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,
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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!

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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 :)
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