Friday, August 1, 2014

Sweden! Plane Ride in a Suit, 2 Nephi 23:12 and Tender Mercies - My Trainer is Jr. Weight Lifting Champion of Denmark!

My Trainer Aldste Held and I on Swedish bikes!

I made it to Sweden finally ( I know it's a shock) but somehow we made it happen. No one had visa problems so that was way cool to see all 16 of us get on our planes all the way to Stockholm. So those flights were probably the longest things of my entire life because we didn't really have anything to do besides sit on the plane in a suit getting weird looks from people. That was actually cool because after we got out of Salt Lake people would ask what were doing or what language was on our badges and we got to tell them what we were doing and our group actually gave a few people a Book of Mormon so that was pretty cool we were all so ready to go.

We got to Amsterdam and everyone actually speaks pretty ok English but we almost missed our flight because one of the elders in our group got selected for a random search so they literally looked through everything. We got there with like 2 minutes to spare and left Amsterdam in one piece if only just barely. We got to Stockholm and we had been up for about 24 hours and I believe it was 9 in the morning for the Swedes. We were greeted by a huge group of people. The mission president and senior couples and the APs and a few other missionaries. They took us around town and each of us was interviewed by the mission president so he could see if he needed to make any changes in his decision for the trainers. Stockholm is absolutely beautiful and after we looked around and got some training and a lunch at the YSA center in the middle of Stockholm we got to go out with an experienced missionary and go contact people. I went with elder Moe who is actually my great grandpa and I didn't even know it at the time. Anyway, that was a really cool experience. The people are super nice even when they aren't interested they tell you really nicely and almost all of them actually stop and explain why they won't talk to you. Oh and also I'm not really sure what language they speak here, I thought it was Swedish but now that I got here I'm pretty sure it's not Swedish ;).

So after we slept for a solid 11 hours we got up the next day and found out who our trainers are and where we would serve. I am serving in Örebro and my trainer is Elder Held who is a super cool guy and he's super passionate about missionary work. Right now he is the district leader in our district and he's been out for about 11 months. He's also the junior weight lifting champion of Denmark so that's pretty incredible. We work out every morning in the park outside of our apartment. His English is really good and sometimes I give him pointers when he wants to say out there kinda stuff but he's helping me so much with my Swedish it's insane how much I've learned since I've been in Sweden. The missionaries call Örebro the heart of Sweden because it's members are really strong which I've come to find out and it's really cool. Also, most people speak english really well here but they love to hear that you're trying to learn Swedish and the people in the ward are super helpful. I had my testimony in sacrament meetin gthat I had to give so that was cool and people came up and said how great I am at Swedish for only being here a couple of days which could translate to "wow I can't believe that I actually understood at least 3 words you said!" haha. But I told them to please correct my Swedish if there was something wrong so they know I won't get offended and they are so helpful. The Bishop's family is so cool and we've been to his house a couple of times for dinner and they will just help a ton and talk my head off which helps my Swedish so much.

We went to a baptism in Karlstad for a baptism that elder Held helped teach a couple of months back and that was so cool to see. We also have a couple of baptisms in the area coming up so they will be super cool to see get baptized. Right now I'm just trying to open my mouth so that Heavenly Father will help me fill it and help other people come to Christ while I learn Swedish. Even though I can't communicate super well yet I have no doubt that Heavenly Father can still work miracles through me to the people he needs to as long as I am willing.

I love this area and my companion is really cool. Something that I learned in the scriptures this week was in 2 Nephi 20:33 where it says, "and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down; and the haughty shall be humbled." I am reading the Book of Mormon to find examples of love and I know that Heavenly Father helps us to become humble so that he can turn us into something that we can't even imagine. in 2 Nephi 23:12 it says "I will make a man more precious that fine gold." Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us to return back to Him and sometimes that means that we have to be humbled every once and awhile, or experience really hard things because, without knowing it, he is making all of us into something that we can't even imagine ourselves yet. Part of the reason that I am out here it to help other people realize their potential and come nearer to that goal of becoming like Christ.

I love you all and I miss you!!

Äldste Israelsen

P.S. Some people is Sweden said "Om du sager nogontin fel ska vi döda dig" så licka till till mig!!

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