Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 12

Skype with Family on Christmas Day!

La Navidad and Transfer Week!!

So before I get into things about my week, I just received my first transfer board! I am being transferred to New Brighton in the St. Paul zone! So, that will be fun to finish my training in the twin cities, but voy a extrañar mi compañero elder Callans mucho! Alright, now more about my week..

Great news! On Tuesday we had another amazing lesson with Salvador whom we met with last week. We extended an invitation to be baptized on March 12th, and he accepted! The spirit was strong and we could sense his desire to change his life and come closer to the Savior. He also mentioned that he doesn't have a Christmas tree, so we stopped by and gave him ours! Elder Callans said it was the most solid date set he's had in a while, and I can tell he is so humble and sincere. So, we have high hopes for him! Later in the week on Christmas Eve, we stopped by again to wish him a Merry Christmas and his sister was visiting. We were able to show her the #LightTheWorld video and it was so powerful. We testified of Jesus Christ and the infinite power of the atonement, and also of the incredible love that Heavenly Father has for each of us. It was one of the most powerful teaching experiences I've had and I will never forget the spirit I felt while testifying of the Lord Jesus Christ on the night before Christmas!

On Christmas Eve we had a dinner with an investigator and her husband, Denise and Ivan, and some of their friends, and they made us slow-cooked Posole! The best part is, Ivan works as a chef in the Mall of America, so everything was super fresh and it tasted SO GOOD! We were able to share a quick Christmas message with them, and also had a conversation with Ivan about how little children are saved in the kingdom of god through the grace of Christ and how the baptism of infants is an abomination in the sight of God. We invited him to read Moroni Chapter 8 in the Book of Mormon which explains more about it. Overall, it was a great night!

On Christmas Day, our branch had a combined church service with the Crystal Lake Ward. Elder Callans and I, along with the Lakeville Hermanas (Sister Missionaries), got to translate for all the Hispanics in attendance! It was difficult for me, but still a really neat experience. I feel like my understanding and comprehension skills of Spanish have improved a ton in the past month, so translating from Spanish to English wouldn't be too difficult. But, translating from English to Spanish is a whole different feat. We sat in the conference room and had a microphone to transmit the translation to headphones given to the Spanish speaking people. When it was my turn to take the mic, the talk started and I got about 4 sentences in and then got lost so I had to pass it off to Elder Callans haha. But, I redeemed myself and translated the entire closing prayer! The gift of tongues is real!!

That afternoon we had a fat turkey dinner with the Lopez Family and it was great! He is a member of our branch presidency, but his family attends the English ward so they invited the English elders over as well. Then, of course, I got to skype the fam bam which was wonderful! We were incredibly blessed to have a second Christmas dinner with a guy who lives in Rosemount named Pepe and his friend Benjamin. Pepe is from Mexico and Benjamin is from Ecuador. So Benjamin cooked us a crazy Mexican fish stew called "Siete Mares" (Seven Seas). It had potatoes, carrots, shrimp, crab, calamari, catfish, clams, and octopus! It was interesting to say the least, but surprisingly it was pretty good! We then showed "El Nacimiento," a video from lds.org on the birth of Christ, to Pepe and once again the Holy Ghost was really strong while we testified of the Savior!

I hope all of you had a fantastic Christmas! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to teach and testify of Jesus Christ during this holiday season! I know He lives, and I know this gospel is true. I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!

-Elder Bolinder

Christmas PJs
"Siete Mares" (Seven Seas) 
Elder Bolinder and Elder Buhler

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Week 11

Keeping a lid on the dome!

Chillin in Lakeville... windchill that is!

Wow, a lot has happened this week. So I'll jump right into it!

On Wednesday, we had exchanges with our zone leaders! I had the opportunity to jump into some English work with Elder Buhler, it was great! I got to meet a lot of new people and see the difference in culture and personality between Americans and Hispanics. I feel so blessed to interact with both Americans and humble people from all over Central and South America! Minnesota is a huge melting pot and it's such an awesome experience to serve the people here. I'm also so grateful to not only have the luxuries of this great country but to also learn a new language!

Throughout the week, we invited a bunch of our investigators to come to our Spanish Branch Christmas Party. Since our branch doesn't have many people, we rarely have any activities together outside of church on Sunday. So, we were pumped for this perfect opportunity to get our investigators to the church and help them meet some of the members. This was our chance to hopefully finally get an investigator to church! Well… so we thought. Our plans were stopped in their tracks, on Saturday night through Sunday afternoon the temperature dropped to -25 degrees with wind chill at -40! So, the branch president made the decision to cancel not only the Christmas party but all church meetings on Sunday as well. We thought for sure we would get an answer to our prayers and have more investigators attend church. That's Minnesota weather for ya! But hey, we still have our heads high and are excited to invite people to church on Christmas Day! I'm looking forward for this next week😊

Even though it's bone-chilling cold, there's no better way to warm up than feeling the warmth of the Holy Ghost in your heart! We recently had a wonderful first lesson that was filled with the Spirit! A while back when we found the two new investigators from El Salvador, we showed both of them the Christmas initiative video. While we were showing the video to one of the Salvadorians named Jaime, another guy walking in the background saw us and came up and introduced himself.
His name is Salvador, and we went back to teach Jaime but he wasn't home so we ended up teaching Salvador. Turns out, he moved here from El Salvador 10 years ago to work and support his family, and while he was back home he was briefly taught by the missionaries there! He was excited to reconnect with the missionaries and we had a wonderful lesson on prayer and the Book of Mormon. It was such a cool miracle to find him, and it was because of the amazing #LightTheWorld video that we connected with him! We are greatly blessed to have the technology we have in these days to access so many spiritually uplifting material in a matter of seconds!

This weekend has definitely been a tough one, especially for our zone here in Lakeville. One of the elders in our zone received word on Saturday night that his father only has two weeks left to live. We decided to have a zone wide fast for him, as he prayed for direction on whether he should stay on his mission or spend time with his dad the last few weeks of his life. On Sunday he made the decision to go home. We are sad to see him go and will miss him a lot. Even though It hasn't been the best week this week, I'm way excited for next week!

It's such a blessing to represent the Lord and testify of the life of Jesus Christ during this Christmas season. I hope you go into this final week until Christmas with the true meaning of Christmas in your hearts! I know the Christ lives. He is our savior and redeemer. He is my rock and my salvation. Through the redeeming and enabling powers of his atonement, we can be free from sin and learn become more like Him.

I love this gospel, I know it's true. The same authority that Christ had is restored on this earth today. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ and a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! The church is true!! I love you guys!

¡Feliz Navidad mis amigos!

Elder Bolinder
Feliz Navidad!

Elder Bolinder and Elder Buhler
Buck Hill - Ski "Hill" in MN!
More Snow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 10

Minnesota December 

¿Comó están mis amigos?

Esta semana pasada, mi compañero y yo comenzamos un ayuno de inglés.
Somos los únicos elderes en nuestra zona que hablan español, entonces hablamos mucho inglés durante el día. Por este razón, decidimos hablar puro español cuando no estamos con otros misioneros de inglés. ¡Fue muy bien para practicar más español! Puedo ver mi español mejorando poco por poco por medio del don de lenguas.

[TRANSLATION:  How are you my friends?

This past week, my companion and I started an English fast. We are the only elders in our area who speak Spanish, so we speak a lot of English during the day. For this reason, we decided to speak pure Spanish when we are not with other English missionaries. It was great to practice more Spanish! I can see my Spanish improving little by little through the gift of tongues.]

On Wednesday we had new missionary training, so we carpooled up there with 2 other missionaries and drove 30 minutes to the mission home in Bloomington. There were about 7 other new missionaries along with their trainers. I met Elder Callan's good friend Elder Vang, and he's actually a Hmong speaking elder! It sounds similar to Chinese and it's sweet haha. In the MMM we also have Chinese speaking sister missionaries and other missionaries who speak Karan which is a dialect from like Myanmar or something, it's pretty amazing! But, I was the only new Spanish speaking missionary there. We had many training lessons on how to plan and teach more effectively, and better help others come unto Christ. One thing that really struck me was a story that was shared. It was about 3 people who were waiting in line to be interviewed to enter into Heaven. They are all asked the question, “What do you know about Jesus Christ?” The first guy says, well he was an honorable man who taught peace. And the interviewer showed him to the door on the left. Then the second guy gives his answer, he is the Son of God and he performed many miracles and lived a perfect life, and he atoned for the sins of the world. The interviewer then takes him to the door on the right. Then the last person walks into the room and is asked the question by the interviewer, what do you know about Jesus Christ? And he fell to his knees and said, my Lord my God! This story really shows the difference between knowing about our savior Jesus Christ and increasingly coming to know him. There was an amazing talk given in the recent October General Conference by Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles entitled "If Ye Had Known Me" and I encourage you all to read it!

Thursday, we had another all-day meeting! Two other zones joined us for a Christmas Zone Conference with the mission president and wife. We received more training, had a Christmas devotional, and ate an amazing ham and potato lunch! Afterward, we got to watch a movie! We watched “It's a Wonderful Life” and had root beer floats!  I've seen parts of it before, but this was my first time watching it all the way through. It was such a great movie and really made me appreciate my life and my family, and how blessed I am to have grown up in the circumstances that I did. I've seen the hand of God guide my life and I know that he has a plan for every single one of us, and he is always there when we turn to him with humble hearts!

As of right now, we are struggling with our progressing investigators. All transfer, it has been really difficult to get our investigators to attend church. For some of them, it's the only thing holding them back from baptism. Almost all of the Hispanic people we teach work on Sundays, so it's a big struggle to convince them to come to church. We have been praying fervently for our investigators to find new jobs and for better church attendance, and we would ask for your help in praying for our investigators. However, we have had more success with contacting, especially with the new Christmas Video! We usually go door to door in apartments with Hispanic populations, but on Wednesday night we weren't having much success. So, we felt prompted to stop inside the local grocery store and find people. We walked around for a bit and sure enough we ran into this lady named Pati from Mexico and started a conversation with her in Spanish. I was a little out of my comfort zone trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger in Spanish lol but it went well. We ended up sharing the Christmas message with her and set uo a return appointment! She is in the Spanish sisters’ area so we gave her as a referral. But, it was a great experience with contacting and following the promptings of the Spirit!

We've officially hit Minnesota winter haha. On Saturday, a storm rolled in and dumped 7 inches of snow over night! The temperature was also in the single digits all week with wind chill dropping in the negatives😅. Next weekend we get even more snow with a high of -2 so wish me luck haha!

Just want you guys to know I love and appreciate all of you! Stay safe and warm!

-Elder Bolinder

Lakeville Zone Meeting Selfie

Elder Bolinder and Elder Callans
View from Apartment. Let it Snow!
Lakeville Zone - New Missionary Training

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 9

Flood Clean-up in Waseca, MN

Father Son Bonding

¡Hola mis amigos!

Another great week in beautiful Minnesota!

We've had a lot of success with the Christmas initiative this week! During our weekly service at a local food bank/church named Prince of Peace, we were able to show the #LightTheWorld video to the other volunteers and give pass along cards to some of the people we helped. If you guys haven't checked it out already, Mormon.org is updated with all the #LightTheWorld Christmas videos! Also, this week we were able to finally reconnect with an investigator named Antonio Rodriguez who basically fell off the grid for about a month. Apparently, he lost his phone so we couldn't get a hold of him which was frustrating. But, we were able to teach him a re-run lesson of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And another little miracle, he is an alcoholic but he told us he wants to quit and he hasn't been drinking for 10 days! We testified to him of the incredible blessings we receive by keeping the Word of Wisdom by not drinking and putting other harmful things in our bodies.

On Saturday we drove up to a small city of about 10,000 people called Waseca. A while back they had a really bad rain storm and flooding that caused over 10 million dollars in uninsured damage. Many people had their basements and homes destroyed, but couldn't get the help they need to clean it up. The President recently announced it as a national disaster, which allowed them to get help from various natural disaster teams. Missionaries in the area and surrounding areas as well as other members of the church were invited to make the trip over there and participate in the clean-up work. We met up with a group of about 150, including disaster clean-up crews and other volunteers from surrounding cities. We then broke off into smaller teams and were assigned specific homes to help clean up. Our assigned house was a small farm house owned by a sweet older lady named Viola. We were able to help her sort through and clean up her damaged basement and organize her garage. It was a great experience and she was so kind and grateful to us! Later that day, we also helped a family in our small Spanish congregation move their furniture to a new apartment. It was an amazing day of service and a great way to spread the spirit of Christmas!

On Sunday, we had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. During the week we didn't have very much success in finding any new investigators, so as a companionship we fasted to be able to find new investigators and help the zone meet our goal. During sacrament meeting, we were privileged to hear the many testimonies from our humble Spanish congregation. Their faith is so strong! I was also able to bear my testimony and witness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Although my Spanish still needs a lot of work, it was such a wonderful experience sharing my testimony! I would also like to share with all of you my testimony. And don't worry I will translate afterward for all of you gringos out there;).

Yo sé que Dios existe y nos ama. Él es el Padre de nuestros espíritus y él tiene un plan para nosotros. Cuando estamos orando, nuestro Padre Celestial siempre está escuchando. Yo sé porque había sentido el amor increíble de Dios por medio de oración. También, yo sé que Dios envió su Hijo Jesucristo para expiar por todos los pecados del mundo.

Jesucristo nos conoce personalmente y tiene tanto amor por cada persona en la tierra. Yo testifico que por medio de vendiendo a Cristo, podemos llegar a ser limpios de nuestros pecados y sentir de su amor infinito. Yo sé que la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los últimos días es verdadera y la misma iglesia que Jesucristo estableció en la tierra. Yo sé, sin duda, que José Smith fue un profeta verdadera, y él tradujo el libro de Mormon por el poder de Dios. Yo testifico que el libro de Mormon es verdadera, y que un hombre se acercaría más a Dios al seguir sus preceptos que los de cualquier otro libro. Cada vez cuando estoy leyendo el libro de Mormon, puedo sentir el Espíritu Santo confirma de su veracidad y tanto felicidad en mi vida. Yo sé que tenemos un profeta viviente, Thomas S. Monson, y Dios se ha llamado èl para guiarnos en estos últimos días. Yo digo estas cosas en el santo nombre de nuestro salvador Jesucristo, amén.

I know that God exists and loves us. He is the Father of our spirits and he has a plan for us. When we are praying, our Heavenly Father is always listening. I know because I have felt the incredible love of God through prayer. Also, I know that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to atone for all the sins of the world. Jesus Christ knows us personally and has so much love for every person on earth. I testify that by coming to Christ, we can be cleansed from our sins and feel of our Savior’s infinite love. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and is the same church that Christ established on the earth. I know, without a doubt, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true, and that man will come closer to God by following its precepts than by any other book. Each time when I'm reading the Book of Mormon, I can feel the Holy Ghost confirming its truthfulness and feel so much happiness in my life. I know we have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and God has called him to guide us in these last days. I say these things in the holy name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

After church, we had a "linger longer" and all ate Mexican pasole, which is this awesome chicken and corn soup stuff! So in the MMM, we have our missionary "family tree." To briefly explain, your trainer is your Dad, your first companion after training is your Mom, your trainer's trainer is your grandpa, and it goes on from there haha. So when we took the picture at linger longer, me and Elder Callans decided to take a classic father and son pic and its perfect😂.

Later on Sunday night, we were pretty frustrated by our lack of new investigators this week. We decided to pray for a finding miracle, and it happened! We went apartment tracting, and we found two investigators, one right after the other, both from El Salvador! We were able to share with both of them the Christmas message and video and set return appointments for next week. It's been such a great experience so far this Christmas season to be able to testify of Jesus Christ and invite others to serve!

Check out #LightTheWorld

¡Espero que usted tengan una buena semana!

-Elder Bolinder

Minnesota Minneapolis Mission
5931 W. 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55438

"Linger Longer" at Spanish Branch
Minnesota Snow!

Elder Bolinder, Elder Buhler, Elder Callans, Elder Jensen