Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 8

Minnesota Rain

Macho Man!

Christmas season is here!! We haven't received any more snow. But, we just drove home from the store and it was hailing and raining insanely hard! 

It's only been four days since my last update, so not a whole lot has happened, but it has been a very good weekend to start the upcoming Christmas season. As a zone, all the missionaries have made a goal to find 100 new investigators by the end of the transfer (6 weeks). This week has been pretty hard but we were able to have success in finding new investigators! 

So last week we received a referral from the English speaking missionaries for a lady named Luna Morales in an apartment complex in Savage, Minnesota. Every time we stopped by, she told us she was busy and couldn't meet that day. We ended up going back 4 more times. On the 3rd visit, we were able to talk to her son at the door and we bore testimony of the restoration of the gospel and Jesus Christ and gave him a Book of Mormon. Then the next day we were able to have a lesson with Luna and shared a Christmas message of following the example of Christ, and the Spirit was really strong. So, by not giving up on this referral, we were finally able to meet with her and we ended up meeting two new investigators out of it! 

Another awesome experience with our focus on finding new investigators happened on Wednesday. We were tracting, or going door to door, in another apartment complex near Burnsville. We ended up getting locked out of the building, but luckily this Jimmy Johns guy walked up and had a key to get in haha. What a homie lol. We knocked on some doors and nobody was really interested in hearing our message. Then we knocked on a door, and this huge Latino guy with the broadest shoulders I've ever seen, wearing a black tank top, answered the door. As tough and burly as this guy looked, I was not expecting him to be interested. But, he let us in! We ended up talking with this guy for over an hour and he told us all about growing up in Mexico and his experience in the army and how he wants to put his past behind him and be a good father for his 3 daughters. He was so incredibly humble, and even though he was tough on the outside, he had a such a soft heart. We were able to testify to him of the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the blessings that His gospel brings to us. It has been so amazing to strengthen my testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel by sharing it with others!

Every Easter and Christmas season, the church releases a video with a message or invitation for the holiday season. The day after Thanksgiving, the church put out their Christmas Initiative. The title of it is #LightTheWorld. With it came a video, and it depicts all these miracles and acts of service that Christ performed during his lifetime. It relates all these acts of service with every day things that we can do in our day to serve others like Jesus did. It's a beautiful video and its message is so powerful. Along with the video, there is a list of 25 ways we can serve others and share our light with the world just like the Savior did every day until Christmas. My companion and I have been able to share this video and message many times already this weekend and it brings such a peaceful spirit. I invite all of you to strive every day to live like Christ did and share your light with others through service and charity. I will attach the pictures of the list. I know that Christ lives, he is the Son of God, and he has set the perfect example for us to follow. I hope that all of you start this month preparing for Christmas with a desire to find ways to serve others!

Here is a link to the #LightTheWorld Christmas video:

-Elder Bolinder

Friday, November 25, 2016

Week 7

Elder Bolinder and Elder Callans

May The Frost Be With You!

I made it to Minnesota! It's been a great first week in the mission field and I've already had lots of awesome experiences here. Just so everyone knows, my usual Prep Days are on Mondays, but this week it was changed to today because of Thanksgiving. ¡Feliz día de gracias!

I got off the plane in Minneapolis and was met by the Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Forbes. There were 5 other new missionaries who came in from the Provo missionary training center, but I was the only Spanish speaking greenie. We drove to the mission home in Bloomington, about 20 minutes away. We had a wonderful lunch that finally wasn't a cafeteria meal. Lol! We got a bit of training, met our new companions, and afterward we went right to our assigned areas that evening. My companion, and trainer for 12 weeks, is named Elder Callans. He's been out on his mission about 11 months now. He's from Washington state and really funny and loves to joke around. He is also very spiritual and knows Spanish really well! We are serving in the Lakeville, Minnesota area. It's about 15 minutes south of Bloomington, so roughly 30 min away from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. We actually have about 4 cities we cover - Lakeville, Burnsville, Savage, and Shakopee -and the area is pretty similar in size to Meridian, Idaho. As I arrived in Minnesota, it was a sunny 57 degrees. I guess I made it just in time for winter because the very next day the temperature dropped to 32 degrees and we even got a bit of snow! 

As we were driving to our area, my companion told me he wanted to stop by an investigator's house before we went to our apartment. I was excited to jump right into teaching! He told me we do some mixed work here so we teach both in Spanish and English. So, we went to teach this 19 year old college student named Remmi in English. He told us he had invited his friend over as well. So we got to their apartment and these guys are pretty wild. We tried to teach them a lesson, but they couldn't sit still. They offered us some quesadillas with whipped cream and green beans and I was like, “What in the world?!?” haha. They seemed a little drunk and like they wanted to just mess with the missionaries. We tried to just ignore it and go on with our lesson, but a few minutes later they all of a sudden jumped up and grabbed these light sabers and had a light saber fight in their living room. hahaha! I was super confused and thought, “Wow, this is a terrible first lesson.” Then they took their light sabers into another room and jumped out with their name tags on and said, "We're your new zone leaders!!". It was really funny and quite the initiation! hahaha.

So my Spanish has been coming along pretty well. It is a bit different than I thought it would be. We actually speak a good amount of “Spanglish” haha. For example, A member family we have dinner with, the Saldañas, speak Spanglish. The dad speaks mostly Spanish but you will occasionally here some random English words thrown in there. And their two girls speak English but understand Spanish. Another mixed family is this less active member named Josué and his son, who is investigating the church, Josué junior. We taught them on Sunday night and it was interesting because they both understand both languages but the dad would speak Spanish and the son would speak English. So we would switch from Spanish to English and back to Spanish every two minutes. But we invited Josué junior, who is 15, to be baptized on January 7th, so that was a really awesome experience! Other investigators have immigrated from different countries, like 19 year old Louis Hernandez from El Salvador who only speaks Spanish. But, overall the Spanish is pretty much like Mexican Spanish. But a lot of the people we talk to in Spanish understand English too so we never know when we are going to use English or Spanish. It's pretty cool. Everyone here is very polite and I'm starting to see the "Minnesota-Nice" in people. I also am making a lot of great friends with other missionaries in our zone! 

So for Thanksgiving we had an early turkey dinner with a less active member named Mauricio. He is an awesome guy and loves to have all the missionaries over and loves to talk about sports! We also have another dinner at 5 this evening, so I am going to be stuffed! I'm grateful for this day we have to remember to always be thankful for everything our Heavenly Father has blessed us with. A message we have been sharing with some of our investigators recently is the message to be thankful for all the little things we have. In addition, not only to give thanks this day, but live every day with thanksgiving in our hearts. As we turn to God in prayer and give thanks for all of our many blessings, we can feel of his love and see his hand in our lives. Something that I am incredibly grateful for is that our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, atoned for all the sins of the world so that those who come unto him will be healed and cleansed from all their mistakes and pains. I encourage all of you to go throughout this Thanksgiving and upcoming Christmas season with thankfulness in your hearts every day for the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Thank you all so much for the wonderful birthday wishes! I appreciate everyone's love an example to me and I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

-Elder Cameron Bolinder

Minnesota Minneapolis Mission
5391 W. 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55438


New Missionary Group with President and Sister Forbes

MMM - Lakeville District

First Snow!

With President and Sister Forbes

District Hunger Games - Thanksgiving Style

"Minnesota Nice"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Week 6 - Arrival

Minnesota-St. Paul Airport

The Arrival!

Note from the minions: We received this text today! Tiempo para dar gracias y celebracion!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Week 6 - Part 2

The District

Last Day in Mexico!

[A "bonus update" from Elder Bolinder as he prepares to transfer to Minneapolis]

¡Hola! So our companionship situation has been a bit confusing, but apparently we were supposed to be in a quad companionship for a day, with Elder Fuentes and Elder Brunsdale, so that, when Elder Fuentes left, Elder Brunsdale would be put into a trio with us and he wouldn’t be left without a companion. So we are in another trio today. Haha! This elder is really awesome, and super tall and athletic! Basically we have another mini P-day today because we are leaving tomorrow (we got one yesterday because Elder Fuentes was leaving) so the schedule has been a bit strange. We just make our own schedule basically and join random classes for language study and stuff. But it’s been really nice. I won’t type out another full update, but just another short email to you guys. I´m also going to send you some left over pics that I have from last week.

So my flight leaves at 6 am, but due to time changes I will be in Dallas around 7:30 to 8 am and then catch a flight to Minneapolis around 10 am. We have had a lot of free time since we don’t have a definite schedule today and yesterday so I have been studying a ton of vocab and also reading the scriptures a lot. So that´s been really nice!

I have started to love scriptures in Isaiah and also the Isaiah chapters in Nephi. So I have been reading my patriarchal blessing a lot more and I found something that is really awesome to help study the scriptures.. I pick an adjective or trait in my patriarchal blessing and look up scriptures on that topic. And recently I have had many instances when I look for scriptures and end up in Isaiah and I read the surrounding scriptures and they are just filled with gold! I need to write some awesome scriptures down that I found to share with you. But one that I found this morning relates to the devotional given by Elder Dale G. Renlund that I talked about in my update.  1 Nephi 21: 13-16 was really cool to read. I especially like verse 16 when it says he has graven us upon his palms. Kind of like Elder Renlund said, he bares our scars, he knows our pains, and he has a perfect love for us!

I love you guys and thank you all for your amazing examples!

~Elder Bolinder

Mission Address:
Elder Cameron Bolinder
Minnesota Minneapolis Mission
5931 W. 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55438

The District with Hermano Martinez (Instructor)

Elder Bolinder and Elder Snooks (from Boise)

Elder Bolinder, President Alvarado (Branch President), Elder Watson
Elder Watson, Elder Bench (going to Idaho Nampa Mission), Elder Bolinder

Singing  "Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos" to us

Mexico City CCM

New Friend at Mexico City CCM

Mexico City CCM

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 6

Sunset at Mexico City CCM

Winding Down in Mexico

Hey guys! Just a couple days left in Mexico. It feels like I have been here for a long time but it has gone by in the blink of an eye. I am so grateful for the amazing experiences I´ve had here, and all the new amigos I´ve made!

So I´m writing you today on a Monday because our Prep-day was changed for this week. Basically our whole district left this morning at 2:30 to travel to New York, New York. It was a bitter sweet goodbye since we have all grown so close to each other over these last six weeks. All who are left (Elder Steinke, Hermana Lattin - Oakland California Mission - and Me) all leave Wednesday. So this morning I was moved into a new casa and I am now in a Trio Companionship with Elder Steinke and an awesome Elder from Texas named Elder Fuertes. We got settled in and went to reception. They told us that since Elder Fuertes is leaving for Washington, Tacoma tomorrow at 2:00 am, and that our usual P-day would be on the day we travel to our missions, that we could take a P-day today to get moved in and get ready to go to the mission field.

I am ecstatic to finally start my incredible adventure in Minnesota! I feel like my Spanish has improved exponentially. I have definitely felt the gift of tongues as the Spirit has helped me recall all the things I´ve learned in school and in the CCM. Although I don´t feel nearly as prepared as I should, I have confidence in the Lord that he will help me connect with the hearts of the Spanish speaking people in Minnesota.

An awesome highlight from this week was TRC. On Thursday, we got the opportunity to prepare and teach lessons for volunteers who come from here in Mexico City. My companion Elder Watson and I taught a 15 year old boy named Ivan. He mentioned his older brother served a mission and that he was planning on going on a mission too. He was a little quiet, but I felt we connected with him really well. We were able to give a short lesson on the power of personal revelation and prayer. The spirit was very strong in the room and we were able to testify and encourage him to develop his relationship with his Heavenly Father and to prepare to serve a mission. I am so thankful for the power of prayer in my life and the strength it has brought me. I know without a doubt that our Father in Heaven is mindful of all of his children, and loves and knows them each individually. He has a perfect love and a plan for everyone and we can always turn to him in prayer.

On Saturday we had our last class we both of our teachers. They have both been such wonderful examples to me. Hermana Arnaud, our morning teacher, has such a sweet heart and explains Spanish concepts and grammar very clearly and precisely. Hermana Pavón was our afternoon teacher. She recently got back from her mission to Puerto Rico where she had to learn English. She always pushed us to be exactly obedient and be diligent in our work and studies. Her testimony is so powerful and she always made us laugh. It was a hard goodbye, and I am so thankful for everything they have taught me.

Our district has become close friends with the district in the class next-door to us. They are all super energetic and hilarious. In their district, there is an Elder from Boise who went to Mountain View, and another Elder who is called to the Nampa Idaho mission! So of course, we had to get a crew pic before we left. Also, I had a great chat with my old pal Elder Atwood in the comedor. I told him about all our friends from the Centennial ward who are on missions all the across the globe. We are so blessed with amazing missionary efforts in our Stake, it´s insane! He told me how his family is doing in Arizona. His brother served a mission in Colombia and is now married and he leaves for his mission in Mexico in a few weeks! 

On Sunday we had another amazing devotional broadcast video. We heard from the recently called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Dale G. Renlund. He spoke so smoothly and I could feel the power of his message through the Holy Ghost. He spoke on the topic of developing faith in our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ and His atonement. One thing that he discussed that I wish to share is of the infinite power of the atonement. He said that the the atonement of Jesus Christ leaves no traces and leaves no scars. The scars from our pains and sorrows are imprinted on the hands and feet of our redeemer Jesus Christ. Because of the Savior´s sacrifice for us, we can come unto him and be completely healed of all of our transgressions. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he took upon him the pains of all people and atoned for our sins. He has a perfect love for everyone and, through him, we can be cleansed and perfected. I am so excited to be a representative of Christ and bring this knowledge of the true power of repentance to the people of Minnesota!

Well, next week I will be walking the streets of Minneapolis with my giant coat on lol. Thank you guys for all your love and support. I am truly blessed!

¡Para siempre Dios esté con vos!

~Elder Bolinder

Minnesota Address:

Elder Cameron Bolinder
c/o Minnesota Minneapolis Mission
5931 West 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55438

The District With Hermana Arnaud (Spanish Instructor)

The District With Hermana Pavon (Spanish Instructor)

Four Amigos

Elder Atwood and Elder Bolinder

The Crew

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Week 5

Mexico City CCM Week 5 - Meditation?

¡Hola mis amigos!

Only 7 more days left until I´m off to Minnesota! This week went by so fast, but it was great. I am getting more and more excited to enter the mission field!

This week my companion and I prayed that we could have an opportunity to give a Book of Mormon to one of the construction workers in the CCM and share our testimonies with them. On Monday we talked to two workers walking by on the side walk. One was named Pierre from Haiti and the other one we didn´t get his name. We had a small conversation with each of them but they were both already members of the church. So the next day, we were determined to talk to more workers. In the morning during breakfast we saw the lawn mowing crew raking leaves and taking care of the grass so we walked over to them and talked to a few of them. One guy that was raking the leaves, his name was Ceasar, told us he served his mission here in Mexico. And the other worker, Carlos, said he was a member too. So we kept looking and before lunch we walked to our classroom and talked with our janitor friend Adi. We talked with him for a while and he mentioned that almost all of the lawn care workers were members, but the concrete construction workers behind our classroom were mostly non-members and their break was at 1. So we went over there at 1 and we saw this guy walking on the sidewalk and we decided to go up to him and talk to him. We talked with him about his family and work, then we asked him if he knew what the Book of Mormon was. He said he received a copy from another companionship 3 days before and he read a few pages. We were like, “Oh that’s great!” And we were able to share with him our testimonies. I felt like I should share with him a scripture in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:27 which says "and they lived after a manner of happiness." We told him how Nephi and his family lived with many struggles and hardships but they still felt so much joy in their lives. We bore testimony of how the Book of Mormon, which helps us understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, helps us obtain that same happiness and peace in our own lives. Then we invited him to read the book every day. It was a really awesome experience and I couldn´t help but smile the whole time I was talking to him because the Book of Mormon truly blesses my life. Even though we didn´t give him a book personally it still felt amazing to share with him the knowledge I have of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I know that, along with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

So later that same day, we were in class after lunch talking as a district. We told everyone what happened and, guess what?! Turns out, that companionship that gave him a Book of Mormon a few days earlier, was our district leaders! And he told me he wanted to share that same scripture 2nd Nephi 5: 27 but never did. So that was really cool to find that out! Then, during gym we went on a run with another companionship in our district and saw more workers who were doing construction on the water treatment plant in the corner of the campus. They were walking to their car to go home but we ran to talk to the two of them. One of them was wearing a sick Denver Broncos hard hat haha. We had a similar experience with them, they told us they had a coworker who already gave them a Book of Mormon and they have been reading a lot and said it was really interesting! We shared with them the same scripture and bore testimony. They seemed like they were in a hurry to get home so we didn´t talk to them for long but it was still awesome. What a day filled with opportunities to bear testimony about the Book of Mormon!

We had an awesome devotional yesterday from an Area Seventy Elder Nicolás Castañeda. He was an amazing speaker, reminded me a lot of how Elder Deiter F. Uchdorf speaks. He spoke on having success as a missionary. He told us if we want to have success in anything we do in life we have to do these three things: 1) Concentrate with all your effort. 2) Always do your best. and 3) Be happy with everything that you do. Success isn´t measured on how many people you baptize, but rather how you grow spiritually and increase your love for the people. Through hard work and always having a positive attitude, we can truly become the person and missionary that Heavenly Father wants us to be. As we sincerely love the people, they will see the light of Christ in our eyes and feel the love of their Father in Heaven. It was a really powerful devotional and made me super motivated and happy to be serving a full time mission and love the people of Minneapolis Minnesota!

So this morning we heard the news that Donald Trump won the election. It was kind of weird to not have any media for 5 weeks and then all of a sudden, Adi tells us that Trump won the election. We were like wow that’s crazy! So my companion Elder Watson brought a Donald Trump tie with him and after hearing the news we went back to our apartment and he changed his tie to his Trump tie haha. I thought it would be fitting to throw on my ´Merica tie as well lol.

Hope all is well back in the states!

~Para siempre Dios esté con vos~

-Elder Bolinder

New address:
Minnesota Minneapolis Mission
5931 West 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55438

Elder Bolinder and Elder Watson - Mexico City CCM Week 5

Elder Watson and Elder Bolinder - Mexico City CCM  Week 5

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Week 4

Mexican Sugar Skulls for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

¡Feliz Día De Los Muertos!

This week feels like it went by in the blink of an eye! The days are starting to blend together, and it feels so crazy that I´ve already been in Mexico for a month. I have learned a ton of Spanish but I know once I go into the mission field in a few weeks it will be a whole other world filled with slang and faster speaking. But, I am getting excited! Here in Mexico, everybody is celebrating Día de los muertos ("Day of the Dead" or Mexican Halloween). Yesterday was the kids day, and tonight are more fiestas for the adults. Yesterday we saw this house on the mountain side with strobe lights and music blasting and my companion and I starting to have our own dance party haha. Our teacher dressed up as Minnie Mouse and gave us candy, how sweet! She is really energetic and funny and we always have a blast in class! 

Our district has been making more Latino friends and they are hilarious! We eat have been talking with our friend Elder Gonzalez and played volleyball with their district yesterday and it was a blast. This week our good friends Elder Crapo, Elder Turley, and Elder Burk, who love to play ultimate frisbee with us, left for their missions this week. So that was sad. But we have been making more Latino friends and they are so fun to hang with! Also, Elder Watson and I have made really good friends with the janitor named Adi in our building and he has a really awesome personality. He´s a member of the church and his wife is a teacher here! We love to talk to him in the mornings and he always makes us laugh. Unfortunately, we couldn´t find Roberto to talk to him again! My companion and I are gonna work harder this week to make more friends with the construction workers before they leave. 

I finally found a fellow beatboxer! His name is Elder White and he actually went to my companion´s high school. So we met up after the devotional and exchanged some beats and he was pretty good! It was great to finally feed my craving for beatboxing haha. Then, as I was talking to him, I saw a good buddy of mine from elementary school - Elder Zane Atwood! It was crazy to see him almost 8 years later! He is serving in a northern part of Mexico, right below Texas. It was great to say hi to him!

Today has been such a spiritually uplifting week! On Sunday we were able to watch a Christmas devotional from 2011 given by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder David A. Bednar. He talked about the "Character of Christ" and how in his most difficult moments, Christ turned his love outward and served others, whereas the natural man would turn inward in our times of darkness and pain. He also mentioned that the greatest convert on your mission will be yourself, but you need to turn outward and love the people as the Savior did in order to find yourself. I am so excited for the time I have these next few years to truly develop the character of Christ and put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) and extend the love of Christ to those around me! Later that night, we listened to another devotional from a few years back given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland. It was really powerful! He spoke about the way missions are assigned and the inspired revelation from God that is received to know exactly where every missionary needs to be. I know that somewhere in Minnesota there are families who are waiting to hear the message of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Spanish! Also, he talked a lot about how this is not just a 2 year calling, but the start of my eternal journey to become more like Christ and be an instrument in the Lord´s hand in helping bring eternal joy and salvation to his children here on Earth. 

For our devotional on Tuesday we watched a broadcast from the Provo Utah MTC. The President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Russell M. Nelson, addressed us. He spoke about being an "Epistle of God" as we represent the Savior Jesus Christ and the need to have the gospel engraved on our hearts. He also talked about how repentance through the atonement of Christ is a continuous process and we can find strength through the atonement. I know that the power of the atonement is real and we can be forgiven of all our sins because of the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am super excited to see many lives changed as I help people come unto Christ. I know that this church contains the fullness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the same gospel that was establish on the Earth during his ministry. And that priesthood power and revelation from our loving Heavenly Father are real. I have felt the power and truth of this through the Holy Ghost. I am so thankful for this direct authority from God to work miracles through him!

 Thank you for all of your love and support! I have been blessed with so many amazing examples in my life and I appreciate all of you! ~Para siempre Dios esté con vos~

~Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Adi - Mexico CCM

The District - Mexico CCM