Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Week 101; October 19, 2015 Connecting the Dots

Steve Job's once said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back.” 

Two years ago I had no idea what to expect from a mission, or the nation of Sweden. I had no clue what people I would meet or what lessons I'd learn. Now I'm on my last full week of missionary service and it's crazy to think that in no time at all this whole thing is going to be over. 

Looking back, I don't know if anyone can be fully prepared for all that a mission really is, but I am grateful to everyone that did their best to help me get ready to come out here. I know I couldn't have done it without my amazing parents and my brother, my friends, and my church leaders, who have been such a support throughout my time in Sweden. 

I really do believe that real life is the best classroom, and that's what my mission has been for me. I've always loved learning, and the past two years have been an intensive course in living the gospel, loving my neighbor, and surviving in the real world. 

It has been really hard to find people to teach out here, but the people that have been willing to listen have meant the world to me. Despite the challenges, I'm really grateful for the people I've met. I know that the gospel works in every corner of the world and testifying to the people of Sweden has strengthened my testimony greatly.

Nothing has strengthened my faith more than the little, but powerful moments where I could feel the spirit and know my words where helping someone to consider the existence of God for the first time in their life. It means so much to have your testimony and your words help people make decisions that will bring the gospel into their lives. 

I've learned a lot from my companions and the other missionaries I’ve served with. I could not have finished-up my mission without great people around me. There's a lot that goes into making a great missionary, but to me, the ones that were always friendly, seeing the good in everything around them, were the best examples. I was blessed to be around a lot of people who became some of the best friends I ever had.

By myself, I often fail to be the person I want to be, but by emulating the examples of the people I admire most has defiantly gotten me closer to my goals. I've learned that in all things, finding joy in the moment, smiling, and laughing, are qualities never to be overlooked. Looking past faults and failures with patience can build-up people in amazing ways. I know I’ve tried the patience of a few people from time to time, but their love helped me keep going and become a better friend and a stronger individual. I want to say Thank You to everyone that was there for me, you guys were always at the heart of my mission. 

Lastly, I guess I've learned that being an adult is hard, really hard. There's no one out there to take care of you, and you are expected to take responsibility for your mistakes. You have to be totally responsible for you. A few semesters of college was a nice preview of real life, but a mission throws you in the deep end, and fortunately, I learned how to swim. I've learned a lot of lessons that would have been impossible without my mission and I know that they will help me every day with my education, my work and my family. The great big world can be a scary place, but I feel ready to take on the rest of my life and start the next chapter. 

Although I I’m just finishing-up my mission, my testimony of what I know is true and it’s pretty simple. I know in my heart, there is a God. I know that because he created us he loves us. I know a loving God does all things with a purpose and he has a plan and a purpose for our lives. I know that he has shared that purpose with us here on earth and I sincerely believe that the restored Gospel contains the fullness of that truth. There is no greater peace that comes from knowing who we are, why we are here, and where we are going. That desire lead to my Dad's family finding the church, and my Mom finding the church, and our family being raised with the gospel in our lives. Although I've been raised with this understanding, the Lord gave me an inquisitive mind and I worked really hard to find out if all of this was right for me. I've never personally seen or heard any sort of divine manifestations, but I feel in my heart that the gospel is good and true. These are about all the things I know for certain and I'm so happy that I've been able to share that with the people of Sweden over the last two years. Thank you everyone for your love and support and I look forward to seeing everyone in a few short days. 

If you are thinking about going on a mission please go. I can never tell you all that a mission is, or all it entails, but as difficult as it may be, you'll feel so happy serving. Looking back at all the dots along the way, I can see that the Lord was there for me every step of the way and he will do the same for anyone who has a desire to serve. It's not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. 

Gud väre med dig tills vi möts igen! 

-Äldste Stoeltzing


  1. Hi Jacob:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog - such uplifting stories and life events you've experienced! You have done well and I look forward to hearing about your journey in Sweden in person.


  2. Jacob,

    Yours was the first blog my son and I started reading when he received his mission call to Sweden over a year ago and really the only one I continued to read after he left (besides his). When he (Elder Alex Bailey) met you he had to write home and tell me what a great guy you are. I have really enjoyed your stories and insight and wish you all the best in this new phase in your life!

    Shelley Bailey