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