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 :)

Week 69

Elder Barrett and Elder Bolinder


This week started off pretty wild! First off, Monday night we had a "snow emergency" declared and it snowed about a foot in a matter of like 8 hours. Luckily it was P-day, so during the storm we were huddle in the church enjoying the warmth. We got a text from President Barney saying the cars were "grounded" and to go home and park immediately. It took us about an hour just to get drive home and find a parking spot because the roads were so terrible. We got stuck a couple times and also stopped to help a push a gentleman's car up his driveway. 

Well, we finally made it home! Since we couldn't drive anywhere, we were thinking of what we could do. Then instantly a light bulb went off. Let's just trek out in the storm and help people get unstuck from the snow! So, we got our gear on and headed out. We ended up helping a total of 6 cars get unstuck and handed out about 4-5 pass-along cards. One of them was this guy who got stuck in a huge pile of thick powder about 4 feet tall on this freeway exit. He told us at first he couldn't even get the door open! We ran out there and shoveled him out, and it took about 30 minutes to dig all that snow. So, he drove off and we started walking off the exit and he was sitting at the red light. He came up to us and offered us a ten dollar bill for our kindness. We gave him a pass-along card.

The next day all was fine and dandy when we walked out to our car to leave for the day. Then, to our horror, we see 6 huge tow-trucks just going to town! They were towing the side we parked on so we booked it to try to save our car. Then I said to Elder Barrett, "Hey isn't that our car on top of that truck?!". Haha, oh no. We sprint to the truck before it pulls away. We stop the driver, and he rolls down his window. We tell him, "Hey, that's our car man. Is there any way you could take it down? We'll give you five bucks. Please!?" He paused for a second and said, "It'll be $15.." Haha. Elder Barrett reached into his pocket and miracle because he had the extra 10 bucks from the guy we helped the night before! The tow-truck driver just wanted to milk us for money. But, hey, $15 is a lot better than a $300 towing fee! Haha we were so lucky we got our car back!

Well, with that crazy start to the week the rest of the week flew by! I apologize for the long story haha. This week's been a another busy one. We had two exchanges with some teams in the zone. One on Tuesday to the Twin Cities YSA Ward. It's a little different since they don't have cars or use bikes. We just roamed around UofM campus on foot and contacted peeps. It was sweet! Then Thursday we had a blitz in Blaine which is north of new Brighton. And we found two new Spanish investigators, Fabian and Manuel. Both super solid and committed to come to church this next week! It's pretty sweet because since we are a "magnet ward" we don't really have boundary lines for Hispanics.

Friday we had a rico dinner with our investigator Alana. She's actually half-Mexican and half-Native American, and she made us tinga tostadas. It's this super good chicken tostada! And it was sweet because during the lesson Alana's aunt and her 8-year-old son joined in! We had a really awesome lesson about personal revelation and receiving guidance from God through prayer. She really opened up to us about the hardships she's going through right now with addictions and financial problems. We committed her to come to church and feel of the peace there. She came!! And the cherry on top was that all of the talks were themed "My Peace I Give Unto You." 

Some extra miracles from this week. One, we were knocking doors because our appointment with the Catholic minister and his family I mentioned last week fell through. We accidentally ran into some former investigators named José y Maria Flores (classic Hispanic names lol). She instantly let us in and told us she used to slam the doors on missionaries like us all the time, but one day her heart was softened and she started taking the lessons from Elders about 3 years ago. And they want to start having lessons again! Okay. Second one. We went over to teach this guy named Christian Prado, who is this light skinned, blonde hair, blue eyed Peruvian who I actually met way back when I was here last year. Side note, in that time he's gotten married and we've also started teaching his wife! We had a good lesson on modern day prophets and apostles, and after the closing prayer Chris said "You know guys, I really feel like I need to start going to your church again. You guys visit me and do so much to me and I feel like I need to return the favor." The Spirit has really been pushing him to come back to church. Unfortunately he didn't end up making it, but we can sense our message is stirring in his heart. 

If any of you remember, back in General Conference of 2015 there was a talk about “ponderizing” scriptures - a mix of memorization and pondering. One of my goals for 2018 is to ponderize a scripture of Christ and his atonement every week. This week's was from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 2: 6-7) This scripture is so powerful:

"Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered"

I know Jesus Christ is our savior and Redeemer. He lives!

Love you guys so much, and hope you have a wonderful week.

-Elder Bolinder

Overnight Snow!
Close Call!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Week 68

Elder Barrett and Elder Bolinder

Another great week in la ciudad

Hello amigos! 

This week was pretty up and down. But we've been staying super busy that's for sure! We started off by watching the broadcast of the new first presidency of the church. And you probably don't remember me mentioning this, but our new prophet and president of the church, President Nelson, actually came to our mission back in April! I got to shake his hand, and I received a strong witness from the Holy Ghost that he truly is called of God. And that same Spirit bore witness of that during the broadcast. It’s so comforting to me to know that even as the world changes, the core doctrine of our church never changes. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

We were busy this week coordinating our multi-zone conference we had on Friday. It was great! We had lots of great trainings on the atonement of Christ and the importance of members in missionary work. We also did the musical number with the STLs, even though I can't sing to save my life!😂 it was pretty dec. Lol

Our progressing investigator Alana is still doing well. We had a great lesson with her about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon which testifies of Christ. She's been struggling with anxiety, and her living environment is not the best. But she is still pushing forward. And she even brought her baby daughter to church for the first time! Hopefully we can start teaching her in a member's home soon to get her out of the crazy living situation she's in. We got some really bad news this week, because during zone conference our date-set Jennifer who I mentioned last week dropped us. She never gave us a reason, so we will just continue to pray for her. It was a big blow. But hey, the work carries on!

A funny story. We were out knocking on some doors at night because the family we wanted to visit wasn't home. This Latino guy answers and says in English, "Hey, can I help you?" So, we tell him that our purpose as missionaries is to testify of Christ and help people grow closer to him. He interrupted us and began to say that he has four kids and is too busy to meet with us. We tried carrying on the conversation asked him where he's from and he said Mexico. We said, "que parte de México?" (What part of Mexico?). He said, "De Puebla.. wait, you guys speak Spanish?" We said, Sí.. haha. Then he said "oh, Pásenle!!😄" (come in!). We were definitely caught off guard! Haha. He was a nice middle age gent who was a catholic minister. He asked us a TON of questions about our missions and how it all works, and our message of Christ. He has been living her for about 20 years, but he enjoyed having two white boys from the Rockies speak Spanish with him and talk a bit about the Hispanic culture that he misses ha. We set up a time next week to share our message with him and his family!! Hopefully something comes of it😊

Oh, and we also had mission president's fireside on Sunday! It was amazing as usual. Hearing the testimonies of Christ and his gospel given by converts to the church always brings a powerful spirit. 

Speaking of Sunday, we heard about the Vikings today and I guess the curse can't be broken! Even though I'm not a fan, it still would have been a once in a lifetime chance to see the Vikings play in the Super Bowl at home here in Minnie. It's still gonna be loco here in the cities! I'll be sure to tell you all about it!

It's so great to be here in the twin cities, helping people come unto Christ. I love this gospel, and I know it changes lives! Have a wonderful week. Stay warm folks!

-Elder Bolinder

Saturday Dinner With Lakeville Elders, Jose, Armando and Misael
New Brighton District
Working Out With Elder Barrett

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!