Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Email #99 - Final Entry

May 23, 2016
Skellefteå, Sweden

"Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah for Israel!"


Whew... I'm just getting teary eyed thinking about what I'm going to write in my final email of this adventure. This has been the most amazing and satisfactory experience and man, am I going to miss it all. The Lord has been so kind to allow me to serve him like this for two years.

This week has been incredible! Elder Kilton and I have worked our absolute tails off and we've been blessed so much! On my first day in Skellefteå, we sat down with the Branch President, Kjell, and asked him what he would like us to do during this next six week period. He told us that he felt inspired that we should knock a certain area, work from the church - eastward, and knock all the doors possible in that area. Knock them all. SO... this week, we absolutely knocked the tar out of that area and it was incredible! During the past week, we've found over 20 individuals/families that are interested in hearing more about the message we have. And every single one of them is SWEDISH! Talk about a miracle! We taught each one of them the Restoration or the Plan of Salvation, and they want us to come back. We were only able to follow-up with one of them so far and he is incredibly positive! I have absolutely LOVED this past week and I think it could deliver more fruit than any other week of my mission. I know Elder Kilton and Johnson will cap it off and I know amazing things are going to happen here.

On Saturday and Sunday, we had Stake Conference up here in Umeå with all of Norrland and it was phenomenal! I was able to meet all of my Umeå members again and it was the neatest thing. During President Beckstrand's talk in the conference, he asked me to stand up and bear my testimony for the members of Norrland. I love these people so much. It's probably going to be harder to leave Sweden than when I left the states two years ago. I bore my testimony of the Second Harvest, that it's happening right now, and that the Lord guides his work. This week, the Sweden Stockholm Mission was able to baptize ten converts during one weekend. That is more converts than this country has ever had during a single weekend in the history of the Restored Gospel. It's happening now. The Lord is hastening his work. And it's been such a blessing to be a part of it.

I've never told the family this, but when I was 12, we lived in the house across the street from the church. I remember one day, I was thinking about how I wanted to serve a mission. Back then, I thought it would be seven years away but it ended up being only six. I was thinking about how bad I wanted to serve a mission and how bad I wanted to serve the Lord for two years. I was scared that the Lord would take me early and I wouldn't get the chance here in this mortal life. I got down on my knees next to my bed, and plead with the Lord, that he would allow me to serve a full-time mission when the time came. I didn't care what would happen after, I just wanted to serve. With tears streaming down my face, I felt a confirmation and the Lord telling me that I would be able to do it one day.

Back in Södertälje, I remember studying one morning. I was thinking a lot and I just leaned back in my chair to just think. An overwhelming feeling of gratitude came over me so I walked into the bedroom, closed the door, fell on my knees, and sobbed because of the opportunity the Lord had given me to serve a full-time mission. I thought back to when I was 12 and I was in the same position, by my bed, weeping like a little baby. In my last FHE, I remember Brian telling me how fast the mission was going to be, and to just focus on the work and "go" because you will be back home before you know it. I vividly remember him emphasizing how important a mission is and how much it can help you in your life. I wanted to come back, feeling like the Lord had accepted my offering, and knowing that I gave all I had. Brian seemed to love his mission so much and I looked at him and thought, "I want that love for the people. I want that love for the country. And I want that love for the work." A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Greg talking about how important these last few weeks are and how important "Enduring to the End" is. I hung it above my desk and looked at it everyday. The thing that hit me the hardest was when Greg said that the mission homestretch is "a defining time period." I always wanted to be missionaries like Dad, like Greg, like Brian, like Preston, and define myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ forever. I have tears in my eyes thinking about the day I'll have to leave these people in this country. I love these people. I love this country with all of my heart. And most important, I love my Savior. He lived and died and lived again for me. Christ isn't a man who lived two thousand years ago. He's the Savior of the world and he lives today. I know that now. It doesn't matter what the world has said, says now, or will say, his church is back. And he leads it. I want to be "all in" for the Savior for the rest of my life. And I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity he's given me to serve.

I love you all so much. I can't wait until I can see you again. It will be an amazing experience. Thank you family for your prayers, and your support while I've been out on the Lord's errand. It's true. It's all true. I love you. I love Him. I love this work. What a cause we are enlisted in!!

Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah for Israel!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone
Tracting this past week! WAHOO!
The classic "Elder Burton" picture pose. haha
Elder Bailey and I on the buss. This kid is one of my best friends. I'm really going to miss him.
Elder Cox and I! This elder is one of the most loving people I know! One of the most incredible District Leaders I've known.

Bailey o Feathy round 2 at District Meeting in Luleå

 Our investigator Samson! Absolute STUD! Gonna miss this kid.

The process of my "death" as a missionary...  

Yahaaa... gotcha!!
Wait what??

Noooooooooo!!! I'm hit!... dead.

Elder Kilton and I... "on the waterrrrr... OH" ... I'll explain that when I get home. #nashvilletribute
                                                   Staying the night with Umeå and Sundsvall!

  Boden, Umeå, and Skellefteå on the way to Stake Conference! Love these fällas!

Elder Featherstone: "President Palm! Is it alright if I take a picture with you?"
Håkan Palm: "Of course my boy! Should we take a selfie??"
Elder Featherstone: "hahaha... you got it!"
When Grandpa V came to Sweden in 1973, he stayed at Håkan Palm's house in Borlänge! 
Grandpa V! Håkan says hi! 

The boys in Umeå! Älskar de här killarna!
Elder Chugg o Elder Bailey at Stake Conference!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Email #98

May 16, 2016
Skellefteå, Sweden

"Success comes in the realm of the final inch."


Whew baby... what a week. Another week in the books and in the Lord's service. I've absolutely loved being up here in Skellefteå for round 2 and it's been an incredible ride! Man, I am going to miss this city, these people, and this experience. It's been the coolest.

Elder Kilton and I have this running joke about the movie "The Incredibles." We always joke about the first scene with Frozone and Mr. Incredible when Frozone says, "HEY! SHOULDN'T YOU BE GETTING READY??" and Mr. Incredible says, "I STILL GOT TIME!" SO... we still got work to do, we still got people to talk to, and all I have to say is, "I still got time!"

Speaking of the work... it's been a good week here in Skellefteå. Our Branch President, yes the legend himself, Kjell Solbakk, has asked us to tract a certain area of town so we're been "knocking it out." Ohhhhh... No pun-intended!! ANYWHO... last time Kjell asked the elders to knock a certain area, a lady was baptized. SO... I trust the Branch President. It doesn't matter if we find the person, BUT... it will definitely build the trust with Kjell. We've been doing a lot of knocking lately and I've probably knocked more in the city of Skellefteå than anywhere else. I'm not used to it but it's good though! We're enjoying it and we're getting some good work done.

On Monday, we knocked into an old 85 year old lady and she was THE NICEST person I have ever met in my entire life. We taught her the Restoration and it went super well! Although she was pretty set in her ways and didn't see a need to read the Book of Mormon, we ended with our classic invitation. And get this... I literally cannot count how many times I have said, "Just try it." It's almost too simple. It's like Moses and the serpent. "Just try it." And it blows my mind how many people just brush it off like it's nothing. BUT... that's not gonna get us down because why? A good friend of mine explained it like this, "notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay,that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God." That's been our little motto for this week. I would never be anywhere else in the entire world though. This is where I want to be. And this is where the Lord wants me to be. I LOVE SWEDEN!

On Wednesday, I was able to go on my last splits ever. It was in the legendary city called "Boden." I was on splits with Elder Olson from good ol' Provo, Utah. We worked in Luleå for part of the day and then went back up to Boden. Super solid splits! Worked hard and had a blast! Cheers to Elder Olson!

Later in the week, we had a lesson with our boy Juan and Ivar. Ivar is a member and Juan actually works as a personal assistant for him. We've been teaching Juan a little more and he's actually doing really well. Juan is fairly positive and we had a neat experience teaching him. For some reason, in the past, I have felt like I start to "back down" sprinkle sugar on the baptismal invitation because I don't want to offend or scare the investigator. While we were teaching Juan, I had an impression and I just said to myself, "Don't back down. Do not back down!" We were teaching and I asked him to be baptized. He said it would take more than a month or two to change his life. I felt like this boldness came out of nowhere and I was able to testify that he could be ready. It was incredible to know that the Savior's spirit was there, I felt it. And when the Savior's spirit is there, there's no need to back down. Being bold is incredible when you know that the Savior is backing up what you're saying so there is no need to back down.

I don't have anymore time so I'm going to have to wrap this up. Grandpa V wrote me the other day and he shared a quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn. "Success comes in the realm of the final inch." That's the success I'm shooting for this week. The closer it comes to the end, the closer we get to success.

I'm running! I hope you all know that! I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Strength and Honor         Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Gotta love Skellefteå!

My last Sunday with the Skellefteå branch. I. Love. These. Members.

On the streets... mid door knockin' session comp selfie

Äldste Featherstone o Kilton. #skellefteåislife

"Blå ängeln" in Piteå with Jonathan Wirtala! Such a stud! Love this kid!

We contacted this dude this week. haha THUMBS UP!

Elder Olson and I with "The Tree of Life!" We found it!

Contacting Round 2 with Elder Olson and the persians in Boden! These
guys were the coolest!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Email #97

May 8, 2016
Skellefteå, Sweden

"Righteous Hustling" - Putting the focus on "The One."


Whew baby! Talk about another week here in the lands of the north! Skellefteå is the name. Missionary work is the game. Here's a quick update on a couple of this week's events...

This week has been the coolest! A ton of fun, the weather has been SO prime, and we've been talking to the Swede's on the streets and in their homes... alll weeeekkk. It's been good though. A normal day in Sweden would probably look like this:

Morning stuff and studies 6:30 AM to 10:00

Go out and do some "shredding" from 10:00 AM until sometime where we come back and...

Eat lunch and study language for two hours

Do more shredding on the streets until 5 PM

Eat dinner from 5 PM until 6 PM

Knock for the rest of the night...

We have been meeting SO many people and we've been having a ton of super sweet experiences with them all. This week there was a huge festival in town promoting anti-racism and we were able to meet all the people we usually do, but in the MASSES! We've met people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Somalia, Uganda, The Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Eritrea, and Yemen. Whew... still with me? Alright cool! It's a lot of countries! Hey speaking of countries! Have you ever heard of an area called "The Middle East?" Yeah... you could probably nickname Sweden as "Little Middle East" with all of it's refugees and immigrants. It's the coolest! I have grown to love these people and we've had some great success with them in the church. This has been a part of the Lord's plan to help these people receive the Restored Gospel and it's been amazing to be a part of it all. Anywho... It's been a pretty solid schedule for the last four weeks and you know what? We got two more weeks of it so buckle down, pony up, strap yourself in, and get ready because there are lives to touch!

In other news, the weather is starting to get better here in Skellefteå. Do you know what that means? If you thought anything like, "flowers start to bloom, grass turns green, or the like" yes... yes... "you are correct sir." BUT... it ALSO means that people start playing basketball! Which means that there are people to hustle. Now listen here... the word "hustle" usually has a bad connotation but I'm gonna help you understand the term known as "righteous hustling." Haha it goes like this... This week, we were on our way to talk to more people on the streets in town but I happened to notice a game of immigrant basketball taking place. SO... I went over and said, "Alright fellas... if we win, you listen our message about Christ. If you win, I'll buy you a pizza. (which... in turn... still ends up with them listening to our message about Christ.)" They kinda chuckled and said, "Alright kid... you got it! Deal!" And we shook on it. SO... we played, and ended up LOSING. WHAT? Good thing it was "first one to five games to two points." haha I was a little ticked inside so I said, "Elder Kilton, we have a lesson we have to be to in 30 minutes. It takes us 20 minutes to bike there so we really gotta hustle and beat these guys. Game face!" SO... we balled em all up in about ten minutes as I said, "Alright... we won... but we'll have to teach you another time." And laughed and said, "You got it! Same place. Same time. Next week." Hence the term... "righteous hustling." It ended up happening again later in the week. Gotta love it! I don't have my "twin towers" partner Scottie Tew to side bump with so I taught Elder Kilton the ways and he's filling the role although he's only 5'6".

Earlier in the week, I got a call from a good mission pal, Elder Burton. He said that a member named Fidelis (who is from Nigeria but was baptized in Södertälje) was moving up to Skellefteå and would be a member here now. Fidelis was taught in Skellefteå, then he moved to Södertälje, and is now moving back. He will make a huge contribution to the branch up here and he could be the key to starting everything back up. We called Fidelis up and decided to meet on Saturday. Thinking it would be just Fidelis, we ended up running into our investigator Samson, and Samson's buddy, Jeff (We'll say it was "Jeff"). We stood there and just talked for a little while and Jeff was super interested in what we had to say. He even said that he wanted to get baptized!! We got to know Jeff a little better and he was the coolest guy! We found out that he lived in a refugee camp with Samson and that they had almost nothing to live off of. Jeff said he didn't have "this", and "that", and I was heart broken. I just thought that everyone had those type of things. Jeff lives in a place called Jörn and he has just enough money to come to Skellefteå twice a month. He just sits in his room in the refugee camp all day and does nothing. Later, we sat down and taught Jeff about the Book of Mormon and about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He loved it and asked if he could have the book. I said, "Jeff... it's all yours buddy!" He said, "Thanks man! I'll try to come to church tomorrow. Even if the bus only comes until 12 and I'll be there for 10 minutes of church." Probably one of the most humble people I have ever met. Then he looked at me with a embarrassed look on his face and quietly said, "Hey, Elder Featherstone, do you have any extra undies? I don't have enough money to buy any. No one knows I don't wear but I just wear my one pair of jeans." I didn't have any money on me so I couldn't go buy him some right then, but I said, "Jeff, I'll go buy you another pair of pants and some undies tomorrow." Nothing I had would fit him. We had previously said that we were on our way to the apartment to eat lunch but I thought it would be best to stay with him for a little while, even though our numbers wouldn't be as good, even though we wouldn't be able to talk to more people, I decided I'd try to make the absolute most of his time here in Skellefteå. We were with each other for a little while and then he had to go back to Jörn. On our way back to the apartment, I just said a little prayer to Heavenly Father and thanked him for sending me to a home with the Gospel, with a mother and a father, and with food in the cupboards. I know I couldn't do everything for Jeff, but I could do what I could, and God could help him the rest of the way. We just tried to focus on "the one."

Maybe you can all try something this week! Pray and ask for an opportunity to serve someone and really just focus on "the one." I promise it'll come faster than you think so keep your eyes peeled.

On Sunday, we gave the Sunday School lesson and it was on the Book of Mormon. Can I just say that I love that book? I know I've said it a thousand times but I know that book is true and I've been able to get to know the Savior better through that book. Not just know who he was and what he did, but know HIM, what he is, and what he does today. It's true.

I love you all so much. I hope you all know that. Elder Featherstone loves his family. Mom, Dad, thank you for teaching us the Gospel and for all of those wonderful monday nights at FHE.

Hurrah for Israel!  
Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone  
I finally did it! I finally walked through one of my pairs of shoes! I left the other one in Utby because it was too damaged! 
Ran into Tistou who is a member from Umeå! Such a stud!

Ice-cream with the birthday boys at Therese's house. Elder Kilton's birthday was on the 6th! Super funny!

Elevator selfie with Therese! 

Balloon "light-saber" fight at Specialized Zone Training in Umeå. Elder Featherstone o Bailey vs. Elder Mott.

District Picture in Skellefteå with the ZLs and Elder Bailey/Kilton fighting on top

"Righteous Hustling" round 1. One point to the Skellefteå elders!

On the bus to Umeå for Specialized Zone Training in my "Malcom X" glasses.

The "Nougat Pillow Party" with the Boden elders. This cereal is the greatest! I'll tell you more when I get home! haha

Mid-shot dance party to EFY music with Elder Bailey in Skellefteå. haha #boyband

Knockin' the doors" feat. Skellefteå äldsterna

Ran into the dude from Halo! haha Elder Kilton was freaking out!

My boys Charles, Samson, and Fidelis. Charles taught us a little bit of "Pigeon English" this week. haha SO COOL! 

"How fa man?" #pigeonenglish

                              Love these kids! 

A text from our mission mom. Haha I love Sister Beckstrand! She's the greatest!

Missionaries... "Vi hjälper dig må bra." - Direct translation is "We help you feel good!" 


Monday, May 2, 2016

Email #96

2 May, 2016
Skellefteå, Sweden

Running after Swedes, Through the Fire and the Flames, Making it Permanent y'all!


Whew baby! Talk about an incredible week here in the blessed city of Skellefteå! Being a missionary, seeing the fruits, and serving the Lord in the vineyard. Doesn't get much better than that now does it.  

ANYWHO... this week, the legend Elder Kilton and I have spent a LOT of time on the streets! Remember that big ol' city street I have talked about in the past? Yup... that bad boy... we've spent a LOT of time preaching the gospel and running after the people of Skellefteå on that street. Speaking of which... that has become a little favorite thing of mine here on the mission. It's almost become my trademark as Elder Featherstone. Super funny! There's a lot of time you'll be contacting people on the street and you'll walk up to someone and say, "Hey! Excuse me! My friend and I are the missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ." and then you'll get a big, fat, Swedish excuse because they won't want to talk to you. SO... instead of saying... "OH... yeah... well alright! Have a nice day!" as they walk by you, (by this time they're already 15 feet away because they're really trying to make a run for it. haha) you run back over to them, start to walk with them, and you say, "You know what! We'll do it like this. You don't have a lot of time SO... we'll leave you with this card (mormon.org pass along card) with this super cool website on it that talks a little bit about the church, why it's important, and how it can help us in our lives." It's the most hilarious thing ever because almost every single time, the Swede will stop, look at you with that big, cheesy smile on your face and give you a look that says, "Ha.. ha... ha... who is this kid talking to me about religion. And why the heck is he so happy? Alright kid, I'll take your card and I'll give it a look." It's absolutely hysterical. The Swedes love it and we're just planting seeds like no body's business. Gotta love it baby! On my first day in Skellefteå, I contacted someone and I got the classic, "I'm in a hurry. I can't talk right now." SO... what do I do? I pull out the OUR classic "run after the Swede technique" and give them a card. Elder Kilton stood there with his jaw wide open and said, "Elder Featherstone... what the heck was that?" I was super confused so I said, "What the heck was what?" "THAT! That was the coolest thing I've ever seen!" I started laughing and we kept on going. Last week, we were on the street contacting and Elder Kilton says, "Hey! Excuse us!" I don't remember who he contacted but I remember standing there and seeing him running after this person trying to give them a card. I stood there and BUSTED up laughing and as he came walking back to me, I said, "Atta boy Elder Kilton. Atta boy." We're having a good time with the Swedes. You gotta enjoy it on the way and so we're really trying to enjoy the time we have with them. Especially on the streets! They're the funniest people and we're actually having a ton of success with them lately. They're talking with us more and it's super neat to see. #secondharvest

On Wednesday, I was able to go on splits with the legend Elder Bailey from Umeå! We were companions for two weeks in Utby when his companion went home for some stress and other things. We were in the car for most of the day because we were swinging by some people we couldn't reach with the bikes. We had a super good talk about the mission and I sat there thinking about my time here in Sweden. I have loved being a missionary for the Lord here in this blessed country. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity he has given me to serve his children. When I was in Utby, we set up a "mission prep" with the priests in the ward. I remember telling the priests who were preparing for missions that "there is not one thing that is more important for you to do at this point in your life than to serve a mission." And I believe that. The Lord needs all who are worthy and willing. I was sitting in the car, Elder Bailey and I were just thinking, and I felt like I heard the Lord say, "Elder Featherstone, I need you for the rest of your life. I need you on my team for the rest of your life. But first, I need to know you're all in. I need to know if you're all in for me and my gospel, and I need you to show me during the last few weeks of your mission if I can rely on you and use you as a tool in my kingdom so I can rely on you during the rest of your life." It was a very distinct feeling and I feel as if that is why I am here in Skellefteå. And I think that's what missions do. Growing up in the church is great and all, but missions make it "permanent." Missions make the Gospel "permanent" in our lives and that's a goal for me this transfer. I love this gospel. It's true. And I want it to be permanent in my life and in the lives of others.

During the close of the day with Elder Bailey, we swung by a less active who lives a little bit outside of Skellefteå and we ended up talking with his non-interested cousin who lives there with him. We went outside and Elder Bailey said, "Hey Elder Featherstone... let's knock that building over there." I was completely on board so we walked up the stairs and pounded our fists on that first door. No answer. SO... we turned to knock the other door on that level and we heard someone walking up the stairs. It's always super awkward when you're just waiting there outside someone's door so I made a little joke to Elder Bailey, gave him a little elbow bump and said, "Alright... here we go buddy." A man walked up the stairs and it was actually the man that lived in the apartment we had just knocked on. We introduced ourselves and he invited us in his house. Long story short... we sat down, taught Shirzad the Restoration and he LOVED it. He said he feels exactly like Joseph Smith did and he is going to try to read out of the Book of Mormon for one hour every day. I looked at Elder Bailey and gave him a look like, "Woah... is this guy for real? Like... most members don't even do that." Super cool story and the Lord is blessing us. We've been able to teach a lot more than I thought and it's all going well here in Skellefteå.

The other big happening was a big holiday in Sweden known as "Valborg." It's just a big thang in Sweden where the Swedes gather a bunch of wood and stuff and have a MASSIVE bonfire thang. Super cool actually. Kind of along the lines of burning away the old and on with the new to welcome spring. It's pretty ridiculous that we're JUST getting away from the snow and it's JUST starting to get nice. haha gotta love it in Norrland. ANYWHO... we were able to go to the big bonfire and participate in the festivities. Well... we were on our way back to the apartment at the end of it all and we ended up running into an investigator who has been investigating for a while. He's a Swede and he is very doubting about things he believes. We stopped and said a prayer. That night, as far as I know, that was the first time Roger has ever prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. It was the most incredible thing ever and the Spirit testified again to me that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He is. And it doesn't matter what anyone else says or thinks, I know he is. Roger is doing SO well and is making so much progress. He'll be baptized. It's just a matter of when.

Speaking of baptism, I got a text from Elder Halterman in Utby saying that Sadik will be baptized this coming Saturday. That's HUGE!! It makes me so happy that he is finally able to be baptized and he is turning his life around. I'm going to see if I can skype for his baptism because that would be the coolest!

Well... that's about it for the week! Can't wait for another week and I'm so stoked that we can go out and spread the gospel again. How amazing is that?

I love you all! Hope you have a killer week! Go make it happen!

Strength and Honor

Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Our investigator Samson! He's such a STUD!

Teaching Samson and Dragan in Jörn with Elder Bailey!

District Meeting in Skellefteå with the Luleå sisters and the Boden elders!

                  Messing with Swedish art. haha

Takin' selfies on the streets with the swedes we just taught. haha #rodrick

Recording "Abide with Me" with Antti Syvänen in his studio on Monday in Utby!

Göteborg Zone on my last p-day

My boy Sadik whose gonna get baptized this week!

The Hungarian known as Gyula!

My boy Prince!! "Where's PRINCE?"

My boy Kofi!! "Where's KOFI?"

The Utby crew on my last day in Göteborg with Captain Kirk (the Ward Mission Leader)

Saying bye to Lennart. Gonna miss that guy!

Teaching Ivar and Juan at Ivar's house!

Valborg with the legend Elder Kilton

We ran into a recent convert named Therese at Valborg!