Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vecka 58, Injuries, Workovers in Boden, Russian Story of Alma 37:6

Beauty of Norrland 

Hej Hej!

This week has been a rollercoaster but it has been a good one! I first have to tell you all I have injured myself like 4 different times so for your enjoyment:
1. We had a service project with a member named Kaarina who is an amazing Finnish woman but afterwards we were going to the car and right by her house there is a fence that is like 3 feet high and I thought I would jump over it and I tripped right before but decided to jump anyways and it was a lame attempt.. I hit my shin and flipped and landed on my face on the concrete... she was turned around though so my dignity was kept.
2. We have an attic appartment so the ceiling slants down. I grabbed something and came up and just slammed my face on the ceiling of our apartment.. I still have a bump on my head haha.
3. I went to dunk a basketball on a hoop and after I dunked it I punched the pole and took off the skin on three of them.. and it was on my handshaking hand so I had to bandage my hand before anyone would give me a handshake #missionaryproblems.

Anyways, just thought you would want to know and dont feel bad about laughing about it my companion is definitely getting a kick out of it. In missionary work I hope that everyone is still reading the Book of Mormon because we are definitely seeing the miracles here in Umeå from using the Book of Mormon! It really does give us the answers we need and the extra we need to get through the day with the Lord´s help. One example that we have seen is with an investigator that we just taught with one of the members in the ward. Both of them are in wheelchairs and are some of the coolest people that I have ever met! But she has begun to read the Book of Mormon and she told the member friend that she believes in the book and that it has brought her closer to God than anything else that she has ever read or thought about or done. It is amazing to see how the Book of Mormon has helped us become better missionaries and also help everyone around us, our investigators, missionaries, and the members of the church here in Umeå.

Jouko, a friend of a member that we teach English invited us to lunch!!
We had a special story told to us by Kaarina actually while we were there. During the cold war years she went to Russia just to visit the church there and to see how they were doing becuase she heard from someone that they were having a rough time. She came back and got one other member to begin finding people to make donations of clothes and food that they could fill up a van with and bring to the saints there. When they left and came back someone in another charity organization asked her why she would do that, and if she realized that it was the equivalent to a drop of the water in the ocean and she asked him "what do you think the ocean is made of?" Later another member found out about this and got a ton of people together and ended up getting 19 tons of clothes and relief to help these people in Russia. She is a living example of Alma 37:6 "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." I want you all to know that I know that is true, it is the small things that we do, the 5 minutes we give to someone else, the extra compliment, the extra mile that mean the world and make the difference. So never think that anything is ever too small because the Lord will magnify the things that we CAN do. :)

We had Julianna, an investigator who has the super cute child. She has agreed to take the steps necessary to be baptized!! It is absolutely amazing to see the people that are willing to  make these steps and to commit their lives to the newfound faith that they have recieved. I know how much it will mean to them and its amazing just to be able to extend that invitation. We taught her about the plan of salvation and as we were teaching I felt the spirit confirming to me again that the plan that he has for us is real and that it is something that we can accomplish. He made the plan so that each of us may live with Him again and as long as we follow him we will make it there. My testimony is simple but I know that God has given us a way back and I hope to never take for granted the things that God has given me.

We also went on workovers in Boden and I was with Äldste Svensson who is the swedish missionary that recieved his call in Örebro almost exactly a year ago when I was there. It was amazing to be able to work with him (his swedish is better than mine) and I learned so much from the things that he does up there. We went to go and "swing by" some people and try to talk to as many people that we could along the way. It is amazing to see the Lords hand in it. We went to this one ladies apartment but we felt prompted to walk a different way first to go and talk to a couple of guys and after we talked with them we went back and a lady was standing outside and it happened to be another person that the Elders were trying to get in contact with for awhile! She is super positive they have just never been able to swing by when she was home so they will be teaching her soon. We also set up a lesson with a blind lady who wanted to learn more, so we had to schedule a time with a translator for the next week, they have to et a video translator for that... super cool!

On Sunday we had an investigator and her baby come to church that we had just met the day before!! It was absolutely amazing to see that. She is from Eritrea and doesnt really have any family here in Sweden but she loves God and wants to come closer to him and her and her baby stayed for the entire three hours and the ward took such good care of her it was fantastic. I love to see the little miracles that the Lord allows us to see it makes everything worth it when we can see the Lord work in other peoples lives.

The work is amazing here in Umeå and if I were to say one thing that I have learned in the past little while its that I dont do anything! The only reason we see any success at all is because of the hand of the Lord in the peoples lives that we teach. I have absolutely seen that over and over and He is always there to help them and to put the right circumstances in their lives it is absolutely incredible. I know that is the same with all of us. I promise that your Heavenly Father is there in every aspect of our lives as long as we do what He has said. So if you have questions if something is actually from God like the Book of Mormon or a commandment or a part of the Plan of Salvation then ask questions, pray, read the scriptures, search... I think that Nike says it best "Just Do It" and you will find the truthfullness of the message as well :)

Älskar er!! Ha en fantastisk bra vecka!!

Äldste Israelsen
pic1 Jouko, a friend of a member that we teach English invited us to lunch!!
2 and 3 Just the beauty of Norrland


Vecka 57 To Stockholm for Specialized Training, 7 Hour Drive to Stockholm and Then Back to Umeå

Elder Kapp och jag

I am not sure how much more we can possibly shove into a week but I think we are going to try and beat it this upcoming week. Life has just been fantastic and very spiritual as well over this week. On Monday we had the pleasure of having almost everyone in the Zone come down for a specialized training again even though we had one for the other week. It wasn't super easy to find housing for all of the sisters and stuff the elders in the apartments up here in Umeå but it happened!! Thanks to the amazing members here in the ward everything worked out in the end. The specialized zone training was just a review basically of everything that President Beckstrand has been trying to emphasize recently and then it was a family home evening with the zone. We were able to sit down and get to know each other a little better and then get to ask them a bunch of questions just about their lives. The purpose was to have them more accessible which was needed. Apparently we are the 7th largest geographical mission in the world which just means there is a lot of ground to cover and you can feel a little isolated sometimes so it was pretty incredible to be able to hear all of their stories and how they really have applied the gospel in their lives.

Åsa made us dinner at the church!! Super ridiculously nice of her!!
After that training I had the pleasure of going down to Stockholm in a car that needed to be traded in so from Umeå to Stockholm was a 7 hour drive and I did that with elders Featherstone and Noso... I was on splits with Elder Noso in the office in Täby the next day. So on Wednesday I renewed my visa and was asked a bunch of questions about that. While we were there I talked to this lady that was actually from New York but had lived in Sweden for 34 years but still wasnt comfortable in Swedish. So we spoke and she would throw some swedish words in their and she still had a very thick New York kind of gangster accent and she would just randomly put Swedish words into the sentence for example, "man , I dont wanna take care of those, they are INOMHUS CATS!" She would just yell this and I could barely stop myself  from laughing because it sounded so out of place. But in the end we gave her a Book of Mormon so I hope she gets an opportunity to read it.

Literally right outside of our apartment
Back in the office we ran to different places teaching quite a few people actually. I love being with elder Noso his testimony just shines through and he loves teaching and talking to everyone. We knocked on one door the whole day and it happened to be a finnish lady so they started speaking finnish and for those of you who have heard finnish you know my pain haha. It was still a fantastic opportunity and I learned a lot from being with him. The next day Elder Featherstone and I drove whats called the "man van" ( a giant van to help us to move our apartments) back up to Umeå.. another 7 hours back up. Then we moved all of our stuff out of our old apartment into the new one. Still trying to move in while teaching lessons and being normal missionaries but sometimes that isnt as easy as it sounds. We got it done though thanks to Elder and Sister Delgado the senior couple in Ö-Vik they are fantastic and we could not have done it without them.

The days following were just as crazy but fun we have a couple of new investigators to add to the list this week and it is just so cool to see them progress and to see them start at a place that they know that there is no God to reading in the scriptures and parying everyday and the difference is huge its absolutely amazing. Everyone is still doing well. some of them are coming along slower than others but they are coming and we just feel that everything is going really well here in Umeå we have been incredibly blessed with the things that we have to do and the people that we are able to affect.

One miracle that was really cool this week was that we met with a less active member. He has had troubles smoking and had a tough life in general. We have been meeting with him and he decided the other day that he is going to stop smoking and get back on the path that he knows is right. We were able to give him a blessing to help him and the spirit was super strong and it helped me to know that it really doesnt matter what we have done in the past or who we are but who we want to become. Those changes are the most amazing and the most rewarding when everything is said and done. So set those goals for the person you want to become and then figure out how to get there it just takes a step you dont have to be perfect. God doesnt expect immediate perfection he expects immediate progress. I know that is true for me in my own life and in the lives of the people around me and I am so priveledged to be a part of these people changing their lives.

Älskar er! Ha en utomordentlig bra vecka!!

Äldste Israelsen

P.s. Keep reading the Book of Mormon!!!


Vecka 56, Plane is Becoming Gotland Boat, Three Month Book of Mormon Challenge

This week has been an absolute organized mess! haha We had the opportunity to go down to Stockholm again on Monday for a mission leadership council meeting on Tuesday. I feel like that plane is becoming my new Gotland Boat and I am not sure how excited I am about that haha. We are in Stockholm a whole lot but I love MLC I feel like we really pull things from it that help us in our own missionary work and help us to help our zone to become better missionaries as well. The main focus that we put on MLC this time was consecration and the Book of Mormon. Just knowing that we have been called to come and to preach the gospel should be enough motivation to be consecrated missionaries but sometimes we need a little extra reminder. It was an amazing training just on the Book of Mormon and how it can be better used. The thing that I really took from it was the burning testimonies of our forefathers of the Book of Mormon and how that was the basis of their knowledge and sometimes I think we forget that about our own testimonies. So we have been challenged to do the same thing that we have asked our investigators to do so much and that is to read the Book of Mormon and to find out for themselves. If they can be in the habit of reading the Book of Mormon every day there will not be anything that can sway them whether that be addiction, temptation, tragedy, hardships they will always have that strong foundation and we can have the same thing. It was a really strong training and we have loved the things that we have been able to apply during the week in our own area.

We also had Zone training this week and a bunch of people to teach so we didn't get a whole lot of sleep haha but it was a fantastic week. Its a good problem to have. But everyone came in from Zone training and we wanted to convey our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and to help them to amp up their motivation as well. The missionary work here in Sweden has gotten a lot better and the missionaries that have been coming in are really ready to take the work here to the next level. The training was focused on how we can be consecrated and to go higher and to reach the next level that our heavenly father knows that we can reach. That is what this whole life is about in reality it is to go a little farther and reach a little higher. Become uncomfortable so that we can increase our comfort zone and I am so thankful for that opportunity.

We have been blessed with a lot of success recently and in the last week. We have 5 people that have accepted a baptismal date and are ready to really search for their answer and we are really excited to be working with them on their own journey to the path that they want to be on and that their Heavenly Father wants to see them on. We had an investigator that we called to set up an appointment with and she asked if we were looking for an apartment (and we have for the past few months but it is really hard to find anywhere in Sweden) She said that she would help us look and we thanked her and set up a time we had only seen her once before. After 20 minutes she gave us a call and had an apartment that was just put on the market and got us there to look at it the next morning. We now have that apartment so she is just a miracle lady and we are really grateful for her and to be working with her and her husband to make their goals in the next couple of months. We love the work right now and we are trying to sit in the things that we need to do with being away from the area about 1 or 2 days of the week. It is fun to be able to work with all of these missionaries in the zone and to see them step it up and to make me want to do the same. The missionary work here in Sweden has never been this good in terms of missionaries, obedience, or even just success and we are so excited going forward. God is really actually hastening His own work but it is just up to us if we are willing to jump on the train or not.... SO JUMP ON THE TRAIN!

One thing that I have learned recently is the importance of spending time with people and just going that extra mile. We have a less active that has been through a ton in his life and we had the opportunity just to go by and to bring him some ice cream and talk with him. Not gonna lie before my mission I probably wouldn't think of doing something like that but the power of just showing someone that you care and spending a half hour with them means the world and can make the difference in peoples lives. Thats what home teaching is all about, it is giving us the opportunity to do that with certain people and to make sure that THEIR needs are met. A chance to forget our own needs and help some other people meet their needs and wants. Think of a person that needs exactly that. Make the difference for someone else thats the best feeling you can have.

These next 3 months we have given the branch a challenge to read the book of Mormon over again. To take the next little amount of time and read and focus on the Book of Mormon. I would give the same challenge to whoever reading this email. Take the next 3 months and read the book of Mormon through (about 3 chapters a day) and see the difference that it will make. We have been promised that this book will bring us closer to God than any other book on the face of the planet... thats a strong promise so test it and see what happens in the next 3 months. I know that it has helped me so much in my life and I know that IT IS TRUE and will bring more happiness than we can even imagine.

Have a fantastic week!!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vecka 55, New Companion Got Off the Plane and We Went Teaching!

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission!

This week has been one giant adventure with a lot of success and a promising next transfer. I got a new companion on Wednesday, Äldste Kapp he is from the missionary factory down there in Utah and came up from Stockholm. We get along super well and he came ready to go he has been out on his mission now for about a year and a half so its interesting to have another older companion but we are having a really good time together. This week we have had so many experiences with investigators and less actives so on Wednesday, when Äldste Kapp got off the plane we basically went back to the appartment and just went to go teaching. We have an investigator named Ranja who is super cool and we were finally able to meet with her. She has been meeting with the missionaries for a long time and has come to church and reads the Book of Mormon every day but has not taken that step to be baptized into the church. But we had a great lesson with her and will hopefully be able to help her in the future and see that change and take that step soon. We also had a lesson with Emma and Josef. They are another couple that have been pretty busy the last while and we finally got ahold of them. He is a member of the church but hasn't come since he was pretty young and his Sambo is not a member of the church. We had an amazing lesson with them as well and are excited to see their progression in the gospel and we feel like there is just so much that we can do to help them!!

We Have an investigator named Julianna who is from Uganda and is pretty much the greatest (the lady that we chased down in the parking lot last week ;)). We had an amazing lesson with her this week and she was even able to come to church this week!! She has the cutest daughter on the face of the planet and we were able to get a ride with a carseat from some amazing members and everyone just took care of her from the moment that she came into the chapel. It is amazing to see these members really live the gospel and see the example that I believe Christ really wanted us to live. Its amazing. Stay tuned for the next episode and what happens with her because we can see some amazing things happening there. There is also a less active that comes and teaches with us to her house. Its amazing to see his testimony come out and he has been an incredible help to her and has come the last two weeks to church as well!! It is fantastic to see how just sharing our testimonies helps us to grow and love other people as well as realize the way that God wants us to live.

There are two other investigators Peter and Beatrice and it literally feels like we are talking with a Stake President and Relief society President but they have not taken the step to be baptized into the church but they know it is true. The Lord really has searched them out and it is so cool to see people from the eyes of what they can do to help other people and I think that as we see people from that perspective we will be able to help them in the way that they actually need to progress in the way that God wants them to  and to affect the people that need to be influenced by them. I am learning more than eny other time in my life that God works in His own time for people but he always knows what they need to move forward which is why we need to try an have the spirit with us as much as possible so that we can actually help these people move forward in the way and time that God wants them to.

We have a vision as zone leaders to help the Zone in Norrland become more consecrated. To make every effort we can to make the work go forward in these places. We have both found that it doesn't really matter where we have been in the mission but that when we have worked hard there come the people that want to be taught. We are going to become more consecrated as a companionship and try to bring that to our Zone. This work is Gods work and can change the lives of the people around us as long as we let ourselves be the catalyst for the Spirit and for God to work inside of other people. I am super happy to be here in Umeå and we are seeing everything move forward in a big way here!! I am excited to see it go forward with Äldste Kapp here in Umeå and in Norrland! Have a fantastic week and know that I know that the church is true :)

Have an amazing week!!!

Äldste Israelsen