Monday, January 27, 2014

10 months and a baptism.

Hallelujah! One soul has been added into the fold. Morgan was baptized on Saturday and received the Holy Ghost yesterday! When we were filling up the baptismal font on Saturday, the heating went out. We tried filling buckets of water up from the kitchen sink and bathrooms and pouring it in but then all of the hot water in the whole building went out and it was FREEZING. Ice cold.
Morgan and Bishop Lindahl
Before the baptism, we watched a couple mormon messages with Morgan because they are so powerful. And then our bus friend, Marcus showed up for the baptism so we invited him to watch mormon messages with us. He was not interested at all but he came in and watched. Then we asked him if he would pray and he said he had never done that before and I said "just try" :). He said okay- so we all bowed our heads and closed our eyes and it was completely silent. I opened my eyes to see Syster Hosenfeld and Morgan with their heads bowed and with smiles on their faces and then Marcus opened his eyes and said "amen" and we all repeated amen. And I was just smiling because I love this work and these people. The spirit was very strong and we all just sat there in silence for a while. Here we were with Morgan who was getting baptized and Marcus who is "atheist" and wanted nothing to do with the church when we first taught him in November... But now he was at the baptism, in our church, watching mormon messages and praying. :) As a missionary you truly see so many people changing their lives even if it doesn't always result in a reactivation or a baptism.
Morgan's baptism started at five p.m. and we had a lovely program. Karin Bergman spoke about baptism and Senja bore her testimony on the Holy Ghost. Then we all moved into the font room and Morgan was BAPTIZED! He was smiling ear to ear and so was I. It was truly a wonderful experience. He will be an amazing member and addition to the Halmstad ward. Morgan was glowing the rest of the night and he looked so happy. I just kept thinking of this scripture in Alma 26:30 "And we suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this that perhaps we might be the means of saving SOME soul, and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some." 
My joy is full. It made everything so worth it to watch one soul come unto Christ. All of the tracting, the contacts, the "no's", the tired legs, the sad heart for those who do do not want to listen- it is worth it to watch the one go under the water and come back up clean. Present at the lesson we had an investigator, a less active, and Morgans boss came and he left holding a book of mormon. 
i   l o v e    m i s s i o n a r y    w o r k. 
I love watching people change their lives.

We were laughing the other day at all of the things that happen to us or that we experience that we are soo used to. Like the sun going down at 4 pm (now 5!), the silence everywhere especially on buses- no one talks to each other... people answering the door with no clothes on, the rude things people say to us, everything closing at 6 pm, people shutting their door on us or just shaking their heads at us... people blowing smoke in our faces, people just completely ignoring us or giving us the weirdest looks. hahaha it's all a good time. The best comment we got this week was when Syster Hosenfeld asked a lady how she was doing and the lady said "who is asking" Sys H: "me..." and then I stepped in and explained that we come from the United States so that is why we sound weird and ask people questions and she said "ohhh.... you come from United "Bluff" States of America." ... hahahahahahahahaha then she rolled her eyes and mumbled something and walked away... come on people...!

We met with the coolest lady this week from... TRANSYLVANIA... It is a real place and normal people live there! Not just vampires hahaha. And I think she is my favorite person EVER. She is in her 60's and we talked to her on the street and she asked us if we would come to her house so we could talk! We went over there this week and she told us that she had read that we didn’t drink coffee so she made us fresh squeezed orange juice :). 

Everything in her apartment is so artsy and she told us that she moved here to Sweden just to see and learn from another culture. She told us how she enjoyed watching how these people lived, eating what they eat, and talking how they talk. It was very inspiring. She has been reading a lot about Hinduism and she is just open and interested in learning more about the world. She gave us cheese and tomatoes and chocolates and made us feel at home. As we began teaching her she ran to the other room and grabbed a pen and some paper and started writing notes. It was awesome. People like her who are real and down to earth- who are unique and authentic, remind me to open up my eyes and see the world in a different perspective and to just love and enjoy the time that I am given to live and learn.
I have been thinking about my testimony this past week and how much it has grown over the past ten months. My testimony in high school was merely that I just wanted to be good. I wanted to believe and I tried to live the gospel in the way that I understood it. I felt the spirit in my life when I went to church and participated in good things but quite honestly, I was not always worthy of the spirit. My desire to know that the church is true was there, but it wasn't enough to keep me on a sure foundation... it was just kind of there.
p-day adventure
At the time that the announcement was made that I at age 19, could serve a mission, I felt prepared and ready. I just thought it would be a good experience. I prayed about it and within a week I felt that I should go. I got all of my paper work turned in the following week and then prepared for the following four months. I remember the stake president asking me to bear my testimony to him and I didn’t really know what to say. I believed that all of this was true but it made me a little scared that I wasn't for sure and that I didn't know very much about the gospel. I didn't understand what Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith had sacrificed so that we could have this gospel on the earth... My testimony was so small and so simple that I pretty much just trusted in the phrase that "God is my Heavenly Father, he loves me and I love him." I really just knew that God loved me.

I wrote this testimony before I entered the MTC, in the front of my English scriptures. "On my mission i want to strengthen my testimony, and use it as a witness that this church is true. I want to serve and bless my family now and my future family. I hope that my testimony and beliefs will be my foundation and an example to others of who I am when they see me. I am grateful for this gospel and for its promises and blessings. I believe that this is the only true church of Christ and as I learn of his teachings and example, I hope to become more like him. To walk in his footsteps, to love and serve as he did. I am grateful for Joseph Smith and for his curiosity to search and willingness to be guided by the Lord. I love my Heavenly Father. He guides me and loves me."

 I remember writing this and feeling so sure that this was a good and strong testimony- strong enough to help me become a missionary and help me through the hard days. But as I read it now, I can see with the words that I used like "I want to", "I hope that", & "I believe" ...that my testimony before my mission was a desire to actually gain a testimony. I wish I could have gained a testimony earlier in my life but it has been a very humbling experience to watch it grow out here on my mission as I have come to the realization of how imperfect I am and of how much I am in need of the gospel. 

Through feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and discouragement on my mission.... I have been filled with love, light, and security as I decided to give up my past life that I had been holding onto for the first rough months of my mission, and as I decided to hand my life over to Christ. I decided to trust in the gospel that I was here to share and I decided to humble myself and become a learner. I realized that my way was not His way. I took a few steps back and stopped trying to take charge. I instead followed. Followed my companions, the spirit, and the Lord and his teachings. 

At first I felt like a failure because I started noticing everything that I had been doing wrong- but then I quickly remembered my Savior and turned my thoughts, words, and actions towards Him. I now understand why my brother Jesus offered His life for the world. He did it because he KNEW... he already knew that we were going to make mistakes, that we were going to be imperfect and that we were in need of a Savior- of a glimpse of hope that we are not failing!

I have a testimony of daily repentance. I have a testimony that Christ’s atonement is p e r s o n a l. I have a testimony of personal prayer and of trials and weaknesses because they keep me humble. I have a testimony of missionary work and that the only way we know these things about the savior is through the Book of Mormon. It is my foundation. It is true. I have a testimony in the Prophet Joseph Smith and I love him for what he did for this church. I know that it is through him that we have the priesthood on the earth and that we have a true and living prophet to guide us in these hard times of living in a world where temptations and sin are all around us. I know these things because of a little seed- a small desire that I planted long ago has now been nourished and I have received my answer. I didn't come here to be converted but I am so grateful that I have been. I am so happy.

My favorite missionary quote: When you're homesick, work. When you're sad, work. When you're struggling, work. When you're sick, work.

I love you all.
love sis c.

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