Thursday, June 29, 2017

Week 38

Crucial Minnesota Mosquito Defense Weapon!

Dang Skeeters!

Hello mis amigos! It's been another good week here in mosquito land. Granted, the mugginess is probably harder to get used to. But, we are having a blast here in Mankato. We had a dinner with an older couple outside on their porch this week, and they were like Boy Scouts they were so prepared! haha. They bought these food covers for all the food and also had an arsenal of this zapper shaped like a tennis racket and an as'salt'-gun to ward off the annoying mosquitos. Fighting the swarms like true Minnesotans lol.

This week was good, but a bit slow. Elder Stevens was sick during the start of the week. But, things picked up towards the end and we had some great milagros!

On Thursday we got to blitz the Minnesota State University campus and do some contacting! It was a little sparse because it's summer, but there was a basketball thing going on so we talked to a good amount of people. We were able to give away about 10 pass-along cards, but me and elder Stevens were disappointed because nobody took a Book of Mormon. So with our spirits a little down, we started to make our way back to the car. And then.. we run into Amina! She was this sweet African lady who accepted a Book of Mormon and gave us her number! 

Then, the next day we went tracting through this trailer park and absolutely nobody was home it was strange. We thought about going to a different street but we both felt like we should just continue on. Long story short, we met three people right in a row and taught all of them the restoration and left a Book of Mormon! Walking back to the car we passed by a few more houses and we thought, hey why not stop by one more house before we have to go to dinner. And sure enough, they answer and we meet Kyra and her daughter Morgan. They just moved to Mankato and are looking for a church to go to, so we taught them about the origins of our church and the Book of Mormon and invited them to church. She was super nice and really receptive! It's amazing how the Lord blesses us for working hard until the end!

On Saturday, we had a sweet service project we did for a member of the ward. We got to dig a 5-foot hole for the window-well he is putting in. It literally felt like the movie “Holes” haha๐Ÿ˜‚. But it was fun. And we got fed watermelon afterwards.. bonus! I'll attach a pic.

So a miracle from this week.. between the two sets of elders here we had 10 investigators come to church today!! And the family who's church we attended last week came and loved it! The wife was definitely touched by the Spirit, and had lots of questions. Afterwards she said to us "I think I'm going to start writing down all my questions for you to answer because I have way to many to remember." Haha. And I love when people ask questions because we have answers! 

We had ward conference, so we had talks from the stake presidency and it was so powerful. They talked about Alma 32, and amazing chapter in the Book of Mormon that talks about growing our testimonies of the gospel like we grow a tree. We have to "nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us." As we do those important daily things to nourish our 'testimony trees' such as prayer, scripture study, service, church, developing Christ-like attributes, we can taste of the fruit or the blessings and happiness we receive from the Lord. "And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit." I know this to be true because this is how I gained my testimony of the restored gospel. Reading the Book of Mormon, sincere prayer, seeking for answers and guidance helps us to grow spiritually. We can't grow a strong tree over night, we have to strengthen our roots to withstand the winds of the adversary. A really awesome quote from our stake president that I like is,"You only know as much as you are willing to pay the price to know." So true! 

That's all for this week, but I hope you know how much I appreciate all of you! Have a great week!!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Stevens Reenacting A Scene From "Holes"
Mankato, MN  Elders
Mankato, MN Scenery
Elders Buhler, Newell, Bolinder, Stevens
Mankato, MN Elders

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Week 37

Happy Fathers Day!

¿Quรฉ tal amigos?

I hope all you padres had a wonderful Fathers Day!

Wow a lot has happened this week! I'll start by filling you in on transfers last week.. So, I'm staying in the same area, but now I'm gonna be in a zebra companionship! That means I can't practice speaking Spanish with my companion, but I'm definitely going to try my best to teach him some Espanol! My new companion is Elder Stevens, and he's from Tucson, Arizona. Great missionary. Should be a great transfer! I also got called to be a District Leader. On top of all this, they are moving us to Mankato, MN. Now we are living with four elders in the apartment. It's a blast lol.

Other news from this week, on Monday our apartment flooded AGAIN!! This time it was the kitchen and bathroom.. kind of a bummer having to clean and go through that again but we got it fixed for good now. We are lucky it happened right before we moved out so we were able to catch it!

Since moving to Mankato, we've gone into a sort of transition phase where we are still trying to get out to St. Peter to see all our progressing investigators there, while trying to meet and find more investigators in North Mankato. This week was golden with all the set appointments we had, but unfortunately it was just one of those weeks where everyone fell through. We did get to see one of our new investigators Cathleen and met her family! We were able to teach them a lot about the restoration, and though they are very strong in their Christian church, we committed them to come to our church! We also saw German and he is doing well, but still won't accept a date to be baptized because he feels he isn't getting an answer to his prayers.. In due time!

A miracle from this week happened when we were going through potential people in Mankato. We stopped by this lady named Pam, and it turns out her nephew's family was taught by the missionaries a few years ago and joined the church. We talked about her experience with the Book of Mormon and she was really open to our message. As we talked on the doorstep, she felt the spirit touch her heart as we testified of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, and she committed to finally read the Book of Mormon in full and pray about it!! We'll definitely be following up with her in the next weeks, but she was the most solid person we met so far being here in Mankato.

Something different from this week -- we went to a different Christian church on Sunday. In our commitment with Cathleen's family, since they love their church and weren't really willing to come see what our services are like, we made a deal. If we went to their church one week, they'll come to ours! So, we went to their church called Two Rivers Vineyard Church. And it was interesting, but good. We were the only guys in suits there, and there was also a live band which was new to us. But we hope they keep their end of the deal because we truly want them to feel of the overwhelming peace that is present during our sacrament meetings ๐Ÿ˜Š. Their pastor is also from Ohio so we had a nice chat about the church history sites there and temples!  We had to hustle back to our church, but we made it in time. I always treasure the Sabbath day we have to worship God and renew our spirits through the sacred ordinance of the sacrament! It also made me appreciate the things that set our church apart, such as prophets and apostles, modern day revelation, and priesthood authority.

This weekend I've been thinking a lot about my father and grandpa and their amazing love and kindness. It made me ponder the incredible love that our Father in Heaven has for us! A scripture that is really powerful for me is John 3:16, and it says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." What better gift from a loving Heavenly Father than to give his own son as a sacrifice for mankind to atone for our sins!! If we have faith in Christ, repent, are baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure along the covenant path, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven. God loves you and knows you personally, and He has a plan for each of us. I know that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior and that he directs His restored church is hear upon the earth today through prophets and apostles. I'm thankful for the chance I have to preach His gospel! 

I love you all! ¡Disfruten su semana!

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Stevens

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Week 36

At The St. Peter, MN Blues Festival

Chalk-N-Talks for the win!

So today is gonna be loco.. We are having a zone P-Day!! We're driving up to the cities and going to Valley Fair. So yes, that means.. roller coasters!๐Ÿ˜œ YES!! I'm super pumped. But unfortunately, it leaves us with limited time to email so I apologize in advance if this is a bit shorter than usual.

On Thursday we had exchanges with Mankato, and I had a blast with Elder Atwood. He's ending his mission next week, and is an awesome missionary. It's been a blast working with him these last two transfers, and he has even picked up a few Beatbox sounds from me lol. We had some really awesome lessons with a few less-actives of the ward, and also ran into a lady walking on the sidewalk and gave her a Book of Mormon! She said she noticed how much corruption goes on in some churches and how it's confusing to know who is right. She said she doesn't have a religion but studies the scriptures and prays every day. She believes in God with all her heart, but considers most religions to be a form of business. We were able to testify of learning truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. Every morning when we read our scriptures and pray, we are seeking for the Spirit, which helps us feel of God's love and receive our own personal revelation from Him. The Book of Mormon brings the Spirit in my life like no other book can! I treasure every moment I get to read it, and I'm SO thankful for my testimony of Christ that has taken root in me because of this sacred book of scripture.

Saturday was super sweet. We planned on going tracting, but we biked through this park right by our apartment to discover a sea of people sitting on lawn chairs. Apparently, there was a free blues festival, and it seemed like the whole town was there! So upon realizing this, we decided to seize the moment and change our plans to do a Chalk n Talk! Basically, we picked a spot on the sidewalk, drew the Plan of Salvation, and talked to people as they walked by. It was actually pretty successful! We got to hand out a few pass along cards, and we also ran into our friend Alex. We taught him a while back at the college with one of the recent converts in our ward, and we got to teach him again! We gave him a pamphlet to read and committed him to pray to know if it's true. So boom, we got a new investigator out of it! And although we were sizzling outside with temps in the 100s plus humidity that day, it was vale la pena for sure! Haha.

This week I have been thinking a lot about families. Since we had Stake Conference last week, we had fast and testimony meeting this week. There seemed to be a common theme of families. How incredible is it that our loving God, in his infinite wisdom, would provide for us a way to support, grow, and love one another through FAMILIES! I am eternally grateful for my family, and for my knowledge of eternal families and the amazing plan of happiness that our Heavenly Father has for us. I know that the family is instituted of God, and through the miracle of the gospel of Christ, families can be together forever!

Thanks for all your love and support! I'm loving every moment our here in Minnesota and I'm still learning and growing every day. Have a great day everyone! ๐Ÿ˜Š

-Elder Bolinder

Epilogue [More from Elder Cambo toward the end of the day]:

Sorry this is so late, but I got a call while at the fair and got some news. First bit of news is I'm staying in St. Peter for another transfer! However, they made it a “zebra area” so I will be with an English companion AND we are moving into the Mankato apartment!! Another missionary frat house lol. So technically we are Mankato 2 Elders. And elder Buhler who was my zone leader in Lakeville is coming to the ward as well. Elder Christiansen goes to St. Paul with my trainer elder Callans! And the other bit of news, I got called to be a district leader! Should be a big transition, but I'm looking forward to it. Love you!

Elder Bolinder and Elder Atwood

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week 35

The Green Giant!

Picnics, 'Gators, and Conference!

¡Hola todos!

This week was a great one. And this week, for the first time in a while, I felt like an actual Spanish missionary! It started off with going on splits with the Elder's Quorum president, Bro. Peterson, to visit some less active and part-member families. He served a mission in the Dominican Republic! So, it felt good to practice some Spanish with him. We also saw a less active member and her husband who we are teaching at their Mexicano restaurant, and we got to try these delicious 'tacos de al pastor' which is basically marinated pork. It was the best! Later in the week, we also found 2 new Hispanic investigators!! That was a super cool miracle.

So Friday night, we were up in the Hispanic hub of our area, Le Sueur. We ran into a lady we contacted the other week and invited to church. She just got home from work, and we started talking and invited us in to teach her. We hit a stroke of luck because her brother was there too! We proceeded to teach them the first lesson and in the middle of the lesson there was a knock on the door.. Christina got up to answer it, and it was a member of our ward!! Josefina, she was taught by the missionaries and baptized a year and a half ago. So it was a super sweet miracle, we got two new investigators and literally walked into a member present lesson! Sick! Haha We committed them both to come to church next week, so we are crossing our fingers they keep their commitment.

And to wrap up the wonderful week, we had a fantastic Stake Conference in Lakeville! I definitely enjoyed seeing some familiar faces from my first area in the Spanish branch. The area looks completely different without all that snow! Super green and gorgeous. It's been super warm here lately, and I love it!

Another cool highlight from the week, we had another lesson with our investigator Ardice! Unfortunately, it was just her who showed up to our group lesson, but she brought us a PICNIC!! It was soo awesome! She brought ice cream, cookies, and apple juice. Such a sweet lady. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and she understood a lot. She was amazed at the fact we don't believe in just a heaven and a hell, but three degrees of heaven or kingdoms of glory. Really powerful lesson. Unfortunately, she didn't accept an invitation to be baptized, but it's funny because she mentioned she isn't very active in her Lutheran church because she can't drive, so every Sunday she stays at home, says lots of prayers, and watches the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on TV! We will keep teaching her and develop that deseo para asistir la iglesia!

Saturday we got the chance to do some muscle work for a couple in the ward living in St. Peter. They remodeled their garage and we got to put up sheetrock on the walls/ceiling! Super fun. And they fed us dinner afterwards which is always a plus! I love every opportunity to serve others because it truly gives you a feeling of joy knowing that you helped one of children, and in turn, you are actually serving God! As the famous words of King Benjamรญn go.. "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." So true!

We were privileged to hear from Area Authority, Elder K. David Scott during our stake conference. There were some really powerful talks and a lot of great topics! I'll just summarize some of my favorites from my notes:

1) We can control our level of happiness through righteous living.
• The more we reach out like the Savior, the more joy we find in helping others.
• "Kindness is the essence of a celestial life."

2) We have modern day prophets to protect us.
• Jesus Christ leads and guides this church today, and he will never lead us astray.
• Three words to describe the message the First Presidency wants us to hear:

3) The gift of our Savior Jesus Christ:
• "Always remember Him" means:
   - Knowing He lives and is our Savior
   - Learning, Applying, and Sharing His gospel
   - Having the privilege to do his work/will
• Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, he is desirous for us to enjoy and take advantage of the gift! ๐ŸŽ True joy fills us as well as him and our Heavenly Father when we truly repent.
BAT: Begin Again Today

4) Keep Sabbath Day Holy:
• Why? 
   - We have been commanded by the Lord and our modern prophets
   - To Strengthen our faith in our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ and His atonement.
•When we partake of the sacrament weekly and repent, we are becoming more like our Savior
   - "The do comes when we become"
Invitation: Hold a family council about how you can better keep the sabbath!

I was definitely spiritually nourished and energized for this upcoming week. Should be a great one! It's been an amazing journey so far on my mission and I am beyond grateful to have this time to testify of Christ, grow closer to Him, and become more like him. I hope you guys take advantage of the miraculous gift of our Savior and the chance we have every single week to start fresh, renew our convenant to follow Him, and receive His strength and Spirit! I know God lives. Christ is his son and our Savior. I love you all, and have a wonderful week!

-Elder Bolinder

Picnic With Ardice!
Tacos de alpastor y pollo
The Muscle Crew
For My Sis!
Sunday Dessert at Possin's
Lunch at Sam's Club
The Crew