Monday, October 26, 2015

Email #70


Whew... this week has been one for the books. So many amazing things have happened so I'm going to jump right into in. Here we goooooo...

Alright... quick fun fact of the week:

The sun is officially setting at 3:44 PM. Wait... what? It's not even November yet! It's going to be a cold winter. Good thing I'm getting transferred. Wait... what?

Speaking of the sun setting at 3:44... we had the time change here too so that's why the whole "3:44" thing is kinda blowing my mind. The other day, I heard the alarm go off and all I thought was, "Wow... I am usually really tired in the mornings, but today I'm in a whole different ball-park. This is gonna be a long day for you Elder Featherstone." I hopped out of bed, turned the alarm off, said my morning prayers, and then sat back on my bed. I looked at the phone and it said5:35. "Oh, okay... it's 5:35. Wait... is that a 5? Elder Dahle, it's 5:35, not 6:35. I'm going back to bed." And within a matter of seconds, I was waking up to the actual 6:30 alarm. Haha every second of sleep counts!

Another quick funny story. The other day, Elder Dahle and I were laying in our beds talking a little bit and then BAM... I was out cold! I only know this from what Dahle said but the following conversation took place:

Ä Featherstone: "Did he come to church?"

Ä Dahle: "Huh?"

Ä Featherstone: "DID HE COME TO CHURCH?"

Ä Dahle: "Did who come to church?"

Ä Featherstone: "Did he come to church?   ....... *a few seconds pass*  ..... Did I say something?"

Elder Dahle busted up laughing and I pretty much just sacked out again... BUT... we did have a pretty good laugh in the morning when he told me about what happened.

Earlier in the week we had a lesson with an investigator named Ranja. Ranja has been investigating the church for over a year but has had some problems with work and family so she had a lot of pressure to not be baptized. She has been in church several times, she's had several baptismal dates, but still hasn't been baptized. We had a lesson with her this week and it was absolutely incredible. She forgot to read the "Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith" that we gave her so we changed our prepared lesson, and decided to read it together. We gave her that testimony to read because she had been having doubts about Joseph Smith but she knew that the Book of Mormon was true. While we were reading together I was praying and asking Heavenly Father that he would bring the Spirit, witness to her that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and give Elder Dahle and I the power to say the things that the Lord would want us to say to her as his representatives. While we were reading, it felt like the Spirit became stronger and more recognizable the further we read together. By the end, the Spirit was almost tangible. After we finished, we turned to Ranja and asked her how she felt. She said, "I feel good. I feel calm. I feel like I always do when I come to church. I love being here." Elder Dahle then testified about the Holy Ghost and how she can feel the same feeling that we felt right then, during the entire day, every day. We then read out of Mosiah 18.

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things,and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts,what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.

We read the scripture and then I said, "Ranja, do you know why the missionaries talk so much about baptism?" She interrupted me and said, "Actually, I've been thinking a lot about baptism. I've been thinking about it pretty often for about two weeks. I don't know why but I've just been praying and reading the Book of Mormon on the bus, and I've been thinking a lot about being baptized and I think it will help me." We had a sweet old member in on the lesson with us and Sister Wirtala bore her testimony about how the Holy Ghost has helped her every single day since she has been baptized. The Spirit was so strong and I said, "Ranja, the Lord needs you on his team. He needs you now. He wants you in his fold, the fold of God. And to be called one of his people. Do you feel ready to be baptized?" She had her head down and it was quiet for a couple seconds. She looked up at us, nodded her head, and said, "Yes." I don't think I've ever felt the Spirit so strong. It was amazing. We asked her to pray about a day that she will be baptized. It's so amazing that it will finally be happening. Keep her in your prayers as she prays about a day to be baptized on!

Later in the week, I went on splits with Elder Downing in Sundsvall. He has been a Zone Leader before and now is training a new missionary right before he goes home in December. He is a STELLAR missionary and I learned a ton during the entire time we were together. One night, we were knocking some doors and we knocked into a family. A little girl opened the door, ran back into the house, and got her Mom. Probably some of the most sincere, kind people I have ever seen. The mom's countenance was almost as if I knew she was searching for the Gospel right when I saw her. I started talking about the Book of Mormon but randomly switched to talking about eternal families and how we can know through the Book of Mormon. We talked for only a few minutes but we then asked her, "What would it mean to you if you could live with your children for not only this life but in the next life as well?" She was quiet for a second and then she said, "everything." We talked about what we believe and asked if we could come back and share a message about families and the importance of the family. She said yes and we were able to set something up. It was such an amazing experience. I can't really describe how the family looked but something was different about them. I'm praying that everything will go well with that family and I have no doubt that they will accept our message.

Speaking of splits with Elder Downing... while I was in Sundsvall, we taught a woman named Linnea who has lived in the United States for almost 45 years. She said she lived in San Francisco for the most part. Trying to make a little connection, I said, "No way! My Mom grew up in the bay area! Where in San Fran?" "Well... I lived in a place called Redwood City." Suddenly, I had a little Deja Vu type moment and I said, "No way! My Mom lived in Redwood City!" (Hopefully I didn't lie. Mom, weren't you born there? Or didn't you live there at a time?) ANYWAY... all throughout the lesson with her, she would share quick little stories of her life in the U.S. and at the end she would always say, "when I lived in Redwood City, California." and then she would give me a wink and an elbow nudge. Happened probably five or so times. Super funny.

Well... I probably should give you all the transfer update. Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I will be leaving Umeå. The bad news... I will be leaving Umeå. *insert single tear* Yup... I'm really going to miss this place. I thought I would have stayed until January but apparently the Lord has a different plan. The work here in Umeå has sky-rocketed and it's so amazing to see. I've met so many amazing people and I can't wait until I get to see a picture of them dressed in white. It'll be incredible.

Anyway... I will be moving back down to the greater Stockholm area to a city called Södertälje. Elder Burgin and I will be the Zone Leaders down there. Fun fact... Elder Burgin went to High School with Brighton Taylor and knows BT and Jill! We came to the MTC together so it'll be a ton of fun. He's a stud and I'm super excited! We're gonna get out there and shred together! HEY... more good news... I only have one more flight until... yep... D-day. SO... I'll be car-ing and train-ing it for the next little while. GIDDY UP!

I love you all! Hope you have a great week! MWAH!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone
My boy Tomas. This is the fella we ball with. STUD!

Selife with Catherine and Neils. I'm really going to miss these guys.

Elder Nelson and I in the car. 

The boys from down under. Sundsvall splits with Elder Cragun and Downing

Fika with Erik and Ylva last friday night. Kladdkaka is the best thing ever!

Elder Murri and I are known as "the dynamic duo" when we play Innebandy together. It's pretty much just floor hockey. Going to miss this kid.

Once again with the legend Elder Nelson. A member made us Pumpkin and Pecan Pies for dessert on Saturday. Had to take a selife. We were SO happy. haha

Mamma and Pappa Carlsson with my little brother Simon. I'm officially adopted into the Carlsson family about two weeks ago as the second oldest child. LOVE these people.

Erland Vilhelmsson. Pretty much the biggest stud you'll ever meet.

Elder Nelson. Haha man am I going to miss this kid. This picture is legendary.... well... every picture with the legend himself is legendary. Check this out the lady at the bottom! haha classic!

Selfie with Erica and Adam Bussman. These guys are legends! Strength and Honor!

Once again with Elder Nelson... haha I forgot how many pictures I took with this kid this week. He's getting transferred to Denmark. Well, it's actually Malmö. Same thing though. ha!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Email #69

October 19, 2015
Umeå, Sweden


Man... I just love you guys so much! Haha you're the absolute best! The bees knees! The cats pajamas! The... bears. Daaa bulls. Honestly, I'm so grateful for all of you. AND... woah... I can't believe I'll be able to see all of your beautiful faces in just a little bit. "Christmas time... is here." Haha well... according to Syster Beckstrand... Christmas is already here. Plus it's getting pretty chilly outside... so all the Swedes are starting to bust out the hot chocolate. ALSO... just thought I'd let you all know about transfers!! We find out what's going on this week. Elder Dahle is going back home to Orlando next transfer so I'm either leaving next week or I'll be here in Umeå until the end of January. So this is a big transfer.... I'm pumped though. It's gonna be sweet!

WELL... this week has been absolutely amazing! I have so much I want to say so I'll get right into it. YEE-HAW!!

A lot has been happening here in Umeå lately. The other day, we met a man named Andy who comes from Albania. He grew up Catholic but didn't really agree with what happened during the middle ages. Sketchy stuff. ANYWAY... Andy is such a stud! When I see him I just can't help but smile because he's just the coolest. The other day, after the first "other day," we sat down on a fotboll turf field and taught him the Restoration. We started talking about prophets and why they're important and he interrupted us. "Ya know... with all these prophets and stuff... I feel like if God were the same... then he would still call prophets today in our time." I was a little shocked at what he said and then I got this grin on my face and in my mind I said, "Oh... just you wait buddy." I was laughing inside and we kept teaching him. It was an amazing lesson and the Spirit was really strong. At the end, we talked about the Book of Mormon and told him that we even have it in Albanian. He just said, "No way... for real? Can I have one?" And then I got that same grin on my face. "Oh... just you wait buddy." Yesterday, we met up with him quick to give it to him and we're going to be meeting later tonight. He's doing super well and I can't wait to see what happens from here on out.

Something neat that we have been doing as a zone is something called "Frälsnings chatrum." It translates in English to "Salvation chat room." It's kind of a funny, goofy, but really sweet thing that we started up with the zone. We really wanted to get the zone pumped to go out and contact so we started brainstorming. The final result was "Frälsnings chatrum." SO... it goes like this. Every Tuesday and Friday night, at 9:45, the polls open up for the main section of F.C. All the companionships in the entire zone send in a quick "contacting story" from the previous couple of days and send it into a zone group text that we have. Last friday, Elder Dahle and I sent this into "Frälsnings chatrum." "Today we were out contacting and we ran into a persian guy from Afghanistan. He was Muslim (shocker) haha but we talked about the Book of Mormon and how it was the words of the prophets on the american continent. We talked a little more and he told us that he was actually wanting to read the Bible and learn more about Christianity. We gave him a Book of Mormon in Persian and he was super pumped to meet again later next week and talk more." Just simple little stories that can lift each other up and motivate each other to get out there and contact. Speaking of motivation... after the main section of F.C., we assign one companionship to host the "Coach Boone locker-room pep-talk of the night" and they share what motivates them to go out and contact. This is a super cool part of it because it leaves the zone with a spiritual testimony of contacting and pumps them all up to go baptize the WORLD!! Well... that's me for sure. It's been a super cool thing that we've started doing in the Norrland Zone.

Speaking of contacting... last Wednesday we had such a sweet experience! Elder Dahle and I were walking down the street and we contacted a man named Abdulai from Uganda. He had been living in France for the past few years but moved to Sweden to earn his PHD. He was Muslim and when we first started talking, he said, "Nothing that you two say will ever change my beliefs." Then that same grin came on my face. "Oh yeah... we'll see about that." Haha JOKES... I didn't say that. But it kind of took me back and I just though, "Well... alright then." Turns out that he had met missionaries before in France. I was curious what he remembered from them and he told us a little bit about what he took away from what they said. Abdulai wasn't super positive towards the church but we decided to talk anyway. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about Islam and what the differences between our belief, and what Muslims believe. Islam is a wonderful religion with many wonderful people who are trying to follow God, but this week, it finally hit me, that we are VERY similar. The only difference is that we believe in the Atonement. From then on out, I have been trying to teach about the Atonement to the Muslim people we meet every day. So I felt like it would be right thing to do, to teach Abdulai about the Atonement. We taught, testified, and talked for about 30 minutes on the street. We tried to help him understand what the Atonement was and by the end, he said he would read and pray to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. Looking back, I cannot believe that what happened actually happened. It was amazing to see how the Lord softened Abdulai's heart so that he could go from "Nothing you to say will ever change my beliefs" to "I will read and pray about the Book of Mormon." It was a pretty amazing experiences.

Speaking of pretty amazing experiences... about a month ago, we got a text from an amazingly positive investigator who said that she couldn't meet anymore and that it wasn't for her. That isn't the amazing experience. Just hang on. Well... Elder Kapp and I decided to give her some time so we swung by a couple days later and she "peep holed" us. I was pretty disappointed and we went by a couple more times until Elder Kapp went down to Malmö. Last week, Elder Dahle and I decided to swing by her. On the way, I said a silent prayer in my heart, asking the Lord to soften her heart and help her open the door when we came. We knocked on the door and Flora's syster's husband opened it. His name was Leon. Well... as far as I know... it still is Leon. Ha... ha... alright lame joke. ANYWAY... Leon said that Flora wasn't home, but that she would be back later tonight. While we were talking with Leon, I was praying that Flora would just happen to come home while we were standing and talking by the door. I tried to stretch the conversation out as long as possible and then a miracle happened. Flora came. We talked to her and she was just her normal bubbly self. It was so good to see her. We talked for a few minutes and she said that she would be in a city called Sundsvall for the next three weeks and she was leaving that night. We told her that we could call her when she gets back. On Saturday, we were with the other elders and we had a few minutes free so we decided to contact. Elder Dahle went with Elder Nelson and I went with Elder Murri. I was with Elder Murri getting some pass-along-cards from the car when I looked up and saw that Elder Dahle and Nelson had contacted someone. I looked closer and it was Flora! I waved, ran over, and said hi. Long story short, she had come back to Umeå unexpectedly because her sister was sick and she needed some help. Flora came up to Umeå and we just happened to run into her. She would be staying until Thursday so we were able to set up a lesson right there and now we're going to meet with her!! Such a miracle!

Whew... sorry I've been taking up your entire lives with this email. Ha! The Lord really is hastening his work here in Sweden and it's exciting to see. I'm really trying my best to help assist in this marvelous work. The church is true! Christ lives! I know he does! And I'm so grateful I have the opportunity to have his name on my chest.

I love you all! Go out there and make it an amazing week! I'm cheering you all on!

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Splits in Skellefteå. Ran into a good friend named Sam! 

Our car was making a weird noise. Turns out there was a branch that got stuck in the tire. 

We had the lesson for the young men. These kids are going to make STELLAR missionaries!

Ran into Ylva and Erik yesterday while contacting. Ylva is a non-member but we've started teaching her and Erik about the Gospel.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Email #68

October 12, 2015
Umeå, Sweden


Hopefully all of you are doing SO well!! I miss your faces and being with you all the time!! Hope you all had a QUACKTASTIC week!! It's been a pretty good one here in good ol' Umeå!

I have learned so much and my love for my mission has grown so much. I've been thinking a lot lately about my mission and about how much it means to me. To explain how a mission works is pretty tough. I think it's a lot like a testimony. We have little experiences here and there that help us learn and grow in the gospel. They're like building blocks that we are able to build on every day! We build on the truth that we already know, the things we already love and cherish, and then go from there. Something that I am so grateful for is my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of priesthood keys. It honestly feels like every time I have a doubt about something, it ties itself back to the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Priesthood. These small experiences or building blocks on a mission are something I like to call "mission changing experiences." Or "MCE" for short. (Alright... I've actually never used the term MCE before... just seemed a little catchy. Haha) But these experiences are something that I cherish more than anything. These "mission changing experiences" happen often and they're the things that help us grow and learn. They're the building blocks to that testimony. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my mission and how much it means to me so I thought I'd share three experiences that changed my mission. Sometimes, they're not "amazing WOW" experiences that we expect them to be, but they're just a building block that helps build our testimonies.

In my first area, Jakobsberg, I struggled... A LOT. The language was tough, the ward wasn't positive towards the missionaries, we didn't have one investigator, and I struggled. I don't think I have ever prayed so hard and so much during those first few weeks. I was humbled VERY fast and I knew right from the get-go that missionary work is impossible to do on your own and that you needed to rely entirely on the Lord. My trainer and I worked hard and for the first 8 weeks, nothing happened. I felt like everything I did didn't help the cause at all and I started to become disappointed again. I had heard that these amazing experiences people have on missions happen often, but I didn't feel like I had even one of these "amazing" experiences. We just kept working. One Sunday, we were getting ready to go to church and I was prepping myself mentally for another day of slaughtered Swedish. We got to church, the meeting started, and big surprise... Äldste Featherstone is catching about 2% of everything that is being said. I had my head down while I was struggling to listen to the Stake President announce something from the pulpit. Out of nowhere, almost in English, I heard him say that a member that we had been working with and trying to re-activate was going to be sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. I looked up and saw that Alberto was standing up in the back with this huge grin on his face, almost as he was glowing with light as we sustained him. After the meeting was over, I ran over to him, gave him a huge hug and he told me that he was going to go on a mission. Later, I was able to stand in the circle to ordain him an elder. Everything that had happened within the first 8 weeks was all worth it. I didn't need to see anyone be baptized, but the Lord was able to help me feel accomplished and I was able to go work with an even bigger determination to proclaim the gospel "as with the sound of a trump."

During my first week in Jakobsberg, I decided I was going to baptize at least one person in every area during my entire mission. On my last day in Jakobsberg, I realized that it wasn't going to happen. The last week was a scramble and both my trainer and I wanted to say goodbye to everyone that we had worked with. We wanted to meet them all and teach them all one last time. Transfers were in the morning and I was bound for Västerhaninge. We were able to say goodbye to every person we wanted to, except for Rolando. Rolando was a less-active member in the ward from Chile and he had finally been reactivated. He referred to us as "mina änglar" or "my angels." We called him again, and again, and weren't able to get in contact with him. Rolando finally called us and we found out that it was impossible for us to see him again. I was on the phone with Rolando and when he found out that we weren't going to see each other again, he switched, and said in his Spanish, broken-english, "I am proud of you." My eyes filled up with tears and I said, "I'm proud of you too, Rolando."

Last week, we were with a member named Magnus. Magnus has been struggling a little bit, so we have been going by once a week since I first got here to Umeå. Every time, the spirit has been the strongest I have ever felt inside someone's home in Sweden. The love that he shows is absolutely incredible and we have had some amazing experiences together. Magnus loves the missionaries, he loves this work, and he loves the Lord. One day, we were on our way over to his house and Elder Kapp and I were going over what we were going to talk about. We got to his house, walked in, sat down, and started talking. We were just checking in with him, making sure everything was alright, and he asked us a question that I will never forget. He said, "What is the most influential experience you have had while being on your mission?" It hit me hard. I wasn't sure how I was going to answer that in just an hour with him. I could have gone on for days! But it really got me thinking. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember that I was able to bear testimony of how much my mission means to me, how much I have learned, and how close I have grown to the Savior because of it. It was the first time that I was able to bear testimony about my mission. Tears filled my eyes as I spoke and the spirit testified to me that night that the Lord was proud of what I had done so far.

Since I have been in Sweden, I have not been able to see one person I have worked with be baptized. But I know that isn't why I was sent to Sweden. "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." (1 Corinthians 1:17) I can't even explain how much I have loved my mission, how much I love it now, and how much I will continue to love it. This work really is marvelous, and I will keep working "until the Great Jehovah shall say, the work is done." I love this work. I love my Savior. He is real. The Gospel is true. And I love it with all my heart.

I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful week! I hope you all know how much I appreciate all that you do and all the support you give me while I'm fighting the Lord's battle out in this blessed country. I love each and every one of you. God be with you till we meet again.

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone

Email #67

October 4, 2015
Umeå, Sweden

Just thought I'd share a couple experiences from this past week. FIRST... Aurora Borealis had an unexpected visit here in Umeå on Friday night. We weren't able to snag pics so hopefully a member was able to get a few. Long story short... Northern Lights round 3.

OH... as well... we had another Elder Featherstone 5 o'clock shadow story. The other day, we were at the Bussmann's house for dinner. We ate, laughed, chatted, and had a good time. Later, it got to the "awkward 5 seconds" of each dinner as a missionary where the members wait until the elders say, "well... thanks again for dinner. Is it ok if we share a spiritual message with you?" SO... once again... we hit the "awkward 5 seconds" and before Elder Nelson could ask if they could share a message, Syster Bussmann looks at me for a second and said, "Elder Featherstone.... did you forget to shave this morning?" I looked at Elder Nelson and just started laughing. Elder Nelson is in my MTC group so he's been here on the entire journey. We were cracking up and I said, "Nope Syster Bussmann... I shave every morning." haha as time goes on... it just gets funnier.

Earlier this week, I was able to go on splits with Äldste Sahlin who is one of the Assistants. While we were on splits, we talked a little bit about how the Lord actually is so much more involved in his work that we realize. That's something that I feel was hit pretty hard during General Conference. I honestly can't remember who said what, but I remember what I learned from all of the talks. It's pretty amazing that the Holy Ghost can help us in all aspects of our lives. We just need to ask. One more thing from general conference is that we need to be able to accept correction and follow through on it. That's something that I have really been trying to focus on lately and all I remember is what Mom used to say to the five kids. She literally probably said it a thousand times over the years. "BE TEACHABLE." It's a pretty incredible trait and attribute. I loved Elder Lawrence and his emphasis on "What lack I yet?" And then... on top of that... Syster Marriott and talking about having a balance of not being satisfied in what we do and having a hope of making it back home. The buzzer is about to go off so I have to wrap this up. Overall... I'm just so glad that we have prophets and apostles on the earth today to lead and guide the Savior's church for him. It's pretty amazing!

Peace and Blessings from the land of blue and yellow.

Strength and Honor
Elder Caleb Hendrik Featherstone
Aldste Nelson
Three generations baby!! Burton, Featherstone, Kendall
                                                                              Share the LOVE

Äldste Sahlin.... GÖTT!!
                         Splits with the Assistants