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

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