Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!!! I mean GOD JUL!!

It has been one crazy but really cool week and a half and I just wanted to first say thank you to everyone that sent me Christmas notes and letters and presents that was amazing and I had one of the most special Christmases ever. A ton happened and it has been really cool to see all of the progress that this area has been making despite the time of year. Most people tell you that they "cant" around this time of year because.. well.. they cant and I would probably say the same thing if I were them. But, we have seen quite a few people develop interest and we have some really interesting progressing investigators and people that we are super excited for in January. We have a transfer next week but I should be staying here to finish out Äldste Jones training and I hope that is the case otherwise I think I did something wrong haha.

One thing that we were able to do last week was have the second counselor in the stake presidency come out to the island because we currently have no branch president and so we need someone to preside over the meetings that we have. He texted us the night before and said that he wants to spend the entire night with us and swing by less actives and go on any teaches that we have. So we turned some things around and we got him in with us on a teach with one of our investigators that has been progressing. It was fantastic to have him come with us because frankly his Swedish is a lot better than mine... its like he learned it growing up or something haha. But we were able to explain the Holy Ghost better to her and the spirit was super strong and she then showed up again to church and stayed the whole time so pray for this one!

Hogklint and Rachel says Jake is trying to be artsy!
It was also Zone conference last week and so that went by really fast and it was super cool. The conference and training was all about Christmas and how we can honestly apply that into our own lives and not just in the way we contact or the way we teach even though that is important as well. I think sometimes we forget that Christ is the center of everything we do and Iit becomes more of a social taboo to praise him when, in reality, He should be the center of our religion and how we live our lives. I just thought that was a really cool insight and something that I will not forget. Its been really cool to see the response as we have shifted our lessons and our contacting to center around Christ. I think sometimes people find it a little more awkward at first but the spirit that comes from that is stronger than anything else that I have been able to see on my mission.

Another miracle that happened this week was just as we were walking I felt like I should go up and contact this lady at the bus as an american and just go for it in English. I have never done that before so this was interesting. I went up and asked her some question or other about how to get somewhere and explained that we were american. She totally listened to everything we had to say and then told us that she has had a really rough life situation recently. That her husband divorced her and her 2 kids live with him now and shes been looking for some way to help that. We told her that we have a message that can help her and we were able to get her number and I hope that we can meet her in the future and help her. Just one of the little miracles. Another one was a really old investigator in the area book caught my eye and I thought over and over that we needed to call her. So I was able to call her and we went over. She actually had the worst day and needed help to get her big trash and things into a truck and no one could help her except for us that day. She talked afterwards and she isnt interested in joining the church but thanked us for our service. I thought to myself why would I feel like I should call her when she isnt positive at all? I think the answer is that we are all Gods hands. He knew that she would be having a rough day and needed the help of someone to come and make it just a little bit better. That is why we were there so that we could make her life just a little bit better because we are Gods hands. Thats one thing I have been able to develop a testimony of while I have been out here is that if we are willing to He will lead us to the people that need a little help :)

For Christmas we were with Ragna and Kerstin and Stig in Stånga and we ate a bunch of ludtkfish which is basically fish soaked in water and lye until it feels like jello and has no nutritional value anymore and then we eat it. Super good ;) but it really was and then we watched the Santa Clause with them before we left. Christmas day we went back and ate salmon and skyped and then we were with an investigator that invited us to their house for the night. That was super cool and they really liked having us over. It was one of those experiences where we could really build a relationship instead of just teach we could show them that we are actually people too ;) I hope that this week goes well and I hope that you all had an amazing Christmas! Thanks for everything. The church is true. the work is real. that much I know :)

Jag Älskar er!! Vi hörs näste vecka!
Äldste Israelsen

my P day will be on Friday again because of the new year but then I will have regular P days starting on the 5th of January
also I was finally a good father and took Äldste Jones to Högklint :)

Week 27-Member Support, Swedish, Blomberg Service, Blowing Rain and People Placed in Your Path

Hejsann allihopa!!

This week has been super cool!! I think that the work is beginning to go a different way here on Gotland beseech the past couple of weeks we have had investigators drop us but then we are blessed in being able to find other people that we are able to teach it has been really cool to see. I have been very grateful for the fact that we have the members that we have here on this island. They are so supportive of the missionary effort and are all ready to jump in and I think we have been a little weary about trying to use the members because it is a sacrifice for them but they have said that they love it and will jump at every opportunity that they can. It is just amazing to see how passionate they are about the gospel and are willing to share that with the other people in their life.

One of the really sad parts of the week was when we tried to see Lucia which is a big cultural Swedish party thing and on Gotland it is particularly good in this huge church. We figured that we would go check it out and it started at 7. Being the good missionaries, we tried to proselyte all we could until about 15 minutes before which meant that the church was apparently super full and no one else could go in... Sweden 1 Äldste Israelsen (as a trainer) 0. Haha so that was disappointing but we did find out where we will be for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! We have Christmas eve with Kerstin and Ragna. One of them is a member from Germany and the other is one of the 2 that were just baptized and she is excited about us coming. We call her mormor (grandma) because that is what she is to us honestly haha. We are going to be able to skype from her computer as well which was really relieving to find out.

It has been a really cool experience training and seeing this area change and grow. I have seen that the Lord really does help those that are called because my Swedish has gotten better along with my comprehension when people talk to me which is really nice because sometimes on this island even Swedes have to just smile and pretend like they know what is going on haha. We were able to do some more service with the Blombergs this week because they are still trying to make their house ready to sell. They have been a huge strength to the branch so it will be hard to see them go but we love to give as much service as we can and we hope that they are able to benefit from it. The weirdest thing right now is the fact that there is no snow. Because we are on an island, the temperature stays mild and there is too much wind to help the snow. So, instead, we have blowing rain which is almost as cool as the snow haha. But it is totally ok because we have the car until the senior couple comes which we hope is the beginning of January but I guess we will find out exactly when.

Hey Jake!  I don't think Tebowing is a Thing Anymore???
We hope to have at least one baptismal date this week because we have a few people who are right there and really interested so we would appreciate a few prayers to try to help them get over what they are nervous about and accept those blessings in their lives. We are super excited for this week though and how it will turn out. The weeks are flying by and I feel like we don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done but somehow it all works out and for that I am really grateful.

One miracle for the week. We met this guy named January at a members house and talked to him. Saw him a week later and asked if we could come and teach him. He said he would love that and we found out that he would only be here until the middle of January. So the only contact with the church is on this island and we were able to meet with him and he loves everything we have been talking about and it seems like it is something that he has been searching for in his own life. I have a testimony that the Lord can put in our path those that are ready and they may only have a limited time frame so I also know that if we feel the need to act we NEED to act so that we can see those miracles happen around us.. so that we can be the hands of God.

Also I would like to report that I got a haircut from a Swedish Frisör and not my companion or myself... actually I tried little while ago and the trimmer died right when I started so I had this kind of really weird spot on the side of my head... I have heard you aren't a missionary until you have some sort of story like that right? Haha I just want to say I love you all and I love hearing from you!!

med kärlek,

Äldste Israelsen

oi! Vi också hade en fäst den har veckan och hade julgröt och det ser ganske otäck ut men det smaka ju bra faktist! Jag älskar er! ni kan kolla på bliden nedsan.

Week 26- It's Been 6 Months, Big Change in Language and My Understanding and Showing "He is the Gift" to as Many People as We Can!

Before Service

It is officially 6 months that I have been out on a mission... well in 3 Days but its been 26 weeks... That is absolutly crazy but I have been loving it out here on Gotland. One thing that I have noticed is that the Lord is willing to qualify the people that He has called. I know this a Little bit more now because I wasn't completely sure if I would be able to take over this kind of role in an area and basically talk to everyone by myself but I have seen a big change in the language and in my understanding and I am so grateful for that because otherwise I would be all sorts of
After Service!  If you can't see a difference then it was Elder Jones who mowed!
lost haha.

We have seen a ton of miracles this week and we are definitely excited to see where it takes us in the coming weeks. It was a Little bit slower of a week because our senior couple left the Island and we have very few members that are left on the Island right now and only our recent convert and less Actives in the actual city. Its been kind of a lonely week haha but we have had plenty of time to talk and find and teach so we have plenty of people that are now looking to investigate the Church. We are really hoping to have some more seriously interested people because this branch needs to grow to help it continue.

Äldste Jones is a really good missionary and it has been super good to get all of his feedback on how we are doing missionary work because he is right out of the MTC so he doesn't have a biased view on things which is actually really nice. We have been trying to show the "He is the Gift" video to as many people as we can because it really brings the spirit into our Contacts and our first lessons that we have. There was one Contact on the street when we showed it on our phone and I bent over to chow it to their Little daughter too. We had two cats come up (because we are in Sweden and no one keeps their cats inside) and they just jumped onto my shoulders... I was a cat tree as I sat still and showed them the rest of the video. So imagine Jake on the streets of Sweden talking to this lady and her daughter about the gospel with a cat on my shoulder... yes. its pretty awesome.

One of the hardest things in this area is probably trying to get things started for the less actives because usually they have some reason why they arent coming anymore and actually some of them are because of what missionaries have done here in the past. Are there any ideas about how we could get our foot in the door with less actives? We have made this "elf" thing kind of like when you get ghosted for halloween and we have given them to all of the members to give to their friends but we will also be looking to give them to less actives and some investigators too. Another way to get that initiative out with the movie and new website which I think is super cool. We have been doing really well this week and we are thankful for all of the prayers that are on our behalf and the behalf of our investigators and recent converts. 

This is the coolest time of year to be a missionary and to be able to tell everyone about the good news about Christ and how he can play a huge role in our lives. That he actually came to earth and that he lived and that he lives and still cares about us now as much as he did 2000 years ago. It is a really powerful message that we are allowed to share with these people and I couldnt think of a better thing to do than that :)

Jag älskar er!! Har en underbar vecka och glömmer inte vad era frälsare har gjort för er!! ( google translate was not used in the making of the last sentence)

Äldste Israelsen
the pictures are of service before and after... just on the lawn if you cant see a difference that was elder jones who mowed haha

Sunday, December 7, 2014

New Companion From St. George And Snakes Coming Out of Their Mouths


Hejsan allihoppa!! It sounds like everyone is doing super well and I am really glad to hear it :) I have had a really interesting week and the first week that I have started training my new companion. His name is Äldste Jones, he is from Saint George Utah and he just graduated from high school. He is crazy excited to be out in Sweden and the language will come fast for him. We had to spend the first two days in Stockholm because we had zone training the day after I picked him up and then we didn't go to bed till 1 in the morning on Thursday night because of the night ferry. So he has been battling some good jet lag this week and I let him sleep a little bit today since its P-day and I figured I didn't want a zombie companion :P He played tennis and basketball and wants to go to UVU or USU when he goes home.... I wonder which one he will choose after me... ingen vet haha. Yeah, hes a great guy and we will definitely have a different companionship than elder held and I did but I think it will be something fresh that this branch needs and we are excited to see it grow.

I think the best thing about training is the look on his face when the casheir asks him something or when we are tracting and he just looks at me like these people have snakes coming out of their mouth. I think its funny because I was there not so many months ago and I am just really grateful for the Lords help in how much I can communicate now and I am able to really understand the Swedish people and help them through real concerns they have and questions that they ask us. I think we are going to do really good together and I hope that I can train him well enough that he will have the ability to train after these 12 weeks. That is the goal with all training.

One thing that was really cool was going on the ferry that Thursday night. We met someone on the train over and sat with him on the ferry and talked with him for 4 hours. He was super cool and we were able to teach him that whole first lesson and after that he started drinking so it was hard to keep ahold of him completely haha. But, he did say that he would never do something like this when he was our age and so he trusts in the things that we say because of our resolve to share what we have with other people. I thought that was super cool that he would think that and even though we dont have much life experiences it almost gives us more credibility in missionary work because people are interested as to why we decided to come and do this crazy thing for 2 years and what we are doing in Sweden and how we came to that conclusion as 19 year olds. That is one thing that I have been able to develop a testimony about is when it talks in the scriptures and says that by small things will great things come to pass. Well that is what the Lord is doing and that is what I am able to see every day is that happening here in the mission field.

We were blessed enough to eat thanksgiving dinner on saturday with the Blombergs!! They are a half American half Swedish family and the father is a linguist and knows like 5 languages fluently... he speaks all of them like a native speaker actually its nuts. Right now hes learning Arabic so they can move to Jordan. Dont ask me why I dont know why Jordan haha but they are so cool. It is them and their 5 little kids and we were able to have dinner with them and then share the spiritual thought which is what the church ahs come out with called the initiative. If you dont know the church has taken over YouTube with this movie that they have made about the real gift of Christmas which is Jesus Christ. It is super good and I love that clip. Its about 2 minutes long and this whole month we are given some pass along cards with it and they have the clip that we show on our phone to people that we contact on the street and we are able to get the real meaning of christmas and the church out super fast. I love the fact that we can just bear our testimonies so fast on our savior and have this time of year that everyone loves and everyone can feel the spirit of. So definitely share that film as much as you can. You can see it at #sharethegift. Seriously super cool way to "flood the Earth" with the message than by taking over the internet.

I love all of you and I am so glad everyone is doing well!! We are doing super good on the island and we hope to continue to see the work progress here and see this branch grow!

Med Kärlek

Äldste Israelsen

New Assignment for Aldste Israelsen Mission President Letter

Dear Brother & Sister Israelsen,
We are delighted to have your son, Äldste Jacob Israelsen, in the Sweden Stockholm Mission.  He has recently been assigned to serve as a Trainer in the Visby I area.
He is an exemplary missionary, demonstrating the work and faith which have earned the respect and trust of the Mission. A Trainer is a position of sacred stewardship in the Sweden Stockholm Mission as it can have a tremendous impact on the culture of the mission and the missionaries themselves.
We are grateful for the prayers and sacrifice of your family which make the service of your son possible.
With respect and kind regards,
James E. Beckstrand
James E. Beckstrand, President

Week 24 Transfers! I'm Training a New Elder, Staying on Visby, And The Sun Goes Down Around 3pm


This week we have our transfers so if everyone would begin the drumrolls individually............ I am staying here on the island!! But not with Elder Held so that was a big surprise to us. He is being moved to Gubbangen to be a ZL in Stockholm and I was asked to stay on the island with an elder that I dont know yet because he comes to Sweden tomorrow. They have asked me to train the next two transfers... Everyone pray for this new elder because he is going to need some help! haha. So that will be really interesting to see how it starts this week and how all of that goes. That means we have to travel into Stockholm tomorrow and I will be there until our boat ride back on thursday night. This poor guy is going to have so much jet lag and get on a long ferry ride out on the random Swedish island... How exciting!!

Anyways other than that we have been running around teaching and trying to get to everyone while at the same time trying to make sure everything is ready to get a new elder and everything is packed up for Elder Held which definitely still hasnt happened yet but that is the life of a missionary. Visit who

you can when they can and dont worry about the rest of it until the last second haha. We have had some really good progress in the area this week and I think we will continue to see that upswing in investigators and those who are progressing as that becomes our main focus again. Both Meizhen and Kerstin were confirmed into the Branch on Sunday and it was an amazing experience for everyone. We also have a family come back from vacation and 2 investigators there so we had about 23 people in Sacrament meeting which is a huge difference from the 8 that we had our first Sunday in the branch. That was such a good experience and they asked me to sing in the middle of the meeting last second so it was cool to be able to do that also.

The sun goes down way too fast around here the sun rises probably around 10 and sets around 3 so it isnt nearly as bad as Norrland and places super far north but I still dont like it so I am excited for the days to start getting longer again so I can stop taking my vitamin D pills ;) We had a couple of stories this week that really have just helped me to know that the work is definitely not mine and for that I am grateful. We were walking in through the wall and stopped this lady on the street like we had several others on the way. We had planned to be on this street the night before and had figured it out so we were just following through with the plan. She was really excited when we stopped her and said that she had just had a religion class in school that day and she probably wouldnt talk with us any other day or time but she wanted to that day. We were able to get her number and set something else up after talking for awhileand I hope that it goes somewhere. The other was with Kerstin who told us her story again and was super sad for Elder Held to leave. She told us that a bunch of things happened to her the summer before andd when we showed up to church and introduced ourselves she just felt something hit her really hard that she had known us her whole life. She just put everything together from that point and decided to be baptized. We didnt do anything special but for some reason or another it was a way for the spirit to witness to her that what she was investigating was true and that she should act on it. Those little miracles are the best and they definitely help me to know that the Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it and our job is just to go to work so that the Lord can have someting to work with.

I am really glad to hear that everything is going well back at home with everyone and I hope everyone has the best week!!!

jag älskar er! Har en jätte bra vecka hur ni!!

Äldste Israelsen

Week 23, A really stressful week ended in Västerhaninge with two baptisms!!

Hej Hej!

Thank you everyone for all of the prayers and thoughts for our investigators here in Visby. It has been a really stressful week but it ended in Västerhaninge with two baptisms!! It was the coolest experience and I had the privilege of baptizing one and Elder Held had the opportunity to baptize the other so it was a really special day for everyone. It came down to this week though for both of them to fully finally decide if this is what they really wanted. I think its easy to say yes and then when the interview comes up every possible concern also comes up. So, naturally, we spent a lot of time with our investigators this week helping them to resolve concerns and questions so that they could both answer all of the questions in the interview with a surety that they knew what baptism is and wanted the blessings that come from it in their lives. We actually had a huge turnout for the baptism because we went in to Västerhaninge and had such a huge support from the wards and missionaries there it was fantastic for us and especially for both of them and for their excitement.

I have to say we filled up that font for 2 and a half hours and the water barely came up to our knees... That was really nerve racking for everyone but everything went fine anyway and no one hit their heads on the floor which is definitely a plus ;) Both of them really were shining and ended up loving the rest of stake conference also which the first part was in Västerhaninge and the second on Sunday was in Folkets Hus in the middle of stockholm. Both were definitely cool to see and we had an area presidency that had to have a translator both sessions which was way cool and the translator is so fast. Its really interesting to see the differences in Swedish and English and one thing in English is really funny but when you say it in Swedish it isnt funny at all so that was a little awkward for the few that couldnt speak english. We also heard a talk in Norwedgian which surprisingly I could understand most of it. That might be because I am getting some training in Danish too from Elder Held and Danish and Norwedgian are really similar except with how you pronounce words.

One of the things that was really special about the baptism was our chance afterward to show them around the temple and tell them what that is all about. Meizhen, was just so in awe of the whole thing and her reaction to the temple and the spirit that is there kind of reminded me how much we take for granted some of these things and how we should remember and love how cool and special they are that we have the knowledge of all of this. I love the temple and I am glad we had the opportunity to take them there. Both Meizhen and Kerstin have had a rollercoaster getting to baptism overcoming things in their life and deciding is there were things that they wanted to leave behind. But there were so many little miracles along the way that all of us were able to see and even at the baptism. I am really grateful that the Lord listens to our individual concerns and answers them.

Oh and Meizhen speaks Chinese and a little bit of Swedish and one of the branch members taught her how to say Hurrah för Israel! Which is exciting except she said it to everyone at the baptism I think at least three times haha. And that her greeting basically for me now because of my last name. It was a fantastic week and I hope all of you had the same!! I love you!

Med Kärlek,

Äldste Israelsen

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 22, Baptism, Tracting is Fun, Fårö and House Cleaning!

Fårö which means Sheep Island

We have another investigator that is being baptized this Saturday on the 15th!! An investigator that has had contact with the church for 5 years decided that it was time and we agree!! It was so cool to have another baptism on that day it will be one to remember for us and for them because we are going in to Stockholm to Västerhaninge where the temple is to have the baptism. We are so excited and prayers that it will all go through smoothly would be appreciated!!

This week we have been trying to teach and make sure that our two investigators are ready for baptism this weekend!! It should be really good and we just hope and pray that everything goes smoothly until then. Both of them have just had this light that has started to just shine through. I am not sure how else to explain it other than a light that we can see that has changed inside of them. It is honestly that light that we all recieve when we are willing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and apply the principles that we have been given.

This week we called a family in Örebro because we worked a lot with their son to be ready for his baptism. He was baptized a couple last week and so we decided to give him a call and say congratulations. He apparently got up at his baptism at the end and said that he had something to say and told everyone that he really understood why he should get baptized and wanted to get baptized. He is a way good example to me because I used to think that 8 years old wouldnt be old enough for people to make their own decisions but he understood completely why he needed baptism and he understands and has his own testimony of the restored church. They are just the coolest and it was so good to talk to him and his parents again.

With one of our investigators that we are teaching and is getting baptized this week, she is all about the Bible. She has a testimony of the Book of Mormon but asked a lot of deep questions about our plan on this Earth and what happens after this life and wanted to see the Biblical explanation. It is not our favorite thing as missionaries just because we want our investigators to be converted to the Book of Mormon that it is the word of God along with the Bible. But we were able to answer all of her questions with passages in the Bible and it is absolutely amazing how the spirit is able to work through the scriptures. My testimony has grown this week of how much the Book of Mormon and the Bible compliment one another and really give us that one way back to our Heavenly Father. That we have prophets now that have given us counsil and all of it is in accordance with Gods plan for us. It was really cool just to see that really work in the lives of our investigators this week.

One of the last things that was an extremely cool experience, one of those "only on your mission" experiences was when we went tracting. For those of you who do not know how much fun tracting is I am sorry because it is the best thing on the face of this planet. We met a lady though who started by saying she wasnt interested at all in what we had to say. We started talking with her anyway and jsut asked her a little bit about her life. She said that she has depression and has actually been having a really tough time in life. I have come to find that many people have extremely hard situations that they deal with that I cant even imagine. She then said that even if she wanted to invite us in it was too dirty because she doesnt have the motivation to clean. Thats when we said that we would love to come and clean her house... unlike almost all other Swedes she let us in and we got to clean her house (wash her dishes and vacuum and pick up) we didnt stay forever but we turned on some music from the churches website and started cleaning and talking. In the end she felt something more and we were able to teach her a lesson and show her a mormon message. The Spirit works in interesting ways and we are going back this week but it really did hit me that people really don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. That was fantastic.

We had a couple that took us to Fårö today which literally just means sheep island which is just a little island south of the main island and that is where most of the pictures I sent come from. This place is getting dark and cold but it is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. and the last one is with the gotlandska flag

Jag älskar er så mycket!!!

Äldste Israelsen

Pictures from Visby! Notice the Goals on the White Board!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gotland, Baptismal Date, Let the Spirit Guide Prayer and We Got To Attend the Temple!

Tjena tjena hur lagget?!

 How is everyone doing? It has been a fantastic week here on Gotland and we have been running from place to place just trying to contact and find as many people as we can to just teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to. I think the hardest thing is that we cant just make people automatically become interested in religion they have to have thought about it and have questions in their lives first. I think in Sweden just depending on who they are they havent thought about religion before and definitely not a way to solve problems but more of a problem creator which is really sad. We have been blessed a ton this week by the Lord and a lot of the people that we met last week have become investigators this week!! One of the coolest things is just to be able to bear testimony of what this life is all about to random people and then having them think to themselves and inviting you back to be in their homes and teach them. I have learned more about the importance of the spirit this week because so many people have gone through a ton of hard times in life and they have seen and experienced things that I cant even dream of much less have an answer to. We teach a few immigrants and they have questions that really are burning inside of them and the only way that we can help them to find that answer is with the spirit. I have seen that multiple times this week whether thats a scripture popping into my head or just giving them something to read and having them tell me that it answered a lot of questions that they hadnt even asked yet. The point is that the spirit works through us in so many different ways if we just let him. Coming to this branch and seeing the missionary work they have done has helped me to understadn that as members it is the same thing. If we prepare and live the way we know we should then the spirit will use us to bless other peoples lives. We had a lady this week that has started to have us over just because she had a coworker 15 years ago that was a member and she thought that he was a good man and wanted to know a bit more about what he believed. It is amazing what kind of influence the spirit can have. As missionaries we have a small influence on a bunch of people, and as members we have a huge influence on a smaller amount of people. However, both are needed to help missionary work in general.

Do you remember the Chinese lady that we started teaching last week? We set a baptismal date with her for next monday (its a lucky day for her) and we were all super excited. We have a ton to still teach her so we will have to meet with her every day this week to make sure that she is ready but it is super exciting to see her enthusiasm for everything that we have. She recognizes us finding her as a miracle and a whole bunch of stuff that has happened in the past week is the same. A miracle. There is even a short time missionary that just started that speaks fluent Swedish and Chinese and English that can help us over the phone to translate which is insane that never happens!!! Also, keep praying if you can for our other investigator who is still trying to give up cigarettes and coffee to be baptized on the 1st. We have a few others that seem to be on that point of accepting baptism as well so I hope that I have more good news next week.

In other news the Swedish is coming along really well and I am speaking with everyone. Sometimes they definitely use words that I dont know but I can get the meaning of basically what everyone says unless they are speaking straight up gotlandisk which is like super redneck swedish then I have no idea but neither does Elder Held so its fine haha. We had zone training this week so we went in on a boat and train to Västerhaninge where the temple is and had zone training about prayer. I think it has really changed how I think about prayer and how I should pray as a missionary and otherwise.  The biggest thing is that the spirit should guide our prayers and what we say. So if we take a moment and really think about what we should say and what thoughts come to our heads then we can be guided to revelation during the prayer instead of after which I think most people think that is when we recieve revelation from prayer. I think everyone just has to find out the best way that they can communicate to their HEavenly Father and that is the best way that they can pray. But it is amazing to think that we have that communication to our Heavenly Father. God. Who cares so much about everything we do even though sometimes we dont think so. I have been blessed to see his hand in my life but also in the lives of so many around us all the time I know that He cares and listens.

We also got to go to the temple because we didnt leave for 5 hours after the training and the president gave us the ok so we got to go to a session in Swedish!! I understood about 85% which I would consider to be pretty good but I will keep working on it! Its great being out here and I am loving it! I hope everything is going well for everyone and sorry if I didnt get to write everyone we didnt have a lot of time this week to email!!

Jag Älskar er!!

Oooh Så an intressant svensk sak. de flesta i Sverige hatar Halloween, det finns bara ett små avsnitt i en står affär som man kan köppa halloween greyer... och jag har aldrig sett Halloween Godis...

Har en fantastist vecka!!

Äldste Israelsen

Musikafton and 6 Numbers, D&C 6:34


How is everyone?! I hope it is going super well back in thebeautiful United States. My little island is pretty beautiful but I think mom beat it with the Grand Canyon this week haha. We have seen a ton of miracles on the island this week and its amazing to see the Lords hand in all corners of the world and not just where you can find all of the members. The Lord cares about the little branch that we have here on an island off the coast of Sweden of all places and the rest of the people that live here too. We have ahad a lot of contacting to do and plenty of people to find but we were also blessed this week with people to serve and people to teach as well. This week we were able to do some service for the investigator who has a baptismal date for the 1st of November. We really hope that he will be able to follow the Word of Wisdom completely by then and be completely ready to be baptized. He barely got a dog and this week he got really sick too so we have been trying to help him as much as we can with the dog and cleaning his apartment and just little things that might take the stress off a little bit so he can also focus on quitting smoking and drinking coffee which both are definitely not easy to get away from.

We were also priveledged to meet with a 95 year old active member of the church with another brother who is his home teacher. We got to meet and discuss a little about conference and the prophets and how blessed we are to have such inspired leaders of the church. It is super cool to see that even though he is 95 he will come in any way possible to church to be able to pass the sacrament and have the sacrament himself. It is an amazing example to me that he would be so dedicated that even at his age he understands how important it is to be living the gospel.

I think our biggest miracle of this week was a lady in our area that we just met. We had a planned musikafton in the church and actually they made me sing like 6 numbers because there is a very limited amount of members and we had to fill an hour. That was exciting but we had been inviting a bunch of people and we werent sure who would show up. We were contacting and tracting right before and had knocked every door in the building and every one just shut the door really fast. We knocked on the last one and this lady came to the door on the phone and we said we were from the church but we could come back becuase it was obvioiusly not a good time. She immediately said something really fast in chinese and hung up the phone. We had a lesson with her and she talked in super fast chinese Swedish and then said she would come that night. She came and just loved everything! She then came to church and was a little late because we called her and she said that there wasnt a bus so she was walking to church! She is super cool and we are definitely looking forward to teaching her more. I think its amazing to see the people that the Lord has prepared and the was that their life experience has helped them to get to a point where they will let the missionaries in and talk with us about God and what they think.

We are trying to work with as many people as we can and as many places all over the island that we can and not just in Visby. Actually allof our active members live outside of Visby right now so it is only part of the work. I want to let you all know that the work of God is progressing all over the world and I am so blessed to be a part of it. We found out that one of our investigators from Örebro will have his baptismal service this weekend which is fantastic! Elder Held and I are staying together for Åtminstone another transfer and that is really good to hear it would be hard to transfer now just after 3 weeks here. We have felt the spirit so strong in this area and we know that investigators have felt that same spirit so we hope that we can help them to continue to see God more in their lives and continue to see the good even though many can only see the bad in life. Especially those we talk to that have just come out of places like Syria and Iraq life is really hard sometimes but Heavenly Father has given us a way to see that light in our lives and I love that.

Äldste Israelsen

"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." Doctrine and Covenants 6:34

Love you all,
Äldste Israelsen

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 17, Högklint, Conference, Redneck Swedish and Service

Hey everyone!!! This week has been pretty crazy we have a lot of work to do in this branch because its so small but the Lord is definitely watching over this area. Elder Held and I have been contacting a ton becasue we need new investigators as well as some from the old area book. We have also looked for a lot of ways to serve this week. There was a quote I heard in the MTC that really stuck with me and I think that we are really able to use it in this area. "If you can love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow." That has been our motto this week because we have had members and investigatorsin need. Megan told me that she would get to do service so that she could wear jeans and thats true!! Its probably one of the only times we don't have to wear church clothes is when we do service.
Högklint and it is the highest
suicide spot on the island
On Tuesday we went to a members house to help with some of the house and yard work so that her house can be ready in that area to have people over to be taught. So we got do mow her lawn and take care of the weeds and things and do that for some of her neighbors and talk to them. It feels so much better to just go and ask people if they would like some help rather than jumping straight to religion. People get more excited when you ask if you can mow their lawn haha. We also got closer to an investigator in the area that has never let missionaries come over in her 4 years of investigating but we are going there tonight actually so we are really excited about that and we hope that we can help her feel that spirit to help her in her decision.

We were also blessed to help Tord this week who changed his baptismal date to the first of November so that he can feel ready and really get rid of his habits of smoking and drinking coffee... which, by the way, I have been told several times that the harder of the two is coffee... I guess it depends on the person but I thought that was super interesting. We helped him clean his apartment and gave him a few things to remind him of his commitment. We are going to try and do whatever we can to help him because it is not going to be easy. We also got to help his nephew who is also an investigator move. That was really cool because he got a lot more comfortable with us. We were able to really talk to him genuinely because he knows that we actually care about him and that its not just a thing we want him to have just because. I liked the quote from conference from Mother Theresa when she said that "My work is about love not statistics!" I think that is something I am definitely learning while I am out here that I really do care about these people individually and that I share the gospel with them because I want them to have the same joy that I have felt in myself and in my family and I know that they can have the same in their life. Those opportunities have been pretty amazing this week and I am super grateful for them. Also, the Swedish here I would describe as being super redneck Swedish. They used to have their own language now its just a super weird dialect but its fun to get used to. Örebro was a whining dialect and here is redneck... They have a ton of different ones in Sweden.

I remember dad and a bunch of people telling me that tracting is one of the least effective ways of getting to people but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. We did almost no tracting in Örebro because we could work the system and get in contact with people that knew other people. Here we only have a few members and investigators so it is down to knocking on doors sometimes. Which is actually really interesting but its helped me a lot develop a testimony that Heavenly Father is directing where we should go and what we should say. We felt promted this week right after a lesson to knock on one door before we left the area. She opened and was super positive and later in the week we taught her the lesson of the restoration. That was super cool because we have been praying to know where to go and what to say to find the people that are interested. I have a testimony that God cares about us and that He really does direct this church and the missionary efforts around the world. It is super cool to see. (I think my favorite with tracting is when people try to be nice and say that now is a bad time and then we ask if we can come back later and they think for a sec and just say.. nope I dont think that is a good idea either haha)

Also, this one is mostly for Megan. We taught a belgian girl on the street that we met and just taught her the first lesson standing on a cobblestone street in Visby and gave her a book of mormon. I dont know if we will be able to teach her again but it was cool to be able to meet someone that is from one of the places that Megan served!! Also, it just makes me happy to be able to share my testimony every day even if people arent going to accept it. That is there choice and they will always have the choice but the choice is also mine to share it and it always feels good at the end of the day no matter how many people turn down the invitation.

I hope everyone got to watch conference this weekend it was super good and talked a ton about strengthening the ward members and your own family. That was cool to see the shift in focus I felt like from missionary work from the past couple of conferences. I think sometimes we focus so much on outside of the church that we begin to forget how to take care of what is already there and what is inside our own homes. There were some amazing, inspiring talks. Its amazing to have the opportunity to listen to people that are inspired for our benefit.

Love you all!!!

Also this week had Visby day so we were in the middle of the city eating the best hot dog of my whole life (not even kidding) and we had knights that were on horses that rode behind us!!! I would show you but we forgot the cord to our phone. And I thought that it was just someone dressed up but apparently there actually is a knight of Visby... where am I? haha. Mom asked what we ate and this week we ate some rice
pancakes which had eggs and flour and some yogurt and rice because we didnt really have anything else. And they were actually pretty dang good!!

Jag sacknar er!!!
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Check out this cliff!! Its called Högklint and it is the highest suicide spot on the island how cool!!

Transfer to Visby, Missionaries New to Area in Middle of Transfer and Week 16

What 4 months?!?! No one saw that coming especially me I can't believe that it has been that long. Also I am sorry for the lack of apostrophies they do not exist as far as I know on these computers so that is really sad I promise I still know how to use them!!

This week has been something we are going to need to get used to for sure. We left Örebro in the middle of a transfer to head to Visby. We had to take a 3 hour train to Stockholm and then a 3 hour ferry to the island where we were dropped off at our new appartment. We have a senior couple who have been here for about 3 months the Anyanwus. They are super cool Äldste Anyanwu is from Nigeria and Sister Anyanwu is from Denmark but they both live in Lund which is in southern Sweden. They came to the island and the stake president just said to strengthen the branch and he became the branch president. Apparently, they have been getting things resolved in the branch so that they can be ready for the missionaries to come. They have been asking for awhile which is why they had us move in the middle of the transfer instead of the end. They really have a need to be strengthened in this branch so we have a goal of baptisms and really bringing in people that will be active in the branch.

The first couple of days we met with Äldste Anyanwu for about 5 hours and he told us all about the situation and what we need to do in order to help the situation and be the strength that the branch needs to grow. It really is a call to be obedient and really try to call on all of the Lords blessings for these people because the branch is pretty close to closing. But, the Anyanwus are really good and we hope that we can do everything in our power to get the people necessary to have this branch up and running. We have a lot of plans in the works but for now we have been knocking on doors and talking with as many people as we can and unfortunately not a whole ton are interested.

We did have a man that was taught a little before and we invited him to be baptized during our first lesson with him and he accepted!! His baptism will be on the 18th of october!! Pray that it goes through!! It is crazy gorgeous on this island and I am sure it will be an adventure. The first Sunday we had 8 people there. 3 members, 1 investigator, and 4 missionaries in sacrament haha. It was probably the smallest meeting I have been to and I hope it isn't normally quite that small.

The Lord has a plan for all of us though and I know that He has a plan for this area as well. All we can do is be obedient and do our best as His servants to bring to pass what we think will help the most. Faith really is an action word and we are experiencing that in this area.

The language is coming along really well I am still not there but I don't think I will ever be quite there but it's getting better every day. It's amazing what the Lord blesses missionaries with the gift of tongues and I know it is real. There is no other way that I would even be close to this point right now if it wasn't for the help I get from my Heavenly Father every day. He has a plan for every one of us we just have to seek it out and we can find it. I love all of you have an amazing week!!!

Äldste Israelsen

dad, remember who you are and what you stand for haha

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week 14, Elder Bednar, Swampen, Dry Mormons - Just Add Water, 11 Friends Came to a Discussion and its already P-Day Again?

Hey Megan!  We are eating Belgium Chocolate on toast!

So apparently it's P-day again today even though it really feels like it was yesterday. I really don't know how time goes this fast but I guess it does I have almost been in Sweden for 2 months! It's such a cool experience though and we have new people that we meet and new miracles that we honestly see every day. 

Monday we went to see swampen which actually means "the mushroom" in Swedish but it's just a giant water tower that you can go to the top and see all of Örebro so that was really cool even though it rained all day. Besides that we just had family home evening with the YSA of the ward and we have some really cool YSA and a bunch preparing to serve missions so it's always fun to be around them. One, Kristian, just got his call to Sweden actually so we're really stoked about that and who knows I might have him as a companion really soon.

On Tuesday we went and tried to contact a lot of people and visit less actives because the ward has requested that Elder Held and I do a little bit more of that. We didn't actually get to visit any even though we felt prompted to go. However, in every single place we met someone that was crazy cool. One we met and she had met missionaries 10 years before and then another set while she was on vacation so she said that she wanted us to bring a Book of Mormon by so that she could know more about our religion. Another is a less active member that was randomly where we were at the right time and then said that she was looking to come back to church and she really missed it but she was scared because she thinks that she will be judged. So that's someone that we can definitely work with to help her come back into the ward and have those blessings. 

Later that day we also had a dinner appointment with a Swedish family and we just talked about spiritual things the entire time!! They are literally what you would call "dry Mormons" you just have to add water. We'll see what we can do to help them to know more about the church and come to the ward and bring that spirit that they are looking for into their lives. 

We had all of our baptismal dates deny us this week for different reasons so hopefully we can continue working with them and help them feel less stressed just about life in general. However, we got 2 new baptismal commitments this week and one is with a 95 year old!! She was ex communicated a long time ago and we just asked her what she thought about it and she said that she was probably still around and this healthy for that reason... So that was way cool. Another is a Swedish lady that has been coming to church for 4 years now and it was her husbands last wish for her to come to church. So she has been and we have been teaching her and finally got a baptismal commitment so hopefully both of those go through in the next 3 weeks or so!!

The last really cool thing that happened was this week we went to a city about an hour away that we visit once a week and hold "sermons." But it was Christmas for one of the African countries so most people couldn't meet with us. We only had one. But this guy is amazing and he accepted the invitation to baptism!! After that, we saw one person that we knew from before and asked him if we could teach him. So we did and then his friend showed up and we taught him. And then he went and got other friends and we taught them and it kept going and we taught like 11 different people and set up return dates with all of them!!! That was super cool and an experience I will not forget.

Heavy Contemplation...
We saw Elder Bednar this week and we got to have a big discussion with him and about half of the mission. I have to say that I know that he is an Apostle of the Lord and that we do have that organization and authority that Christ put on the Earth. I am excited to take what I learned from that and apply it to my life to become more like my Savior. I love you all and I know that the gospel is true and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. Both of them want what's best for us, and miracles from obedience and faithfulness happen every day. 

Jag Älskar er!!!

Äldste Israelsen

Everyone backed out of their appointments but it turned out to be a wonderful thing, Alma 48:16-17 and Interpretations of the Bible

Hej Hej!! That is actually what I say to everyone that we pass by and it's the best thing to see how they react. Some people get the biggest smiles and say it back and others don't even acknowledge your existence. That's how you know if they are a real Swede, Swedes will just pretend like you don't exist and keep walking. It's really interesting actually and even Swedes don't like it so I'm not sure why everyone does it they should all just say hi to each other and everyone would be so much happier! haha. This week was definitely a good week and it helped me to grow a lot actually as a person and as a missionary. A ton of people backed out of their appointments at the beginning of the week and it was actually really discouraging. I honestly didn't expect that to be so disappointing because you plan and try to find ways to bring these people closer to Christ and then they don't show up to what you planned with them. It was a little bit of a rough start to the week but I saw so many miracles toward the end of the week where we got stood up and we were in the right spot at the right time to meet other people as well. I think the biggest thing that I learned this week is that the Lord knows exactly what is going on and exactly what we need and what other people need. As long as we are doing what we need to the Lord will use us the exact way that He needs us to be used. We lost Elder Trotter this week he went to Norrköpping and we got Elder Millsap who actually was in the same zone as Megan in the MTC which is super cool but it also means that he will be leaving really soon. I think Megan should know him so that's really cool and he seems like a really good missionary. 

Elder Trotter and the Bishop and his wife (Who is my self proclaimed mom in Örebro)

One of the cooler miracles that I experienced this week was on Tuesday we weren't able to get in contact with Adama for a little while which was not cool because he has a baptismal date on the 27th so we definitely be meeting with him. We had a distinct feeling to go contact in a specific place in the city and we ran into both him and his friends! He said that he couldn't answer because he didn't have any more credit on his phone so he's really sorry that he hasn't been able to meet. So that was cool to see that he is still progressing and we can actually work with him and he isn't just avoiding us. We also got to meet 3 of his friends who are now also interested in meeting so that was super cool. The Lord definitely knows what's going on even when we almost never have a good idea of what is actually going on. Another great thing that we got to experience was on Friday which are awesome days because we travel about an hour out of the city with the Senior couple to go visit this group of Africans. New ones come every week and this week we had like 8 in this small room preaching about the Plan of Salvation. It felt almost like Sunday school but with people that are genuinely interested and very curious. That was so cool because we got them all to commit to read and pray about the book of Mormon and we gave out a bunch in like 4 different languages. Also, later in the day we got to meet with this 21 year old in hälefors and have a super powerful lesson on a park bench for like an hour explaining the restoration of the gospel to him. I love when I am able to teach and bear testimony to people about the things that I have come to find to be true and help me so much in my life. That's probably the coolest part about being on a mission is that's what we get to talk to people about all of the time. 
Gold folding doors say it could be any church anywhere in the world!   

 Saturday we met with this lady that is a Muslim that wants us to convert to her religion so that was an interesting lesson. She brings up a lot of interesting things and it really shows me how much the Bible can be interpreted and people all over the world have twisted the words in the Bible into something that they weren't meant to be regardless of what religion. That's why we are so lucky to have the Book of Mormon and the knowledge that we have of this second witness so that we can know what the first witness is all about. We also had a baptism this week for the other elders which was super cool to see his name is Mahdie and he's from Afghanistan and he is so ready to be a member and learn as much as he can about the gospel of Jesus Christ and progress to the temple. It was one super cool experience. My spiritual thought for the week is in Alma 48:16 and 17. This is the scripture that talks about the strength of Moroni and that if everyone were like Moroni the powers of Hell would shake. The way that we can be like Moroni though is through love. He loved God enough to keep all of His commandments and covenants and he loved his people enough to fight for them and preserving them and their religion. 

 Love you all!! I hope this week is awesome I can't wait to hear from you all!! 
 med kärlek, 
 Äldste Israelsen 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Transfers; But I'm Staying!, New Raincoat and Pants Because You Only Make That Mistake Once, Book of Mormon on the Ground and Miracles!


This week we have our first transfers.... drum roll..... I am staying here because I'm a greeny and haven't finished my training! YAY! Actually I would hate to move after just 6 weeks it seems like such a long time but it is barely enough time to get to know everyone in the area much less ave a really solid handle on what's going on, and then trying to figure out how you can help everyone I should probably just stay here for the whole 2 years haha. We have an Elder from our district leaving though so that will be a change and our zone is merging with two others so a lot will change but nothing that will affect me to much.

This week was centered mostly on the Musical that the ward put together because everyone was trying to get there friends there and we were trying to get investigators there. So then when we set up times for them to come to the musical they didn't want to meet with us very much because they just said that they would see us at the musical so it was hard to see a few of them this week. That's okej though because we had plenty of people that we needed to teach and it feels like sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. 

On Monday we went shopping and I had to get a raincoat and pants because you only make that mistake once.... and it'll rain quite a bit in Sweden apparently. That was way good and we were able to get everything else done. So, there are always miracles to see when you do the Lord's work and this week was no exception. On Wednesday we really needed to meet with an investigator who has a baptismal date this month but he called and canceled on Tuesday. We almost always meet him on his lunch break in the library so I felt that we should just go to the library at 12 and that we would be able to do something there. He was not there and he didn't pick up his phone so we decided there was another reason we were there. We went contacting and actually got rejected about 12 times in a row pretty hard which is kind of unusual. I was feeling pretty defeated so we decided to go pay the meter and then grab some food. We were on our way back getting some food when this girl stopped us. She just wanted to talk a little bit because she sold stuff on the street and wanted to see how nice people were to us. We asked her if she was religious and she said she'd thought a lot about it and the other day she found a Book of Mormon on the ground and thought how cool it was and was going to read it and now here we were like 2 days later! It was super cool to see and I hope we get to continue to help her. It was awesome to have that pick up after that kind of demoralizing experience. The spirit really does work through us and I know that's real. 

On Friday we go up to a city that has one of our members and he brings friends for us to teach and they are all immigrants. We taught 7 of his friends from different places in Africa and it seriously just felt like a sermon it was crazy. We taught 3 the first time and now it's 7 and we've placed like 8 or 9 books of mormon there and it's just spreading it is the coolest thing! I just hope that we can get them to church otherwise they can't be baptized even if they want to. 

Our baptism fell through because she didn't quite feel ready so I hope that we can try to help her feel ready again and have the self confidence to get baptized again. It's a hard step for people and most people have to really think and prepare because the lifestyle change is big but it is definitely worth it and I know that for a fact because I've seen it and I've lived it. Miracles are happening right now across the world and no one can stop God's work from going forward. I love you all and I love the emails thank you so much!!!

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Hastening the Work, 6 New Investigators, Ward Musical, Sweden Temple and Mark 4:34


This week has been one that is full of miracles we are definitely seeing the Lord Hastening His work in Sweden and in our area it's a really cool thing to be able to be a part of. The language is coming along really well hopefully it'll just keep coming and I'll just be able to talk with whoever whenever I need to which would be nice because that's basically all missionary work is. Talking with people. First of all we have 2 baptisms scheduled for this Sunday which is super cool it's a mom and her son from a part member Swedish family. She is super cool and she's been struggling with smoking for awhile and it will be amazing to finally see her reach her goal of baptism and than gear their family towards the temple so that they can all have those blessings that their family can receive there. We also have another baptism scheduled for about a month from now with a man from Gambia who just has some of the biggest faith and desire that I have seen out of anybody. We are so excited about those and we hope that we can help them progress to that point and to keep progressing in the gospel after that point.

We actually found and taught 6 new investigators this week which is insane! One of them we went up to visit one of our newly converted African Members and he introduced us to three of his friends who were all interested and are all now investigating the church. He is one incredible member missionary and he has such a strong testimony of the gospel even though it's simple. We have just seen so many blessings this week it's been one I am going to have to remember.

Sweden Temple
We also had a mission tour this week that we went to on Wednesday that was in Stockholm! We got to hear from one of the Area 70 and our mission President in a chapel right next to the Stockholm temple which is a super cool temple in person. The pictures look a little weird but in person it's way awesome you should all go!!! They talked a lot about obedience which is actually what the mission is pushing for as a whole because with obedience comes a lot of power. We have been promised so many things from our Heavenly Father and they will happen if we just remain obedient to the things that He has asked us to do and I know that is absolutely true and Heavenly Father just wants to bless us and all we have to do is follow His counsel.

We have a musical that the ward has been practicing and is going to put on this week so we hope to see a bunch of people that we teach there and people that we have contacted on the street! It should be really good and just a good time and maybe I'll understand just a little bit of it!

One scripture that has been on my mind a lot lately is Mark 4:34 "And when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples." I think it is really important to study and to discuss but I've felt it is so important to keep things that we learn on our thoughts and when we do that the Spirit has the chance to expound what we read and what we learned. That's been something really cool I've been able to see as I've really consistently read and studied the scriptures and thought about them a lot. Things can be explained to us through the Holy Ghost and it's incredible.

Love you all!!! I hope everyone has an amazing week!

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