Monday, May 25, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 8

This week has probably been the best of my mission yet! Elder Kapp and I have been so busy and are loving the work. We accomplished so much and it felt like we climbed a roller coaster everyday! Each day was better than the one before! 

Monday was our chill P-Day. We took it easy for most of the day, catching up on some sleep back at the apartment. We had a lesson with a less-active planned in the evening, but he didn't show up, so we did some swing-bys in Danderyd. Nobody answered, so we headed back to the tunnelbana station, contacting people on the way back. We contacted into one guy and ended up talking to him for nearly two hours. He was a crazy, California surfer-looking Swede, with lots of radical, free-thinker ideas. He had met Mormon missionaries before back in his childhood, where he remembers his grandparents hosting a pair and having dinner with them. We talked about religion, Apple versus Android, and a slew of other political and social things. He told us we wouldn't be able to convert him, but we still laughed together and took some selfies. Crazy guy; Kapp told me later he thought he may have been slightly drunk. Go figure...

Tuesday was awesome! We did lots of work in our second area, the island of Lidingö. We did lots of apartment tracting, including going through an entire 12 floor complex. We were rewarded with a couple of positive potential investigators; we even taught one guy at his door, wearing a t-shirt and his underwear. The night was ended with dinner at Elder and Sister Britton's apartment (they are a senior couple working at the records office somewhere downtown) with our bro-dog YSA friend Jonathan.

Wednesday was awesomer! We had zone training in the morning and got some good insights on loving everyone more, investigators, members, potential investigators, included, and on making commitments and following up. After that, Elder Kapp and I taught a potential investigator named Theo outside of Stockholm Central for a few minutes, and gave him a Book of Mormon. Then we headed to Lidingö again for a lesson with a super positive investigator that Elders Downing and Sweat were working with. Her name is Fumi, and she is 14 year old African girl with a special spirit. Her dad, Moses, is actually a less active member, and her Swedish step-mom, Anna, is also an investigator. We taught Anna and Fumi (Moses works a lot) with our good friend Tom Heidenberg about the Plan of Salvation. It was a great lesson, and at the end, we were able to set a baptismal date for Fumi! June 13th! We tried to get a date with Anna, but she is still unsure about the existence of Heavenly Father and working on getting answers, so she doesn't feel ready yet. It was amazing to see the Lord bless us this way; Elder Kapp let me report our success to President and the Zone Leaders. 

The roller coaster kept on climbing from there. Thursday, we swung by a potential in Danderyd and got it! We chatted with an "excellent" guy by the name of Tiki. He has a wife and has recently been blessed with a pair of adorable twin girls. He comes from Tanzania and speaks Swahili, English, some Swedish, and Spanish. Plus, the guy LOVES Nike; seriously, LOVES Nike. Every piece of clothing he was wearing was Nike branded; he had a Nike table cloth, a Nike clock, and Nike earrings. We mostly got to know him, learned how he climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in three days, then invited him to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. That night, we swung by some potentials in Lidingö, and got in with a young Swedish/Chinese couple. The husband, Johan, is the Swede, and his wife Cecilia, is of Chinese decent. We had a great discussion with them. We talked about their religion, a sect of Buddhism, and gave the whole first lesson. In the end, they said they were happy with their faith and didn't accept a Book of Mormon, but they enjoyed learning about our church, and we just had a great time talking with them about cultures and religion. They were so nice, and said we were welcome anytime to stop by and talk. 

Friday, we had our busiest weekly planning session yet. Lots of calls were made, and we talked a lot about helping Fumi prepare for baptism. We had lunch at McDonalds with Sister Katarina Fredriksson, a super strong convert of fifty years. That evening, we taught David again, and watched a conference talk by President Monson with him to help him gain a testimony of living prophets and apostles. Great lesson and invited him to pray about the Prophet. 

Soccer started off Saturday morning, and after, we helped move some exercise equipment from the Wimmer's house to the Strauss'. In the late afternoon, we had dinner with our investigator Karim, and talked with him about making forward progress instead of backward, by reading and praying daily, and coming to church. That night, we swung by Tiki's place, and ended up getting in and teaching he and his wife the first lesson. The smoothest Restoration lesson yet! Elder Kapp and I were super proud of ourselves. 

Sunday capped our awesome roller coaster ride. Church was great! Elder Kapp gave an awesome talk, Fumi came to church, and during second hour we taught her with her friend Honest, who also happens to be a convert YSA from Nigeria. Hilarious guy. We had a very fun lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Right after church we had lunch/dinner at the Guerra's (I love those two so much) with Elder and Sister Britton. The Guerras did their best to speak in English so that the Brittons could understand, but Elder Kapp had to translate their Swedish in a few spots. Bro Guerra then gave us a ride to the fireside at the Wimmers, and we picked up Fumi on the way. The fireside was a great success! Karim was able to come also! President and Sister Beckstrand were the guest speakers, and shared their testimonies about strengthening our families through Jesus Christ. Karim loved it! The Wimmers were great hosts and everyone in attendance chatted afterwards over refreshments. A great time, and a great end to the best week yet.

I have definitely grown in my love for our investigators this week. Elder Kapp and I told each other multiple times this week that THIS is what missionary work feels like. My heart is full and my testimony of diligence, faith, prayers, and obedience has been strengthened. The Lord DOES bless us when we do our best to do our part and build his kingdom. Remember the scripture in Alma 62: 50-51: "Yea they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them...And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land." 

Remember the Lord in every blessing, and pray often!
Äldste Reed

Monday, May 18, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 7!

Hey Hey! Hur går det med er? Bara bra? Toppen? Fint! This week again went super fast; nothing too crazy, but not boring either.

Last Monday after we e-mailed, Elder Kapp and I went to the Pence's again with the other two sets of missionaries and had dinner. Afterwards we all taught a lesson for Family Home Evening, where we ripped up an old white shirt of Elder Downing's and made a Title of Liberty for them. The kids and Bro. and Sis. Pence wrote different things that were important to their family that they wanted to remember and always do. Fun lesson!

The next day we headed over to the other Elder's apartment and talked about their area, the people they were working with, and took their area book. Of course their place was super messy as they were packing and cleaning before transfers on Wednesday. It will be a challenge juggling two areas for the next six weeks, but Downing and Sweat gave us lots of good people to work with, so we have a good head start. We had lunch with them and one of their investigators, which was super fun. That night we taught Matillda and her mom, and we just discussed what they thought about Stake Conference, and other general discussion. Matillda's best friend showed up in the middle, which was AWESOME! Her name is Miriam and Matillda had been talking about what she had been learning from us. We gave Miriam a Korean Book of Mormon (she is Swedish, but she can speak and read Korean), and she was super excited to read it. Another new investigator!

Transfers were Wednesday, so sadly, Elder Downing and Sweat had to leave for Malmö. Most of the day was spent going through and calling all the people that Downing and Sweat left for us in their area, and going around and doing some street-contacting. We got an online referral for the first time, so we went to the address and contacted them, but it turned out to just be some kids pranking one of their friends. We gave the kids mom a Mormons Bok anyway and a card with our number, so maybe something will turn out of that. The night was concluded by going to institute with Idi, one of our investigators. 

Thursday was very productive. Swung by some of our investigators; Walter is still in the loop, but we weren't able to teach him. We just said hi and will have to swing by again another time. We swung by a potential investigator we had apartment-tracted into, got in and taught a short lesson, then left a Book of Mormon! YES! That night we had an appointment with David, one of Downing and Sweat's guys. Super nice guy from Assyria, has been an investigator since 2009, so he knows everything already. All his kids are baptized in the Church, so its just him now. He has strong faith and believes in everything, but his big problem for why he is holding out on baptism is that he is waiting for a sign, or answer. We had a good lesson and talked about why baptism is important, and gave him 2 Nephi 31 to read before our next visit. 

Friday was a slower day. Weekly planning as usual, which was good; made lots of calls and set some stuff up for next week. Our lessons we had planned fell through, but we cheered ourselves up by getting pizza that night. We have finally found a super good pizzeria in Stockholm! It was sooooooo good, and the best part is, its very close to our apartment. Definitely going there again. Good Kebab pizza DOES exist in Stockholm, for all you unbelievers out there. 

Saturday begun with Soccer at Lidingö again. Lots of fun; I think I may be improving my futbol skills, slowly but surely haha. Saturday ended with a dinner appointment of meat and potatoes with yet another one of Downing and Sweat's investigators, Karim. We shared a short message about obedience and blessings with him after a delicious dessert of apple pie with vanilla sauce. We had another lesson scheduled after, so we had to boogey quick, but the guy ended up blåsting on us. Bummer, could have had a longer lesson with Karim... 

Sunday was fun. Church is now super hectic for us, because now that the other Elders are gone and its just us and the Sisters, we have to do a lot more. That means teaching Gospel principles class more often, sometimes teaching Elders Quorum (which we did yesterday), and translating in sacrament meeting. I had the chance to bless the water yesterday, which was super cool! My first ordinance prayer in Swedish! It felt very special to administer the Sacrament to the ward. Poor Elder Kapp had it rough with translating. Bro. and Sis. Pence both gave talks in English, so he had to translate their talks to Swedish. He basically had to go back and forth from translating some talks in Swedish to English, and then vice versa. Crazy stuff, but he did it. I'm lucky to have him for sure, because I could definitely not do that yet. 

I will leave you all with a quick spiritual thought from the Book of Acts in the New Testament. Paul was an amazing example of conversion; I love his words in chapter 21 verse 13: "...for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Powerful words indeed. What are we willing to do for Jesus Christ? I hope you all have a wonderful new week and find joy in all that you do!

Mycket Kärlek,

Äldste Reed

Monday, May 11, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 6 (RIP District Leader Downing; See you in Malmö!)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday! I know I did! What started as a slow week turned out to be AMAZING in the end!

Picking up from last Monday, we spent our proselyting hours tracting in a new apartment complex in Danderyd. At first we weren't finding any success, but then Elder Kapp and I said a prayer and we found two potentials! Prayer is real folks, Heavenly Father listens!

Tuesday was one of those roller coaster days. District meeting in the morning as usual; we went around and each missionary shared a scripture that we could replace our own names in to better "liken the scriptures" unto ourselves. Great activity and very spiritual. After that, we did some contacting, which I felt super good about. I just had lots of energy and was really enjoying approaching people. It wasn't until the end of the day that things took a turn. One of our investigators, Matillda, texted us saying she wasn't sure if she still wanted to meet with us. Needless to say it was a quiet night. 

Then the miracle day: Wednesday. Elder Kapp and I decided to fast for the work. At first the day was slow. We did some swing-bys with Walter and others, but no answers there. We did some contacting in Kungsträgården, and talked with a religious maverick for about an hour, but to no avail in the end. Then we did some tracting in the same area as Monday. We found another potential! Plus, Matillda texted us back and said she still wants to meet, set up a teaching appointment, and said she would bring a friend, too! Since Wednesday, things have picked up dramatically. 

Thursday, we met up with a member, a guy named Johan Rune, and had lunch at a REAL sushi bar (this stuff was goooooddd). He is a convert of about two years, and received the Melchizedek Priesthood at Stake Conference yesterday (more on that in a sec). Later, Elder Kapp and I made some flyers for an upcoming fireside our Ward mission leader is hosting on the 24th, then we contacted the rest of the day, and got four potentials! 

We had three lessons scheduled on Friday, but two bailed on us. Still a good day though! We taught Nadia, a less active we have been working with, and shared a good lesson about commandments. 

Saturday was started with Soccer as usual, but we didn't play for very long this time. Transfer calls went in today, and we learned that both Elder Downing and Elder Sweat are headed for Malmö. The funny thing is they aren't being replaced, so basically its going to be Elder Kapp and I with the Sister missionaries (same companionship there). Basically, we are going to be working two areas (possibly). Talk about being busy! We taught a lesson to a new investigator, Melinda, who is from Iran and didn't know anything about the church or a whole lot about Christianity in general. We taught the Restoration and gave her a Persian BoM to read. She is very nice and willing to learn more and keep commitments; very positive! The evening ended by going to the Adult session of Stake Conference held in the Gubbängen chapel. Awesome talks were given about temple work, and keeping the Sabbath holy. 

Sunday, we went to the general session of Stake Conference, which was held in a Conference Center downtown. A very cool experience! We got four investigators to come with us!! Matillda and her mom, and two muslim guys! Super awesome! The spirit was there and I know it touched their hearts as they listened to the words spoken. Since it was Mother's Day, we got to Skype home! We went to a member's house, had dinner, and then skyped home. It was a great experience; it was great to see my family and know that everything is going well for them. 1 Skype call down, three more to go. 

This week strengthened my testimony of fasting and prayer more than anything. Miracles can happen when we have faith and are diligently serving the Lord. It is so evident as I look back at what has happened in just a few days. I have been reading about Moroni a lot lately and love the scripture found in Alma Chapter 48, verse 17. I encourage you all to read that, and imagine your name replaced with Moroni's. If it isn't true for you already, live your life in a way where those words become a reality for you. I know it is possible. 

Lots of love to all those Mothers out there, especially those with missionaries! Have a wonderful week!

Äldste Reed   

Monday, May 4, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 5

Happy Star Wars Day everyone! May the Fourth be with You! Had a super fun week, lots of stuff happened, so sorry if I leave out some details....

MONDAY: We taught Matillda and her mom again with our stud-of-a-member Jonathan, and cleared up some questions about what she wanted to gain from us. She and her mom are reading from the Book of Mormon, but are having a hard time praying. We read through the Articles of Faith with them and they understood everything well. After that lesson we swung by an old investigator, Henrik, and walked and talked with him as he went to the Tunnelbana. He has read through the entire Doctrine and Covenants (Wow, I haven't even done that yet), and is happy to meet with missionaries. He had some deep doctrine questions too. Like, really deep. 

TUESDAY: Really good district meeting, followed by lunch at China Wang again. We ended up having a Wasabi challenge, and took some funny videos. Many laughs were had and memories captured. Later, Elder Kapp and I went with the Täby Sisters to visit Nadia, and we talked about the importance of families. We set up a time this week to have a family home evening with her and her son. We need to get that kid baptized! Haha Oh, and I finally got my residency card! Now I'm not illegal anymore!

WEDNESDAY: We did a work-over with the Zone Leaders that day. Basically where you and your comp go on a temporary exchange with Elders from a different area to divide and conquer and find people faster. We weren't super successful, on my end with Elder Floyd, or Kapp's end with Elder Rasmussen. Still, it was cool to get to know Floyd better and we had fun teaching a small lesson with a member, then did some contacting around town. I also went by the Immigration office with my residency card and finished up some paperwork there, so I could be Officialy official as a resident in Sweden. We finished the night by going to institute at the Center with an investigator.

THURSDAY: My first Swedish Holiday, Valborg! Before I get to that, we had a great lunch with Elder and Sister Wood and got to know them better. Then we swung by Deborah and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon in Swahili for her. So now the good stuff. First off, on Swedish Holidays, we stop proselyting after a certain time, so for Thursday, we ended at 5 p.m. So after 5, we went to a member family for a huge dinner, then went down to watch the bonfire. On Valborg, huge bonfires are made to symbolize the coming of Spring and getting rid of the dead stuff from Winter. Basically, people just burn stuff and sing traditional songs ; better than Boy Scouts! 

FRIDAY: Elder Kapp and I went to a service project at the Bishop of our sister ward Friday morning. Huge turnout from members and missionaries from both Täby and Stockholm ward. We just did tons of landscaping work; digging and such. After that, the rest of the day was spent weekly planning.

SATURDAY: Helped clean the Chapel with the members in the morning, inside and the grounds, then taught a member practice lesson with a couple in our ward. We spent almost 3 hours over there haha. We taught the Restoration and had Bro. Heidenberg role-play as a neighbor he and his wife has talked to. Definitely could feel the Spirit and got closer to some more members. 

SUNDAY: Great fast and testimony meeting at church. Lots of great testimonies born by the members; they are catching on to missionary work, I can feel it. Elder Kapp and I can't get over how awesome our ward is; we really have been blessed. After church, we went to the Guerra's with Elder Downing and Elder Sweat for lunch/dinner. They are an awesome member couple as well. We finished the day with correlation meeting at the Wimmer's again. 

Today, we went to the Vasa Museum! Probably the most famous museum in Sweden. Lots of great pictures were taken (that's for you mom), and there is just so much cool history and information there. I even ran into one of my old MTC comps, Elder Richards and his trainer! 

As a closing thought, I encourage you all to read the last chapter of John. Remember to Feed His Sheep. I am witnessing first hand the power and Spirit that is brought when members and missionaries work together to bring forth the Gospel and serve others. Never forget how powerful simple service and invitations can be.

Love you all, and I know Heavenly Father and Jesus do, too!

Äldste Reed