Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Week 97

Final Area - Alexandria, MN

A Warm Welcome to 'Alec'

Welcome back amigos!

Coming at you live from central Minnesota. Alexandria - population of a whopping 13,000! All the locals call it Alec. It’s been an interesting week for sure, but so many good things are happening. We’re just absolutely thrilled!

Let me give you some more details of the area. From one end of our area to the other it is a 2-hour drive, and Alexandria is the biggest town. So, there are a lot of cornfields in between! The area has been closed and reopened to missionaries countless times, and there hasn’t been a baptism there for 6 years! But, as of about a month ago, a Colombian family came to visit for the summer and hired an interpreter from Mexico so they could go to church. The interpreter wasn’t a member, but loved the church and felt the spirit so he was taught by the members and he decided to be baptized! So, we are reopening the area, and on top of that, President thought he would jump on the opportunity with the Spanish-speaking recent convert so they tossed me in here sort of as a guinea pig to try to spark something with the untouched Spanish work in the area! It is super exciting but also pretty daunting!! There is a branch of about 40 people, and the members area suuuper great. They were beyond excited to have missionaries again!!

Okay now let’s get into how weird the week was. On Tuesday, I spent the entire day in Bloomington and stayed the night at the APs because they combined our groups for departing missionary training. They had us go a transfer early since the temple was going to be closed in September. It was weird to have to do that 6 weeks early, but it was a good experience nonetheless. Got to go to the temple again! And the spirit was incredibly strong as all the “dying” missionaries gave powerful testimonies of Christ. On Wednesday I packed, we had a few lessons and I said goodbye to all the amazing members of St. Paul! Then Thursday was transfer day. However, since our housing coordinator was out of town until the next day, my new companion Elder Harris (from Pocatello!) and I didn’t get transferred until Friday because we had no apartment yet. So, yet another day in Bloomington spending the night at the assistants’ place. Haha! On Friday we drove 3 hours out to our area and spent most of the day moving into our new apartment. We’ve basically only had two and a half days in the area so far!

We’ve experienced some pretty cool miracles so far! First off, when we were moving all our furniture into our new apartment this guy next door walked out of his door. We said hi and started to chat and turns out he is a less active member from Lakeville! He’s here for college. And the Elders just happened to move in right next door, what are the odds!!? 

Second off, we happened to receive a referral for this guy named Jordan. We called him and he said he was available to meet that night! It was an adventure trying to find him way out in the middle of nowhere without an address.. that’s a story in it of itself! Lol. But it turns out he’s from mainland China here for a summer work program. Staying with them were 6 people from China, 3 people from Jamaica, and 2 people from Thailand! (The diversity continues! Lol) Jordan has essentially no religious background whatsoever, but was just so intrigued by Americans’ religious beliefs and asked us, “why do so many of you guys believe in God?” We talked for 45 minutes straight that God is our Heavenly Father and how we can seek to know Him. In the middle of the lesson, all of a sudden their roommates throw out a plate of chicken feet in front of us!! Haha. That definitely took us off guard! I guess you’re not exempt from exotic foods no matter where you areπŸ˜‚. The coolest part of that night was when we said the closing prayer. Elder Harris said a short simple prayer, and when we looked up afterwards, Jordan was literally on the edge of his seat. His eyes were just fixed on us during the entire prayer! He was just blown away and said to us, “that was the first prayer I’ve ever heard in real life, not in the movies!” It was so cool to see how amazed he was at a simple prayer, and in my nightly prayer I thanked my Heavenly Father so much for the connection we have with Him through prayer. I don’t think any prayer will be the same again after that experience! And we also got Jordan to come to church!! He’s just so open and willing to learn, and we’re hoping he can progress well before he moves back in a couple months!

Our third experience was when a member drove us to a tiny town on the edge of our area where there’s a pretty decent Hispanic population. We went to see this member, and she let us right in. Their whole family is from the Dominican Republic, they lived in Alaska and met with the missionaries there, and now moved to Minnesota. She was just so grateful to have us come over again and she said she hasn’t been to church in 3 months and really wanted to go but didn’t know where the church was and so she was super excited to hear we are trying to start a Spanish group in Alexandria! We also met a few of her kids, one of them is named Raul and isn’t baptized but was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon again. So, we are going to start teaching them and get them to church!! 😁

The cherry on top of the ice cream has to be the Spanish convert Milo and his familia. He’s super awesome and he is already a member missionary! We had a lesson with them and set baptismal dates two weeks out for his two sons who are 9 and 10, wahooo!! So, with Esperanza and her family whom we invited to church, our Spanish group has already grown to 3 families in just one week, with two baptisms on the way. What an awesome way to start the transfer! I’m grateful for the Lord’s hand in this work, and for everything I continue to learn out here in the mish.

To end, some funny finding stories from this week:
We were knocking doors in this apartment complex, when a little girl answered. We asked if her mom was home, and she ran outside the complex to get her. As she’s running, we hear her say, “Mom!! The two mailmen are at the door!” πŸ˜‚. A couple doors down, we knocked and the door swings open only for us to see this 4 year old boy completely naked! Before we could say anything, he says “come in!” And about 3 seconds later he realized he didn’t have any clothes on and shut the door and ran off. Hahaha we were laughing so hard, we just thought, what just happened? Sadly, the parents didn’t come to the door, but we definitely got a laugh out of itπŸ˜‚.

Well, I just want to let all of you know how much I love each one of you! 

Que tengan una buena semana,

-Elder Bolinder

Elder Bolinder and Elder Harris
The Famous Alexandria Viking
Sweet Mission Car!
Impromtu Picnic
Alec Scenery
A Warm Ward Welcome

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