Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Mission Pres and Transfers

On July 1 the Sweden, Stockholm Mission will have a new mission president: Gregory J. Newell.

This Saturday we meet the new president. We get to travel to Goteborg for that then have a conference for 2-3 hours and come back!! The trip to Goteborg is about 3 1/2 hours one way... so Saturday will be a day of travel. There will be two conferences, one in Goteborg and one in Stockholm, all the missionaries will travel to see him in either of those two places. So I am not traveling very far compared to those in Lulea.

I am sure he will be amazing! It will be exciting to see how the mission changes and if he can get us in to talk to new people or open new doors as an ex US Ambassador to Sweden!! Plus, he will know Swedish really well! I am excited, I will miss the Andersons though, they were really nice. It was cool, we were in Jonkoping and a guy stopped us and asked us if we knew Newell. Supposedly he had worked with him (he was a police officer or something) and really liked him. It will be fun seeing what happens when he is here.

We have transfer calls next Tuesday!! (p-day will be on Wednesday next week) I am predicting / hoping that I will go to Norrland, that is also what most of the district predicted I would be doing. But, who knows?! I actually want to go to Norrland for a winter...as far north as possible! I think it would be fun.. in a very new experience, cold and dark way!

First Quarter - completed!

I don't feel like I have been gone that long yet!!! It is really weird to think that it is a forth over, I really just hope that I am doing what I need to now, and that I will continue to do better so I will be able to help some of these people, my brothers and sisters. It is sad to see good people turn away this blessing without even giving it a try or even a chance.

It really is a roller coaster of an experience, there are those days where everything is amazing, there are several teaches, people listen and we meet with investigators who are doing well! Then there are those days and weeks where nothing seems to go right, everyone stops listening, they do not want to meet, we get blasted by investigators. But it is amazing what follows after. Overall, this is the best experience of my whole life and I only hope to be able to feel like this my whole life, to feel God with me, supporting me, teaching me and guiding me every step of the way. I am so glad to be a servant of the Lord and pray that I am able to fill the role that He has for me.

Yes, I have been well taken care of and fed. We usually have 1 dinner a week. Other than that we have plenty to live off of, and then a little so I can splurge and get a baguette for lunch every once in a while! The Nilsson family is great, they are like family away from home. I have really enjoyed getting to know them. They are now on vacation though, but others in the branch also continue to give us food and we visit them every once in a while. Actually this week we should have at least 3 meals! So, we are doing well and well taken care of!

Change is good, it makes life an adventure every day. There is always something new, something to experience! I like learning more about my own abilities, what I can or can't do, and making the list of cans longer, while scratching others off my can't list and putting them on a "sort of" list if not the can list. It is fun being able to surprise someone, to exceed expectation and go beyond that which is required. It is also fun learning to take what is given and make something amazing, to learn from all experiences - especially those that are challenges or disappointments.

Teaching is picking up again, it was on the slow side and people were in the "avoid missionary" mode, but now we are finding some people who seem interested in learning. As long as people want to listen, I will teach! And, when they don't really want to listen, I still try to teach! Even if it is just to be extra kind when flat out rejected! It is really fun.

The mission experience is hard to explain, to live in the service of the most powerful being in the whole universe and be trusted by Him is quite the role! It is a role that missionaries are set apart to fulfill, but ALL are called. I am learning more about how I need to live, what I need to be doing always to help people come to the light, to help the missionaries who are called to preach the restored gospel, to teach people. It is amazing seeing miracles happen. Miracles happen every day, do you see them? I know that I often miss them and only recognize it when I look back, trying to find where and how the Lord has helped me!

I don't have anything too new recipe wise. I am beginning to find that the Swedish dishes are all basically the same, though very good. It consists of meat, sas (sauce - some type of gravy) potatoes and other vegetables. You can eat them separately, mix them together, or whatever!

I met one investigator from O-vik and she knew everything about me it seemed! Come to find out, she reads my blog! It was funny. She was like, "Why are you always so happy?"

I hope you have an amazing week and that you can feel your Father's love. I am having the best time of my life, I am loving the companionship of the Spirit and learning about my Lord.

Austin/Aldste Maxwell

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Please, Help Your Missionaries!

Sasha has disappeared... it is really frustrating, we don't really have any investigators now that are progressing at all. We need to be doing more finding work, but that is always the least fun and least successful. Please, help your missionaries find people! The members are able to bring people in to the church so much better than missionaries are! Finding is slow, even though it is summer and all the students should be done with school, they are all "busy". I don't know, it is hard, having this message that everyone should want, and people don't want to even taste! It is even worse when they get mad because we talk to them. The cool thing though - not that it is ever good to be rejected - is that I always feel happy. It doesn't matter if they insult me or anything (not that that happens often) I know the truth and they are really missing out. It is amazing how much we are able to love random people we meet on the street, they hopefully see that love and can see the light of the message I want to share so much.

Yesterday was a little different. It was Stav Konferens, and we got to watch a broadcast from Salt Lake City! It was amazing , and we had one of our newer investigators in church. We got to listen to many of my favorites! And, as usual, it was very easy to feel their love and to learn from the spirit. I just hope that our investigator was able to understand most of what they said, he doesn't have the best English (we set up English in another room for him and we joined him with a couple other members who prefer to listen to the person not just the translation.) They were doing this for the first time in our branch. It is really cool seeing how different it is in a branch.

Teaching is a lot of fun, that is by far the best part, being able to have a good teach, to feel the spirit and to be able to say the right things to teach and guide without making them feel attacked in any way. It is amazing to see what happens. The message is full of such light and joy, it is evident in the feelings that it brings into daily life!! It is so cool seeing it touch someone in a teach and watching how they react, how they begin to want that for themselves. Finding is also a lot of fun, because I get to learn more ways of getting people to talk who would rather not, to get them interested and learn their views on life. It really is fun being a missionary!!!!!

I think that time is not working quite right. It is going a lot faster than is should be. I don't have the time to do any of the things that I should be doing in the little time left in the day. All I know is that school never went this fast. Not even pole vault season went this fast. Time just disappears!

This first quarter has gone by way too fast. I feel relatively comfortable but at the same time I know that I still have a lot that I can be doing better. For example, today I worked out... really worked out, and it has been a while. It felt good, helped me to wake up, and I am going to be doing it every morning now. You can check! I am a lot more comfortable talking to people and the cool thing is that they don't switch to English most of the time!!! I want to work more on Swedish though, I have been slacking off a little bit. In the next six months I will be working on talking to people , in the aspect of finding how to present the message so it is something they want, not just "hey, we come from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we talk to people about God, do you believe in God?" That doesn't work so well. I also plan to improve my Swedish vocabulary and continue to work on pronunciation. I still have a lot of work to do and I want to be able to explain better the doctrine, our beliefs and why they matter. It needs to mean something to the people.

It is good to see the light, recognize it for what it truly is and growing to become what we should be. I am so glad for this opportunity to come here and share the gospel with the people of Sweden, to serve them and to learn so much at the same time! I would never ever trade this time for anything!! I love you all. I will work as hard as I can, these people deserve to hear the truth. I am excited to see what next the Lord has planned for me and all my brothers and sisters, both here and abroad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week Has Been Amazing

I never see the sun set... It is still up when we go to bed and up way befoe I am!! It is cool.

This week has been amazing. Karlstad has been quite slow for a while and we have been needing some new investigators. So, we have spent time talking to old investigators, and talking to new people. It is amazing to see how when we trust in the Lord, he makes things happen and, when we follow instruction, blessings come. Last week when we got the weekly letter, I read through it. I was surprised to see that we were to challenge every investigator that we taught unless prompted not to. I wondered what would happen, but with my companion we decided to do it. The next day we went to teach Sasha. The teach started off really awkward and slow...but as we began to talk about God and what we believe, the spirit came and guided the discussion. We started talking about baptism, he told us that he had talked to Jehovas and they had said he would have to be baptized again, but he didn't like that. We began to explain what baptism really means, why it is important, and how Christ showed us how we should perform baptisms. he then told us that his baptism was wrong, that it was not good. Then, following promptings, and advice, we gave him the baptismal invitation. He accepted and was very excited! He started asking what he has to do to be baptized and what we believe. We taught the Word of Wisdom, he stopped everything on the spot and talked about how we would have to meet, come to church and everything. He was sooo excited, it was amazing. And the spirit was super strong as well!!! If all goes well, in two weeks time we will have had a baptism in Karlstad with Sasha!

I love seeing the Lord work miracles and me being able to help and to be there to witness the changes that happen in people.

It is amazing being able to learn and to grow, to be out in the field of the Lord, seeing how He works and shat it takes to help people to take off the blinders in life, to be able to see the whole perspective! I love this work and this opportunity!

May the Lord bless you all and keep you safe! I love you all very much and love hearing from you!

Aldste Maxwell

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

People Need an Example

My week has been good, as usual. After I tell you that Sweden is different than what is happening weather wise in New York, it is the same! It has gotten hot and I currently feel like the sweaty, nasty, damp...not too much fun. Especially since the deodorant they have here is nowhere near as effective! At least nothing I have yet found. The good thing is that outside it is usually windy and feels quite good... Though it makes it easy for the people to continue in their VERY immodest wear... but that is just another thing that Satan tries to use against his servants. IT WON'T WORK!!!

This past week has been good! All of our investigators have begun the "avoid missionary/too busy" stage and so we have had a slower time. I got to go on splits to Jonkopping though and teach, which went amazing, and got in contact with several super positive people, inviting to church and getting people to come to play basketball with us later that night!!! It was amazing! Now I just need to figure out how can we make that happen in Karlstad? We have begun talking to more people, we need some new investigators, people that want to make progress and join the church, learn of Christ! It is hard watching people turning away an opportunity to be really happy!

Today me and my companion were stopped by a man on the street, usually that is really good, so I was getting excited. Then, after he finished his other conversation, he turned to us and said, "To me, you are Al Quaeda". That was quite shocking, I have to say. He went on explaining that we do the same things as they do, that we teach religion and if people attacked us we would also become aggressive and kill people like them. At that point, me and my companion knew that it was pointless to counter what he said, and let him finish his rant about how we are evil and telling us to leave religion, to do something else. I am sad to see people like that who are so confused in the world. It is sad to see the hold Satan has on people, the ability that he has to blind them from the truth, and make them unwilling to even see the truth when it is given to them!!

In this world people need an example, they need someone to follow. They are not willing to follow Christ, but they see us every day. As members of the Church we covenant to take upon us the name of Christ. As they are not willing to look for Christ, we must do our duty and show them who Christ is through our own lives. I know that it is not easy to be perfect! I am myself far from perfect. But it is easy to smile! It is easy to say hello to someone, ask how they are doing! It doesn't take much! And who cares if it is "weird", what isn't "weird" about who we are, what we stand for? I know that people notice us, and all the things that we do. They know who we are. Be different! Be happy! Show everyone that we have something, because we really do have an amazing gift! And they do want it! And we want to share it! How is that for babbling? ha ha, I know this church is true, it is truly a church of happiness, of peace and service.

I am very grateful for all the examples that I have had through my life, the people that taught me truth and were able to help me understand who I am. I love being a missionary, it is the best feeling in the world to share the message, and even when rejected, I know we are blessed! It is never bad to be rejected, they just don't understand or are not ready, but the time will come and they will remember!

Love You!
Aldste Maxwell

Monday, June 6, 2011

This Week Has Been Really Good

This week has been really good. I started making smoothies again, made a really good one last night!!! I found one of the stick blender things in the apartment, forgot what it is called in English... but it works really well! I also had a raspberry chicken (like we made, but not quite as good) And last night I made gourmet Ham and Cheese! ha ha It was really good, I enjoy cooking. My companion is scared of my food though, he doesn't know what I am doing with it! Like, I put spinach in the smoothie....ewww! and raspberry reduction sauce = raspberry stuff. It is okay though, I cook for me and he cooks for himself, he told me that is how he has always been with his companions. I can live off about 200 crowns a week for food! and it is good food too!!! I made broccoli too, I never thought I would have missed it that much!

I am continually finding more answers to my prayers, and being blessed by the Lord. In the past week there have been at least three people who have contacted me! I had never had that happen so far, but it is awesome! I was able to teach several new people and had a great time! One of them was on the bus back from Filipstad, we had gone to visit a less active family.

We got on the bus and it started going... I decided I had to use the restroom and so got up, told my companion and went to the little restroom in the back of the bus, it was just like in and airplane...tiny. Anyways, on the way back to my seat a guy asked me a question, I didn't understand at first, but soon figured out he had asked if i was a seller. (Woo Hoo!) I, of course, said I was a missionary. He told me he was a seller, along with four others with him, I, taking advantage of the situation, began talking to him and the others. (So far all in Swedish) He asked questions about me, missionaries, the church and what I did. I asked questions about him, what he believed and why. It was a great conversation and I really had a lot of fun. About half way through he told me I could switch to English if it were easier, so I did, his English was amazing. Anyways, I taught a lot and learned a lot, he had heard about our church because everyone asks him if he is one of the Mormons when he knocks on doors.... so he had a few questions about what we believed and a lot about why I would be doing what I do as a missionary, especially since I don't get paid in any way! (He didn't think blessings counted) Anyways, before I knew it the bus ride was over (it was over an hour long), I had some new friends, and we parted ways.

I ran up by my companion, got my bag, and on the way off the bus waved back to the others, they all waved back and my companion was super surprised! He didn't know what I had been doing the whole time! He was like, "How many people were you talking with? The whole back of the bus waved when you left! " That was truly an answer to my prayers because I was contacted by him and then given tho opportunity to talk in Swedish and teach- and all on the bus! I am going to try to do that a lot more, it is fun talking to people on the buses and a lot better than just staring off into space for an hour!

Jag vet att Gud lever. Han verkligen alskar var och en av hans barn. Det ar spannande for mig att lara mig om evangeliet, att Gud vill hjapla alla oss. Han sande hans son att lida for vara synder att vi maste inte. Jesus Kristus ar min fralsare och van. Jag kan inte allting men som Nephi sade jag vet att Gud alskar oss. Han kannar till vara provningar, han kan hjalpa om vi lat honom. Jag vill lara mig allt som jag kan medan jag ar pa min mission eftersom jag vet att det har ar livs chans. Dar finns manga saker som Gud vet sa att vi maste forlita oss pa honom i allting. Gud hor vara boner, och nar vi be med tro ska han gor vad han vill att hjalpa genom dem svart tider.

Jag alskar alla er! Jag hoppas att ne har det bra denna vecka!
Aldste Maxwell

(Note from Mom: I hope his testimony translates well for you, the way he wrote it, it translated well but I don't have all the correct accents/letters on my keyboard.)