Sweden Stockholm Mission

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tues July 23, 2013

Hej Hej Familj och vener!
Well it's official, I have made it to week 2! I guess I can get down to the nitty gritty now! (ntm-name that movie)

Tuesday night after I wrote you guys we had the devotional where we sung Nearer My God to Thee for the choir. Richard Hinckley (pres Hinckley's son) and his wife spoke to us about following the spirit and being true to your mission. Sister Hinckley recounted the tale of Ephraim Hanks and how he did not question the spirit when it prompted him to go and help the saints crossing the plains. I LOVE THAT!! Not once did he question that prompting, he got up and left immediately and helped save so many people because of it. It got me thinking that I never want to miss out on helping somebody because I want to follow the spirit without question. I would be so sick to find out that I could have saved someone, either physically or spiritually, but did not heed to the prompting. I hope you guys feel the same way. On the back from the Marriot center, the crowd of missionaries was massive!!!! It didn't seem to ever end. We got to the top of the hill and looked down and people were still exiting the Marriot center, and we weren't even near the front!! Satan has to be so intimidated when he saw that, because I knew I was. And it's not just here the massive crowds of missionaries, it is all over the world! People are going out in strong numbers to bring people to Christ! It is fantastic!!

Wednesday Elder Hansen and myself had a great lesson with our "investigator" about the Atonement. We prepared well and had a lot of good things to say. Of course we didn't think we did a great job with speaking to her, but we brought the spirit definitely. I gave her a short simple but heartfelt testimony of the Savior from my heart. It was amazing. The lesson for the day was how Our Purpose as missionaries is the same as the Doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, enduring to the end. We invite them to follow Christ by these things. They don't know how to do it, so that is why we are there. To show them to the straight path through the gate of baptism. 

TALL is something we do on the computers to learn language. It works really good for me because I can memorize really simply if I see it and keep it in my head. But at the same time it is kind of bad for me because I need to do it without seeing it, but hearing Swedish. Whenever our teachers testify to us or we as a district pray in Swedish, I don't know exactly what is being said, but I know the spirit that they bring is so strong. It's cool how that is even better than fully understanding what people have to say. Oh another great thing our district does to grow(i'm pretty sure we are the best/closest district here ha) is once a day go around the room and sincerely compliment the person who is about to pray. It really brings the spirit to the class and helps us appreciate each other instead of finding the bothering things about them. How cool! I will admit this week has been tough with getting frustrated with people and little things that annoy me, but this is something that really helps me realize how great everyone here is. Whenever we discuss or study scriptures and doctrine I have a hard time writing it down because I don't like to write. I would rather just store it in my brain. I need to work on this, cuz no matter how great I think I am at remembering, I'm not. Ha so i've been writing more and more thoughts and impressions than before.

Thursday we had gym time in the morning and our district played sand volleyball together. It was a lot of fun because all of us are actually decent! Haha. Brother Bloomfield talked with me and Elder Hansen after our discussion lesson and I swear he was inspired to do so. I was so down on myself and mad that I couldn't understand the language that well and just feeling stressed out. He talked with us that it doesn't matter. By showing genuine interest in someone, even though you know nothing what they say, as long as you listen with love you can understand their spirit. That's all that matters. I have had a really hard time with that because I'm usually so independent and have to do things my way and without any help. But I can't do that. There is no way I can survive the mission that way. I HAVE to rely on Jesus Christ and the spirit to guide me. And also my companion. We have to be on the same page or else we will fail in teaching. So I have to humble myself and ask for help a lot. It's hard, it really is, but it is so rewarding if I do. Sleep still is hard for me here, especially when it comes to that after lunch time like 2-4 pm. I struggle to stay focused and hear what's going on ha. 

Friday's motto of the day would have to be Be Positive No Matter What! Things can go so wrong and you feel like you aren't getting anywhere at all: doors slammed in your face, can't understand anyone, no one will listen. But as long as you go through that with a positive and work just as hard if not harder the next time because there will be something small that will make all that hurt go away. I call them my Amazing Moments. I had one today (friday) that was just so awesome. One of our teachers sent us a video to thank us because she is getting married next week and will only see us a couple of more times. She thanked us all for the spirit that we brought that helped her in her life. She said we were an answer to her prayers. Wow. That hit me so hard! I had been so frustrated with not really understanding anything she said to us as but we brought the spirit still. We helped her in her life, by her saying that we were answers to her prayers was an answer to my prayers; that what I had done was just what she needed. It confirmed to me that I am helping people when I bring the spirit no matter what is being said. It was great! In my personal studies I found in PMG a quote that said "Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit". I thought that to be really cool, that we should not just desire the gifts of the spirit but earnestly want them to always be with you to guide, protect, and help you. We should all strive for the gifts of the spirit because they are so amazing, and the only way we can access those gifts is if we are worthy of them. We need to constantly check ourselves to see if we are worthy of these precious gifts. With these gifts it makes me want to work that much harder to show the Swedes how amazing they are because they don't have it. They feel the power of the spirit, but don't know fully the wonderful gifts the spirit brings to everyone. Everyday I feel a stronger love for these people who I have never even met, because I know how much better their lives will be if they come to Christ. I know firsthand the power and peace it brings in my life, I want the same for them. Me and my comp are getting better at planning. We set a long term goal, then short term goals to accomplish them, and everyday goals we can accomplish those small goals. It really helps!

Saturday marks the one month away until we get to Sverige! (svair eejz ah) It was a fast pleasant day so that's good. I had a nice workout for Johnson's Bootcamp in the morning and the guys really held up! In my personal study I read a scripture that says "Freely ye have received, freely give". This is the savior talking to his apostles about the Priesthood. They had been given the authority to use the power of God. It's interesting, Christ gives them and us the Priesthood freely, and he asks that we use that power worthily to people everywhere. We should not withhold the priesthood from anyone, that's what he means to freely give out the power of God to help people in their lives. It's funny, sometimes I'll be reading something and then gain a cool insight on a totally different topic. It's one of the great mysteries of God that is so amazing! We really dug deep in the Restoration in class and it was pretty cool. We came up with some questions investigators might have about it and as companions looked for scriptures or things to answer them. The cool thing about that was when everyone answered the questions I had an insight for every topic and had a scripture to go along with it. It was really cool how all of my seminary knowledge came back to me and just flowed out so nicely. Seminary really has made a huge impact on me especially since i've been here. 

We had a lesson on stress management that was really beneficial. Stress in itself is good, without it we are dead, ha. But we have to balance that stress or else we start to distress. I can't do the normal things to unstress me here like listening to my music or playing games, watching tv or playing soccer. I have to find a new way to help me unstress while i'm here. You can choose to have the stress affect you or you affect the stress. What I mean by that is you can let all the bad things affect you and cause you to become lazy or discouraged, OR you can put it out of the way and make that help you become better. I challenge you guys to try it when a situation comes up! It will be interesting to see what you guys find out. 

After dinner, we just watched Mormon messages and cried a bit. They are so powerful yet so short. AMAZING! I have been very diligent in my journal writing every night since I have been here. I am really glad I am doing it to remind me of spiritual stories or funny things that happened during the day. I am disappointed I waited till I was here to actually start one.

Sunday, whew. Good ol' sunday. After a week of class work for ever, it's nice to relax and enjoy the Lord's day. Priesthood we learned about the Holy Ghost like the names, callings, gifts of, etc. I saw Quin Gray, and I am sooo Happy about it! He is doing great and we are both excited to welcome in Jacob Morley this coming week. We sung hymns in Swedish and watched more Mormon messages and cried some ha. Really though, if you watch them all, or even just one, you feel the spirit so strong in each it's incredible! We also had a discussion about enduring to the end after sacrament meeting. It was really awesome and I shared a lot about what I said in my farewell talk. We then proceeded to the temple where we sat in some shade and just talked. I felt inspired to ask everyone of the guys' parents and what they love about them. It was cool seeing their faces light up as they talked about how cool their parents were and made me realize how grateful I am for mine. Thanks mother and father for all you have done for me: the amazing love and support in sports, 100% attendance, and just care for me. It's funny mom, I realize now how close we are when I didn't think that for awhile. I remember how I always wanted to go shopping with you, cook with you, and just be with you as a kid. It's so fun to look back at those times, but I do miss them. 

Sunday evening we went to choir where we are learning Praise to the Man and the story behind it. Satan really tried hard to get rid of Joseph Smith since he was born. It's crazy hearing all of these stories and makes you marvel at how he overcame them. W.W. Phelps' background to the song is pretty interesting. Look it up. The director is so funny and makes it a good time. That's what I was missing in high school, was for someone to make it enjoyable. I feel like since I have been here I have really improved on hearing music and being able to sing better. I have been complimented a lot on my voice and it is really nice. Lindsey McArthur's gma, Jolene Allphin, spoke to us about pioneer stories. It was really interesting
All of the Dutchies are leaving in the morning so we had our ritual of shoving all the elders in the zone into one room and sing songs and pray together. It's bittersweet that they are leaving: the ones who are going to Suriname (have to go to SC because of visa trouble for now) were like our big brothers, especially Elder Hall from Kansas. He was the coolest guy ever and had an amazing voice! There is a pic of us so ya. They will all be replaced by 30 elders!!! HOLY COW!

Monday we had our last lesson with Marta. It kind of surprised us so we were a little unprepared but we got through it and she is "going to be baptized"!! Ha it was funny we actually didn't hear her when she said yes, so we were like so is that a yes?? and she said yes and we laughed for a bit. haha! I feel really happy for her, even though she isn't a real investigator, I know that the gospel will bless her so much. Imagine how great my excitement will be for actual investigators in Sweden! But something I have learned is that, even if I don't get one baptism, if I worked my hardest and did all I could, I will know I did what the Lord wanted me to by planting seeds for them so that another missionary may see that plant sprout. It was a really cool insight I received. But still so stoked to finally get there!!! Me and my comp are getting better at studying the language, though we get off track easily ha. I pray that we can do better at that. 

Today is p-day so we just did service and laundry and then wrote emails and letters! Mom I do not know anything about the MTC West campus so ya sorry. I am wearing my short sleeve shirts often. I am good at ironing them, don't worry. We "stole" / borrowed the classroom's fan and put it into our room so I have been doing better on my sleep because of that. Thanks for the scriptures verses, they are awesome! I know Brody was inspired to find those! Cmon Stacy, start crackin;) Thanks to everyone for writing, its great! Send pics! Branden Clark leaves tonight for Nebraska!
Oh I found out our Branch President doesn't care how long we write so another 2 hour sesh from me today!
Jag alska dig! Lycka till med liv!

Aldste Johnson

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hej Hej Family!

Wednesday: I get dropped off and my host shows me around he dropped me off into my classroom where I met my district. The teachers were only talking in Swedish, so they made us all respond in Swedish from looking at the board for help. It was a bit intense just walking in and being expected to tell everyone about who I was in Swedish, right? There are a total of 6 elders (who are also the ones that I live with in the dorms- yes 6 to a room, but we make it work)
and 4 sisters who are in my district all of us just barely got to the MTC!

Elder H is my companion
and is from Chandler, Arizona and reminds me a lot of myself, which is very strange but a great blessing. We already hit it off well and quote movies back and forth to each other :) The guys in my room (six of us) are great and way fun to be around so nothing is awkward and we all are funny! The sisters in the district are way awesome and super sweet. Our teachers are Brothers D and B who both served their missions in Sweden have been home for less than a year! Both are funny guys and great teachers.

They said there were 830 new missionaries this day! Holy cow!! It's amazing to see how great people have taken the challenge and have chosen to serve the Lord. Next all the newbies go and talk with 3 "investigators" about the gospel, like you would at a door approach. What was interesting to see was that the missionaries just wanted to preach the gospel and bear their testimony on things these people had no idea about! So we didn't get anywhere. Our instructor (who was a convert from Paris France) kind of chastised us a bit but we still couldn't get it at the second investigator. But by the 3rd one we finally got on the right path.

Thursday: I didn't get a good sleep, but when do I ever? We went to the gym for our excercise time. Funny thing, Elder Gavin Hall happens to be in my zone, so I see him everywhere now!! Sidenote-our branch has 90 missionaries, the usual amount is 35 missionaries to a branch but we have more than twice that amount so we actually got assigned a third counselor to our Branch President. Our zone/branch is made up of all the Swedish (the 20 new ones that came in with me), the Norweigans (17 newbies), the Dutch who are going to Suriname and the West Indies and also the ones who are going to the Netherland/Belgium mission, the Danes, and our zone leaders are the only 2 who are going to Iceland! Pretty crazy group! Go Skandinavia and the West Indies! Oh by the way, you know how Norway claims to own the Vikings? Well it turns out that all of Skandinavia used to be apart of Sweden. So technically Vikings come from Sweden!! Sorry that was a long tangent, I just thought you all should know that!

The day usually goes: excercise, meal, personal study, class, meal, class, personal study, meal, class or study (sunday and tuesday devotional), planning and bed. Class time we learn about Swedish, but in a gospel sense. We don't learn about grammar or the basics of language, we learn about the basics of greeting, prayer and the gospel. Interesting way of learning the language, but definitely effective. This works better because we don't need to learn all the little things about the language, just enough about the things that matter most-the gospel; so we can teach all of those Swedes the gospel and let them experience the Spirit.

We did this a workshop about learning our purpose as missionaries and really digging deep on what that means. So you all know the purpose of a missionary, it's basically the 4th Article of Faith. I don't know why, but it finally hit me that the 4th AoF is so vital in missionary work, I mean it's all we talk about. I've noticed more and more about when I'm learning something or doing my own personal study, I get caught up in way cool spiritual experiences. Like the spirit will guide me to what I need to read or learn and then it just builds off of it and helps me dig deeper about some of the things I've already learned. I don't know how to give an example now but I will later, just be patient. Ah that was one thing that I have truly been working on. Patience and humility have been the main things that I'm trying to work at and be better. Because already I get a little frustrated about the language and people but then I catch myself and say I need to change. No matter how many times you think you're right or that someone else should change, that's a clue that you need to change. And so when I find myself thinking about these things I immediately stop and say a prayer to have my mind changed and that I can better learn from others what they have to offer.

In class we found out that we are supposed to teach an investigator in Swedish tomorrow (friday)!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I can barely even say a prayer in Swedish and make small talk, but now I have to share with her the gospel in Swedish! Let me just tell you that I have already grown my appreciation and testimony of prayer. I pray maybe 20 times a day now that I'm here; it's not a bad thing. Don't ever think saying a prayer is a bad thing. You should be doing that every day, regardless if you are on a mission or not; because that's how you build your relationship with Heavenly Father and grow closer to Him.

Friday: I made a promise to myself that the only weight I would gain here at the MTC is muscle weight; i've been working out really hard every day so Blake, Brady, and Ryan, get ready to experience a whole new level of chiseled when I come home. Yes that is a challenge to be better looking than me by the time I get home (obviously the humility thing I'm working on is going slowly...). Ok so in class Me and Elder H got down a basic lesson to teach Marta, our Swedish “investigator” and also a simple testimony to share with her. Needless to say, we said everything we wanted but didn't understand anything she said to us. We forgot to say a prayer, and honestly that's why things didn't go over very well. Things have been going better and we can understand her more, but I recently realized we haven't been teaching her. We have been teaching a scripted lesson because that was easier for us. No. That's not what we are supposed to do. We need to teach her what she needs to know, and what would benefit her with her circumstances by teaching by the spirit. That is what has been lacking from our lessons with her. No matter how good we may think we sound or don't, the ultimate teacher is the spirit.

Saturday: By the way this is taking forever to write. longer than the allotted time, oh well! Other than that, I have been strictly obedient to the commandments of the MTC, no matter how crazy they seem. Ok so our gym time is W,Th,F and then M, T, Sat we have our own personal excercise time, otherwise known as Elder Johnson's bootcamp. Yup, I'm whipping my elders into shape and working out hard, they kinda hate me for that, but I know it will be very beneficial to them later:) I'm still struggling with sleep but it doesn't bother me at all.

We talked with Marta today and it was cool being able to understand at least 75% of what she was saying!! Things are progressing for us, but we are far from where we need to be! I received Gina's package and I absolutely love it! Thank you so much, it is amazing! And thank you Karli and Blake for the package as well. But I feel like you guys are just trying to fatten me up. I'm trying to stay fit and gain muscle not fat, so help me out a bit:)

Sunday: Whew!  I finally got to get out of that cramped class where we spend 10 + hours a day in there! So I need to tell you that I'm sorry I haven't been homesick, but I just love it here! The only thing I truly miss is mom's cooking and the solitude of my basement sanctuary haha. Other than that, I'm good. We had Priesthood together as a Branch where we talked a lot about the Atonement. My favorite line from Preach My Gospel about the Atonement is where it says, "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." That really means so much to me, I've heard it a lot but it rings really true to me in my life. I'm so greatful that through all of my trials and times where I think life is unfair, it can ALL, i repeat ALL be changed through His Atonement. He saves me, and that's why I want so badly to spread His word to all the world because that still isn't enough to repay Him for what He has done for me. I hope you all have a personal relationship with the savior because he makes all the difference.

Later our district took a walk up to the temple where we took pictures and just enjoyed the freedom of being outside and near the House of the Lord. 

Not much happened after that than the fact that every night before we go to bed, the guys kneel down and pray in Swedish. oh i forgot, we also went to choir practice which we are performing tonight at the devotional. It is Nearer My God to Thee. The instructor was hilarious and told us the story behind the song. I knew it was about Jacob (isaacs son) but didn't know the whole story. I will let you study it out because it is a great story.

Monday: The days are finally going by in a goodly manner. What I mean by that is the days don't drag on and seem like forever. Now the days go by where I can keep track of what I'm learning and not be overwhelmed with everything that goes on. It was nice to have a break from language study Sunday, but now I am picking it up more and more. I almost lose track of the time studying the gospel and learning the language where i'm more mad that time is up. ha it's funny how that has flipped already! Brother D sat down with me and my comp and taught us how to truly teach Marta and other investigators rather than the lesson. It was frustrating because he wanted us to figure out what to do, but it made that much more of an impact because we had to study it out. These people in my district already feel like my family and we all have a great time together messing around and learning the gospel. At night we had a way crazy good ab workout with the zone so i'm feeling it now ha! At night we said goodbye to 2 missionaries in the zone by singing in their room (all the guys) with all 63 of us!! holy cow was it muggy!! But we decided we are doing the same thing when we leave the MTC:)

Tuesday: Today is P-Day, and I'm Stoked about. we did our service project and took a nap after laundry. I've written all this so ya I hope you like it! I love Dear Elder letters, handwritten letters (don't forget the perfume:) ), and also packages so keep em coming. I wish i could write more but i cant!! ah

People ive seen: Tyson Graff, Kyle Hansen, Kris Hansen, Branden Clark, Sam Tenney, Chase Evans, Kole Kiser, Jake Powell, Keiarra Cox, PJ, Chuck Emery,
and more people i can't remember!!
Keep me updated, thanks for all the letters i wish i could address you all personally but thank you.
Jag alska dig (yag elska day)
.. ..
Jag ar missionar for Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sista Dagars Heliga (yag er me who an ar fer yesu kreestee sherkah ahv seestah dogarsh helleegah)

Love Aldste Johnson