Monday, January 30, 2012

Doing Great!

I am doing great, I have avoided the majority of the sickness, and that is a bonus! I have had a relatively good week, it was a lot slower teaching wise, and so the whole week was slower... I am going to change that this coming week! =P I am senior companion now, so I will have to be setting the pace. Oh, we started running every morning on a track nearby, and I have averaged 3 miles every morning, though last Friday I got another nice blister! It was perfect, I get to let it heal until tomorrow when we run again! I love running, and it helps to get up and stay up!!!

I was not a big writer... but it is great to get letters! I am still not a good writer actually, it takes me forever to get back to someone! I hope that everyone can forgive me for that! I also will have to apologize today, but we are short on time again and I can't get to all the others today, sorry! I promise I love you all, really!

The temple was incredible! I loved being able to be there again and to feel the spirit like that, to forget everything and just relax! I am sorry Christian if you go there, the language is really weird. A good way to practice is to stick a huge potato in your mouth while talking! Ha ha, it is funny... but if you go there you will love it! Very nice, happy people!

It is actually a lot easier to keep the languages straight now, and a lot of the French that I had before is coming back!!! So, now I need some French investigators to begin practicing on! I am also making sure that I can teach the lessons in French. It is not exactly the same vocab I learned in school, though what I did learn really helps!

The week was slow, but we ended it with a baptism! Again, all was crazy and stressed! I decided I really don't like baptisms... ha ha. I love them, but it was so much stress! In the end, everything worked out again, the water was colder than it should have been... but all in all it is done, and we have another happy member!

Well this week is nothing too exciting for us here, we are fresh out of investigators, and so we will be doing a lot of finding work, calling past investigators, people we have met on the streets and all that! It should be exciting! I hope that all works out and we can stay busy and happy! Plus, I am looking forward to getting some more money, we are starting to get creative on the food this week, though we should have money in a couple days! Oh, today I made some granola for breakfasts, it smells really good, I will let you know how it turned out! So, yeah. That is what our week has been like and I will let you know all of our adventures next week! (There are sure to be some, we are finding!)

So, I in my personal studies recently have decided that I need to read through the bible, and be able to understand it, and use it more in my teaching. I have read quite a bit and I feel as though I am able to understand them better.... I am in the book of Isaiah right now so this is the real test. One thing that I have noticed recently is that the parts that were really hard to read earlier, the history, names and all that in the first and second Chronicles books were really hard. But, now that I am through with them I got to Isaiah, and do you know what? It has helped! The history and wars, the attacks and everything that was recorded is taking part in the prophecies, in the teachings and even just the style of writing is similar, to the point that it is a lot easier to understand. I am no Bible scholar, or anything, but I have found that when you take time to get to know some of the history, the background, it is a lot easier to understand what is going on!

Now, what does that have to do with missionary work? In Isaiah chapter 28, at the very end, it talks a bit about harvesting grains. For each different type of grain there is a different process used to get the seeds out. I have seen and learned that each person in the world, in the area, in the class, wherever, is different. We all have different needs and we all have different interests. When it comes down to it we need to be with the person who understands best, we need to have the guidance and aid of the all-knowing God! With His help, His spirit, it is easy (you know what I mean) to reach the hearts of those whom He has prepared. We just need the faith and the spirit! then, as we open our mouths (the hardest part for me) we can see the results and reward of our efforts, study preparation and work.

I know that we are blessed for our efforts, I know that we are here for a reason, and that as we do our best, we will be strengthened to fulfill that purpose. I know I am weak, I know that I can do nothing on my own. I know that with His help, I can not fail. I love this work, I love being a missionary!

I love you all!
Äldste Maxwell

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denmark on Wednesday!

This week we had branch conference. It was really exciting. The Stake President said that this will most likely be the last branch conference ever for Kristianstad. it is expected that within the next couple months that our branch will become a ward. It is going to be so exciting! I just hope that I will still be here when that happens! Next transfers are not for another month and a half, so we will see!

I get to go and visit the temple this Wednesday. We are going to go to the Copenhagen temple. I am super excited and looking forward to being in the temple again, it has been so long! I really miss the temple! Plus I will get to see a little bit of Denmark! It is going to be really fun.

We got a little snow last week, it was actually snowing really hard! In Hässleholm (part of our area) there was about 3 inches! It was incredible! Anyways, I am looking forward to real snow, but this wet slush stuff is no good and not so fun. But, we can handle it! Supposedly the weather here is not normal either, the whole world's weather is going crazy... what does that mean? One more sign checked off the list!

I cannot believe how fast time goes... especially when you keep busy! this past week was actually really slow, but that was because Eldser Swenson was pretty sick and we did not work as much. That was really hard. I just want to go out there and work like crazy!!! I love being a missionary.

This last week we had a zone conference and I got to have an interview with the President. It was really fun, I really feel his love, and it made me want to do even better! He also asked how well I could speak French because he has been teaching a lot of French investigators and needs someone to help out... so I started to review my French and read "Preach My Gospel" en francais! (I know there is an accent on the c but I don't know how to type that right now...) I will keep you updated on how that goes!

I am doing great, avoiding the sicknesses for the most part, and waiting for Elder Swenson to get feeling better. I love being his companion, and already I am seeing a lot that I need to change to be a better senior companion, and to make sure that our time is used in the best way possible. It is really hard, and I really really hate port codes (apartments where you have to be "buzzed" in) ... they make it so hard to go tracting!!!! I really do love the Swedish people and everything, though they are often very very stubborn and close-minded.

It is hard to help someone who thinks that they are doing great. The life here is so easy, so simple. You pay about 55% of your income in taxes, but you get paid a lot of it back in so many different ways. you don't really even have to work! It is sad, but good, but not at all... Some ways it is better, help the poor, feed the hungry, take care of those who are disabled, but there needs to be a line, and other ways to do it. Older people are forgotten by their children, they are taken care of by the government so it is okay, but not! I love the people I love helping them, but it really hurts when they just close their eyes, close their ears, and continue through life.

I do feel like a part of the people, I guess I even look the part. I am missing the language, my accent is American, but this is my family! I belong, as you said. And now I am here to help. I know that through the spirit I can touch their hearts, but they have to have the desire to even try.

I know that this is the true church, I know that it is the light that will guide us through the darkness of the world, leading us as the rod of iron back to Christ our Savior and Redeemer. I love the gospel. It is simple and powerful. As a rock cut off the mountain, it is not complex, but it will not fail, and it will never again stop. I know that my Savior lives, I love Him and know that He is here to help me when I need Him.

All in all, I love being a missionary. I love this work.

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm Guessing ...Germany!

Christian has all his papers done!!! That is super exciting!!! For Christian I am going to guess Germany... yeah, he will go to Germany... maybe! =P That is what I am going to guess anyways!

Yes, we had a baptism. It was really nice, and after all of the confusion was sorted out everything went really well. I am glad to say that everything went well, and now, if everything continues to go well, we will have another baptism in less than two weeks. We are right now blessed with a couple people who were just ready, who are already living the commandments, and are seeking truth, and I know that as we continue to work every thing will continue to go well.

(Sister Carver is a missionary that served in our ward and Austin met right before he left on his mission. I saw her the other day and she mentioned that her cousin, in Sweden had mentioned Austin) Yeah, I talked to her cousin. Elder Humphreys is actually my zone leader right now. It was really cool, and the world is very very small. It was actually really funny. Elder Humphreys asked where I was from, went through part of the story and said New York, he told me about his cousin, and I said, ''I actually have a picture with her!'' It was really funny. He was blown away... He is a really cool missionary, and really really good at Swedish. And, I do agree, time goes by way too fast!

( I told Austin that on Ian's "All About Me" form for Primary, Ian said that his favorite thing about primary was when it was time to go home!) Ha ha, Ian is adorable, I can't believe that he actually said that! I like how little kids are so honest, and I hope that the Primary presidency does realize that it is not an insult at all, little kids can get away with the funniest things! I have a little buddy here in the ward too, his name is Noah and he teaches me how to do things, and I help him out when he needs it, it is really fun. Reminds me of Ian! It is great.

We are still waiting on snow here, it is getting really cold and the little river was partly frozen this morning, so I wouldn't be too surprised if we get some soon! I am looking forward to it but not at the same time... so yeah! We have had some really nice sunny days though, it was incredible! I love the sun! It is funny though that it sets at 4 still, really weird.

I got my new companion on Wednesday. His name is Elder Hakan Swenson (okay, so elder is not really part of his name... but it is, okay? =P) He comes from Cedar City UT and is in the national guard. He is a real tough guy, but really fun and relaxed at the same time, it is awesome. We began by cleaning the apartment, and I mean really clean! (I did make sure that it was clean before he came... I spent three whole hours cleaning after dropping Elder Gygi off... he wasn't too big of a cleaner...) So, the apartment is awesome now. That night after the working day, and visiting a member family for dinner, we had a super awesome nerf war! It was probably an hour and a half long, we, in the process moved most of the furniture into makeshift bunkers, and I would have to say that the nerf was was probably the best work out I have had in a while! We basically already have plans to go climbing, skydiving and all that when we get back... He is awesome, and we are going to have a great transfer.

He is quiet, like me, so in teaches we will be working on that, and working on how we do missionary work together.. that always takes a couple weeks to figure out. We have a good week planned ahead of us, and are looking forward to doing some really good work! I am super excited.

I am so glad that Allegra got to help out with the investigator! That makes all the difference. Especially to the mother. Mothers want to help their children, so when the child feels loved and welcome, and wants to go back it is really likely that the mother will come back as well! I love missionary work, it just feels good. Especially when you just give everything and are not holding back. I have found that when I just do what I need to do, it gets easier! I have to get over the initial worry, and just get into it! It is incredible! I love feeling the spirit lead my words, my teaching, and everything that I do, to best help these people. I know I am not perfect, even as a missionary I am not perfect, but I want to. I want to do more. I hope that some day, I will be better, closer to my potential. I hope that I never reach it, but that I can continue to grow for all eternity. I do not want to set limits to who I can be! I love being a missionary, it is the best time of my life so far!

I love you all!

Especially you Mom! (I just had to leave that in!)

Thank you!
Äldste Maxwell

Monday, January 9, 2012

Transfers this week, oh, and a baptism.

We are having transfers this week. Elder Gygi is leaving the area and Elder Swenson is coming to take his place. I am looking forward to the upcoming transfer, and we have had a great end to this one as well! Last Saturday we had the baptismal service for Bao Lei Ming, and he was then confirmed on Sunday in sacrament meeting.

All was going well until it started, and then we began to realize all of the things we forgot, like towels, a tie for Bao, to make sure that there was a member of the branch presidency there, and such... but in the end all went well, and I learned something new! The keys to convert baptisms come through the mission president, so it is not necessary to have a member of the presidency or bishopric, just the missionaries! I did not know that one before! But as said, all went well and now we are getting ready for the move.

I am doing great, loving the work, and excited to get to work here in the area with my next companion, to really just dig in and go! I have seen some success, but there is sooo much potential here, it is great! The members are incredible, they are very nice, and they are not as scared to share with others that they meet!

I love being a missionary. Today I got to read through the missionary commission and what that says. It is such a powerful statement that rings true, for it is. As a missionary I am called of God. I have authority above that of the Kings and Rulers of lands! I have been called to preach salvation to my brothers and sisters, in a language that is foreign to me. I know that I am not alone in the work, in truth, I am not even the one who does the work. I am here to serve, to fill the place that I have been sent to fill. I am not perfect, I don't have to be. The Lord wants me to do my best, to give my all and if that is not enough, He will fill in the rest. I know that there are people around me every day that are ready. So I do my best... no, there is more that I can do. I know that I am not perfect, I know I am shy, that is something that I have to fight against everyday. I am not perfect with the language but I know that I can, with help from above, reach the hearts of those I have been sent to bring back into the fold. I know that our Savior lives, that He is real and that everything He does is for our benefit and strength. I know I have been sent here for a reason, and I know that I can and will do more! I love being a missionary!

I love you all, have a great week!
Äldste Maxwell

Brotherly Love/Competition!

Christian just started his second semester at BYU. Austin only got one semester in before he left on his mission. Here is their exchange this week:

Dude, so I am offically more educated than you - so, just thought I would let you know that!

Hope you're having a good time and getting lots of work done!!

- Christian

Really!? I was already halfway through my sophmore year! lol =P

How's it going? Ha ha, I hope you have a great time too and let me know when you get your call!!!!

- Austin (Aldste Maxwell)

Still the same boys! LOVE IT!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

(note for clarification: the theme for the Young Men and Young Women this year is: Arise and Shine Forth! Austin referred to this idea in his last letter)

I can not say that I knew that I was reinforcing the Youth theme for the next year, only that I was sharing something I had been thinking about because of the time of year and the birth of Christ. I love how things like that work out, especially when I have no idea! It is really cool to begin to see how the Lord works, what his focus is, and to begin to see as he does.

I like that you cracked out the cider after the skype time! That makes me really really happy. That reminds me of Brother Maurer, the seminary teacher when he told us that his father wants him to put a cask of beer (now root beer because he is a member) on the casket, and celebrate! That is the way to go, to be remembered for the good and to enjoy the blessings we have been given. Especially with the perspective that the gospel can give us, it is really easy to enjoy life, it is short, the pains will not last, and the rewards are eternal! Celebrate and be happy! Life is a joyous time for celebration and growth!

Sweden, at least here and this year, is a lot like Oregon... though it does not rain quite as much... it is really nice! Though, not the white frozen wasteland that I was looking forward to! Haha, though Ido have to say that it is a blessing! So, we are off bikes now. Mission rules are that after the first frost/ freeze we are to take the bikes and put them away until the spring! Which is okay, the bikes here were not my favorite...

Everywhere in Sweden, at least that I have seen has a very good bus system. Kristianstad is quite small so they do not have as many buses, but they go quite often and are very effective!

I am getting settled... I feel like I have the layout down relatively well and the people as well, though supposedly we have another 6 investigators that I have never met... so that might be different! Elder Gygi is all about the work, he does not like down time, and is not afraid to talk to anyone! It is great, and I am learning a lot! Like one of the members said yesterday, Elder Gygi sees things! It is a really good way to put it, he has the faith to find! And, I am starting to pick up on it too! It is awesome, always something to learn!

I can think in Swedish, but that all depends on how much I want to focus on Swedish... today for example, I did all my studies in English and am now e-mailing in English so I am thinking in English, but a lot of my thoughts have been in Swedish recently.

I should have a great week! Things are picking up here in Kristianstad, and soon you should be hearing about success! We will see how everything goes! It is looking to be a great year!

So, this week I want to talk a little about my New Years... me actually. So, being the New Year and all I thought that I should probably set some goals on what I want to do better... and that didn't go so well, I thought a lot, but never really came up with something that I thought was right... but, while pondering over this under the hot shower... it came to me! (Shower= thinking place!) I realized that I don't know what I can become, and I don't know what I should become! I have this whole year in Sweden to do something, to become someone! But, I don't know who or what that is at all! That was when I realized that I can't set my goals. Cheesy, maybe, but I know that the only goals that are worthwhile for me, are going to be the ones that my Father in Heaven has.

I want to find what He wants me to do/be and then do everything that I can to become! Simple, but it was a breakthrough for me! I am here to be tried and to grow, while helping others to come unto Christ. But, I don't know what is going on at all, so I am going to God. Great, huh? So, this week I decided that I will begin to find God's will, His way, and to follow Him. His ways are not my ways, though they really should be! I know that His way is the only way, and that as I follow His will, I will be the best I can, I know that I will be able to help others the best I possibly can, and that I will be able to serve Him the way that He needs me to serve!

I love being a missionary, I love this work, and I love being able to find the truth through my own personal revelation. It works,I know that it does. God loves me, and He is up there cheering me on! I love learning the simple, but incredible truth!

I love you all and hope that you all have an incredible week and set some great goals! Life is good.

Love ya!
Äldste Maxwell