Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Week 67

Elder Barrett, Elder Bolinder and Misael in New Brighton

It's great to be back!

Hola amigos! Saying goodbye to Faribault was bittersweet. President Barney actually delayed transfers by a day due to a huge snow storm that passed through, so I got an extra day in Faribault! This new transfer is going to be sweet, though!

Man, being back in the cities feels SO good! It's really nostalgic to be back in New Brighton seeing all the old faces in the ward that I recognized. A good portion of our ward are graduate students from the University of Minnesota, so there are a lot of people that left and plenty of new faces. It’s great because I am already familiar with the area and it's nice because since they changed the area to a Zone Leader area, we now have a full time car! So, no more biking in the snow like last year. Haha! My new companion is Elder Barrett from, you guessed it, Utah! He's been out just one transfer less than me. Having had an English companion for almost 8 months has really taken a beating on my Spanish skills so I'm super rusty. We’re going to up our language study game and get back into the swing of things. 

There are a lot of new people in the area I haven't met yet, but we've visited some part-member families that we used to visit when I was here last year. We are teaching a super solid gator named Hope and she accepted a baptismal date for Feb 3rd. We had a really powerful lesson on repentance and baptism. She absolutely loves the scriptures and also came to church! We've been super busy with putting together zone focuses and transfer calendars. We have 3 greenie Elders being trained in the zone too so we're going to have a ton of exchanges! Should be awesome!

We had a cool experience when we went to this Hispanic restaurante with the Spanish ward missionaries to coordinate and a random member from Wisconsin paid for our meal! We decided to pay it forward, and on our way home we were trying to think of ideas. We saw this car that slid off on the side of the freeway so we immediately pulled over to help. Turns out she was a college student from Wisconsin going to her friend's party. She said she was thinking it was a bad idea. So we told her, “maybe we are your sign from God that you shouldn't go!” She decided not to go. We don't know what happened, or why we needed to be there to help but I know God gave us that opportunity to help her because she needed it. God is always mindful of us!! 😊

I'm so grateful to be in the service of God, and I know this is His work. He loves us and has a plan for each of us individually. Hope you all have a fantastic week! Adios!

-Elder Bolinder

Saying goodbye to the Hunt Family in Faribault
Elder Barrett and Elder Bolinder

Week 66

With Elder Monteith and the Reher Family - Faribault Farewell

Back to New Brighton!!

Que tal amigos. This week is transfer week. And as expected, I am moving to another area. But surprisingly to one I've already served in. I'm going back to New Brighton! I served there for three months back in January of last year. It's a Spanish-magnet ward just north of downtown Minneapolis, and I am super stoked to be going back there!

I'm going to miss Faribault a ton though. All the people I have met and the wonderful members here, it was a wonderful experience.

This week on Wednesday we helped our mission housing coordinator move a ton of furniture for new missionaries in a tiny town called Albert Lea. That took up most of the day, but afterwards we were invited to come to youth-night at the church. They are doing a missionary month and we got to explain what it's like to go on a mission and teach others about the gospel of Christ. They only have one missionary out from the ward right now, so they don't have as many examples to look up to like I was blessed with. We also had another sweet family home evening with a few families in the ward who also invited friends! It's going to be hard to say goodbye!

Many of you probably already know, but with the recent passing of our church president and prophet Thomas S. Monson I've been reflecting a lot about his example and character. He truly lived a Christlike life and mastered the principle of being guided by the spirit to reach out to those in need. Just a little quote I love from him that I read: "Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives". When we give our time, love, and attention to those around us we will find a greater sense of joy and purpose to our lives. I know he was a prophet of God.

A little on the shorter side this week, hope you don't mind. I want you all to know how much I appreciate all of you, and how much God loves you all! Have a fantastic week😁

-Elder Bolinder

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 65

Faribault Snowman!

Many are cold, few are frozen..❄️☃️

Welcome back folks! Because of the lack of email due to Christmas last week, there's a lot to write about. It's been a good couple weeks, though!

Man, it's been brutally cold here, not gonna lie! The past week has been consistently 20 to 30 below zero with windchill. Because of the cold, it's a lot harder to stay effective outdoors so we've been tracting inside a ton of apartments (to stay warm). Haha! I guess I'm still not a true Minnesotan yet because I am freezing!😂

My second Christmas in the mission field has been just as marvelous as the first! It's an amazing feeling to celebrate the birth of Christ as a full-time missionary. The entire month of December was just filled with service opportunities, and it truly makes such a difference - the amount of joy that you feel when reaching out to God's children is incredible! Some highlights include visiting elderly members and their relatives in retirement homes, anonymously dropping off winter hats and coats to those in need, giving priesthood blessings to the sick, and shoveling LOTS of snow haha. It was an incredible experience with the Light the World campaign, but a common response we got when we shared this message is, "This is awesome! We should be doing this not just in December, but year-round!". So, don't stop sharing your light people!

There's a member of the ward here who served his mission in Denmark, so their family invited us over on Christmas eve for a Danish Christmas dinner and they had a few families from the ward and we brought a couple investigators. We had pork roast, caramelized potatoes, green beans, and Danish favorites - beats and Brussel sprouts. For dessert, we had a huge tub of rice pudding with slivered almonds, and hidden in the huge bowl of pudding is one whole almond. So, the game is whoever finds the whole almond in their bowl wins. But, they don't have to tell everyone when they found it. They can hide it in their mouth and make the other people stuff themselves and go back for seconds and thirds to find it until they announce they have it haha. We sang some carols and read about the birth of the Savior in Luke chapter 2, and the sweet peace of the Spirit is always fills the room when we read that story. I'm so grateful for our Savior and his humble birth. All in all, we had some good laughs and good memories.

On Christmas morning we headed over to the Post family residence to open presents. After opening stockings and having some warm cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I had a lovely Skype call home to the fam bam. While we were on our calls, the girls wanted to do some face paint haha. And all of a sudden, our Christmas party turned into a Halloween costume party! Interesting turn of events but I've got some pictures attached haha. It was a blast. We had dinner at another family’s home, and they had lots of friends and family over. The wife had been dealing with lots of neck/back pain, so we actually helped prepare the meal! They put our missionary cooking skills to the test, and I have to say it turned out pretty good! Lol.

The week before Christmas we had exchanges with the Mankato elders once again. It's always great to learn from other missionaries’ examples. One of them left their iPad in our car so we had to drive all the way back there to give it back, so due to that mishap we decided to do another exchange that day. So, two in a row! Haha. A highlight from that is that I got to teach some Spanish lessons for the first time in a while! We reconnected with a cute little Hispanic family who we taught back in September - la familia Bermudez. Also, we had a family home evening at a member's home and one of the families is hosting a couple high school students from Venezuela who we have also started teaching!!

So, throwback to September when I first got to the area, we got a referral for a guy whose address didn't exist and the phone number was disconnected. Basically, a dead end and we had no way of contacting him. So, we eventually forgot about it. Until last week we were randomly going through the old paper area book and stumbled across his name! Apparently, he met with missionaries before about 4 years ago, and from there we found another address to find him!! So, we got to meet him, and he has gone through a lot of hardships. Specifically, lots of health problems. But he told us that in all the churches he's been to, he is still searching for a sense of forgiveness from God and relief from the guilt and pain he feels in his life. It was definitely inspired that we found this guy when we did. We were able to teach him about how the gospel of Jesus Christ fills that hole is his life and allows him to receive that knowledge of God's love and mercy. Through our faith in Christ, repentance, and making and renewing baptismal covenants, we receive the Holy Spirit which strengthens and purifies us. "For the gate by which he should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 31:17). This process is simple in concept, but harder to understand the depth of its importance until we apply it. I know firsthand, that no matter where we are or what we've done in life, if we turn to Christ and apply his gospel we can be healed and forgiven!

With 2017 coming to a close, this concludes an entire year of being a full-time representative of Christ. I have grown to love the people of Minnesota so much! It's been a year of growing and learning, and getting more and more outside of my comfort zone every day. I know that this is God's work. We are in His hands. I love you all, and have a wonderful 2018!! Cuídense.

-Elder Bolinder

The Mankato / Faribault Crew
Christmas Face Painting
Christmas Costume Party
Christmas or Halloween?!?
New Sleeve for Christmas!
Family Time at Christmas
Faribault Sunset
Biting Cold!
Minnesota Wind Chills!
Winter Picnic!

Week 64

Feliz Navidad (belated)

A note from the minions: We had an amazing visit with Elder Bolinder on Christmas day. He is doing so well and is so happy. In addition to an hour-long discussion and hearing his amazing testimony, he shared some new sounds. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Week 63

It's the most wonderful time of the yeeaarrr!!!

Hola Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful week this week, because it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Am I super pumped for Christmas this week?! You Betcha'!!!

This week was on the slower side due to meetings and interviews, but nonetheless we are enjoying every minute our here! Wednesday, we took a trip to my last area in Mankato, and had district meeting and interviews with President. He's always so inspiring! 

We had a lesson with a Hispanic family we were working with a while back, and we are teaching her two sons David and Marlin. We were teaching them about the blessings of daily scripture study and personal prayer, and how we can turn to our loving Heavenly Father in prayer at any time. One of the boys said to us, "So you mean, we can pray at any time not just at dinner? Well then let's pray right now!" Hahaha, it was so awesome! 

So, some good news and bad news - bad news is, our investigator we set a baptismal date with, Kay, is out of town for a month so we haven't been able to meet with her again :( Good news - our returning inactive-active member MaryJane just accepted a calling! We’re really excited for her!! Oh, and also, our recent convert Bob blessed the sacrament for the first time on Sunday and absolutely nailed it! So proud of him.

It's been amazing to see and feel the Love of the Christmas season - Just doing the small simple acts of kindness that arise throughout the day. I came across this quote as I was reading through this year's Christmas Devotional that really captures the spirit of Christmas we feel as missionaries. Modern-day apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf says,

"To me, one word best describes the feelings we experience at Christmastime. That word is love.

After all, the gift that we celebrate at Christmas is a gift of love—God’s gift of His Son.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love.

Touched by that love, our hearts soften. We feel a tenderness that causes us to reach out to others in kindness and compassion.

Christmas inspires us to love better."

I love you guys so much! Have a wonderful Christmas, and remember the reason for the season - Our Savior Jesus Christ.

Feliz Navidad!

-Elder Bolinder

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Week 62

Elder Montierth and Elder Bolinder

Milagros en el frío!

¿Qué tal mis amigos? Hope you're all enjoying the wonderful winter season. We are having the time of our lives out here in the white winter wonderland of Minnesota! Let's jump into this week.

We started out the week with another bomb Family Home Evening we had with a couple of families in the ward on Tuesday. And some of the kids even invited a friend! Vamooosss!

Wednesday we had our Christmas Zone Conference combined with 2 other zones. We received some inspiring training from President Barney, had a fatty ham-n-potato lunch, and to top it all off we all got to watch the movie Polar Express!! We talked a lot about the condescension of God. President Barney gave an amazing training about the birth of Christ and how he was born in such humble circumstances - came into the world as a baby just like everyone else, born in a stable, sleeping in a manger with swaddling clothes. It really makes me appreciate the humility of our Savior. He never thought of himself, but was always turning outward to lift others and always sought of His father. And I'm so pumped for Christmas when we get to celebrate his humble birth!!

Thursday we had our weekly coordination meeting at our ward mission leaders home and, in keeping with Faribault tradition, he welcomed my new companion Elder Montierth to the area with his famous PB+J Omlets!! Sounds bizarre but they are the best lol. One of his former students, James, came over to hang out with his son or something, and he ended up sitting down and talking with us at the table. He had some great questions about us as missionaries and the gospel, and basically our coordination meeting turned into a member-present lesson! Haha it was sweet.

We met with the Post family again on Friday. Had a great lesson with them and afterwards decorated stockings with them, haha it was a blast. MaryJane is still progressing well towards her goal to go to the temple, and also Chase towards baptism! 

We'll finish this week off with a milagro (Spanish for “miracle”). After church on Sunday we set out to go tracting in a nearby trailer park to share a Christmas message and find new people to teach. We punched in an address in the GPS, but unfortunately missed a turn and found ourselves entering the freeway! The closest exit to turn around wasn't for another 7 miles, ..great! Well we decided we would change our route and stop by some Hispanic investigators in a small town where we were headed. We didn't have much luck there, so we headed back up to where we originally wanted to go. Literally the first door we knocked, this older lady named Kay answered and opened up to us. She said she lost her husband just 2 weeks ago. She was in tears as we testified of the reality of life after death and the Plan of Salvation that God has laid out for us through his son Jesus Christ. It was so powerful. We invited her to be baptized if she knew our message was true and she said yes! We gave her a date to work towards - Feb. 3rd. We are so excited! The best part was she told us she just got home 10 minutes earlier, so it was definitely inspired timing on God's part that we met her!

I love the gospel and the chance I have to share it. I love and appreciate all of you, and all your wonderful examples. Keep on lighting the world! 😊

-Elder Bolinder

(For P-day we went to the nature center and made some new animals friends, then took a hike to the sick frozen waterfall we found)

Elder Montierth and Elder Bolinder
"The Frozen Tundra"
"I dare you to climb up..."
Merry Christmas!
Found my twin!
Minnesota Minneapolis Mission Ornament

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Week 61

Elder Nielson and Elder Bolinder

Ilumina El Mundo!!!

The Christmas season is in full swing here in Faribault. We have our tree all decorated, stockings hung up, and we are enjoying ourselves Lighting the World!! I mentioned last week that Elder Nielson was being transferred to the cities. It was SO hard to say goodbye! We were super tight. Like two peas in a pod lol. My new companion is Elder Montierth from Mesa, AZ! He's been out just 4 months so he's still pretty fresh haha but we get along great!

The #LightTheWorld initiative has been, well.... LIT! Hahaha sorry I had to, but no it's really been great! We've talked to a lot more people finding and have been sharing the video with everyone, and also working with the members of the ward to help them find missionary opportunities. And this ward has been one of the most motivated wards I've served in, it's awesome! Our Family Night on Monday was spectacular. The peaceful spirit was so strong as everyone went around the room and shared their testimony of Christ! We've also set up weekly family-home evening activities for the whole month of December, so we're hoping to see lots of fruits from working with the wonderful families of the ward😊

Some other highlights of this week were on Tuesday we got to help Bro Hunter (The crazy guy who bit our nametags😂) do some construction for a new room he's building in his garage. He rewarded us with a ride to transfers lol. And Saturday we had an amazing ward Christmas party! Good food. A cute nativity scene from the primary kids. And we got a couple investigators there too! Also, this week was my first time teaching a Hindu. We taught him about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and explained how God has not left his people alone, he has called a living prophet in our day! Thomas S. Monson! He was like, "No way! I have to go to your church to hear this guy!" We helped him download the gospel library app, and he committed to come to church next week. Sweet! haha. I'm grateful we have a loving Heavenly Father who gives us guidance through modern prophets. I'm not sure what I would do without that guidance, honestly!

It was another great week, and I'm so happy I get to be in the service of others full-time. Keep finding ways to share your light with those around you! I know Christ is our Savior, and if we follow his perfect example we will find true joy!

Also, today marks my 14th month mark! Loco. Time flies! I love you guys and I thank you all so much for the wonderful support you give me (:

Have a good one!
Elder Bolinder

Elder Montierth and Elder Bolinder
Christmas Stocking (...and Go Pack Go!)
"Building the Kingdom"
Faribault Family Night