Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Email #35

February 23, 2015
Västerhaninge, Sweden

You heard it here first folks. It's gettin' just a little bit greener here in Stockholm. Actually that is partially true. I saw grass for the first time in a couple months! (Sounds a little weird I know but when you don't get to see those things you miss 'em a little bit. Ha!) The snow was all over the place and then we got a little taste of green. Then it snowed again last night so that ship has sailed! BUT... that's not the only reason it's gettin' a little bit greener here in Stockholm. We also got a greenie straight from the Provo MTC. The first miracle of this week happened when we got to Stockholm Central Station five minutes before Elder Peterson's train left. That's kinda like showing up to the airport 20 minutes before you're gonna fly out. It doesn't happen! But... we got him on the train going to Göteborg. I tossed his last bag onto the train, the whistle blew, the doors closed, and he was off. Pretty crazy. These last 12 weeks have been some of my favorite. Gonna miss that kid! But after Elder Peterson left I headed up to Täby to pick up a new missionary. My new comp is Elder Burton. He's from Alberta, Canada and I'm excited for these next couple of weeks. I'm going to be training Elder Burton for 12 weeks in Västerhaninge and it's gonna be a blast! I've already seen that "greenie magic" rub off into the work and it's the best! I'm pumped to see what these next 12 have in store.

Yesterday I had a neat experience during church. I was sitting in Elders Quorum and the lesson was about a talk that Elder Ballard gave in this past General Conference called "Stay in the Boat and Hold on!" In it, he talks about when he went river rafting down Cataract Canyon and three simple rules that kept them safe. Elder Ballard said, "At the beginning of the trip, one of the experienced river guides reviewed important safety instructions, emphasizing three rules that would ensure the group’s safe travel through the rapids. “Rule number one: stay in the boat! Rule number two: always wear a life jacket! Rule number three: always hold on with both hands!” He then said again, with even more emphasis, “Above all, remember rule number one: stay in the boat!” We talked about the different things in the talk and what they could represent. I started thinking back to the hours that I spent out on the water. I thought specifically about a set of rapids on our trip down the Grand on the Colorado River. I remember being at the oars and going through "Emerald." This specific rapid is just a big wave train. If you run it right then it's a pretty easy going rapid. As we went through, every wave that hit us turned us a little more and a little more sideways. After we had hit a couple of waves, we were completely sideways and not in the position that we wanted to be in. We were going into the last wave completely sideways. Dad was able to put his shoulder into the raft as we hit the wave and that is what kept us from flipping. I thought about that experience yesterday but in a completely different way. When you're rowing a boat you always have to be in control and you're always doing something to put yourself in the position that you need to be in while going through a rapid. I thought about the waves and how those could be compared to adversity and temptation. As we row the boat or the gospel, we can do the daily things like pray and read the scriptures that keep us in line so that when we come up against these waves from the adversary that we can push through them. I also thought about the role that my Dad played in that as well. The Savior is the one that can help us get through trials and adversity, even when we are completely turned from his ways. It just made me think of the arm of mercy that is always extended out to us.

I know that as we always strive to keep the commandments and follow the Lord, that we can keep the boat straight and be able to overcome adversity with the help of the Savior. His arm is always extended. I know that if we do what he has asked then we will be able to stay in the boat.

I love you all and hope you're all doing well. Hope you have a great week!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Elder Burton and I on his first day
I was able to see Elder Archibald who is a buddy from the MTC. He is training this transfer too.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Email #34

February 16, 2015
Vasterhaninge, Sweden

Dear Family,

This week has been wonderful. I have had some of the best weeks here with my companion Elder Peterson and we have had a blast working hard and doing our best to bring those precious souls back home. Earlier in the week I got a call from President telling me that he needed me to train a new missionary. I am so excited to be able to take all that I have learned these past eight months and try to help him become the best missionary he can be and more importantly the missionary that the Lord needs him to be. It's gonna be a ride that I am so excited for. We have had so much success here in Västerhaninge and I honestly have been blessed so much. It has been incredible.

The other day I read over a scripture again that has shaped my mission. It has helped me and I hold this scripture close because it has helped so much as well. I know that I have talked about it before but just knowing that the Lord is with us in all that we do means a lot. In D&C 84:88 it says, "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." This week I have thought a lot about the significance of the message that we have for the world. The center is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dad wrote me a email a while back and shared a poem that Grandpa Featherstone has used and loved throughout the years. It's called “The Torch Bearer.”

The God of the High Endeavor
Gave me a torch to bear.
I lifted it high above me
In the dark and murky air;

And straightway with loud hosannas
The crowd proclaimed its light
And followed me as I carried my torch
Through the starless night,

Till drunk with people’s praises
And mad with vanity
I forgot ’twas the torch they followed
And fancied they followed me.

Then slowly my arm grew weary
Upholding the shining load
And my tired feet went stumbling
Over the dusty road.

I fell with the torch beneath me.
In a moment the light was out.
When lo! from the throng a stripling
Sprang forth with a mighty shout,

Caught up the torch as it smoldered,
And lifted it high again,
Till fanned by the winds of heaven,
It fired the souls of men.

And as I lay in the darkness
The feet of the trampling crowd
Passed over and far beyond me,
Its paeans proclaimed around,

And I learned in the deepening twilight
This glorious verity,
‘Tis the torch that the people follow,
Whoever the bearer may be.

Christ is the torch that we bear.The message we have for the world is all about Him. He is the center and I know that when we have those opportunities to share our testimonies then the Lord is right there next to us cheering us on. Every time I look up and I see someone walking to us there is a little thought in the back of my head saying, "Don't talk to them. There's no point" I try to remember what Christ said. "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." He is always there and it has been such an incredible opportunity to wear his name over my heart every day. I love Sweden. I love this gospel. I love my Savior and I know that he is the torch. I know that if we hold it high then we will be blessed. 

I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Fun on the train


The temple on Sunday

Monday, February 9, 2015

Email #33

February 9, 2015
Västerhaninge, Sweden

All on the same team!
This week I had a pretty humbling experience. During these last few weeks, Elder Peterson and I have been trying to focus on the quality of our contacts as well as teaching lessons on the street. During my first few months as a missionary, I had never tried to teach someone on the street. It had always seemed pretty far out there and nearly impossible. Our Zone Leaders had talked to us specifically about getting lessons on the street and how great they can be. Elder Peterson and I took the challenge and we tried to hit it with all we could. Last week we were in District Meeting and we talked about the importance of "Testifying." I know I've talked about the power of testifying in other emails but that is what made the quality of our contacts better and the number of lessons we taught on the street skyrocket. In the last week, we have seen nothing but miracles.

The week started out pretty well and then by Thursday we just weren't having any success. We hadn't been able to teach even one lesson and it was dinner time. I was pretty disappointed and wasn't really sure what to do next. We went back to the apartment for dinner and my brain was just chugging along. I was trying to think of the reason why we weren't having any success. We were getting ready to leave again and we knelt right by the door to say a prayer. Elder Peterson asked if I would say it so I did. In the prayer we told Heavenly Father that we needed help. We said we couldn't do it without Him and we needed some help finding someone to teach. We told him that we know He can do anything and that He can put someone in our path to teach and that we have faith that that can happen. We closed the prayer, I looked at Elder Peterson, and said, "Let's do it." We went out and worked for about three hours and the entire time I knew we were going to find someone. Not one person got past us without being talked to. I knew that the Lord was going to help us out and I knew that we had to follow up on our part to find this person who we were going to teach. We worked and worked and nothing happened. It was almost 9 PM so we got back on the train to go home. I started to get disappointed again and I started to wonder if we did anything wrong. We were almost home and I looked up in front of us. There were two people walking towards us and they were going to be the last people we were going to meet. We stopped them and ended up talking to them for 15 minutes. Naseba and Abbas are immigrants from Afghanistan but both had very good Swedish. Elder Peterson and I taught them the Restoration on the street and gave them a Book of Mormon to read. They were very positive and we were able to get their phone numbers. Later that night I got on my knees again and just thanked the Lord that we were able to find Naseba and Abbas just a few minutes earlier. It truly was amazing and I know that the Lord orchestrated that meeting.

A couple days later, we stopped Ruby who was from Uganda but had lived in Sweden for five years. We showed her the "Because of Him" video on the street and were able to have a lesson with her right there. She was incredibly positive and we were able to get her number. I asked her where she lived and she said, "Oh, I live in Farsta." My heart sank because I knew that Farsta wasn't in our area. We sent her number to some elders that work in Farsta. Yesterday, I called Naseba and Abbas to see if we could meet again and talk more. They were both still very positive and said, "Absolutely!" Later I found out that Naseba lives in Jakobsberg (my old area) and Abbas lives in Älvsjö. I got pretty disappointed. We sent both of their numbers to the elders in those areas. I just laughed and said, "Wow... for real? We just found those three investigators and not one of them lives in our area. You have got to be kidding me." We walked a little while and then I just thought to myself. "Wow, that was pretty selfish. Why do you have to teach them?" The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I thought back to playing basketball and tennis in high school. When someone hits a nice shot, scores a basket, scores a goal, or hits a home run, you all come together, congratulate each other, and then go work even harder with more motivation to score again. That's how it's like in the gospel. We're here to help each other out. We're here to build each other up. We're here to share the gospel, and we're all on the same team.

That's a pretty powerful lesson that I learned this week. Hope you all have a "quacktastic" week. I love you all.

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Monday, February 2, 2015

Email #32

February 2, 2015
Västerhaninge, Sweden

Losing wallet on trains in Stockholm, Snowball fights, and Spiritual Experiences

This week has been incredible! We have had so many incredible and incredibly funny experiences. Funny experiences are always... funny... so I'm gonna start with that.

Every Thursday night we go play fotboll (soccer) with a bunch of kids who are refugees from countries all over the world. They're mostly from the Middle East and they are the coolest cats around. We have a lot of fun and we bring our investigators to play as well. I haven't been much of a "soccer guy" but I'm starting to discover the "flow" of it all! So Trav Wilky, you should be proud of the bicycle kicks I throw down in the cultural hall while playing Futsal! Haha not yet but we're getting there! Ha! Alright but playing was a blast and we had a couple of less actives and investigators there as well which was great! The refugee boys wait for their big van to come pick them all up so we usually just wait outside. There was a lot of snow on the ground and one of the kids started picking on another kid and threw a bunch of snow at him. I decided to make it a little fun so I threw another snowball at the kid who was first throwing snow. Next thing we know, there's 20 kids, 5 members/less actives/and investigators, and 4 missionaries throwing snowballs everywhere! It was complete madness and so much dang fun. They started busting out snow shovels and throwing shovels of snow everywhere. Pretty funny to see all these boys just having a blast in the snow!

On Monday, Elder Peterson and I went to Stockholm. We got off at Stockholm Central Station and I realized that I didn't have my wallet. I pretty much just panicked and didn't know what to do. My wallet was on a train going north to a city called Kungsängen. We decided to hop back on the train going to Kungsängen. When we got to the station right before Kungsängen I thought we should get off because when the trains get to their destination, they switch back and go down the other direction. The train would leave Kungsängen before we would get there so we got off at the stop before it called Kallhäll. (These names don't mean anything so just roll with it) We got off at Kallhäll, got back on the train going in the opposite direction, and just happened to get back on the exact train we were on before. Long story short, I ended up finding my wallet sitting between the window and the seat. It was sitting in a place that no one would have been able to just look down and see it. It went through 8 stops in Stockholm and honestly that shouldn't have happened. Overall, the Lord definitely watches over his missionaries. That was a pretty big miracle to me.

Last week we got a referral from a member in the ward and we decided to go swing by. He works in a place in Västerhaninge Centrum (town square type thing) so we went and swung by the store that he owns. I was on splits with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Stinnett, and we ended up teaching a lesson to him right there in his shop. His named is Paulus. He's from Turkey originally but has lived in Sweden for over 40 years so he has really good Swedish. During the lesson he told us that he actually prayed to ask God if the Bible was actually true. That kinda hit me hard because I don't think I have ever done that before. He said he received his answer and he knows the Bible is true now. We had a really great lesson with him.We talked about the Restoration and it ended up going really well. Now he is a progressing investigator. On Saturday, Elder Peterson and I went to see him again to see if we could teach him about The Gospel of Jesus Christ. We sat down and the lesson just wasn't going very well. It was an "alright" lesson. We talked about Faith and Repentance and then we were interrupted by a friend of Paulus' that just decided to swing by as well. His friend's name is Antonio and he is from Italy. He's a pretty old fella. I laughed because when Antonio first walked in he looked at us and said, "Jehovah's Witnesses?" Paulus said, "Nah they're Mormons." Then Antonio said, "Oh, alright... cool." Kinda made me chuckle. But we ended up sitting down with Antonio and Paulus and talked about the Book of Mormon. I said something about Christ coming to visit the people on the American continent and then Elder Peterson just said, "Ya know... how about we read that together. Is that ok?" We pulled out 3 Nephi chapter 11 and read the first 17 verses with them both. I made sure to read them very slowly and be careful while reading them so that the Spirit would be able to testify to them that what we were reading was true. Elder Peterson and I switched off every other verse and it was incredible. I looked over at Antonio and Paulus while Elder Peterson was reading and I could literally see something change in their eyes. Their literal countenance just changed and it was amazing. I knew that they were feeling the Spirit because it was so strong. After we read it all we just looked at them for a few seconds and then testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have had on my mission so far. Try to read through those first 17 verses of chapter 11 in 3 Nephi because they are amazing. Missionary work is incredible. The Church is true. I love you all! Hope you have a great week!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

We ran into Rolando at Västerhaninge Station. I'll tell you all about it later. SUPER COOL!