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!!

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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!!

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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!