Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Week 89; July 27, 2015 – Seek and Ye Shall Find!

It's been a crazy week! We've traveled a lot and accomplished much. Things started-off really slow, but we were really blessed and we got a lot of work done. 

Jag älskar Sverige! (I Love Sweden)
Monday was pretty simple, we just took care of the usual stuff then then had dinner with the sisters and a really cool member named Linda. She made us a spaghetti feast! I've had a lot of diners in Sweden, but I always love a good old spaghetti dinner! She had three little kids to that were super fun! Her youngest, Noah, is two and had a ton of energy. We chased him all over the house!  

Tuesday was a little slower. We couldn't get anything set-up so we did a lot of contacting and visiting less-active members. That night I had a cool experience. I tried calling everyone and I was just having a hard time setting-up lessons. At almost 10:00 PM I felt really strongly that I needed to call one of our investigators, Jeff. I have literally never called anyone that late at night, but I did it anyway, and he said he would be happy to meet with us! 

The next day our zone leaders came to work with us. We taught a Finnish man named Sauli, and it went really well. We discussed the Plan of Salvation and most of his beliefs were similar to ours. Sadly, he'll be moving soon, but we'll be meeting with him three times next week to prepare him to meet with the new Elders in Kristanstad. (Pronounced Ker-quans-stad) 

Afterward, we went on a road trip with the zone leaders to track down less-active members that lived far from the city. It was hard because it can take all day to find one of them, so there’s a lot of people we don't get to visit. Sadly, we didn't have much luck connecting with anyone, but we left some cards and notes and we hope some of them will be able to make it back to church in the future.

Resting While Tracting
Later, we split up and I went tracting with Elder Stinnet from my MTC group. We found two potential investigators then a super unusual, but awesome thing happened. We met this little old man earlier in the day who tried to speak English with us. Strangely enough, Elder Stinnet and I ended-up knocking on his door later and he was so surprised. He asked, “How did you guys find me?” We explained that it was a complete accident and he said, “Well I must need to talk to you guys,” and he invited us into his home to learn about the restoration. We taught him a great lesson and we hope to continue teaching him after he returns from his vacation. 

That night was amazing Elder Stinnet and I went to teach Jeff and he said that he had completely forgot his cousin was going to be in town that night, so we invited his cousin to listen. His cousin was super interested and he participated a ton in the lesson. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and focused a lot on the meaning of faith. Sadly, Jeff will be moving to Göteborg soon and his cousin lives there as well, but it was still amazing because Elder Stinnet works in that area and he was able to develop a relationship with Jeff before his move, so it ended up being great!  

Blackburn's in Awe!
On Thursday, Elder Farnworth taught an amazing District Meeting on the Sermon on the Mount. He has learned so much in his two years, so I always learn a ton from his district meetings. 

Elder Farnworth and I went on splits afterward and we helped a man paint for a few hours. We talked a lot that night, and he helped me to focus everything I can give until the end of my mission. He has been a huge help to me and I can't believe that he'll be home in nine days! 

On Friday we taught Mattias with the sisters. We taught him about the priesthood and explained why men have the priesthood. At first he thought it was a dominance thing, but we explained how the priesthood acts as an umbrella to protect and strengthen both men and woman. He seemed very satisfied with our answers, but we had to leave early to get back to Jönköping. The Sisters then taught him about The Family, A Proclamation the World, and he ended-up excepting a baptismal date! We're all super excited and I know he we'll be able to do this!!! 

Saturday was really hard. We had another lesson with Mattias and it went really well. We had four more lessons planned that day, but all four called and canceled, so we were pretty sad. But it ended-up working out better than we expected. We found another person to teach that day and we met with the Sisters to discuss the best ways we could help Mattias move forward.   

On Sunday we had another great lesson with Mattias. He came to church as well! He was worried about the meaning of the Sabbath, so I studied a lot and we taught him about the history of the Sabbath. We have more to share with him, but he's doing allot better. 

A Little Volleyball Competition Between Districts
We ended the week with a great dinner with an American family, the Murphy’s, that’s the family we did the Fourth of July with. He told us some great stories the whole night about when he lived in Mississippi and about his mission to South Africa. 

Well, it was a great week and we have an amazing week ahead of us! Thanks for reading!

Love you guys!!! 

Äldste Stoeltzing   

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 88; July, 20, 2015 – High on a Mountain Top!

It has been an amazing, non-stop week! We climbed two mountains, had an awesome Zone training, experienced a wallet-related miracle, and all kinds of adventures along the way. 

Monday was one of the most exciting P-days of my mission. We went to Jönköping and climbed one of the largest mountains in southern Sweden...It wasn't actually that large, but it was still really cool. We started things off by going cave exploring. And, we were led under the mountain by a man who was way too passionate about bats. Fun fact… It’s extremely cold underground and very dark! But, it was super cool and I'm glad the bats weren't home when we took our tour. After we explored under the mountain, we decided to climb to the top of mountain to see a beautiful view of the town built along the lakeside below us.

Later that day, Elder Blackburn practiced for his musical debut with Elder Farnworth and Sister Giles and they sounded amazing together! 

On Tuesday we did a little bit of street contacting and then we went into Göteborg early, so Elder Blackburn could keep practicing his music. Before going to bed, we climbed another cooler mountain with the Utby Elders and we got some great pictures of the sunset.

Our Zone training was amazing on Wednesday. We discussed the Book of Mormon and its’ effectiveness in our proselyting efforts. Afterward, we had a Family Home Evening with our Mission President and his wife. They let us ask any question we wanted to about them. I feel like we really got to know them so much better than before. It was one of the best Zone trainings I have ever been to, and I was super glad we got to have some amazing time with the Beckstrands!

On Thursday we had an amazing lesson with Jeff, one of our investigators. He started arguing about our code of health, the Word of Wisdom, and he explained this was his biggest trial in his conversion process. I wanted to argue back, and I thought of all the things I could say about the Word of Wisdom, but when I opened my mouth I literally couldn't get a word out, and I felt the strongest prompting that we needed to talk about the Book of Mormon. We gave our testimonies of the Book and about God's plan for us. At the end of the lesson he said that maybe he's been a bit ignorant and he will try harder to understand these things.

Friday was a crazy service project. A member asked us to do some service with them and dig some ditches. When we got there, they had started digging a mote around their house… It was crazy!  We helped them dig, but we were just so shocked by their mole-like digging talent! 

On Saturday, we had another special experience. We were out contacting people and we were approached by a man who showed us a wallet. It was Elder Blackburn’s! The man had found it and stolen the bus card, but he didn't touch the rest of the stuff. I guess he felt guilty and gave everything back. It was a huge miracle for Elder Blackburn to see the Lord answer his prayers.

Well, we’re looking forward to another amazing week!

Love you guys! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Week 87; July 13, 2015 – Light at the end of the Tunnel

Wow, it’s been a crazy-good week! The work is non-stop here in Borås and we are loving it! 

On Tuesday we helped some older members move into a retirement community. Older people usually have well-made furniture, so everything was really heavy compared to the IKEA furniture we move a lot. But, we had a lot of help, so it went fast. Afterward, we learned how to fill the baptismal font, which was more complicated than I thought it would be. Their font is underneath the floor, so yeah, we had to take panels off the floor to get to it. We ended the night by going to Sweden's most popular hamburger place, MAX, with a young single adult (YSA) from the ward and Elder Blackburn got his first MAX Burger! 

Elder Blackburn getting humbled by Sister Lund at tennis
We met with our friend Mattias on Wednesday and played Tennis with him. The Sisters came too, and Sister Lund kicked everyone's butt’s… She is crazy good! Then the real craziness started, Elder Blackburn lost his wallet. We checked on every bus on the system and we couldn't find it. We even had to get new bus cards. We were hoping we still might be able to find it, but it's not looking good. 

Thursday was funny. We went out early to eat with a member family. When we got there they asked us where our work close were. We were really confused. They thought they had told us we were supposed to do a service project with them. We either forgot, or we didn't hear them, so we thought for a second that we would be digging in our missionary clothes. Fortunately, they had extra clothes and shoes in our sizes. So, the day was saved! 

Later that day, we had one of our best lessons in Borås so far. We planned to meet with a kid by the name of Tommy, but it was hard to set-up a visit with him because his parents were super against him taking the missionary lessons. We were worried he wouldn't be able to come, but he decided to at least meet us and talk. We weren't sure what to expect, but the lesson was really cool. He explained that his parents were passionate atheists and they hated religion. 

Even still, they let him participate in what is called confirmation. Most Swedes do conformation in their teenage years. They take a series of religious courses followed by a test. It's a tradition in the Swedish church, and even if you’re completely unbelieving, most people still do it. It's just a rite of passage for most people. But, Tommy said it got him praying for the first time and he felt the messages in the Bible were true. After he prayed, he really felt God in his life and he couldn’t deny the connection he felt with God. He didn't tell his family and he kept his faith a secret, and eventually he found the missionaries. 

It went well for a while, but his parents found his Book of Mormon, and they were mad at him for thinking about religion. He decided that he would not let that deter his faith and he wanted to keep meeting with us. He decided as soon as he was able to support himself, he will become an active Christian. He hopes to marry his Christian girlfriend and raise his kids in a faith. Seeing young people like him gives me a lot of hope. I know the hope of Sweden's religious future is with kids like Tommy and I hope that we will give him the support he needs to keep his faith strong. I had the strongest feeling as we taught him that he would be an amazing missionary if he ever accepted the gospel. 

The next day we had an awesome district meeting and reviewed the entire Book of Mormon. It was a great meeting and I was able to go on splits that day with the last missionary that Elder Miles had trained, Elder Dickson. We had a great day and ended-up teaching five lessons.

On the way home, I left my jacket on the train. Luckily the zone leaders got it and we decided to get it the next morning. Unfortunately, we didn't realize ‘till we got home that night that the jacket had our apartment keys in it, so we had to go to Göteborg late that night to stay with the other missionaries and get our keys. Luckily, everything worked-out and we got back into our apartment the next morning.   

There is Light at the End of The Tunnel
On P-day we went cave exploring then we hiked to the top of the mountain that was above the cave. It was one of my coolest P-days in Sweden*. Then Elders Farnworth and Blackburn practiced for a special musical number that they will perform in Conference on Tuesday. 

This area is amazing and it’s been one of the funnest parts of my mission. Although, I feel really sad that I'm getting close to the end of my mission. But, right now every day is great, even with all the craziness this week. I want to make sure we enjoy every day we have here and finish strong! 

I Love you guys!  

*(See Elder Blackburn’s mission blog at http://blackburnblazingsweden.blogspot.com/ for more companionship photos)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 86; July 6, 2015 – A Good ol' Down-home Swedish-American 4th of July

I love Borås so much!!! We are off to such a great start here! The “California District” is the best!!!

We spent a lot of this week tracking down our investigators. We met with a kid named Emil first. He was really cool. He rides dirt bikes and he is really interested in the church. Later we went to dinner with a lady named Hilma. She had an amazing story about how her family escaped from Russia and was lead to Sweden.  

The next morning we practiced a lesson with a member and as we finished he got a call and we found out he'd lost thousands of dollars in an African real estate scam... so, that really does happen. 

Later in the week we had an amazing experience. We were out contacting people and went up to a large group of kids and just preached to them. They were totally interested and most of them gave us there numbers to follow-up! 

On Thursday we met with our ward mission leader. He's the youngest ward mission leader I've had so far, but he's awesome! He gave us some great advice and he seems like he'll be super fun to work with! 

That night I met my first Icelandic investigator, Jeff (A very Icelandic name actually). He was really cool and he really loves missionaries.  

Friday was awesome too. We had zone training and went back to my favorite city, Göteborg. Elder Blackburn and I gave an example of a lesson on the Book of Mormon and he did a great job! That night we took an investigator to a pre 4th of July party for the YSA's. I met one of my favorite people there, Paul Murphy, a proud American from Mississippi, and we talked about politics for a long time… Haha! It was very nostalgic! An old friend, Louis Hurray, taught a lesson about the blessings of freedom and I made a lot of comments. Louis is awesome, he may be Swedish, but he has a greater respect and knowledge of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution than most Americans.

The next day we went back to Borås for an amazing 4th of July party. We had a barbecue, as well as a “Feats of Manly Strength” competition, which Elder Blackburn won. And then, I held my own competition called the “American Trivia Challenge.” We also had a great game of football, and it worked out to be one of my favorite 4ths ever! 

We were sad to hear about Elder Packer dying, but the Lord has called him home and I know he is much happier now. I want to express my thanks for his amazing life of service.  

Well, we're ready to have another great week!  I Love you guys so much! 

-Äldste Stoeltzing