Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 65

Faribault Snowman!

Many are cold, few are frozen..❄️☃️

Welcome back folks! Because of the lack of email due to Christmas last week, there's a lot to write about. It's been a good couple weeks, though!

Man, it's been brutally cold here, not gonna lie! The past week has been consistently 20 to 30 below zero with windchill. Because of the cold, it's a lot harder to stay effective outdoors so we've been tracting inside a ton of apartments (to stay warm). Haha! I guess I'm still not a true Minnesotan yet because I am freezing!😂

My second Christmas in the mission field has been just as marvelous as the first! It's an amazing feeling to celebrate the birth of Christ as a full-time missionary. The entire month of December was just filled with service opportunities, and it truly makes such a difference - the amount of joy that you feel when reaching out to God's children is incredible! Some highlights include visiting elderly members and their relatives in retirement homes, anonymously dropping off winter hats and coats to those in need, giving priesthood blessings to the sick, and shoveling LOTS of snow haha. It was an incredible experience with the Light the World campaign, but a common response we got when we shared this message is, "This is awesome! We should be doing this not just in December, but year-round!". So, don't stop sharing your light people!

There's a member of the ward here who served his mission in Denmark, so their family invited us over on Christmas eve for a Danish Christmas dinner and they had a few families from the ward and we brought a couple investigators. We had pork roast, caramelized potatoes, green beans, and Danish favorites - beats and Brussel sprouts. For dessert, we had a huge tub of rice pudding with slivered almonds, and hidden in the huge bowl of pudding is one whole almond. So, the game is whoever finds the whole almond in their bowl wins. But, they don't have to tell everyone when they found it. They can hide it in their mouth and make the other people stuff themselves and go back for seconds and thirds to find it until they announce they have it haha. We sang some carols and read about the birth of the Savior in Luke chapter 2, and the sweet peace of the Spirit is always fills the room when we read that story. I'm so grateful for our Savior and his humble birth. All in all, we had some good laughs and good memories.

On Christmas morning we headed over to the Post family residence to open presents. After opening stockings and having some warm cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I had a lovely Skype call home to the fam bam. While we were on our calls, the girls wanted to do some face paint haha. And all of a sudden, our Christmas party turned into a Halloween costume party! Interesting turn of events but I've got some pictures attached haha. It was a blast. We had dinner at another family’s home, and they had lots of friends and family over. The wife had been dealing with lots of neck/back pain, so we actually helped prepare the meal! They put our missionary cooking skills to the test, and I have to say it turned out pretty good! Lol.

The week before Christmas we had exchanges with the Mankato elders once again. It's always great to learn from other missionaries’ examples. One of them left their iPad in our car so we had to drive all the way back there to give it back, so due to that mishap we decided to do another exchange that day. So, two in a row! Haha. A highlight from that is that I got to teach some Spanish lessons for the first time in a while! We reconnected with a cute little Hispanic family who we taught back in September - la familia Bermudez. Also, we had a family home evening at a member's home and one of the families is hosting a couple high school students from Venezuela who we have also started teaching!!

So, throwback to September when I first got to the area, we got a referral for a guy whose address didn't exist and the phone number was disconnected. Basically, a dead end and we had no way of contacting him. So, we eventually forgot about it. Until last week we were randomly going through the old paper area book and stumbled across his name! Apparently, he met with missionaries before about 4 years ago, and from there we found another address to find him!! So, we got to meet him, and he has gone through a lot of hardships. Specifically, lots of health problems. But he told us that in all the churches he's been to, he is still searching for a sense of forgiveness from God and relief from the guilt and pain he feels in his life. It was definitely inspired that we found this guy when we did. We were able to teach him about how the gospel of Jesus Christ fills that hole is his life and allows him to receive that knowledge of God's love and mercy. Through our faith in Christ, repentance, and making and renewing baptismal covenants, we receive the Holy Spirit which strengthens and purifies us. "For the gate by which he should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 31:17). This process is simple in concept, but harder to understand the depth of its importance until we apply it. I know firsthand, that no matter where we are or what we've done in life, if we turn to Christ and apply his gospel we can be healed and forgiven!

With 2017 coming to a close, this concludes an entire year of being a full-time representative of Christ. I have grown to love the people of Minnesota so much! It's been a year of growing and learning, and getting more and more outside of my comfort zone every day. I know that this is God's work. We are in His hands. I love you all, and have a wonderful 2018!! Cuídense.

-Elder Bolinder

The Mankato / Faribault Crew
Christmas Face Painting
Christmas Costume Party
Christmas or Halloween?!?
New Sleeve for Christmas!
Family Time at Christmas
Faribault Sunset
Biting Cold!
Minnesota Wind Chills!
Winter Picnic!

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