October 12, 2015
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