Thursday, March 22, 2018

Week 76

Getting Haircuts...

Another week flies by!

Hola todos!

This week went by way too fast!

New Brighton has been poppin’ as usual. One of the highlights of the week was that we set a date with our Ethiopian friend, Beraki! He is loving learning more about Christ's gospel and is just trying to soak it all up. A lot of the times, I feel like he teaches me more than we teach him! Ha. He will be baptized on the 14th of next month. Alana is doing phenomenal. She even brought a friend to church! We got to meet her and set up a lesson with them this week. We also met a referral named Tony who requested a free Book of Mormon online. He is from Vietnam, and recently came to a belief in Christ, and we got to answer a lot of his questions. It was cool because he said, "I really feel like this church can answer more of my questions in such a clear way." We're excited for him. He also came to church on Sunday.

This week was super busy because we had 2 exchanges, interviews with President, a mini blitz in west St. Paul, Stake Conference and Mission President's Fireside! It was quite the handful, but this week was great!

Something that we have been focusing on a lot as missionaries this week has been "speaking on a higher plane." With more gospel conversations, it makes the day seem so much more uplifting. And although it is sometimes difficult to see in everyday life, everything is encompassed in the gospel. Everything points to Christ and his atoning sacrifice! Elder Strong and I were thinking of random things in the world and relating them back to Christ and we found some good ones! Like, for example, all the Minnesota snow - It descends from a higher plane to a lower plane. It is white, representing purity from sin. And it is like a blanket that covers everything underneath, just as the atonement covers us all! We were both like, woahhh that's so cool! So, my invitation to you all this week is to ponder the Savior’s atonement more frequently this week. Your week will be so much brighter!

Have a great week! Les amo

-Elder Bolinder

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Week 75

Elder Bolinder, Alana, Elder Strong

March snow, March miracles!

Did we have another fire week here in the twin cities? You bet'cha!😁

Funny story to start off:

So, we were walking down the street of this trailer park, trying to get in contact with a few people and a couple houses down we see this really old lady just chilling in her PJs, staring at us through the window. Next thing we know she comes out to talk to us. At first, she threatens to have our car towed and we thought, oh no, she's gonna chew us out. She turned out to be a nice lady, but after telling Elder Strong to move the car to visitor parking, she turns to me and says, "Oh! You're cute!" Haha.. "I may be old, but I know the cute ones when I see them" and she winked at me😂 I was like, what just happened? Haha, I just laughed and thanked her. So, first time being hit on by a 70 year old haha! it was so funny. Sadly, she wasn't interested in our message, but just wanted to kick us out of our parking spot. But now we have something to laugh about from this week😂

Some highlights of this week:

Kathy - We got a referral last week of this older lady named Kathy who has gone through a lot from losing her mother and contention in the family. We were able to visit her a couple times the past two weeks, and there's always such a sweet spirit. We testified to her of God's plan for her and the comfort that comes through prayer. She came to church last week but, unfortunately, she fell and broke her toe and went to the emergency room on Friday so she wasn't able to make it to church this week :( Keep her in your prayers!

Beraki - I mentioned a little bit about our investigator Beraki from Ethiopia last week, and since then we have met with him twice and he also came to church! He has already read over half the Book of Mormon and we met with him on Thursday at the church and talked about repentance and baptism. One of his responses was, "If i joined this church, how be a benefit to the church, how can I serve?" It's so incredible to hear his story, his testimony of Christ, his passion for the scriptures, and his new found love for the Book of Mormon! God has definitely prepared his heart to receive our message. Every time we see him, he always lights up with a smile. "Good to see you brothers!" He always calls us his teachers, "You are my elders which means you are my teachers." Man, I love him so much!

Alana - The third and probably best highlight of the week was that Alana was baptized!! This week was pretty busy trying to coordinate everything for that, but it was such an amazing experience and I couldn't be more happy!😊 the spirit there was so powerful. She is pretty shy, so she told us she only wanted like 5 people there, but there were about 40! A member said to her, "You came to the wrong church if you’re looking for something other than a family!" I love the new Brighton ward, they are all amazing people and so supportive! Also! Her entire family came, which was super cool because to this point they hadn't really been involved, but they really enjoyed it. I was able to speak at the baptism and talk about the happiness we receive through the gift of the Holy Ghost. As missionaries, the two years away from our families, the years of saving up money to be out here, all of the hard work, it all pays off because our reward is to see the true joy that comes from the healing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Alana was just glowing she was so happy! In her testimony, she talked about how she used to have to drink and smoke to feel happiness but ultimately just felt empty, but now she's able to feel true joy by being clean! It was amazing to see her transformation through Christ! And I'm so glad I got to be a part of it 😊. 

Que tengan una linda semana!

-Elder Bolinder

New Brighton Zone Elders
Elder Bolinder, Alana, Elder Barrett

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Week 74

Elder Strong, Beraki, Elder Bolinder


Hola todos!

This week started off pretty slow, but towards the end it was incredible! I feel like weeks that aren't as good in the beginning always turn out to be amazing in some aspect, because the Lord blesses us for our patience and diligence! The Lord can work no miracle until after the trial of your faith. Verdad!?

We had all our appointments fall through on Monday and Tuesday, including one with our chiquito amigo Luis who we set a baptismal date with. Disappointing. And Tuesday my comp Elder Strong had to go to urgent care. Nothing serious, but we ended up waiting there for like 4 hours! And we had a stake report meeting that night which took up our entire evening.

Things started picking up on Thursday.

We had zone conference on Thursday, and it was the bomb! Smartphones were rolled out to the rest of the mission, and the technology we have is such a blessing! But as we learned, it is just another tool in our arsenal to share the gospel. We had powerful trainings on desire as well. Always an uplifting spiritual experience.

Our investigator Alana is on fire! We had a lesson with her in a member's home on Thursday night - such a huge difference it makes when you have an environment that invites the Holy Spirit! Because she kind of dropped off the radar for a bit, but then rebounded and is now still wanting to be baptized we told her we would either have to push her baptism back until after stake conference, 2 weeks later, or have two jammed packed lessons to get through everything to prepare her in time. She said, "You guys told me I would be baptized the 10th, I'm not moving it. I AM GETTING BAPTIZED!" Haha. It was a powerful lesson and she was emotional as she explained to us how excited she was for this change in her life. She has gained such a testimony of the happiness that comes from keeping the commandments and she told us her new favorite scripture is Alma 41:10 - "Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness." So true.

So, we had another lesson on Saturday with her to teach her the remainder of the commandments, and she had her interview on Sunday and so all things are a go for her baptism this Saturday! Vamoooss!!

That same Thursday night, we had a super sweet miracle with this Ethiopian guy named Beraki. Just a little background, about a month back we took a member out teaching with us, but our two appointments both fell through. The member suggested we visit this older lady in a nursing home who he Home-Teaches. We sat and visited with her in the lobby, and I turned to a man sitting near us and introduced myself as a missionary. He remembered being contacted by missionaries while studying at U of M over 40 years ago! He started asking all sorts of questions about missionaries, the church, our doctrine, etc. We exchanged contact info, and we went on our way. Unfortunately, through the number he gave us, we weren't able to contact him directly.

Fast forward two weeks.

So, the first day of the transfer we finally got a hold of this guy and got to have a lesson with him. We had a great discussion of the restoration of the gospel of Christ and gave him a Book of Mormon. We went back the next week, and the first thing he says is "So, Nephi is a descendant of Joseph, and so is King Laban the man who had the brass plates which contained the four Books of Moses which are..." and he went on… haha. We were baffled! He retained so much information! We said, "Beraki, how much did you read!?" He had read over 150 pages in one week! What a miracle!! His historical knowledge of scriptures is mind blowing, and he is just brimming with joy as he discovers connections between the Bible and the Book of Mormon and feels of the Spirit as he reads. We met with him again with our bishop at the church building and answered more of his questions on the history of the Book and the events in it. He is already through the Book of Mosiah! The spirit was strong, and we were able to invite him to baptism and he accepted! He believes the Book is true, but now he just needs a witness from the Holy Ghost. On the drive home he told us, "I feel so spiritually enriched, God bless you guys!" Super pumped for him! Ahhh!

Friday we had a zone blitz, where we had a huge group of missionaries together going out and contacting peeps on the UofM campus. It was super fun! However, I still need to work on my contacting skills haha.  We went to lunch afterwards. The missionaries in our zone are a blast! We are super thrilled for what March will bring us.

I am so happy I get to be serving the Lord and the people here in Minnesota. I love this gospel and I know it's true. I love all of you guys, have a good one!

-Elder Bolinder

Footbridge to Minneapolis

Monday, March 5, 2018

Week 73

Elder Strong and Elder Bolinder

Nuevo compañero, nuevo nieve!

Well, another new compañero and another dumpage of snow. We got 4 inches on Thursday and about another foot on Saturday! We thought it would be another night of having the cars grounded, but luckily they weren't so we made it to all four of our appointments that day! (Although a little slow ha) And no tow-truck scares! Lol

The area is really starting to pick up which I'm excited about. The Lord truly guided us to meet so many amazing people last transfer and now we hopefully get to see more growth from them. One of them, Luis, is this short little Ecuadorian we found a little while back who kept his Book of Mormon from elders he met 6 years ago. Monday, we had a powerful lesson on repentance and baptism, and he accepted to be baptized on April 21st! He is so humble and has a big desire to change. Super excited for him!

On Tuesday I must have eaten something bad, because I felt super nauseous like I had a rock in my stomach. Then that night and the next day I was struggling to keep anything in my stomach. So not much happened those days. Luckily, I recovered in time for transfers on Thursday. Surprisingly, it is one of the few times during the mission I've gotten sick! So I've been blessed haha.

My new comp is Elder Fuerte (Strong) from Yakima Washington. He’s been out a little longer than me. We've been killing it together so far, and I am so pumped for this next transfer! Alana Is still doing well for her date to be baptized on the 10th and we also met with the cute little Hispanic family we found, the Morales, and taught them the Plan of Salvation. They're struggling to get to church on Sunday, but their daughters want to come to youth activities on Wednesday! There's always such a sweet spirit when we teach the plan of salvation. The longer I am away from my family, the more grateful I am for them and the knowledge God has given us that families can be sealed and live together for eternity through his son Jesus Christ!

Just a quick scripture to share before I end..

2 Nephi 4:15-16
"For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them... Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard."

I love the opportunity I have every morning to ponder the words of Christ. I hope all of you in the busy lives we have, are putting aside the time to ponder in your hearts the things that truly matter most in this life.

Les amo, and you guys are all incredible! Thanks for all your support and prayers. We truly are blessed because of them. Have a great week!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Barrett, Luis, Elder Bolinder

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Week 72

Minnesota State Capitol - St. Paul


Hola! Transfers are this week. Yikes! Probably the fastest transfer of my mission. Luckily, I am staying another 6 weeks here in New Brighton. I'm getting another companion, so I'm sadly saying goodbye to Elder Barrett. 

Today, we just got back from the St Paul Cathedral and Capitol Building.  It was great! And very spacious. Ha. I got lots of pics for ustedes.

This week was pretty slow because of appointments that fell through. Sadly, all our citas with the cute family we found last week, the couple from Cameroon, and the Hispanic guy named Jose we invited to be baptized last week. There's nothing more frustrating! But the work goes on. We saw our blonde Peruvian friend Cristian and his wife. We talked a lot about covenants with God, and how important they are in our lives and for our eternal families. They've been struggling to keep commitments but we were blessed because this week they came to church!

Some good news, our date set Alana is doing a lot better! She came to church, and we had a lesson afterwards. We worked through a lot of struggles she's been having and she's still progressing well towards her baptismal date. She told us, "I know I've made some mistakes recently, but I need to be baptized on March 10th. What do I need to do to be baptized?" Her desire is so strong. We are so blessed to have the atonement of Jesus Christ to rely on him and his grace to heal and change us. Keep Alana in her prayers!!

Other highlights of the week: Wednesday we had exchanges with the elders in St Paul. Found 2 new investigators! We gave them a Book of Mormon, and they gave us some deer meat!! Get this… we set up a return appointment to have a barbecue and a lesson with them. Haha! We also gave a powerful healing blessing to their investigator who accepted to be baptized. The spirit filled the room! Thursday we had another noche de hogar (Family Home Evening). Pretty good turn out again!

Also, a sister in our ward is the daughter of the mission president in Australia (President Norman) who broke his neck and is in critical condition. So, keep them in your prayers as well!

Thanks for all of your love and support! I say is often, but I really do mean it. I know God lives and loves us. Have a good one!

-Elder Bolinder

Noche de Hogar
Elder Bolinder and Elder Barrett
Capitol Building - St. Paul
Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Week 71

River Walking...

Muchos Grandes Milagros!

This week went by way too fast! Another great week in the MMM. It was jam-packed, so let's get right into the meat and papas. 

Some highlights… We found 5 new investigators this week! One of them was an Ecuadorian named Luis. He is so humble and lives in a tiny house. My 6'3" companion had to bend down because the ceiling was too short! He opened up to us about hitting a turning point in his life with his struggles drinking. We were able to testify of Christ and his transforming power. We mentioned how the Book of Mormon, as a companion to the Bible, brings us closer to Christ and he was like "One sec.." He walks to his bedroom and pulls out a copy of the Book of Mormon!! He had been taught by missionaries about 6 years ago and (even though he didn't read much) he kept it all those years! Super cool. We are excited about him.

We taught this young couple who met with elders in the past, and they are from Cameroon!! The diversity is amazing in the cities! 

On Wednesday, we had some great exchanges with the APs. We also had 3 district meetings this week, just going around giving trainings for the zone. It's a busy life!

On Thursday, we had our kickoff for our weekly Noche De Hogar (Family Night) with some of our Latino crew. It was a blast, and we're expecting a lot more people to start coming this week.

On Saturday, we had a zone P-day since half of the zone is in YSA (Young Single Adult) wards on campus and have their P-day on that day. We had a blast bowling and playing games! That evening, we had a super powerful lesson. This was our second time meeting with the husband of a Hispanic family that was taught back in the summer. They hadn't been keeping their reading commitments, so we actually planned on discontinuing the lessons. We went in with this intention. But, as we started talking the Spirit was very strong and prompted us to teach him about the 'doctrine of Jesus Christ'. Right when we started to talk about the first principle of having faith in Jesus Christ, I instantly felt the Spirit whisper, "You need to invite him to be baptized.”  And good thing my companion and I were both on the same page because Elder Barrett invited him, and he committed to pray with his wife about it! Experiences like these are always amazing -- being led by the Holy Ghost to be instruments in the Lord's hands. We'll see what comes from this guy!

Lowlight of the week was not having any of our investigators come to church this week. It was a big blow, especially since out investigator who just accepted a baptismal date has been struggling a ton. So, the rest of the day we were just feeling a little down. But I have a huge testimony that if we press forward with faith through the hardest times, the Lord will always be there to shower blessings upon us. We had no success finding the whole day. But, at around 8:30 at night we had a classic "4th floor, Last door" experience.. We found a super-golden Hispanic family! They have three cute kids, and actually lived in Salt Lake City for 2 years. They told us that earlier that night they had been talking about looking for a church for their family to start attending – there are no such things as coincidences!!

I love being a messenger of Christ! I know God loves us and is in the details of this work and all of our lives. Thanks for every single one of you guys! Les amo!

-Elder Bolinder

Noche De Hogar
Winter Skyline - Minneapolis

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Week 70

St. Paul Temple

A SUPER Busy Week!

Hola todos! This week was jam packed. Unfortunately, we didn't have as much time this week to be working in our area. But we still saw some miracles happen!

So, check out this crazy week… On Tuesday we had interviews and district meeting. Wednesday, we had an exchange with a missionary in training. Thursday was MLC (Missionary Leadership Conference) which was all day. There were some amazing trainings, and revelation from the Spirit! Great experience. Side note - at the conference they gave us all smartphones!! Our mission has been approved to start rolling them out, so we are the batch of guinea pigs to test them out. Loco! Then, on Saturday we had a ward temple trip. We brought all our recent converts and also the Spanish crew, and we even got to take our amigo José Rojas who we've been helping return to activity and it was his first time attending in 21 years! The sweet spirit there is always so strong. And to top it all off, it was super bowl Sunday here in Minneapolis!! Something like 60 different police departments from all over the state came to the cities for the weekend. President Barney texted and said all missionaries in areas in the twin cities were not to be outside proselyting unless we had set appointments. The two appointments we had that day cancelled on us, so it was kind of a bummer day. We enjoyed the warmth indoors and made tons of calls, typed lesson reports, and recorded numbers for the zone. Such a blast! Jk haha. It was cool though because on the drive home, we could see the lights on US Bank stadium changed to green, so we knew that the Eagles won! Lol 

Despite the busyness with all he meetings we've had, Elder Barrett and I have seen the Lord guide us in our efforts this week. One highlight and some good news is... we set a date for our investigator Alana to be baptized on March 10th! First off, on Friday while we were planning our day, we both felt like we needed to see her that day. Turns out when we went over there, she told us her friend wanted to take her out partying that night. Our lesson was so timely. We were able to help her remember the blessings of choosing the right. We shared with her Mosiah 2:41, and talked about the happiness that comes from keeping the commandments. It was really a sweet moment, when she made the realization, "Wow, so that's why since I've been coming to church things have been getting better and I've been happier!" The sweet spirit was so strong. She also told us she received an answer to her prayer to break up with her boyfriend who hasn't been a good influence on her. She's been taking some great steps in the right direction, and we are super excited to see her progress even more!

Another spiritual highlight of the week was a really powerful training that was given during MLC. They talked about our desire to find new people to teach. A quote that resonated with me was, "Our desire to share the gospel directly corresponds with the depth of our witness of Christ and his atonement." Being a missionary can be hard. Sharing the gospel with others can be hard. Being obedient can be hard. Whatever the case may be, if we strive to strengthen our conversion to the Savior and His gospel, our righteous desires will increase!

I love you all! Thank you again for all your love and support. Dios les bendiga.

-Elder Bolinder

Ward Temple Night
The Spanish Crew
Elder Buhler Returns to Visit (red hoodie)
New Smart Phone :)