Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Email #57

July 27, 2015
Skellefteå, Sweden


Alright now that right there is a claim. The best week of my mission... so far? Yup... 100% true. I'm gonna tell you why... buckle down baby! It's gonna be sweet!!

Alright... this P-day... we had a Zone activity down in Umeå where we had a Zone Volleyball Tournament. President and Syster Beckstrand want to bring the mission closer so they are going to have activities on p-day a little more often... I think. Long story short... Elder Purkey and I are officially the best sand volleyball players in the Norrland Zone. We swept the competition, going undefeated, and bringing home the trophy back to Skellefteå. The weather didn't work with us and it rained through the entire tournament! The sand was pretty nice though so it didn't get muddy. We were SOAKED at the end. It was a lot of fun though! I was LOVIN' it! Anyway... yup... we went "Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh" on the rest of the zone! "Ain't no-body got time for dat!"

Okay... now I don't have a ton of time but I just wanted to share one quick experience. When I first moved to Skellefteå, Elder Hansen and I found a family from Albania that was AMAZING! They were extremely prepared but lived in a place that was VERY hard to get to. We taught them once and they loved our message. We were going back to teach them again one day, and then my bike decided to break so we weren't able to visit them. Adrian and his family told us that they were possibly going to get deported back to Albania because the Swedish government believes that the persecution they were experiencing because they were Christians was over. Next thing I knew, their phone number stopped working and we weren't able to get in touch with them. The date they said they would be deported by came and passed and I couldn't believe that I had just let them go. One night, I said a prayer to my Heavenly Father and asked for forgiveness because I did not put as much focus on that family as I should have. I just prayed that everything would work out and that they would have another chance to receive the gospel in their homeland. I didn't think about it any more and then kept working in Skellefteå. Last Friday, the Luleå elders were able to bring their car down to help us reach those areas that are a little tough to reach usually and work in those outer areas. We went to teach an investigator down there and then I also just wanted to swing by Adrian's door just to see if there was some possibility that they were still there. On our way, I saw a Somalian woman in her Islamic head-dress and decided I was going to contact her. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and how it is a record of what the prophets said when they were on the American continent. We taught her a lesson and then gave her that book. We were really close by where Adrian and his family used to live so we walked over to the door and up the stairs to the top floor. We knocked on their door... and nothing. I heard some men coming up the stairs and so I turned and I saw the person I didn't expect- Adrian. I yelled, "Adrian!" and ran over to him to give him a hug. He told me that they just came by the door to see if the migrations office had left anything for them. He said his family was living in Finland now and that he came back to just figure a few last things out. They drove all the way to Skelleftehamn to the door and we met them. That should not have happened. If we would have not contacted and talked to the Somalian lady, we would have missed him. If we would have talked with our investigator five minutes longer, we would have missed him. We talked for a few minutes and then I pulled out a card from my pocket, handed it to him, and with tears almost in my eyes I said, "Adrian, take this card. Go to this website and request missionaries. They can teach you in your language. Promise me you'll do that?" He said, "Yes, I promise." I gave him a hug and said goodbye. I honestly cannot understand why that happened. When I prayed for everything to "work out" I didn't think I was going to be able to meet them again and give them that opportunity to accept the gospel, but I know that God had a HUGE hand in it. That was all Him. The Lord lives. He loves us. And I know he has a plan for us. He wants us in those daily situations for a reason and I know that now. He really does have a plan for each and every one of us and I know that he knows us personally.

That's just a little snippet of the week but it was amazing! The Lord blessed us so much.

I hope you all have an amazing week! There is a person in Sweden that loves you more than anyone else in the world!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone
The Swedish church that I rang the bells on. It's the "Landsförsamlings Kyrka."

Another church in Sweden called "Saint Olov's Kyrka."

Adrian and I in Skelleftehamn.

Alfa, Elder Featherstone, Elder Purkey, and our amazing "mom" in Skellefteå, Fern.

Contacted these kids and played basketball with them. I'll tell you more about my "basketball miracles" next week!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Email #56

July 20, 2015
Skelleftea, Sweden

Flooding Skellefteå with the Book of Mormon!

Yup... that is what we have been doing this week! Honestly, we had a really great week up here in Skellefteå. I explained a little last week but President Beckstrand has put a huge emphasis on using the Book of Mormon as much as possible so that is what we have been doing. We have handed out so many copies of the Book of Mormon! It's SWEET! We usually just say, "Hey have you seen this book before? Oh.. you haven't? No way?! It's super cool and there are actually some pictures in the first couple pages that explain a little about what it isssss......... BAM! BOOK OF MORMON! BAM! RESTORATION! BAM! TAKE THE BOOK! BAM! FLOODING SKELLEFTEÅ WITH THE BOOK OF MORMON! GIDDY UP!! Haha Elder Purkey and I have been having a lot of fun and we have been seeing so much success! It's been so neat!

Ok... so this isn’t just some book people can read for fun.  Why are we really doing this?" Because the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” A while back, Elder Nelson explained it like this, "Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon! It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power."  George Cannon said, "No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”

I want every person that is reading this right now to know that I know that the Book of Mormon is true! It's true! And we can truly feel the love of the Savior through the Book of Mormon. Christ's church is back! And it is thanks to the Book of Mormon that the fulness is on the earth again. In Preach My Gospel it says, "Those who know little or nothing about the Savior will come to know Him by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon." What a blessing that the Lord has given us! I love the Book of Mormon! I love the Savior! And I know that we can know the Savior better through living the precepts taught in that book. If you haven't read it, read it. If you have, read it again.

Well... just thought I'd share a quick experience that I had in church. Elder Purkey and I were in charge of the Sunday School lesson yesterday. President Solbakk turned the time over to us, we took some chairs, sat down in from of the members in the branch, and I said, "How is everyone doing? Ulla, how are you?" She said she was at church so she was doing great! "President and Syster Solbakk, how are you both doing?" They said that were both doing well. I looked over the last member that was there and she had her head down. She looked a little sad and as if she was saying a quick prayer to Heavenly Father. I said, "Syster, how are you doing?" She looked up and said, "I'm a little disappointed." I asked her why she was disappointed. She went on to explain that she had some non-member friends that were staying with her, she tried to give them a Book of Mormon, and they declined. She told us  "I wish I would have done it some other way and maybe then they would have accepted." A discussion started up and we ended up talking about how we can be better missionaries. I shared a couple of experiences that I have had during the last 12 months in Sweden and we ended up taking the entire block of Sunday School. We didn't even scratch the surface of the lesson but instead, Elder Purkey and I taught about what the members needed right then. They all added thoughts and insights and it was a wonderful lesson we had together. We ended up talking about faith with each other. I told this member that felt discouraged, that if she is trying to do her best, trying to follow the commandments, and she has the spirit with her, it is impossible to say something wrong when someone is trying to share the gospel. If that person is prepared to share the gospel then they are going accept the message you have whether you say something wrong or right. The other thing I shared was about "the Lord's way." Sometimes we pray for the faith or the strength to do something. Yes, the Lord can help us with that but that isn't the Lord's way. The Lord's way is actually exactly opposite. The Lord's way is for us to act in faith, THEN comes the power and the faith to do it. "...for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6) I have seen that so many times on my mission. When I act in faith, then the Lord strengthens me or gives me the strength that I need to keep going or do something more. It's scary to walk up to some random person and say, "Hey... I want to talk to you about this book!" I'm scared every day! But I know that when I open my mouth first, then the Lord will bless me to keep pushing. We were able to have a really amazing lesson together and I was able to learn a lot.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Th-th-that's all folks!

Strength and Honor

Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Monday, July 13, 2015

Email #55

July 13, 2015
Skelleftea, Sweden


This was a crazy week!! We were hardly in our area all week but a lot happened so I'll get right into it...

Last Tuesday we had a specialized Zone Training with the Assistants and President and Sister Beckstrand here in the Norrland Zone. We found out that the Sweden Stockholm Mission is the 7th largest mission in the world, geographically. Craziness! And we are in the Zone that covers half of the country! Norrland baby!!

President has been wanting to work closer with the missionaries so he came up and did a special training with a huge emphasis on the Book of Mormon. Since I have been on my mission, I have found a huge love for the scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon. Every morning I get up, I look forward to spending an hour in the scriptures and PMG. It's the coolest thing ever! When I was back home, I was such a little stinker with scripture study. I love the scriptures!! I talked to Mom about this already today but even if it's a chapter a day, it helps. Even if it's 10 verses. Everyone has 10 minutes out of their day to read. It doesn't matter who you are, how busy you are, or anything else.  You have time to read the scriptures. I've seen such an amazing difference in reading the scriptures on my mission and they really do come alive. I love reading the scriptures and I was pretty dumb to not read them every day when I was back home. They're our gateway to blessings! And if we don't read them then the Lord already can't help us. That is what I have learned. If we want help, we should be trying to find those answers for help through the scriptures. I remember hearing someone say, "Why would the Lord give us the answer to something in some other way if it is already in the scriptures?" Something that I'm so excited for when I get back home is to have scripture study with Mom and Dad in the morning. It's gonna be SWEET!! The scriptures are true and they can help us!

Alright, now that I talked about that... OH... the Book of Mormon. Well, President has been putting a huge emphasis on the Book of Mormon and why we need to use it as much as possible. That's what makes us different. If we don't have the Book of Mormon then we're just two funny lookin' kids in white shirts and ties talking about religion. We have the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and we share that with the Book of Mormon. Elder Purkey and I have been able to teach so many lessons on the street by just having the Book of Mormon in hand. That book never leaves my hand when I walk out the door in the morning! That's what we're here to talk about.

After Zone Training, I drove from Umeå to Stockholm with Elder Noso and Elder Israelsen because I had to renew my visa for another year in Sweden! Giddy up!! It was like 7 hours in the car and then 2 1/2 hours by bus to Umeå in the first place. Whew... a lot of traveling. So we renewed the visa and were able to teach a lesson right there in the "Visa renew-ing place" called the "Migrationsverket." Elder Israelsen and I taught a lady that was from NYC but had lived here for over 30 years. She was African-American and was cracking me up with her African/American/Swedish slang. Pretty funny! He a "INOMHUS CAT!" (Indoor cat) We asked her if she would allow missionaries to come over and share a message about Christ with her. "Nahhh..." "Can we leave this book with you that we talked to you about?" "Nahhh..." I asked her why not and her response was, "It'll just sit on my bookshelf for 10 years." Elder Israelsen and I had talked about this earlier on the car drive down to Stockholm and how a Book of Mormon on their bookshelf would be better than a Book of Mormon sitting on ours. I looked at her and said, "Ok, why don't you do that?" and handed her the book. I said, "Go home, put this on your shelf, and then when you look back in 10 years and you have nothing else to do, I want you to read a page. One page." She said, "Ok, I promise you I will read a page." then she took the book. Persistence works! Ha! But it was super neat and she was super nice about it. On Thursday, Elder Israelsen and I drove "the man van" (the van that moves the missionaries all over the mission when they move apartments) alllll the way back up to Umeå. It was a long and tiring week but Elder Purkey and I are ready to hit it hard this next week.

OH... my S/O this week goes to my favorite person ever, Annie!! It was her birthday!! Happy birthday Annie! I love you!

I love you all! I hope you have a great week!
Strength and Honor           Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone
Toothpaste party with Elder Halterman and Svensson

Elder Noso, Israelsen, and I fillin' up with gas.

My trainer, Elder Krebs and I. Probably the last time I'll see him. I love that kid!

Took a selfie with our investigator Alfa right before we taught him this week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Email #54

July 6, 2015
Skellefteå, Sweden


This week was absolutely incredible!! I have a lot that I want to share so I'm going to get right into it.

Elder Purkey and I have been having a ton of fun together in Skellefteå! We have been working hard and laughing on the way. That's the way to do missionary work! Anyway, Elder Purkey always says really funny things so I thought I'd share something he said this week. SO! Elder Featherstone has been made fun of on the mission for something that people like to call his "24/7 5 o'clock shadow." I honestly think it is really funny. One day, I thought that I could make it without shaving in the morning. After studies, during lunch, I turned to Elder Purkey and said, "I didn't shave this morning. Do I look like a bum?" Elder Purkey replied, "Not anymore than if you had shaved... your 5 o'clock shadow is just always there. Looks more three dimensional right now though. The only time you don't look like a bum is right after you shave." I busted up laughing and we were laughing for the next 20 minutes or so. Haha so... I guess I'm following in the footsteps of my other brothers on their missions. Moral of the story... I officially can't skip days on shaving. HaHa

A couple weeks ago I finished the New Testament. After I finished, I decided I would read the Doctrine and Covenants next. WOW! The first 40 sections or so are absolutely amazing (Not saying the other 100 sections after that aren't... just haven't gotten there yet. Ha!). I just have been loving it so much!! There is such a huge focus on missionary work because that is when the Lord is calling the first missionaries of this dispensation and telling them what to do. I have learned so much and it has been an amazing experience. During personal study one day, I was reading in section 34 in verses 5, 6, and 10. It says, "And more blessed are you because you are called of me to preach my gospel— To lift up your voice as with the sound of a trump, both long and loud, and cry repentance unto a crooked and perverse generation, preparing the way of the Lord for his second coming... Wherefore, lift up your voice and spare not, for the Lord God hath spoken; therefore prophesy, and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." Those scriptures hit me pretty hard. Right then I made a goal to "lift up [my] voice and spare not." I feel like the Lord is saying “Proclaim my gospel and give it all. Don't leave anything unsaid or anything still on the table." Sometimes we're running all over the place and we don't have time to contact on the way because of so many lessons. I decided I wanted to plan so that we were given the amount of time needed so we could talk to everyone. This week I didn't let one person walk by me without talking to them. The blessings were absolutely incredible...

On Tuesday, Elder Purkey and I decided to hold a fast for the work here in Skellefteå and for the Lord's help in the area. We went out and worked our butts off! It was so dang cool! I was lovin' it because I knew there was something a little different going on. The next day, Wednesday, we were able to teach six lessons on the street- all about the Book of Mormon. In Sweden, being able to teach five in a week is tough! We were able to do more than five with the Lord's help in just ONE DAY!! Later in the week, Elder Purkey and I had a block of about three hours that we didn't know what to do with. We decided that it would be best to spend it in an area called Moröbacke. We walked and it took about an hour to get there. We spoke with every single person and we both had faith that we were going to find someone that day. It was the plan to walk to Moröbacke and swing by some to see some people there, but RIGHT when we got there, we met a man named Sebastian. Sebastian is a pretty young feller, maybe late 20's, that comes from Skellefteå. While we were talking to another lady on the street, he rode by on his bike and saw we had a book in our hands. He stopped and ended up waiting for us to finish talking with that particular woman and then pretty much contacted us. He said he was curious about the book so we walked over to a bench, sat down, and taught him the Restoration. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, committed him to read and pray about it, and set up another time to meet. It was incredible! After we taught him, we went our own ways and headed back home. I couldn't believe what had happened. If we literally had not talked to one of those people on the way over, we would have missed Sebastian and we would have never talked to, or even seen him. The Lord gave us the strength and we were able to contact every single person on the way, and ended up meeting Sebastian right as we got there. It was so amazing because we walked an hour from downtown Skellefteå to swing by to see some people in Moröbacke but the reason we were there really was to teach Sebastian.

Buckle down because the story gets better... On Sunday we were able to help our investigator Alfa (who comes from the Congo and speaks French and Swahili) get to church. Thankfully, out of our wonderful, seven active members, one speaks fluent French and was able to translate for us. Alfa loved it! After teaching the Sunday School lesson with Elder Purkey, I sat down to play prelude for Sacrament Meeting. While I was playing, in the corner of my eye, I saw Sebastian walk through the doors and sit down. We had called and invited Sebastian to Sacrament Meeting the night before and he came!! It was Fast Sunday so all of the members stood up and gave POWERFUL testimonies of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and his restored gospel on the earth today. It was amazing. After the meetings, a member told me that Skellefteå had not had an investigator in church in over a year. It had been over twelve months since Skellefteå last had an investigator in church and we were able to get TWO there with the Lord's help. I was so pumped that everything went so well! The Lord truly is hastening his work here in Skellefteå and we're trying to do our part to "assist" in that hastening. This gospel is amazing! The Lord wants us to do our part and help Him! I know that as we do that, our desire to share the gospel will grow, and we will have more opportunities to share this message of faith, hope, and love.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel!!
Elder Purkey and I. Elevator selfies just keep on comin! haha

Playing the accordion that I talked about last week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Email #53

June 29, 2015
Skellefteå, Sweden


Hallå!! How is everyone doing?? Hope it's all just swell back home! This week in Skellefteå has been stellar! America was callin' Elder Hansen's name as he wrapped up his mission but Skellefteå was callin' Elder Purkey's name so we picked him up the night before Elder Hansen got shipped off back west so... I have a new comp now!! Elder Purkey is from the East Lansing, Michigan area and came to Sweden with my last companion Elder Burton. "Purk" has been in Sweden for almost six months so we both are fired up and ready to hit this transfer with all we’ve got. It's gonna be SWEET!! A couple of days ago we sat down and wrote up a "vision" for the area. So just kind of like where we want to see the area by the end of these next six weeks. Our vision in re-cap is just to cut out all of the fat in the area and really just get down to business and try to help those people that are prepared to receive the Gospel. It is super neat! We are both so pumped to just buckle down and get to work. I'm excited for this next transfer!

Some funny things happened this week while I was with Elder Purkey that I thought I'd share as well. Haha we were walking down the street one day when I looked over and saw some graffiti on a wall near the town square that said, "Ner med U.S.A." It pretty much translates right to "Down with the U.S.A." Elder Purkey and I laughed a little bit and we decided to take a picture with it. I'll send a picture of it because it was pretty classic!

Also, I was able to play the accordion for the first time this week. I thought it would be a breeze but it put my multi-tasking skills to test! Haha we walk through a tunnel every day to get to the city and at the end of the tunnel there is always this man from Romania that plays his accordion for money. He can't speak any Swedish or English at all but every time we walk by he smiles and says, "Hallelujah... Hallelujah!" We smile back and I usually have no idea what to say so I just end up saying, "Hallelujah... Hallelujah!" Haha but one day I played a mean game of charades and asked if I could try playing it. He wouldn't take any money and he just sat me down with his accordion. I played for like thirty seconds and it actually didn't sound too bad! Haha a lot of fun though!

This week we were also able to teach Alfa, Angelani, and their family again about the Restoration. They come from the Congo, speak French and Swahili, and Elder Hansen and I found them a couple of weeks ago when we knocked on their door. We actually have a member in the branch that can speak French who comes from Zambia. She will be a huge help to us. Alfa and Angelani have four boys too. We invited Alfa and Angelani to come to church and Israel (7) said, "Ja! Jag vill att komma till kyrka på söndag!" (Yeah! I want to come to church on Sunday!) We weren't able to get them there yesterday but we're hoping to teach them and see them at church next Sunday! It should be super neat! I'm excited!

Also, something neat that happened was that a couple from the ward down in Västerhaninge came up to visit me while they were in the area for vacation! Brother and Syster Sihlen came up to Skellefteå on Sunday so that was so neat to see them again!

Well, the work is going forward, folks. It's a good work. It's a great work. It's a MARVELOUS work! (D&C 4:1) Hope you all have a great week! I love you all!
A picture of Ulla and I. Ulla is a sweet lady in the branch up here.

With the Delgados in Skellefteå. The Delgado Couple is serving here in Sweden and they are from Logan! They served in the temple while Grandpa was the temple president up there! Super neat connection!

The Sihlens are the two next to me. They came all the way from Västerhaninge! So good to see them!