanted to read the book first, before she made any bigger commitments. But, she is definitely embracing the idea of moving forward!

On Saturday we taught Stephan and we didn't really know what to expect. He's in his early 60's and he’s had a lot of Snus out on his table (that's a Swedish tobacco product similar to chewing tobacco. The lesson went really great though, and we had answers to questions that he'd wondering about his whole life. He agreed with nearly everything we taught him! He also said if the Book of Mormon felt right and he continued to feel right, he would be open to baptism in the future as well!

Later that night we met a lady named Raine. She's probably one of the coolest people I've ever met and she always teaches us how to cook a new dish every time we go over. This time she taught us how to make Pasta Carbonara which was a lot simpler then I thought it would be. Her birthday was the day after mine, so we had a little party together! 

Sunday was a Birthday to remember… It started off Amazing! Elder Cushing, Senja, and my Mom pulled-off the best present I've ever had for a Birthday! The three of them planned a way to have emails sent from my home ward and from my relatives. Then Senja printed them all off for me and I got an envelope with all of the letters from everyone back home on Sunday! It was so awesome to read all of those! Thank you to everyone that sent a letter!!! 

Afterward, we went to the first counselor, José's, home for dinner. An investigator ended-up a cancelling, so we stayed at José's longer than we had planned. A member called and said she was really sick. We told her we were at José's and she was really thankful because his wife Tina is a nurse. She told us everything she needed and then we bought her medicine and drinks to help her feel better. Then we gave her a blessing. José dropped us off, and we had planned on just calling it a night and making some phone calls, but we both felt we needed to be out a little longer and that we'd find someone else that night.  We contacted people in town for a while and got some bad rejections. We prayed again and felt even stronger that we needed to be out. So, we got rejected six or seven more times and we decided to contact a few more people down to the end of the street. There was hardly anyone out and we got three more no's. At the very end of the street a man walked out in front of us and we asked him if he'd be interested in talking about Jesus Christ. He said he be happy to, and he gave us his number. It was an amazing lesson in faith. I know we were guided by the Holy Ghost that night. 

It was a great end to a great week. A week like this would have crushed me in the past. Even though we had ten cancelations, we worked our hardest and trusted the Lord and we ended up finding almost as many new opportunities as we had originally planned on. So, the Lord really did help us make this week count!

I hope everyone has a great week… Thanks for Reading!!!

Aldste Stoeltzing