Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Week 34

St. Peter Service Project

Las viejas son los mejores

¡Bienvenido de vuelta mis amigos!

So our bathroom ended up flooding last Saturday.. not good! Our sink was filling up with backed up water/gunk from the people upstairs, and it leaked onto our floor while we were up in the cities all day. The apartment manager called some plumping people, but it didn't end up getting completely fixed until Tuesday. Good thing we had some extra towels in our closet or it could've cause a lot more damage! Haha.. That was probably the low-light of the week. But with that out of the way, the rest of the week was filled with many awesome miracles!

This week, we were blitzed from our zone leaders for a day. I got to work with Elder Kemberling from Anchorage, Alaska! He's an incredible missionary. The week before, we contacted some nice old ladies who lived in an assisted-living home. So, we went back and knocked on one of their doors, and she invited her friend to tag along! We chatted in the lobby for a bit and a few others walked by and they were like "Hey, come and join us!" We ended up just having this awesome group chat with these sweet ladies and taught them about the Plan of Salvation and Christ our Savior. Three of them set a return appointment for this week and we're going to start teaching them at the park across the street! The crazy part: One of the ladies that walked up and joined us was named Betty and she moved here from Winona, MN about a year ago and has had the missionaries knock on her door in the past. That's about when Elder Kemberling started his mission so he asked her if she remembers where she lived. Turns out, she lived on the first street he ever went knocking on his first few days of his mission! Loco!

A little backstory, about a month ago we stopped by to try to visit a less active member we haven't met before, but he ended up moving and so this super sweet frail old woman answers (This week was just filled with old-lady miracles I guess!). She told us her name is Diane.  We introduced ourselves and talked to her at the doorstep for a while and invited her to take the lessons. She wasn't interested and turned down our offer, but she was still polite to us. We didn't think much of the contact, but on Mother's Day we received the prompting to go see her again. We had the idea of bringing her one of the extra gifts they passed out to all the women in the congregation. She graciously accepted the gift and said it was the nicest thing someone has done for her. And the kicker, she said she had been praying to God for comfort! The Lord sent us there for a reason, to answer her prayer. We asked her if she would be open to visits with us and she opened up this time! This week on Tuesday, we got to go back and give her a Book of Mormon and teach her about its origins and she committed to start reading it. We also invited her to be baptized when she learns for herself that the things we teach are true, and she said yes! It really seems like she has been prepared to receive the gospel, and we are so excited for her!

We also had some more opportunities for servicio this week - On Thursday we helped move a new couple in the ward into their new house and we also went to mow this less-active guy's lawn because his mower broke. Looks like College Fund Lawn Care is back in business baby! Haha jk. Después de la misión. Oh, and other news: We got to see Anwar, the Indian familia we found last week and he has been reading the scriptures! Our next goal for him is to find a Book of Mormon in Arabic so he can read in his native tongue!

This past week I have started doing a challenge extended by President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles. He mentioned this in his conference talk, but he also personally invited us when he visited our mission to go through every scripture listed in the topical guide under Jesus Christ. So, every scripture in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants that talks about Christ. He said after he did this he was a changed man, so if an apostle of the Lord can change so much from it so can we! I've already felt a deeper appreciation for my Savior and everything he has done for us. One of my favorite scriptures I studied this week is found in 3 Nephi, the crowning event of the Book of Mormon. "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." I Know he lives and loves us. He has carried our griefs and pains and knows exactly what we are going through and how to succor us. I know that this is His true and living church! I'm so grateful to wear his name on my chest every day.

Have a great week mis queridos amigos, y ¡Dios bendiga!

-Elder Bolinder

Back in Business! No pay, but great benefits!
Say hello to my little friend!
St. Peter With The Zone Leaders
Time For Some Great BBQ!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Week 33

Lakeville Zone at Mission Conference

¡Mucho Gusto Presidente!

Hola todos, what a week! I hope this email finds you all happy and safe. Esta semana has been unforgettable. Definitely a powerful, testimony building week this week.

Highlight of the week was Saturday, hands down. We had a mission conference where the whole mission gathered for a meeting in Bloomington. We were privileged to meet and hear from Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!! As well as, Elder Rulon F. Stacy and Craig C. Christensen, both incredible general authorities of our church. We took a huge mission picture with them, and then all 200 of us got to individually shake each of their hands as we walked into the chapel. Amazing experience! The spirit that radiates around these men is so profound!

And a fun fact: President Nelson studied to be a heart surgeon in Minneapolis for 8 years. So, evidence right there that whoever comes outta Minnesota is the best of the best!👌🏼

We heard an amazing talk from Elder Stacy about softening our heart, turning to our Savior, and being sanctified through His atonement. President Nelson talked about our purpose as missionaries and how we are striving to help people repent and become truly converted to the gospel of Christ. He also taught us about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the scriptures in our lives, and especially our lives as missionaries. A quote I really love from him was, "The Book of Mormon is like air, you don't really realize how much we need it until you can't have it." The Book of Mormon restores plain and precious truths and contains the fulness of the gospel. It is the keystone of our religion, take it away and the whole arch crumbles. I know this is Christ's church because I know the Book of Mormon, as a companion to the Holy Bible, is the word of God!

Then, in the evening, we got to hear all three of them AGAIN! They had a YSA Fireside and we got to join a recent convert and some other young single adults from the ward that drove up. Just an absolute spiritual feast! 

After the conference, since we live about an hour south, we received permission to work with the Minneapolis Spanish elders for the afternoon! That was my companion's last area, so Elder Christiansen wanted to see a few old investigators he was teaching. We had a good time, and even had a really powerful lesson with a Hispanic girl named Carmen and convinced her to come with us to the to the Fireside with President Nelson. Since the Fairmont Elders drove up with us to the mission conference, they got permission to stay for the fireside as well. Unfortunately, the Minne elders couldn't find a ride, soo we may or may not have stuffed 6 elders into our tiny Corolla all the way up there 😂. So uncomfortable. But don't worry, we made it there safely haha.

They had a really good question and answer session where they talked a lot about how we receive answers and guidance in our lives from our Heavenly Father. And also some powerful testimonies at the end from all three of them. There was a beautiful musical number sung by some of the youth in the congregation with powerful, peaceful spirit. It made me reflect back on the personal revelation that I have received through the Holy Ghost, that come to a knowledge of the things I grew up believing, to now knowing them to be true for myself. I know that God answers all of our prayers, He wants to guide us and direct us and if we turn to Him in sincere and humble prayer, we can feel of His divine love for us and gain a testimony of the things that are true.

I felt the Spirit testify to my heart that these men are called of God, and hold the priesthood power and authority to direct Christ's church today. It was an unbelievable day in my mission that I will never forget!

We had a really cool lesson this week with one of our progressing investigators, Theresa. It's always super difficult to have a lesson with her because she has two tiny dogs that yap and try to run out in the street, and a very energetic and active little 6-year-old daughter. She always has such a hard time focusing (just like me haha). So we devised the perfect plan.. Chalk! We gave her some chalk to draw us a picture on the sidewalk, and in the mean time we drew out the whole Plan of Salvation on her driveway! It was perfect, because while she was distracted we were able to teach Theresa the whole lesson and testify to her of the purpose and hope the knowledge of the plan really brings into our lives. She loved it, and it was really funny because we explained to her when we are resurrected, our bodies will have no more imperfections. She goes, "No more tumors? Man, that would be NICE!" (She has cancer). She got super excited about that, it was great!

I absolutely love teaching people about God's plan of happiness because I feel like that part of my testimony has grown the most out here on the mish. And I love how the central focus of the Plan of Salvation is Christ's mission to come to earth and be our Savior, to atone for the sins of the world and allow us to return back to our Father in heaven! I am greatly disappointed, however, at the fact we forget to take a picture of our magnificent art-work :(. Next time.

This week we had a zone blitz all the way up in Prior Lake. So all the missionaries in the zone met at this Target and we all split off into different parts of the sisters’ area to go do some finding! I was paired with an elder from Logan Utah, Elder Beach. We went tracting in some town-homes and found a super cool older gentleman with a pretty unique name - Orlando! He let us in and we taught him in his basement. He said he is Christian, but doesn't have a church he belongs to. He asked us a ton of questions, and we were able to explain our beliefs in Christ and about the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Too bad this guy isn't in our area so we can teach him because he was awesome! It was funny seeing all the missionaries meet back up in the Target eating area all sopping wet. Everyone walking past was like, "Woah, what happened to all you guys?" We were poured on with blessings, that's what happened!! Lol.

That's all for this week, ¡Hasta la próxima!

 Always in my prayers!

 Con amor,
 -Elder Bolinder

Mission Conference With President Nelson

Friday, May 19, 2017

Week 32

Mother's Day Breakfast

Wait...They Don't Speak Spanish!

We had an absolute TON go on this week. So bear with me, I'll try to pack in as much detail as I can!

We had a super sweet finding miracle this week, on Tuesday. We were knocking through this apartment, and we walk up the stairs and hear some commotion going on. We pinpoint which door the noise was coming from, suspecting that there was a Hispanic family behind that door (since we are assigned as Spanish speaking missionaries, we are specifically looking for Spanish speaking investigators). We get a little closer, and we're like Oh yeah those are for sure Hispanic kids in there! So we knock, and it turns out.. They were Indian!😂 I guess my "Hispanic Senses" aren't up to 100% still haha. But, we went for it anyway and they let us in to teach them! The Dad was the main person talking to us while the mom was trying to get all the kids out the door, but his name was Anwar and he was the nicest guy ever. He told us they were Muslim, so it was the first Muslim I have taught on my mission. Pretty neat surprise! It went really well, he talked to us a lot about what he believes in and told us he enjoys learning about other religions. We got on the topic of prophets and we related his beliefs of the prophet Muhammad and the Karan to the Book of Mormon. Just like what he believes the Karan to be, it is a Book full of revelation from God brought forth by the hand of a prophet - Joseph Smith! We invited him to start reading the Book of Mormon, as well as the Bible, and ponder their teachings. And he accepted! Super awesome experience that we weren't expecting at all hahaha.

Another interesting thing that happened this week.. I went to jail!! Don't worry I didn't get in trouble haha. We actually got to visit a member of the ward who has gone through a lot in his life and it was actually super awesome! He has his struggles, but you can still tell his faith is still kindling inside him. We got to say a prayer with him and also give him a Book of Mormon, which he appreciated a lot! An additional adventure from the week: Running into drunk dudes! We knocked on doors through this little neighborhood in Mankato and this guy is just standing in his driveway with a beer and a cigarette in his hands. We tried talking to him for a bit, and he just went off on these weird tangents on hitting a deer with his car on the highway one time. And we were like, what the heck is he talking about? Haha, oh man it was hilarious! But besides being a little hard to talk to, he was surprisingly a really nice guy and accepted our card and a Book of Mormon. Doubt anything will come from it, but who knows!

On Saturday we were able to help out an older couple in the ward, the Hancocks, move out of their trailer-home. They live a way out in a town called Madison Lake, so it's a bit of a drive - about 30 minutes. They bought an old bus that was originally a school bus, then had all the seats taken out. So, we ended up packing almost their whole house into this thing and stuffed it to the ceiling! It was like a crazy game of tetris lol. We didn't get all of it done that afternoon, so today we sacrificed a bit of our day off and woke up early at 5:45 to drive out there again and help them finish everything before they had to leave. Despite our efforts to get it done early, we still ended up working until about noon and then they took us out to lunch! So that's why this email might be a bit late today, perdón. I'll attach a pic of the gnarly bus though!

We didn't get to see a lot of our progressing investigators this week, partly because half of them are miles away in New Ulm, partly because of scheduling conflicts. But Germán is still doing well, we just need to help him get to church so he can be baptized! Keep him in your prayers, as well as Shun. This week was such a solid week, and I wish I had more time to include some other mini-miracles, but I know that the work we are doing is the Lord's work. He is preparing people all around the world to receive the restored gospel of Christ and we get to share this glad message with others! 

 I hope all you lovely mothers had a wonderful Mothers Day! I sure enjoyed my opportunity to skype with my family and tell them how much I love them. I am so blessed to have such a strong and loving mother! A quote that was mentioned in a talk during church really touched me. From the 2015 General Conference, an apostle from our church, Elder Jeffery R Holland, said "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child". Mother's have such a divine role in the family, and have special qualities of kindness and compassion that help them fulfill this important responsibility. I cannot express how grateful I am for my mom and all she has done for me, and for our loving Father in heaven who has blessed us each with an opportunity to come to earth and have a family! I hope you all know how much I appreciate every one of you as well, y espero que disfruten su semana!

Cuídense mucho amigos.

-Elder Bolinder

Madison Lake Moving Bus!

Mankato, MN Crew

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Week 31

Biking in St. Peter, MN

Little México 🇲🇽

Since this week was transfer week, on Wednesday everybody got shuffled around driving up to the twin cities to pick up their new companions. Elder Atwood drove up to get a new greenie who joined us in the Mankato ward, and we've had a great time so far with him this week. So, we got to have another missionary, Elder Smith, join us in a trio for the day! We went up to Le Sueur, where most of our Hispanic investigators are, and had a few lessons up there so we had some fun trying to translate a bit for him lol. But we did contact some English people as well, and met this guy from Florida who we talked to and gave him a Book of Mormon! Too bad he is technically outside our ward boundaries, so we have to refer all the English speaking people we found to other missionaries. Nonetheless, it was still an awesome contact and a great day!

Other great news in Le Sueur  -- we recently got to teach a Hispanic referral we got this week. She's a super sweet lady named Maria from México. She heard a little bit about our church from the sister missionaries, but wanted to get un Libro de Mormón (Book of Mormon) in Spanish. We got to explain to her a little bit of the background of where it comes from, what it is, and the restoration of the gospel! We're excited to see how she will start progressing, but probably the highlight lesson of the week. 

This week we have tried to focus more on finding since we don't have a ton of people to teach right now. We were able to take out one of the priests in our ward who is waiting to get his mission call and get him some tracting experience! We didn't have much success but we had a few good contacts. Towards the end of the week we were getting a little discouraged because of the lack of new investigators we were finding, but we kept pushing. And although it's been a grind, God has blessed us with some miracles for our efforts! On Sunday, we were going to see our investigator Germán. He lives in a trailer park on the other end of town here in St. Peter, and there are two trailer parks here that are just loaded with Hispanics. Basically 95% of the Hispanic families that live here are in these two trailer parks. Although they have been tracted over soo many times from past elders here, we still go there frequently to see German. It's the funniest thing though because right as you walk in, it literally feels like you've walked into a mini México! They've got Latino music blasting, little kids playing fútbol on the streets. It's great😂. Reminds me of my time in La Ciudad de México. Well one of our goals for this month is to say hi to every person we see. So, as we walk down the streets of "Little Mexico" we say hola to this guy and his buddy just standing on the side of the house. One of them gave us a nonchalant "hola" back, but then the other guy starts walking up. He walks up to us and asked, "hey, where are ya'll from?" He was probably in his early 20s and had a beer can in his hand so at first I was like oh no, hopefully he's not drunk. But he was super nice! We told him we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and explained to him some of the things we do as missionaries. He told us his nephew just got cancer and he's really worried about what's going to happen. We said a prayer with him in his behalf, and were able to teach him about the plan of salvation that Heavenly Father has for us and give him comfort in knowing that if something happens, he will see his nephew again! His name is Hector, and he turned out to be just a genuine guy who is starting to look for God in his life. We set a time to meet with him again next week, and although it didn't happen right away, we were finally blessed with an awesome new 'gator! 

That's all for this week, but it's definitely been a good one. Really looking forward to this next transfer, and I feel like things are finally on the upswing in this area! I love being a missionary. I love being a disciple of Christ, and sharing the joy I have felt from His gospel with others! I know that our Father in Heaven loves us. He knows us personally. He wants us to be happy has a plan for each and every one of us. He loves us so much that "He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and he is the central part of the great plan of happiness. As we turn to him, have faith in him, and repent, we can grow to become more like him and "overcome the world", just as He has. 

I love you all so much and I thank you deeply for all of your amazing examples and support! ¡Hasta la próxima semana!

-Elder Bolinder

Mankato Ward Missionaries
An Artifact From "Home"!

St. Peter P-Day "Games"
St. Peter Rainbow
At Mankato Chapel on P-Day
Riding in the Rain - St. Peter, MN

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week 30

Biking in St. Peter, MN

Staying Saucy in St. Peter

Hola todos, happy transfers! Transfer boards are fresh out of the oven and just got the news that I'm staying here another 6 weeks in St. Peter with Elder Christiansen! I’m definitely looking forward to this next six weeks. We have high hopes!

This week was a good week! Unfortunately, not super eventful. But we're still on that mission grind! We were cutting close to our mileage allotment for the month so we mostly worked here in St. Peter. We had some fun biking in the rain lol. Overall, it was good.

Some things to highlight from the week:

We had a mission-wide finding hour this week. So, we set a time that every companionship in the whole mission would spend a full hour out either contacting or knocking on doors trying to find new people to teach. We had a few really awesome contacts with people, one of which is a Minnesota State college student from Vietnam named Dawn. We had a really nice conversation with her and we testified of the perfect love our Heavenly Father has for each of us. We were able to teach her most of the restoration at her doorstep, and she was super nice and was interested in us coming back! We got her number, so hopefully we can set something up with her after finals. It was such a neat experience knowing that every single missionary in the mission was out knocking doors and sharing the gospel at the same time!

There's a member of our church who lives south of us in a town called Mapleton who has a famous hot sauce called "Cherry Sauce." It's crazy hot! It's not peppers, but condensed cherries that make it so tart it causes it to be spicy. It’s similar to ice being so cold it can burn you. Just to give some perspective, a ghost pepper is about 1 million Scoville units, one of the hottest peppers in the world - the Carolina Reeper - is roughly 4 million Scoville units, and one drop of this sauce is 14 million Scoville units!! So, of course, my mission wouldn't be complete if I didn't try it at least once😂. Elder Christiansen and I just about DIED hahaha. But, ¡Vale la Pena!

On Wednesday, we had a super awesome opportunity to help teach part of the mission prep class for our stake with the Mankato elders. It was a really awesome experience. we have some super solid youth in our ward! Makes me wish I would have started having a pattern of daily scripture study and prayer earlier in my life, because now I realize the power and importance of these fundamental testimony-building habits! We also got a few of the priests to come out to ward soccer on Saturday and meet some of the non-member MSU students who also play with us. I'm definitely a lot better with my hands than my feet, but I've noticed the more Spanish I have been learning the better I become at fútbol. Maybe there's a correlation there? Haha jk. But I am really starting to love it! We also had an amazing zone conference on Tuesday all the way up in Lakeville. It was awesome to see all the missionaries in our zone, and it's crazy big, we have so many elders in our zone haha!

We were able to see one of our progressing investigators Germán this week, and he's like one of our only Spanish speaking investigators so it's always nice to meet with him and practice some Español haha. He is still progressing well, it's been difficult to get him to church, however, because he works on farm and has work on Sundays. We had a great lesson with him yesterday about the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy and partaking of the sacrament at church! He said he will talk to his boss about starting to switch his work schedule, so hopefully he can come more often!! I'm so grateful for the chance we have every Sunday to give our time to worship the Lord and be spiritually nourished at church. There's such a powerful spirit there every time! I know that as we go to church every week, and partake of the sacrament, we can have the Holy Ghost with us always and be strengthened to endure the struggles of this life. I testify that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer. It is through him that we can take the sacrament and be forgiven of our sins! I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!

-Elder Bolinder

Cherry Sauce From Mapleton, MN
Aftermath of the Cherry Sauce Test!
Lakeville Zone Conference
Soccer in Mankato, MN