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.

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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!!

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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!

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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!!
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