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Monday, April 13, 2009

The Best Investigator! 04/13/09

Dear Family,
I love holidays. I also love asking Hindus if they would like to watch a movie about Jesus on Easter.
Easter church was terrific. Before Sacrament Meeting, Ken Smith, a mild-mannered member of the ward told me that he had brought a friend to church he met while running at the Stanford track. I was informed that this 33 year old friend, whose name was J.R. would be sitting in the front right pew. We walked into the chapel and sat down near the back just as the meeting began.
It took little time to spot J.R. in the congregation. While the Brother and Sister Bennett each spoke about Christ's Atonement, about every 4 or 5 sentences or so there came an enthusiastic "Amen!" from his direction. Brother Bennett opened his talk with a joke about if he should thank the choir for singing even though he had been in it. J.R. found this hilarious, laughing hard, and clapping his hands loudly. I remembered that Ken Smith told me that J.R. would be coming to our small gospel principles class too. Yes!
In class, we found J.R. to be the most positive man in the world. Very talkative, and 90% of the time he was giving someone a thumbs up. If someone came into the room without shaking his hand, he would scold them and then give them a big hug. I especially liked it when this happened to an old high counsellor who definitely was not comfortable with being touched.
We decided to teach the 1st lesson (The Restoration) for J.R. in class. It was going well until I made the mistake of asking J.R. a question.
"J.R., how has learning about the Bible helped you to be so happy?"
He spoke until the end of class on that and other various subjects. But we didn't mind because in the process he made several new friends in the class. He told us that many people think he is on some sort of drug which makes him so energetic and happy (that's what I was thinking), but then he shouted "The air I breathe is MY drug!" And then he took a big breath through his nostrils.
He came to Elders Quorum with us and, as can be expected, he participated heavily in the lesson. Most of the Elders loved him - inviting him to choir, more activities and church next week. J.R. happily agreed. As everyone was getting up after Elders Quorum, J.R. yelled out to everyone his phone number. He lives in Palo Alto, so teaching him may be difficult, but he's really what made church exciting.
We had two dinners on Easter, which was heaven. We also checked up on a media referral for a man in his twenties named Jay, who asked for a Book of Mormon delivered to him after looking at We visited him with Jeff Merrick, our assistant ward mission leader, and found Jay to be very pleasant, even allowing us to teach him a first lesson. He has a Mormon friend who goes to BYU now, and took him on a tour of the temple grounds in Salt Lake City, which is really what made him curious about Mormons. While we were there, he took a picture of us on his iPhone and sent it to her. That must have been a pleasant surprise for her.
I'm glad you all had a good Easter. I just finished one of the big solid-chocolate bunnies given to us yesterday, so I'll definitely need a nap in the next 10 minutes. Have a great week!
Elder Karlsven
P.S. Happy Birthday Joe!

Chastised about his bike. 04/06/09

Dear Family,

A kindly member of the ward fixed up my bike the best he could. While he was fixing it he told us fascinating stories about his mission - mostly about how well he took care of his own mission bike. The problems with my bike fueled his vigor for sharing more about his mission.

Him: When's the last time this chain has been oiled?

Me: Well, I'm not sure, it was another missionary's bike before I...

Him: (interjecting) When I was in the Dominican Republic it took two months to order bicycle chain oil, but I still oiled my chain twice a week. Now, do you not know how to shift correctly, or do you just LIKE destoying gear-shifters?

Me: What?

Him: That's what I thought. You missionaries are all the same. When I was Zone Leader, I told all my missionaries to... (etc)

Nah, I'm just kidding. He's a really nice guy. My bike feels and rides a lot better than it did before, although there are a couple problems I will have to take it into a bike shop to get fixed. No biggee.

Was conference good or what? President Monson doing his thing, the women speakers didn't have big fake-looking smiles on, and I was very pleased when President Uchtdorf delivered yet another talk based on airplanes.

I hope Elder Perry's talk on member missionary work sunk in with the ward here. If not, we're going to force it down their throats when we have dinners with them. It did make me miss Provo canyon when Elder Perry was talking about the stranded sheep. I must have gone up Provo canyon over 100 times in the few months before I went into the MTC.

We played ultimate frisbee with our zone today and had a barbeque. Elder Ames is new in our district. He comes from North Pole, Alaska. He's a little on the chubby side, and somewhat overly-jolly, which makes me suspicious. I'll keep an eye on him come Christmas time.

Not many really good stories to tell this week. We did meet some really really friendly athiests from India yesterday. They invited us in, gave us water and candy, and didn't listen to anything we said about the gospel. They were a lot nicer than the Baptist, "Christian," or lady that didn't speak English we tracted into earlier. Respecting and loving people of other faiths is so important.

I'm doing well, staying fed, and preaching the gospel. So Mom, you have no need to worry, I'm so spoiled compared to Dave, Mike or Joe when they served.

I love the blessings of the gospel, especially the Spirit that comes when you share it with others. I'm very grateful to be here, especially now that barbeque season is coming around.


Elder Karlsven

Baptism! 03/30/09


Ben's baptism went off without a hitch, and his father who has not come to church for 25 years came to see him confirmed in Sacrament Meeting. Really cool. Maybe in another 25 years he'll let the missionaries teach him a first lesson.

Today was transfer meeting, and all that really changed was that our car was given to some Spanish-speaking missionaries that are opening a new area. So it looks like my thighs are going to be extra toned after being on bike this coming transfer.

This week I've discovered that Indians (people from India) are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, but are also very hard to explain gospel doctrine to. Well, actually I take that back - many have come to believe in Christ, but now I wonder if they need to stop believing in their other gods to be baptized. Do they really need to follow ALL of the 10 commandments? (Disclaimer: Just for clarification, mostly for mom, I'm joking here, okay?)

After this past week I wonder how I will keep from gaining 200 pounds if I ever get put in a Polynesian ward. This week we had a huge barbecue with the Latu family (Brother Latu I found out was Mandy's district leader for a time in New Zealand) and then the Tangi family gave us an entire cake. Not leftovers, but a whole cake, for no real reason. Sweet!

Again, thanks for all the support, the letters and everything else you all do for me.


Elder Karlsven

No, he does not work at a department store 03/23/2009

Dear Family,

Ben's work schedule got changed, so we had to push the baptism back to Saturday March 28. I don't know if I mentioned this, but now our main concern is how Bret Jepsen, our nearly 7 foot tall Ward Mission Leader is going to baptize Ben, who is about 5'5" and a bit stocky. Bro. Jepsen is working with his chiropractor about this.

We've been going around trying to set up more regular service activities to do around the city. One that looks promising is to take an hour each week at the Center for Performing Arts and explain and answer questions about the artwork being displayed there. Good thing I know so much about art (joke).

This last week we got to usher for the School of Music and Arts. It was a percussion show that wasn't too bad. Made me want to watch the movie "Drumline." But then I remembered how terrible that movie really was.

We often get questions from customers in department stores asking where things are. I have helped several of them. One lady that realized I didn't work there looked at my nametag and then said that if I could tell her where the bathroom mats were then she would convert. It saddened me to find out later that she didn't really mean what she said.

I really like riding a bike as a missionary. I almost wish we didn't have the car 3 days a week. We'll see if I still feel this way in the sweltering heat of the summer.

Although the work is hard is several ways, I feel so spoiled here. Delicious food, good ward, lots of things to do for missionary work, and did I mention the delicious food?

Speaking of the food, we're got dinner in half an hour, so I've got to run. Have a great week all!


Elder Karlsven