Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 93; August 24, 2015 – For the LOVE of the Game!

Another week in the books! This time I had the scary realization that my remaining weeks have crossed into single digits!  It doesn't feel like this is all going to end so soon! This has been such an amazing part of my mission and I'm so thankful for every day that I have left! Borås has an incredible ward I couldn't ask for more!

Sunset out our window!
Monday was great! We took it pretty easy and mostly worried about our cleaning and shopping. Later that evening a YSA (Young Single Adult) called us and wanted to go out for dinner. He was baptized a year ago, but he had been less-active for a while. It was a really special night though. He said his friend was leaving on her mission and that has made him realize how special the gospel has been to him. As a result, he wants to get active in the church again and start thinking more about going on a mission! We felt so thankful that we could be there to hear that and we’re thankful he's our friend!  

On Tuesday we helped an American member named Ralph move fire wood. The sisters came and helped too. They found a giant toad in the wood pile and got pretty scared! After we finished we ate tacos and I went to a doctor’s appointment. 

A slight fender-bender... You should see the other car!
I've been having some back trouble, so I was gonna go get it checked out, and ironically, on the way there we got in a bus accident, don't worry though, it wasn't a bad accident, no one got hurt, and we barley felt a thing. The bus swung too wide and smashed the side of some guy’s car. I felt really bad. The bus just got a little scratched and damaged a tail light, but the side of the car was destroyed!   

We had lunch with the stake President on Wednesday. And, of course, we had another taco lunch (Never a bad thing!). Later, we met with Jeff and talked to him some more about the Book of Mormon. 

On Thursday I taught a district meeting about improving companionship study. I've never been one for group work, so companionship study can be difficult for me, but I shared a story that helped me learn to give my best, even when I’m doing things I don't enjoy. 

Around the turn of the century, Stanford was one of the best football teams in the country and Michigan defiantly wasn't. Due to a weird policy about having only alumni act as the coaching staff, Stanford fired their head coach, a simple-looking, soft-spoken man named Fielding Yost. Coach Yost took the first job he could fine at a top tier University, so he moved to Michigan to take on the struggling team as the head coach. 

On day one, he called a press conference and told the media his team would go undefeated and win the national championship that season, and to top it all off, he would allow fewer than 45 points to be scored against them the whole season, a feat unheard of in college football. Certainly a goal that seemed impossible for a program like Michigan’s.

His players were furious at him and thought their new head coach was crazy. He called a team meeting and told all of his players that it was their choice if they wanted to play football for him or not. He had them take off their jerseys and pile them in a corner of the locker room. He then told them if they wanted to play Michigan football they needed to be able to understand “one word”. He wrote the word on the board and dropped his chock. The locker room was dead silent, and that one word started the Michigan’s three year dynasty as national champions. 

Not only did the total points scored against them remain under 45 points, but they weren't even scored on at any time that year. Coach Yost won his first national championship that year against Stanford, the school that had fired him less than a year before. He went on to become one of the winning-est coaches in college football history. 

So, what one word could have inspired such an incredible turn of events. What one word could turn a failing team into a championship football dynasty? I asked everyone in my district this question and I got some really good answers, like “unity,” “team work,” “diligence,” along with some other great ideas. But, there is one word that contains every virtue, a word that was at the heart of Jesus Christ's doctrine. The word was “Love.” Coach Yost told his team you won't win if you just play the game. You win when you love the game, and when you love the game you put your heart into every aspect of it. 

The little things won't seem so hard when they are done for the love of the game. This applies to everything in life. At work we may like our jobs, but hate parts of it, or we can learn to love the small and inconvenient parts. These seem like little things when we remember the love of what we are doing. If we can apply that love to everything we do, everything gets easier.

I related this story to missionary work and explained that there are parts of this job we are simply not going to like, but we love the gospel and we love sharing it with others. It is only that love that can carry us through the hardships and help us to find success in all aspects of this work.  

After the meeting I went to Jönköping with Elder Dicksson and we had a great time. We went to dinner with one of the High Councilors and we came home to celebrate training together over a bottle of sparkling cider and had a great talk about the rest of our missions. He's only halfway through. He was the other missionary that Elder Miles had trained, so it was pretty special for us to be able to train together in the same district.  

Digesting my inner peas
On Friday, I had another check-up and the doctor helped me with some yoga and stretching exercises to help my back. Later we went to the Ahlin family’s home for dinner and we ate Moussaka. He went on his mission to Greece, so they really like to eat Greek food, and I defiantly do to! We helped them to paint their house afterward. 

Saturday was another good one, we contacted people through a lot of the day, and then we went to the Bishop's house for dinner. They had an awesome dinner… A grilled burger-type-thing that was similar to a hamburger and Swedish meatball hybrid, it was amazing! After dinner the Bishop showed us his music room. He had two electric guitars and a huge Marshall tube amp. They also had a bass and a drum set. Bishop is a classic rock fan, so he sat back and listened to us do some melodies from a few Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin songs. I think we defiantly became friends with the Bishop after that visit! We all had a great time! 

Church was good this week. There was a farewell for a new missionary named Gustav, who will be heading to Wisconsin, USA (Also known as “New Swedland”)! 

We all went to dinner at the Karlsson's afterward and played with their kids. We ate Korv (sausage) stroganoff and then we shared a spiritual message with them.  Afterward, we contacted the first girl we saw when we got off the bus and she was super interested in prophets, and we hope to meet with her and her family again this week! 

The district did amazing this week and I was so glad to be a part of it! The work in Sweden is absolutely taking off right now, and I am gonna keep on giving this all I have! Thank you for your support everyone… I love you guys! 

Elder Stoeltzing!   

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week 92; August 17, 2015 – Spicing Things-up!

Wow we packed a lot into this week and we got a ton done, but I'm exhausted in the best way possible!  

Monday was a fun, relaxed P-day. We did some exploring and ate at an Indian restaurant called Indian Express… It was the bomb! I asked for the hottest thing on the menu and enjoyed some Tikka Marsala, it was delicious, but not too spicy! Everything is watered down in Sweden because Sweds hate spicy foods. Some people in the restaurant thought I was crazy for ordering all that spiciness, but it wasn't too bad. 

Atop a Church Tower

Afterward, we went to the local music store. We've gotten to be pretty good friends with the owner and he let me take the most expensive electric guitar and bass in the store for a spin. I played a 1960 re-issue Gibson Les Paul in the custom shop, which is like taking a Lamborghini for a test drive, and Elder Blackburn played a Fender Precision Bass out of the old Custom shop! We played some Red Hot Chili Pepper covers and our rendition of Kolab Rock! The owners were pretty impressed, I'm just glad I can still play. I've forgotten a few songs, but my technique is still there and it helps to have a companion as musical as Elder Blackburn. 

We started a great project with Mattias to help him read the Book of Mormon. We read one chapter a night with him and we discuss it together… It’s been going great! 

On Tuesday we practiced a lesson with our friend Stellan and then we taught Mattias. We contacted potential investigators the rest of the day.

We went to lunch with Mattias on Wednesday and he showed us a great new Kebab place that serves pizza with cheesy garlic sauce it was Toppin! We also discussed his progress with the Book of Mormon. He's already read a ton on his own and he’s really diving into the reading! 

Removing 100 Year-old Sawdust Insulation
Later that day we helped the Carlson family tear-out some old insulation from the roof and walls of a turn-of-the-century home. The two of us aren’t real happy with the guy who invented the use of sawdust as insulation. It’s not a good idea when you have to tear it out. It was a super hard project, but we were rewarded with pepperoni pizza, so worth the effort! 

We went on splits last Thursday when Elder Perkins came to town. We taught Mattias with the Sisters and we discussed overcoming our weakness and finding our true potential. That brought tears to everyone’s eyes. Mattias is having some trouble getting-off some of his medications and he’s afraid of the change, but I know that he has felt the spirit and the gospel is changing his life for the better.

Missionaries Contacting People on a Bus
The rest of the day was tough. We did a lot of contacting. Just when we had called it quits for the night and we were returning home, we thought it would be good to speak with one more lady and she gave us her number right away! It was awesome, and it taught me that there’s always someone who is prepared if we’re willing to keep working to find them! 

We had a great zone training on Friday. It was about planning our studies and speaking Swedish more often… Goals that we will take to the district during the coming weeks! 

Mattias’ brother was visiting from Stockholm, so we got to teach him on Friday. He is searching for truth as well, and he really liked what he heard. The best part of the lesson was hearing Mattias testify to his brother of new truths he has been learning and explain it to him in a way that only he could in order to help his brother understand. His brother seemed super interested and he wants to learn more when he gets back to Stockholm! 

A Lawn Game Called "Cube"
Saturday was a great day. Our friends the Sahlins baptized their son Christopher! He is a great little missionary and he invited a lot of his friends to the baptism. It was such a cool experience and it was the only 8 year old baptism I've seen in Sweden so far! 

On the way to the baptism we had a really cool experience. A man contacted us and asked if we were missionaries. He explained he was searching once for truth, but he had given up on the existence of a God. We shared our testimony to him that God wasn't worth giving up on, and if he had a desire to search again, we could show him something that will fill what he was looking for so long. He agreed to talk to us and gave us his number! 

Sunday was kind of tough. Mattias said he wanted to push back his baptismal date. We listened, and his reasons made sense. Getting off of his medications is a huge hurdle for him and it will be really tough. But he's promised to keep meeting with us and stay active in church. We understand and think it’s a necessary step for his progress and I'm still really hopeful that I can be here to see him get baptized! 

But, it was a great week and I'm defiantly finishing strong… I'm so fired up for the work! I may be getting physically tired, but I'm in this 100%, and loving every second of my mission. This is the greatest work in all the world, and now, as I near the finish line, I don't ever want it to end! I am so thankful for the wonderful eleven weeks I still have ahead of me! 

Thanks for reading!

Äldste Stoeltzing

P.S. Please pray for the father of a recently-returned Swedish missionary who suffered a heart attack just days after his son’s return. Your sincere prayers are truly appreciated! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 91; August 10, 2015 – 928,800 Minutes… How Do You Measure 21-1/4 Months!

Wow, another week has come and gone, and this one was hard. We had to say goodbye to some of our dear friends, but we did it in style, and we probably gave Elder Farnworth the greatest missionary funeral (send-off) of all time! 

Monday was pretty normal. We had a cool lunch with Mattias, the Sister missionaries, and a girl named Hilda who's about to leave on her mission. We thought we'd try a new experience, so we ordered two giant Kebab pizzas for everyone, they were huge!!! We didn't even get close to finishing them, even with the six of us! 

Kebeb Pizza anyone?
Tuesday was the funeral. We've been planning this for the past six weeks. Elder Farnworth asked me if we could give him a memorable send-off to end his mission. We didn’t tell him that we were already planning it, so as far as he was concerned, he was going to conduct one last district meeting and that would be it. Little did he know, we we're putting-together the most legendary missionary funeral of all time for him! 

A mission can be a funny thing, in the sense that there are more than 150 Elders and Sisters in the whole country, some of whom you may only see once in two years, while there are other's that you can never seem to escape. That couldn’t have been truer than it was for me and Elder Kelab Farnworth. After serving together in three districts for a total of eight months, Elder Farnworth has been one of the most consistent personalities of my entire mission and he has been one of my closest friends over these past two years. So, naturally we needed to go all-out for him!

How to build a strong district
He thought we'd be having a lite breakfast followed by his final district meeting. As he was finishing breakfast Sister Brink told him he “needed” to eat one last Swedish pancake. As he was eating, Elder Harrison shouted, “Oh no Elder Farnworth, you’re choking!” Elder Farnworth seemed to know exactly what we were doing, so played along and he collapsed onto the floor "dead!" We carried his body into the bathroom where we explained that he had died. But, he was being permitted to stay and observe his own funeral for one last day. 

So, Farnworth’s body was escorted into the room and laid on a table, off to the side, as we started his memorial service. I presided over the funeral and we began with a sonata played on the ukulele. Next, Sister Giles had written an obituary explaining his tragic cause of death… It was hilarious! Afterward, we had a reading of various haiku’s and then Elder Blackburn and I played a rendition of “Come Thou Fount,” on electric guitar and bass. Finally, we got to the big speech, Elder Farnworth's life story. I took all the major events of Farnworth's mission and dramatized “The Legend of Kaleb!” A 20 minute epic ballad of sorts, telling Farnworth's story! He loved it! We ended on a really spiritual note and everyone shared what Elder Farnworth had meant to them on their missions and we let him close the meeting. 

Farewell Elder Farnworth... You'll be missed!
We gave him one last surprise and rearranged the song from RENT, “Seasons of Love,” with the lyrics, “Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year…” and we made it all about Farnworth. He thought it was the perfect ending. Then we took some family pictures and we had one last district lunch at Jenson’s Böfhus (steakhouse). All of us went to the train station to wave goodbye and watch him ride off to Stockholm, then home. It was a sad day, but it was the perfect ending to his mission. Fortunately, I'll get to see him again when I return in three months! 

The big send-off!
That night we came back and took Mattias to dinner with two members named Sinnika and Hilma. We ate salmon with them and it was delicious! 

On Wednesday we had another sad goodbye. Sister Giles was transferred to Kungsbacka. We're really sad to see her go, but she's going to the best place ever and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather see serving in my first area! 

The California connection won't be the same without Sister Giles
The new Sister is really cool. She just left her first area and she has a great energy for the work. Her name is Sister Nielson and she just flew down from the artic city of Luleå. 

We we're having some trouble with our phone on Thursday, so we went to Göteborg and had Elder Stinnet fix it for us. Then we did some service for an older lady named Irma. 

Later that day, our investigator, Jeff, had to cancel on us but we went to his neighborhood and did some great contacting and taught a family there! We ended-up teaching this lady’s husband out of a third story balcony, not the usual, but it worked! 

Moments of reflection
Friday was really funny. We went to visit a member named Våge and he served Elder Blackburn his first glass of Påskmusk (Easter soda). However, while he was eating, he accidentally dropped a potato in his drink. Våge thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. He said there won’t be a lot of missionaries that he never forgets, but the guy that invented Påskmusk potatoes will defiantly be one of them! 

Working together to teach Mattias
We taught Mattias later that day and we had a great lesson. He had a lot of super deep questions and I explained how they all had answers. But, some were answers were more complicated. I related it to how I struggled with math and wanted to master it, but I would still make mistakes with my addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I told him that one could never master math until they learned these basic functions, and I drew them up on the board. We explained that there are basic functions in the gospel as well, like knowing God loves us, developing a testimony of prophets, accepting the Book of Mormon, and having faith in Jesus Christ. He accepted this explanation and he realized these where the things he needed to understand now, and then, the deeper answers would come soon enough. 

The Work in Sweden is uplifting!
Saturday was awesome!  We went to the Murphy's again and helped them put a silicon coating on their barn roof to cover-up and seal the leaks to get it ready for winter. The barn was huge, like maybe 50 yards or so, but it was a really fun project.  Then they fed us American pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast (a rare delicacy in Sweden).

Do I really look shorter at this angle? 
After church we had dinner with the Englebreakson's and enjoyed taco night, probably the best missionary meal ever! They are one of my favorite families. This was a great way to finish-up an amazing week! 

Thanks for reading guys! I Love you all a ton! 

Äldste Stoeltzing

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Week 90; August 3, 2015 – God Does Work in Mysterious Ways!

Well, the week started-off fairly simple, then it quickly got really confusing. I ended-up traveling up and down Sweden and visiting five different cities as well as unexpectedly moving into another apartment... It’s not what I was expecting at the beginning of the week, but it turned out great. 

Our P-day on Monday was a blast! The Beckstrand's had a great idea to have every zone in the mission host a volleyball tournament, so we went over to Göteborg and jumped on a train to a little town called Trollhättan to play some volleyball! It was super fun to do something so competitive! Even though my team didn't win, we still a great day! 

Tuesday was awesome! We taught Mattias and had a big Q&A session where we answered a lot of his questions. He's progressing really well and doing an amazing job keeping his commitments! 

It was on Tuesday night and Wednesday when things got interesting. The Sister missionaries have some crazy neighbors that have been giving them a hard time. They told the mission office about the problem and it seemed serious enough that we were asked to move them the very next day. We were pretty surprised, but we knew it was for the best. So, we spent most of Wednesday running bags across town to expedite the move… It was the fastest I've ever had to move. Haha! 

Zone Training
Also, on Wednesday I got a surprise invitation to attend a new trainer meeting up in Stockholm. It was supposed to be for the new training group, but Elder Farnworth talked President Beckstrand into letting me go as well. I was super thankful for the experience. He answered a lot of my questions and I know the next 6 weeks will be great as I continue to train Elder Blackburn while serving as a District Leader in one of the largest and coolest districts in the mission, covering Borås, Jönköping, and Skövde in Southern Sweden with 10 awesome missionaries!

Our District
On Friday we had a fun bus ride back to our area with a lot of my friends; Elders Stinnet, Dicksson, Petterson, Smith, and Pearson, who will all be training new missionaries next week! On the way back, Elder Dicksson and I had a crazy conversation with a lady who was furious at us because we weren't open to the possibility that Jesus could have been a woman. While she was screaming at us, another lady walked-up and said she was a feminist from America… I prayed that we wouldn't get destroyed by the two ladies on a crowded bus. My prayer was answered when the lady explained that she was a feminist as well as a devoted Christian. This answered my prayer in a very unusual way. 

The best part of the story was that there was another woman sitting next to us that had become intrigued by the conversation, and when we had finished talking to the other two women, she allowed us to share a lesson with her the rest of the way home and, it turned-out that she actually lived right next to the church! She said she would come to church as soon as she could! God truly does work in mysterious ways! 

The rest of the week got back to normal after all the craziness. We had a great lesson with Mattias on Sunday and I feel really happy with the trust he is putting in the Lord. He bore his testimony in Priesthood meeting and he wore a suit to church, so it was really cool for all of us to watch him grow. 
Elder Blackburn teaching Mattias how to tie a tie
Well, that was our week… Hopefully next week will be a little more relaxed. But, we always seem to keep things interesting in Borås, despite all the craziness. I’m loving every second I’m able to serve! 

I Love you guys tons!!!

Äldste Stoeltzing