Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in Lulea with the Wirtala Family!

Sister Wirtala, from Lulea sent a sweet note thanking Aldste Maxwell for his service in their branch and included some fun photos.

Last Zone Conference!

Last Zone Conference - one of the iPads is Austin and his companion!
The days really have been flying by and we just don't have much time!  It is really crazy, this week really has just flown by! I got to go and visit most of our investigators and say goodbye to them all, as well as just being able to do one last week of good work. As usual, there were ups and downs. We had really hard times with one investigator, and then it turned around and became very good in the end! I hope that all will continue well with the incoming missionary and the future here in Luleå.

Now, a story to scare Mom!   This last Friday was zone conference in Stockholm... we were to fly down Friday morning at about 6.30, and returning late that evening.   When we woke up on Friday, (that was about 4:30 by the way) we look out the window and it was snowing like crazy!   The plows were working hard to clear the roads and major paths, they were doing pretty well, but it just was not possible to keep up with the snow!  (Plus it was really windy, and you know how that is with wind and snow!)  Anyways, we get all ready and go out to our car, dig it out of the snow, and get going! We made it to the airport... all but one of the machines were broken, so we had to wait in line... then we had to wait for security, and by the time I got up to the gates, they were making last calls!   My companion, a bit slower, was still down by security... I think he was trying to put his belt on... so I ran for the plane!   (After yelling at him to hurry of course!)   All in all, we got on the plane no problems. The plane began pulling out after all the passengers were seated, and we pulled out!   We went to a spot on the tarmac, and just waited... I was thinking, yep!   Too bad to take off!   But then I saw a truck drive up with some sort of crane on top of it!   It looked really funny... and then it started spraying the plane! It was like a car wash, but to get off all the snow and ice!   When that was all done, we went back and started waiting for permission to take of... we waited another 45 minutes, and then the pilot comes on... in Swedish she said that the snow and wind was too much for us to take off... in English she told everyone that the brakes were not working well enough (slippery runway) but that they were going to sweep the runway again, do a test, and we should take off soon... to make the story short, after sitting on the plane for two and a half hours, they pull back into the gate and let off anyone who wanted to stop waiting.... half an hour later, they tell everyone to get off and go have some fika at the restaurant... (they gave us about 100 crowns each to buy stuff with...) after getting our fika (about 10:30) the plane still had no estimated take-off time... so we left, and told the APs that we would have to be skyped in for the rest of conference, they had started at 10.00. And so the plane never left from what I know! (at least not within 5 hours of scheduled departure! ) and I gave my departing testimony from Sister Newell's iPad... Zone conference was not what I was hoping... not for me anyways! I was sad we missed it!

Anyways, I am sure you are terrified now that I am not going to be able to make it home! No, we took care of the problems here! ( all other airports and planes are flying fine!) I called the Elder in charge of transportation, and he has since got me on an earlier plane (Sunday night) down to Stockholm, with time and back-up options to get me there if needed. And so, I will arrive home as scheduled. And I can't wait to see you all!

I really have enjoyed my time as a missionary, and the time I have had to focus on the Lord. It really has been the best! I love the closeness to the spirit and the knowledge that as I work in the vineyard, the Master will work by my side. I have truly felt that in my work and in my time! I hope that I can have further opportunity in the future to also be able to focus on the Lord's kingdom like this. I love being a missionary, I love the work and I truly love the Swedish people! Back home, have a great weekend. Keep your prayers for the planes so there is not so much stress! I love you all and will see you soon!

Äldste Maxwell

Monday, December 10, 2012

Missions and going home...

I really am excited with all that is happening here in the mission and area!  It is so good to see the changes that are happening, and the people that are being blessed.  I hope that as I serve, I will be able to fulfill all that I am supposed to, for the time is truly very short now.  I just hope that I will truly hold on until the end... 

I know that I have changed, and I know that the changes I have made are good, and that I need to keep them with me.  I just have to find the real-life applications for the mission-life growth.  I will do what I can to understand and to apply all that I have learned and  also to keep the strengths and talents I have gained.    In more ways than I thought, I am really just a bit nervous for the future and what is going to happen, because I don't know!  I feel like there is so much I want to do, but am wondering if it is really possible to do it all?  

I am getting excited! And nervous a bit.. it is weird!

I should be writing once more before I die... it might be this Saturday however, as that may be the day I will have to get all my packing done and such... an early p-day, a last Sunday, and I die!  We really only have three more days of work, we will be flying into Stockholm on Friday for zone conference, and then the rest is saying bye to people, packing, and getting back to Stockholm and all the stuff we will do with President Newell and Sister Newell before we leave.  

I have to say, I am getting excited!   And nervous a bit.. it is weird!
This week here we have gotten a ton of snow... well, here in Luleå we started getting snow two days ago... but it was really cold before that (up to -23.5 Celsius)  that is cold!  Now we just have a ton of snow, and about -5 weather... Saturday was really nice, we were going to play some basketball with some friends (People we want to start teaching) and we went out in shorts and hoodies... at -5!  Some kids told us we can't be out like that... we were just feeling really warm, and going to be inside soon... so it didn't matter!  

Oh, last week I also got rear-ended by someone... Luleå is just not the place to drive!  No, it is really safe, just that corner was a terrible place to put a crosswalk.  No-one is hurt, all is well, and I was not to blame... plus, we got a name, number and address out of it!
Yesterday I got to give a talk in sacrament meeting... I gave it right after two other senior missionaries gave their testimonies.. they both got to have translation for their talks into Swedish... so when I got up, I asked for it too!  Everyone just laughed.   I thought it was funny... , I talked about some of my experiences as a missionary and the talk that Elder Nelson gave in general conference.. ask the missionaries, they can help you!  It was a really good conference talk, and I felt as though my talk was alright... it was basically my goodbye to Sweden talk... it was kind of sad... I am not sure I want to leave! But, I know that as we do what we can, that the Lord will take all of our efforts and make them into miracles.  We will not always be perfect, but we will feel good with the work we have done, and proud of all we have accomplished with His help!  I love being a missionary.  It is truly the best time ever!  I know that this church is true, and that I have become the person I am today because of this church.  I love it! 

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week! Be safe, and I will see you soon! 

Äldste Maxwell

Monday, December 3, 2012

I am hoping to see reindeer!

We are trying to hurry today, we want to visit the arctic circle...  I'll get pics!    I am also hoping to see reindeer and to visit some Sami people... it should be fun!

 It is always fun serving, right?  Think if we were friends with everyone, the world would truly be great! For instance, today we were going to a less active, to go have lunch with him. As we pulled into his parking lot, there was an old Swedish man who waved us over. He needed help getting his car started. We pulled over, and tried to jump the car, no luck... it was completely dead! So, we push started him! (We had the less active help us!) After the car was started, he asked us what we wanted for the service... what, do we have to be payed!? No, we told him is cost nothing. he was very grateful.... and it just feels really good! 

Recently I read section 18 of the D&C for a spiritual thought, and I remember really being impressed by the promises and blessings that are in those chapters! It was amazing! I know that there is a lot of power that we have access to through our faith. As we focus on doing the will of the Lord, He will help us achieve the impossible, and confound the wise. We will work by the will and laws of God, not by the laws or time of Man. God knows, He loves, and He wants to help us. Pray to Him, He will let you know. I love being a missionary, I love serving others.
Have a great week everyone! You are all awesome!   (See you in 15!)
Love ya!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, November 26, 2012

It is quite the experience!

We have been having warm weather so far this November... way too warm! I have heard though that this December is going to compensate for it!   It just barely started snowing a little again this morning. Last week we had a wedding on Thursday... it was really nice, and fun.  We did get some pie on Saturday as a late Thanksgiving... it was good, and our members here take care of us! 

Yes, our days here are very short... basically over before we really get started! Especially with clouds... it is just dark all day! It is really interesting... and it can play some mean tricks with your mind! Just imagine sitting and eating a nice warm dinner, anticipating going to bed, and then you realize it is just lunch, you still have to go out and work!   It is quite the experience!

This week has been really good. We have a good pool of investigators, and we have had a lot of good work done! I got my new companion, he is really fun, and really cool. Plus, his Swedish is very good... he is able to help in the teaching and I do not have to translate to English! I am excited. These next couple weeks are going to be amazing!
The thought for this week is that when you work hard,  when you do your best,  when you have faith that there will be progress, it will happen! It will come from seemingly nowhere sometimes, there will be blessings falling from... well, who knows? God does. Not me! It is incredible to see and to experience. I love being a missionary and getting to learn the lesson that: we do not know! God does not work as we work, His ways are not our ways, they may very well not make any sense to us as people, but it does to Him, and they are as they should be! We just get to take part! I am always amazed by the knowledge, foresight, and pure love of our Heavenly Father. I know He loves me, and I know that He loves these people. I also know that it is not something only missionaries can learn! Go, do what you can! Every person has different talents and abilities! Use them! And you will see many people blessed, many will come unto Christ, and we will find true Joy! Missionary work is the best work around, I love being a missionary! I know the church is true, and I know that it is the only way we will find happiness in this life!

Love you all! Have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, November 19, 2012

I am thankful for...

 We are having transfers this week!  I will be staying here in Luleå!  I get to ''freeze to death'' in the North! (A note of clarification: when a missionary finishes their mission, it is affectionately refered to as dying) I am super excited!  I will be getting a Britt as my companion now.  Elder Tomlinson!  This is going to be fun!

This week,  in our ward, we had the primary program.  It was really incredible!  There are about 15 children in the primary here... (a lot for the 55 member ward! ) They did incredibly well, and I really felt the spirit! Plus, there were the really young children giving talks, bearing testimony, and singing!  I loved it! 

I really don't know what language I am dreaming in anymore... I think it is  a blending of all the languages that I use... oh! I started learning Persian too!  =P  I found that with the Book of Mormon, I can use the names and teach myself the alphabet... and from there I just have to have one of my investigators help me with the other letters, and then some of the basic root words and conjugations... then I can get the rest!  =P  But, that comes on the side, for fun... before bed and such, the rest of the time I read in Swedish or French!

The week of Thanksgiving!  It is going to be a good week!  I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to be here as a missionary and serve others around me here in the beautiful land of Sweden.  I speak of Sweden for I am here, and I know personally that the Lord has great hopes for this people. I know as well that other countries are also important... but I am a little biased... =P.  I love Sweden and its people.  They are kind, and generous. They like to help others when they can.  They are an incredibly honest people.  I am truly grateful to be here and to learn from them.  I hope that the blessings of heaven may fall upon this people as they open their hearts and embrace the gospel of Christ.  I am grateful for my Savior and the sacrifice He offered that I may be free from my sins, that I can be forgiven!  I am thankful for my parents and the examples they have been for me.  I am thankful for my siblings, they are my best friends.  I am thankful for all of my friends, for their good influences on me, and their examples.  I really needed them, and I am here because a lot of them believed in me.  I am thankful for my Father in Heaven, that He has given me so very much.  I am thankful for this world and the miraculous opportunities it gives each and everyone of us!  There are so many things to be grateful for!  Find them, name them, and thank God for them in prayer.  As we do so, we will find greater joy in life, and a greater willingness to share.  I know the gospel is true, I love being a missionary.  

Have a great week!
Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, November 12, 2012

We have had a good week!

We have had a good week, it has been challenging, but exciting and super awesome! I hope to have more weeks like this that follow! I am super excited! First, early in the week we got some snow again! Then, on a clear night we got to see the dancing lights of the North! I will try to attach some of the pictures I got... not to many of the pictures were super good... and it was hard, the lights really move/dance and change quickly! (Plus, each good picture took 4 minutes to take!    Anyways, I hope you enjoy! They were incredible! I hope to see them again before I go! Like I said, the pictures were not the best... I will try to get more!

The Northern Lights - you can see a little bit of the green light at the bottom.

French is coming along! Two days ago we were at a wedding, there were a lot of people there we are teaching, and a lot of them speak French as well! There was one man in particular that I got to talk to who was really interested, and surprised that I could speak French! (When we came in to the reception, we were shown to a table, and the guy leading us we had taught before (in French) so he was talking in French, and one of the others we walked past was really surprised! He came and talked with me later, hopefully we get to teach him too!) So, all in all my French is far from perfect, but I can teach and be understood! It is a miracle and amazing! I love it!

Investigators are making progress, we have some baptismal dates, but need more of our investigators coming to church! I hope that we can continue to find more and teach! As well as that they come to church, because that is really important!

Weather is less desirable, though warmer! I would much rather have snow right now than a lot of rain and soggy and wet... cold is easy to fix, wet is easy too, but takes more time, and just gets annoying! (I still love the rain, just not for missionary work! ) There is no snow now... hoping for more, but we will see! Here the sun sets at like 3.30, dark dark by four... I remember yesterday my companion was antsy to get out of the church, he was thinking it was like five or six! (it was 2.00! ) When it is cloudy here it is just dark the whole time! 
We were teaching an investigator last night, and we got to the topic of how to find true happiness, which lead to giving to others. The investigator brought up a really good point, when you feel like you are in need of something, or want to get something, you must first give it away! If you want to have money, give to someone else. If you want more food, give to others! If you want to be loved, you must first love! If you want to be happy, make someone else happy. Everything that is lasting and truly important will come from inside... and giving is how we know that we really already have! If we want to feel loved, we must love others. As we do so, we realize, and feel the love from within, from our Father above. I really like this thought and it rang true to me. As we give of ourselves, it is not that we are dividing what we have, but multiplying it for others! We do not need to fear poverty, hunger, hatred, or anything! We have the promise of God, that we will be given all that we need as we do all that has been asked of us. I know that I will never be lacking when I turn myself to the Lord. I know that He loves me and knows my needs, and I know that everything will be well when I focus on Him!

I love being a missionary. I love this work and the time I have here to give to others, the opportunity to share what I have, and to learn more about myself, my faith, and my strength. I love the gospel, it is so pure, and true! It brings joy to every person who will give it a chance. I know my Savior lives, and I know that He is pleased with the work I am doing. Go and do. Others will see and follow. Learn, love, live, and invite! Have a great week, and do a little more! I will be doing the same.

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, November 5, 2012

The work is moving forward!

Well, it has warmed up a lot since last time... we have no snow, it has been raining... and still in the positives. Hopefully we get more snow soon, but most people think it will be a while yet before we get some real snow... we will see!

 As for teaching we are able to do a good amount of it... the majority of people we have to teach right now live ½-1 hour away from here... which is really a problem because there is no way to get them all to church! So, we are doing a lot of door knocking here to try and find more people who would be interested and want to learn! So, we are currently doing doors... though it is not as easy here... doors are port-coded, people are more Swedish, and less ''believeing'' (according to them!) But we are having our miracles, and staring to get some really good support from the branch! The work is moving forward!

It is a hard time in the world and we are always surrounded by people and forces that want to make bad seem good and the good seem bad... usually making it look like a restriction of freedom! (Which is completely WRONG!) Rules (commandments specifically) are designed to bring us more freedom! Our challenge as members, is to avoid that deception, hold on to the true and eternal perspective through the eyes of the spirit, and help others to open their eyes and learn to see things as they truly are! We have to be 100% on our game, on the team, no holding back! It would otherwise be like trying to jump off a diving board without wanting to leave it completely! (You can imagine the resulting pain, loss, failure, and hopefully lesson learned!) Trust in God! He really does know what he is talking about! And, the only way to truly know is to Do It! That simple. I love the simplicity of the gospel!

No, we did nothing for Halloween... there was a ''Luleå in lights'' thing in the city... they had a ''speak box'' that did a light show and told a story... it was awesome! (3-d show depicting the story!) then they just had a lot of lights around the city... not too many Halloween parties. All saints day is a bigger celebration, they put lights on all of the graves in the cemeteries and remember those who have passed on before them... the graveyards were very beautiful with all of the lights! 

Have a great week everyone! Enjoy life, help others and let your light shine for the world!

Love y'all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, October 29, 2012

In my corner of the world....

In my corner of the world things are starting to get a bit chilly!  This morning when we woke up it was -10 Celsius... cold, but not too bad from what I have heard it will be in a couple months!  There is not much snow right now... just cold and everything is frozen.

.. as for the work things are warming up!  We are making progress with the investigators that we have now.  We were able to have some incredible lessons which opened the eyes of those we taught, and they want to know more!  I am super excited.  I hope that they accept the rest, and make an effort to come to church! 

I love the work, and I have noticed that the more we put in to the work, meaning time, thoughts, everything!  The more we receive back.  There is no better work in the world than being a missionary.  You see miracles daily, you have the spirit with you as a companion to teach and to testify, and you are privileged with a closer relationship  with our Father in Heaven!  I love being a missionary, and for all of you who read this, I challenge you to think about it!  Pray, seek your own answer and confirmation.  First, you need to know that all we teach in the Church is true!  Then, Seek God's will for you.  I promise that you will receive the answer you need.  I know this because I have tried myself, and I have received my own personal answer.  The gospel is true, God loves his children.  I love being a missionary.

Have a great week!  I love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, October 22, 2012

I think I got the first snow!

First, I think I got the first snow of the year.. we got some good snow this past Tuesday!  And, since then the temperatures have been decently low... this morning when I got up, I checked the thermometer... -5 degrees!  (This is in Celsius, of course!) Everything is starting to get really cold and freeze together!  I also heard that any time from now to February is the time at which the northern lights can be seen!  I am hoping to see those soon!   So, that was the most excitement of the week...

My week has been good... slower, interesting, and full of trying to find more people here in Luleå to teach.. So we have been doing some tracting! We were finally able to get a hold of an investigator last week (last Monday) and we got to teach him! It went really well, he was super kind, still very positive, and had questions about baptism and what will happen before that... he is ready, and we just need to help him get to church and just do it! We also got a referral to another city, and got in contact with the person... he was super nice, positive, full of questions, and wants to read in the Book of Mormon! We are hoping to actually go up there to visit him and some members that live there... but it has to be planned out well.... otherwise it could just be a huge waste of time! I am hoping that everything works out... it would be really cool to be able to see Kiruna before going home! Anyways, the work is moving, people are kind, and I am loving being here!

One very important principle in the gospel is to never give up! I know it is hard... I find myself time and time again making the same mistakes... but every time I get back up, and try again! Do better, work harder, change your perspective, your desires. As we align our lives with the life and teachings of Christ we will no longer have desires to do wrong, and we will become strong! I know that the atonement is there for us, that it is a path by which we return to our Father. I know the Church is true. I love the gospel and my Savior. I love being a missionary.

Have a great week and do one more thing to be a better missionary!
Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, October 15, 2012

That is missionary work!

Still no flight plans!? I was talking to another Elder in my group and he already knows his! He has known for almost a month now! He says they were the ''projected'' plans, and not yet official, but I am pretty sure that they will be finalized soon if not already done! He knew where his stops were, times, everything! I should have been better friends with the Couple Missionaries in the office, and called them every now and then to chat! And now there is a new couple in the office I have not even met! I can't get anything from them! Well, I have some other friends... maybe they know something!

The press-conference, about the change in mission age, was really good! I saw that Saturday, it was after the morning session and after the ''world report''! we were just there still, and had to listen! I was super excited!  There truly is an up-swing in the work right now. There are more people prepared to hear, and more of the members are taking an active role in the missionary work! I am so glad that I get to be here to help out in the harvest and the distribution of the greatest fruit and ever!

A lot of what I had been studying recently was the idea and whole concept of conversion. I got a lot of the studies from the autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.  I was impressed by his complete devotion and focus on the work that he had. There was not ever anything that stopped him from the work. When he was needed, he went! When he was called, the Lord provided! I want to be like that. The most important work that we can be doing in this life is the work of the Lord. It is rewarding, and whether or not it makes sense, you will never truly be lacking in this life! All that is most desirable will be given, all that is vital, will be yours! That does not mean that all times are easy, it doesn't mean that there is no suffering, no hunger. But with faith, nothing but the will of God will be done, and when you die, you know that your work has been completed, and move on to the next step with confidence and Joy!

This past Sunday was a District Conference (Norrland is a district, not a stake). Elder Adler of the third quorum of the seventy and his wife were there. On Sunday, he said one thing that I thought was very interesting. He said that there is nowhere in the scriptures that the word fun comes up. We are not looking for fun in this life, fun will destroy you! I was startled by this, I like to have fun! But he clarified, we are to have Joy! Fun itself is destructive because it distracts us from all that is most important. The world teaches us to have fun. We are told that we are to have Joy. Joy is a true, virtuous, pure, and lasting happiness! Joy is being able to partake of the fruits of the tree of life, of being worthy to enter the presence of god! That is why we are here, and that is what we seek after! That is missionary work! I love this work! I love being here! I love serving others! I hope that you all have a great week, can find true joy, and become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this lies true joy.

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Happy Birthday from Sweden

The swedish birthday song is as follows:

Ja må hon lever, (x3)
ut i hundrade år!
Javisst, ska hon leva, (x3)
ut i hundrade år!

Och när hon har levat, (x3)
ut i hundrade år!
Ja, då ska hon skjutsas, (x3)
i en skottkärra fram!

''Ett fyrfäldigt leve för födelsedags barnet!'' (one person yells this line)
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!! (every one yells! (make sure it is four!))

You will have to look up the tune... I can't write it out.. and simple pronunciation help is as follows:
J=y (Ja = ya)
Å=oe (må=moe)
U=oo (ut=oot (like it toot))
A=a as in austin
I=ee (as in meet)
skottkärra= 'skote-sherra'
skjutsas= 'shute-sas' (These two, ignore above pronunciation, read 'x' as if reading english!)
last tip, say every single letter! Don't skip anything! (hundrade=hoon-dra-dé)

Maybe not really simple, but very simple! As simple as I can make it! And, an afternote... this is singing to a girl... you change the subject if it were to be a boy or to be plural! =P (Hon=she han=he de=they (de is said 'dome'))

Here is a link to the tune:  The Swedish Happy Birthday Song

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The "Companion Quiz"!

Emma (Austin's sister) makes up great quizes to see how well her brothers know their companions. Here is Austin's quiz about his current companion:

  1. What is your companion's full name?
  2. Where was your companion born?
  3. What career do they want to persue?
  4. What color is their toothbrush?.... and please tell me they do brush their teeth ;)
  5. Did they play any sports in high school? and what sports would that be?
  6. How many, if any, siblings do they have?
  7. Are they cute? if so, feel free to mention me. haha, just kidding! They are kind of old and that would be awkward :P
  8. Is your companion allergic to anything?
  9. Do they have any habits that are annoying? ... or maybe you just prefer not to dwell on thoughts like that :)
  10. When is their birthday?
  11. What is their favorite color?
Austin's Response:
Man... I don't know about this quizz stuff.... not sure how well I know Elder Day yet... here goes!

1. Derek Ryan Day
2. Born in Utah! (lived in same house his whole life)
3. Wants to be a insurance company consultant... an Actuary is what it is called!
4. Blue and white I think... yes, he does!
5. He was a runner. Cross country. Really good at it too!!! (Went to nationals a couple times!)
6. He has nine siblings. He is #8 of the 10 kids!
7. Cute.... well.... I don't know! (he says a three letter word works... ''duh!'', but that was what he said!)
8. No... he is not allergic to anything!
9. One habit I find a little annoying is driving close to the right side of the road... I am always on edge! =S =P
10. February 17th i think... no, it was the 15th... =*( close though =)
11. Red! ... dang, he said ''Orange by far.'' So... maybe I never really found that out before... *Shrug* =P

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let all of your friends know how awesome the missionaries are!

I have loved conference so-far!  It is incredible! It started with a bang, and the ending (Sunday morning session thus far) was no disappointment! I really loved the conference, it really brought the spirit, confirmed my findings and personal resolves that I have made recently in my study of the prophets and the scriptures. I really love the scriptures, and the blessing the truth is in my life!  Yes, conference is like Christmas for us missionaries... it is one of the most anticipated happenings! That and transfers... one spiritual, the other more worldly/timely.

I have seen that the saying is true, wherever there is the most good you will also find the most bad or wrong. I don't think that any family is safe, I doubt that there is anyone not affected by it! The world is a challenging and turbulent place! I expect that it will continue to become darkened and unclear. However, with the spirit there is no darkness that will not be penetrated, there is nothing that will be hidden from us. I know that we will not go lost, as long as we have the spirit with us. Sure, there are commandments in the gospel! They are blessings! They are the steps we take, the foundation upon which we are lifted above the mists of darkness and are allowed to see around in light, peace, and wonderful clarity! 

Take what was impressive in conference, and make it lasting... DO IT!  It is in the doing that we receive the fruits of our labors. And, let all of your friends know how awesome the missionaries are, you got a great list of things in conference that we can help with! I am also quite positive that there are even more! So, help the missionaries, by letting them help you and those who are near and dear to all of you! Seek the guidance of the spirit, and fear not! The Lord is hurrying the work. Lets do it!
 I love you all, I love being a missionary, and I love the gospel!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, October 1, 2012

Prepare to listen to the words of love and guidance!

I have not seen any snow here yet... though it should be coming soon!!!! I think it would be great to have some for conference!

My new area feels mostly like country... though all the work we do is in the cities... right now a lot of the work we are doing is in neighboring smaller cities... Boden and Älvsbyn especially... it would be pretty hard tracting out in the woods... though a lot of our members live there! This week for example we got to do some service for a member harvesting potatoes! It was fun, a lot of work... cold, and a great experience! It made me miss home a bit though... Oregon actually. I just like the farm/ country feel! French is getting better and better... found some more people who speak french, and the ones who we are in contact with are already speaking mostly french with me! It is awesome! I have preach my gospel, the book of Mormon, pamphlets, and a French/Swedish dictionary! I am set! I sometimes wish I had some type of grammar book... but this is working great!   Yes, the people who are the most positive are usually immigrants... though there are some Swedish people also getting baptized! There are a lot of French speaking Africans from the Congo up here! It is really fun. One this week said that he was my ''Grand Frére!'' (because he was a year older than me!) ha ha, it was sweet!

One more experience this week that is notable, I tried surströmming for my first time. It was terrible, smelling! Taste-wise it was actually quite good! Though at the same time it was quite a bit of work to clean the little fish and get out the meat... awesome experience, and surprisingly good taste. Though not sure it was so good I will ever go and buy it on my own! 

Yesterday we were able to go and teach one of our Swedish investigators. He was a really cool guy, younger (mid-thirties) and a really deep thinker. I was impressed with his insight into human nature, the importance of Christ, and the example that Christ was to all mankind. I was really impressed in the lesson, when we were reading in the scriptures out of the teachings of Christ,  he took the time to listen, and ponder the words of Christ, and to then to apply it to himself! I was personally also impressed when I felt the spirit enter, as the section was read. There is so much power in the teachings of Christ!  He really teaches that all may understand, and that those who are ready will always be able to receive more! I know that the church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and the truth. He is the path back to our Father. I love being a missionary. It truly gives me joy. I love my Savior, and I want to only do what is right in his eyes.
 Have a great week, and prepare to listen to the words of love and guidance for us from our Father this weekend!

Love you all, have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wish me luck, and we'll see what happens!

I love my new area! As well as my new companion! He is really awesome! When I got here he was super sick though... so we were not able to do too much! He had the hand-foot-mouth disease... in his mouth! It was gross... looked like a zombie.. white stuff, blisters... blood oozing, it was great! He could hardly eat... he is doing better now.. managing Pringles, so that is a lot better!   Soon, he will be eating like a runner again!
It is not too cold here yet... It is still light jackets and possibly a sweater! I should be doing great all my time here... I don't think the worst of winter comes until after December... I will tell everyone Hi for ''Elder Carmack'', and I really am looking forward to my time here! Like you said, I have always wanted to come here!!!

This upcoming Friday, in the ward, we are having a Surströmmings Fest, so I will be able to finally try the legendary fish!    It was really funny. Some of the people in the ward were telling us how good it was, and others when they heard we were going said, ''Good luck!'' and started laughing! I am exited... another member said it tastes really good, just smells horrible! I was personally surprised they are going to have the party inside the church! I have heard you can smell it for weeks after! So, wish me luck, and we'll see what happens!

I love the work as a missionary. It is just so much fun, and so rewarding! Just this week we were going by some of our possible investigators... and no one was home.. so, we knocked some doors! And, found someone to teach! It was quite incredible really! So, we were knocking,... and it was not raining, it was sunny, but cold! We got to one door in the apartment complex... knocked, and waited. Soon, a woman answered. My companion began speaking, introducing us as missionaries... she stopped us in halting Swedish... ''I .. little ...Swedish speak'' (you get the picture). ''I speak French.'' Uh-oh...    That means I get to talk!    So, I introduced us, and she says come in! We went in, talked a bit, and she was super nice, patient with my French, and wants to learn more! We will be going back later this week to teach her more of the gospel. I will be studying much more about how to speak, and the lesson outlines... but it went really well the first time, and I know what I need to work on!

The Lord really does qualify those He calls, and He calls on all who are willing! So, be willing, and, when you are willing, ask for a chance, pray! And I will promise you that you will be given chances, so make sure you are ready when you ask! Prayers to serve, to be a missionary are often the quickest answered! Try it! Have a great week everyone, love you all and looking forward to hearing from you all!

Love you!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, September 17, 2012

I will be able to use my French very soon!

I got called by president this week! I will be able to use my French very soon! I am getting transferred to Luleå this Wednesday! Up in Luleå is the investigator I got to teach with president, and a bunch of other french speaking people! I get to go north!!! Last three months, and I finally make the trip up there! I am moving this Wednesday on a plane from Arlanda kl 12.20... kinda problematic... I have to loose some weight! (Baggage, not me!)  Elder Day is going to be my companion!   Anyways, I am super excited! 

I really like the lesson that you taught to the Young Women and the power that the mind really has, and how hard it is to control thoughts instead of controlling actions. Thoughts also have so much more influence on who we are and what we do than we ever can imagine! And the effect that the "Motherlode" (to die for chocolate cake from the Claim Jumper restaurant) has even across the whole United States! I am personally impressed just that you remembered it and used that as your ''distraction''!

There really is so much that Satan uses against us... Everyday there are hundreds if not thousands of different temptations. Many are not going to effect us, but others are centered on our weakness, targeting anything that might give Satan a greater chance. Cool thing though, he can never get to us if we don't put down our armor! We went to teach a less-active member, and he talked about how he is reading in Job, and that Job was strong, and lasted through all of those challenges. He had his armor and he never let it down!!!! So, while running through the gauntlet of life, don't take off your armor! We will always make it then! And so, do the simple things, pick up your shield, read your scriptures, say your prayers, put on your breastplate, etc! You become an unstoppable follower of Christ! I love being a missionary, love you all and hope you have a great week!

Äldste Maxwell

Monday, September 10, 2012

I know God loves me.

Today I tried a recipe that I found in a newspaper recently. It was a Carrot Cyan Orange soup, and it was actually really good! I was quite impressed! Plus, it used up all of the carrots we had leftover... perfect!

Our week here was really good, we were kept very busy with other events... Namely a baptism for one of our investigators! It was awesome! This investigator has been an investigator for a very long time... 3 years actually! We, for a time, had a hard time getting a hold of him because of problems with family, death threats, and such... but everything calmed down, he came to church, we got a hold of him and set up a time to meet, and then when we met, set a time for the baptism... 3 days later! It was incredible... though didn't work out as well as it could have. There was very poor communication so just very poor attendance to the baptism. He is an incredible man from Mongolia, and very prepared, very humble. I am excited to continue to teach him, and help him progress to being sealed in the temple as a family a year from now! That is going to be incredible!

Love is truly the key to success in life, and a success in becoming like our Savior. the only way that we are going to forget ourselves and serve others is if we love them! Plus, investigators, or just people in general, really can tell the difference when you care about them or when you are just going through the motions. It really makes the difference! I am glad that you were able to be there for the family you were helping Mother! As you said, even knowing there is the quiet place we can go to take a break, to relax, and just calm down from the hectic chaos of the world - just knowing there is a calm place we can turn will help us through the challenges. I enjoy the quiet corners, the closets, or just still places that I can go to and just think, pray, and release the pressures of daily life. I know that God is there, that He is already waiting for me to come, and He is just happy to see me! I can't wait to go and give Him a big hug, that will be the day! But, until then, He is there, and He really does love us. I know that is true! I know God loves me.

 I am glad that I get to tell others that too! I love being a missionary!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, September 3, 2012

People are ready. Are you?

I am doing great, really!  This week has been interesting, it rained a bit in the beginning of the week, so people started hiding.... we still got to talk to some, just not as many as usual! 

Thursday we had our Zone Conference, and Elder Kearon was there, he was incredible! He was funny, very nice, and he listened to us while still teaching and helping us grow!  It just made me want to get out and to do more!  I love that man!  I mean, last year was good with Elder Caussé, but this year was super awesome!!!! He focused on our need to always have a prayer in our heart, to always have an open communication with our Father in Heaven.  And, he also made it personal, he told us we would have things pop into our minds, that we needed to write down something that we were going to do to be better, and DO IT!  It was really really good.  Then, this Sunday while at church we had a new investigator show up!  We taught him, he was super positive, and we have a baptismal date with him for a week from this Saturday!  So, Hålla tummarna! Fast Sundays are always the best!  It is just incredible! 

The languages are coming along good... Struggling a little in Persian and Arabic right now, but that is not too bad... ha ha... Lets see... Добро утро! (Dobro utro, right Christian? =S )  Really though, Swedish is doing great, and I keep running into French people now!  There have been two French girls that I have gotten talk to this week, I don't know how or why!  But, it seems that I am to speak more French!  Fun, fun, fun! 

Christian, keep it up and have fun!  Do everything you are asked to do!  And, when your trainer gives you chances to get better, to learn, take them!  Don't be afraid of anything! Those were some of the things I have learned!  And, have fun at the game!  Talk to everyone you can while you are there!  You never know who the next person will be!  (You can read Christian's mission blog at:

The Lord is preparing people all around us every day, people are ready.  Are you?  That is a question I ask myself quite a bit, because it helps me to find where I can be better, and how I can improve.  I know that as I try to help others, forget myself and get to work that I will be shaped to be who the Lord needs.  I know that the point is to forget myself.  And then, I know I will find myself and I will find Joy.  Sometimes it seems backwards, follow commandments to be free?  Forget myself?  Plus, it is hard!  But I know that it is true.  I know that it works.  Sometimes I have learned the hard way, making a mistake, and paying for it.  I know the Lord strengthens and is waiting to lift us up.  The Lord will always qualify him whom He has called.  I hope that I am open and ready to be.  I love being a missionary.  I love the Lord and I know that this is His church. 

Love you all, have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, August 27, 2012

I felt like a greenie again!

Languages are a lot of fun... though also a pain!  So, it is actually quite funny you brought up languages!  This last week I had some great new experiences, and trials!  Last Wednesday, President Newell called me in the morning!  Well, he called us, and my companion answered... I was sitting at the table munching on a bowl of granola with yogurt in it... (super good!)  I had the feeling it was president who called because Elder Ouimette seemed more tense than he usually is on the phone... (He was pacing much faster, and much more formal! =P) Anyways, he brought me the phone and said, its the president!  I took the phone and said, "Hello President, How are you?"  And he said... "Bien, et toi?"  Ha ha, get where this is going?  President continued to talk with me for a couple minutes in French, explaining the situation that had come up, that there was a man coming to the mission home from Luleå to be taught, and that he spoke French!  President wanted me to help teach!  I said okay, and began studying my French like crazy!  I did a lot of praying, and even fasted Friday to get ready to teach!  President had told me that I would come up to the mission home early Saturday, and then all day we would be teaching, and then also all day on Sunday! (After church of course)  So, I got to teach Florintin Nkulu Kilonga with President Newell!  Honestly, I did not do that much teaching....   mostly testimony, and starting the movies.  It was really good though.  Saturday I was terrible, I had the hardest time putting my sentences together, but Sunday I was able to have good conversation, and talk with Florintin!  I also got to learn a lot more about president!  It was a great weekend!  This also might mean that I will be moving up to Luleå soon... President said that they might need some help with French up there because of Florintin, and the other 20+ African investigators up there.... so keep your fingers crossed!  I would love that!  Florintin was incredible, so humble, and kind!  I really hope that I get to be with him again!  And, I felt like a greenie again!  Though it also got me super excited and ready to go!!!  All in all, awesome!  So, I am working a lot more on french now, Swedish is doing great still, and English seems to still be working.  I got a dictionary today, French-Swedish!  found it in a lopis (flea-market) for 40 Kr! 

Oh, and Sunday morning, we went with an investigator to see her church.  Fair is fair, right, she came to ours, we can visit hers too... so we went, and it was interesting!  She is Assyrian Orthodox, so we did not understand anything that the people said.  (by the way, this was before our ward met)  We watched/ listened for a while and looked around.  We then got up, and went into the hall.  She asked us if we had questions, and started talking about everything, and what was going on!  That was when a man came up and started yelling at us, in Swedish.  He yelled some  bad stuff, and told us to get out.  We started going, and he continued to yell, telling us to go faster, never come back, continuing to yell other stuff, and followed us for a very long way!  Our investigator felt really bad... I thought it might have been a good lesson!  She herself said that she had been welcomed to our church, that everyone was really nice, and all!  So, we will not ever go back.  And, hopefully our investigator will come to our church again! 
This week we are going to also have a 3 Zone conference again!  Elder Kearon is coming for a mission tour, and so we will have an opportunity to meet him, talk to him, and listen to what he has to say, to help us as missionaries, and strengthen us! I am excited, it is going to be a good week.  Oh, and this week is the last week of the 12 week training program with Elder Ouimette, so there is the possibility of a transfer after this week!  He will not be a greenie any more! 

This week I learned about patience and perseverance.  As I said, I got to teach this weekend in French.  I was not expecting it, and surprised by the opportunity.  I struggled, a lot, to try and prepare myself.  Then it didn't work!  I failed!  But, I did not fail, I decided to just use the opportunity, to listen, to learn, and to get better.  I know what I need to focus on and where I am weak, and so I can now focus more and improve!  Friday night I was sad.  I got home, and felt like I had failed.  I gave more. Instead of giving up and just getting in bed early, I pulled out my Book of Mormon and read several chapters, focusing on missionaries and them teaching, prophets teaching, and asking questions.  I also read in Preach my gospel, focusing on what we would be teaching the next day, and on asking questions.  (All this reading was out loud and in French by the way) When my voice started hurting, and my brain stopped working I went to bed.  The next day I continued to study every single chance that I got! I did not want to do as badly as the day before!  I felt ready. I was patient, and listened.  And, I feel as though my prayer was answered!  I was able to speak, it was not perfect, but I was understood, and it came easier.  I was blessed with the spirit and the ability to help, to listen and answer.  So, never give up.  Not now, not ever!  When you need help, you will receive it, and until then, do your best!  I love the gospel, the simpleness, and the light it is to us all! 

I love being a missionary, and I love Christ! 

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, August 20, 2012

That is just the coolest thing ever!

(Austin's brother, Christian, is leaving the MTC for Bulgaria this week.  I am including part of his message to Christian because it shows his feelings about being a missionary. )

You will find that the closer you get to Sofia, the more people are going to start speaking Bulgarian! And, there are going to be a ton of people looking at you and reading your tag! Learn to love it, and be proud of the name you wear!

(Now on to the rest of his letter!)

Last week we had dinner with the Peterson family.  The Peterson dinner was very good, they are a really good family. I enjoy getting to be with/ around and working with them! (Brother Peterson is from Oregon!!!!)

 I had a great teach last night with a member. We talked a lot about the difference between Character and Personality or the who we are vs how we act. It was a discussion that all were having, and I just sat and listened. When it came time for the spiritual thought we went off the discussion and talked about how the who is very important, as well as the how we act. BUT most important, at least in my mind, is WHY?  Why do I do things, what is my reason? Do I do what I do because of Charity? Is it greed? Do I want to look good? Or do I want to help someone else? When we can focus on that, the rest should follow, shouldn't it? I mean, if I can always focus on Charity, I don't think I would lie, I wouldn't try to deceive anyone for sure! There is not the focus on self, on image, or anything, just on them. I thought that was really cool. And, it went with my thoughts last week as well, that God isn't working for himself. WE are HIS work! God loves us! That is just the coolest thing ever!

I love being a missionary, I get to just think about all these things all day! It is the best! I love serving others, and I hope that I can make a difference. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I can be forgiven, and be clean through His sacrifice! I know that He loves me very, very much. Find the light, there is nothing else.

I love you all!

Äldste Maxwell

Monday, August 13, 2012

It has really, really been a fast week!

It has really, really been a fast week. I feel as though I were sitting here just the day before yesterday and was writing you! but, no... I just don't know what happens to the time. It was not even that exciting of a week work wise. But, I did get to eat cow tongue, it was really good actually... though I stayed away from the ''skin''. It was too similar to my own tongue to think of eating that part. I had it with fufu. Fufu is an African dish, mashed potatoes mixed with potato flour, so it is gummy... and you pull off pieces (we were of course eating with our hands...), dip in the sauce, and swallow! (Notice: do not chew!) it was hard to not chew... and swallow! Wow, but it was a great experience! Ha ha, and that was probably one of the most exciting things that happened this week. Besides, possibly, the Gypsy man that tried to sell me and my comp drugs! It was a good week... the day that we were talked to by the Gypsies, we were also talked to by 4 other drunk people, including a drunk Jehovah's witness that was telling us how she was not as active as she wanted to be, and that she wanted to go back to church more! It was a crazy day! ha ha.   I love my mission! 

Christian, congrats on making it through the MTC! It is only better in the field! You will have real investigators, real people, and real concerns. There will be situations that arise which you never even thought would be possible! But, all is possible for us. God is with us, He will be with you. Do all that you are asked, and be happy! And, you will see lives change! I am excited for the people of Bulgaria!

Well, I feel as though I have already said some... but this I do want to say:  The work I do, the work we do as missionaries and members (for every member should be a missionary!) is a work of love. In Moses 1:39  (For behold, this is my work and my glory —to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.),  we learn that God's work is our salvation. In John 3:16 (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.), we learn again that God's work is our salvation but, we also learn the how and the why. I feel that often we talk of the how... but I also like to focus on the why. How: The Atonement, we are saved only through and by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Why: Love, more specifically Charity (the pure love of Christ)! God loves us sooooo much! And that is why He sent His son. In the world people work to get money, fame, a car, you know, worldly things. God, he works for us! He only wants our joy and strength. I know this is true, and that is why I am here. I know that God loves me, I have found that in my life! I just want others to have it too! That is why we serve! Love -  What better cause is there?

Share the love, pass the light, and be strong! I love being a missionary, I love you all! Have a great week!

Love ya!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, August 6, 2012

God knows what we are going through!

Well, this week I have really seen the blessings of faith, hard work, and dedication.  As well as the power of fasting. 

So, this week, I am beginning at Thursday, my companion got really sick.  He woke up and was throwing up the whole day.  I am personally convinced that it was the food we had eaten the night before!  It was good (duck!), but I don't think it agreed with him at all.... I know I was not in top shape, but I wasn't throwing up either!  So, all of Thursday we were in the apartment, and a lot of Friday as well, except for when we were in Stockholm at the mission home to have a training meeting.  So, in a seven day week we got two full days of nothing done.  (Number-wise, you should see how clean the apartment is now!

So, going into Sunday we were not doing too well with the mission goals for teaches... we were only half of the way there!  But, as we were fasting, and wanting to be diligent, we did all that we could to make it happen.  And it Did!  We were blessed with 3 investigators in church, all new! And then after church we were at a members house with one of the investigators, and after that we were able to go out and teach a lot of people on the subway! 

God knows what we are going through, and when we show him that we want to do our part, he makes it possible!  Even when it seems impossible!  I know that we are here to serve.  To serve God, our families, and our friends.  That should be everyone!!!!  I know this church is true, I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, and I know that I am here because God wants me to be here! 

Love you all!  Have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, July 30, 2012

It is some of the most fun and hardest times.

Well, I am doing great! It sounds like everyone is keeping busy and having a lot of fun! I really don't understand how time is so crazy. I don't know where all of the time goes, and I have no idea what I am going to do to get it to slow down a little. It is great being here on a mission. It is some of the most fun and hardest times.

There is still a lot of nature here, though there is also still a lot of nature in Stockholm too, just not downtown, there are too many buildings for that! Though I am sure that it is better than many large cities in the states. Stockholm itself is built on a lot of little islands, and so there is a lot of water through and around the whole city. There is nature everywhere. You do not have to travel far in any direction to find forest. It is great! Sweden is just green! It rains often enough that all is green and healthy, but the rain comes and goes suddenly. It also, at least recently, has only rained at night! It is really nice.

Yeah, I am going to come home talking like the Swedish chef! ha ha, that guy is crazy! Though I love those clips! ha ha. I am glad that Elder Ouimette likes me.. ha ha, I might be a little crazy, but I try to be nice! I also try to teach him... so he learns and remembers the important things, hopefully he understands, I am not a perfect teacher! He is a lot of fun.

We are getting some great investigators now, and yes, they are still progressing. Not always as fast as we would hope, but at the speed which they feel the most comfortable! I think this time we can get the baptism stuff all down and organized, out of the way so everything works out the way it should! No stress, that is the goal for the next baptism!

Swedish... well, it is going great! I think last Thursday was the best day ever for that! I was complimented by three different Swedes for my Swedish! One we were talking to asked where we were from, I asked about my ''brytning'' and he said that he could tell I was Swedish, but not where I came from! I told him I was from the USA, and he didn't believe me! It was great. I feel like I am finally starting to get a hang of this Swedish stuff, and start sounding Swedish! So, it is good... though I still have those times when I have to slow down and think what I am going to say... though if I don't focus too hard, it usually comes easier! Do I really put Swedish words in my e-mails? Like what? I am really curious now... I can also promise that I will be mixing in Swedish when I get home. We do it all the time as missionaries!

I love being a missionary. I do notice that I have changed, but I do not know to what extent. I am not the same boy who entered the MTC, I am not the Greenie I was a year and a half ago, (almost!) and I am not the same person that I was even last transfer! I know that I have overcome some of my challenges, I know that others are still a challenge for me, and something that I still need to work on. The gospel is a gospel of progression and progress. I am not the end product. I am ''in progress'' as a person, a work of art in the making! That is not to say that what I am is not good, but that what I will soon become is even better! Diligence is one of the hardest attributes for me personally. It requires effort, constantly. I do good at times, but slip at others. I just hope that in the end - I progress! I love knowing that I am not alone in this process, I am not the only one shaping me! I receive strength and support from above. I know that I am not perfect, but I know that if I do my best every day, that one day, I may become perfect. I know my Savior lives. I know that He loves me. I love you all and hope that you all have a great week!

Love you!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, July 23, 2012

So this week..... well, I can't really remember!

It really just went really fast! Elder Astin and Lopp moved/went home... so we have a great huge apartment all to ourselves! It is nice, quieter... but it will be good. I believe that we have started adjusting... though food portions are still being cooked for 4. Not really a bad thing, it means that we have leftovers that we can use for quick meals! I might just try to keep that up!

 We have gotten a lot more work that we get to do, so we are keeping busy and we are also getting to go and see a lot more of the members and begin working with them! Other than that, nothing too exciting has happened that I can think of. Sunday we had dinner with a family, they spoke Spanish... and not much else! It was really funny. I was actually able to understand more than I thought I could! And, I started to teach myself more! Soon I think I can contact in Spanish too!  We will see though... it will take some time! 

I love being a missionary. I love it when others recognize something in you, and they don't know what it is! They get curious, and want to learn about it... until they learn that it is God. Then they become confused. How can these 20 year-old boys believe in God and be happy about it? Are they brainwashed? We then get to testify and bear witness of the truth and joy that we receive from God! These can be some of the best teaching moments, and some of my favorite. I get to share my joy, I get to help others to see more, to learn about God, and open their eyes to more possibilities that they really didn't think even existed! I love answering questions, and helping people to see.

 I love the gospel, it is so simple and so effective! I know that God loves me, that He sent His son to suffer and die that I may receive joy and blessings, that I can make mistakes, and just get up and go again! I am so thankful that I know these precious truths. I know they are true. I will not deny it. I love being a missionary. This is the best work in the world!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keeping my Fire

I am starting to build my relationships with the members of the ward here.. it is a really great ward.  I just need to talk more to people! I was never super good at that.... still a work in progress.  I am doing all I can to keep my fire... I want to go out with a bang!  That is much more exciting than just fizzeling (I have no idea how to spell that!) out of existence... lame!

The work is going great... it is hard with people on vacations, a lot of people don't want to do anything at all! Though at the same time for others there is nothing that they have to do! For example, yesterday we met with a new investigator that we have and he said that he has nothing to do, no work, no school, and no where to be, so he will meet as often as possible! It was a really nice change! In the school year and such, people always say to try in the summer when they have time. Then they are on vacation until school starts again! Ha ha, so is the life of a missionary! =P It is fun, I really enjoy it. Plus, we get to meet some really interesting, and some really nice people, as well as miracles and changes wrought by the spirit! I love being a missionary, it is the best ever!

The two other elders are moving out this week, and it will be just me and Ouimette!  It will be an exciting change.  Change happens for a reason, and it always works out!  
Salad week was really good.  I think it was to compensate for the cheesecake that we had!  Which was good, but not my favorite recipe!  I believe that we will be doing one more today... Elder Lopp is going home this Thursday... so Wednesday will be his last day with us in Hägersten.  We will have a little celebration / goodbye party for him!  I am excited... we are going to have turtle cheesecake!   I am excited.  
This week was a good week.  It was very fast, and thinking back it feels as though not much has happened while the whole time I have been keeping busy!  I don't know what happens with time! Yesterday we had a great teach with an investigator that moved into our area.  He has a baptismal date for the 4th of August, and if he keeps going with the fire and desire that he has now he will be baptized sooner than that!  We met him in the train station in the area that he lives in, and since we could not go in his house with him (he is renting a bed I think), we just talked in the station on a bench.  As we were sitting there talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ, a couple of ladies walked past.  They stopped and said, are you preaching?  We of course answered that we were, and they said, what?  They then, before we said anything else saw a Book of Mormon, and started yelling at us.  They began to tell us how wrong we were, and then telling the person we were talking with that we were wrong, and to never listen to us or he would go straight to hell with us.  It was quite unexpected, and a really good indicator to how interested our investigator (Misghina) was.  After they got over the initial yelling, we began to talk about what we believed, as from their yelling they showed that they really just had a bunch of misconceptions and false understandings.  As we taught and bore testimony, they changed.... slowly, but they changed.  They stopped yelling, became surprised even that we believed in Christ!  And, as we talked of Christ, they were amazed by our conviction.  One of them even said, ""Wow, they believe in Christ!"  The other was thinking we were just trying to trick her, switched to another language... some middle eastern language, and told our investigator again to not listen to us, that we were wrong, and then walked away!  Misghina was awesome, he stood up for us, and for himself.  He said that he was there because he wanted to listen to us, and that he was going to!  Overall, nothing bad came of it, only good.  I hope that the two women had their eyes opened a little, and that they recognize the spirit that they felt there.  I know that God was there with me and my companion, supporting us in the face of adversity.  I know that this church is true, I know that I am a son of the Most High and that He will support all who do His work.  I know that we will never be alone, we just need to have faith!  I love being a missionary, and the experiences that it brings.  I love the gospel and the peaceful, loving message that it shares.  I know that Christ lives and loves me.  I love seeing the spirit at work.  
I love you all, have a great week and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Love ya!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, July 9, 2012

Have fun, be good and seek the spirit!

So, first, we don't have time... I know, same old story, so this will be my only e-mail today... Sorry!  I love you all, I promise!  =P  

Everything really is just getting super busy.  It is crazy but great!  And, by the sounds of all of you, you are all staying busy as well!
Last week in our apartment we had grill week, though we only grilled a couple times... now we are going to have a salad week and eat a lot of awesome salads, get creative, and eat well!  As well as being healthier and working out more!  It is going to be a great week!  I think I am also going to make a cheesecake... we will see... I did borrow a pan from some other Elders... they didn't even have it unwrapped!  Psh, I had to describe a spring-form... and they said they want it back!  ha ha... now they know what it is for!  
 It has been a good week.  We had zone conference which as usual was inspirational and a lot of fun.  I learned a lot about myself, and then even more importantly, I received more thoughts and ideas of things that I could study when I got back home and in personal studies!  

I know that people are put in our paths, I know that we are put in people's paths, and I know that I am here to help someone!  Hägersten is not like my past area, the ward here is getting smaller, the members are moving, and they are not all especially missionary minded.  There are almost divisions in the ward that are pushing people away.  Of course, this is an incredible ward, and there are families that are incredibly, mind-blowingly, missionary minded. But, the work is to be done differently.  I know that I am here to help people come unto Christ.  I know that some of those people will be people I meet to teach about the church, others will be members who need to come closer.  I know that I am not perfect personally.  I know that I can not expect others to be either!  But, I know that we can all come closer to Christ, and that when we come closer together as a family, as a ward, as a community, as a church, that we will come closer to our Savior.  "For that which ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  I know that I am here to serve the Lord.  I serve Him by serving and lifting all those around me.  I love my Savior, and I love this work.  It is the best work there is to do!  I know He lives, and I know that He loves me.  
I love you all and hope that you all have an incredible week!  Have fun, be good, and seek the spirit in all things that ye may do.  You are incredible.  Don't forget it!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, July 2, 2012

The field is better!

Christian, It sounds like you are having a lot of fun, and have a great district! You are all going to get super tight. Love the MTC, and learn all that you can, but I promise, the field is better!!!! Keep it up, and the language will come no problem!

Everyone, Last night was super fun, it was really nice, so Elder Astin and I decided that we were going to sleep on the balcony outside. It was incredible! I think I have a couple mosquito bites, but it is not bad! I can't wait to actually go camping! It is great.
This last week we have continued to do our work and work hard, we are reaching the stadards of excellence for teaching and finding, but we need work on our investigators and future baptisms. It is just hard finding people! It is frustrating, but that is just how the work is!

I know that as we do all that we can, we will be blessed and all of our blessings will follow. I know that I am not perfect and that sometimes I give in to my weaknesses. But, we have been given our weaknesses for a reason, and they are a part of us so we can learn and grow, that we can be better, that we can learn, and prove who we are!
I love being a missionary. It is hard work, but it is the best work that there is! I am glad to serve a mission here in Sweden. The people are kind, and they seek to do good. They are just missing the good that comes from God for them! I know the church is true, and that my life is the way that it is because I am a member and I keep my covenants with God. There is no better way to live. I love having God with me always! I love you all and hope that your week is incredible. I pray that God will prepare people for us to work with, and that we can all act when prompted, and act when we just know we should! The gospel is the best thing we can give, and it costs us nothing! Give!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, June 25, 2012

Midsommars was a lot of fun!

I am super excited to start hearing from Christian in the MTC! It is a great place, really crazy and full of work, headaches, and cafeteria food (not terrible, but nothing compared to home!). To answer Dad's question, the MTC has changed the way they teach, and focus more on principles of teaching, and the language, and not the lessons for the weeks you are there. From the first day in the MTC teachers will teach in the mission language, though they can for the first little while translate some to help understanding. I believe by the first Monday or Tuesday the Missionaries are teaching a lesson in the mission language. It is crazy, but the missionaries that come out of the MTC with that training are really incredible!

The 5K run was really crazy! It was not as flat as I was expecting it to be.... there were a decent number of hills that came out of nowhere! I did do pretty well though in any case. I kept up with my companion for the first half, and then decided that I wanted to set my own pace...   I finished the race in 4th place, the first missionary to finish, and with a time of about 19 min, 30 sec (I did not time it, but 3rd got 19ish and I saw him finish ahead of me!) It was pretty good.    I was absolutely dead by the end of the race, my running is not what it used to be! But, about an hour or two after I was completely fine! It was definitely worth it, and I did better than expected!

The four man is great. It is really different, and we were not exactly sure how much food we would need, how to do the shopping and such, but everything worked well, and we are doing great! I am really enjoying it... though it might only last for about a month.... so we will enjoy it as much as we can now! It also allows me to still have a little quiet time. You know me. I like to just think sometimes! Most of my companions do not understand that and are always expecting me to keep them entertained... that can get annoying. But all is well, the four-man is great, and I love my companion! We do get to teach a lot. We have been doing a lot of teaching on the subways and in the stations and such, we are looking for new investigators, and in the meantime just teaching everyone that we can! It is really fun! Yes, Sweden is absolutely beautiful. I can agree with that! And, the people are incredible! It is a wonderful blessed land!
Midsommars was a lot of fun! The race was right before, a part of the celebrations, (There were 28 runners I believe...) and then we had the midsommars pole that we got to dance around. It was a lot more dancing than I thought it would be! It was really fun. That will be one thing we will have to do when we visit... if we can visit that time of year, though I heard that it is actually often raining. This time though it did not rain, there was not a single cloud, guess what that means! I got burnt, hardcore! It was bad... all of us got burnt, others worse, but no fun. Other than that though it was really fun and really cool to learn about! I did get a couple pictures... then the battery started to die, and I was running out of memory, so I will have to send it home soon!  ( You will like that, huh!? )
We have been focusing on teaching whenever we can.  When we are able to talk to someone, to try to teach a principle or two, bear powerful testimony, and let the spirit work! It is working really well, as well as just talking to everyone! I have seen a lot more success and felt my faith in the work growing as I have shown that I have faith, and open my mouth. And, I know that as I continue to do so there will be more success coming! I am glad that I am able to be here and to serve in Sweden. I am very excited for the next little while, there should be a lot happening! Right now, we are mostly open plan-wise, but that just means we will be teaching a lot more people out on the streets! I love this work! I love being a missionary. It is so much fun!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, June 18, 2012

My New Area is Great!

I am very excited for Christian to come out on his mission and join the troops! The MTC is a lot different than when I was there, but the missionaries that come out of it are many times more prepared and ready to do the work, it is incredible! I bet there will be last minute packing, and that in the end all will be well. I know that he will do great!

I actually had dinner with a lady last night who says that she grew up as best friends with Sister Mayo, here in the ward! The member actually lives in Västerhanninge, but is serving in Hägersten as a missionary. It was really cool, and the world is so small!!! I will watch for her!
 This Friday here is Midsommar afton, so we will be having a big party/ celebration! There will also be a 5K race that I get to run! It is going to be a great day. All the members from both Stockholm stakes, and all the missionaries gather to the same place! It is going to be a great day. I am super excited. I am also really glad that I am here in Stockholm. It is the best place to be!   
My new area is great! Close to Stockholm, so everything is bigger and transportation is much better! There are a lot more huge apartment buildings, and coded entries...   I don't like the codes at all! The area is ready for a lot of work though! It is going to be great. I had a great day Saturday, and Sunday was awesome. Hägersten is a ward, there were about 60 in church I believe! Though there are at least 250 less actives... so a lot of work!
The 4-man is a lot of fun. We have a lot of figuring out to do, like how we want to do the work, cooking, members (it is one ward for us four), and such! It is going to be interesting this week, but in the end all will be awesome! I am guessing that in a month or so that the area will be cut to one companionship again. Meaning that the others leave... President Newell is not particularly a fan of the 4-man! There are two bedrooms, and the apartment is actually the biggest we have! It is very very nice! I have not gotten to visit either of the temples since last time in the Copenhagen. I will try to visit the Stockholm temple soon, it is in the district, so it is the perfect opportunity! Plus, Elder Ouimette has not been there yet!
Elder Ouimette comes from SLC. He loves to run, and was actually a very good Cross-country runner in high school! We are running and training for Friday... (not much prep, but better than nothing!) It is interesting coming into the area, but Elder Ouimette is very good and an awesome missionary already! I am going to do all I can to help him, and to learn from him! We are planning on miracles! It is going to be a great transfer and a lot of going to happen. It is awesome!

So, this week I have learned through experience, that when we really do what we can, we will be blessed beyond what we think is literally possible! Since getting in the area Saturday afternoon, that evening actually, we got five teaches on the streets and subway, and a positive new investigator! It was incredible, and the goal is to continue, and do even more! The success did not come because of our actions, but our willingness to act. It was not us that made everything happen, but God blessing us for trying! People just came to us it seemed! I love being a missionary! I love being a trainer already, it feels as though I am being the one taught! I love it and am so super excited to see what the Lord is going to do with the area here! I know the church is true, I love being a missionary, and I know we are blessed when we do all that we can!

I love you all! Have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, June 11, 2012

We are what we are...

Sorry this took a little while today... another crazy day and transfer!  Not as crazy as last time, but crazy anyways! Saturday we got a telephone call from President Newell, as usual it meant that we will soon be transferring out of the area! I will be moving this weekend to Hägersten to train a greenie in the Hägersten 2 area! I am excited, though sorry to already be leaving Örebro. So, maybe I will meet Sister Mayo then! Depends which part of Stockholm she will be in... I am going to be a little outside the ''Stockholm'' area, but, I am very, very excited in any case. I will be in a 4-man apartment with Elder Astin (From my MTC group) and Elder Lopp! It is going to be awesome! I will be sure to let you know next week about my greenie! This will now be the 7th area in my mission! I believe that is pretty unusual... but I am still missing one zone... maybe it will come later! Who knows!?

10 Days Christian!!!! That is so cool! I am super excited. I know it is hard to say goodbye to us, but we come home even better I promise! Plus, there is nothing better!

Your Stake Conference sounds like it was great!  I like the council that the mission president gave.  (1 -Love people, be real and genuine. 2 - Love the Lord. 3 - Pray for the missionaries serving in your ward.)  People know when you mean it!  Don't fake anything, don't try to trick anyone, but be real. Love them, and you will want to help them out! Second, when we love the Lord we will want to do as we are asked, we will want to be as He was! There was no better missionary or example than Christ. Lastly, as missionaries we really do feel your prayers and help. We too have been asking our members to pray for us by name. We need prayers, especially the prayers of those we work among. It builds a bond, a desire to work together and get things done! It no longer is just ''the missionaries'' but the ones you see weekly! You will want to help them, see their success! This is one of the times that you will really be able to see, and to be the answer to your prayers! It is missionary work, not the missionaries' work! It is a work that neither can do on their own. I like the idea that teaching is one by one, that we each have our own needs and we will be taught in the way that will best help us! We will receive the most when it is applied and understood (preferably in the opposite order, but either way works! We do not always know why until after!) 

 One quote that I have noticed popping up all over the place is that of Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up!" And so it should be. Go forward, walk in faith and power from above. We are children of God, He is in control and will see that we are rewarded for every effort which we put forth! What incredible promises!!! 
I am sure that there are people out there just waiting for us to open our mouths and talk. I believe that scripture was Helaman 2:5, I liked Opa's understanding of that, that we are the angels sent to declare the message of repentance to these people! We are sent to help these people and to do as we are prompted! This is, after all, the work of God, and we are just the tools by which He chooses to build up His kingdom. We play a specific and important role in the work, we are to do all that we can to serve in the best way we are able. We are who we are, because there is a role that just we can play in the scene of this life! We are the light of the world, set up on a hill, viewed by everyone. The darkness when it meets the light is expelled, but it does not understand. Light can only be understood by light. Thus we all have light in us, no matter who we are or where we are in life. As we teach, the light which we are reaches out to others. As we shine, those who are open and willing will see the light and come. We are to shine, that is our role. And, when necessary, we can even use words! I know that as we go out and do our part, we will see miracles. We will win the battle in the end. We are on the Lord's side. I know that there is no other way, there is nothing more that will bring us such wonderful joy! I love being a missionary and sharing my life and love with them! I love being able to share it all with you at home! Have an incredible week all of you, you are incredible! Do not be afraid to stand for what you believe. And never, never, never give up.

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, June 4, 2012

I love being a missionary!

Yeah Christian!!!!  Only 2 1/2 weeks left!  Join the party! Every one loves missionaries!!!! (mostly...)

Yeah, so in a little free time my companion asked if I had passed 200 days yet... I had to check, so I did a little math, and 200 days was yesterday.... so 199 days of missionary madness to go!!!! It is going to be incredible! ahhhhh!!! It really is terrible. I mean, where did the two years go? what is up with that? Can I get a refund or something!? Though, I can't say that I don't want to come home wither, home is a great place with really awesome people! It is the natural course of mission life, you are born in the mission, and die (go home) before it seems like you really know what you are doing! But you still get miracles done daily! It is incredible!

It was a very, very quick week. I don't know why, but it was and I am not completely sure what happened!  So, we have been up to a lot of the usual activities, teaching, travelling, visiting members, playing basketball with the youth, soccer, service projects with older members, teaching, and trying to call people, finding those who want to learn!

This week I am looking forward to seeing a lot happen. We had two investigators come to church yesterday who are really positive. Hopefully through the week we will get some baptismal dates! We are working on getting more positive investigators, that seems to be a continual fight that we have! We have some great people and that is good, but we need more! We do still do quite a bit of teaching, though we are trying to always get more... there is a mission goal to get 20 a week per area... that sounds like it would be easy, right? That is only three a day! Think again! Though we are getting close some weeks. We are working on that, and I am working on opening my mouth more! Again, an ongoing battle.

My companion is awesome, he is quite different from me, though similar. He is smarter for sure, but not really athletic.... which is okay, there is a lot that I get to learn from him in other ways! I am excited. He loves languages, physics, and music! So, I am going to be having him teach me different things that I can apply and get better at! Maybe one day I can even write a song! =) we will see....

I have not had too much creative cooking recently. We have mostly just been sticking to the basics, and such... I can't really think of anything else to cook with what I have... though Elder Asp has taught me some more missionary food recipes... they were interesting! Not really my type though... ha ha. It is good, and we actually get a good amount of member dinners as well!  Ha ha, Christian will for sure learn to love foods that he did not like before! I personally have not found anything specifically that has changed... I do really enjoy fish now and then... not everything, but most! Sweden is safe food wise.

Yes, I think I have gotten rid of my southern accent... though I am not really sure... my Swedish is not the best anyways!

The apartment is nice, though smaller. It has everything that we need! It has a good kitchen, bathroom, and new mattresses on the beds! It is great! I am not going to complain. 

Today we will take it pretty easy, play some piano, maybe go buy a new bike... if Elder Asp gets his wallet back today... (lost it, but the police sent it to the office). He got the money for the bike on his card... then we will have some food, and we are going to a members house to teach two new investigators and have family night! Great way to start the week if you ask me!

Today I have a testimony of fasting. I fasted yesterday, of course, and even though I was not necessarily at my best the whole day, I saw miracles happen, and we had a great day! We got to teach an old investigator who was awesome! We got to have two investigators at church who should be baptized soon!!! And, we taught priesthood, sort-of... with a presentation and I bore my testimony about the second harvest that was prophesied to happen here in Sweden. The spirit was strong, I made the decision to buckle in and just get to work! My time is running out. But, I know there is a lot more that I need to get done before I go home, and now is the best time for me to get in and do it! Forget myself, forget everything, and work with faith. I read a scripture yesterday in my personal studies. It was Moroni 7:33 I believe... it said that when we have faith we will work miracles. I have faith in my Savior, I will be a tool and work miracles for Him and the Swedish people, everyone that is here and is ready. I know the work will go forward, and I know that I can not be stopped if I am working for God! I love being a missionary, and I am glad that I get to be here to work and serve the Lord! I love being a missionary! I love you all! Have a great week!

Love you all!
Äldste Maxwell