Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 537

Ahoy there!

I hope everyone is doing well! I am doing super well!! I am continuing to love it up here in Umeå. Things are going so well. I love this place. The only frustrating thing is how slow the work is going in our area at least. And I know we are not there a lot and that there are not a lot of people there but that really shouldn't matter. It is just hard when we are working our very hardest but no one is interested or they are and then we can't get in contact with them. It makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong but I know I'm not. But despite the no's and rejection's we will continue to be diligent and give the Lord our all! That is all he asks for. Our all and our will are really the only things we can give the Lord that are really ours to give. I love being a missionary sooooo much and it is such a blessing to go out and serve him rain or shine. 

Wellllllllll where to begin.. Hmmm Tuesday. Wait a second. Monday. Monday we went to a wedding! It was for a girl in the ward named Lovisa. It was out in the middle of nowhere but it was sooooo pretty! It was out in the countryside at this church, which was on a hill overlooking this huge river. It was just super pretty! I got some good pictures that I will send home. Anyways it was pday and we had nothing else to do so all the missionaries went and it was a blast!

Now Tuesday. Tuesday was a good day. We were able to meet with Rita! If you don't remember, Rita is and 18 year old Persian girl who we have been teaching off and on since I have been here. She is interested and likes to meet, but it is just hard to meet with her because she is always busy. Anyways, so we brought Erica along with us on the lesson. Erica is a stud! I think I have talked a little bit about her before, but she is a returned missionary from Russia and loves I go on lessons with the missionaries! She is a spiritual powerhouse! So we planned to teach Rita the Plan of Salvation and it went super well! We only got through half of the plan because the spirit led our lesson in a different direction and helped us explain things clearly and in the way she needed to hear. She is a pretty quiet girl and she usually just sits there and listens, but this time she was asking questions and it was awesome! It is so cool how the Plan of Salvation answers questions and brings understanding as we learn more about it. Anyways, the lesson was super powerful and it helped a ton to have Erica there. We ended up talking a lot about prayer and about the atonement. It was cool to hear her feelings for Christ as she learned about what he did for her. After we left, we felt pretty good about the lesson. And as the three of us were walking down the street, a thought just hit me and I said, "hey guys, no matter how good or bad that lesson went, we are fulfilling the prophecies in the Rededicatory prayer." (The Rededicatory prayer of the land of Sweden is when Thomas S Monson came in 1977 and dedicated the country for missionary work and building up the kingdom of God on the earth. It basically says among other things that when the members unite with the missionary army, all things become possible and miracles will happen. That thousands upon thousands will join the church. He said Sweden is a choice land and will be the example for others. Those thousands of people joining the church is called the "Second Harvest". We missionaries are working and praying for it so hard right now. We know it is beginning and we are apart of it now.) Anyways, it was just cool to think that we are working with the members and doing all we can to bring others into the fold. And that Erica took time out of her day because she also cares. The Second Harvest is right around the corner. This work is hastening!

Tuesday night we had a special experience. I don't know if I have ever written about it, but there is this special food that most swedes love. It is called "surströmming". Directly translated it means, "sour herring", but it is actually fermented herring haha and it is the worlds stinkiest food! You have to open the can underwater haha or the stink gets EVERYWHERE. Anyways it is a traditional summertime food in Sweden and they usually have little surströmming parties and stuff. It's kind of like sardines but a ton bigger and disgusting haha. So you usually clean the fish on your plate and put the meat on a sandwich with potatoes and onions and butter and tomatoes and stuff. So it's not a ton of the fish. But you can still taste it. It is really really salty. Anyways, with all the other stuff on it, it actually wasn't that bad! I think I could get the hang of it just having it once a year. So I think I'm gonna make it a tradition at home ;) ikea sells it ;) anyways, the reason I am writing about this is because for some unknown reason, it has become a weird tradition among missionaries to eat the fish whole haha guts, scales, bones, tail, and all. Not many people do it, but it is the test of whether you are a real man ;) no one at this members house did it and no one wanted me to do it, but I knew I had to just to say that I did haha. So I ate the whole fish. It took me about 3 big bites but I ate it. And after doing that, I can with confidence say that if I had caught a live fish out of a lake and started chomping down on it right out of the water, it would have tasted better than that fermented herring haha. But it was super fun!! I can say that I am a real Viking now ;) 

This week, we swung by a TU that gave us his address and when we went by, he let us in and we had such an amazing lesson with him. We had a prompting to go by him that day. The lesson with him wasn't very long at all, but it was powerful. He was genuinely interested and asked a lot of questions. The spirit was present in the lesson and you could feel it. The part that was most spiritual to me was at the end when we talked about answers from God and prayer. We invited him to pray and he did. Afterwords we asked him how he felt and he smiled and said that it actually felt really good. When he looked up and smiled I felt the spirit so strong, knowing that the Holy Ghost had touched this man's heart. This man was willing to try and to search. He showed his faith and acted and God answered him. It was a huge testimony builder to me. I think that faith and willingness is what the people of Sweden need. When they show that willingness and sincerity and act, then God will show them his power.

On Thursday we met and had dinner with a little member family of a mom and two little girls. Well, the girls aren't actually members. They are both 10 years old and are twins. They are pretty loud and annoying and crazy haha but good girls. While we were over there, we taught them about baptism. The mom has been less active for a while but has a strong testimony. The girls ending up saying that they wanted to be baptized! It's going to take a lot of work to teach them, but it will be worth it! So all four missionaries are going to go over there and teach them and also any members that we can take with us.

That night we ended up getting to Pandu's about 30 min late.. He had been waiting for us but our phone died so we couldn't call him. When we got there, his buddy had come over and they were making dinner together and about to start a movie. The friend started talking to us and never stopped. He was an atheist swede and tried to prove us wrong the whole night. It was actually pretty frustrated and the conversation got a little more "bashy" than we would have liked. Sooo we weren't really able to teach or talk to Pandu. But we are hopefully going to meet with him this week. 

Friday and Saturday were red days in Sweden because of a holiday called "Midsommar". Haha you can probably figure out what that means. But it is basically a holiday where they celebrate summer! It's awesome! It is definitely needed because the rest of the year is dark. It's basically a pagan holiday and they dance around this pole to welcome summer and fertility and sing songs and have a jolly good time. All holidays in Sweden are at least two days haha. But Friday was the big day with all the dancing and festivities. The Örnsköldsvik missionaries came up and spent the days with us. We all went to this place called Gammlia. It is a museum type place that is an old Swedish village/farm. It was super cool! It was packed! It was a ton of fun! After all the dancing and such, we went to the church and had a party there with the branch. We ate and played games and talked and it was a super fun! I love this branch so much! They are like a big family. After all of that, we headed home. The Övik missionaries spend the night with us. The next morning we played soccer with the branch. It was raining hard that morning so we weren't sure if we were going to play but a family in the wars said that we would play anyways. So we played a game of soccer in the rain. It didn't rain the whole time but we still all got soaked haha. It was such a good time! 

Sunday was a good day. Church was good. But I just felt a little off. Like just physically drained and tired. So after church we had no lessons planned and no dinners or anything. And this was one of the only times of my mission where I didn't want to go out and work. I had a head ache and I was tired and just wanted to lay down. But I knew my calling and I knew the Lord would strengthen and bless me as I went out and worked. We went out and contacted for hours and it was amazing because as we continued to contact and continued to walk, I felt less tired and more happy. We ended up finding a bunch of new people who gave us their numbers. As the day was winding down, I didn't want to go back in. It was just a huge testimony builder to me to see how the Lord strengthened me when I needed it and helped me fulfill my calling. There is real joy in this work. As we go out and do what is right, we will be happy. I also know that the Lord really does magnify us in our callings. I have experienced that first hand. I love my mission and I love the Lord.

Well everyone, I have to bounce! I want you all to know that I know that the church is true! Have an awesome week! I love you all! 


äldste Bailey

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 530

Hallå hallå kära vänner!  

I hope everyone is doing well! This email is probably going to not be very long at all and I apologize! :(  

But first and foremost, I want to send a quick Father's Day shout out to the best dad in the whole world! I am so grateful for him and all he has done for me and all he still does for me. I am the man I am today because of him. He has always been there for me no matter what. I'm so grateful that he raised me in the gospel and taught me the way to live that brings the most happiness. If I can become half the man that he is one day I will be well off. He is one of my very best friends and I am so happy to have him as my dad. I love you dad! 

Things are going sooooo well up here in Umeå! I love it here and we are working so hard and giving the Lord our all and having fun! We have truly been blessed this week. I am so grateful to be able to serve my Savior in this beautiful country.

A big portion of this week was spent in Stockholm for "mission tour". A member of the Europe area presidency came and talked to us! His name is Elder Dyches. The Dyches were so loving and down to earth.  They just make you feel like 100 bucks! Thursday we all met in Västerhaninge for mission tour in Stockholm.  The Beckstrands once again did a fabulous job training on the spirit.  Elder Dyches taught about becoming master teachers.  He allowed missionaries to ask him questions as well. It was also so cool to be able to see everyone. It was a total of four different zones there and 110 missionaries or something like that! That is only about 2/3 of the missionaries in the mission. But there were so many people there that I hadn't seen in a long time which was good!

Friday we had a special MLC.  Elder Dyches trained on leadership. It was so good! I learned a lot. Especially about understanding the difference between an excuse and a reason, learning how to better lead and teach, and how to get rid of pride and fear.

He also talked a little bit about Andrew Carnegie.  When he died, they wrote this cool phrase on his tombstone.  It says something like this: "Here lays a man who drew better men to him than he was." Or something like that. It means is helping people around you to become better then you are.  I thought it was super good!! I need to be better about praising others and helping others be better. Even if it makes me look worse.

I would say that a small but really cool spiritual experience this week would be teaching our investigator with a baptismal date whose name is Pandu. It was such a spiritual lesson this week. I made a concious effort to be led by the spirit as I taught. It was so cool to feel the promptings of the spirit telling me what I should and shouldn't say. I remember a specific time I was ready to move on but felt impressed to go back and talk a little more about prophets. And as I did, it turned out that he didn't know much about what a prophet even was. And later the spirit was so strong as we asked him if he felt what we were feeling right now. I felt a literal burning in my heart. And it wasn't the usual burning I get when I step outside of my comfort zone to talk to someone of something. It was different. It wasn't a huge feeling but it was strong. I know if I didn't try to feel it, I would have missed it. I also felt the spirit very strong as we invited him to be baptized. It was just a very cool lesson. The spirit was definitely present and testified to us all that what we were dicussing was true.

Anyways, I'm sorry that this email was all over the place. I will be better next week I promise!!! :) Hey, I love you all! Have a good week alright? Thanks for all you do for me! Remember that the church is true!

Strength and Honor

äldste Bailey

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Day 523

Hello family and friends!

I am doing great! I love it here in Umeå and we truly are working our hardest and giving the Lord our all. And as we have done this, we have been blessed with miracles not only in our own area, but in other areas as well. I love being apart of this mission.

This week has gone by super fast and super slow at the same time. I know that doesn't really make sense haha it doesn't really make sense to me either. But it did. It was also a fun but hard week.

Tuesday of this week we were able to go down to a city called Sundsvall. It's about a 3 hour train ride away. We have 6 missionaries down there and we went on splits with Elder Weaver and Elder Anthon. Elder Anthon is brand new to the mission and Elder Weaver is training him. I went with Elder Weaver and Elder Olsen went with Elder Anthon (that was a lot of "Elder" haha). Anyways, it was super good!! These guys are both wonderful missionaries and they are working super hard. Elder Weaver and I did A LOT of contacting on Tuesday, which was awesome! I love talking to people so much. We also had planned to go mow a lawn for an older guy later that day.

There was a little cool experience that happened while we were contacting. We stopped this kid on the street who was probably about 16 or 17. He looked like he came from India or something (which we later found out that he did). But, he was wearing a Los Angeles Lakers hat so we started to talk to him a little bit about basketball and the US. Turns out that he didn't know anything about basketball haha but it turned out that he actually lived in the states for a while. So English was his best language. Anyways, we started to teach him about God because he was atheist (surprise, surprise). He was asking a lot of questions and seemed genuinely interested (funny side note: we contacted this kid right in front of the jehovah's witnesses' stand right after we waved at them hahaha I love waving at the jay dubs and taking selfies with them and stuff). Anyways, sorry it's hard for me to stay focused, haha. So we were teaching this fantastic lesson to this kid and this old guy starts walking up to us. And for some reason I always have these preconceived notions that whenever people come up to use or call out our names on the street it's because they are going to make fun of us or tell the person that we are talking to how wrong we are and that they shouldn't believe anything we say. I guess I just think that because it's happened so many times. So this fragile cute little old man starts walking up to us and it's taking him a while because he is walking so slow and while he is gradually moving closer I'm just like praying in my head that he doesn't ruin this contact, haha. He finally walked up to us and had this little smile on his face and the first thing he says to the kid (the kid could speak Swedish as well so he understood): "It is good that you are listening to the missionaries. What they are teaching is true." I was caught off guard and looked at Elder Weaver and he was just smiling and I realized it was probably a member. This little old man began to bear  the strongest testimony of the Book of Mormon that I have ever heard. The spirit level in the conversation just skyrocketed. He told him that he could find his own answer by reading and praying. He quoted Moroni's promise and bore a powerful testimony. It was so cool to here the conviction in his voice and the surety in his heard that he knew it was all true. It was just awesome to see like 85 years of life experience testify of this church to a 16-year-old kid on the street. I'm pretty sure this guy was president Hinckley as an angel. Anyways, the man asked the kid where he lived and he told him. Then the old man said, "Good, you live close to the church. I will see you there on Sunday." Hahaha then he shuffled away. It was so awesome. I just learned and felt the power that the members here in Sweden really have in this work. Their testimonies are critical and need to be shared. I also saw how I want to be when I am 85 years old. I want to be as sure as this man was that the Book of Mormon is true. I wish you could have heard the power and surety in his voice. It really sounded like a prophet. Anyway, I thought it was cool how he came up and helped us teach this kid.

Later that day, we went to mow the lawn of an older man who turned out to be the same man who walked up to us in town!!! Haha how sick is that!! By the way, his name is Brother Käriää. He was the funniest little man ever. The only English he could say was "Little house on the prairie" haha he was so proud that he could. He said that was his favorite show. And then later we taught him the word "awesome" hahaha and he thought it was soooo funny. Every time he or we would say it he would just laugh and laugh. It was a good day!

On Thursday and Friday, we were able to go on splits with the assistants, Elder Hemmingsen and Elder Bradshaw! They are both amazing missionaries and it was so good to see them and work with them! Elder Bradshaw and I did a little bit of contacting and it was super good to be able to learn from him! We also had a super good discussion about the zone and the zone members. Everyone is doing so well right now! As a zone we were able to focus on contacting this week. We did an initiative type thing and set a goal as a zone for amount of people we talk to. We focused on talking to everyone and also on the quality of our contacts. We studied and talked about charity and how it relates to everyone we meet and especially the people we contact. It was really cool and I learned a lot! It is so important that we offer the gospel to every single person possible and see him or her through God's eyes as we do. As we see them for what they can fully become, it changes our vision of them completely. Later that day we were also able to meet with a lady named Sister Wirtala who invited all six of us over for dinner. She is my adopted Swedish grandma, haha. Anyways we were able to talk about member missionary work with her and it was so good!  Later that night we were able to meet with one of our investigators named Ylva. She is not really progressing that much but we are really trying to help her with her personal relationship with God. She does read in the Book of Mormon and marks it up and writes notes and everything. She just needs help with getting an answer to her prayers. We had her read the book of Enos before we met and then we discussed and answered her questions. It went really well! A member named Erica was also in on the lesson and her testimony was so strong!

I don't have very much time left but I just wanted to say one more thing.  The past couple days have been really hard for me after hearing about the passing away of one of my best friends, Ali McCashland. I grew up with Ali and it doesn't seem real that she is gone. We were such good friends and always laughed and joked around together. We clicked super well. I thought the world of Ali, and still do. I guess I just wanted to say that no matter how hard it is to lose someone you are close to and someone you love; it is such a blessing and comfort to know that this isn't the end. What a blessing it is to have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation! That because of Christ's sacrifice for us, we will all live again! I know that Ali has joined the missionary army and that she is on the other side helping people receive the restored gospel just like I am. I am so grateful for the Savior and what he did for me. Words can't explain the amount of gratitude and love I have for Him. He offers so much peace and love if we turn to him. Because of him, we can know that everything is going to be all right.

It seems like there has been a lot of sad and hard things going on lately in our lives and in the lives of others, including the shooting in Orlando. But my little brother Austin sent me an email and I want to share a little part of it that was really of comfort to me: "It is helpful to know that there is just as much happiness and joy as there is sadness and sorrow. So many people are afraid, but it is our job as humans to help them feel hope. I recently made the connection that fear and hope are exact opposites. Fear is thinking that bad things could happen. Hope is believing that good things will happen." Let us all have hope in Jesus Christ and in good things to come. Christ is always there for us every step of the way to comfort us and to strengthen us. I know he is. My heart and prayers go out to the McCashland family. They are so amazing and so strong and I look up to them so much. Please remember them in your prayers. 

I am totally out of time and I have to bounce but I love you all so much! Thank you for all you do for me!! Remember that the church is true! I love my Savior and I love this work.

Älskar er!

äldste Bailey

Monday, June 6, 2016

Day 516

Well hello hello!!

First off I just want to say sorry for the email-less week last week! We had like no time because we had to fly down to Stockholm that night for MLC. 

I will try to make this email a little bit better! I still don't have that much time at all! We have to do some stake reports today and it takes up a lot of time!

Okay I need to gather my thoughts here a little bit, haha. We had such a great week this week! We did a lot of stuff for the zone (MLC, travel, prep for zone training, zone training, shuttling missionaries to the station and back, buying food for lunch at zone training, etc.) so it felt like we weren't in our own area for very often. So when we were in our area, we took advantage of every second we had and went out and worked super hard! The Lord has definitely blessed us as we have put in the effort.  We don't have very many progressing investigators right now, but they will come. Elder Olsen and I are working our hardest and we are out every second we can to try to find the Lord's elect. We have found so many positive people this week. We have a bunch of new TUs (potential investigators) that we are going to start working with. I love Elder Olsen so much! He is such a good missionary and example to me. I am learning so much from him. We are getting along so well and having so much fun!

This week we were able to attend MLC in Stockholm. It was really good! The focus this transfer is on the temple and the blessings of the temple. It was dumb because we were going to do a session in the temple together but it never ended up happening because it was closed for cleaning haha but it was okay cause we went on a little walk to some viking burial grounds (the temple is build on ancient viking burial grounds). It was super cool! The training portion of MLC was amazing! President Beckstrand talked a little bit about eternal families and the Assistants talked about how to get new converts and less actives to the temple! Sometimes I think we as missionaries feel too often that baptism is the end goal. We don't see the big perspective and the importance of getting our new converts to the temple. In the temple we can receive some of the greatest blessings and through the promises we make, we can experience the most happiness possible in this life and in the life to come! I am so grateful for the temple and the blessings of the temple! I love my family so much and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to live with them forever! How amazing is that? That is why I am out here. To help others have the same opportunity. 

I want to write about a series of experiences that have happened because Elder Olsen and I have included the Lord in our companionship and because we have worked so diligently and have had so much faith. Elder Olsen and I have been working so hard with the time that we have also been trying to implement the Lord in our work as much as we can. And as we have done so, we have seen the blessings. The Lord is truly bound when we do what he says. When we are obedient and serve with with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, the Lord will bless us with people who are interested in the gospel. I can say that because I have seen it this week. This week we have gotten so many numbers from people who are interested and want to learn more. It is amazing! There have even been two separate instances where a person has come up and waited until we were done with the person we were talking to so that they could talk to us. Both of them were interested and willing to learn more. I don't know how many times that has happened to me, but not many. It is just so amazing! It's not like I haven't worked hard before, because I always have. But I believe that we have received this success because we have involved the Lord in our work! He truly has blessed us and I love Him so much and it is such a blessing to be able to serve him.

We were able to hold zone training for the norrland zone on friday! It was fantastic! The spirit was so strong and it was exactly what our zone needed to hear. We focused on the importance of getting our investigators to the temple and also on our own personal worthiness. We focused a little bit on a talk called "Temple Standard". Read it!  It is such a good talk! There is so much we can learn from it. Here is just the first part:

"As we moved through the temple, I watched and listened to Elder Walker and his associates as they inspected the work and conversed with the general contractor. On occasion I observed one man running his hand along the walls as we moved from room to room. A few times after doing this, he would rub his fingers together and then approach the general contractor and say, “I feel grit on this wall. Grit is not temple standard. You will need to re-sand and buff this wall.” The contractor dutifully took notes of each observation.

As we approached an area in the temple that few eyes would ever see, the same man stopped us and directed our attention to a newly installed, beautiful leaded-glass window. This window measured about two feet (0.6 m) wide by six feet (1.8 m) tall and contained an embedded, small stained-glass geometric pattern. He pointed to a small two-inch (5 cm) colored-glass square that was part of the simple pattern and said, “That square is crooked.” I looked at the square, and to my eyes it looked evenly placed. However, upon closer inspection with a measuring device in hand, I could see there was a flaw and that this little square was indeed one-eighth of an inch (3 mm) crooked. Direction was then given to the contractor that this window would need to be replaced because it was not temple standard."

He later finds out that they put wall paper on the walls anyway and a plant in front of the window. He says this towards the end:

"I learned that even though mortal eyes and hands may never see or feel a defect, the Lord knows the level of our effortsand whether we have done our very best. The same is true of our own personal efforts to live a life worthy of the blessings of the temple."

Grit is not temple standard. I challenge you all to find out what the grit is in your life and to get it out. Even though others may not know that you aren't giving your best efforts or if you are fully keeping the commandments, the Lord does. Give the Lord your best efforts!

I love you all so much! Sorry this email wasn't the best either. You are all amazing and you are in my prayers! The church is true!

"Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds." 
Gordon B Hinkley


äldste Bailey