Monday, June 29, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 13 (Aabo says Hi!)

How's it going everybody? Hopefully well! I was asked to clarify how one pronounces my new companions name, Elder Aabo; its pronounced the same as the musical instrument, Oboe. He is a super happy, fun-loving guy, and we have already had lots of laughs. He's been out for 18 months and is winding down his mission. We're getting along great and enjoying our time here. 

Last Monday we spent the day with the Pence's and Sisters Bolton and DeMille by first going to Skansen (A very famous Scandinavian zoo and park), where we saw Wolverines, Lemurs, and Reindeer, OH MY! Afterwards, Kapp and I spent family home evening with them, and taught a short lesson at a nearby park. 

Tuesday was very crazy as most of it was spent getting everything ready for transfers. Kapp of course had to pack up his stuff, but I did as well, because the new Sisters coming in are getting our apartment, and me and Aabo are now living in Sisters Bolton and DeMille's place; a step down to be sure, but hey, everything for the Sisters right? :) We formed a Tripan with Elder Smith (one of our Zone Leaders whose comp just became an Assistant) and visited a less active member, then Kapp and I spent the rest of the day packing and running around doing some last minute things. 

TRANSFER DAY ON WEDNESDAY!! We went to Stockholm Central, and I parted ways with my dad (mission speaking). It was a weird feeling, seeing him leave. He's going to have an awesome time in Umeå though. I then waited with the other missionaries who were transferring and getting in, until Elder Aabo came in at around 12. We took our luggage to the new apartment, then went back to Stockholm Central and met up with Sister Stettler and her greenie, Sister Jackson, who are the new Stockholm Sisters (AKA Apartment Stealers...). I passed along the keys and some other miscellaneous information to them, then we helped them with their luggage and I led the way to their place. After helping them out, Aabo and I unpacked then had a great lesson with Fumi! We watched the Restoration movie and answered a lot of questions Fumi had. Aabo has a great way of being friendly and getting to know people, and already has formed a great relationship with her.  

Thursday morning we helped with some spring cleaning at the Institute Center, moving books and other random things from the basement upstairs to be dunged out. The Woods then took us out for lunch and got to know Elder Aabo better. Later, we had a lesson with Karim, and tried helping him get into a habit of reading the Book of Mormon everyday. We then went downtown and did some old fashioned street contacting to end the day.

Friday we had district meeting with the new district, and we talked about "raising the bar" and setting companionship visions. We then had weekly planning back home, and I gave Aabo the run down on our area and all our investigators we are working with. We ended the day with another lesson with Javid, who is still progressing well and super interested in the Church. We invited him to be baptized once he knows the Gospel is true, and he gladly agreed. Now to keep teaching him and hopefully set a date. 

Saturday was a little rough for Aabo. He felt sick in the morning, and even though we went to Soccer in Lidingö, he sat out and didn't play. Brother Strauss took us out to lunch at the usual pizza place, and unfortunately, Aabo, lost his pizza :( We got him back home, and he got some good rest. I took the time to make cookies for our Ward FIKA break on Sunday while he regained his strength. 

Sunday was good! I thought I would give a whirl with the whole translating sacrament thing, but once it began I realized how hard it actually was. Thankfully, our bro-dawg YSA member Jonathan came in late and took over for me, saving my tail. Plus, Javid also came to church! He missed the administering of the sacrament, but he was able to arrive and catch the last talk. He stayed for the other meetings, and he asked some good question in Sunday school. We ended church a little early, at like 12:30, and had a FIKA, where we ate food and mixed and mingled with the ward. Good time for Javid to talk to ward members and meet others. After Church, us and the new sisters went to the Guerra's and had an awesome dinner/lunch and practiced giving lessons with them role-playing as investigators. After spending time over there, Aabo and I swung by a potential investigator in the area, a guy named Alex, and ended up getting in! We sat down and talked for a couple hours, just having normal conversation with some Gospel thrown in. Alex is super interested in religion, and asked us a lot of questions about our church. We told him the Restoration story and talked about the things we do as missionaries. It was great! Unfortunately, the guy is moving tomorrow, so we probably won't see him again. We tried to get his number so he could get in contact with other missionaries where he was going, but sadly we didn't get it. Hopefully he can meet with other missionaries again; he is super open and receptive, something unusual in most Swedes. Just a really good, knowledgeable guy.

I've started re-reading through the Book of Mormon again, and Nephi is just awesome. He always knew the Lord would bless him and his family as long as they were faithful and diligent. We can always turn to his example if we need a faith pick-me-up. No matter what happens, the Lord will provide a way for us to accomplish our hard tasks or overcome our trials. 

Take care everyone, and have a great week!!

Äldste Reed

Monday, June 22, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 12

A fun week here in Sweden!! I have now completed my 12 week training!! Transfer calls went out Saturday morning, and I will be staying here in Stockholm for another six weeks!! Sadly, Elder Kapp is leaving to become a first-class Zone Leader up North in Umeå, and I will be getting a Norwegian Elder by the name of Aabo. He has actually been companions with Elder Kapp before, so I have been given all the insight on this guy haha. I'm excited, but also very anxious and nervous as now I will have to lead a little bit and make sure the work Elder Kapp and I have done keeps going forward. Hopefully I can take care of all our investigators and the transition will go smooth. But, now lets take a look at last week, shall we?

Last P-Day, Kapp and I hung out with a big group of missionaries over in Handen, where we had a little BBQ and played Volleyball, Frisbee, and other stuff! Very fun, and I got to meet some more missionaries I hadn't seen before. 

Tuesday opened with District meeting in the morning, where we had a great meeting about helping investigators understand the importance of the Sabbath. Afterwards, Kapp and I were meeting with a potential investigator, who, to make a long story short, lives in Karlstad, on the other side of Sweden...we spent an hour and a half trying to find a place to meet this guy, communicating over our phones. Basically it was a big misunderstanding; we apologized after we realized where he was and he realized we were in Stockholm, and we kindly referred him to the Karlstad missionaries. That night, we had a lovely dinner with Anna and her family; they were the non-members who we helped move a couple weeks back. Very nice people, and super good lasagna!

Wednesday was a fairly busy day; we helped teach a lesson to a less-active with the Sister missionaries, met with our shining-star-of-a-convert Fumi over at Tom and Eija Heidenberg's place, had a small message/lesson with our bro dog member Jonathan Prentell at the center, then taught our Pakistani Seeker of truth, Javid, at a member's house. All were great lessons; Javid came with lots of questions, having read more in the Book of Mormon and now reading in the Gospel Principles book. We watched the Restoration film with him, and he really liked it. I think it helped him understand the Restoration and Joseph Smith a lot better. 

Thursday, we tried to swing by some of our investigators who we hadn't met with in a while, and then met with David and talked about the many blessings of the church. That night, we went to the Strauss' to celebrate a going away party for the Wimmer Family. They will be missed; lots of ward members were there and I got to say goodbye to Bro. Wimmer. Great guy. Great family. 

Friday was MIDSOMMAR!!! Basically, the most popular and celebrated Holiday in Scandinavia after Christmas. Its so big that we don't proselyte at all that day, and we didn't proselyte on Saturday until 3 o'clock. The weather wasn't so great, it rained all day, but we went to a a place called Tyresta By where there is an annual celebration hosted by the Church. Lots of tents are set up, and basically people grill, sell candy and things, then we raise the May Pole and dance around it to traditional songs. Fun time, lots of missionaries were there as well as lots of other people. Fun event, despite the weather. After the festivities there, we spent the rest of the day at the Pence's house. 

Saturday, we played soccer over in Täby, headed over to the Pence's for a little bit, taught a lesson to an investigator and his friend at the Center, and took Javid to a baptism that was happening for a convert over in Gubbängen. Great baptismal service, and was definitely a good experience for Javid to witness. Javid is going to go far, he is so positive. 

Sunday, we had church as usual, then afterwards we celebrated Father's Day over at the Pence's for a couple hours, then visited our buddy Karim. 

As a closing thought, Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there! Don't forget to thank your Father in Heaven also for all the many blessings he gives you. 'Father' is a sacred title, and it is such a blessing that our Heavenly Father has allowed us to share that title here on earth and raise families. Remember that Heavenly Father is always there for you!

Best wishes to everyone! 

Äldste Reed

Monday, June 15, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 11

Hello again everyone! I'm going to try something different today and write about the main highlights throughout the week, rather than going day by day. Hopefully you all still enjoy!

The biggest event of the week was Fumi's Baptism and Confirmation by far! Saturday was such a happy day for her and us; great support from the ward and a beautiful baptismal service. Elder Kapp and I's anxiety throughout the week in preparation for the big day payed off, as he and I witnessed her go into the water and come out completely clean. I can't believe how much the Lord has blessed me in such a short amount of time. As we sang the closing song at the end of the service, "I am a Child of God", I felt the Spirit so strong and thanked Heavenly Father for giving me this opportunity. My heart was full. These are the experiences that strengthen testimonies more than anything else. Seeing the ordinances of the Gospel performed, seeing the smile and light in these people's eyes; the work of Salvation is real, and moving forward to bless the lives of all of God's children. 

Another highlight this week has been meeting and teaching a new investigator we found, named Javid. He hails from Pakistan, and enjoys studying religion, having studied Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and a little bit of Christianity. He told us that he is just looking for the truth. We had originally planned to give an Urdu Book of Mormon to his roommate Sanjin, whom we had tracted into about two weeks ago. We swung by the apartment on Tuesday, and Javid happened to answer the door instead. He let us in and we gave him the Book of Mormon that we had brought for his friend. He was interested in where our church was, having looked at the pass-along card with the Täby Chapel's address that we had given to Sanjin. We chatted about the Book of Mormon for a little bit, then set up an appointment to meet at the Center on Friday. Our lesson on Friday went well also; we went through the Restoration, taught him how to pray, then invited him to church on Sunday. 

That leads me to Sunday. As I mentioned before, Fumi's confirmation was on Sunday also. So we planned to meet Javid at a tunnelbanna station then go the rest of the way to Church with him. He was late on meeting us, and Kapp and I HAD to get to church on time so that we could be in the circle for the ordinance. After about 9:45, Kapp and I had to head to Church, otherwise we were going to miss it. We called Javid and told him to wait at a bus station and explained to him that we had to be at church on time; We told him we would pick him up after the confirmation. So basically, we made it to the church at the very last minute. We literally ran into the chapel just as the circle was formed and Bishop was making sure he had Fumi's name pronounced correctly. Wow. Again, I thanked Heavenly Father a thousand times for letting us make it on time. That's probably the closest I've cut anything before in my entire life. We left after taking the Sacrament, met up with Javid, and escorted him to the church, where he stayed for the last two hours. 

Other then Javid, we taught our friend Theo again on Thursday, as well as David on Friday. They are doing well and enjoy meeting with us. Our visits with Theo have to be kept short, due to his work schedule, but we taught him a quick Resto and invited him to be baptized once he believed our message to be true; he responded with, "Sure! Why not?" Super positive. David is doing well also, we discussed the blessings of the priesthood with him this week, and committed him to prepare to receive it after being baptized. 

The final highlight would be celebrated Sisters Bolton and DeMille's 1 year mark at the Pence's house this Thursday. We had a great party with tons of great, American style food. The Pence's spoil us here; missionaries are treated like celebrities at their place. 

I will conclude this highlight reel with a famous scripture in 2 Nephi 31: "Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would beobedient unto him in keeping his commandments...And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.

Christ has shown us the perfect, only way. I am eternally grateful for his example and for his pure Gospel. As we strive to live by his way, we will become more like him.

Until next time!! Stay tuned for transfer information next week!!

Äldste Reed

Monday, June 8, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 10

Just another week serving the Lord out here in Stockholm! Its crazy to think that I'm almost done with training and will have transfer calls go out in two weeks. It will be interesting to see who leaves and who stays, or maybe Kapp and I both stay. Who knows? 

So Monday was probably the fastest P-day every, and we didn't even do anything exciting. We went over and met with Karim, who was mourning the loss of his Great Aunt; we tried to strengthen him by talking about the Plan of Salvation and invited him to come to church and to pray and read daily. 

Tuesday was the anticipated Zone Conference. There were rumors going around the mission that we would be getting iPads, since the theme was "Disciples in the Digital Age", but sadly no iPads yet. Shucks...They will come soon, we were assured, so we talked about preparing ourselves for them, and had some great training about obedience and repentance. Great first conference for me.

For those weak in stomach, be careful about reading this part :) Wednesday, Bro. Layne, our American Diplomat in the ward and member of the bishopric, invited us to lunch at the Sweden Radio station building. They had pork quesadillas as one of the lunch specials of the day, so naturally Kapp and I ordered that. As we ate and talked, I felt more and more nauseous. I knew what was coming....I excused myself to the bathroom, and sure enough, emptied a wave in the toilet. I knew I had to go back out there, even though I knew I wasn't in the green yet. I sat back down with Bro. Layne and Elder Kapp, and tried to hide my uneasiness. They both knew something was wrong though, because I didn't touch my food after coming back, and I probably looked a little green. We got up to leave soon after, were walking out the door, and as soon as we got outside, I spotted a trash can, and within seconds, I unleashed wave 2 for all to see. I felt so embarrassed, and felt bad that I had wasted Bro. Layne's money, but the whole time, Bro. Layne was apologizing to me. What a saint. He bought me some water and gum, left us to go back to work, and after releasing a third wave soon after, I felt well enough to make the trip back to the apartment. We stayed at home for a couple hours, I took a nap, then later felt well enough to go do some tracting in Lidingö. I guess it was just some bad pork. Food poisoning is of the Devil...

Thursday wasn't as eventful as yesterday, and our two scheduled lessons fell through, so we ended up doing some contacting and apartment knocking in Danderyd and Lidingö. No potentials from our efforts, but in Preach My Gospel it says that "No effort is wasted".

Friday was a good day. We had a good weekly planning session, swung by a less-active Chinese family (only the 16 year old son was home, so we didn't teach anything or get in, but at least they are there and know that WE are there for THEM), then went to Lidingö to teach Fumi. We got to the island fairly early, so we did some apartment tracting to fill the time and found a solid potential investigator by the name of Alex. We then headed to Fumi's and taught her, Anna, and a co-worker friend of Anna's who just happened to be over. Our third grandpa, Tom Heidenberg, was with us this time as well. He is such a great support for Fumi. As soon as we three entered, and Fumi saw that Tom was with us, she ran up to him and gave him a huge hug. We discussed more baptismal things, decided that Tom would baptize her, and that Kapp and I would give talks at the service. We taught some more commandments with her, and finished by reviewing the baptismal interview questions with her for her interview the following day. Great lesson, and I felt the Spirit so strong as Fumi gave the closing prayer. She is such a special girl. After that lesson, we went to David's and talked about temples and emphasized baptism again. No date set-up yet, though he did pray about our invitation. He is still waiting for God to give him a sign...little frustrating, but we are still praying for him and working with him.  

Saturday, I had my first 24 hour splits/companion exchange! Kapp went with our district leader, Elder Dickson, and stayed in our area, and I went with his companion, Elder Silvennoinen, in their area. I had a really enjoyable day with the guy! He is Finnish, and reminds me of a quieter version of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. We had a white day, so we just contacted in some different parts and hoped to teach some people on the street. Silvennoinen is an awesome contacter; he never misses an opportunity to talk to someone, whether we're waiting at a train station, or riding on a tunnelbana. We ended up teaching like 5 restoration lessons throughout the day, and got a couple potentials. Near the end of the day, we went to a park in Hornstull, where lots of people were celebrating Sweden's National Day. We ended the splits at 9, and Kapp and Dickson ended up having a really sick day. The had dinner at Karim's and taught a really good lesson, and the baptismal interview with Fumi went well. She is officially able to get baptized!! YES!!!

Sunday was also a great day. We had a special Northern Europe Conference that was broadcast to all of Scandinavia and the British Isles, hosted in Edinburgh Scotland. We watched it at the Gubbängen chapel, and David, his sons, and Karim ended up coming. The final address was given by Elder Holland, who gave the boldest, most powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon I have ever heard. The Spirit was so strong in that meeting as he spoke; it made me want to go out and testify of the Book of Mormon with everybody! I wish I had such conviction when speaking with people. After that meeting, we went back home and did some studies, then went to the Wimmer's house for dinner. The Wimmers will be moving to St. George in a couple weeks, so this was the last dinner party they would be hosting. The Täby and Stockholm Sisters were there, as well as a recent convert named Jeremy (love that guy) and a Scottish RM that the Wimmers knew who served in Greece, who now has a Swedish wife and three little kids with one on the way. It was a great dinner, and we had great conversations about the evil of multi-level businesses and pyramid schemes like Newskin and doTerra. 

Something that Elder Holland mentioned in his talk was that the Book of Mormon was THE sign of the latter-days. He testified of the power of the book and his wonderment at how no one else throughout history has ever tried to claim authorship of it. I leave you all with my testimony that the Book of Mormon is a living novel, an ancient history, and the key to our understanding of salvation. I invite you all to peruse its pages, to read just a page, and pray to Heavenly Father if the words are not true. I enjoy the time I have everyday to studies its doctrines, and truly love the book. It saddens me that its taken me until my mission to understand how crucial this record really is in our lives, and I regret not giving it more attention in the past. As Elder Kapp likes to pun, "The Church is true, and the Book is blue; but it should be read."

Read the Book!! I love and miss you all!

Äldste Reed  

Monday, June 1, 2015

SWEDEN WEEK 9

This was a somewhat slower week than last, but still very good! The theme of this week was service and physical exertion :)

Monday, we chilled at the Center for a few hours and played some Foosball and games with other missionaries, then in the evening, we went to Bishops house for a delicious shish-kebab dinner. We shared a cute little message with their family related to D&C 14:7, then helped Honest (the Nigerian member who is friends with Fumi) move to Handen. He didn't have a whole lot, just some speakers, his bed, and some bags, and that was it, so a fairly easy move. 

Tuesday, we had our first official meeting as a newly organized district! Afterwards, Elder Kapp and I and Elder Dickson and Silvennoinen went on a search through 3 different Lidl's (common European supermarket) for a special cereal called "Milk Pillows". At the third and final Lidl, we found it. Elder Kapp and I quickly got home, and had some for lunch. Elder Kapp downed 5 bowls of that stuff!! Needless to say, the box was gone in a day. Later, we swung by our man, Tiki, but we weren't able to stay and teach a lesson because he had guests over. The evening was ended by going to Ward Council. 

We helped an investigator from Trollhättan, named Parshanth, who came into Stockholm on Wednesday. He is originally from India, has met with missionaries for a couple years, loves the church, and is studying for his degree in robotics. We had been texting him a few days earlier and he told us he needed help finding the US Embassy, where he was having an interview and applying to get his Student Visa so that he can go to school in the States. We met him at Stockholm Central in the late afternoon, and took him to the Center for dinner. We then showed him how to get to the Embassy, and dropped him off at the Hostel he was staying at for the night. Fun guy, and appreciated our help!

Next morning, we got up and took our Indian friend to the bus stop he needed to take (he was worried he would get lost), and sent him on his way to the Embassy. We learned later that day that he ended getting accepted, and got his Visa! Super Cool! Right after helping Parshanth, we headed out to help a non-member sister of a member in Vendelsö, move to a new apartment complex. Let me tell you, apartment moving is a totally different experience then your run-of-the-mill house moving; lots of cramming boxes and things into the elevator and running up and down stairs to load and unload. We rode in the van to the new apartment, and helped unload everything into the new place. It just so happened that this was the first day that tenants could move into this new building, so there were lots of others moving in as well. It was very hectic, and people and boxes were everywhere. Tenants took turns using the elevator to run loads up to their rooms. After helping the non-member family, Elder Kapp suggested that we stay and see if we couldn't help the other tenants. That was the best decision ever. We ended up helping four different groups of people, including a mom and her college-aged daughter, who were planning on doing everything themselves. It was a great finding experience, and we definitely left a great impression for the Church to all those people. 

Friday, we helped a less-active member, with the help of the Sisters, move boxes from her storage in the basement of her apartment building. That afternoon, we coordinated a finding activity with the Täby Sisters, our Sisters, the Gubbängen Elders and Sisters, and the Jakobsberg Elders, and made a big chalk drawing in Sergels Torg in downtown Stockholm. It turned out to be AWESOME! We drew the Earth with a banner around it that asked the question, "What is the meaning of life?" (Meningen med Livet) We got lots of people to stop and look and talk to us, and I personally talked to a lot of different people! Great opportunity with lots of success. That evening, we taught a commandment lesson with Fumi and Anna, and Fumi is progressing well. We scheduled more for her baptism and future teaches also. She wants everyone to be there on her special day. So happy for her and her willingness to follow Christ. Our day was concluded with a lesson/discussion with our friend David. We left him with the invitation to pray about getting baptized on June 20th. 

Saturday didn't have a huge turnout for Soccer, but it was still fun nonetheless. Nothing too special the rest of the day, just studies and a quick meeting with Sister Bolton and DeMille to coordinate our Fifth Sunday lesson. 

Sunday was very spiritual. We had a great fast and testimony meeting, and our fifth Sunday lesson in third hour went very well. We really are pushing the ward to invite specific friends or acquaintances to church and get them to be taught by us. After church, we and the Sisters had a break the fast with a member family, and played with their ball-of-energy three year old son. 

It felt great to do so much service this week. The Lord gives us so many opportunities to serve each other, and so many chances to introduce the Gospel in a casual, friendly setting. My thought for the week stems from a very hilarious language mistake that I made in Church during our lesson. I was reading the scripture Alma 26:11-12, and accidentally mispronounced the word "skryta" (boast) as the Swedish equivalent of the S-word, "skita" (it isn't as vulgar in Swedish; basically equals "crap"). So if you want to know what the members of the ward heard me say, just read that scripture and replace the word "boast" with "crap"...But on a serious note, the Lord's strength is the only way we can expect to do his work. We need his power and strength in all we do. The best thing is, he will give it to us, as long as we have faith and diligence. 

I love you all and wish you the best. Don't "[crap] in your strength"!

Äldste Reed