Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 20

WWE with the Lopez boys...

Let the warm weather stay, I beg of you!

¿Qué tal mis amigos? Another awesome week here in the twin cities! The work is going well, Minnesota is warming up, and life is great! Alright enough chit chat. Let’s get into the week, shall we?

On Sunday night, we got a call from a less active member named Chris. He told us that he had a friend to whom he wanted to give a Book of Mormon! So we went over there on Tuesday night to meet with Chris, and his friend was visiting so we got to meet him. His name is Kingsley and he is from Ghana! He said he always heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa but never knew what it was. He heard of the Book of Mormon from Chris and he was super excited to finally get to read it! Right as we gave it to him, out of the blue he decided to flip open to a random page and read it. The verse he read was Alma 5:21 which says, "yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.". And he was like, "See! It's talking about Jesus Christ coming to redeem his people. It is another testament of Jesus Christ!" He was so eager to read it. Super awesome! We didn't get to teach him a full restoration lesson, but we set up an appointment with him next week so he is now a new investigator!

On Wednesday, we got to have an exchange with the Shoreview elders, and I got to meet Elder Smith from Logan, Utah. He knows English, Russian, Polish, and was both a Karen and Cambodian speaking elder for a few transfers each during his mission. That's ridiculous!! Haha I can't even handle learning one new language lol. On Thursday we had a really good district meeting and we had a really great training on repentance. We talked about the story of Alma and his miraculous conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and how he describes the distinct contrast between the darkness he felt in sin and the joy and light he received through repenting. It is incredible to realize the power we have and the happiness we can receive from the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ! Afterwards we had interviews with our mission president which is always uplifting. President Forbes is such a great example of Christlike love and humility!

Minnesota fun fact of the week: Here up north, I thought hearing all these Minnesota accents was hilarious, but now I can feel it growing on me. The strangest things the people here say is they pronounce the word bag as "beg”. Us missionaries always get a good laugh in when we hear it and always have fun impersonating the locals’ accents. But the other day when I was grabbing my bag to head out the door from the day I said "Elder, I forgot my beg!" And I didn't even realize I said it with an accent. And Elder Nelson said "Your becoming a true Minnesotan!" Hahaha. I guess I'll just have to stop fighting it and just start embracing it😂.

On Saturday, we were able to help out a couple who are classmates and friends with several members of the ward. We moved a bunch of heavy boxes and furniture into their new apartment, and luckily this time nobody broke their ankle😂. That day we wore the usual long-sleeve with a sweater over top, but afterwards we definitely started to regret that. We started dying because of the heat wave that has hit us this week. it was a balmy 58 degrees!! WHAATT! It felt unreal. Reminded me of the fantastic Idaho spring weather back home. I guess I got lucky enough to avoid my first "harsh" Minnesota winter!

Yesterday was our monthly mission president's fireside. It was my first time going, and we also got to take our investigator Elmer along with the Shoreview elders. We had the chance to hear from several converts to the church and their stories and testimonies of the restored gospel. It was super powerful! They were all very similar, and all of the speakers described the struggles and pains they experienced, and the peace and strength they gained from the gospel. All of them shared their witness and knowledge that Christ lives and he is our savior. Through him and his atonement, they were able to change their lives around completely and feel of the great love that Heavenly Father has for them. Elmer really enjoyed it and is still progressing well for his baptism coming up in a few weeks. I have also felt the redeeming power of the atonement in my life. It is only by coming unto Christ and relying on him that we can be empowered to press forward and grow to become more like him. He has born all of our pains and afflictions and knows exactly what we are going through. Through him we are able to be cleansed from our sins and qualify for the blessings of eternal life! Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around has brought me such joy. I have never been more happy! I know this is the place I need to be.

Stay safe you guys, y disfruten su semana! Cuídense!  

-Elder Bolinder

New Brighton Crew

Another New Brighton Sunset

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 19

Elder Bolinder - Mississippi River

¡Una semana con milagros!

¿Como están? ¡Esta semana pasada fue una semana con muchos milagros! (How are you? This past week was a week with many miracles!)

We have had an incredible start to the transfer. It's been warming up a lot and, man, 40 degrees has never felt better! lol. Also, they added two new elders to the university campus and they are now living with us. It's been such a blast! Seriously, this week went by way too fast.

The work here has been picking up a ton! In the past two weeks, we have lost about 6 of our investigators - two of whom had dates set to be baptized. We have been starting to turn our focus more on people who have the potential to progress, and find more people and build up our teaching pool again. We have worked and prayed hard, and the Lord has definitely blessed us in our efforts. We found 5 new investigators this week! Crazy! Here's a little more about who they are and how we found them:

We ran into Jaime when we were knocking on doors through this Hispanic trailer park. He said he was going out to work but that we could come back the next day. So, we went bac, and we didn't have a lot of hope of him being home because one of the most common things Hispanics do to try to avoid us is tell us "Oh sí! Pueden pasar este día!" And they end up not being there. So, we knocked a few times and nobody answered.

Right as we were going to turn back, I thought I would knock one more time, and Jaime answered! He let us in and he told us he is from Mexico and came here about 8 years ago. He talked to us all night about growing up learning about Jesus Christ and how, through challenges in his life, he has learned to always turn to Him. We showed him a video called "Gracias a Él". This video explains just how miraculous the Savior's atonement is and the blessings we receive because of Him. He loved it and agreed to meet with us again next week!

We found a lady in our area book (a record of past contacts kept by the missionaries in the area) who we tried to go visit, and the whole family was running around inside. They said she wasn't home, but she would be back soon. So, as we were driving away we saw a lady walk down the sidewalk and turn into the house. We quickly turned around and we were saying "That's probably her! Vámonos!" We knock on the door again and it turns out it was her daughter! Her name is Ashley, and the family is African American and they are from Georgia. We briefly talked to her at the doorstep, and then she asks "Wait, are you Mormons?" And we said “yup!” And she was like "Oh I love Mormons! They are so nice." haha. We asked her if she would be interested in meeting with us and she said yes! We went over a few days later and we were able to teach her about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She mentioned she was just really confused by all the churches in the world and the different interpretations of the Bible and doesn't know what to believe. We told her about Joseph Smith and how he had these same exact questions and concerns and decided to ask God what he should do. And she was like "That's just like me! I need to figure this out myself!" We told her that by reading and praying to gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon she can know for herself if Joseph Smith truly was a prophet called of God to restore Christ's church and his priesthood power. Everything just seemed to click with her! Super cool.

We met Erik a while back when he requested a Book of Mormon online from and we dropped it off to him. He said he worked at a library and loved to read. He always heard about the Book of Mormon but never really knew what it was. He told us he was interested in reading it, but that he was too busy that week for us to teach him more about it. We texted him later on, and were able to meet him at a Barnes and Noble store and talk with him! We told him some of the background and history of the Book of Mormon and how it is a record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, written by many ancient prophets. Just like the Bible, it is a witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. It is another testament of Jesus Christ, and helps us grow closer to him. We were able to teach Erik about the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. It was a little different because we usually teach people in their homes, but it was still an awesome experience.

Evan and Wife:
Finding Evan was a really cool miracle. We had an appointment that fell through, and so we had about 30 minutes before our next appointment and we were just sitting there trying to think of what we could do. We felt impressed to stay where we were and knock doors around the street we were on. It was getting pretty late, but we said a quick prayer that we could find someone to talk to. And the very first door we knocked on, Evan answered and let us in!! They were so nice and welcoming, and had TONS of questions about everything we do as missionaries. They were super impressed that these 18-20 year olds would be willing to pay for themselves to leave their families for 2 years and preach the gospel to random strangers. Evan said he grew up Jewish but doesn't practice anymore and his wife is Catholic but not active. We explained to them how we help others strengthen their faith in Christ and get closer to Him. We met with them the next week and were able to teach both of them and their daughter about the restoration and the Book of Mormon. It was amazing because the whole time the dog was barking and they weren't focusing the whole time, but when we read the words of Joseph Smith explaining about the vision he received from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the room just went completely silent. There was a strong peaceful feeling from the Holy Spirit that filled the room! It was incredible!

Also, the guy named Elmer from El Salvador who we have been taking to church has accepted the invitation to be baptized on February 25th! Since he wants to be baptized in the New Brighton Ward, they decided to hand him off to us so we can start teaching him in Spanish! Unfortunately, since our stake president passed away and they have to call a new one, they moved Stake Conference up to that weekend so his date will have to be pushed back to March. But, we are ecstatic to start helping him progress towards his baptism! He is so nice and outgoing and has such a strong desire to grow his testimony!

This week, my testimony has been immensely strengthened of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love explaining the story of Joseph Smith to people because it is just simply and truly something miraculous. We can all learn from him that we need to pray for answers and guidance in our lives. I love Joseph's words, "At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God." The only way that we can receive a testimony and conviction of the things we know to be true, is to pray and ask our Heavenly Father. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God. I know that it is true, and that this church is God's true and living church. God loves each one of us and he still speaks to his children today through modern day prophets. I know these things because I have prayed, just like Joseph, and received an answer from God through the Holy Ghost that it's true. I love this gospel, and I love being a missionary! I hope all of you have a wonderful week!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Nelson and Elder Bolinder
Another view from New Brighton

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Week 18

New Brighton District - Goodbye Sister Woo!

Más tiempo en New Brighton!

This week was not super eventful, just keepin’ on that mission grind! We have been trying to do more finding and expand our teaching pool, and hopefully get more progressing investigators. We've been trying to get more referrals from members, and also going through potential investigators in the area book, but sadly there's not much news as far as the investigators we have right now. But, some good news, we got the transfer board today! And me and Elder Nelson are staying here in new Brighton so that's good news! We are both still really new to the area so hopefully we stay for another transfer after this one, honestly it's such a sick area! The ward is just filled with MHA students at the U of Minnesota who are all return missionaries and they are all just super supportive, it's awesome. We have high hopes looking forward to the transfer!

On Thursday we had a zone conference. And since we had it on Thursday we switched our FMSC (Feed My Starving Children – volunteer work) day to Wednesday. But it was a great conference! We talked a lot about what was mentioned in the worldwide mission broadcast and how we can use what we learned to improve the mission as a whole. Overall it was super powerful and an awesome experience!

So after our zone conference we got to go on exchanges with the West St. Paul elders. I took Elder Christensen around new Brighton, and we had a great time. I got my tiwi card last week so I have started driving again for the first time in a few months and needless to say I might be a bit rusty.. we accidentally turned the wrong way down a one-way street. Hahaha! It was pretty frightening but we didn't get in a crash so it's all good😂. Other than that, we have been pretty safe here in Minnie, don't worry! Also on Friday we got “blitzed” from the APs and we got to have Elder Jones with us for the day! Unfortunately, all of our appointments fell through, but we were able to find a new investigator named Chris. He's super nice, but has had drug problems in the past so his mind isn't 100% there. He had some crazy theories about the queen of England being a reptilian alien species😂 It was interesting to say the least.. But, the cool part is he has a really strong desire to become a better father and grow his faith in Jesus Christ. So, we will see if we can help him out in the future!

This Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting and I had a really sweet opportunity to translate some Spanish! I was sitting next to some of the Hispanic families and a recent convert went up to me and asked, “Si doy mi testimonio, ¿puede traducir para mi?” And I said, “Creo que sí pero solamente con oraciones cortas jaja.” It surprisingly went super well! The Spirit was really strong and it was so powerful. Although it's a slow progression, I can feel the strength from the Lord helping me improve my Spanish through the gift of tongues!

One of the sisters here in new Brighton, Sister Woo, is dying (finishing her mission) and leaving to go back to Hong Kong on Wednesday. So, for a farewell celebration, this morning we had a district brunch at iHop with her and it was a fiesta!

Spiritual thought:

To end this week’s email I will leave you guys with a scripture. This scripture is the words of the ancient prophet Alma from the Book of Mormon: Alma 37: 6-7, "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." These verses are so powerful and help us understand that we don't always need huge experiences to help share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through our small every day actions, we can be an example of our Savior and help share his love with others around us. Because by small means, Heavenly Father will help bring to pass many great things. I also think about this scripture and relate it to gaining a testimony of the restored gospel. Not everyone has a grand manifestation from God to know the truthfulness of the gospel. For example, my knowledge and testimony of the Book of Mormon didn't come all at once. It was over time, carefully studying and reading and many little instances of the peace and warmth of the Holy Ghost testifying that it is true. I have grown so much closer to my Savior through this book and I am so grateful for the many blessings that come from the restored gospel.

I am enjoying being out here in the mission field so much, and I can feel myself growing and strengthening my testimony and faith. I hope you all stay safe and warm back home!


Elder Bolinder

New Brighton Area

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week 17

Elder Bolinder and Elder Nelson

¡La Sorpresa!

This week just flew by so fast. What is happening? Haha. There has been  a lot of change that has happened too. First off, Wednesday morning Elder Cardwell and I got a call from the mission president. He said, “Elder Cardwell, pack your bags you're leaving tonight and being transferred to Hutchingson.” So that was a pretty big surprise!

Apparently, a new Hmong speaking elder came in and since they have extra time learning the language in the MTC they get here mid-transfers. Because of that I guess things just got shuffled around a bit.

Entonces, mi compañero nuevo es Elder Nelson! He's such a stud. Although it's been a little difficult because we are both still learning the area, we are loving New Brighton!

Wednesday was also our worldwide mission broadcast. We received some awesome training on how to better help our investigators repent and progress towards baptism. Also, there is more flexibility in the schedules according to the specific area. Since we are in the U.S. our schedule didn't change much, so nothing super exciting.

We had a really exciting day at church on Sunday because a less active Hispanic couple, who we have been seeing for a long time and haven't been to church in about 5 month, came to church this week! We also had an investigator from the Shoreview area come to our ward. He's from El Salvador and wanted to meet more Spanish speaking people in the church, so we took him to our Spanish Sunday School class and he loved it! On a more sad note, our investigator who had a date set for baptism on Saturday dropped us on Wednesday. So, that was a big blow, but we still have our heads held high for the future!

So, in our mission it is a tradition to go to the Mall of America at least once when a missionary is a few days from going home. One of the new Brighton sisters from Hong Kong is going home next week, so we all got to visit the Mall of America for P-Day today! It is just enormous! We had a blast. We also took a recent convert to the church named Walter, so fun!

Miracle of the week: A really amazing experience from this week happened on a Tuesday night. We were on bikes this week and had an appointment with less active family way up in the northern part of our area, so it was a really long bike trek up there. Right before we left we got a text on the phone, but I just had an impression that I should check it later. We rode all the way up to the family's house and as we were walking up to the door I looked at the text and it was them. They told us they had something come up and couldn't meet! Elder Cardwell and I were like “Ahh man! we rode all the way here just to turn back around!” But then we had a thought to stop by and visit an Hispanic family who are members and lived close by. They let us in, and it turns out the mom was really sick and had been praying for us to come by! We were able to give her a healing blessing by the power of the priesthood. It was amazing to see the Lord directing us where we needed to be that night in order to answer her prayer! I know that our Heavenly Father answers every prayer. If we pray with real intent and with a sincere heart, we can receive answers and guidance through the Holy Spirit. I love this scripture in the Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:21 says "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him." Likewise in the Bible, James 1:5-6, the scripture that started the ball rolling toward restoration, says "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Young, 14 year-old Joseph Smith read this verse and decided to act on the faith he had, and pray to know which church he should join. It was then when Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to him and he received the answer to join none of them. God then called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and once again establish the church of Jesus Christ and receive the proper power and authority of God called the priesthood. I think just the fact that the restoration of the fullness of the gospel was predicated on a single faith-filled prayer just shows us the magnitude and power that prayer can have in our lives! I also love the parallels of 'doubting nothing' and 'nothing wavering'. We must always pray with full energy of heart and with full faith that God is listening to us. I know he is. I know he loves us. He sent his son to atone for the sins of the world. This is His true and living church on the earth today. I know it's true!!

I hope you all have a wonderful week back home, estoy muy agradecido por todo de ustedes! Dios Bendiga.

-Elder Bolinder

"A River Runs Through It"
at Mall of America
Roller Coaster in Mall of America
It's a big mall!