Monday, January 19, 2015

Speaking Gotlandska, 5 Investigators at Church, I "Ate It" On My Bike and Choosing to Live According to the Gospel Really is the Easier Way! Alma 37:46

Hallå där!! (That sounds way funnier when an old Swede says it... trust me)

This week has just been one hectic run around. We have been super blessed with people to teach and things to do the entire week! We definitely had our busyiest week as far as lessons go and we even had to take 2 days and go to Stockholm for zone training!!! Its funny too because we will have to do that again this week for some "special zone training" I really hope its special because thats 7 hours on that boat and I thought the boat was fun but I think it is starting to get a little old haha. This week we have really tried to keep implementing the member present lessons into all of our work just because it helps our investigators so much when they have a tie to the church instead of just us because
believe me we leave a lot faster than most of our investigators would like.

So we have this investigator who we visit with every week and she speaks Gotlandska which is a crazy dialect of swedish here and we took a member here to the lesson and she leaned over and asked if I could understand everything that she said and I said probably 80 percent. I kind of got a little defensive just because you want to have the confidence of the members and to be truthful I havent even been in the country 6 months but even then sometimes you think like the members dont have any trust in you anymore. That investigator has been to church twice now and I asked brother Stålek if he could understand her completely and he said absolutely not haha so I feel a lot better. Apparently there are people on the sounth end of this island that cant understand people on the north end of the island haha. Im glad because sometimes she tells me something and starts laughing and I just jump in and pretend its a joke and hope she isnt talking about me.

Gotland Ferry to Stockholm About 7 Hours
We don't have any baptismal dates yet but we did have 5 investigators in sacrament meeting which was super exciting! We couldnt get over it and its super cool to see how much the Lord has blessed us this week. In Stockholm we stayed with the zone leaders and had the opportunity to help them in there training by doing a skit of people planning poorly (funnier than it sounds I promise). We also were able to go on splitts with them in their area afterwards. I have to say there is so much public transportation I am so not used to the way to get around but the work is still exciting. We were able to teach a man that I actually helped to contact about a month ago so its cool to see that cycle and just to know that things that happen on splitts actually do matter.

One part of the week that wasn't super fun was on a way to a lesson on the other side of Visby before church we went around a corner and we were going fast and my bike just slipped out from under me and I hit the ground hard. I think that was my first bike olycka in a long time. I proceeded to slide for about 10 feet conveniently across the road and then we went to our lesson... It was a lot of fun but its ok because the lady got taught and I didn't break anything I just figured it might be fun for some of you to picture my bike just slipping out and I just ate it (if you don't think that is funny go and watch Americas funniest home videos).

I also was reading this week in the Book of Mormon in Alma 37:46 and it says "O my son do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way..." The thing that I have really come to understand is sometimes we make ourselves feel like life is super hard or that it is too hard to keep going on or that we can't live the gospel because its too stressful or even that I should just go home off my mission because it is too stressful. It hit me so hard that the people we work with have problems in their life that I couldn't even imagine dealing with. When we live according to the gospel we really do choose the easier way. The way that was already walked, already paid for, already suffered for. We can just do what we know to be best and leave the rest to our Savior and I know that is true. I have been so blessed with the gospel in my life and all the family and friends that have supported me along the way.

Ni är bäste tack för allt ni gör for mig!! Lycka till den här veckan!

Äldste Israelsen

Week 30, Member Present Lessons, Wonderful Willing Members AND Naked Polar Bear Plunge Swedish Tradition Pokes My Minds Eye Out!


Hur är det med er!! Det var länge sen!! Just kidding because I just wrote on Friday so this letter will probably be a little bit shorter but I actually still have quite a lot of things to say which is always a good time. First I would like to say that everything is going well here and we are both staying on the island but the zone is changing quite a lot this transfer... not that it matters to us because we literally see eachother so as long as neither of us move our world doesnt change much haha. We do, however, have a senior couple that we think is coming in this week and are going to be the new branch president so we hope that he can speak a little bit of Swedish otherwise this branch might cry just a little bit on the inside. I dont know how many times I have talked to a branch member and they just tell me we need a Swede as the branch President and they tell me to get someone from Stockholm to come and I am just thinking (what can I do? I have no power whatsoever so I just sort of nod my head and just wait it out haha). But stay tuned for an update with that.

Missionary Version of Polar Bear Plunge
Yesterday we were able to run the meeting again this time with most of the branch but apparently when the Stake calls and says "take care of it" the branch just steps back and so that was a fun job but really not hard because it was fast and testimony meeting so we didn't have any talks or anything like that. We decided on a new vision and a sort of "new initiative" for ourselves for this upcoming transfer. We decided that we really want to infuse the branch into the work by getting as many member present lessons as we can. We have a teaching pool now so we are able to use the members more for these people that are able to set up these appointments and not just say "sväng förbi" That is no fun to hear as a missionary haha. But we are going to get as many of the branch members as possible in on this as much as we can and see if we can't make our lessons go as much like Preach My Gospel as possible in order for them to really make some progress and move forward. It's actually super exciting to see the positive reaction and willingness of the branch now that most of them are back from their trips.

If anyone wants a Swedish culture shock this week we decided to do some language study on the beach because we wanted to get out of the apartment a little bit. That sounds like a good idea right? Except that day was the naked polar bear plunge tradition of the random family and old people on the island... my minds eye has never been so severely poked out haha. But yes that was interesting to experience for en väldig kort stund.

I guess since I said that I should redeem myself with something spiritual right? Haha anyways I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants and in chapter 122 vs 8 it says "Manniskosonen har stigit ned djupare än allt detta. Är du större än han?" Sorry I dont have my English scriptures on me. But that is something that I have seen in missionary work. Christ had to go through everything and suffer more than everyone put together and sometimes we have to suffer just a little bit to catch a glimpse of the whole thing and appreciate what he did for us. I have a testimony of that. That Christ took upon himself all of our sins and that sometimes we have to sink below things in our lives sometimes but that it will never be anything that we cant leave on his shoulders. :)

Thank you for everything all of the support and prayers and thoughts!! I know that it does a lot of good and this branch needs a little love! Ha en härlig vecka även de som börja skola igen, och Rachel bara ha det kul din sista termin i gymnasiet du är nästan färdig!! Jag Älskar er och saknar er!!

Med kärlek,

Äldste Israelsen

Happy New Year! More Swedish for Heather and I Promise I Didn't Use Google Translate!

vecka 29

Sorry about the confusion!! Yesterday was P day and so I was able to write a couple of people but we had kind of an interesting situation happen that required our "attention" so we are using just a little bit of time to get our letters out this morning. This is also the last of the weird days and P day is normal starting monday again.  We will see if I am staying on Gotland or leaving tomorrow so I will let everyone know on Monday but I should be here still.

Also, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! It was a good year last year and I have just been thinking how crazy but amazing it is that I am able to spend this year completely on a mission and how blessed I am to be able to do that:). I also wanted to say thank you so much to everyone that sent me packages and letters for Christmas they were the best and absolutely made my day and my weekend. (if you dont know missionaries get kind of crazy when they get mail so...;). This week has been interesting it is actually a relief for us as missionaries that the new year is over so that we can start meeting with all of those people that just said, "wait until the New Year" so now we will see if they are really interested haha.

One thing that was really crazy was that everyone was pretty much gone last week in church and the stake presidency called us to say that they were not going to be able to come to the meeting and that they would want us to take care of it. But we thought that it would be a problem because we would just have to give sacrament to ourselves and everything would be fine. But on Saturday night we got a call from a family that comes from Karlskrona that said they wanted to visit the church tomorrow and were looking forward to the meeting and then we had two investigators show up. So, I presided at the meeting and conducted and led the music and gave a talk and then gave the lesson in Sunday school with everyone... It was interesting I think we did a good job considering we have no real idea of what we are doing and Swedish is still sketchy but it worked. It was really cool actually to see that family come to church and when I told them the situation that the branch would be basically gone he just reminded me of a scripture that says when two or three are assembled in my name there will I be also. So that was a really good reminder to me and I have really seen the reality of that on Gotland because on a good day we are less than 20 people in church. But the Spirit was there and everything went smoothly.

It has been a pretty cool week and one of the miracles that we have been able to see is that of prayer. We prayed this week that we would be able to get three lessons on tuesday and all three of those lessons canceled on us, which is weird because that never happens to missionaries :P. But we found three people that we were able to teach either in their doorway or in their house for the first time. Even though 2 of them we personally probably wont see again it is a testimony to me that Heavenly Father is really concerned about us as missionaries and what we are trying to accomplish as well as He is concerned about the people that we teach and the people around us.

For New Years we got to meet with investigators and with the Herreys and have dinner and then we actually watched a restoration film because that is who the Herreys are and we were able to get another appointment with them and they will hopefully come to church this Sunday which we are really excited for. But they left early because they have a baby and so we stayed up and watched a movie with the Herreys until midnight where we screamed and watched the fireworks and drunk people outside and then went home. It was actually really exciting and more fun than I probably make it sound.

Vi är super spända för verket dem här näste 6 veckorna och vi hoppas att vi ska hitta några stycken att förena grenen här. Jag har bara en transfer kvar tror jag och vi ska få en ny grens president och äldre missionärer. jag hoppas att allt ska gå jämt och skönt men vi får se om Himmelske Fader har nånting annat i sinnet för oss ;)

Jag Älskar er!!!!!

Äldste Israelsen

I wrote in Swedish mostly because Heather said she wanted to see more of it. Also to prove that I can speak Swedish... I promise I didn't just put it into Google translate haha. sorry about the pictures they will be in Mondays letter!!