Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Week 83

A Surprise Wedding!

Cinco de Mayo in the Ghetto

Hello again!!

The week started off with a bang because on Tuesday we had MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) with President Barney and it was fire! Our mission president has revamped the emphasis on the importance of baptizing converts, so we are super pumped to start consecrating ourselves more and seeing more miracles! Our zone has focused on applying our prophet's counsel to increase our capacity to receive personal revelation from God, so it fit perfectly to have a mission wide goal to be more exactly obedient and have increased purity. There is such a drastic difference when we filter out the unholy thoughts and influences in our lives and we are more in tune to receiving comfort and guidance through the Holy Spirit. Something that I have been working on recently is having more time for pondering and self-reflection. It's so hard to find time for that in this crazy world, but I can testify that it adds so much peace in our sometimes-chaotic day!

Saturday was a little hard to find people home, because all the Hispanics were out partying on Cinco de Mayo! There was a huge festival here in St Paul, and for the whole transfer we've been running around and trying to pull some strings to get a booth there. It didn't end up happening because of insurance complications. Man, we are super bummed we didn't get it! But the funny thing is, we went contacting and there were like barely any Hispanics there. Just a sea of African Americans. We saw this huge gang fight go down, so that's right about when we dipped😂 but it was great because we got two new people to teach from it and some rico tacos de al pastor. 

We went on exchanges with the Hmong elders this week. Elder Calderwood and I have been learning some phrases. And my Hmong name given to me by one of their investigators is Tub Txib Yeeb Koob, which means "God's glory." I also got fed some Asian Pho (noodles) and Thai peppers. All I got to say is Thai peppers are like eating popcorn compared to habaneros. ...😂

The work has been going well. We are super pumped to have the Flores family start coming to church and their daughter is stoked to be baptized. Johnathon is super busy with work, so we have struggled to meet with him. We've still been on the finding grind, and we've started to teach a couple other part-member families again!

Funny story from this week… After church, we were talking to our newly called elders Quorum president in the hall. A little background - we have been speculating that our ward mission leader Hno Pérez and the Sunday school teacher (she's from Brazil and we can barely understand her Portuguese accent, it's pretty funny😂) were keeping it on the down low that they were dating! So we are standing there and all of a sudden our ward mission leader walks up to us and says, "hey elders.. I need you guys to be my testigos" (Witnesses). We both were like, wait WHAT!? Before we know it, we were in the bishop’s office witnessing their marriage! We said, "So it turns out you ARE together!" Haha. The ward still doesn't even know, but it was just hilarious to have a 10-minute secret wedding out of the blue! 😂

Well, my time here in St. Paul has really flown by so far. The weather is warming up and I'm super stoked for my last summer in Minnesota. I really feel like in the last few months I have grown so much stronger and closer to my Savior Jesus Christ. He truly is the one who give us strength to do all things. I've also grown to absolutely love the sacrament during church to remember Him and renew my covenants with God and feel my heart being purified. I know without a doubt that this is His true and living church. I hope all of you will know of my love for you guys and also God's love for you! Have a wonderful week😁

Hasta la próxima,
-Elder Bolinder

Mission Leadership Conference
P-day Tennis!

Week 82


Life is always CRAZY here in St Paul!!

We were crazy busy this week because we moved 3 apartments! We are now living in the center of our area instead of the edge, so that makes life SO much easier. We spent basically all day moving furniture and packing up our entire apartment so they can close it. Then, the next day we helped move in the Hmong sister missionaries to their new apartment they got, and on Friday we did some service for a family in the ward helping them move to a new house. So, if we keep going at this pace we will be jacked by the time we go home😂.

We obviously didn't get as much time this week for working, but within the all the craziness of moving 3 days in a row, the Lord blessed us with some pretty sweet miracles!

1) After our move on Wednesday we had a lesson with the member family we started teaching who want to come back to church and start attending the Spanish ward. We taught them about eternal families, and we sang the children's hymn "I am a child of God". The spirit was really strong, and it helped to bring back some memories of their conversion to the gospel of Christ. Leading up to the end, we planned to talk about the importance of families being sealed for eternity in temples, and before we said anything Jose says - "Yeah we had a goal to get sealed in the temple a while ago but things just got in the way. We want to have that goal again". We were like, well we can help you!!😁 haha. Super exciting!

2) After that lesson we had a crazy night. We had a lesson with an investigator named Brenda who was a former investigator who we ran into again at the food shelf we serve at. Long story short, we lost her number and didn't have any way to contact her to reschedule our lesson earlier that day. We both felt inspired to stop by later that night to hopefully get in contact with her again. Not only was she home, but her husband was also home this time and we had a really awesome lesson about the Book of Mormon with them both! Yes!! So right after we walk out the door of that lesson, we were just filled with joy from the spirit and the opportunity we had to teach both of them. We go to the door to walk outside when we saw flashing lights going off. All of a sudden some paramedics walk in and there's a guy sitting on the steps super red and out of it. It happened to be this guy we've seen two times before and contacted last week. They start shooing us away saying they need privacy, but the guy couldn't speak English so we offered to translate for them. It was crazy how the Lord led us to be there with impeccable timing to help this guy get to the hospital. And obviously God has placed this man in our path 3 times now for a reason, we just need to find out why!

3) We had a tender mercy while moving out of our apartment. We prayed that we still could be effective despite having to spend all our time moving and what not. We were walking out to throw away trash and this lady named Tracie comes up to us and we start talking to her. She was really stressed and worried because her husband hadn't come back home since the night before and she didn't know where he was. We offered a prayer with her, asking Heavenly Father to help Him to be found with no harm. Literally 3 seconds after I said amen, her friend pulls up in her car with none other than her husband in the passenger seat!! It was probably the most immediate response to a prayer I've ever seen!! The Lord truly does love us and is aware of us in all of our moments of desperation. It's so comforting knowing that the Lord will answer all of our prayers, big or small, as long as we have faith!

We have also been able to give a priesthood blessing just about every day for the past two weeks. Two hermanas in our district are being transferred, one is going home and the other is going to Rochester. We were able to give them priesthood blessings of comfort, and we've had so many faithful members ask us for healing and comfort blessings! I've gained such a testimony and gratitude for this authority we have restored on the earth to literally be instruments in the Lords hands. After our district meeting, as a goodbye, we had the classic Spanish missionary challenge... Habaneros!! I downed four, and I basically died😂 straight got two hours of sleep that night lol. My companion on the other hand went for the mission record and took the cake with 10!! Don't know how he survived lol.

Just a quick thought from general conference: 
"Personal Sacrifice is an invaluable force that drives our decisions and our determinations. Personal sacrifice drives our actions, our commitments, and our covenants and gives sacred things meaning." What can you sacrifice in your life to better honor the sacrifice of the Son of God?

I love all of you and thank you for all of your love and support!

-Elder Bolinder

Monday, April 30, 2018

Week 81

Elder Bolinder and Elder Calderwood

 Boliche with Bolinder

Welcome back amigos! It's been another great week out in the Lord's vineyard 😁

This week we had exchanges with the Karen elders. It was my first experience in "KarenLand" and let me tell ya, it's like a whole other mission! It was super cool because we got to teach the two teenagers who Elder Calderwood and I interviewed for baptism, and then they got baptized on Saturday! But these elders are the best of the best, and I learned so much from them. They learn a super complicated Asian language not even taught in the MTC, they sit crisscross on a hardwood floor during every lesson, and the kicker is they don't even have a Book of Mormon translated in their language! That takes a ton of faith, but I'm super impressed by them and it makes me realize how much I still have to improve on! Lol. Oh and I also had the spiciest Thai food of my life, I was dying!😂

On Friday we had a ward activity going bowling! Haha it was super fun, and we had a pretty sweet miracle. A couple weeks or so ago we met a family who was at a wedding for their parents at our church. We happened to be studying at the church during the wedding and the bishop invited us to pop in. They are super awesome! We went over and had a lesson with them, and the parents are converts to the church but are inactive. At the activity they told us they want to start attending the Spanish ward and have their 9-year old daughter baptized! Such a cute familia.

Something else crazy that happened this week is church was cancelled… again! Luckily this time not because of snow, but apparently the sewage pipes were blocked. So, after sacrament meeting the second counselor announced that we wouldn't have Sunday school classes and it's time to go home. That took us off guard ha. But it was actually a miracle in disguise because we got to talk to our investigator Johnathon that came and introduce him to some members, and also set up 3 other appointments with some less actives and part-member families that attended. 

It's been a hectic week as well. Last Monday we lost our phone and had to go to the offices to pick up a replacement. We also have 2 missionaries in our zone going home this week due to medical reasons, so that has been tough for their companionships. So please keep them in your prayers!

The work here in St Paul is still moving forward, however! We had a sweet miracle and found 4 new investigators. All behind one door! They were four amigos just hanging out on Saturday evening, and we taught and testified to them about Christ's atoning power. We also have a lesson tonight with our progressing investigator Johnathon who is praying about baptism! 

It feels so good to be in Spanish work again ha. I love being a missionary, and I know that this is the work of the Lord. He is the only one who can truly change us and sanctify us. I love you all! 

Just a powerful quote I read from my studies to finish: 
"Having faith in Jesus Christ is to trust that because of His atoning sacrifice, He will correct all injustices, restore all things lost, and mend all things broken, including hearts. He will make all things right, not leaving any detail unattended. Therefore, “ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds” (D&C 64:11)."

I have been trying to grow my testimony of the depth of Christ's sacrifice, and it's so powerful to realize that it is infinite in nature. Meaning that he paid ALL the price of justice, not just for our transgressions. He truly has the power to heal every broken heart!

Cuídense mucho y que tengan una buena semana!!

-Elder Bolinder

Ward Bowling Activity
St. Paul Spanish Speaking Missionaries
Three Amigos!
With the Karen Elders

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Week 80

Elder Strong, Elder Bolinder and Beraki

April Showers Bring Snow Plowers!❄️🚜

Hola hola.

Hey! It's been a while. Last week we had a mission wide P-day for all the teams in the city areas and we got to go to a Twins baseball game. It was epic! Twins vs. Astros, with a last inning, 2 outs, full count home run for a crazy Twins victory! It was super fun to watch and be with some past companions. The bummer was it also took up all of our P-day. So lucky for you, this week is gonna be packed with two weeks’ worth of goodness!

Man, I'm loving my new area so far. It feels so good to be in full Spanish work for the first time since my first area of the mission. I still have a lot of catching up to do on my Spanish, but my companion also served in full English for quite a while. So, we are both studying like animals. 

The new zone is super cool. We call it the "international zone." We have one full Spanish district, the Hmong district, and the Karen district (Both crazy Asian languages spoken by a ton of immigrants here in St Paul). my new compañero, Elder Calderwood, is chevere too. Another one from Utah! Lol. He's a strong missionary with an even stronger testimony of Christ.

The ward is great! About 70 or so active members. Lots of solid families. One thing that made me laugh when I first got here is there are like 6-7 families with the last name Rodriguez. So, when I met one of the Hermana Rodriguez’s she told me, "bienvenidos al barrio de Rodriguez" - welcome to the Rodriguez ward! 😂 We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. The cool part about the ward is that almost everyone is a convert to the church, and there are so many powerful testimonies of Christ! I've been amazed by their faith, they know that the priesthood power is real, and we have given a ton of priesthood blessings this past week! We've also been doing some noches de Hogar (Family Home Evenings) with some less active families to try to strengthen them. Another funny thing from Sunday is our Sunday-school teacher is from Brazil, and so she speaks Spanish with a thick Portuguese accent and I felt like I was back in MTC in Mexico because I could barely understand her😂.

In our ward, we just got a new set of hermanas so now it is us elders, and two sets of sisters. As a result of that, our area basically got split in half and we passed off a lot of investigators to them. We've been in grind mode trying to find more people to teach. We've had a few really powerful first lessons with people, and also found a part-member family that wasn't in our records who we are going to start teaching! We've had a pretty good start to the transfer.

We also had a ginormous zone conference combined with 4 different zones! It was great, we received lots of great training on the Book of Mormon, and especially the new message from the prophet about revelation. I love this quote from President Nelson: 

"Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work."

His talk was inspired of God! We've been focusing as a zone to increase our ability to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit, and it's made such a huge difference.

Ahora. Let me explain the adventure that was this weekend. 
It was one crazy experiencia. 

It started out with a breakfast run to IHOP with this super chido member of the ward. When we got there it was snowing!! There was a forecast of 3-9 inches of snow. We didn't think anything of it, because it had already snowed like 6 times in April, and more often than not they predict a lot more than what actually ends up falling. 

The most memorable event that happened amidst the snow was definitely Beraki's baptism! Later that morning, I got to go back to New Brighton to see him again and see a lot of great members I didn't get to say good-bye to. 

Before the baptism, Beraki looked at us and smiled and said, "God has blessed me with white snow on the day my sins are washed clean." What an amazing gift from God to bless Beraki with white pure snow on his baptism day -- a perfect symbol of Isaiah 1:18 "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." He was so excited to make covenants and dedicate the rest of his life to God!

My previous companion Elder Strong got to perform the baptismal ordinance and I was also in the water helping him up because he is so frail. I can't tell you enough how special the experience was! Beraki has been close to God all his life, and God has been preparing him all his life for this moment. There was a special spirit there, and it was hard to find a dry face in the room. I think it hit me the most when, after the baptism, Elder Strong and I both went to help him change back into his clothes, and we both were bent over to help put on his socks and shoes. I had a thought pop into my head of the Savior Jesus Christ bent down in front of his apostles, washing their feet. Tears filled my eyes as I realize that both of us were literally serving him as Christ served his disciples. As literal representatives of Christ, we helped Beraki come closer to his Redeemer. And at that moment I had a burning feeling of joy and gratitude in my heart that we were able to find him and be instruments in the Lord’s hands in bringing him into his kingdom here on earth. What an amazing experience!!

Following the baptism, we took a gander outside to find the wind blowing snow around like none other. So, we start heading off to try to make it back home before the roads get too bad, and it was just completely white out conditions. We couldn't see 10 feet in front of us or even where the side of the road was, so we decided to wait it out in the church. Well, that decision backfired on us as 2-3 hours later because, although now we could see, our cars were buried in!😬 We had to make it home so we weren't trapped at the chapel with no food haha. So, all four of us elders grabbed the shovels in the church and had to shovel a runway for the car to get to the exit of the parking lot! Long story short, we eventually made it to the new Brighton apartment and took shelter there. We helped push some people out of the snow, and got stuck multiple times ourselves. Good times! We made it home the next morning after the plows made their way through, but then it kept snowing hard and they cancelled church.. in April! Que the heck!?

The day ended on a high-note, after setting up lots of appointments for the week and venturing out in the snow doing service, Elder Calderwood and I did two baptismal interviews for these two really powerful Karen kids. The Karen elders translated, and it was a whole different world inside their house. Definitely a super sweet culture! The Spirit was so strong there because they had such strong testimonies and it was a really cool experience.

Guys, I can't even remember what spring is anymore! Haha! just kidding. Just to put it into perspective, we got 15 inches in the Twin Cities since Friday making it the largest April snowstorm on record, and we've had 25.2 inches total in April, which is the most snow in April, even breaking the old 1983 record. Aaannddd... we are supposed to get 4 more inches on Wednesday!😂 It has been quite the adventure here in Minnesota, but honestly I have grown to love it so much. Every time it snows like this, I feel like we are just so blessed and filled with joy because of all the opportunities we get to help people shovel, get unstuck, and just talk to and love those whose hearts have been softened. I love my mission, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ! I'm grateful for him and his sacrifice, and the fullness of his gospel that we have on the earth today.

If you've made it this far, I'm impressed! This is a super long update so I apologize, but I'm thankful for each one of you! Have a great week😊

-Elder Bolinder

April Blizzard!
Go Twins! Elder Calderwood and Elder Bolinder
Cold, but fun!
Go Twins!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Week 79

Elder Calderwood and Elder Bolinder

A Twins Game!⚾

The mission had a special "preparation day" on Wednesday and went to a Minnesota Twins day game! So, we didn't get the usual weekly update. But, we did get these sweet pics from the game! Elder B reported that it was cold but  A LOT of fun! They enjoyed a lot of baseball action: Twins 9, Houston Astros 8!

                                                                                                      ~The Minions

Target Field

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Week 78

Easter Weekend!

A White Easter!

Hola amigos!

What a weekend, huh!? Well, jumping into it, our investigator Beraki is doing fantastic! We had a lesson with him at the church on Tuesday about tithing, and he was like, "I can take out money from CVS and pay tomorrow." We told him, you don't have to follow the law of tithing until you're a member. He is so eager to follow the commandments and see the blessings that come!! Super pumped for his baptism.

Everything is going well here in New Brighton. We have transfers this week, and after a total of 6 months in this area I'm sadly leaving. :( But, the good news is that I'm going to St. Paul and I will be in a Spanish ward for the first time in my entire mission! Loco! I'm super pumped, but also heartbroken to leave all the people I've grown to love here.

Right when we thought it was over, we had a nice fresh snowfall over the weekend right in time for a white Easter, ha! That's a first for me! We were able to have two of our investigators and our recent convert all come to the Saturday morning session of General Conference at the church. It was SO powerful! I got to meet President Nelson (the new prophet of our church) last year when he visited our mission. I got to shake his hand. Just as I knew then, it was reaffirmed to me his weekend that he is truly called of God. We also had a lesson in between sessions with our Vietnamese investigator Tony. Then, priesthood session was fuego!! I've had such an increase in desire to love my neighbor as Christ did, and I hope you feel the same.

On Easter morning we headed over to a member's home for cinnamon rolls, and we watched the Sunday morning session of General Conference with our recent convert Alana. Then for the afternoon session we watched with Beraki in another member's home, and had a linda Easter dinner with them. 

Some talks that stood out to me from general conference: Lynn G Robbins - Growth is making progress from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. This truly is the repentance process! It isn't the backup plan, it IS the plan. I also loved the new emphasis on ministering as the Savior did. During my studies yesterday, I read this profound statement in the Bible Dictionary:  "The work of the ministry is to do the work of the Lord on the earth--to represent the Lord among the people." God needs us all to be instruments in his hands and be ministers in his vineyard. We are literally living our lives as Christ did! How amazing is that? President Nelson is so inspired.

I love all of you, and I hope you take this wonderful opportunity to put forth a greater effort in your personal ministry (: Thanks for all your prayers!

Have a great semana,

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Strong
Dreaming of a White Easter!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Week 77 - Bonus Video!

Beatboxing With Brother Price!