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Friday, October 08, 2010

Finally Coming Home!

Matthew is coming home on Monday October 11th! The plan is for him to speak on Sunday October 17th in the Grandview South Stake Center at 11am. We are so excited to have Matt home!

Top and Bottom 10 10/04/2010

Dear Family,
To sum up my missionary experience here in California, I made the following lists. Enjoy.
Top 10 Things I Will Miss About Being A Missionary in California:
10. Free dinners with families every day
9. Driving a 2009 Chevy Malibu
8. Not having to pay for gas
7. Perfect weather
6. Being treated like a celebrity at church
5. Quoting church videos word-for-word
4. Meeting at least 5 people for different continents every day
3. Getting every member's leftover food even if you didn't eat with them
2. Inviting people to be baptized during the first visit with them
1. Being able to point to a nametag every time I introduce myself
Top 10 Things I Will NOT Miss About Being a Missionary in California:
10. Being mistaken for a Jehovah Witness, Polygamist, or Amish person
9. Waiting 2-3 months in an area before anyone pronounces my name correctly
8. Trying experimental recipes ward members make for us
7. Californians that complain if it's even 2 degrees above or below 72 degrees
6. Having to get out of the car and direct the driver any time the car is in reverse
5. Endless phone calls
4. Being attached at the hip to some other dude 24/7
3. Smelling a different ethnic food every time we go in our apartment complex
2. All the contents of my front pocket spilling out when I bend over, often referred to as a "pocket-puke"
1. My 2 best CDs are "Ultimate EFY Collection" and "LDS Superhits of the 90's"
Despite this last list, I've loved it here. These 2 years have changed and helped me more than any other time in my life. I have seen the gospel in action helping others have the happier, most satisfying, and Christ-centered lives that they are looking for. I can't express how grateful I am to have spent my time here as a missionary.
I'll be home on Monday just after noon. How about Burger Supreme for lunch?
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Not Coming Home Yet 09/30/2010

Dear Family,
Friday night. We are teaching Moss and Mele Malala in their apartment. Mele is scheduled to be baptized on October 9. During the closing prayer, Mele got up and went into the kitchen. After the prayer, she came out with 2 styrofoam containers filled with chicken wings and rice for us.
On the ride home, Elder Bell and I sat in silence, pondering. It may have been the smell of the chicken wings in the car, but I was filled with a great love for both of them. The feeling that I needed to be there for her baptism was growing in me. When I got in the apartment, the feeling continued to increase. I knelt to pray about it. The feeling remained. Coming into the kitchen, I said to Elder Bell, "Dude, I'm thinking about extending to see Mele's baptism."
I called President Jackson. After telling him about Mele (you always got to begin a conversation with the mission president about some sort of success) I said "So President, what do you think about me extending for 2 weeks to see her baptism?" In a casual tone, he told me to call Mom and Dad and see if it's okay and then call him back. 10 minutes later it was decided that I would stay to see Mele's baptism.
That's what they say about missions, you know. First you hate them. Then you get used to them. Enough time passes and then you depend on them. Institutionalized, is the term for it. Nah, but I'm pretty happy to have 2 more weeks with the people we're working with out here.
All of Monday I spent with the missionaries that were going home. President Jackson did his last interviews with them, and then he and his wife gave us all advice about going home. My favorite line he said was, "You will all be nerds when you get home. You won't know how to act around anyone..."
Tuesday was the worst day. On Monday night I slept over with all the missionaries going home. The airport is in the Santa Clara area, so we arranged for my companion to pick me up there when we would see the other missionaries off. We drove the missionaries to the airport, helping them with their luggage and all that. In the airport, I looked at the departure and arrival flights on the big TV screens. I saw the flight I would have been on. Dang.
But at the end we greeted the 18 new missionaries arrive at the airport, just beginning their missions. Confused, overly shy or extremely talkative, eyes wide open, tripping over their luggage, etc. I love new missionaries.
Anyway, I hope all of you that were planning huge surprise parties for me are able to have the catering, DJs, and firework shows moved back two weeks. Sorry about that.
I hope you all are doing great. I'll see you all soon. October 11 is the date.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Soap Boxing 09/20/2010

Dear Family,
We invited our Ethiopian refugee investigators to George and Maria Batis's baptism on Saturday. 2 of them came - TD, and Keeflay. I got a little uneasy as Maria was baptized. She went face-first into the water, got her face and hair wet, and then came back up, gasping for air and trying to walk out of the font. She didn't realize she didn't go all the way under the water.
But it must have been a good experience for the Ethiopians. While eating cookies afterward, TD asked, "When can I be baptized?"
Also on Saturday, I realized I had not done something I always wanted to do as a missionary. That is what is sometimes referred to as "soapboxing." Luckily there was the local "Art and Wine Festival" going on at Santa Clara. There they have live music, lots of booths set up, and lots of people (many at different points of becoming drunk). We walked to the most crowded place with the most foot-traffic, carrying a milk crate and a sack of 16 copies of the Book of Mormon. I set the crate upside-down just off of the path, grabbed 2 or 3 books, and hopped onto the crate.
My original plan was to begin teaching about the Restoration until a few people began listening. Just like the first missionaries sent to Europe used to do on the street. No go. My voice wasn't loud enough to be heard for long over all the noise of the crowd. So I changed my approach to yelling:
"FREE BOOK! Jesus Christ teaches in America! FREE BOOK!"
Pretty effective if you can believe it. In about 10 minutes all 16 copies of the Book of Mormon were given away.
My favorite part was when a cop came up to us, and said "I'm sorry guys, but you can't sell those things here."
"Can we give them away?"
"Well, yeah, but you should probably, uh..."
Elder Bell offered, "Would you like a copy?"
"Oh, no, no," the cop said and walked away quickly.
-No unhallowed hand can stop this work-
Haha.
Yesterday we had what is called the "Outgoing Missionary Fireside." It's the fireside for the missionaries going home, and especially for their converts and investigators. Making 150 to 200 phone calls telling people about it paid off with about 40 of the people I've met out here show up. About 300 total people came. I hope Dad is okay with me telling lots of people about his conversion story. I shared it with this group.
Basically this week has been awesome. I'm really excited to come home. Mostly to see Weston and Kaylee. I haven't updated my pictures of them, so I still imagine them a year and a half younger than they are. I'll probably be freaked out when I see them.
I love you guys. I was planning on bringing everyone back some food from In-and-Out Burger, but I heard there's one in Utah Valley now. Any other requests?
The Church is true. I hope no one has forgotten that. It took 2 years of having nothing to think about but the gospel for me to realize that. I love the people here, a lot because I've seen how the Spirit has worked in their hearts, inspiring them to become better, love others, be filled with hope and happiness, and last of all - to buy us missionaries food.
Seriously though, we get fed a lot. It's like as soon as someone's testimony grows, they get a sudden urge to buy food for the missionaries. Yet another evidence of the truth of this work. If anyone out there is contemplating going on a mission, I want you to know that it pays off. You see the lives of those you love become so much better as they learn to make changes to bring their lives in closer harmony with the Savior's teachings. Plus, the same thing happens to you without you even knowing it. Do it.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

EXTENSION!

Elder Karlsven has extended his mission for 2 more weeks. He received special permission from the mission president to be able to do this. His new homecoming date is set for Monday October 11th. We think he will talk the next Sunday on October 17th. We will keep you updated!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Matt is Coming Home Soon!!!!!

In case anyone has forgotten, Elder Matt comes home on September 28th! The plan right now is that he will speak on October 10th in the Grandview South 17th Ward at 11am. We will let you know through the blog or email if this is not the case.

You Mean I Can't Break Your Back? 09/14/2010

Dear Family,
Giving baptismal interviews is one of my favorite things to do. When I met Maria for her interview, along with her husband George, I knew this one would be no exception. George and Maria met and lived for a number of years in Santa Cruz. I sensed that could be the case, even before they told me. They had a bit of a "Santa Cruz feel" to them.
Maria was nervous about the interview. After showing them the baptismal font, she asked that George accompany her to the interview. They each told me a bit about their life story as we sat in a classroom in the church building. As the interview went on, it was obvious that she was well prepared, and ready to be a member of the church.
George and Maria are both in their 50's and like to make jokes about each other. At the times he made a joke that would make Maria scowl, he would kiss her 3 or 4 times on the hand, cheek, or shoulder. This happened frequently throughout the interview. With all their jokes, story-telling, and me having to gather myself after bursting into laughter several times, the interview ended up taking about an hour. She passed with flying colors.
One of the rules in the Missionary Handbook says to avoid holding children, or having them sit on your lap. This isn't usually an issue, but occasionally their are kids that influence you to go by the spirit, and not so much the letter of the law. Connor Eves is one of those kids.
We arrived for dinner at the Eves house. We took a seat on their couch. Connor ran into the room, and shook each of our hands. He grabbed onto my hand and started walking up my leg. After I got him down, he would them run full speed toward me as I sat on the couch, and then jump onto me. Each time I would get ahold of him and lift him off. His mom began shouting to him from the kitchen to leave the missionaries alone.
The pattern would continue. He'd jump on me. I'd lift him off. His mom would tell him to stop. But at some point, even the most patient of missionaries say "No more." The next time Connor jumped on me, I grabbed him, and hoisted him onto my shoulder. I flipped him around so that his back was on my shoulder. I began bouncing up and down.
Turning to my companion I said, "I call this one 'the backbreaker'."
Connor began yelling louder.
We heard his mom's voice from the kitchen, "Connor! I thought I told you to leave the missionaries alone!"
She walked into the room and saw me doing "the backbreaker" on Connor.
Awkward.
But hilarious too.
The work goes on as usual. The Malala family is doing great, and love coming to church. Mele is still shooting to be baptized at the end of the month. Awesome.
Thanks for all the emails. Happy birthday to Becky and Weston!
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Very Busy 09/07/2010

Dear Family,
At the stake pancake breakfast yesterday morning, a guy in BYU cap comes up to me and says, "Hi, Elder Karlsven." I did a double take, and recognized that it was Evan Smith. After 23 months of searching, we finally found each other. I thought Mike and Joe would like to hear about that.
On Saturday night we went to visit Claude, a man from Congo that has come to church before. We came to his apartment and saw that the door was open. 3 men were sitting inside. None of them were Claude. As soon as they saw us they said, "Come in, come in." We sat down with them, and found out that all three of them were refugees from Ethiopia. They had been living in Kenya, but came to California a couple weeks ago. The only one whose name I remember is T.D. T.D. wanted to come to church. We called a member up, and the next thing we know, TD is sitting in Gospel Essentials class with us. I wonder how many people are out there right now that would come to church if only someone visited them and invited them.
But it was a pretty crazy day at church. We had 8 investigators there. 2 of them were there for the first time. Plus we got a phone call asking us to go give a blessing in the middle of church. So we were running around a lot. I'm going to miss wearing a missionary badge at church, which seems to permit you to push people out of the way, grab someone to help with an investigator, etc. as long as you say "Official missionary business" as you do it.
Oh, looks like I'm out of time. Have a great week.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Answers to Prayers 08/30/2010

Dear Family,
I think Becky asked about my companion, Elder Bell. As far as personality, just think of Joe, and you have it. He acts SO much like Joe, in his jokes especially.
I had a companion that reminded me a lot of Dave too. It was Elder Valencia.
But the best one was Elder Tobler, who reminded me a lot of Dad. He was very humble, made breakfast, was quick to apologize when needed. I remember just getting the feeling that he was like Dad, and then one day when I folded his laundry or something, he said, "Oh, you're a sweetheart." HAHA! What are the odds? Just like Dad.
After a meeting 3 weeks ago with the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries, we decided we will all begin praying that the Lord would put people in our path that needed the Gospel. Then we would report what happened at the 5th Sunday meeting at church (which happened yesterday). Two answers to prayer this week:
1. We got a phone call from the Elders Quorum President telling us that a new couple moved into the ward. They are Polynesian, and the wife is not a Latter-day Saint. The husband has not been to church for about 4 years. They were in the hospital because he had a foot infection. We visited them there. Taught about the Plan of Salvation. Found out they both are at a point where they really want God and a church in their lives. She accepted our invitation to be baptized in September.
2. We got a call from Brother Cate in the ward. He told us that a man named Rob called the church and wanted to learn more. He gave us Rob's phone number. I called it and found out he has looked into a lot of churches, but admired the Mormons he knew for them "practicing what they preach." I also found out his name is Ross, not Rob. So yesterday night we met with Ross at the church building, showed him around, and then sat on the couches in the lobby to answer his questions and teach. Great guy.
The other good story of the week was when I knocked on the door of an Indian woman. At one point I asked her if she believes in God. Out of nowhere she asked me, "Is it because you see my brown skin that you don't think I believe in God?"
Huh? I can't believe she just played the race card on me.
Anyway, prayers are answered. I'm doing great. You guys are in my prayers.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Miracles Happen 08/23/2010

Dear Family,
Miracle of the week:
We had dinner with the Svantessons in the ward. I thought I remembered which apartment they live in, but after I knocked we were greeted by a small Chinese lady at the door. She didn't speak much English, but we offered to bring her a Book of Mormon in Mandarin. She accepted and we set an appointmet and got her phone number. Her name is Cecily Chen.
The next day we were calling around to find a Mandarin speaker in the ward. We found two. One had to work at the time we would visit Cecily. The other, Tyler Hooper, wasn't answering his phone. The day of the appointment with Cecily came, and not only did we have no Mandarin speaker to come with us, but we wouldn't even be able to come into her apartment without another guy there (missionary rule).
We went to her apartment, thinking we would just give her the Book of Mormon, and try to set up another time to visit her. We knocked on the door and she wasn't home, even though we had called her that same morning and she said she would be there. Frustrated and angry, we began knocking on some doors in that apartment complex.
After about 5 minutes of that, we got a call from Cecily. She apologized for not being home, but said that she was there now and asked if we could come. As we were walking toward her apartment, a man came out of a garage in the complex. Who was this man? None other than Tyler Hooper, just getting off of work!
"Hi guys," he said.
"What are you doing here?" We asked.
"I live here," he said, "I got your message, but I had to work late today. Sorry. Were you able to see that lady?"
"We're going there now. You want to come?"
"Yeah."
So we met Cecily and her husband Ben. I'm not sure what happened, seeing that most of it was in Mandarin, but everyone was smiling, and Cecily asked for more information on church activities and ways to learn more about the Book of Mormon. They will be a pretty good referal for the Chinese-speaking missionaries.
Miracles happen. The Lord can put people in our path to help us in bringing the blessings of learning the Gospel to others.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Just Because I Wear a Name Tag Doesn't Mean I Work Here...08/16/2010

Dear Family,
I remember my trainer was at this point in his mission when he first met me. His assignment was not only to train me, but to open a new area that would be the smallest one by far in the whole mission that was VERY Catholic, and only had a handful of active members of our church.
Man, I'm glad I don't have to do that.
I just got a new companion - Elder Bell. He's from Oregon, is the youngest of 8 kids in his family, and has no problem eating leftovers without asking how long they've been in the refrigerator. I like him. He's been a missionary for 20 months. He seems pretty solid.
2 weeks ago Elder Tobler told me that he had a prompting that we would find someone on our lists of "potential investigators" (mostly people the missionaries talked to that said they could come back, or seemed nice, etc). So this past week each day we looked for a few of the ones that seemed promising. On Wednesday, we had about 15 minutes open up in the afternoon, so we visited one of them - Loraine. She said for us to come back the next day. Thursday - we teach her about Jesus Christ, the Great Apostacy, and the Restoration. She accepts to read the Book of Mormon, ask in prayer if it's true, come to stake conference on Sunday, and be baptized September 18.
Don't get too excited. A lot of crazy people agree to those things too and then you never see them again.
Now get excited. She came to Stake Conference, even though this one was all the way up in Fremont (30 minute drive)! Awesome. We had the 2nd counselor in the bishopric and his family pick her up to go.
So all in all, being a missionary is great. At the Stake Conference I felt like a superstar because I knew so many people there (having served in both the Los Altos and Santa Clara wards). I think I've been blessed out here with a better ability to remember names. I probably saw over 100 people I know at the Stake Conference, and somehow I knew all their names.
One good experience this week was when we went to CVS pharmacy to get some cough drops. 10 seconds after we walk in the store, an Indian man starts shouting at us from across the store to come help him move some things.
"We don't work here," we say.
Immediately, IMMEDIATELY after that this old lady asks us where she could find some soap.
The Indian man told her we don't work here. She then looked at our missionary nametags and said "Oh, I know you guys! You visited me a few weeks ago." She got all excited and gave us each a hug.
I have no idea who that old lady was. But she seemed cool.
5 minutes later, while we are looking at our choices of cough drops, a guy that works there asks if we could show him how the cold medicine was supposed to be organized.
I think the next time I go into a CVS Pharmacy I'm going to put a bright pink Post-It note under my nametag that says "I DON'T WORK HERE." Either that or I'll continue to tell people where things are at in a store I'm visiting for the first time.
The Church is true, everyone. Better yet, being a part of it brings a greater connection with the Lord, and being happy. I love that.
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Save The Date for September 28th!!!

Hi family,
We just got a letter in the mail from Elder Matt's mission president saying he is scheduled to come home Tuesday September 28th. We'll request that he fly in to the Salt Lake Airport. I'll keep you updated on more specifics....
Love ya,
Laurel Dean

Amazing Testimonies 08/09/2010

Dear Family,

Every 6 weeks we have what's called an Outgoing Missionary Fireside. It is held in a chapel in San Jose. Each missionary that is going home the following week gives their testimony, along with several musical numbers. It is one of the best meetings to bring friends along that you are teaching.

We brought Sudakar Sarredy to this fireside yesterday. This was probably the best one I've been to. Over 500 people came. There were a few musical numbers, some with Polynesian singers. I wish I would have recorded some of the testimonies, because they were short, but very powerful, coming from the many different perspectives of different missionaries. New Zealander, Fijiian, Taiwanese, Mongolian, Samoan, Canadian, Australian, and of course Utahn missionaries spoke. Testimonies were given in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Mongolian, and American Sign Language. A senior couple also spoke, along with a missionary that couldn't serve a regular full time mission because of physical and mental incapacities (He helps out in the mission office). There was a strong love felt after each testimony. It meant a lot more to me than other outgoing firesides probably because I've served around and with several of the missionaries that spoke. When you know someone better, you know when they are being sincere, and their sincerity is that much more powerful.

Brother Sarredy loved it. As I spoke with him in the cultural hall afterward, while everyone was greeting and getting pictures with the departing missionaries they knew, he said with his Indian accent, "There is something special about LDS. It is not like other churches."

As we walked out of church, Brother Sarredy went on about how amazing it was that a young boy with "a doubt" prayed and "now lots of miracles." Brother Sarredy is a great man. He has expressed that he wants to be baptized when his wife and son get back from India at the end of August.

Great day. I have 1 minute left on this computer, so I love you guys. See you later!

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Great Week 08/02/2010

Dear Family,

Okay, I have 9 minutes to write this. Here's the good stuff:

We began teaching the Velasquez family 2 weeks ago. We met them when we were looking for Fernando Velasquez's brother at their home. Anyway, we invited them to church this week, but Fernando had a sprained ankle, so he said next week would be best. He also said that he wants to take it slow because he hasn't been to any church for 20 years. So, of course, we sent a member of the church over there to invite them to come to church with them, and that they would pick them up Sunday morning. Fernando still seemed hesitant, but he said it would okay for the member to come.

Sunday morning. 10 minutes before church. I was handing out programs for Sacrament meeting when our Ward Mission Leader comes up to me and says, "The Velasquez family is here." It turns out that Fernando actually got up early and got his wife and daughter up for church. It was fast and testimony meeting (a risky meeting for new people at church in case a crazy person gets up there) but every testimony was appropriate, and several very powerful. Great day.

The other highlight of the week was when we met with our long-time investigator Sudakar Sarredy from Hydrabad (sp?), India. This appointment was different than the others. He explained that he has gone through a "personal apostacy" but now nothing holds him back from being baptized. He told us about his desire to be with his parents and his wife and son "in the heaven."

Awesome.

So yeah, in short, this mission is pretty sweet. I love doing this work. I'm pretty bummed about having to go back to regular work soon

Love
Elder Karlsven

Can't Fool The Mission President 07/26/2010

Dear Family,

Every Monday morning we have a conference call with the mission president and all the zone leaders in the mission. We report on "key indicators" which are just the number of people who are working towards a baptismal date, coming to church, being taught by the missionaries and a member, or who have just started meeting with the missionaries. Typically our zone has a lot of people doing one or two of those things, and barely anyone doing the others.

For example, most of the other zones had about 15 or 20 investigators come to church. Ours had 6. So here's what you do on the conference call:

Mission President: Los Altos zone, how did you do on getting people to church?

Me: Well, the good news is that we DOUBLED the number of people that came to church last week! (Last week was the worst week of the year for our zone getting people to church - only 3 came)

Mission President: Excellent, elders. Good job. How many came?

Me: I think our phone battery is low. You're voice is fading, President. (I say this as I move the phone farther and farther away from my mouth)

As you probably could guess, this doesn't ever fool the mission president.

I think someone a while ago asked how we find our investigators. I thought I'd just tell you how we found the ones we are currently teaching.

Velasquez Family: There were a bunch of guys hanging out outside of a house. I spoke to one of them who had 2 different colored eyes. He gave us his address. We went there a couple days later and found his brother and his brother's daughter home. We gave them a picture of Christ (that we had intended to give to an investigator nearby, but who wasn't home) and asked to share a 5 minute message on Jesus. They let us in. We've taught them twice so far.

Sarredy Family: I'm not sure how they were first introduced to the church, but they are all from India. They have been coming to church for 3 years now. The husband is finally starting to talk seriously about baptism.

Chang Family: The husband is half Chinese and half Jamaican (I hadn't met anyone with a mix like that either). His wife is a member. They graduated from college not too long ago, and were married a month ago They moved into the ward when they got married, and the bishop from their old ward sent an email to our bishop to go meet them.

Dennis R.: After going to a member family's home to leave a blessing on their family and home, we walked across the street to a guy and his 2 sons. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could visit him another time. He said to come back in a couple weeks because he was going out of town. It didn't seem promising at all. But we returned, and brought a member with us that was baptized last year. Dennis let us in. He and the member were a perfect match, coming from the same background of gangs and poverty, but wanting to change since having children.

Banos Family: Shortly after I was transferred here, we were biking to an appointment. I saw a Hispanic lady unloading her car. I stopped and asked if she needed help. She declined, but then I asked if we could come back and teach about Jesus Christ and his restored gospel. She said yes. We've taught her and her 4 kids several times since then.

Irfan: Irfan is Islamic and is from India. He visited the Hawaii temple and agreed to have a Book of Mormon delivered. So we got a text message telling us his info. We called him and set up an appointment. We came, answered his questions about the Book of Mormon, suggested a passage for him to read, and he said that we could come back in a week.

So there you go. That's missionary work here. I enjoy learning the stories of different people, and especially asking what makes them want to meet with us. Some just want to learn. Some have specific questions. Some are going through a rough time and want some help. Following the principles and commandments of the Gospel are what help. Loving ward members do a lot too.

Have a great week. Meet someone new at church this week.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

I Heard That Will Smith is Mormon 07/19/2010

Dear Family,

I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago how we went up to a bunch of guys getting ready to play softball, taught them a couple parts of the first lesson, and then passed around my planner to get the names and addresses of those who would like a Book of Mormon delivered to them. One of the names that was written was "Will Smith." That one has got to be fake, I thought. But I gave the phone number a call, and was able to set up an appointment with the guy.

We get there and Will greets us at the door. Will is a large African-American with thick dread locks. He lets us into his dimly-lit apartment and we sit down with three of Will's brothers (named Deravante, Dante, and Day-tron).

Possibly the best lesson of my mission. I'm not even kidding. They asked a lot of questions, which is almost always a good thing. We could tell from them explaining back to us what we taught that they were beginning to understand. I felt that this was one of a very few number of lessons I've taught that has truly been led by the Spirit to teach to a person's needs, and not just teach the doctrine. This lesson began to let us know where Will and his brothers were actually coming from, and what they care about, and what they are interested in. It's a lot easier to teach when you begin to really know the people you are teaching.

Later this week, we had our first meeting with a new investigator, Irene. Irene is about 60. She has 3 kids, and she is Hispanic. We brought an older man, Brother Lundstrom, to this appointment. As we began to teach, all was going well and had the same feeling as the lesson with Will. Elder Tobler asked Brother Lundstrom "How has the Gospel blessed your family?"

We then heard a 5 minute lesson about temples, baptisms for the dead, getting "sealed" and a bunch of other stuff that confused Irene. No bueno. But eventually the subject of the lesson turned back to things that actually applied, and Brother Lundstrom redeemed himself by telling us all how he joined the church. Good man.

So yeah, I'm enjoying the teaching. I really wish I could have began the mission having the knowledge and understanding of my purpose as a missionary that I have now. It could have prevented a lot of dumb ideas, wasted time, and frustration at earlier times in the mission. I'm not thinking about going home all the time, but I do keep having recurring dreams where I've been home for 3 to 6 months. Is that normal? In some of these dreams I have a giant afro. I know that's not normal.

Have a great week, everyone. If anyone sees Rob Magleby this week, smack him on the head and then say, "Elder Karlsven says 'Congratulations'." He got engaged and didn't tell me, or even write a letter to me asking for my permission. Lame.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Meaningful Prayers and Lessons 07/12/2010

Dear Family,

Well, Mom, I'm going to be in some long meetings too this week. I guess there's going to be a lot of new training given to the missionaries in the MTC, so they want all the missionaries in the field to get the same training as well. This week we will have meetings on that stuff from 9am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday.

We've been really tired this week. For the past 8 months I've had a car, and so of course I got weak and lazy. This week we've been trying to limit the use of our car because of the long drives we are going to make to the mission office for those meetings this week.

Biking.

Our tiredness peaked on Thursday around 3pm. We were visiting a couple that has recently started coming back to church. We had just had a big lunch, and biked to their place to read the Book of Mormon with them. Their apartment was hot. We sank into their couch's huge cushions. Elder Tobler offered the prayer. He bowed his head and rested his elbows on his knees to pray.

He finished the prayer, but his head didn't come up. I figured he was just gathering his thoughts, so I began asking the couple about how they've liked the past couples times at church. After about 5 minutes, Elder Tobler's head came up, and he had a confused look on his face. He just woke up.

He began to teach. Soon enough, I started doing the whole head bobble thing, drifting into sleep and then jerking awake over and over. As I listened to the wife talk, I started drifting again, until into my mind came what I thought to be a very profound, thought-provoking question. I became awake and alert, and began asking the question. Half-way through the question I realized that this profound question made no sense at all. I barely recovered.

But there are always great things learned when you spend all your time talking to different people. I learned from a Born-Again Christian to know the Bible better, and appreciate it. I learned from a guy that got back from Iraq a few months ago to be grateful for being able to experience life each day. I learned from a guy visiting from Norway to be glad I didn't go there as a missionary. Not a nice guy.

Thanks for all the support. I'm excited to see Kaylee and Weston in a few months. I'll start working on my homecoming talk to make it seem like I've grown or matured in some way here in California. Nah, just kidding. I'll probably just go up to the microphone, start crying for ten minutes, say "I promised myself I wouldn't cry," and then sit down.

You guys are a great family. I'm starting to realize that an eternal family may not be as crazy of an idea as I thought. I love you guys.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

July 4th Fun 07/06/2010

Dear Family,

It's been a while since I've gotten kicked out of anywhere as a missionary. For that reason, it was refreshing this week when we got kicked out of a shopping plaza and then the next day kicked out of a Home Depot parking lot. I guess someone called the police and complained about us at the shopping plaza. It was strange because we had only talked to 2 people (1 an Indian that couldn't speak English, and another a nice man from Jamaica) before a cop car showed up.
It was actually really nice talking to people in the Home Depot parking lot. I'd offer to help people unload their shopping cart. Most people accepted if they had lumber or concrete to get into their car. Somehow it just seemed natural after that to talk about the gospel or the church or what that person thinks about life in this area. I suspect that the Home Depot employee asked us to leave out of fear that we would make his customer service position obsolete.

As for 4th of July stuff, we didn't watch fireworks or anything. We did give away a ton of pass-along cards as people walked down the street in big groups towards the firework shows. It was interesting how varied the reactions to us were when we were on the sidewalk compared to how people treated us when they saw us in our church parking lot after they just parked their car there. Probably just not wanting us to call to get their car towed, they all smiled and greeted us like good friends.

But it's been a great week. Working with other missionaries. Talking to big groups of Asians. Even get several softball players' information to deliver copies of the Book of Mormon to each of them (their game had not started yet, so we started talking to them and eventually taught about the Restoration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon). I really like talking to groups of 5 or more people. It can either go really good or really bad, depending on the reaction of the first person in the group to respond to you. It they want to listen, everyone else will, and suddenly you feel like a 19th century missionary preaching on a soapbox.

This is what I've enjoyed this week. The gospel makes us happy and better people, how much more simple of a message could you bring to anyone?

Have a great week, everyone. I hope the smog from all the fireworks in Provo clears up by the time I get back.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

P.S. Congrats to Joe and Megan! New baby on the way!

Wrong Card 06/21/2010

Dear Family,

My 4th of July plans? Basically I plan on joining several BBQs. I firmly believe that eating with others is the best way to get to know someone and invite them to learn about the gospel. I've never had a bad encounter with anyone at a BBQ. Oh wait, I actually remember this one time in my last area when I went up to a big family gathering at a park. They were eating, and I handed them a card. Unfortunately I handed them the wrong card - it was one that said "Where does my family go when we die?"

If I remember correctly, the lady's response was something like, "You got a lot of nerve to come to my daughter's birthday party and talk about our family dying!"

Eesh.

As for fireworks, we probably won't see any. We got to be in at 9pm. So the closest we will have to seeing fireworks will be the little kids throwing those Snaps things at us.

I worked with Elder Donnelly for a day this week. He has been on his mission about 5 months now. The goal was to help build our faith to find people to teach. As I looked at the map of our area, I saw that Santa Clara University was in our area. What a great place to talk to some young people, who will be more willing to learn! We went there, and began walking around the campus. Strangely, all the people we talked to were Catholics that said they went to Mass regularly. After about an hour, we started talking to an older man that was visiting the campus for the day. He told us that he was visiting for the Jesuit colloquium.

"Jesuit colloquium?" We asked.

"Yes, most of these men walking around here are Catholic priests. This is a Jesuit University."

"Oh."

I felt like a Jehovah Witness trying to proselyte at BYU.

Despite this hiccup, this week we started teaching 2 families - one from the Philipines, and another who are Born-Again Christians. Teaching a family is such a great feeling. A warm and uplifting feeling comes when the children begin to ask and answer questions. Kids have a way of understanding simple truths of the gospel better than a lot of adults.

"...and a little child shall lead them." Isaiah 11:6

Best excuse of the week: Marlin, who we had been talking to for about 10 minutes at his door said he couldn't hear our message because "I was just about to go eat a handful of trail mix and some peanut butter on a spoon."

No joke.

I love you all. Have a great 4th of July. I heard USA lost to Ghana in the World Cup. That's a bummer.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Blessings! 06/21/2010

Dear Family,

Elder Tobler loves to serve others and offers to serve others all the time. This is a great thing because of his sincerity. However, sometimes it backfires. Over the past couple weeks, he offered to bake cookies for a number of people in our apartment complex. It seems like a good idea, but A: We don't got the time to bake, and B: We're not sister missionaries. I wasn't aware of the seriousness of the problem until the other day we were in the lobby of our apartment complex and an Asian man in his 30's walked by. I had never seen the man before. We said "Hi" to him.

He responded suddenly, "Where my cookies!?"

Nah, but I love Elder Tobler. It's just so easy to be relaxed and open up to a person like him. Plus he continues to make me breakfast a couple times a week, and the other day I looked down and realized that he had shined my shoes. I've sent a request to the mission president that he be my companion until the end of my mission.

At the beginning of the week, we made goals. Elder Tobler suggested that we make a goal to find 3 people to teach. I suggested that we try to find 1 family to teach. We agreed that either one would be great. We prayed each day for help, and every night we reviewed our efforts and made a plan for the next day to help accomplish the goal.

On Tuesday we went on splits with the ward. Elder Tobler and Brother Hardy went to an appointment. They got there, but the man's wife was sick so they couldn't come in. Elder Tobler suggested they ask a neighbor if they could have the lesson at their home. The man agreed, and they went to another apartment, met a lady that let them in to teach.

2 new friends to teach!

Then on Saturday we had the missionaries in the surrounding areas come into our area to help us find people to teach (we took turns doing this for each area in our zone during the week). Elder Tobler and Elder Wynn met and taught a neighbor of someone that used to meet with the missionaries.

1 more!

We were satisfied with reaching our goal of finding 3 people to teach, and began thinking of how to help other areas and missionaries to find. Sunday night came along. We stopped by an old media referal that had never been home. A family from the Philipines was home. They had 10 minutes to hear our message. They did, and they liked it.

A family!

The Lord answers prayers. Especially when you are in the Santa Clara ward.

I don't know how much this story will resonate with you guys, but to understand how much of a miracle this week was, you should know that on an average week, we find 1 to 2 people to teach.

I love you all. Have a great week.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twilight Zone 06/14/2010

Dear Family,

I went on an exchange with the Elders in the Los Altos ward this week (I served in that ward last year). It was really weird going back and seeing some of the people I knew there:

There was a lady that I taught, or tried to teach named Elaine. We never got through a lesson because she didn't care about learning or being benefitted by the gospel, but just wanted someone to complain about her family to. She wouldn't even want to learn about how the gospel could help with her problems. After 3 appointments of hearing an hour of complaining, we decided to let her know our purpose as missionaries and that although we care about her, we need to be spending our time with those that want to act on the message. She responded with 45 minutes of complaining about her family.

So I'm in Los Altos this week and who is on our list of people to visit? Elaine! I guess they had tried to teach her again, but had the same result. I had the privilege of dropping her again from the teaching pool.

Several other people we saw either had had a baby, or are pregnant. One lady that I knew from last year now had a 3 month old son, and she had totally changed her hair color and style. See what I mean? Twilight zone.

The strangest though. SO weird. We went to visit a part-member family. We came in the home and I heard the opera-like voice of the husband in the back room. I remembered him as a perfect guy to play Santa Claus. Big, and jolly with a white beard. Great guy. A man came into the room with the same face and voice, but with a skinny neck and body, and a little bit of loose skin. Though stunned, I still gave him a hug (disappointed at the lack of cushioning). He saw the look on my face.

"Oh, I guess you weren't here for my gastric bypass."

I imagine I'm going to have many of these kinds of experiences when I get home. I would appreciate a warning from you guys. If Dave now weighs 350 pounds, please send a picture. If mom has changed her hair color from brownish-red to plain brown, let me know. I don't know how much shock I can take all at once when I see all the changes.

Another cool experience in the 3 minutes I have left. We went to visit a member of the ward at about 8:40 pm yesterday. Not home. I looked at a house across the street with the lights on. Maybe it was the stories I've heard about people being found late at night when the missionaries wanted to go home, but I decided to knock on the door. A woman answered. After a moment, I recognized her. "Rita?" I asked "Yeah?" It was a lady I had taught in the Almaden ward in December. Wow. Miracle. Seriously, what are the odds?

Have a great week. Follow the Spirit to miracles.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Loving the Area 06/07/2010

Dear Family,

Some events of missionary work that need to be recorded for posterity:

1. An appointment fell through at about 8pm on Saturday. We were standing outside the apartment complex, wondering what to do. We saw an open door on the second floor. We went up there and met a family with 3 small children, and none of them spoke English. Not even the kids. With big smiles, we said something like "Video, Espanol. DVD player?" They let us in, and we put in the Restoration DVD in Spanish. The kids were going crazy, jumping off of things and the boy and girl wrestled the whole time. The little girl was dominating the boy, pulling his hair. Then out of nowhere while the boy was lying on the ground, the girl came up and stomped on his head! The boy started yelling and laughing. We all busted up laughing.

We sent that family's info to the Spanish-speaking Sister missionaries with the label "Golden investigators."

2. As we came out from an appointment with a woman and her shirtless husband, we saw a car parked in front of ours. Two teenagers in the back seat. We pondered for a few moments, and then decided to put a Law of Chastity pamphlet on their windshield.

3. Two days in a row, we came to the church early in the morning. Both times, we found a hobo-lady sleeping by the air conditioning units outside the church. Both times, she got up, and walked away quickly when she saw us, not responding to our questions or offers of help. We are still wondering if we should count her on our numbers report as someone we're teaching attending church.

Quote of the week, said to a lady that said her kids go to a Christian school, but does not go to church herself: "Hello Kitty is only for 14 year old girls, the Gospel is for everyone."

I only have 4 minutes left on this computer to tell you about the best baptism I've seen. It was for Genia Vee, a 26 year old whose mom is a member of the church. Everything went great. Tons of people from her family and the ward attended. Tons of food. Polynesian baptism, so could you expect any less? We had a lady that was baptized about a month ago bear her testimony, along with some really good musical numbers. Awesome. That's how a baptism should be.

So that's the week. I love being here. My companion is great The ward is wonderful. The only problem is that the library computers don't give me enough time to email.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Harvest Time 06/01/2010

Dear Family,

I feel like I'm being rewarded for those long months biking around in a white shirt and tie in hot weather, desperately looking for anyone to listen to us.

My new area: Santa Clara ward (just north-west of San Jose). In the past year, about 15 people have been baptized here (the rest of the wards in this stake have baptized 0 to 5 people on average the past year). We have a baptism of a Samoan girl, Genia, on Saturday. We had 8 people we are teaching come to church on Sunday (no other ward had more than 3).

My new companion: Elder Tobler from Layton, Utah. Very humble. Has no hesitations with expressing love and offering help to anyone (including me). Makes delicious crepes. It's easy to teach with him. Compliments me after every lesson we teach. Always looking for ways to become more like Christ.

Do I like my new area and companion? Oh yeah.

Mom asked what cities are in this zone. It includes: Santa Clara, part of Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Los Altos. For some reason, it's really weird to be back near a place I've served in before.

Lots of teaching this week. Our zone is hosting the zone conference on Wednesday, so we've been setting things up for that too. Very busy. Busy trying to do meaningful things as a missionary is best. Otherwise being a missionary is SO boring.

So I am very VERY grateful to be in this ward, and I'm thinking I'll be here until I come home. I got no problem with that. Have a great week everyone!

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Transfer 05/24/2010

Dear Family,

The day before being transferred is always a good one. You find out on Saturday which missionaries are getting transferred, and then on Monday all the missionaries that are getting moved meet at the mission office. There you find your new companion, find out where you are going, and off you go.

When the ward finds out you are getting transferred, suddenly you get called on to say the opening or closing prayer at every meeting at church. A big chunk of yesterday was spent taking pictures and saying goodbye to different people. Each person you say goodbye to falls into one of four categories:
1. The church member that got to know you pretty well as you taught one of their friends, and they sincerely thank you for your service.
2. The church member that you've had dinner with a few times, but didn't get to know really well. They give you a hearty handshake, and a pat on the back.
3. The church member that acts like it's a tragedy that you are leaving, but then has to look at your nametag for 4 to 5 seconds before remembering your name. These ones may also ask you if you are a new elder in the ward when you've been there over 6 months.
4. The church member that is a little too excited to have another missionary replace you. This may or may not be because you knocked every door on his/her street and began every conversation there with, "Your neighbor here is a member of our church. He said you guys are a bunch of deadbeats and need our help..."

Investigators or members that helped you find and teach people the gospel are always the hardest to say goodbye to.

So now I'm in the Santa Clara ward, which is in the same zone as Los Altos (the ward I was in for a lot of last year). My companion is Elder Tobler from Layton, Utah. He's about as white as me. That's all I know about him.

So that's the news. I'll miss the Almaden ward, but I'm sure I'll keep in contact with a few of the people here. I got a feeling we're going to see a lot of success here in Santa Clara.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Birthday!!! 05/17/2010

Dear Family,

To tell the truth, my birthday was pretty boring. I've always made it a policy to not announce my birthday to everyone, but let someone else do it. Little did I know that in Haiti, birthdays aren't a big deal, so my companion didn't tell anyone. As time went on at church, my countenance dropped lower and lower, and eventually found myself doubting my testimony. Not my testimony of the restored gospel, but my testimony of birthdays.

But I did manage to get a jar of the long-time coveted strawberry jam Sister Elsie makes. For the past 2 or 3 dinners she has given us, she had it on the table. I repeatedly said how much I love it, how I wish I could have it every day, etc. Despite all this, she never offered us some when they packaged up the leftovers for us, even though I knew that Brother Elsie knew I wanted some of it to take home - he would roll his eyes every time I mentioned it. He also knew it was me that told Elder Serat to call them before our dinner and tell them that that's the only thing I wanted for my birthday. "Mission accomplished" I thought as I walked out their door with a jar of jam. Brother Elsie somehow guessed that I had told Elder Serat to call them.

This week I had the opportunity of spending a few hours with the missionary I trained, Elder Smith. He's in our zone now. He's more mature and relaxed in the missionary work. And I was happy to see that he still uses his classic approach when we knocked a couple doors:

He knocks.
Big guy answers.
3 seconds of silence.
"Can I help you?" the man asks.
"Howya doing?" Elder Smith says quietly.
"Good."
5 seconds of silence.
He begins, "Well, uh, we're just missionaries in the area..."

I love Elder Smith.

So that was the week. I'm 22 and already feel like a menace to society.

Oh, whoops, we're late for dinner!
Have a great week everyone!

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Am I Brushing My Teeth? 05/10/2010

Dear Family,

Even though half the time I held the phone an arm-length away from my ear while everyone was talking at the same time, I enjoyed talking to you all yesterday. There were some good questions asked. But I was disappointed that mom didn't ask the classic mom question "how often are you brushing your teeth?" I even had my response planned, "For the last time, Mom, I told you 'As Needed'!"

On Saturday morning, all throughout California, every ward got involved in a "Mormon Helping Hands" service project. Our ward and two others were to help clean up Almaden Lake Park. Just under 300 volunteers showed up and mass confusion followed. But as we put on our bright yellow vests, a sense of duty and purpose swept through the crowd. After 20 minutes of posing for group pictures (camera difficulties), we split up to take care of three different areas. Elder Serat and I went for the man-made beach to remove the heaps of driftwood that had collected there.

It's always good to do some real work outside. Especially when you spend all day every day walking and talking to people. Not much of a work out there.

But of course I'm exhausted and sore today.

Have a great week. Even though I tell you to have a great week every week, I really do mean it. Do it.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Golden 05/03/2010

Dear Family,
Every few months I realize that I've slowly stopped saying prayers for help in different parts of the missionary work, and have fallen into the trap of running on autopilot for certain proselyting activities we do. We made sure to pray before going to a large park to talk to people. Here's what happened:
While walking through the park with a glass bottle of lukewarm Coca Cola in my hand (a reward I received earlier after helping a Latino family put up a large canopy for a birthday party barbeque), Elder Serat and I came upon a girl sitting alone at a picnic table. She was in her early twenties, texting on her phone, and obviously bored. She agreed to hear our message.
20 minutes later, she prayed with us. Then she prayed again and this time, at our request, she asked Heavenly Father if the things we had shared are true. After the prayer, she said, "Yeah, I think that's all true." So then we asked, "Will you follow the example of your Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the authority of God?"
She paused a moment. "Yes," she said.
I continued, "Well, we're going to be holding a baptismal service on May 22. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that date?"
"What day of the week is that?"
"A Saturday."
"Yeah, I think that works with my schedule."
The best part about this is that she didn't seem crazy. We'll find out how committed she will be when we tell her about the different commandments you promise to follow at baptism, but for now she's very positive about it all. Man, I got to stop forgetting to pray before each activity we do.
On Saturday evening we were reminded of the generosity of the members of the church towards missionaries. A generosity that at times can turn into fierce competition, and sometimes even violence.
To earn funds for trips for the youth, the ward put on a chili-cookoff/cake-auction. It was good chili, not much else to be said there. But then the cake auction started. About 20 homemade cakes lined the stage. About 2 minutes into the auction, Sister Hall came up to us and asked us which cake we would like her to get for us. We were grateful for her offer, and yet somehow a little hesitant to accept it. As we were talking to her, Brother Hunter comes up to us, slaps a $20 bill on the table and says, "There you go, Elders. Buy yourselves a cake." Strangely, we had just read that morning the section about not accepting money from anyone in the Missionary Handbook. Handing the money back, we decided to take Sister Hall up on the offer, saying that any chocolate cake would be fine.
The first few cakes were auctioned off at an average price of $20. During that time, 3 or 4 other people came up to us and offered to buy us a cake. Though tempted at the chance to get 4 or 5 cakes, we told them all thanks, but that the Halls were already doing that. Big mistake. Now that everyone knew that Brother Hall was trying to get a cake for us, they all bid against him, driving all the prices up. The cakes went for $30, then $40, then $50, which was the highest price they would allow a cake to go for. $50 was too much for Brother Hall, but you could see the frustration that he couldn't get a cake. Finally he shouted out "Fifty dollars!" for a German Chocolate cake. "Fifty five!" came a voice from the back.
From then on the prices went crazy. Eventually the last cake went for $130. Many were kind enough to give us a piece of their cake. Brother Hall never got a cake. The good news is that the youth will be able to afford the solid-gold clubhouse they've been saving up for.
All this stuff happened on Saturday. Imagine how action-packed a mission must be when this is only 1/7 of what really happens!
Take care everyone. I'll talk to you on Sunday. How would you all feel if we took that hour on the phone and read the Old Testament together? Anyone?
Love,
Elder Karlsven

Friday, April 30, 2010

Charleton Heston 04/26/2010

Dear Family,

There's a certain type of person that just likes to talk. They will talk about anything. And they will talk for hours on end. There's no real purpose to what they are saying, and they have no direction they are going with it. They just like to talk. Robert was that type of person.

We first met Robert at Almaden Lake Park. Elder Serat spotted him about 50 yards away looking at us and smiling. We went to talk to him. After getting to know him a bit, we scheduled a time to come teach him the first lesson. He was thrilled at the prospect. Meeting a few days later at the same park, we sat down on a bench with Robert and began teaching the first lesson.

There's a section in Preach My Gospel about listening. Mostly it talks about how listening and understanding is more important than speaking. Then they add in a little bit about people that will tend to dominate the conversation and keep you from teaching. All the advice given there is "You will need to learn how to tactfully take control of such situations."

Robert was kind enough to listen to us teach about Heavenly Father and how the Gospel blesses families. He even gave good, brief answers to our questions. Elder Serat began to teach about prophets.

"...prophets are given authority from God to.."

Robert interrupted, "Have you guys ever seen 10 Commandments." We nodded.

He continued, "That Charleton Heston is a great actor. His voice. His demeanor. It's wonderful, and I just love the way he..."

He went on about Charleton Heston. Now, as many of you know, I would be the last to stop someone from praising Charleton Heston, but we had a lesson to teach. I tried to swing things back:

"Yeah, Robert, Charleton Heston is a great portrayal of the greatness of those called to be prophets. Prophets teach about the gospel of Christ, which is..."

He interrupted again, "And what about Planet of the Apes? You ever see that one?"

I don't know how we did it, but we finished the first lesson, invited him to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true, come to church, set up a return appointment, and invited him to be baptized, all in under 45 minutes.

Alright I got 34 seconds left on this computer. Have a great week. I love hearing from you. Keep praying and doing what's right.

love,

Elder Karlsven

Soy Sauce Ice Cream??? 04/19/2010

Dear Family,


I don't have a lot of time. Or rather, no time. So I'll try to be quick.


Yesterday we went to the Bishop's home to share a lesson with his family. We were teaching about the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy. Using mint chocolate chip ice cream to represent the good things we do on the Sabbath, we began the lesson. Family time, rest, church, spiritual things were mentioned as blessings of the sabbath. We then talked about some things that are good on other days, but not the sabbath - work, sports, too much tv, etc. As we did so, we put toppings on the ice cream that would be good on food other than ice cream - soy sauce, seasoning salt, ketchup, mustard. We then invited them to try it. The whole family recoiled as we waved it around toward each of them. Their 13 year old son, Thomas, said he wanted to try. The second it touched his mouth he ran to the kitchen to spit it out. This will be a lesson he will not soon forget.


Any other ideas for teaching gospel principles with food would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Have a great week, everyone. This week, I encourage you to give one high-five a day to someone that tells you something good they did.


Love,


Elder Karlsven

We Don't Need No Stinking Badgers 04/12/2010

Dear Family,

Our High Priests Group Leader's name is Hugh Hall. The other day, after speaking with Brother Hall, Elder Serat asked me in his Haitian accent, "Is his name really Yue Hall?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Really? Does he own that?" He asked.

"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked.

"Does he own that business?" He asked.

"What?"

"Uhaul, does he own that?"

"Ohh! No, I don't think Hugh Hall owns Uhaul. But we could ask him."

"Yeah, let's ask him."

Communicating with a missionary from another country can be frustrating at times, but it always leads to a lot of funny moments like this one. The trick is to make sure that you both understand how to laugh. Making your companion's bed once in a while is always a good idea too.

If Becky is posting this on the blog, I'll give a shout-out to Eric Petersen because a new missionary, Elder Badger, read my blog after being referred by Eric. I told him in my best Cheech impression that in this mission "we don't need no stinking Badgers."

Also, it turns out that Sister Bushman in the Almaden ward was companions with Sister Richardson on their missions in Japan. I can't remember Sister Bushman's first name or maiden name, so hopefully Sister Richardson knows who I'm talking about.

Anyway, I'm doing well, staying energized about working and talking to people. I'll be staying in the Almaden ward for at least 6 more weeks. No complaints. President Jackson said today that "those who don't ever run full speed during the race usually run out of gas at the end." It was obviously a made-up story about a cross-country race, because I know from personal experience from being on a high school cross country team that when I ran full-speed early on, I was usually keeled over two thirds of the way into the race. But still, the message was clear:

Being able to work hard is largely just making it a habit. Also, never run more than 1 mile at a time if you've just spent 2 years driving a car and eating large dinners every night as a missionary.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

This Lady Means Business 04/05/2010

Dear Family,


About 5 people emailed me asking what conference talks I liked. Oddly enough, I really liked the General Relief Society President's talk. Mostly because she wasn't all smiley the whole time. She spoke and I got the feeling of "Whoa, this lady means business."


Going to the temple and watching General Conference were both great, but along with us moving apartments, it kind of destroyed our teaching this week. I've learned a new definition of accountability having the mission president in our ward:


Accountability (Uh-Kown-tuh-bill-itee): Getting yelled at.


No, just kidding. He doesn't yell at us, just in our direction. But always we all end up laughing. This morning eating breakfast at President Jackson's house he pulled out an old journal from his mission as a 19 year old. He read a few excerpts from it. In every entry, his girlfriend Dorothy was mentioned. As he read out loud the stories, he would burst out laughing and keep laughing to tears before being able to read to us what happened that was so funny. He would finish the story and we would all feel obligated to at least laugh a little bit.


I'm glad that I learned early on that a journal is not a record of meals eaten and daily routines ("Today I got up, showered, had breakfast, studied, then visited some people. It was a good day" = Lame.) But I don't know, maybe those things will be more interesting 30 years down the road than contests we have on who can make the other laugh first while sharing a message after dinner with the "old" couple in the ward.


Until next week.


Love,
Elder Karlsven

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Temple Trip 04/01/2010

Dear Family,

This week was our semi-annual mission trip to the temple. They made that day our Preparation day, so of course we didn't have time to email. The temple is the most peaceful place to get clarity of mind and think about things. I love it.

We got a ride to the temple with Brother Daily in the ward. He picked us up in what he calls "the Lord's taxi." Good man.

Okay, I got to go. The Assistants somehow roped us into helping out in a move. The have a "good cop, bad cop" technique down pretty well. They call us, and we never know if it's going to be the nice, apologetic, complimenting missionary, or the demanding, cut-throat, angry one.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

St. Patrick's Day Fiasco 03/22/2010

Dear Family,


Every so often you have a run-in with someone or something possessed with the spirit of the devil. Most of the time these come in the form of little yappy dogs. On this particular occasion (St. Patrick's Day) it was two little girls:


I was with one of the Spanish-speaking Elders, working in his area. He has not been feeling so confident with speaking in Spanish. It was easy to help him with this. We went in an area of town where the majority of people don't speak more than 10 words of English. I would go up to someone. I began speaking. With words or a confused look, they say "No English." Then I close my mouth and look at the Spanish-speaking missionary.


We began to knock on doors of apartment buildings. This was really refreshing after working in an area with no apartments for the past 3 months. We were on the second floor, and these 2 little girls yelled up at us.


"Hey, what are you guys doing!?" One shouted at us.


We shouted back something like, "Looking for someone to be baptized!"


A few seconds passed. The same girl shouted, "Hey, are you wearing green?"


I looked down at my tie. Oh crap.


"You're not!" She yelled.


They both promptly ran up the apartment stairs toward us. We looked around anxiously looking for an escape. There was none to be found.


"PINCH!" Each said as they pinched each of us on the arm.


Humiliated, we returned to the car and sat there for an hour, both too ashamed to even look at one another. The memory of that menacing little girl's voice continues to rob me of sleep.


Love,
Elder Karlsven

Mission Stats 03/15/2010

Dear Family,


As a mission we had a goal to talk to 20,000 people this week. I talked to more people this week than I have any other week of my life. Interesting facts learned:
-White people were no less receptive than those of any other race, except Latino.
-Most people are more likely to take a business-card for the church than a pass-along-card.
-Surprisingly, Iranians here are in abundance, and are more likely to be a Christian than any other religion.
-2 out of 3 times that we went to the Costco parking lot we got a free lunch.
-100% of the people that wave signs for Subway or Little Caesars on the side of the street are church-going Christians.
-Groups of people of 3 or more are more likely to stop and talk to you than individuals or couples.
-No one ever wants to talk to you after they just talked to the Girl Scouts.


It was kind of a downer week. We lost 2 investigators. One wasn't really interested in taking the lessons, and the other got pressure from his family to not meet with us again. But church here always, ALWAYS without fail brightens the day. Before we even went in the building we got a referral from a member. During church we got 2 more. To put this in perspective, other wards I've been in have given maybe one or two good referrals in a month. And that's a good month.


Take care.


Love,
Elder Karlsven


P.S. Elder Serat has not found out any more about his family in Haiti. He is emailing the mission president there (who he used to play basketball with) to find out more info.

Derise and Sanka Together Again! 03/08/2010

Dear Family,


In every email I got it was requested that I tell more about Elder Serat. So here's the basics:
-Elder Serat is from Haiti, from the city of Port-au-Prince.
-He has not gotten much news from his relatives there on how they are after the earthquake.
-His mom lives in Florida
-He is fluent in English and has lived in the U.S. for 2 1/2 years. He initially learned English from watching Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.
-He is 5'8" and can dunk a basketball.
-He made friends with the huge African American man that lived underneath me in Los Altos that tormented us on a daily basis.
-He understands an American sense of humor, unlike many other missionaries from foreign countries.
-He can do an adequate impression of our mission president.
-Imagine a Haitian Derise (from Cool Runnings) and you got it. Since I could easily be described as a white Sanka (also from Cool Runnings) we get along wonderfully.


We had fun on Sunday. Our Relief Society president invited us to help out at the beginning of Relief Society. I love coming as a special guest places. The young women were there too. They asked for everyone to stand and recite the Young Women's theme. Standing there, I wasn't sure whether we should just smile or try to fake like I knew it. We then got to sing "As Sisters in Zion." Nice. Everyone had a good laugh at all that and that we needed a third priesthood holder to be with us there as a chaperone. Despite all this humiliation, I'd jump at the chance to help out in Relief Society again.


Not much other news this week. Does anyone know how Zoram Quintana is doing? I've been worried about that guy.


Oh yeah, and I have a new email address. The mattkarlsven@myldsmail.net address will be shut down in a couple weeks, so send all email messages to matthew.karlsven@myldsmail.net. Thanks.


Love,


Elder Karlsven

New Companion 03/01/2010

Dear Family,


This weekend several 16-18 year olds in the stake went with us missionaries on mini-missions. It was a lot of fun, they even said so, even though I think most everyone was dreading it for some reason. Our bishop asked the 2 boys that went with us how it went. One said, "It's intense." Our bishop was impressed. Earlier that day we drove by a regular blue car and the same boy said, "Whoa, that car is intense." So yeah, he's got to learn some more adjectives.


Elder Valencia got transferred this morning to Santa Cruz. It was really sad to see him go - he was the type of companion I could work with for 6 months or longer and have no problem with it, so 3 months didn't seem long enough. This is the first time I knew who my companion was going to be before the day of transfers, possibly due to some sneakiness on my part:


We were in a meeting with the stake presidency and high council yesterday with our mission president. I knew all the missionaries coming into the stake except who my companion would be. I was reporting this at the meeting: "All these incoming missionaries are great men We are also getting a new missionary in the Almaden ward, but I have forgotten his name," and then I looked at the mission president to fill us in.


Irritated, President Jackson's booming voice filled the room, and it was directed at me.


"You didn't forget who it is because I never told you who it is."


He paused a moment, and then told us who it would be. Elder Serat, from Haiti. Sweet! He was the one that replaced me in Los Altos. I've heard he works hard and can dunk a basketball. A double-threat. I'm sure it will be a blessing being with him, for one because he can update me the progress of people in Los Altos we both worked with. You see, when I left Los Altos, I couldn't help but feel like the 7 1/2 months there were a waste and my efforts there didn't really affect more than 1 or 2 people. Don't get me wrong - I'm really grateful for those 1 or 2 people - but the area seemed a lot worse when I left it than when I came. So far I've found out that one person we taught went from thinking Joseph Smith is a scoundrel, to bearing testimony of the church, and Ben Prudence (the one we baptized there) will be going to the temple soon. Awesome.


Happy Birthday to Dad. It's still weird to think that he will be 60 this week. That seems like "grandpa age" to me. But I guess he actually is a grandpa, so it's cool.


Love,


Elder Karlsven

New Found Respect for Elder Scott 02/22/2010

Dear Family,


The high point of this week was Elder Richard G. Scott (Apostle) spoke to our mission at a meeting Saturday morning. Before he began, he had each missionary shake his hand, introducing themselves and saying where they are from - city and country.


"Elder Karlsven. Provo, USA"


He greeted me, and what was impressive is that he pronounced my last name perfectly - not "Karlston" or "Carlson," but "Karlsven." Immediately I had respect for this man, even though he was probably 5 foot 5.


The central point of his comments was this direction: Choose a good wife and choose her fast.


Towards the end of the meeting, he gave us about a half an hour to ask him questions. I'm sure our mission president was worried about the caliber of questions being similar to those asked of the last general authority that visited our mission. The first question of that meeting was "What's the church's stance on dinosaurs?" I think the response was something like "Stay away from them. Especially the carnivores."


Unfortunately I was sitting in the back, and we ran out of time before any of my soul-searching questions could be answered by Elder Richard G. Scott:


"Do robots go to heaven?"


"What's the 'G' stand for in your name?"


"What about a robot with a human brain?"


"Will you autograph my White Handbook?"


"What's the church's stance on cavemen?"


It actually was a really good meeting. The more I learn and think about it, I realize how in tune with the spirit the general authorities are, as well as how demanding and exhausting their callings are. I don't know how those old guys do it - I can barely stay awake in church meetings after a long day.


Thanks again for all the support you all give me. I'm doing great. Either I'm really lucky, or you guys are praying for me and for the work. Seriously, thank you.


Love,
Elder Karlsven

Cheating on Missionaries? 02/15/2010

Dear Family,


Alright, it's been proven. Missionaries can be categorized in the "super-hero" section in the encyclopedia. My proof: Missionary action figures. We were helping out at the community center here and one of the workers gave us 2 of them she picked up at an LDS store in Las Vegas last weekend. Awesome.


We went to an old folks place on Tuesday. One of the workers set up a big sound system with a couple keyboards hooked up to it. Needless to say, all the 70+ year olds there are now very familiar with songs about the food pyramid, and the songs from Nacho Libre. We concluded our performance with "Nearer My God to Thee" with a Euro-dance beat going. They clapped enthusiastically after every song, even at the beginning when I was just fooling around with the different sounds on the keyboards. This was one of the few times when I could say "You've been a great audience" and mean it.


Okay, I'm sorry to say it, but some people we teach are just weird. I won't go into detail about the weirdest ones, but I will tell this story:


We have been teaching John (name has been changed) for a few months now. He comes to church weekly, but has some changes to make before he can be baptized. We invited him to a baptism on Saturday. He showed up, but accidentally wandered into another ward's ward party. We found him talking to several members of the other ward and their missionaries. This was very surprising because David, I mean John, is usually very shy and keeps to himself.


We went over to him and directed him to the baptism. He came, enjoyed the baptism, and went home shortly afterward.


Elder Waiwaiole, of the other ward, came to talk to us a few minutes later. "How do you two know Dav..John?" he asked. We told him he has been an investigator for a while. His face went blank. He then told us that they found a record for him in their area book and had began teaching him each week for the past month. He had also attended their ward for the past 3 weeks as well. At this same time, we had been meeting with him weekly and he has come to our ward also. He had not said anything about us to the other missionaries or anything to us about meeting with them. He also acted like he hadn't been taught anything about the church when they first met him.


See what I mean? Weird. But hilarious too.


Have a great week, everyone. Enjoy the Olympics. I can't believe I'm missing them, even though snowball fighting hasn't been accepted as an olympic sport yet.


Love,
Elder Karlsven

Note: Matthew did not have a chance to write an email for the blog on 02/08/2010

1 Degree of Separation from Steve Vistaunet 02/01/2010

Dear Family,

I'd say about half of the members in the ward here have lived in Provo at some point or have relatives there. The first sign of this is when, after I tell them I'm from Provo, they ask "Where in Provo?" I tell them, they know exactly where I'm talking about, and then they ask, "Do you know the _________ family?"

The answer is almost always "no." Even if they are within a quarter of a mile of our house, they could be in another stake.

I met a couple yesterday that lives in Oak Hills in Provo. They told me their exact address, and I asked if they knew any of the people I know in that area. They didn't. I then mentioned that one my friends there bought a giant bus. Their faces immediately lit up.

"Yes, we know them! They live across the street from us!" Then the husband's face went dark and he said that the only time he talked to them was when some band was playing at their house and he went over and told them to turn it down. I chose not to mention that that bus was used for our high school band, Radical Milhouse.

This week I was teaching with our recently released bishop, Bishop Hayden. He's the type of guy that always has a smile on his face, but somehow seems genuine at the same time. I was impressed the first time I met him when we came to his house without warning. He gathered his family to hear us, and when we asked him to call a less-active member he barely knew he said, "Sure I'll do that right now," instead of "Yeah, I could do that. I'll call you in a week or 2 to tell you how it goes."

As we sat down together to teach, we began the regular conversation.

"I'm from Provo," I said.

"Oh, do you know..." he began to ask. Of course I don't know your friend from 20 years ago at BYU, I thought.

"...Steve Vistaunet?"

"Whoa. Yeah!"

It was difficult to continue teaching the Plan of Salvation after that connection was made. Pretty sweet. (Vistaunets, I'll trust you to not tell certain stories from my pre-mission life. As far as I know, Bishop Hayden still trusts me as a missionary and we're trying to start teaching a couple friends of theirs).

We had a great week. 4 new investigators. All of them are friends or family of members of the ward here. First off, one member had us over for steak and twice-baked potatoes, after which we taught his wife the 2nd lesson at the request of their missionary son.

Next, we were sent to a friend that a member goes walking with pretty often The first visit they invited us in for dessert. We came back a few days later, and now are teaching their son.

Last of all was this Saturday. We were invited by the Halls for lunch. They invited 2 less-active members and 2 non-members for lunch with us. After lunch, we taught everyone the Restoration lesson.

Somehow, eating and teaching go together. We're considering making that a requirement that a meal must be served before any lesson we teach. We'll see how that offer goes when we are knocking doors.

In conclusion, the ward here is awesome, and a connection with the Vistaunets makes them that much cooler.

Have a great week. Thanks for your continued prayers that I will meet people out here that know people in Provo.

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Origins of Tracting 01/25/2010

Dear Family,

After so much searching, we finally found it! That's right, we finally discovered where the word "tracting" for knocking on people's doors came from. Or rather, we have 2 theories that come from long-time members of the church:

1. Church pamphlets used to be called "tracts." So when a missionary would hand out these "tracts," it was called tracting.

2. A group of houses was called a "tract." So knocking on the doors of such a group was called "tracting" or "housing."

The second theory came from a member of the stake presidency here. The first came from a guy who was really really old. You decide which has more authority on the subject.

The other day as we were doing some "housing," I saw an older man across the street. I greeted him. He walked over to us and began a lengthy explanation of why the world is going to the dumps, citing several examples. After 10 minutes (and I still didn't have any clue why he was telling us these things) he let us on our way. We knocked doors for about a half an hour and were walking back toward the man's house. He was in the front yard, and Elder Valencia jokingly said we should hide behind some bushes to avoid him Sadly, we didn't do this, and the man came over and said, "I wanted to tell you one more thing." He then took 15 minutes to tell us about 50 more things, among which were several Biblical ways to practice birth control. It was surprisingly informative, but still intensely uncomfortable.

As we drove away, I wondered how many people see us to be as crazy as we saw this man.

I am running out of time here, mostly since there's a new manager at the Apple Store who earlier asked me, "So what's it going to take for you to buy a laptop?" I struggled to not reply with "I think it's pretty obvious to see that I'm broke."

One interesting thing that happens when all your time is devoted to sharing the gospel - you constantly think of ways to apply everything to be used in missionary work.

We were washing our car the other day - "We should do a free car wash with free church videos!"

We met a graphic designer in our ward - "Oh, would you like to make some fliers for the next fireside?"

An older lady quilts - "Let's do a quilting night and invite our investigators!"

We heard about the Tiger Woods stuff - "Hey, we could go golfing with non-members and teach them the Law of Chastity at the same time!"

I'm really not sure what I'm going to think or talk about after my mission. I'm planning on most of the things I say to begin with "Back when I was on my mission..."

It's been great to hear from a lot of you this week. Have a great week, and remember, never trust a missionary over 30 ( or under 60).

Love,
Elder Karlsven

Advice From Stephen Colbert 01/18/2010

Dear Family,

Sister Hunter, the wife of the Oakland Temple President, spoke in our stake conference yesterday. One thing she said that stuck was "there are no coincidences in the temple." On Saturday Elder Valencia and I got permission to drive up to the temple to see a man that he taught get his endowment. While in the temple, I saw about a dozen people from different wards that I've served in.

It often takes a second for them to realize who you are when you are dressed in white and not wearing a missionary nametag. I saw the Salinas 1st ward bishop and the Los Altos bishop along with several other members. It was a good way to sort out which ones I will keep in contact with. Those are the ones who when they saw me said, "Hey, Elder Karlsven!" The rest said after a moment, "Oh, hi Elder," (obviously forgetting my name) I plan to send each of the latter a chain letter.

I am SO tempted to bring a hidden camera along when we go knocking doors. This weeks best one was an old man with a big beard and an English accent who yelled, "I don't believe in fiction! There is no God!" and slammed the door. The funny thing was that we were just asking for any extra canned foods he had to give to a local shelter.

I haven't been able to use it successfully yet, but by applying the wise words of Stephen Colbert, a tracting approach I've used goes like this:

"We wanted to get your opinion on something. The Book of Mormon (hold up a copy of it). Do you think it is 1. A great book about Jesus OR 2. THE GREATEST book about Jesus?

Elder Hinckley of the Seventy (President Hinckley's son) presided at stake conference. He remarked that the number of young missionaries are down mostly because people are having less children. I'd like to take this time now to rebuke those few friends of mine that have returned from their missions and are not yet married with twins on the way. He also asked for more senior missionaries. Apparently they are the most coveted missionaries of mission presidents. His advice was to fill out your application saying that you are broke and have several medical problems, and they will send you somewhere nice in the United States.

Anyway, I've reached the unwritten time limit here at the Apple Store - it is measured by the glares of workers I can see in the reflection of the monitor, and how often they ask if I need any help. Right now the glares are about every 8 seconds and increasing, and they've asked 4 times so far.

I'll be in Almaden with Elder Valencia at least 6 more weeks. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Have a great week. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Monday, January 11, 2010

Conducting Lessons 01/11/10

Dear Family,

I'm blown away that Weston is already talking. Still, of the words mentioned that he can say, I don't think "gwamma" counts. I think "gwamma" is actually a certain cut of meat served with curry in southern India. Ask him if that's what he's talking about.

Yesterday was the Outgoing Missionary Fireside where the missionaries going home give their testimonies with several musical numbers as well. The best part about this meeting is that at least 3 or 4 people investigating the church make the decision to be baptized after attending it.

It was my job at this meeting to conduct the music. The chapel was filled and most of the gym in the back was filled with people as well. Remembering the example of the chorister in the Hollister 1st ward, I put on a big smile and prepared to sing energetically while leading the opening hymn. What I didn't realize was that from where she was sitting, the pianist couldn't see my waving arm. The first verse went alright, but as I began the second with an enthusiastic down beat, I suddenly heard my own voice singing...alone.

Apparently most people follow the sound of the piano, and not the person conducting the music.

There's not much else to mention for this week. We're getting back in touch and teaching all our investigators after the holidays when most of them were on vacation or didn't have time to meet. No new words of wisdom from Elder Karlsven this week. But when you get the chance, share your testimony with someone sitting with you on the ski lift. Some members told me they did that this weekend. Don't be afraid to begin with dad's classic line, "So, where you from?" Then, of course, end with "y'all come back now, but send your friends to Colorado." Take off your reflective goggles and look at them with crossed eyes as you ski away.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Tracting in the Dark is Scary 01/04/10

Dear Family,

It gets dark around 5:30 or 6 pm every night this time of year. Around 6:30 a few days ago, we were knocking some doors. Elder Valencia and I came to a dark doorstep. As we stepped onto the porch, no motion sensor lights came on, so we were looking for a doorbell. As we were searching, the porch light flicked on and the door opened. It was an older Hispanic woman just heading out. As soon as she saw 6 foot 7 Elder Valencia, she got a frightened look on her face and began to scream loudly, and in short intervals several times.

"AAAAH! AAAAH! AAAAH!"

She quickly went back inside and shut the door. After a moment, we controlled our laughter and decided to knock on the door. We heard her on the other side of the door.

"AAAAH! AAAAH! AAAAH! What do you want!? What do you want!?"

"We don't want anything."

"WHO ARE YOU!?"

We told her who we were and she cracked the door open.

Again, she lost it, "What do you want!? AAAAH! AAAAH! AAAAH!"

"Ma'am, CALM DOWN," I said. She finally went silent.

We gave her a card to get a Together Forever DVD and left.

I'm very impressed with the members of the ward here. I'm learning a lot more about sharing the gospel than a lot of them are after our visits. Often I've seen how when an older couple has lived in the same place for decades, they lose hope and enthusiasm for missionary stuff. Not so here. Many 70+ year olds here in the ward have more energy and hope for the work than many of the young missionaries.

I hope you all had a happy new year. I remember how weird it was to think I would finish my mission in 2010. It hasn't gotten any less weird.

Oh yeah, and I thought that was a really cool gift Dave gave to the family, doing the genealogy for Dad's side of the family. Thanks, Dave!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Mmmm...Banana Cream Pie 12/28/09

Dear Family,

The biggest Christmas-time tradition I missed this year was skiing on Christmas Eve as a family. But all the feelings of loss from missing that were forgotten when the Davis's here called Mom and Dad and got the recipe for my favorite holiday dessert - banana cream pie. It was almost as delicious and artificial as I remember Mom's to be.

On Christmas day, we had 3 huge meals in 6 hours - 2 of which came with homemade butter syrup (much like the kind they have with the Magleby's Fresh waffles). The expected stomach-bulging pains came and went. Totally worth it.

2010? The biggest concern about the new year is whether we will call it "Two thousand Ten" or "Twenty Ten." Whenever I say "Twenty Ten" it sounds like how they would say it in a bad science fiction movie taking place in the future. I don't like it.

I've never been one to make new years resolutions, and now as a missionary I will continue to not make any. However, I really am excited to continue inviting the children of Heavenly Father, our brothers and sisters, to Christ. No, seriously, I am. I remember reading the words of one of the apostles telling us that our love for others is rooted in the knowledge that they are our brothers and sisters.

This love can quickly be lost after knocking on people's doors for as little as 10 minutes. "A lot of our brothers and sisters are jerks," I remember telling one of my companions I was with.

Yesterday as we pulled up to a circle of extremely large houses, I feared that the Spirit would be quickly lost after knocking the first few doors. Before we knocked on the first door, Elder Valencia and I prayed together. I prayed that we would remember that these people are our brothers and sisters, and to not lose love for them or get angry while we knocked on their doors.

On this circle of houses lived several very rude and presumptuous people - slamming doors, accusing us of bigotry, not answering the door and then coming outside when we went to the next house, avoiding eye contact when we greeted them. Most would not even listen to ten seconds of anything we said.

This is why so many missionaries don't like knocking doors.

But this time, I remember standing outside each door with the absolute assurance that the person answering the door is my brother or sister. There was no anger or resentment in my heart or mind when they shut the door. My love didn't diminish as we knocked more and more doors. I really did feel peace. I knew how important of a thing we had to offer these people and they treated it like junk mail. But I also knew that God loves them just as much as he loves me. And I know he loves me A LOT.

Anyway, I just thought it was cool that the prayer really was answered that we would remember our relationship with these people and not get angry. There have been very few times when I haven't gotten at least a little frustrated when people reject our invitations.

Have a great New Year everyone. Don't be afraid to correct someone when they call it "Twenty ten."

Love,
Elder Karlsven