Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 446 - Glad Påsk!

Hallå hallå! How is everyone doing? Things are just dandy here in Umeå! There is still snow here but it is warming up and melting away! Things are going great. I love being a missionary and I love my mission. I am still trying to think of something clever or catchy to say, but I can't think of anything.. oh well. 

So Monday night after emailing, we rushed to the airport to catch a plane to Stockholm for zone conference! Zone conference is when two zones meet up and we get trained by president and the assistants. So we got into Stockholm around 8:30 and I think we ended up getting to the mission office around 10:00. We stayed the night with the assistants and the POES (Proselyting Office Elders (studs)). So when we got there, the assistants were over at the mission home and the POES still had a bunch to do to prepare for the conference. So Elder Luke and I ate some food and then we prepped a little bit for conference as well. (The Assistants asked us to teach a little bit during conference.) Then after we prepared our part, we headed downstairs to help out the POES with what they had left to prepare for. Then the assistants showed up and helped out as well. Man those all those guys are so awesome! They do so much for the mission and work so hard! I don't think the mission realizes how much they actually do. I absolutely love those guys and consider them some of my best friends! So it was cool to see them in action for a little bit ;) anyways, we finally finished preparing everything for conference, including folding like 60 something programs haha. That was fun! There was two zones there and like 65 missionaries or something. That's a lot of people!

Tuesday morning we got up and had to just start cycling through the shower because there were 6 missionaries there and we needed to leave around 7:20. So it was a pretty crazy morning getting ready and preparing everything and packing up and such. We finally got on the road. We had conference in the Västerhaninge building. That's right where the Stockholm temple is. Anyways, it was about an hour drive there. We drove in a huge white van with us 6 Elders and we picked up 2 sisters on the way. One of those sisters was Sister Lund from the group I came to Sweden with! I hadn't seen her since we got to Sweden over a year ago! So that was super sick! There is only one person left from my group I haven't seen! Elder Thacker I'm comin for ya! ;) anyways, once we got to the chapel, we helped out and started setting up tables and chairs for the lunch and stuff. Then all the missionaries started arriving! It was so awesome to see so many missionaries that I haven't seen in a long time! Hahaha I love missionaries! So that was super good to catch up with everyone. Then we had conference. It was honestly so good. Ever since I've been in Sweden, each zone conference has gotten better and better. President Beckstrand was the first one to teach us. His message was exactly what our zone needed to hear. I feel like our zone has soooo much potential, but everyone is just kind of content with where they are. They are too comfortable. I don't feel like our zone members are pushing themselves to be the best they can be. So anyways, President Beckstrand talked about finding strength in Jesus Christ. He talked about how missionary work is hard. It's hard to go out and work all day every day. Life is hard for that matter. It can take a toll on you and sometimes we get tired and we get down and we get content. We just want to give up or take it easy. But in those moments of tiredness and despair, it is then we need to turn to Jesus Christ and find strength in Him, and then he will help us take one more step, knock one more door, talk to one more person, and help us go farther and accomplish more than we ever could without his help. Then President Beckstrand showed us my favorite part from one of the best movies ever, Facing the Giants. Dad, I know it's one of your favorite clips too. It was the part after football practice when they are all sitting there and then Brock basically says that they are going to lose the next game and that the team they are going to play is stronger than them. Then the coach (can't remember his name) has him do the death crawl (walking on his hands and knees with another player on his back). Brock asks the coach if he wants him to go the 20 yard line, and the coach says "I think you can go to the 50". Then the coach puts a blindfold on Brock because he didn't want him giving up when he could have gone farther. Anyways, I'm already explaining all this so I'll tell it all haha but he starts going and it doesn't show where he is at on the field but he keeps going and he gets super tired and it hurts and he is sure he has made it to the 50 but the coach tells him to keep going. He is there the whole time screaming in his hear telling Brock to give him his very best and to not give up on him. And you can just see that Brock is hurting so bad but he keeps pushing and the coach is just yelling at him to keep going and then you can see that his teammates are super surprised and they stand up and start watching and walking slowly behind Brock. And after he gives it everything he has and yelling that it hurts, with the coach just continuing to encourage him and push him to go as far as he physically can, the coach tells him he made it. Then he just collapses. The coach tells him to pull off the blindfold. Then he takes it off and he's in the other end-zone. He went 100 yards. The coach basically tells him that he is capable of so much more than he thinks. And if he has the mindset that they are already going to lose the upcoming game, then they probably will. Of course I was bawling the whole time hahaha. It was just cool how this football player was capable of so much more than he knew to be possible. It is the same way with us. I also think of the coach as Jesus Christ. In this football game of missionary work/life, Jesus Christ is our coach and he knows our potential. When I think back to all the basketball practices and workouts I've had, it when when my coach/trainer was there to encourage me and to push me farther than I thought I could go, that I went my hardest. That I gave it everything I had. I also look up to my coaches and want to make them proud. Jesus Christ is our coach. He knows what we are capable of and he is there to offer strength and encouragement if we turn to him and listen to him. I don't know what it is, but there is something about a coach standing right by you while you are practicing or working out and yelling in your ear to not give up and do give it a little more that enables you to do and accomplish what you otherwise never could if you were just by yourself. Jesus Christ is by our side. He is not going to do the drill or the workout for us, but he will help us and strengthen us to go farther and to do more. He is literally there to push together with us. We can find strength to do more through our Savior Jesus Christ. He knows his sheep. He knows life is hard and that we are going to meet opposition and pain and trials, but he also knows we have the potential to get through it. So if you are ever tired, sad, depressed, confused, downtrodden, and you feel like you can't go any further, remember Jesus Christ. Don't give up. Never surrender. If we turn to our Savior and listen to his encouraging words, we will find the strength to overcome whatever we are struggling with. And always remember to push yourselves! Don't get content or satisfied. Pray a little bit more sincerely, read the scriptures a little bit more, focus a little bit better in church. The Lord knows you are capable of so much more! I love my coach and savior Jesus Christ and that he is always there to lead and guide me and there to push me to do more than I ever could without his help. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13

Wow that was long haha sorry! So good though. Ahhhhh good times. Anyways, later on in the conference, the assistants talked a little about language and how we can be better at Swedish as well as how we can use better English (no slang, etc.). It was super good! Then Elder Luke and I taught the two zones how to effectively make and use a language study plan. It was about as good as "making a language study plan" can be. It was super fun! I love teaching in front of lots of people, even though I'm not the best at it. Oh side note, this is something that helped me be less nervous when talking to a ton of people: Elder Bednar said that you aren't talking to a group of people, but a group of ones. You aren't teaching a mass of people, but you are teaching each "one" individually. So if you imagine it like you are just talking in front of a group of ones, or just like one person, it helps out a ton. Anyways, it was fun to bear testimony that if we set language study goals, we are showing the lord our faith of what we know we can accomplish. And if we do what we planned to do, the Lord will bless us and help us learn the language. 

After that, Sister Beckstrand taught us. This was probably the best part of the conference. She taught about "having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ". It was soooo good! Our personal relationship with the savior is so crucial in this life. Everybody take a second and think, do you have a real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ? How well do you know your Savior? This is something that I thought a lot about. Sister Beckstrand showed a video that was so cool and so spiritual. I think it was called like "a silent interview about Jesus Christ". I don't know if any of you have seen it, but basically it's a bunch of different people who are asked different questions about their personal relationship with Christ, and they can't say anything. It was so amazing to see the emotions and joy that Christ put on those people's faces. Gosh haha that one made me cry too cause of course you think of all the questions yourself too. I really wish I knew where it was. You guys should YouTube it or something and then think about your own personal relationship with the Savior. Could it be better? Sister Beckstrand gave us 5 steps to improve our personal relationship with Christ. But först och främst you gotta realize that building a relationship takes time, just like it does with a friend or family member. So it is constant repetition of these steps day after day, year after year, that will really help you know Jesus and bring closer to him. 

1. Daily Prayer - what are the quality of our prayers when only Heavenly Father listens? Pour your heart out to him. Make them real. You are literally speaking to a God who is a real person and who listens. 
2. Selfless Service
3, Daily striving for increased obedience and improvement 
4. Daily acknowledgment of His Divinity - testify of him! Strive to see his hand in all parts of our lives! Show gratitude!
5, Daily scripture study. - if you feel distant from Heavenly Father or Jesus, go to the scriptures. 

These things are real and they work. Follow them and gain a real, lasting testimony and relationship with the savior and redeemer of the world. I know these steps work because I have followed them. Or at least tried my best haha. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I'm so eternally grateful for it. I know he lives and I love him so much. 

Wow that was a lot about zone conference... Haha så är det! Sooo after conference we were stuck in Stockholm for a little and it's honestly sooo pretty there! I hope I get to serve there someone during my mission. I've been about everywhere else so we'll see! In Stockholm we actually saw a member from Salt Lake just randomly on the street. He was probably a few years older than us but he stopped us and we talked for a while. He was just visiting for the week. Gosh I love Utahans!! Hahaha it was so good to talk to someone from back home! Anyways, that night we flew back to Umeå and it was a good flight. I ended up talking to the most talkative swede in the whole world! She even gave me some of her Easter candy hahaha. It made the flight go by super fast although my mouth hurt afterwards from talking so much haha. It was a good trip. We had the other Umeå Elders and Elder Carrigan and his comp with us the whole time so it was a ton of fun! 

Wednesday was nothing super special. Just back to the grind! We did a lot of finding work. I love being out on the streets just talking to as many people as possible. I honestly just love talking to people about the gospel. Whether they accept it or not, it puts a certain happiness on people's faces and it's such a blessing to be able to testify of the joy the gospel can bring. Gosh people are just awesome. Of course you get the super mean people that yell and swear and occasionally spit on us and stuff but the majority of mankind is just awesome and most everyone I talk to always puts a smile on my face. I love the people of this country and that I have the opportunity to be a missionary here and preach the gospel to everyone that will listen. I love feeling the spirit burn inside my heart every time I testify of the God and the Savior and this gospel.

On Wednesday, we taught a new convert named Sarfaraz. He is probably the coolest guy you'll ever meet in your life. He is 23 and from Pakistan. He speaks super good English and always says "yeah bro" hahaha it's super funny. Anyways he lives super far away so we have to teach him over the phone sometimes. I admire this guy's testimony so much. He used to be a Muslim but was converted and he actually wrote a whole paper on why he left Islam and it's super funny haha but for real this guy is a stud and has one of the strongest testimonies I've ever seen. Basically, he loves Jesus Christ so much and he doesn't forget to let everyone be comes in contact with know. He's always saying how much he loves Jesus Christ. Is so cool because he said his whole family is actually super against him and if they find him they will kill him because he is a Christian. And Sarfaraz doesn't even care. He told us how he fears nothing and no one because he knows Jesus Christ is his savior and will save him. I know a lot of us say that, but what if your whole family turned against you and were hunting you down to kill you because you believe in Jesus Christ? Talk about bravery. This guy doesn't even really have anyone besides the branch here. He says they are his family. But he lives way to far away to ever see any of them. I admire Sarfaraz's testimony much. He basically gave up everything for Christ and he doesn't fear death because he knows Christ is his redeemer. Like this man will probably be one of the first bishops in the Middle East. He actually might serve a mission which is cool! Anyways, we just answered a lot of questions he had about the church because his friend brought up some anti stuff. It was so awesome though because he told us how it didn't shake him at all. He just was curious as to what the answers were. It was super good and the spirit was strong. 

Thursday we met with a super young couple who are both twenty and just moved to Umeå. Robert is from England and Hanna is from Sweden. Robert was actually a missionary here but I never met him. Anyways the visit was so much fun and these guys are just awesome. We shared the Easter video and talked a lot about Christ and his resurrection. The spirit was definitely there. 

Later that day, we had a super cool experience. It is so awesome how the Lord blesses us when we pray, ask and act in faith. So Elder Luke and I had a little bit of time to fill so we decided to go downtown and contact. We basically only had like 30 minutes but we knew we needed to give the Lord all we had if we wanted him to bless us with people to teach. So we parked the car and before we got out we said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to lead us to someone who was prepared. We told him that we had faith and that we trusted him and that we knew he would lead us to someone who would listen. Then we went out and acted. We started talking to everyone we passed and kept getting a lot of no's. Then I saw this younger Swedish girl (probably in her 20's) come out of a store. I thought to myself "oh boy here we go again.." Because usually these younger Swedish girls have absolutely no interest in religion and get super annoyed when we talk to them. But I always stop them because I know that we need to talk to everyone and that you never know who is prepared. So I stopped her, and to our surprise, she said she was Christian and had a strong belief in Jesus Christ. I was super shocked but just started teaching. The sprit was so strong as we testified of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and of the Book of Mormon. This girl just kept listening. It was so cool. She agreed to take a Book of Mormon and to read it and pray about it. She also gave us her number and said she would be interested in meeting again and learning more! Her name is Miriam by the way. Anyways, it was just cool to see how the Lord blessed us with someone who was prepared to hear the gospel when we prayed and acted in faith. Also, I was reminded to never judge a book by its cover and to never doubt that someone will deny us because of their appearance. It was also so cool to be able to testify of the living and restored church of Christ. That there is more. The spirit burns in my heart every time I tell them that this is true. It is such a blessing to be able to spread this message to the whole world. 

On Friday, we went on Splits with the other Umeå Elders. It was such a good time! I went to their area with Elder Loertscher. He is pretty young in the mission but such a stud! I was so impressed with the quality missionary he is. He works hard and has a real care for the people he serves. We had a ton of fun together! We taught a less active member named Tistou. He is a swede and he is somewhere in his 20's. He was baptized about 3 years ago and is a very deep thinker. Like he sometimes just sits for hours by himself thinking. So he had a question last time about Satan and if he was really bad or if he just made a mistake and now there is no hope for him. We explained the first half of the plan of salvation and about Lucifer's intentions from the beginning. And how when he rebelled, he was fully aware of the consequences that would come. It was a good lesson and we answered his q's. Then we started talking about church and prayer and stuff. He said how he wants to know more about God and how he thinks about him all the time. We helped him realize that there are a few things you can do learn more about God. For one, you can talk to him, aka pray. And reading his words would also be a good idea to learn more about him. Like I said before, learning about someone or developing a relationship with someone takes time. But in order to do that you gotta talk to them (pray) and listen to what the have to say (reading the scriptures/listening to the spirit). It was a super good lesson and the spirit was strong. He also is struggling with his faith. He says he hopes, but doesn't believe. He wanted help building a faith but didn't know how or where to start. Alma 32 comes to mind right? It did for me too. But right when I told him that I have a good chapter for him, he said "Alma 32?" And I was like "haha yup!" He told us he has read it numerous times and that the missionaries always refer that chapter to him. So we decided to give him a different one that he hasn't read. Ether 12. Super good chapter about faith. So we committed him to read it and pray. He knows he needs to read the Book of Mormon and after he finishes Ether 12, he is going to start the Book of Mormon from the beginning. Tistou is such a good guy! He came to church on Sunday too which was awesome! Besides Tistou, Elder Loertscher and I did a lot of swinging by old investigators and less active members who didn't answer and contacting.

Saturday we got fed twice! Sooo Sweden celebrates Easter for like 3 or 4 days. So Saturday was technically Easter as well! So the nicest family ever invited us over for lunch. The Norins. They are super awesome and we had a blast! Turns out Sister Norin is one of the translators for the church! I always wondered who translated general conference and the Liahona and stuff! So that was cool! And they gave us Easter eggs!! Easter eggs are a little different in Sweden. Everyone only gets one hahaha but they are bigger! Well the size depends on how big you buy them. Anyways that was super nice of them and it met a lot :) I'll send a pic of the egg! Then later that night we went to a less active family named the Tegmans. The husband is from Sweden and the wife is from England. They have 3 kids and they are the coolest family ever! We had a blast there as well! Turns out I have the same birthday as Krister, the father. July 13 baby!! After we ate, we shared the Easter video with them and talked about the resurrection of Christ and what it means to us. The discussion led into a long discussion about faith in general. Krister has served a mission. In fact, that's where he met Donna. It was super sad because Krister has completely lost his testimony and faith in God. It absolutely broke my heart. He doesn't even know if there is a god anymore. You could just see the sadness and confusion in his eyes and it hurt me so much. He says he is comfortable where he is right now and is not willing to change or to try. It broke all of our hearts. You could see how it hurt him as well he just didn't admit it. It took a toll on their family as well. It made me want to help him more than anything. But everyone has their free will and right now Krister is not willing to try anything. But honestly he is the nicest guy in the whole world. The experience showed me how important it is that we each have a firm testimony of the gospel. Because later on down the road we are going to be tried and tested and if we don't have a real, strong testimony built on Christ, our testimony will fall. I am grateful for the knowledge and testimony I have and I will never deny it. After the Tegman's, we went by another family that lived close by. They are the best family ever!! They absolutely love the missionaries!! They are from columbia and just the nicest people in the world. I assume they are how all the families are in North and South america. Their kids just wait for us to pull up and then open the door before we even get to knock. Gosh I love the Iguarans! They really take care of us and are sooo loving. Sister Iguaran made us some colombian treats that they usually eat at easter. It was super good!

Sunday was Easter!! It was a super good day! Church was super good and after church we went to the house of the sweetest old lady you'll ever meet in your life, Sister Wirtale. We actually didn't even have a dinner scheduled for Sunday evening. But after church, she called us and asked us if we had a dinner and we said no, so then she said "well you do now! Come over at 3:30!" She fed us a classic Swedish meal. Salmon and potatoes and sauce. And let me tell you, that was the best salmon I have probably ever had in my life. Bless sister Wirtale's heart haha she made this whole dinner without even letting us help her. Well, we set the table and that was all she let us do haha. Overall it was a great Easter. A great time to remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us and that the died for us. Also that he was resurrected and lives today! I know that my Redeemer lives! 

Well, I am definitely out of time. Sorry for the lengthy email :/ I love you guys!!! Thanks for everything you do for me!! Remember that the church is true and that nothing will change that! 

Godspeed everyone. 

Frukta aldrig. Isaiah 41:10


Äldste Bailey

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like another great week. I also watched the movie about Christ where they couldn't speak. I loved it! I think it's great to show what emotions he gives us and not only talk about it. I've talked a lot about that in church. It's so easy to say things without meaning. So happy you have found an investigator. Miriam will do great and I'm so glad you found her. Keep up the awesome work. Love, Pia