Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 98: September 28, 2015 – Making the Best of Things!

Another week in the books! This one was a little slower, some plans fell through and changed a bit, but we made the best of things along the way. 
Back in Goteborg
Elder Treat scaring a frog
On Monday we met with Mattias for pizza and Elder Treat got to know him a little better. But, Tuesday was wild. We have some American friends in the ward, the Murray's, and they needed some help with a project. They heat their house with fire wood and needed us to clear some logs they'd cut down near the Bishop's cabin. We drove about 40 minutes into the wilderness and came to a large dirt hill we tried to drive up it in the car, but the complete lack of friction made that too difficult, so we pushed the trailer up the hill, it reminded me of pushing handcarts on our pioneer trek, but with a significantly heavier cart.

I'll miss the beautiful Swedish countryside
Saying goodbye to the Murray's
We finally made it up the hill, and started loading the wood. We loaded about two pine trees full and then we cleared a bunch of branch clippings, all during a rain storm, but it was really good to serve and they we're really thankful we could help them before their trip back to the states. I even got a tick bite to remember the experience. 

Working on the woodpile
Afterward, we met with Julia and Oliva, the two girls we meet at church last week. Religion is a pretty new concept to them, but they listened and asked us a ton of questions. They are willing to give God a chance and we hope to keep working with them. 

We had a dinner with the Ågren family on Thursday night and got to hear mission stories from Alice, their daughter who just got back from serving at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. She said it felt pretty weird for her to speak Swedish again.

The Streets of Goteborg
Borås at dusk 
Friday was Zone training. We talked about how to work more effectively with members. Later I went on splits with Elder Payne, but we had a ton of lessons cancel. Kind of a long split, but Elder Payne is super cool so he made it fun. 

The Borås water tower is pretty cool 
Well, other than that, there were no major highlights to report this week, but next week it will be cool to listen to General Conference! 

Love you guys! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 97; September 21, 2015 – The Art of Borås!

Wow crazy week!  My last transfer is finally here and it seems completely surreal that it will be all over in less than six weeks! The idea that my mission is going to end so soon isn't firing in my brain right now. But, I'm really happy to be ending my mission in a ward full of some of the greatest people ever! 

Farewell Elder Blackburn!

Saying goodbye to Elder Blackburn was really sad. We went on a great tour of the ward, including practicing some acapella music and having one last jam session at the Bishop's house. This was one of my all-time favorite companionships, and it was a hard goodbye. Going to Uppsala was definitely a nice incentive for Elder Blackburn to part ways with Borås. Especially since his new apartment will have a washer, dryer, a dish washer, and a sauna, in a gigantic college town filled with open minded young people... It may not be Borås, but I’m sure he'll have a blast there.

Our worst nightmare... Being chased by a giant Pinocchio!

Okay, so the new guy is Elder Treat! We actually lived together during a 14-day transfer in a four-man apartment last year, and had we a blast. But we hadn't heard from each other since then… Until this week. So, we hit the ground running and we’re going to have an amazing time together! Elder Treat is awesome and he will be a great companion to finish-up with! 

On Wednesday we contacted people around the city and I got to show him a lot of the culture and amazing art work. It was definitely a good way to show-off Borås! This place is beautiful! 

Later that day we had a district meeting and I taught a lesson on setting goals, and the profound affect that a vision, backed by belief could bring. 

We also went on splits with the Elders in Skövde. We taught a great lesson to an older lady and then contacted a little bit more. Elder Jones is a crazy good banana bread maker and he made me ‘trunky’ for mom’s banana bread (I wouldn't mind some banana bread waiting for me at home… Haha). It was a great split and we spent most of Saturday planning for next week. Elder Treat got a warm welcome from the ward and he seems thrilled to be here. We got a surprise in our Sacrament meeting when two girls we'd meet the week before decided they'd come to church, and they showed-up unexpectedly. They said they wanted to meet with us some more and we set a time to teach them next week! 

Well, here goes my sprint to the finish and it looks like it’s going to be a great last transfer in Sweden! 

I Love you guys a ton… Thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 96; September 14, 2015 – Bye bye Blackburn… My final Comp will be a Treat!

Well transfer number 15 is in the books! That means I am on the final chapter of this big, wild, crazy adventure with only six more weeks to go! It doesn't feel like I’m at the end yet, so I'm gonna put everything into the final stretch. We got some bitter sweet news... Elder Blackburn is being transferred north of Stockholm to Uppsala and I'll finish-up here in Borås. It'll be hard to say goodbye to my only mission son, but we've had an amazing experience. The past 12 weeks have been incredible and it has been one of the best parts of my mission to be able to train the first missionary from Carmichael Stake to be sent to Sweden since I got here.

Bye bye Blackburn, you've been like a son to me!

I'm so thankful we've had this chance to work together and I know Elder Blackburn will do an amazing job in Uppsala. It's the biggest and oldest college in Scandinavia! Elder Blackburn will be perfect for the work there! He’s great at contacting and he is amazing at working with young people! I can't wait to see how the rest of his mission goes, he's going to do fantastic!  He may be a new missionary, but he has a deep testimony and he’s done an awesome job sharing it with everyone willing to listen. I'm so proud I was able to be his trainer! 

Well, I'll be sticking around here for a little longer, and that makes me super happy! This ward feels like home and it would be hard to get re-attached to another ward with only six weeks to go. So, I couldn't imagine a better place to finish-up. Borås is the best!  My new companion, Elder Treat, is an old friend. I was briefly in a four-man apartment with him last year and we had a blast! I will be finishing-up my service with a mission-finishing specialist, I will be the fourth missionary he has sent home in the past year, so he's a pro! It'll be a great finish and I know he'll keep me pumped-up and focused on doing things right!

Tuesday night was really fun. The Elders quorum invited us to play laser tag and we took Mattias! He had a blast and wanted to join a league afterwards! I came in third and fourth, but Elder Blackburn almost won! This is the first time I've had so many people close to my age in a Swedish ward, so it's been a blast to be here! 

On Wednesday we had an awesome lesson in the park with a guy named Igor who we met last week. He basically shared the Plan of Salvation when he was explaining his beliefs to us last week. We taught the rest of the message to him and he loved it. His friend was there as well and he took a Book of Mormon and asked to meet with us in the future! It was a great lesson! 

I taught a district meeting on Thursday about teaching while you find and finding while you teach. I told the story of Samuel Smith. He is famous for being the first LDS missionary and Joseph Smith's little brother, but rarely is the story of his first mission told, and no one in the district had heard it before. Samuel Smith was not told where to go or what to say on his mission, so he picked the Northeastern states and started hiking in that direction. He worked for several months along the way and his only measurable success the whole time was in placing two copies of the Book of Mormon. One woman bought it because she thought it would be fun to try and prove it wrong, and another man bought it to warn his congregation about the new false prophet Joseph Smith. 

Elder Smith came home feeling like a total failure, but he would later find out that the two people he gave books to were brother and sister, and they both decided to give their copies to their little Brother, Brigham... Yes, Brigham Young, who would later become converted by Book of Mormon and he would go on to be instrumental in the conversion of over 7,000 people including many of the original Apostles and General Authorities of the church, and he would become the second latter-day prophet. I told them that they can never under estimate the worth of one contact and the seeds they plant on their missions could bring about the very same kind of success that Samuel Smith achieved with the direction of the Lord. 

Afterwards I went back to Borås with Elder Dicksson for splits and we did a lot of contacting that day and then we had dinner with our friend Daniel.  

The next evening we went over to Jönköping and worked with them for a while doing some finding work. Later, we had a sports night and played volley ball. We got up early the next morning and played volleyball and Innebandy then it was time for the transfer call. We learned that Elder Blackburn was leaving. So we set-up as many appointments as we could before Wednesday. We had a great talk with Daniel about his mission and how his life was going. He really opened-up to us. He's a great kid. 

Mom would appreciate this artwork!
Elder Blackburn sang in church and did an amazing arrangement of “I Need Thee Every Hour.” The ward thought it was incredible and it was one of the best musical numbers I’ve heard on my whole mission! 

After church we went to the Engelbreakson’s and ate salmon! They have been super nice to us and we had a great time! Afterward we went across town to the Delve’s and Nick gave Elder Blackburn a goodbye adjustment on his back, he’s a chiropractor. I talked him into getting a few pops out of my back too and we felt great! 

Well it was an amazing last week with Elder Blackburn! We would have loved to have finished-up together, but we are thankful for the time we had. He has been one of my favorite companions to work with and he is moving-on to even greater things in Uppsala!

Here comes the grand finale with Elder Treat.  The next six weeks are going to go by fast and we still have a lot to do! 

Äldste Stoeltzing  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week 95; September 7, 2015 – From Blood Pudding to Buzz Cuts to Blues Brothers

We have had some crazy stuff happen this week in some of the best and worst ways possible… I'll get the worst out of the way first. 

Has anyone ever heard of Blood Pudding before? Well, If you haven't, it's exactly what it sounds like, pudding made out of pigs blood and it's an old Swedish classic. I’ve been able to avoid it for 22 months, but our very unamusing friend, Stellan, thought it would be fun to serve it to us and watch us squirm. It was nasty beyond all nastiness, and an experience I absolutely don't recommend! Aside from that, the rest of the week was crazy good! 

Trying a Swedish delicacy, Blood Pudding!
After we taught Mattias an amazing lesson, we realized that we hadn’t been focusing on Christ enough. So, we watched a lot of the “Life of Christ” videos with him and answered a lot of his questions. Finally the subject of baptism came up. It took some time, but we addressed his concerns and Mattias accepted a new baptismal date for December! We were so excited and we know he will be ready this time!!!  

We helped one of our favorite families replace some insulation and then we ate some oven-baked pancakes which is pretty similar to German pancakes if anyone’s had those before. Their kids are awesome too and we had fun chasing them around for a while, they love it when we come over… It’s the best! 

Later that week we went into McDonald’s and a lady followed us in. She said she loved Mormons and missed talking to them and we hope to meet with her again this week! 

Wednesday was really scary… We needed haircuts and our new Serbian investigator was offering cheap haircuts in his basement. I told him that I wanted it short on the sides but nothing like a “zero.”  His first cut was very very short and he saw that I was a little worried. But, he thought I had said that I wanted “zero” on the sides... His Swedish isn't very good and he got a little confused. I was terrified, but he actually salvaged it and gave me one of the best haircuts I've had in Sweden! 

Looking good!
We had a supper deep talk with some Jehovah’s Witnesses this week, but on the way to their house we saw a walker go flying into the street. We looked behind us and saw that a drunk man had collapsed flat on his face in the street. We helped him up, he was very, very heavy, but he was thankful. The meeting with the JW's went good they were surprised how well I knew the Bible. We had a very respectful conversation and even if they never convert, I am happy to know that they were able to hear about the gospel from a new perspective that turned-out to be really cool actually.   

Thursday was really cool too. I felt worried about going back home and adjusting as a returned missionary. We came back early to start on weekly planning and I just couldn't focus. I thought even if I don't know if I can be what I want to be when I get home, I can still make a difference out here. So, I prayed and said, “God, I don't feel right about staying in right now, we are going to this part of town, so please put prepared people in our path.” We ended-up getting a phone number from almost everyone we talked to that night and we had some of the best finding results I've experienced in months. I know miracles happen and I know this is the Lord’s work!

Friday was my last zone conference. We heard a really cool presentation about Sweden’s first missionary who baptized 17 people in a week. Yes, it is possible! Later, President Beckstrand gave an amazing talk on becoming a “Preach My Gospel” missionary. He has been an awesome president and this was one of his best messages about the power that comes from that simple little book, and we felt really motivated to share it!

The day ended pretty weird when we gave what is called our farewell testimonies, and it was pretty scary. Since this was the last zone conference the departing missionaries will attend before they go home, all the members of my group shared their parting testimonies. Although I tried to gather my thoughts, I couldn't think of anything to say beforehand, so just tried to speak from my heart and I’m happy with what I said. I would write about it now, but don't want to spoil my homecoming talk in 7 weeks!

Afterward, I went on splits with my old MTC companion, Elder Brown and we helped a family move.  

Working with Elders Brown and Israelsen 
When Elder Blackburn and I got back we went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant and met a cool guy from Nepal that gave us his email address and invited us to hike in the Himalayas with him… We hope to take him up on the offer someday! 

Sunday was the coolest! On the way back from teaching a less-active guy, a man yelled at us while we were walking. He was doing construction work on his house, but said he wanted to talk. He wanted to know how we manage to pay for our missions and Elder Blackburn mentioned he did some construction work prior to leaving. The man thought that was cool, so he showed us the projects he was doing on his house and we saw a big poster of a guitar. Well, one thing led to another, and it turned out that he had a music studio and he was a blues organist. We ended-up recording a little bit with him and he thought we were awesome! He was so impressed, he listened to our lessons and he invited us back! 

The Boras Blues Brothers!


It’s been an amazing week and it’s sad there's only seven more to go! Thanks for reading each week and for all the support everyone gives me. I love you guys so much and I love this work! 

Äldste Stoeltzing 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week 94; August 31, 2015 – Finding Americans in Sweden

It’s crazy to have less than two months remaining in Sweden… It just doesn't seem real to me! There are so many good things are happening right now. It’s truly one of the most special times of my mission. 

We went to Göteborg on Monday with our friend Daniel and we talked more about serving a mission, it was pouring rain the whole time! Later, we found a luxury guitar shop that had all kinds of cool custom guitars. My favorite was a signature-edition, exact-replica, Rory Gallagher guitar, the musician who Jimi Hendrix revered as the best guitarist on earth. It was perfect! 

Tuesday was packed! We really hit it off with a guy named Peter. Peter is s less-active member, but he does his best considering his carrier. Peter is an international hedge fund manager. Yep… Pretty crazy right! He flies all over the world and was just about to leave for a meeting in Ukraine to discuss currency futures with investors. What's crazy is he has a condition where he can't use his arms, so does all this with his feet on his laptop! He defiantly makes the most out of life’s challenges, and he showed me that it’s what's in your brain that really matters most. That’s pretty cool because I worry about my own difficulties a lot. We had a great talk and he said he'd be my financial coach when I get home! 

Afterward, we went to visit our friend Nick, a chiropractor in the ward, and he was a huge help to us! My back has been killing me, so we went to get my back adjusted, it hurt like crazy… Haha! But then it felt amazing. So, I was really thankful! Elder Blackburn’s jaw has been hurting too, so he helped him out a lot as well! It was a great favor and we’re probably goanna help him with some service projects at his house to pay him back! 

You gotta love the rain!

The next day we met with our new American investigator, Cody. He contacted us when he heard us speaking English on the bus! He's just going through a divorce and he’s trying to get his life figured out, but he was super cool and open to talking about church! We’re excited to see where this goes! 

Working in Goteborg

Thursday was our district meeting and it was super fun. I was a little disappointed with the last one I taught, so I put a ton of time in on this one and I got my speaking skills all polished-up again… It went great! We talked about preparing for lessons by role playing (Something that most missionaries hate). I started by playing a motivational speech to get the district pumped up! Then, I went through the entire Preach my Gospel handbook and found over 50 situations a missionary could possibly encounter with dozens of variables to identify more than 1000 situations that could be rehearsed. Role playing gets really boring because the same situations get used over and over again. This tool helped us to create some unique role playing situations and we totally laughed our heads off as we acted them out! 

Some of the good ones were, teaching a 63 year-old Estonian diabetic the purpose of fasting, as well as trying to connect with a modern-day Viking while riding on a bus... All situations that could actually happen in Sweden, trust me, I've seen weirder! That was a hilarious exercise and it gave the district a new perspective on role playing as something they can actually look forward to! We gave them one last activity where Elder Blackburn pantomimed the story of Captain Moroni (from the Book of Mormon) writing the Title of Liberty, complete with him ripping-off his shirt... It was pretty awesome! 

Flying away on a wing and a prayer... Believe it or not, it's just me!
On Friday we went to an institute of religion kick-off fireside with Mattias, he's very excited to participate.

We met another American guy on Saturday who drove us to our appointment and came to church with us. He was awesome!

On Sunday, a sister missionary returned to her home ward. It seemed weird because she left on her mission only a month after I got to Sweden. It seemed crazy to see her again! She just got back from serving at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It made me feel pretty trunky… But I’m staying focused on the work! 

I'm goanna sprint to the finish! I love you guys and I hope everyone has a great week! 

Aldste Stoeltzing