Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 29

Driving With Elder Christiansen

Una otra semana deleitable

¿Cómo han estado? Another great week out here in the sticks is in the books. It's been absolutely stunning outside, and everything here is finally turning green. It's absolutely BONITA! Spring is finally in the air, and it's definitely pumped us up for this week and the upcoming spring season.

This week, on Wednesday, we got to help out with the funeral service for Sister Hunter's brother. Her family is still going through a really rough time right now, but we were able to see them on Tuesday and we had a really awesome lesson with them about finding hope through the resurrection of Christ. It was nice to give them some more comfort during this time. I know for me, I can never be reminded enough of the peace and joy that comes from having a knowledge of the plan of Salvation and the sacred mission of Jesus Christ to come to earth and pay the price for our sins and break the bands of death. It was a really great service and a wonderful experience to help them out again!

On Thursday, we got to do some more work up in Le Sueur. We recently reconnected with an investigator and his esposa named Raul and Isabel. Apparently, she met the missionaries a number of years ago where she is from in Mexico, and received a testimony of the restored gospel and was baptized into the church. But, after moving here she has drifted away a bit and has a really hard time getting down to Mankato, MN for church on Sundays. We've also been starting to teach her husband who isn't a member, and we got to teach them part of the message of the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation! It will be a struggle to try to get them to church, but they're both super friendly. Additionally, we visited with a recent convert named Josefina. Such a sweet old lady, but has the thickest Spanish accent I've ever heard and it's so hard to understand her! haha. When we went over there, she had her neighbor, José, visiting as well! We shared a few verses in the Book of Mormon about service and being an example of Christ. And we also got to invite José to come to church! He seemed to really enjoy us being there and hopefully we can meet with him again and start teaching him.

Saturday was an absolutely packed day! Started off with a move for a few members of the ward across town. Then we had “Ward Soccer” which we put on every Saturday morning. It was a super nice turnout too! We played at a field on the Minnesota State University campus, and we are getting more students and non-members to come. After a prime morning of futbol, we had exchanges with the Mankato elders, and I got to go work with Elder Bentley from West Jordan, Utah. We had a blast! We participated in a few solid appointments, one with an investigator of theirs from West Africa named Shariff, and others with a few less-active members of the ward. For dinner, we got together with less active sister, Sister Johnson. We helped her rearrange her apartment a few weeks ago, but she is just beyond sweet! Last week, she invited us over to have a barbecue, and she went all out! It was SO good! Plus, we were even able to bring one of her home teachers along, which was really cool. Super awesome day!

So just a quick thought to finish off. I have started to treasure the time we have every morning that is set apart to study the scriptures! They are such a powerful resource in our lives to find guidance and comfort. I've recently been studying the Gospel of John in the Bible (definitely my favorite account of Jesus's ministry), as well as at least a chapter a day in the Book of Mormon. The other day, I found a really cool connection as I was practicing some reading in Spanish. In 2 Nephi 30, the prophet Nephi talks about how the gospel of Jesus Christ will be declared among the people of the world and those who come unto Christ and keep his commandments"shall be a pure and delightsome people." An interesting difference in the Spanish translation of the scriptures, is every verse that says "Feast upon the words of Christ" (2 Nephi 32:3), in Spanish they use the word, Deleitar, which means to delight; We are delighting the scriptures. As we spiritually feast - or delight - in the gospel, we increase the happiness and joy we have in our lives, we become spiritually nourished and the light within us begins to grow. We can have greater access to His holy spirit and divine power. I know that as we strive to put Christ at the center of our lives, strive to keep God's commandments, to attend church, read our scriptures, and call upon Him in prayer, we can continue to grow spiritually and become like the scriptures say, a more delightsome people. As we do this, the Lord will bless us and help us stay on the path to return to him! 

Thank you guys so much for all your love and support, ¡Cuídense mucho amigos!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Bentley
St. Peter, MN Sunset
Barbecue With Sister Johnson

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 28

Easter Dinner With The Crocketts

¡Feliz Pascua!🌷

¡Hola amigos! Hope you had just a fantastic Easter! For us, yesterday was outstanding. I'm glad we could end on a high note though because this week was just an absolute roller coaster. Let's just jump into it!

So during our P-day last Monday, we randomly got a text from this former investigator saying she wanted to start meeting with us again. She goes to the Lutheran college here in St. Peter, and studies religion. I guess she had met with the missionaries of our church in the past, attended church for a few months, but never committed to be baptized. We met with her at the library that night! And it was really good, she told us her religious background about growing up Jewish, then being baptized into the Lutheran church a year ago, and then switched to the Baptist church a few weeks ago. Then she tells us she was walking home from school yesterday and a thought popped into her head saying, "the church is true!" And we were like wow, she finally received an answer, this is such a cool miracle! We had a really good talk about growing her testimony and continuing to read, pray, and go to church. It was awesome, and we even set a baptismal date with her! We came home that night and we were both like WHOO that's such a miracle! Then, the very next day we get a text from her saying that she can't go through with the baptism and she called it off. We tried to figure out what happened, then she texted us back and said everything is all good, she just got scared. Then she changed her mind AGAIN and ended up dropping us and saying she is sticking with the Baptist church haha. Just a complete roller coaster of emotions! We were just like, what the heck is going on? haha, weirdest turn of events, but hopefully she will continue to seek out direction from the Holy Ghost and trust in the answers that she receives! We'll see what happens with her in the future, I think she will eventually come back around. 

Another big blow to our week was our recently new investigator that we saw last week, Robert, also dropped us (asked to stop meeting with him). We were really disappointed to hear that because we were SO excited for him! He seemed so willing to learn! Hopefully we can reconnect with him in the future.

On top of all this, our progressing investigator Shun has been in the hospital like all week! AGAIN! I guess he has had problems with seizures in the past, but this time had 3 in one day. Super scary. They had to transfer him up to a hospital in the twin cities. Luckily, we got in contact with the Minneapolis elders and they were able to give him a priesthood healing blessing for him. Please keep him in your prayers as he recovers! We also went over to see his mom, Sister Taylor and she has been stressing out pretty hard because of the whole situation. She said it was hard for her during this time with her family, and she has been struggling with paying tithing. We just listened to her, and tried to help calm her down. We didn't really know what to do, when we felt impressed by the spirit to promise her that if she puts her trust in God and pays her tithing that everything will work out. It was so powerful, and it was amazing to feel the Lord guiding us in what to say to help bring her and her family comfort. That was definitely one of the highlights of the week!

Some other events from this week: On Friday we went to Cleveland!! It was crazy! Haha just kidding.. Cleveland, Minnesota that is, just this dinky little town way out east in our area. We had service project for a family in our ward and took out their entire fence. It took like 4 hours! They really appreciated it though. I've been here almost a month and I'm still finding new tiny towns around our area lol. On Thursday we were able to meet with another one of our progressing investigators Theresa and show her the Easter video and invite her out to church. It's been difficult to meet with her because she has cancer and has to go through chemotherapy and has work on top of that, but she is already almost finished reading the entire Book of Mormon! She's doing really well, and we hope to start seeing her more often. We also had a benefit dinner up in New Ulm, for Sister Hunter to raise money for her brother's funeral. It was a pretty good turnout and we were able to bring a few couples from the ward as well to help out. I think it really touched her how many people came out to give her support, especially during this hard time she's going through. 

During the Easter weekend, we focused a lot more on finding new people to teach. And we had some pretty good success sharing easter messages and the Prince of Peace video! One really cool experience happened on Friday when we ran into a couple just chilling on their porch. Their names were Joey and Dalia. We walked up and said hi, and showed them the Prince of Peace video! It was really cool because after the video Joey had a cool realization, he said "So you guys are Christians? I never knew that." And we were like Yeah! We are! We testified of the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ, His atonement, and resurrection. We set up a time to come by again next week, so that makes two new investigators!! It was a good feeling to have some good success towards the end of the week, considering how hectic the rest of the week was lol. Something really powerful we talked about in Elder's Quorum during church was the reason why our church doesn't use any symbols, in particular, the Cross. And just like with Joey, it can create some confusion with people not thinking that we are a Christian church. But our previous president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley had two profound explanations. The first, is that we focus on the crowning event of the atonement - the resurrection. And that the cross focuses on the death of Christ, while our message is focused on the living Christ (His true and living church on the earth today). President Hinckley was then asked, "If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?". His reply was "The lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship." How powerful is that answer!! As His followers, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, and strive every day to emulate his character and example! Really puts new meaning to the scripture in Matthew, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The end of our week was a little less rocky then the beginning, which is good lol. We had an amazing Easter dinner with a family in the Mankato Ward the Crocketts! Really nice family. The day was just filled with peace! I am so grateful that we've had this time yesterday and last week to celebrate the life and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ! I love him so much, and I know that He lives and loves us!

¡Tengas una semana maravillosa! (:

-Elder Bolinder

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 27

The Mankato Crew (helping with a move)

¡La primavera está aquí!

Hola Todos! I hope you guys are enjoying the warm spring weather! It is starting to feel so nice here, and we don't have to wear sweaters every day! haha. We had another great week here in St. Peter! 

I'll start this week off with a highlight from the week with our progressing investigator Nate Hernandez. He has been investigating for a few years now. His wife and five kids joined the church but he was hesitant and never did. He's been meeting with missionaries for quite a while now, but we saw him for the first time in about 3 weeks and had a powerful lesson with him! The Spirit was so strong throughout, and it really helped him to open up a little. He told us he feels he is not seeking an answer with true intent because he feels a bit scared of actually receiving an answer and it changing his life. We testified to him that the Holy Ghost is a Comforter, it will bring an answer of joy and peace. Also, that one of Satan's biggest tools is fear. Fear is the opposite of faith, and if you continue to press forward and make an effort to read and pray with a sincere heart, you can feel of the joy that the gospel brings and a love of your Savior Jesus Christ. Dieter F. Uchtdorf beautifully explains about the hindrance of fear and how we need to trust in the Lord in all we do in his talk from last week's conference, "Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear" (One of my favorites!). We could all feel the Spirit and we could definitely sense his desire to develop his relationship with God and know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Super awesome lesson! Hopefully the Easter season will help him have more motivation to come to church and continue to try to grow his testimony!

Some other good news from this week is we got to reconnect with the guy we found in Le Sueur last week, Robert! We had a really good lesson with him about the restoration and gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon through sincere prayer and the Holy Ghost. He doesn't have a lot of knowledge or experience when it comes to scriptures or the gospel in general. But, he's really awesome, and really open, so hopefully as we keep meeting with him we can help build his testimony and relationship with Christ!

So something really awesome that we have been starting up this transfer is we are hosting Ward Soccer every Saturday morning with the Mankato elders and some of their investigators. And guess what? It’s finally warm enough to play outside! lol. Of course, my companion Elder Christensen has to sit on the sidelines and be our cheerleader so he doesn't break himself again! I feel bad for him. But we had a decent turn out this week. Hopefully we can get Robert, and Nate and his family, along with some other investigators and less-actives to come, and give them a more of a social push to come to church on Sunday. And maybe we'll attract some more Hispanics to start teaching!

This week we have had a plethora of service opportunities! First off, on Wednesday we got to go into the food bank here in St. Peter and help out with unloading food trucks, bagging orders, and helping people get all the food items they need. It's a really cool chance to meet so many new people and just talk with them and help out those in town. Then, Thursday we helped a member of our ward measure and cut wood for a garden she is building. (And fun fact: She's actually the mother of our progressing investigator Shun!) Super sweet lady! Later that day we got a call from a member in the ward saying that her brother had just passed away. We were in New Ulm, and they needed us to come out to a small place called Sleepy Eye and give her a blessing. So, we hurried and called around and got a member, Brother Rush, to drive us all the way out there and help them out. It was really hard for them, but we were able to give her and her non-member sister a priesthood blessing and it was so powerful. In this difficult moment of mourning, it meant so much to them that we were able to go out there and give them comfort.

As a lot of you may already know, we have another holiday initiative video put out by our church, and it's incredible! It's called #PrinceOfPeace and really reminds us of the real reason why we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ! It is so powerful and reminds us of the true joy that a testimony of the Savior brings to our lives. We have been focusing on sharing it with as many people as we can. On Sunday, we and the Makato elders presented the video to all auxiliaries including primary, priesthood, relief society, and youth. We encouraged them all to share it with their friends and family. And I invite you to watch it and do the same! There is a link at the bottom of this update.

I've watched the Prince of Peace video several times before. But, after watching it at a member’s home yesterday after church, I had another cool insight from the Spirit. The scripture 2 Nephi 31:20 came to mind, and it really put new meaning to the words "Having a perfect brightness of hope" and "Steadfastness in Christ." We so often forget or put into the back of our minds the comfort and peace we can feel from the Savior’s atonement and resurrection. We get so caught up in our day to day lives that we don’t think about what Christ did for us at every moment of the day, and especially in challenging times. The video really reminds us to not just think about the Savior during this Easter season, but to be joyful and have a brightness of hope throughout every day of our lives, and be grateful for the gift that our Savior has given us! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and through him we can be cleansed from sin and live again. 

Have a wonderful week!😊

Happy Easter!!

-Elder Bolinder

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Shopping With Elder Christensen!
Easter Treats!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week 26

Mankato Ward Crew!

Lost in Le Sueur, Lost in the Work

Wow, another awesome week out here in the mission field! It's crazy to think tomorrow will mark my 6-month mark in the mission. What!?! It has been flying by. This week has been eventful for sure. So, last Monday for P-day we went to the Minnesota State University campus with the Mankato elders to play some soccer. It was a blast, of course, but unfortunately Elder Christensen re-injured his knee so he was in some pain hobbling along the following few days. We decided to go into the doctor's office on Thursday because it kept hurting, and it turns out he tore some ligaments and has to be on crutches for a month! We are absolutely blessed to have a full-time car or else we would be in trouble. Haha! Having to be patient with my companion and hold doors open and carry things for him really made me realize how much I need to be better at actively looking for opportunities to serve others, especially him! Things have been a little on the slower side, but all is well and the work continues!  

We had a crazy day on Wednesday! At the start of the transfer they combined the Lakeville and Lakeville south zones into one so we are now the biggest zone in the mission. And our zone leaders are up in the cities while we are waayy down south here in St. Peter. So, they decided they would blitz all the teams down here, so they came and stayed the night! I got to go with Elder Kershaw for the day and he is from Middleton, Idaho! He's an incredible missionary and it was so fun to work with him for the day! We went up to a small town about 20 minutes north of St. Peter called Le Sueur. Le Sueur has a larger Hispanic population. About time we find some more Hispanic investigators! We started out stopping by some potential investigators up there, and we decided to stop by to visit this guy in our area book named Josue. He lived on the outskirts of the town off of a little side road. We typed the address into the GPS, and we arrived at the destination and turn onto this sketchy dirt road only to find that we were lost in this thick forest and there was no house to be found! We were like, what the heck is this address? But we continued around the bend, staggering over some monstrous ditches in our tiny mission car. All of a sudden we see this giant yellow road-roller coming around the corner! We were so confused haha. ¿¡Dónde estamos!? We asked him if there was a Josue there and he said he wasn't sure but we can look out back. So, we finally find this small house, and it turns out it’s a huge lumber yard! Strangest place a GPS has led me to! Haha! Unfortunately, we couldn't find him, so probably the wrong address. 

Later that day, we felt inspired to knock on this street in a trailer park in Le Sueur. And on that one street, in less than an hour, we found 3 new Hispanic investigators! Crazy! We also said hi to this teenage guy named Robert walking out to his truck, and he was super nice. We talked to him a bit, and after a brief conversation with us, we asked him if he has met missionaries before. He said no, and we explain what we do as missionaries is help people come closer to Christ through His restored gospel. He then explained to us that he had some humbling experiences in the past two weeks, and since then he "found the Lord" and he's trying to build his faith and learn more about God! And of course, us being missionaries, our faces lit up as we said to him "Well we can certainly help you with that!" We then explained to him how the Book of Mormon, hand in hand with the Bible, helps us grow closer to our Savior and learn more about his life and mission here on earth. Unfortunately, it started to rain pretty hard as we were talking to him, but we were able to summarize the story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration and give him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet. He was so excited! We set up an appointment to meet with him next week. It was amazing to see the Lord's hand in the work. Even though it seemed like a wasted effort to get lost in the lumber yard trying to find Josue, I know that God guided us to be there on that exact street at the right time to meet Robert! I just hope we can reconnect with him next week, because we could tell he had been prepared to receive the fullness of the gospel!

Wednesday was our busiest day, and not much has changed with our progressing investigators this week. But, we did have a fantastic General Conference weekend! On Saturday, we got to watch the broadcast at the church with a few other members. Then, for Sunday we had coordination meeting in the morning with our ward mission leader, Brother Possin, and afterwards we enjoyed a warm 'conference breakfast' and watched the morning session with their family! Man, Conference was so good! It was nice to really feel the Holy Spirit and listen to our living prophet and his apostles. There were so many amazing talks about the Plan of Salvation, the Holy Ghost, Faith, being disciples of Christ, and the list goes on! But I think one of the most powerful talks was the words of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, on the Book of Mormon. No matter what struggle, question, doubt, or challenge we have, peace will come from gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Not only is it another testament of Jesus Christ confirming His mission and divinity, but it brings the Spirit into our lives in a way that no other book can! It is a witness that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that Christ’s true and living church is here on the Earth. I know it's true! I would invite you to take time to sincerely ponder the words of the ancient prophets, as well as modern, and apply their teachings in your life. I have done this myself personally and have seen the miraculous blessings that come! I love all of you guys and I hope you have a safe and happy week!😊

-Elder Bolinder

St. Peter, MN

Mankato, MN

Elder Kershaw (from Middleton), Elder Bolinder

at Doctor's Office: Elder Christensen, Elder Bolinder