Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 25

Elder Christensen and Elder Bolinder - St. Peter, MN

¿¡Qué tal amigos!?

It's been quite the transition here to St. Peter. First of all, the area is HUGE. We cover St. Peter, and also several other small towns including Mankato, New Ulm, and Le Sueur - all of which attend the Mankato Ward. It's definitely taking some getting used to not being so close to the city, and all you see are cornfields for miles!

So my new companion is Elder Christiansen from Farmington, New Mexico! He's a super nice guy and very humble! He has been out for just over 6 months and just was called to be a district leader. He's been here for just one transfer, and they also white-washed the Mankato English elders (replaced both missionaries with new ones at the same time) so the ward just got 3 brand new missionaries and they were so welcoming and excited to help us!

There's not a whole lot of Spanish work here, I guess all the Hispanics are just hiding in every nook and cranny in these tiny farm towns lol. But, we do have a really cool investigator named Germán! The elders found him tracting through a trailer park in St. Peter. We had a super solid lesson with him on the gospel of Jesus Christ and he is showing some great potential to progress! It's also super fun because he is taking English classes at his school and so we are also trying to teach him some English as well during our visits which is always entertaining with Hispanics😂. He has school and work during the week and unfortunately works all day on Sundays so he is unable to attend church, so that's the next step we are working on with him!

We also met with one of our other progressing investigators named Shun. And yes, I did spell that correctly. Pretty strange spelling, but it's actually pronounced "Shawn." And man, he is just on fire! He has a super strong testimony of the restored gospel and recognizes the hand of the Lord in his life, guiding him through his challenging situations. He has strong desires to be baptized and become a member of the church, but he has struggled in the past with overcoming addiction to alcohol and tobacco. As of now, he has kicked the alcohol out but is still working on quitting smoking. We are trying to help him use the power and strength from the atonement of Jesus Christ to help him become clean, and it's a tough battle but he is progressing well towards the goal of baptism!

During one of my personal studies, I was reading the scriptures to try to find something that would help him and I came across a powerful verse in the Bible - 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Satan and his powers are so real. But God has given us the ability to conquer him. Heavenly Father will not let us be tempted above that which we can bear. He has given the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ to help us escape his grasp. It is up to us to rely on the strength from our Savior to withstand the evils of today's world! It's an incredible blessing to have been given commandments from the lord to bless us. I know that if we are exactly obedient to God's commandments, there are so many precious blessings promised to us from our Father in Heaven!

I hope all of you are getting pumped for General Conference! It's such a privilege every 6 months to hear from all the leaders of our church and receive guidance from our living prophet Thomas S. Monson. Often, we take this special blessing for granted! I would invite you all to tune into general conference (whether it's at home, on LDS.org, or other sources) and go with a prayer in your heart, seeking for guidance and revelation in your life. And I promise you that through the power of the Spirit you will receive answers from the words of our modern day prophets and apostles!

¡Disfrúten su semana y cuídense mucho!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Christiansen
St. Peter, MN - P-day Games
"Gone Country" in St. Peter, MN

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 24

Elder Bolinder, Elmer (New Member), Elder Nelson

¡Bautismos y noticias!

¡Hola hola! And happy transfers! This has been a pretty big week, but we'll start of with a bit of news. Transfer boards just came out and I will be heading out to the "sticks"! I'm going to miss the legendary New Brighton Ward, but I will have fun down south in St. Peter! I'll be sure to keep you posted about it next week.
Some other great news! The less active Hispanic family, la familia Arcentales finally came to church on Sunday! That was a huge step for them, and it's so wonderful to see their hearts beginning to soften and their desires to grow in the gospel increase! Super cool miracle to see them there.

We had zone conference on Wednesday which is always a highlight of the week! Definitely a spiritual boost that I needed. There was a big focus on teaching repentance, and it was super powerful. We sang one of my favorite hymns, "I Stand All Amazed." I just want to share with you a few of the lyrics that always touch my heart.

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

What powerful words to read, that we have a loving Heavenly Father willing to send his Son to suffer for us! He knows our pains and our afflictions and through Jesus Christ we can receive strength and forgiveness in our lives no matter how far we feel we have strayed!

So, we visited with Elmer on Tuesday to get him all ready for his baptism, and we thought we would stop by one more time on Friday to check and see how he was doing. And he told us some pretty shocking news -- that he would be leaving the next week for his summer job in north Minnesota! We originally expected him to leave in May, but he got a call saying that he needed to go early. It was super sad to hear that, but he was still very excited for his baptism and the good news is he will return in August! We are arranging to stay in touch with him as much as possible and even coordinate skype lessons with him, which will be super fun. We are continuing to pray that everything will go smoothly!

Despite Elmer's situation, he was ecstatic to finally make the covenant to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized by proper priesthood authority! We had an incredible baptismal service and were beyond blessed to have a double baptism with the sister missionaries in the ward too! So, we had Elmer and the sister's investigator, Steve Entonces. It was bien Spanglish! haha. It was amazing to see the change and happiness that has been brought into both of their lives! Hearing their testimonies was really touching, and they were both so thankful to have found so much happiness in this church and feel closer to their Savior. Just like them, I am unbelievably blessed to have the testimony I have of the truthfulness of the message we share with others, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that this is his restored church here on the earth today!

¡Espero que ustedes tengan una semana maravillosa!😊

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder, Elmer, Elder Nelson
New Brighton Ward Baptism
Elder Nelson, Elder Callans, Elder Bolinder

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week 23

Minneapolis in March

Vosotros estáis bien.. ¿¿mande??

Hola mi familia! ¿Comó estáis?

Man, I absolutely love being able to speak Spanish in America. ¡Es una mezcla del mundo! We get to hear a smorgasbord of accents and slang from other Spanish speaking countries. For the most part, our Spanish most closely resembles that spoken in Mexico. But we got to meet with our amigo de España, Douglas, and he tries to teach us some Spanish from Spain! He claims it's the "español correcta" hahaha! So, this week we've been joking around and using our Ethpaña lisp and vosotros form. It's so funny😂. -Hence the title of this week- lol. Any input on what Spanish is the "true Spanish"?? Let me know what your opinion is.

This week has been great! On Tuesday, we had a crazy good evening. Last week we took out a member with us to visit some investigators and they all ended up falling through! We felt bad because he took time out of his busy college-student schedule to help us, but it ended up not being a great night. So, we had the impression to make it up to him. We invited him to have dinner with us with a less active family, Las Candelas. And let me tell ya, Hermano Candela is the best chef in the ward… by a landslide! Oh my goodness, we hit the dinner jackpot!😂 We got some of his famous BBQ chicken, and it was mind-blowing! And a cool miracle that happened -- an investigator that we taught about a month ago that we haven't been able to contact also came to the dinner!! So, we had a member, less-active members, and an investigator all there, and we taught a really powerful lesson on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Not only did we testify of the healing power of the Savior, but the Candelas also helped us in the lesson and bore amazing testimonies of how their lives have been changed through repentance. What an amazing experience!

This week we also had some fun exchanges. I got to go running with Elder Farrish from St. George for the first time in forever! It was a little crazy since it was 4 degrees outside, and by the time we got back, our beanies and face masks were frozen over. Then on Friday I got to take Elder Chen from Taiwan around new Brighton! He's hilarious, and we love teaching him English. We had a blast.

On Monday night we had a perfect lesson set up and an awesome couple in our ward named the Newtons were set to to come out with us. The wife served her mission in Peru and speaks Spanish and the husband served in Italy and speaks Italian but knows a bit of Spanish. We were super hyped to take them teaching with us, but the appointment we had set fell through! That's when back-up plans save our lives. We visited a less active Hispanic family that we've been working with for a long time and haven't made any progress in coming back to church. And it was such a powerful lesson! Brother Newton bore an incredible testimony to them, encouraging them to go to church and receive all the amazing blessing that come from it. Even though it was in simple English, the warmth from the Holy Ghost filled the room. They finally opened up to us and committed to go to church! Just goes to show, it doesn't matter what language you’re speaking, if you teach by the Spirit you will touch the hearts of many! 

We are still pumped for our investigator Elmer's baptism this Saturday! We met with him on Sunday and now all the details are in place. This will be a double baptism with the sisters as well! It's been such a miracle to see the Lord helping us along with the work. Elmer does have lots of opposition at school, but his faith is very strong. We just pray that this week will go well and everything will go smoothly!😊 can't wait for this week! Hope you all have a wonderful week as well! ¡La iglesia es verdadera!

-Elder Bolinder

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 22

Mercado Central - Mexican Mall in Downtown Minneapolis

¡Bendiciones del Señor!

Wow, this week was beyond good. It's incredible to see how the Lord has blessed us for all of our efforts! 

This week we met two new Hispanic investigators and they are both such swagsters. haha! Both of them met a few times with the missionaries in the past but weren't able to visit very often because of their work schedules. The first guy is named Douglas, and he's 26 and from España. The first Spaniard I've met here! He is pretty jacked and decked out with tatoos, so he seemed tough at first, But, once he opened up to us he turned out to be quite the hermano. He's super solid and loves learning more about our beliefs. He does have some conflicts with family but he said his work schedule changed on Sundays so hopefully he can start coming to church! The other guy is named Christian, and we had an appointment fall through so we noticed in our area book that he lived close by. So, we stopped by on Thursday to try to see who he was. We knocked on the door and out peers this super pale short man with some wavy blonde surfer-dude hair and we were taken back a bit. We were like,”Hey, sorry to bother you, but is there a Hispanic guy that lives here named Christian?” He said, "Yeah, yo soy, It's me.." And we were like whaaat!? Hahaha! Seriously, the whitest Hispanic I've ever seen. He told us his friends always tease him and call him 'Donald Trump Jr.' 😂. Lol, pretty funny. Anyway, Christian is from Ecuador and we talked to him a lot about what he knew about us. For his college class, he  learned all about the church for a project he had and he knows so much! He definitely has a logical testimony of the restored gospel, but now we hope we can help him gain a spiritual testimony. 

On Saturday, we had the privilege of going to the temple again! One of the converts in the YSA Ward got to go for the first time, so we went with the other YSA elders who live with us and met the rest of the district there. There is always such a sweet spirit there, it's amazing!

We received some great news on Sunday about our investigator from El Salvador named Elmer! We met with him after church and had a baptismal interview for him. He is SO ready! He faces lots of opposition at school, but he is so grateful for the testimony that he has already gained and looks forward to being baptized in the New Brighton Ward! We had to move back his date due to some scheduling conflicts, but we now have it set in stone for March 18th and we could not be more excited for Elmer!

This week it just felt like everything came together, we have Elmer’s baptism set and we now can fully prepare for that. We also had some awesome miracles with church attendance! Four less active families that the missionaries have been working with for several months all came for the first time in months! So cool to finally see a full Spanish Sunday School class! It was incredible to finally see all our efforts pay off. 

I just want to let you all know how grateful I am for each and every one of you. I can feel all your prayers which help strengthen me and help us with the work here in New Brighton! I have felt so much happiness this week and have been able to feel the hand of the Lord helping me press forward. We have been blessed immensely this week and I'm so excited for these next upcoming weeks! Always remember that our Heavenly Father is there for us, all we need to do is call upon him in sincere prayer!

¡Cuídense mis amigos amados!

-Elder Bolinder

St. Paul Temple - New Brighton District
Bus Bench "Doppelganger"
Yummy Shrimp Soup!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Week 21

New Brighton Sunset

Familias Son ETERNAS!

This week has been pretty difficult, but has definitely strengthened me and motivated me to press forward. On Thursday I received a call from the mission president saying that my Grandpa passed away. He was such a great example to me and my family and always emulated the character of Christ through service, charity, and generosity. I almost expected this call to come soon since he had been in the hospital the past few weeks. But, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace when I heard the news. I felt calm and assured by the Holy Spirit that I will see him again, and that this is merely the next step for him in Heavenly Father's plan of salvation for us. During one of my personal studies last week I read a scripture in the Book of Mormon that brought me great comfort. In 2 Nephi 22: 2-3, the prophet Nephi quotes Isaiah from the Old Testament and says "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." The central purpose of God sending us here on earth is so that through sorrow, mourning, and affliction, we may be able to experience true and everlasting joy.

Although life is difficult sometimes, we must always trust our Heavenly Father and the plan he has for us. I know he's there. I know he loves us. He sent his son Jesus Christ to be our Savior. Because of Him, we can be cleansed from sin. Because of Him, our lives have meaning. Because of Him, death is conquered, and we can live with God again! It brings me so much joy knowing that I will see my grandpa again, and that families can live together forever!

On Saturday and Sunday we had a Stake Conference in order to reorganize the presidency due to the loss of President Baker. We got to hear from an area authority, Erich W. Kopischke. During both meetings, there was a big emphasis on the importance of family. And once again, I felt comforted and the Spirit confirmed in my heart that families are eternal. It was a really powerful meeting and we were also able to bring one of our investigators Sean! Families are at the center of God's plan of salvation and I'm so grateful for my family! I just want to share again a really profound quote that was said during President Baker's funeral that means so much to me - "If you want to take the sorrow out of death, you have to take the joy out of life." I have so much happiness in my life from my knowledge and testimony of the plan of salvation and from this gospel and I'm so grateful I get to share it with others!

Sorry for the shorter email this week, but I hope you all know how much I love and appreciate every one of you!

Espero que tengan una maravillosa semana!

Con amor,

Elder Bolinder