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 compaΓ±ero, 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! πŸ˜‚ 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 herπŸ˜‚.

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!πŸ˜‚ 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!

Week 77

Preparation Day Games



I hope you had a great week and are looking forward to celebrating the amazing miracle of the atonement!

Our friend, Beraki, is doing splendid! We had a wonderful lesson at the church Tuesday, finished up the plan of salvation and some commandments. Also took him to watch a baptism in the other ward on Saturday which was incredible! He's ecstatic to be baptized in 2 weeks.

We had another two exchanges this week. (We've been loco busy!) They were super fun. One on campus with the YSA elders, another in Bloomington with the Assistants. 

It was super sweet because we went on splits when I was on exchanges, and I went with a member of the bishopric to reach out to some inactive members. It was a super good experience. And then, what made my day is we were driving back and just talking. I found out that he Beatboxes! It was super funny! Haha.

Something I really loved from church this week is we were talking about the sacrament, and how it relates to the law of Moses. We know that the law of Moses was fulfilled through Christ and we don't perform animal sacrifices these days. But he said something profound - Instead of an animal sacrifice, what we put on the sacramental alter is the "animal" inside us. We must rely on the atonement of Christ and put off the natural man! I love our Hispanic members, their testimonies are so strong.

Although it's been a bit slow this week, we are having a blast here! I am absolutely loving New Brighton and the people. It's been neat to see the growth in those I've met and also in myself. I know this is the Lord's work. He leads us today through prophets. And we get to hear their messages to the world next week! Super pumped. Love you all!!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Nelson

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 meπŸ˜‚ 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 weekπŸ˜‚

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