Monday, May 16, 2016

This week was filled with so many miracles its insane!

 Elder Benson and I have been talking with as many people as we can find to find the ones that really want the gospel in their lives and we have found a few that seemed promising but it seems like every person just kind of fell through. This week though we had a couple of things to look to to get some new people to teach and work with. There was a vårfest (spring party or whatever you want to call it.) and some members that we were going to serve during the week. We saw amazing things from both of them.

We went early on in the week to a members house to visit and to help her with some things that she needed help with. The other elders painted and she asked me to build a fence so that her new dog wouldnt get out... that was a lot of trust put in me but it went pretty well and we built a fence so that was cool. But the really exciting thing was to hear and help her with the missionary work that she has been doing. She has several friends that she is inviting to hear the gospel and later on this week we will have the pleasure of meeting and teaching one of them which is really exciting! We had another lady in the ward that invited us over to teach one of her friends this week and that went incredibly well. She is such a good missionary and her friend loved the things that we had to say and she even came later on in the week to the party in the church. So big things are starting to happen with the member missionary work and that kind is probably my favorite and the most effective. These people trust their friends and it really means a lot to people that their friends are willing to share that part of their lives. Its cool to see and be a part of. I think that many people are scared to share it with other people but it really means a lot to people to know that their friends care and thats really all it is. It is an act of love to share the things that have helped you in your own life and try to help the people that you also care about. That is exactly what these members are doing and it affects their friends and their own families and it affects us as missionaries and you can see their testimonies grow as a result.

The party was another thing that we wanted to focus on this week to try and get people to and get them introduced to the church in a non threatening way and get to know the members when they are just having a good time. I love that kind of thing because on Sundays some people might think that we are just a little "up tight" but really most everyone loves to have fun but maybe just not in the same way in sacrament meeting. Everyone that we talked to this week was revolved around getting them to that party and there were a ton of people there that were not members of the church! A lot that members had invited and people that we had met earlier on the street. We specifically met one lady on the bus toward the church and she is a single mother with the cutest three year old youve probably seen in your life. We talked to her and invited her to come and she came! It was perfect because the party was put on by some of the members of the ward from south america and she is also from there so it was fun for her to speak spanish again and get to have a little taste of south america in Sweden. We will be teaching her later on in the week and she was talking to us and just was so grateful that we had invited her and said that the ward was just like a big family and everyone seems to just love each other and she loved that. It is so important to love the people that are around us and in our wards. When we say brother and sister we should really mean it and be willing to love them and bear their burdens and help them when they need it. Its a part of being a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is probably one of the most important things that we can do. In a world where people care less and less about each other it means a lot that we do.

We also have a family home evening every week in a city right outside of Karlskrona in Ronneby and that has been something that we have been able to get together with some members out there and strengthen them and get our investigators to. It helps them to get to know the members and provides a non threatening environment for us to teach and help people understand the gospel in a deeper way. We had a man that we had met on the street there come to that family home evening and we have started to teach him as well more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and that was another miracle that we saw out of this week. I think it is so important to share everything we can with the people around us and just genuinely care for them. Its the same in everything that we do, in home teaching, in church, the the home, in the workplace. We have to care for the people otherwise change is impossible both in them and in ourselves.

We had a specialized zone training this week as well in Malmö so we traveled down to the southern tip of Sweden. It was a little unreal because it was my last training that I am going to have by the Beckstrands and they have been really special both to this mission and to me in my own life. I also, renewed my temple recommend because that had expired... its hard to believe that it has gone by so fast but it has and I now have about a week left in my mission. I am so unbelievably grateful for the experiences that I have been able to have here and the people that I have had the pleasure to meet. Im sure more experiences await in the next week of teaching and serving but there is a lifetime and an eternity of being able to do that after as well. I know that my Redeemer lives, and I know that this is His work and it has been my joy and pleasure to be able to serve in this capacity in this beautiful land. There is nothing better that anyone could be involved in and I will be forever grateful for my opportunity.

Love you all,
Äldste Israelsen

We just had a fantastic week!

We had a little bit more time to find this week than normal because we had 8 people that made appointments and didnt end up showing up so that was fun haha but we did find a lot of new people to teach and its always an exciting time to see the hand of God in leading us to the people that really need it. For example, we had an appointment with a new investigator at the library during the week and we had confirmed with them the night before and the day of they didnt show upå or answer their phone... So we felt like we needed to find someone else instead and so we went out into the square and in the city right outside and elder Benson looked at a man and said "that guy right there" so we went and talked to him... he wasnt interested... However the man that walked around the corner right after that was very interested! He is from Ireland and had talked with missionaries a little bit before. It was interesting talking to him in English about the gospel but it went really well and we are going to meet with him soon at the beginning of this upcoming week. Its funny how things happen and how we really are put into the way of people that need to hear the message in one way or another. We actually had a bunch of experiences just like that this week and I know that the reason we have those experiences are to help the children of God that are looking for the truth and "are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." 

We have been doing our best to work with the ward and try to have them do their own missionary work which they are absolutely fantastic about. There are some amazing member missionaries here and when they dont have their own friends that are interested they are more than willing to help with the people that we bring with us to church which is such a blessing. We had the honor of being with a family this week in a place called Bergkvara which is a little ways from Karlskrona and eat some lunch with them and talk with them about their missionary work. I met this family on Gotland about a year ago when they were there on vacation and so it was great to be able to see them again when I came to Karlskrona. What I have come to know is that everyone has their own stories and things with the gospel and their story is pretty amazing about his missionary service and how they had met later on in their lives and she became a member of the church when they got married. The Lord works in interesting ways but He is always working in the lives of all of us that much I can promise. 

On Saturday this week we had a baptism here from a nearby branch from Växjö. I was on splits the other week and had the privilege to teach her while I was there so it was fun to be able to see her baptized in our font here. We were able to get some less actives and other members in the church to be there to support her. I love going to baptisms because the ordinance is so simple but it so beautiful to see people taking that first step closer to our Heavenly Father. It is so humbling that He has given that authority to the Earth to help His children to come closer to Him and everytime I see someone do that there is a special spirit that is there testifying to everyone there that the restoration is a reality, giving the person being baptized comfort for the journey that they are about to embark on and maybe that same comfort to those who have been on the path a little longer that the same spirit is with them as well to lift them and strengthen them on their pathway of enduring to the end. It really is special. If there is a baptism that you have the opportunity to be at... be there! It will help you and whoever it is that is being baptized even if you dont know them I promise. 

In church, the missionaries were asked to sing with the primary children "Book of Mormon Stories" so we got to stand on the stand with them and sing the best childrens song ever with all of the kids. It was actually a really cool experience and one that I wont forget for awhile. I love the things that we can learn in church from those called to teach and talk and even just pass the sacrament. Its so cool to see the gospel and the church work in harmony. Boyd K. Packer gave a talk where he talked about just that. The gospel is like a giant keyboard and if we use all of it we can have beautiful melodies and harmonies but if we sit there hitting one note over and over it gets pretty dissonant. There are so many aspects of the gospel and they are all important to have. It is so important for us to have all of those things together in one. I love this gospel and the opportunities that it presents for us and the joy that we receive from it as we live after the things that we know are true. I am so grateful for my mission and the things that I have learned and continue to learn. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the kingdom of God on the Earth today. For those that are in it and have that conviction, great, live after that and invite others. For those who are in the church and do not know or do not have that conviction, find it and share it. And for those that are not members of the church my simple invitation is to find out because the blessings that I have received are fantastic and I am so grateful for them. There is a way back to our Heavenly Father and to his son, back to our Heavenly home and this is it. Have a great week and know that we will be working hard in Karlskrona having the time of our lives! Love you all!

Äldste Israelsen  

Another One For the Books, Valborg, Bonfires on the Beach and Fast and Testimony Meeting!

Another one for the books!

We are seeing a lot of cool things come out of the woodworks and the work that we are trying to put in here in Karlskrona. We are seeing quite a few more people that we are finding that are interested in the gospel and members trust is more to help them with the things that they need. For example, we Went out in the middle of nowhere (not too far outside of the city haha) to a family that lives on their own Little farm. We helped them change out the straw for the year so basically the "Litter box" for their sheep and things for the past year. Im not sure I have smelt that bad for a long time but it was an awesome opportunity to work hard and to do some service. In other news I held a baby lamb that was born not too long ago... I guess I can check that one off of the bucket list. We also helped Another less Active to hack down the tree that we had cut last week into firewood and make her yard look like a yard again and not like a war zone so that was also really fun and I didnt kill myself with the ax which is Another big plus.

Elder Benson and I have really been trying to find the prepared which last week and for the past couple has meant making sure people know the expectation and why we meet and that we want to help them become baptized. Doing that helps people so much to progress... or to decide that it is not something that they want to be working toward. So we have had a Little more time this week to find people and try to find the ones who are interested in taking that step and being commited. It has actually been really cool to see what has come of it and the people that we have been able to find. We found and then met a younger Swede this week who loves the things that we have to say and is really interested. She herself is really spiritual but doesnt really know the meaning of any of it. So we have started to teach her about the restoration and the book of Mormon which is by far the thing that I like to teach most because the spirit is so strong whenever we talk about it. To me it has become a lot more clear why the need for a restoration is so appartent and why it is so real. Without a restoration there would be no revelation and without revelation Life would be a lot harder and we would have no where to go. Just like this girl we might be spiritual and understand that there is "something" but not have any clue what that "something" is. How lucky we are to know exactly what the something is and what it all means and implies for us!

Later on in the week we also had a day called Valborg where we dont have to proselyte after 5 and celebrate. So we got some members and investigators together and celebrated. There was a mens Choir that performed some Classic Swedish songs in the Town Square and then a big Bonfire on the beach and it was Beautiful! We were soaking up every minute and it was a fantastic opportunity for our members to get to know some of the people that we ahve been teaching and visa versa. The fire was huge and we felt some Swedish patriotism honestly for the first time in a long time and it felt good. Sverige är bäst!

On Sunday it was time for a fast and testimony meeting and I love the opportunity that we have every month to get up and to bear our testimonies for the wards. Our testimonies are interesting things but they grow the most when we share them with other people and see the reality of them in our own Life. That is why I am so grateful for this mission becasue it has taught me to build and bear my testimony. I love this gospel and I know that it is true. Just like Nephi "I don't know the meaning of all things" but I do know that Jesus Christ is the head of this work and subsequently the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and each and every one of the members as long as they live worthy and seek diligently his will and guidance. I will Always cherish that knowledge and the things that I have come to know while I have been here. I love it and I love Sweden!

Have a good week :)
Äldste Israelsen

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zone Training in Malmö this Week, Cut Down a Tree, Another Cello and Piano Duet, and Allow Yourself to Listen

What a good week! There was a lot that went on and a lot of crazy experiences that we had. We had a lesson with a guy named Filip at the beginning of the week who is a teenage swede who believes in God and in Jesus Christ but was super interested to hear about the Book of Mormon and we were able to tell him more about that just in the library in Stan which was really cool we will see where that goes. We also taught Angelika who is looking to be baptized with her friend fairly soon into the church. We taught about the word of wisdom and that is always a fun one to go with because so many people are doing things that may or may not be in line with the word of wisdom. They both have committed to following the commandments and its super cool to see them progress in the gospel and see them reading the book of Mormon and applying the things that they read and come with questions and look for the answers that they have been seeking to spiritual questions that they have been having for a really long time.

That next day we helped a less active with some yard work and we cut down a giant tree in her yard... coolest thing ever and I was so sore and tired after that but it was worth a couple of blisters. We enjoyed ourselves there and we know that they wouldn't be able to do things that need to be done on their own and so it is a privilege to be able to help out and see the blessings that come from that. We have also had a few investigators recently that have dropped off the radar and we have been trying our hardest to find some more that are interested in hearing about the message of the gospel. So we have had a little more finding time this week than is usual but that has been good for us also and I think its fun to find people that God has been preparing. He really does lead us to the people that need the gospel message whether or not they accept it right then and there is up to them but we had some pretty cool experiences this week where we really just felt prompted to go somewhere and the next person we talked to needed some help or needed to hear it. For example, we were on a bus and we wouldn't normally get off until about 3 stops later but I felt something and knew that we needed to get off and walk. I couldn't see anyone and it was raining but we did it anyway and the next man that we stopped talked to us for the next 20 minutes about the gospel and he himself had received a book of Mormon about 5 years earlier but had never really gotten past the introduction. It was really cool to see and things of that nature seem to happen often and it is really cool to see the hand of the Lord in the things that we do and the peoples lives that we talk to.

We had Zone Training in Malmö this week (we are always on trains) and it was really good about teaching about the commandments. They really are there to protect us and help us. I have seen that so many times out here, if everyone lived the commandments we would avoid pretty much every single problem that anyone ever has. After that training I went back to Växjö with elder Gergetz and we were there from Thursdag night until Saturday morning. That was a lot of fun to teach and find there in Växjö. They have a woman there being baptized soon who is super prepared and really cool. We were able to teach her the ten commandments and it was an honor to share with her my testimony of the gospel and how much it would bless her life. We never really know what our testimonies will do or how we can have an impact on others but as long as we are willing to always share it with everyone we give the spirit the opportunity to draw them closer to our Heavenly Father. That is by far my favorite part of missionary work. Getting to share with everyone my conviction of the gospel and my testimony of our Heavenly Father and His plan.

In church we played another song on the cello and piano "A poor wayfaring man of grief" and we had one of our investigators there. Then in the middle of the song we saw three other ladies walk in and they were three that we had talked to on the street earlier that week!! It was super exciting to see the come and they even came fro Sunday school and that was seriously awesome. I love when things like that happen. That was a miracle and they loved it in the church!! We will have to see where it goes from there but they are really positive and we are excited about them.

I have a conviction and a knowledge of this gospel. Over the course of my mission and my life I have seen way to much evidence to say that the gospel is not true. Jesus is the Christ and he reached out again to help us now with the things that we need help with today. He has shown us the way and what we need to do. This gospel is true, this church is the Church of Jesus Christ and it is my honor to be here in Sweden representing my Savior and the church among the Swedish people. I love it and I am excited for the things to come!

Have a great week!!

Äldste Israelsen


Hej allihopa! Inviting People to Eat With the Missionaries,Best Ice Cream Ever and My Last Transfer in Sweden

 right on the outskirts of Ronneby

Hej allihopa!

This email might be a little shorter this week but we had a stellar first week of the transfer and we are excited for the miracles that are to come in the next short while. Elder Benson is super good at everything, seriously though his Swedish is way good already I definitely don't think I picked up on it that fast.

We have been having so many opportunities to teach investigators at members homes and being able to have the members really involved in the fellowship process and having them also feel the spirit of missionary work and bearing their own testimonies. Sometimes, if not most of the time, the best way to build a testimony is just to share it with as many people as you can and we have been able to see that with the members of the ward and that has been such a blessing for us! We had a dinner at syster
walking in the rain
Kemplars this week and we were supposed to only have us and an investigator and a couple of others and then a like 3 other people also showed up! She was a true trooper and everything worked out great and the spirit was super strong when we were able to teach and that will be a moment that I will not forget. if you have the chance, invite the missionaries and the people that they are teaching into your homes because it will help them so much and it will be something that you will not forget either.

practicing for the music number that we had on sunday
Elder Smith is the new elder that came into the area this transfer and it seems like everything is going to go well with that companionship and it feels just like the trust of the ward is increasing and we are seeing more people wanting to know about the gospel. This week we had someone in church that hasnt been in a long time and it was so cool for her to come and be a part of the whole experience. Theres not a whole ton more to say this week. We are teaching a lot and when we arent teaching we are talking with as many people as we can and there seems to be a special feeling here in Karlskrona there are a lot of things that we ahve yet to see.

This is my last transfer in the field but if I havent learned anything here in Sweden it is that I am converted to the gospel and to my Savior. I think that is essentially the miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We become what we always thought we might be able to. Its a constant battle to become what God wants us to become. I ahve realized that more and more and I have learned so much from these months that I have spent serving the Swedish people. The gospel is true I have had it confirmed it to me too many times to be able to say that it isnt. Those confirmations of truth come to EVERYONE who seeks for them. So seek for them and cherish the answers that you recieve and search for more. There are always questions and we have a loving Heavenly Father ready to give the humble, patient follower answers. I love this mission and this gospel. The atonement is real, so trust it.

starting to get green
Have a great week!

1. renouned ice cream definitely the best I have ever had (I had to wait for a solid half hour for it)
2. right on the outskirts of Ronneby
3. starting to get green
4. practicing for the music number that we had on sunday
5. walking in the rain

Karlskrona for Last Transfer, 6 More Weeks in Paradise and Service!

As you all probably guessed, elder Benson and I will be staying to complete his training in Karlskrona this last transfer so the next 6 weeks will be spent here in Paradise. I love Karlskrona it is a beautiful place and everyone here is really great that we have gotten to know and we have gotten to teach and bear our testimonies to a lot of people and that is essentially what it is all about. We had fast and testimony meeting on Sunday and we have an Elder who is leaving, Elder Nielsen, and he
said that it sometimes feels a little selfish to bear your testimony to other people because it seems sometimes to strengthen the person bearing it seemingly more than the person who is hearing it and I would have to agree with that. I have seen so many times that my testimony has been strengthened and confirmed to me as I have just been willing to share it with everyone, on the streets, in their homes, in the church, everywhere. We all have that same opportunity wherever we are to "be an example of the believers" and that act will strengthen you so much. Do not miss an opportunity to bear the testimony that you do have no matter how big or small you think that it is. It is precious and it will grow.

We have been able to do a lot of work with members this week in involving them in teaching as we help our investigators to take steps forward. We have a family home evening that has been set up with a few investigators and new memebers in Ronneby which is a fantastic opportunity for the investigators to get fellowshipped and for members and new members to be together and to feel the spirit on a day that is not Sunday so it feels really good to see those friendships build and those investigators understanding more about the gospel. We watched the restoration movie this week and were able to talk about the restoration of the gospel and the reality of God speaking to people today. The spirit was incredibly strong and I know that everyone in there could feel that confirmation of the truthfulness of the things we talked about. The coolest part is that it is true!! That we have a loving Heavenly Father that actually cares about us and the things that we do and the people that we are and who we can become. The restoration was not just something that was nice but it is the message that we have to share and if it is true it means more to the people on this earth than literally anything else. It can also bring the most joy to everyones lives and I can leave my witness that it is true. I have felt that confirmation so many times and I know that everyone can feel that way. It literally brings joy and understanding to life and what we do.

We also had an investigator, come with us to do some service and that was super cool to have him there and to serve one of the less actives in the ward. We were also able to teach him with the less active member... two birds one stone haha. It went really well and these really are some of the best people that I have ever met and you can see how talking and discussing and applying the things of God really make people better and enriches lives.

I dont have a ton of time today but I do want to report that the work is doing fantastically here in Karlskrona and there are many people that are very receptive to the message of the gospel and many that are on their way to becoming more like their Heavenly Father. We just hope that we are on that same path. This is my last transfer and time has gone by so unbelievably fast and I just want you all to know that I have a testimony of this work and the divinity of its guidance. You can also be "taught from on high" search the scriptures and the words of the prophets that we just heard and you will be taught, not from the words alone, but from the Lord as you pnder what comes to your heart.

Love you! Have a great week

Äldste Israelsen

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Amazing Conference, Draw Near Unto Me Scripture Quoted Over and Over, and Digging Holes Again = A Very Happy Time for Me!

Wow, first I have to say what an amazing conference we just had! I feel like most of the things that were said were directed right at me but that is the cool part about conference is I feel like most everyone feels like that. Elder Eyrings message at the beginning of Saturday morning session was probably one of the most powerful for me in the conference. His testimony of the church and the divine restoration of the priesthood is almost tangible. Just  like they said throughout the entire conference that really comes from a development of faith, and that development of faith comes through obedience and a constant searching on our part. When we do not search ourselves and do not come closer to God ourselves He will not force us anywhere. "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." -D&C 88:63. It is no mistake that this verse was quoted over and over throughout the conference. We have to search and seek and when we do we have the promise of receiving, blessings, answers, knowledge and testimony as we seek out the Lord and answers to the questions that we have every day. When we involve Him in our every day lives thats when mountains of testimony and knowledge are built. Thats when we see the hand of God in everything that we do and that is how He is able to mold us into the people that we have the potential to be. Every day.

This past week we have had a big part of our focus as missionaries General Conference and having people come and understand the messages that were going to be given. It was fun to see the excitement build for many of them that have been hearing us talk about prophets and apostles in our time and it was a chance for them to come and to listen and to understand and be taught by the spirit. We had 6 people there who are investigating the church and who were really able to take questions with them and try to get answers. I know that each of them had a very spiritual experience while they
were there even if they do not yet quite understand why. We are so blessed to have an understanding of the things that we do and the people that we are and what we can eventually become. Just the seemingly simple knowledge that we are children of a Heavenly Father is absolutely mind boggling to think about and something that almost no one believes or has really thought about and to help people to realize that has also helped me to realize my own divine potential and what/who I have the potential of becoming.

Early on in the week we went to Carolinas house to do some service there in a town outside of Karlskrona. She had us organize her garage and she even needed us to dig a couple of giant holes! That made me super happy because it made me feel like I was back at work again just diggin a hole and enjoying the sun it was a very happy time for me and of course a pleasure to serve. We have put a lot of emphasis on teaching with members and that night we had a very critical lesson with one of our members in with Ahmad and Majed who are both looking to be baptized. They had many questions about prophets and apostles and the thing that really answered their questions the most was when Cyril was able to bear his testimony of the reality of a living prophet and apostles. Never underestimate the power of testimony because for us that day it helped a lot. On Wednesday during the week we had a really busy day set up and whatched as every appointment we had cancelled for one reason or another (thats never happened before) haha elder Benson was shocked but he will come to understand that it is a little more common than not. But that is why backup plans are such a good thing! We were able to talk to a lot of people in the city for a few hours and found a family. A swedish lady and her son that were willing then to listen even though it was cold and want to meet us a little later this week in the church. Why do you ask? because 20 years ago she was alone and needed help and the "mormons" came to help her to move. You never know what small acts of kindness can do. That same day we had a feeling to go and see a less active woman that we knew absolutely nothing about. She ended up living in an assisted living home and we just went in and she let us in and we talked with her for 10-15 minutes and left her with a prayer. She was so happy for a visit and Im not exactly sure why we were there but I knew that we were there for a reason.

Another cool experience like that this week was that next day, on Thursday we went to our district meeting in another city, in växjö. We got there in time but the district leaders train was delayed so we had about 15 minutes. Another elder and I felt prompted to go and talk to someone outside. We walked for not more than 10 meters when we ran into a less active there in Växjö who hadnt been to church in a couple of years becasue of her job. We got to talk to her about conference and invite her to watch it and even read on the street a little from the Book of Mormon. That was cool, and many people would call that a coincidence but its more than that. The Holy Ghost can move us to do things for reasons that we do not and maybe will never know. But when we know that we can be an instrument in the hands of God thats when everything becomes worth it.

Later on in the week we had a lesson with Angelika who is an amazing person that has started investigating because of a friend that had contact with the "mormon missionaries" 3 years ago. Well she texted right before our lesson and wanted to know if she could bring her friend along.... umm yes please do that. So we toured them around the church and talked to them about what happens and they had both been reading in the Book of Mormon. Both of them now want to be baptized on the 7th of May and it was an absolute miracle! They later came to conerence and it was really awesome to see them there. We are seeing a lot of people come out of the woodworks here in Karlskrona and it is just a blessing to see it all happening before our eyes.

That brings us back to conference and I forgot to mention that Kamal, one of the investigators who came brought and made Kebab for everyone that was there and we made some american breakfast as well which was a lot of fun. It was a fantastic oportunity for everyone to mix and talk and have a good time together and it was a great way for people to stay for the next session of conference haha.

I just want you all to know that I know that this gospel is true and that this church is lead by God. But also, that we, ourselves, can be lead by God. As we look to Him in the things that we do and we are willing and worthy to serve He will use us in the ways that He needs us to help others of His children to know who they are and who He is.

Love you all have a great week!!

  • Äldste Israelsen

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Week of Music, Easter Dinner with Professional Cook and Two Musical Numbers Including a Cello! Ha det gött!!

We have had one amazing week this week we have just seen miracle after miracle in this area and I have learned so much from my companion and from the members and investigators in this area. Its cool to see all of the things that start happening in an area and the people that are so ready to hear the gospel or the members that are so willing to share it and just want to strengthen their own testimonies. I think that the thing that has made the biggest impression on me the past couple of weeks is the generosity of the people that dont have too much but that are willing to give some to us because they want to. Its taught me a lot about how its what we do with the things that we have and not how much do we have that really matters. Its way more important to give a little time and give of that you do have to the people around you and try to share that joy with everyone.

On Monday we had a couple of investigators that we taught at a members home in Ronneby and it went super well. Its always fun to have the members come with us and open up their homes because there really is a special spirit that is there in the lesson when it is done in a members house. They both loved the Plan of Salvation and think that it makes so much sense and we are going to be teaching them more. One of them is named Kamal and he has to be one of the nicest people that I have ever met in my entire life and he also is looking to be baptized in the church later on next month. He came to the baptism a couple of weeks ago and washed all of the dishes afterwards.. in church on Sunday he helped one of the older members out to her car and talked with her for awhile before she left. Of course everyone loves him and he is just so willing to do whatever for people all of the time. Such a good example to us and to everyone else about how we should be. I will keep you uppdated on how it goes with him over the next couple of weeks.

This week we also had the opportunity to do some service for a less active woman that lives outside of Karlskrona and that was another great experience for us. She is planning on coming to General conference this week and we are really excited to see her there. We have just seen some of the coolest things happen with the people around us and with her. She trusts us a lot and even has started to bring her friend over when we do service and we are able to talk to her a little about the church and everything else. Its exciting to see her excitement build about the gospel and then being able to share it with the people that are closest to her.

Everything is going really well with quite a few other investigators that we have and we are expecting there to be a good turnout for general conference on Sunday and we are planning on having a little potluck for the people that are here to be able to watch conference from 2-4 and then eat some dinner before the next session starts and get some of our investigators to interact with some of the members and have them together in a little more relaxed environment that they can ask questions and just get to know eachother so we will see how that goes.

We have another investigator who is super positive and works in the ctiy. We have really started teaching her about the gospel and invited her to also be baptized and she has accepted but we need to set up that date. Its super fun to see the progress in others and see their understanding change and develop and see that lightbuld click for them when the begin to understand the message of the gospel and start to grasp how fantastic it really is Im not sure that members who have been that way their whole lives really understand the significance of the things that we teach other people and each other every Sunday. We cant take it for granted.

In other news, we travelled to Göteborg to have a Zone Conference which was actually my last zone conference. Even though I have a lot of time left they made me give my last testimony as they do for everyone who is leaving. It was an eye opener to see almost all of the elders in my group that came to Sweden with me give their testimonies in Swedish. Its so cool to see the growth in them and to realize how much I have grown. That is one of the biggest miracles of a mission for people is to grow in the gospel and to grow in their knowledge and relationship with our Heavenly Father. I know how grateful I am for this mission and what it has meant for my life and the lives of the people that I have had and am currently having the honor of serving. In total we had about 12 hours of train rides in 2 days to get there but it was well worth it and we were able to have some conversations with the people on the way and give away some Books of Mormon so that is always a plus!

For Easter we had some really good food from some members one of which is a professional cook so we were definitely spoiled by him! We had a couple of other dinners and were able to have that Easter spirit with everyone in the ward. On Sunday Elder Benson and I had two musical numbers. We played the cello and the piano and then I sang and he played the piano. It was a really special meeting for us and we had the stake president and his wife from Utby there visiting so it was super fun to see them again and the Ståleks from Gotland and Christina from Umeå was there so everyone has their roots in Karlskrona apparently and it was so much fun to see them and to get to speak with them a little more. We had quite a few non members in church and we hope to see more during General Conference.

I love this gospel and I love being a missionary, if anyone wonders what the best "job" or thing to do in the world I would say that it is missionary work! Get to someone this week and invite them to General Conference! It is such a good opportunity for them to listen to the general authorities and listen to the prophet! If there is anyone that is pretty good at explaining the gospel its him so get some people there to watch it or invite them over to your house to watch it!! I love you all thank you so much for your support, the gospel is true.

oh and also, I found out that Fidelis, who was taught in my last area was baptized last week!! That was pretty amazing to see and Lennart in Göteborg will be recieving the Melkizedek priesthood very soon. Absolutely incredible-- Ha det gött!!

Äldste Israelsen

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Certain Feeling in the Air as Move Closer to Påsk (Easter) and Ask Yourself "What Lack I Yet?"

We have had an amazing week here in Karlskrona, our days have been filled and we are really grateful for the people that we have been able to teach and the people that we are able to talk to its a lot of fun here in this city. There is a certain feeling in the air because its getting closer to Påsk (Easter) and that is like the one day of the year that many people actually go to church and so its interesting to be able to talk to them and to help them to realize that they really do have a faith in Jesus Christ. It is an interesting thing to ask people that do believe in a God or in Christ why they do believe in him today... ask yourself that... why would I believe in God with how the world looks today and when it is so easy not to believe in Him? The answer is going to be a little different for everyone and always comes with thoughts and ideas of how to increase that faith and that knowledge of God and what He does for us in this life.

We have had some awesome experiences this week being with some less active members of the church and with new members and they have been bringing their friends with them and we have been able to answer questions and start the teaching process. Its the coolest thing to see the purity of the testimony that these individuals have about the gospel and what it means to them. With Mattias who was literally just baptized had a friend from way up in Northern Sweden come and visit him and then had us come over to begin teaching him about the restored gospel and that was super cool to see him begin to share his testimony fearlessly and understand that something so precious cant just be kept but has to be shared with everyone.

The people that have baptismal dates are doing really well and it has been a joy to be able to teach them and to help them come closer to the Savior. Their faith is amazing and sometimes I have to take a step back and reflect on my own faith. We had a lesson about the word of wisdom this week and that is generally a harder commandment for people to keep and both of these guys said that they didn't really care what it was but that they would do their best because that is what God requires of them. it is super amazing to see that faith begin to develop and the realization that God really will provide a way for us to accomplish the things that he wants us to and that he has commanded us to.

We have seen so many people come out of the woodwork here in Karlskrona and it really is amazing to see where you will be lead when you are looking to be lead by God and who you are able to run into. We ran into a few people that have been looking for the church again that had it previously but lost contact with the missionaries for one reason or another and are now ready and want to accept the message of the gospel and it is super good timing because we have Easter and general conference coming up which are both great opportunities for people to have questions answered and to feel the spirit. On Sunday elder Benson and I will be playing a duet I will be on the cello and he will be on the piano! I have not played the cello for 2 years and one of the members said that they have one here and that they would love to hear it played! They invited us over to their place and sat on the couch ready to hear some beautiful music and elder Benson and I just looked at each other like "I haven't even seen this music before" it was a little rusty but it felt really good and we will definitely be ready this Sunday to play for the ward.

I love this gospel and we are just loving to teach it to the people on the street and we have seen a lot of new investigators and people that are really interested. The music of the gospel can be referring to actually listening or playing music but it really is the music of living the simple truths and having the music of it in our lives personally. When we do our very best we become the people that God need us to be. That is how He makes us the people that we need to be. That also means that if we are always in our comfort zones we are doing something wrong, there is no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone. Do things that push you in different ways and ask yourself "what lack I yet" the answer(s) will take you out of your comfort zone but you will turn into the person that you are expected to be and that you want to be. That is the promise of the gospel. I witness that it is true and I am so glad that I have this opportunity to be here in Sweden to tell everyone I can about it.

Have an awesome week!

Monday, March 28, 2016

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains, Facebook Lessons and I May Play a Cello!

The subject of the email would make more sense if there were Mountains in this part of the country... But sadly there arent any. However, Elder Benson and I have been getting up every morning (with the sun at 6:30)! And running down to the seaside and we have seen some absolutely breathtaking views. If anyone has the opportunity to live in Karlskrona sometime during the spring and summer I would definitely go for it. Elder Benson and I have been getting along really well and we have been seeing a lot of miracles happen here in this city since we arrived. This last week we had Zone Training so we took a 3 hour train down to Malmö (which is on the Southern tip of the country) to have that training and it was all about the new initiative that the Church has put out on Easter. You have to Watch it and share it with everyone it is seriously cool. #hallelujah. I cannot Believe it is already easter time but there are Always new and exciting ways to share the gospel around easter and it is one of those rare times where pretty much everyone goes to Church to sing songs and have a good time together if nothing else. But we can feel the excitement building and it should be a cool experience as we try and use this video with the people that we teach and in our proselyting in the coming weeks.

Those new investigators that we had run into last week are doing amazingly. We had a lesson with them about the plan of salvation and the pre mortal Life is defintely not something that many religions... if any... Believe in and its a fun topic to start on. So we asked them the question if they feel like they had come from somewhere. They looked at eachother and told us that they had discussed this the other day and feel like we were all there in "heaven" and that God presented this Life for us and gave us the choice to accept or not and that is why we are here. He said it kind of apologetically because he didnt wnat to sound dumb but it was such a cool miracle! We told him about the pre mortal Life and he was so surprised that there was someone that actually thought in that way. They are Reading and praying and doing so well with Everything that we give them. One of them will be going to Kristianstad during the week so I hope that we can stay in good Contact with him while he is gone. He should be on phone lessons to help to translate for the others. They brought Another man to the baptism that wanted a book of Mormon and to be taught! Cool things happening in Karlskrona.

With the mention of a baptism a man named Mattias was baptized who met a member on facebook and they started talking about the gospel and she basically taught him all of the lessons and he moved to be able to be taught by other misisonaries and then moved all the way from Luleå here to Karlskrona to learn more and then was baptized and confirmed!! It was such a remarkable story and a fatastic man. We had 11 investigators at the baptism to see and the spirit there is Always so simple and pure. Its an Amazing ordinance and in my Eyes incredibly simple yet unbelievably powerful as is a confirmation. He is a great missionary and is having a friend come and visit him and we should be able to teach him on Friday!

We also had a miracle find of a new investigator this week. She investigated about a year ago and was about to be baptized but the missionaries did something that was really not super good and she decided to stop investigating. It says on the record that we should not try to Contact her so we decided not to. But we forgot about it and we had a referal in that area that wasnt home so as we were knocking on the doors around that referral she opened the door and we were able to talk with her. She has to be one of the best people that I have ever met and we felt very lead by the spirit in what to say to her and we are going to visit her this next week to start coming back to Church and thinking about baptism again! It was the coolest thing but she also commented that the thing that makes the biggest difference is just being a friend outside of the Church. Dont just be nice right Before and after meetings, reaching out means spending your time and your talents and developing friendships. Especially to you alder people (like 35 and up ;)) take time to make friends with the people that are investigating the Church it makes the World of a difference for them to be able to rely on someone with questions and with things they need.

We were finally able to meet the ward on Sunday and it felt so good! I am very excited to be serving amongst them and to be Learning from them. Elder Bensons Swedish is already better than mine was at that time and I am a Little jealous but its exciting and this ward is just ready to get going with the missionary work here. We sang on sunday and I found out that someone has a cello so elder Benson and I are going to be doing a duet of cello and piano on easter Sunday. Wish me luck I havent played for about 2 years!! No one has a cello here in Sweden.

I love this gospel and I know that it is true and by following the priciples it teaches EVERY DAY we will come closer to our Father in Heaven. For those of you who are wondering if you should go on a mission, stop wondering and just do it. It will bless your Life more than you know because it has done that for me. Thank you all for everyhing! Have a fantastic week.

Äldste Israelsen

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Roller Coaster! Leaving Södertälje, Humbling to get a New Missionary, and Four Trains to Karlskrona

Four Trains to Karlskrona!
This week has been one crazy roller coaster!

Leaving Södertälje was not one of the most fun things that I have ever done but I know that the area is left in very capable hands and I am really grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve there and all of the lessons that I learned while I was serving in that amazing city. We had one last meeting with Kent who was just recently baptized and he is going to receive the priesthood and should receive a calling either this week or the coming week. That is really when people start to feel the immensity and the power in the church and the message of the restoration, when they take part in the whole process. Its the coolest thing to be able to see. Roger, who was baptized and confirmed when I first got to Södertälje is also getting the priesthood on Sunday and we have been teaching him about the priesthood and the responsibilities that come with the calling and authority. We had a couple of member meals and we met with Ville again before I left on Wednesday morning and the progress that he has been making is absolutely incredible and he already considers himself a member of the church so all he needs is to actually get baptized.

Where we Jog in the Morning
The experience of getting a new missionary is a humbling one and it is such a learning experience because you think that you have so much to teach them and, in reality, they just have so much to teach you. Elder William Taft Benson is my new companion and he is from Saint George Utah (just like elder Jones when I trained him). He has got a lot of energy and he is definitely going to catch onto the language really fast he is already super good at it. All of the new missionaries bear their testimonies in Swedish in front of the meeting with all of the trainers and I remember being really nervous about it when I did it. But the most amazing thing was the spirit that I felt with all of their testimonies. They had given up so much and just had a zeal for the gospel and a knowledge that they had received from their Heavenly Father. They may not have so much experience but the spirit was so strong when they testified and that really impressed me sitting there.

It took us the whole day to get down to Karlskrona because we had to take 4 different trains. Of coarse both of us have all of our stuff so it makes getting on and off trains even more fun. But the first train was late and so we did a good deal of sitting in a train station in the middle of nowhere waiting for another train to get us to where we needed to go. But, we got there after about 8 hours or so and got ready to double in to an area. Its always a completely crazy experience to double in and its funny because Im the one who needs to know whats happening and sometimes he looks at me and Im just thinking.... yeah I got nothin I don't even know where we are haha. But it has been a lot of fun to just go and try to do the things that we know how to do and we have been blessed with people to teach and things to do and we even had a few people show up to church that we had met during the week!! The weird thing was that we had stake conference but we just watched a broadcast so I didn't actually meet all of the members just like 10 of them. But I already love them they have such a fire for missionary work and are so willing and ready to help us with everything that we need and that helps us so much!

Our miracle for the week was when we went tracting for the first time. We had a couple of doors slammed in our faces and elder Benson looked at me and said "does this ever work?" and I just told him to keep going. We went to the next building and the next door that we knocked on we got let into a house with 3 guys that just sat and listened to us about the book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel and it was so cool to see. We got some new investigators and one of them showed up to church! They are all from Siria but have really good English so that was pretty exciting to be able to just teach and witness for them and for elder Benson to get to teach as well. We have a few other people and one that we have a baptismal date with for the beginning of April so we are excited to get to that point with him and work with him and the ward.

Goodbye Elder Larson
I am so excited to be here in Karlskrona and I love the opportunity to serve the Lord in different places and learn from new people and new experiences. I have learned so much and if there is something that I have learned from my mission it is that there is always something new to learn. Always.
I love this gospel and the joy that it brings to people that live by its precepts. If anyone has doubts about that just live it and your answer will come. I am excited for new possibilities and new adventures to come. Have an amazing week!!

Äldste Israelsen

1. Leaving elder Larson
2.elder benson and I
3. where we jog every morning
4. Karlskrona

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Specialized Zone Training, Family Home Evening, Heading to Karlskrona as a Trainer for Last Two Transfers and Singing in Church

That honestly was a really long week, Usually I say how fast weeks go but we had a ton of stuff to do this week and a lot that just had to be done so long days make for a long week. We had a specialized zone training with President and Sister Beckstrand and the assistants. These specialized trainings are so that president can meet with each of the individual zones and get to know them better in a smaller setting. We talked a lot about how we can work with the members of the church and what that can mean for the missionary work in Sweden and everywhere in all reality. We got a chance to also have a little family home evening with them as well and ask them a few questions about their lives and just about things that we have been wondering about recently etc. Its amazing to see, I think sometimes as members of the church we forget that anyone serving in any calling is just a person who lives a normal life and has their own things that are hard or the things that they are concerned with and they have their own senses of humor. The things that I have learned from President and Sister Beckstrand is that the spirit works with us in our own ways and he works with just normal people in our normal lives as we seek after him. I think thats something that becomes easy to forget sometimes.

I also found out from talking to President that I have been called to train the elder that is coming in with the new group so I will be leaving Södertälje this week and heading to Karlskrona to double in to the area down there in the southern half of Sweden. I am pretty nervous about it but it should be a really fun place to try and help this new elder as much as I can and the people down there in my last two transfers in Sweden. We had to go into Stockholm as well this week to have a "train the trainers" meeting where President and the assistants gave us training on what they want to see out of these new missionaries and how we can help them to become successful missionaries. Honestly, everything stems from the beginning of a mission; good habits, and bad ones and what President was emphasizing for us was that our examples and the things that we do are going to affect the way that these new missionaries think and are. It will be interesting because I haven't been in the south at all but I have heard nothing but good things about Karlskrona and it will be fun to not have to worry about all the trainings and different things as a zone leader it will just be this new missionary and I in a city trying to find and teach as many people as possible.

In other news, I went on splits with Elder Archibald!! He is a fantastic man and its cool to see him in his position as an assistant and what he has been able to do and how he has grown in the past few transfers is super cool to see. He taught me a lot when we were on splits and they have a new convert who was baptized a week ago or so and I was able to teach her a couple of weeks ago also on splits. She is so good at studying in the scriptures and you can ask her a question and she replies with "well I love how King Benjamin describes it..." and we just look at each other and get all excited because its so cool what can happen to people when they really take and study the Book of Mormon and then apply the principles that they find and it changes people. It can be the same thing with us in our own lives. Study the scriptures every day and apply the things that are there every day and that is when the changes will happen. Thats when we begin to understand the application of the gospel in our own lives and it becomes, not just something we do, but a part of the people that we are. I am super grateful for that in my own life and how it has helped me especially on my mission and understanding more about the commandments and how to live them in a better way than I have before.

This week we also were able to teach Kent and I have to say he is one of the coolest changes in a person that I have ever seen, he is completely different than the man that I met a few months ago in ways that are really hard to describe but he is loving life and church so that has been one of the miracles that we have seen here in Södertälje. Besides that one of our investigators, Fidelis is on track to be baptized in March and he is loving the church and the ward here in Södertälje and that is pretty amazing to see. We are excited to see where he goes. There area few men that are also on track to recieve the priesthood that we have been teaching and that is a really cool feeling to see new converts really start to understand and apply the things that they had been learning all the way up to their baptism. We have some new, really positive, investigators that we have also started teaching this week so the future of Södertälje is looking really good. We have 4 of the 6 missionaries leaving so there will be lots of changes but it will work well. I got an email also from Lennart and Azi who were baptized in Göteborg and they have just gone through the temple and LOVED it!! I think that is the coolest feeling ever, when new converts get to go to the temple for the first time and be able to feel the spirit there. That is defintiely something that we take for granted sometimes is our ability to go to the temple and perform ordinances there and to feel the spirit that is always there.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to bear my testimony, and Elder Larson and I performed a special musical number, and then we taught gospel principles, and then we taught priesthood as well... so it was a very involved Sunday and there were a lot of good-bys involved and its never the most fun thing. I thought it was comical because we would get in lines almost with members so that we could all take our pictures since we have 4 leaving the area.

My 2 cents in the scriptures this week is in 2 Corintheans 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me
I have thought a lot about this scripture and what it means. This is Paul talking to the saints here and talking about a personal experience that he had with his own weaknesses. If I have learned anything (I use that phrase too much) its that I have so many weaknesses but so does everyone else. Thats honestly where you can see the glory of God the most because He performs his work through us even though we have so many weaknesses and problems. When we recognize the things that make us weak, just as in Ether 12:27 He will help us to make them strong. His grace is sufficient and even when we dont feel adequate or when we don't feel like we can do it anymore thats when He helps us to take just one more step.

Love you all!! It has been a great week in the service of the Lord and I am excited to go to Karlskrona we will see how the adventure continues and who my new companion is!

Äldste Israelsen

Baptism! Marvelous Work and A Wonder, District Meetings and What Prevents You?


It has been one intense week this week and I cant believe that it is over. I suppose I can start from the most exciting news, Kent was Baptized this week! It took some time to get all of the clothes to fit and the program set up but he was so excited to be baptized and we are excited to be a part of his journey in the future and to see what he is going to be able to do and who he will become as he
serves in the ward. The baptism was performed by a member in the ward who is also from Norrland (the northern part of Sweden) and they get along super well. All of the members were super good with him and have taken him in already we will just make sure he gets a calling and home teachers! It is interesting to be a part of a persons conversion when they take the step of baptism. It is such an important step but almost not even the most important that they had taken to get there. The changes that they (we) have to make in our lives to get to that point are pretty monumental and miracles in and of themselves and that, to me, is the miracle of the atonement and the embodiment of the "marvelous work and a wonder" in all of our lives. Thats the amazing thing, we think of the work of
God and think of it on such a big scale that we forget to see the beauty of the work in the individual and the significance of it as well. If I had to say one thing that impresses me more than 1000 people lining up to be baptized is the one person whos heart changed, whos trying to actually become the person that they have the potential to become and have realized their own eternal potential. Its been fantastic to see Kent be able to make those changes and continue to make changes. It is humbling to see how much the Lord actually plays a role in each individual life and how much he does for me on a day to day basis.

We had a few district meetings to be at this week and one thing really jumped out at me while we were at one in Norrköping. He talked about a talk from the area Presidency last year and the challenge that was extrended and the promise that was given. The talk was that as the spirit is actually with us more and more every day, the things that we say will actually have power, they will be accompnied by the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. I thought that was very interesting that e reminded us of that because it is true that if we have little things throughout the day that hinder us from hearing the impressions of the spirit how are we then expecting to be put in a situation and have the spirit confirm the words that we say or to give us the words of a blessing to someone who needs it or something of the sort? It wont happen. His challenge and invitation to us was to write down all of the things that were keeping us back from feeling the spirit all of the time and to pray about those things and to keep them on our minds so that when the time comes that you NEED the direction of the spirit you can actually recieve it and you can know that direction is from God. I have seen this actually work, I have made my own list of things and there are always things that will stand in the way but as we focus on them and do our best to get rid of them we will be able to see the difference in our lives and in the lives of those that we cann affect around us. I would encourace you all to do the same thing. To write a list of all of those little things that prevent you during the day from feeling the spirit and pray about them and work on them.

It has been a fantastic week and I am so blessed to be able to be here in this country and preaching the gospel to as many people as I can!! Thank you for everything you do and have done for me while I have been out here :)

love you all!!
Äldste Israelsen