Thursday, April 30, 2015

Week 77; April 27, 2015 – Touching Hearts and Minds One at a Time

Hey guys it’s been a wonderful two weeks! We've made a lot of progress and we've had a lot of fun along the way! 

On Monday we took it easy, cleaned-up the apartment and just relaxed for P-day. 

Serving in the Field
Tuesday started-off with a lesson with Jay. We taught him about baptism and why it's so important in Christianity, then we asked him if he would want to be baptized. He was very honest with us and said he wanted to be 100% sure before he made a commitment like that. But he respected that we were bold enough to ask. He said he'd keep reading the Book of Mormon and he said he will do all he can to find out for himself if the church is really true! 

Later, we went to see Stefan and got him excited to quit drinking beer! He is completely ready to stop, and he had already gone a few days without a drink when we had the lesson!

Happy Birthday Elder Bybee!
Karin had us over the next day and gave us some cake that she had bought for Elder Bybee's birthday, she's the sweetest lady ever. 

Later in the week we visited Stefan again with Heeke. We taught him about tithing. He accepted it pretty well. He said he needs to pray about it, but he understands the concept and he said he's be willing if it felt right.  

Malmo Central Train Station
Malmo City Hall
This is the fourth statue of a man on a horse I've seen in four cities
Malmo Castle

The following Monday, we went down to Malmö for Elder Bybee's visa papers. We spent the rest of the day touring Malmö with Elder Corbin and we got some amazing pictures of a beautiful city! 

On Tuesday and Wednesday we contacted a lot of people and we felt really blessed and we hope to start teaching them soon!

The Lund Cathedral is one of the largest in Sweden

Malmo Town Square
I Found a Golden Cooper!
Me and Matilda
We went on splits on Thursday and I had a blast! I went down to Malmö again with Elder Beck and we had an awesome day! We taught with the other Elders who are both good friends of mine. Then we went to the church and one of their investigators made us dinner! She was from Greece and made a Greek lasagna that I she called moussaka, it was super good! Afterward, we played Innabondi and talked with some of the young adults. We went back to the apartment and Elder Beck and I told stories for the rest of the night before going to bed. It was one of my favorite missionary splits ever! 

We came back on Saturday and contacted people like crazy. We found three new potential investigators! Afterward, we taught Stefan about prayer and the spirit helped us give him a powerful lesson that opened his eyes to how truly important prayer really is. 

On Sunday, Elder Bybee gave a talk in church and we got to meet Senja's parents from Germany. They were really nice and they could also speak serval languages like Senja… haha! 

It was an awesome two weeks and I don't want my time here to end! This has been so great. I'm going to put my all into the next two weeks and make them great! 

Love - Äldste Stoeltzing  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Week 76; April 20, 2015 – Going Multi-Lingual

Hey, I won’t have time to write too much this week because we have to travel to Malmö today to take care of Elder Bybee’s Visa renewal. I took care of mine before I left Stockholm.

Oh my gosh, that’s so crazy that cousin Brooke’s getting married so soon!!! She looks amazing in her wedding dress. It looks simple, but elegant… I'm super excited for her!

Did you know I’m picking up some German? It’s pretty similar to Swedish and it’s actually helping my Swedish a lot!!! Yeah, the language just spoke to me! I was thinking about French or Italian for my next language, but German feels really natural and I love the way it sounds. It just feels right to be learning it because of my German last name. This sure beats high school Spanish! Plus, I want to know another language for our trip to Europe next year.

Well, I have to go. I love you guys. Have a great week!

Äldste Stoeltzing

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Week 75; April 13, 2015 – Making Everyday Count!

Wow what a great week! We had a ton of fun and did a lot of work! I loved every minute of it and we are having a blast here! 

Monday was awesome! We ran some errands and then had an after-Easter dinner with Riana. She made us a great chicken casserole and it was a super fun night. 

On Tuesday we did a lot of service for Heikke. We laid cement for him and built a new stairway out of stone that we dug up. The project looks great… I hope we'll be able to stay in the guest house one day when we come back to Halmstad to visit! 

Afterward, we taught Jay and it went great. He was so open to the Plan of Salvation message and he understood it really well. He has an amazing desire to learn and grow and he is reading the Book of Mormon every day! 

Wednesday was an awesome day as well! We went to Landskrona and had our breakfast club with Armina! She made us American Pancakes, sausage and Potatoes. Then we talked about general conference with her and her mom, and we played with her son Sakea!

Later, me and Elder Corbin's new "greeny," Elder Castelton-Roudolf, went on splits and we had quite the day. First, we taught our new investigator, Yotham, but we had nothing else planed till later that night. Elder Castelton is one of the most fired-up young missionaries I've ever seen and he said lets go to work. So, we just gave it everything we could downtown and we ended-up talking to over 100 people! By the end of the day we had taught six lessons on the street and we had gotten four new phone numbers. He was an amazing young missionary even though he's only been out a week, I learned a ton from watching him work!

Thursday was a great zone conference. We learned about effective study habits and we focused on how we can apply our studies to help our investigators. My good friend Elder Sheldon shared his last testimony with us. He will be going home at the end of this transfer, making me, for the time being, the only missionary representing the greater Sacramento area in Sweden! 

Zone Conference
On Friday we taught Stefan and he is doing amazing! Guess what? He made it over a week without snus! He thanked us so much for helping him, but we told him we didn't do much. The credit belongs to his desire to change and his faith that God can help him! We bought him a cake to celebrate! I know he's going to make it and I'm so thankful to God for his progress! 

Saturday was a day of service. We helped an older lady named Göta prepare to move to a town called Allingsås near to Göteborg. She was a super sweet woman. I'm sad we didn't get to know her better before she moved. 

Later that day we helped Riana do some spring cleaning. We cleaned up her balcony and I got a refresher course in washing windows that was actually fun :) 

On Sunday we had a great day at church and we fasted for the coming month of missionary work in Halmstad.  

This has been a great week and I'm loving this area and the people so much. Thank you to everyone who reads this every week and for the prayers of support you give. I love you guys so much and I hope you have a wonderful week! 

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Week 74; April 6, 2015 – A Swedish Easter!

It has been an absolutely fantastic last Easter-week in Sweden! 

We started-off with a pretty relaxed P-day and just shopped a little bit in town. Everything’s pretty well decorated with feathers and stuff all over the place! So, here’s some weird Easter facts about Sweden. In many ways, it’s similar to Easter in America, but the Swede’s have two holiday traditions that are really funny. First, Donald Duck is more popular than Mickey Mouse by a long shot. And second, Chickens and ducks are honored in Sweden as the true mascots of Easter (Påsk is the name for Easter here) and the Easter bunny rarely receives a mention. So, if you ever come to Sweden around this time you'll probably see a lot of chicken paraphernalia. 

Later on Monday, we taught Stefan and the lesson went great. He’s made some major progress by stopping Snus.  

On Tuesday, we had breakfast with Marcus and made some American pancakes! They were great we topped them with syrup, bananas, and bacon! It almost tasted like home! 

The next day we taught Jay about the Book of Mormon. We explained the meaning of the book in more detail and he said reading it would be a huge priority in his life! He's one of the nicest people I've ever worked with and he is genuinely willing to learn and search for the truth. I hope I'll stay longer and watch the progress he makes as he dives deeper into his investigation!

We also taught Stefan latter that night and he continues to make great progress. He said he whole heartedly believes that he'll never buy it again! He also said that he feels like learning about the gospel is like remembering a long lost truth! We we're thrilled when he said this! We'd never taught him that specific gospel truth before. Understanding the gospel is more like remembering than learning. We explained that the Holy Ghost had taught him that! It's been such a blessing every week watching him learn and grow! 

On Thursday we met the new greenies in the district, Elders Johanson and Rudolf-Castleton. They were super fired-up and spoke the best Swedish I've ever heard from a new missionary! They'll be a great addition to the district and they are ready to hit the ground running! 

The weekend was amazing! We went out to the countryside to help José move some firewood and then we had lunch with them. It was an incredible meal! We had stew with this really good cheese sauce and she made homemade bread… It was to die for! Afterward, we drove back and taught Trang and Lassie and ended the day with a little Easter party with Kari! 

Saturday was the best! Easter is usually celebrated on a Saturday in Sweden. Senja and the Bishop had us over for a party and invited a ton of people. We got to meet their friend who was the only Stake President in Belgium! That was a cool experience and their family was awesome! The food was great. Senja made meat and cheese pies that were out-of-this-world good! We were so thankful she gave us the best Easter ever! 

Two Good Eggs!
General Conference was incredible as well! I feel completely recharged again… I thought every talk was special. My memory is a little jumbled-up with who said what, but I can't wait to read all the talks again and apply the wonderful lessons I learned to my life!

This was an Easter to remember and I'm so thankful to all the people that made it great! I hope everyone had a great Easter week, and I hope everyone will continue to remember the Savior and all that he has done for us. 

I Love you guys,

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Week 73; March 30, 2015 – A Bowl of Curry and a Measure of Success!

What a great week! We've focused a lot on helping Stefan quit Snus (Smokeless chewing tobacco). It's been great. We gave him the church’s quit tobacco presentation, and he loved it. He agreed with every point and he even got up and flushed a can of Snus down the toilet! We've been going by almost every day and he's doing a great job! He keeps going longer and longer without Snus and he’s almost making it two days at a time now! We know he'll be ready for his baptism soon. His testimony of the Book of Mormon keeps growing and growing.  

We found another great investigator recently.  His name is Jay and he's a convert to Islam who joined because he felt they have a short pathway back to God. He was shocked when we told him prophets exist on earth today and he genuinely started searching to know if it’s true. He's accepted to read the Book of Mormon and he wants to come with us to General Conference.  

Helsingborg District Meeting
We had a super fun district meeting this week. We stayed the night in Helsingborg and Elder Bybee made us his famous fried chicken. All I can say is he's going to be a very successful chef… It was probably the best fried chicken I've ever had!

The next day we had breakfast with the assistants and a convert Elder Noso met when he started his mission in Landskrona. They were the coolest people ever and she made a killer apple pie! We visited for a few hours and held our district meeting at her place! 

Aldste Stoeltzing reading Den Aldste
On Saturday night we had one of the coolest testimony building experiences I've had in a long time. We we're really hungry, so we decided to try some Indian food. The dinner prices were super expensive, so we told the owner we'd come back later. As we we're leaving she shouted, “Wait!” She invited us back in and explained that she met with some missionaries once and she still considered them to be good friends. She said we were the first missionaries she'd seen in over ten years and she wanted us to be her guests that night! She made us curry chicken and told us all about her old missionaries! She invited us to come back whenever we wanted to talk more! This was so cool for me.

Often, missionaries measure their success in the number of lessons they teach or the amount of baptisms they have, and I admit, I'm guilty of that a too. As a result, I sometimes feel like I haven’t been very successful because I haven’t baptized anyone yet and I've worked in some areas where I didn't teach too much. Alicia, the restaurant owner, showed me that success on a mission is as much about making a friend and touching a life, as it is getting a baptism. It took that bowl of curry to help me realize that maybe my mission has meant a lot more than I thought, and hopefully, maybe one of the thousands of people I've met will one day remember me and the message I shared! I’m sure Alicia’s missionaries have no clue she still remembers them, but I'm so grateful for the work they did and for the lesson I've learned from this experience. 

Elder Stoeltzing and Stefan
Church was great on Sunday! Stefan came and he actually surprised us by bringing his girlfriend Elisabeth! They both loved it and felt a warm welcome from the ward. 

It's been a fantastic week and I can't wait for Easter. I hope everyone has a great weekend with family and friends! 

Äldste Stoeltzing