Monday, January 17, 2011


Hola family,
Yes, of course we all thought a lot about MLK day... actually, at the gym in the morning we did glimpse the news playing there that President Obama asked for all to serve someone else in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. So, we did missionary work. Thought that would be appropriate...
The ski trip sounds about normally insane and stressful. Screaming, patience, teaching interesting teenagers to ski and not worry about social image simutaneously... hm, real shame I missed that experience... haha.
This week has been pretty sweet. We've definitely seen miracles. Let's start with last Wednesday. To do that, we need to start last April. A young couple, about 28 years old. Began going to our church just before I got into the area. Wendy's mom, who has been part of the Apostolic church all her life (like 50 years) began going too, estatic that her daughter was willing to go to ANY church. they have been coming just about every week for 8 months. They've been through severe trials - His wife, who is basically incredulous and doesnt have faith in God, during that time began to pray a lot more, and told us for the first time in her life she felt faith in Jesus Christ. Jose read the Book of Mormon during his trials and came out of that experience testifying that the Book of Mormon is indeed scripture, that over and over in the jail he felt God witnessing that it was true. He wanted to be baptized, but Wendy needed to get divorced from a 1st marriage that had dissolved like 10 years earlier. Usually that takes about 2 years. Through miracles, it took 3 months. Alejandra, Wendy's mom, through all this time LOVED going to church, reading, learning, but NEVER wanted to get baptized because she said she was already baptized twice. However, she began to get a testimony of the Church. A family member began to rail on "The Mormons" and said they worship Joseph Smith, dont believe in Jesus, etc. Alejandra in that instant told her sister to stop talking about what she didnt know. "You have no idea what you're saying. I've gone to this church for 6 months now, and WE do not worship Joseph Smith. He was a prophet of God, like Moses and the prophets of the Bible. And he testified of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Savior. WE believe that Joseph just restored the true church." OH YEAH, super sweet. WE believe. She then went to California to visit her mom - while there, her mother died. After the funeral, she announced she would soon be getting baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ. About 30 members of her family, all Apostolic for life, began to argue and try to convince her not to. Through it all, she testified, and told how she felt. Jose also defended the church for 3 hours against all the opposition. They all came back to Utah on Wednesday. We went to console them, then asked about baptism - Alejandra told us what had happened, and announced she'd like to be baptized on SUNDAY. Wendy had a fit - she doubts everything 10 or 20 times - and was yelling "GIVE ME ONE WEEK! THINK about it, a little longer! MOM, what-" and her mom Alejandra said "Quiet, Wendy! Mind your own business! I know this is true, and I have nothing else to think over. I'm getting baptized on Sunday." Someone suggested that Wendy would get baptized in a month, and we should film her reaction that night so we could show her after her own baptism how much she had changed. "I'll never change" said Wendy. We filmed her there in the lesson ranting and doubting and upset at her mom.
Sunday. Alejandra's baptism. A lot of her nonmember family came. Alejandra was super happy. She went down in the water, and the Ward mission leader baptized her. As she came out of the water, she was crying. Sobbing, she embraced the man that baptized her standing there in the font. "Thank you! Thank you!" The Spirit was really strong. We watched a DVD about the life of Christ and His miracles (Finding Faith in Christ, my favorite DVD on the mission). The Relief Society and Presidency testified to her, and welcomed her lovingly into the branch. We talked after - Alejandra said she felt the love of God envelop her as she went under the water. It was different than her other two baptisms. "I know its true." she said.
Then a bigger miracle: Wendy had been behind the scenes, watching the baptism from the steps to the font, ready to help her mom change afterwards. She told us she felt something incredible run through her as she stood there. She said "that was the Spirit. I felt it. I finally felt it." We brought out the camera with the video of her ranting and doubting from 4 days earlier, but she said "please, destroy that. Erase it or something - because I dont think like that anymore. What happened here today, changed my life." Complete change of heart. Her husband Jose looked really happy, because that means he will be able to get married to Wendy, and finally get baptized.
Super sweet stuff. Another investigator that day - Adan, a young man that wanted to get baptized but his parents wont let him - talked to his parents again, and they decided to LET HIM GET BAPTIZED. He was super happy.
I know these miracles are from God. We dont earn them - we try to do all we can to show the Lord we are willing to serve Him, and He blesses us with them. Actaully, they really arent miracles for us, they are for the people we teach. Its just a privelege to be there and be part of them. I know the Savior lives, and loves us. He is the Way. I know that baptism is the key. It is how He taught we needed to fufill all righteousness. To witness we accept Him, and will take upon us His name. That we will keep His commandments, because we love Him. And He promises to send His Spirit, and give us remission of sins. This is the gate. I know from experience that the Lord wants each of us to be baptized and make those promises, and He wants us to do it in His Church, by His priesthood authority. Thats how He did it. That is how His Apostles admintered it. That is how it is done today, in His Church. I have felt the Spirit of God sweetly confirm that 1000's of times while teaching these things in living rooms, sacrement meetings, hallways, in cars, in buses, the street, back alleys - I know this is His Church, and all who sincerely seek that answer, and to humbly know and follow the will of our Father and His Son Jesus Christ do obatin that witness. I love the Savior. I am thankful for these things - that I was allowed to make that covenant, be washed clean, and renew that relationship every Sunday in the sacrament.
Love you all, a lot. Have a wonderful week! Try to get some sleep. Dont crash any more cars. haha
Elder Thelin

ps President Olson is doing the BYU thing today online.
pppps Wisdom is Optional - thats scary....... haha

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Hello Fam! This will be quick! Yup, a lot of news there, don’t worry about the stuff out in the hallways of the house, really, I have come to realize it is easy to clean a living space and absolutely impossible to keep it clean for more than a day, if that. Our apartment suffers...
Mark in Brazil... wow... I am super glad I'm here. I spoke to one man once who said his son was in South America, and hopefully the government would let the American Elders out of prison before his mission ended. Yikes. And here we are, wondering which of all the friendly members might give us a ride or let us move their ward party for a baptism...
Mickey Butt... ok. Our identity stolen by a man named Mickey Butt. Incredible. It could be a movie title...
Speaking of baptism (well now we are) we went to two this weekend. We were hoping to have 2 here, but they didn’t quite make it through. BUT we took them to the baptisms in the other area. Incredible baptisms. Elizabeth has 3 weeks learning about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. She read the Book of Mormon up to Alma in that time - showed us her study journal of notes. Read all the pamphlets the missionaries had, and taught us from them, quoting verses from the Bible and Book of Mormon. Said that she has felt something so powerful in these weeks -The Holy Spirit, filling her with peace, with a vivid testimony that these things are true. At her baptism, we brought a fairly incredulous exchange student here at the university from Chile. He said he felt the Spirit there, and how could he not have? The woman got baptized, then stood and bore testimony of the truthfulness of what had happened. I felt the Spirit so strong as she testified of God, of the Savior Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel.
Also, the next day, Sunday, we brought a man, Javier, who is going through a rough time - A week after that the missionaries found him. At the baptism, a man named Cristian got baptized - young, from Argentina. He too bore solid testimony in front of everyone. The Spirit was so strong. He sat there crying after his baptism, and as we sang he looked so completely peaceful and happy, much happier than at the beginning. Javier said it helped him so much, and he is seriously considering following all the feelings of the Spirit and being baptized.
I love going to baptisms. The Spirit is there, so strong, always. The person comes out of the water, new. Childlike. I love most of all the Spirit that fills those sacred places. As faithful members of Christ's Church stand and bear witness of the truth of the Savior's gospel, the Spirit fills all with a testimony that it is true. After waiting 5 years to be baptized (wanted to repent completely), Cristian turned to my companion in the font and hugged him, thanking him for being willing to serve the Savior and teach him of his gospel, helping him be baptized in His Church. I know that baptism washes the sincerely repentant soul clean of sin. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father, and a ever serving, ever patient, ever loving Savior, who is willing to heal us, guide us, teach us the ways we must come unto Him so that we may be with Him once again. I know He lives. And more than ever I know that this is His Gospel. The truths taught in this Church, by HIS prophets, by the Bible and the Book of Mormon, by His Spirit, are HIS. I have felt His loving hand. I have seen His everlasting mercy heal. I have seen His grace transform a weak and willing servant time and again into an instrument, to guide another to Him, to salvation. I have seen His Holy Priesthood, the same the Apostles of old had, in action, giving blessings, baptizing in His manner and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost as the Apostles did in Acts 8. I have seen the merciful and fullness of Jesus Christ's plan in His holy temples. This is His Church, and I am eternally grateful for all my Savior does and has done and will ever do in my life and the lives of those about me. I know He lives. As we come humbly to Him, and learn of Him through His scriptures and prophets and commandments, we become like Him. I know this is true, because daily I've seen it in action and felt the spirit burning that witness not only in me but in all those willing and faithful enough to seek it.
I love you all! Thanks for the never ending support and love. Thank you for being my family. Love, Elder Thelin
Ps ...just ahead, what was it? a heard of... polar bears?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Hello Family!
Yup, I didnt get the email last week, but thats ok, since we had just been talking to each other. Would have been fun to call on New Years too, but alas, only so much can be done. Glad there was pot banging and all that on new years. We taught lessons, ate dinner with a family from Guatamala and drank a lot of sparkling cider (and the members joking about us needing to be sober for the lessons and stuff, oh yes). Also a new years tradition in Mexico, at midnight you make 12 wishes/desires for the new year. After each wish, you eat a grape and drink some wine (sparkling cider) - each grape is a month of the next year. So we did that - got tired before midnight, we did it at 11, but we tried... not quite as epic as Jeffrey's party probably...
Good job Jeffrey on the gas tank, we (well, I) always forget to fill it before Sunday, so we are left walking more and things like that, dumb...
Here its just COLD, we were at -7 again today. The mountains keep the valley pretty constantly between 0 and 5 degrees. Yes I'm doing better at bundling myself up, mostly because all the ladies in the branch chastise us at every visit if we aren't.
So answering the password security question: "Jeffrey's face is a____________" I remember it comes from him making noise in sacrament meeting, and someone said "you're making a ...." and I said "your face is a...." and I died laughing and couldn't control myself.... What is... a spectacle?
Glad I look 35 to Grandma, people dont say I look 13 now, usually they guess around 20 when I ask. Glad I've matured some... although this morning I propbably regressed: we gathered the zone this morning for transfer calls, and afterwards we all went to a local restaurant called Angies. Angies is famous, because they let you clean "the Sink". This is a small gallon sized sink, complete with the pipes and drain and stuff, that is filled with a gallon of vanilla ice cream, 4 bananas, chocolate, carmel, oreos, strawberries, etc etc etc etc. If you eat it, you get a bumper sticker. I tried. got really sick. Failed. then in the car, an Elder passed some of the WORST gas I've EVER smelled, the Elder to his right was so repulsed that he threw up on the Elder to HIS right, and he TOO had eaten the sink (and succeeded) and well, HE got sick (because duh theres barf on his lap) and HE threw up. I saved mine for the bathroom at home... it was pretty epic, and we all have bumper stickers to remember it by.
I'm staying in Valle Hermoso till February 16th.
I dont have much time (well, in the mission, but also in the family history center). The week went really well. Many miracles, many good friends amongst the members, many evidences that this is the work of the Lord. A young man called us to his member girlfriend's house last night, we went, and he basically said, I've investigated a little, and finally, in THIS church, I feel like I'm in the right, I feel increased love, I feel this is the truth. I know very little about God, and I need desperately for someone to teach me. Please please, could you teach me? I could feel the Spirit there, testifying of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of his complete faith and sincerity. He even offered to pay for the Book of Mormon we gave him!

I have felt the Savior near as I've taught this gospel. I love the assurance that there are two things which can bring the Spirit faster than anything else as I testify: The reality of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer, of His Atonement and love for us, and the power of His Resurrection and Redemption; and two, of how Our Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to prayer and chose him to be a prophet, restore the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, and translate the Book of Mormon. Every time I open my mouth and begin to bear testimony of these things, the Spirit comes quickly, and visibly affects the people in the room. I know these things are true, and by trusting and acting on this, it is the key to happiness and salvation.

I love you all, Elder Thelin

PS The STORY! The claw opened and let the group down in Alaska! The girls shivered, and began to wonder what to do... Holly noticed that Tippy ran ahead to an igloo... and found some sled dog friends...

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Hey Family!
Feliz Navidad to you! Thats CRAZY that its Christmas, I really cant believe it - the Charlie brown music has helped this year to make it feel more like the season though! We've been going crazy as usual, but we're having fun. Planning to go caroling to all the members and investigators over the next few days. We'll see if they still like us after that or not.
Sorry to hear there's so many people that arent feeling well... hope things start getting better, we'll definitely be praying - bummer that we wont be in the temple for another week or two, we always leave names for the prayer roll. Let us know what happens with everyone. I'm sure it'll turn out ok.
You got my mission card? Like, the poster of the mission? I ordered one for like 10 bucks, but maybe they sent a card to you all? The Elder in the wheelchair is Elder Wyatt. He has a severe handicap with his body, and has to be in that position. He is serving his mission in the office. When members call in with referrals, he sends them to our cell phones, and then follows up and tracks their progress. Neat guy. I have a lot of respect for people that accept calls from the Lord to serve in positions like that. Missions dont mean knocking doors and baptizing, it means serving the Lord where He puts you and doing it the best you can. Elder Wyatt is a good example.
The mountains are not a painting. Trust me. It doesnt take 3 hours to walk to the top of a painting, and it doesnt hurt afterwards either.
The chocolate calendars are in! Love em. came just after my decalartion to not eat any more sugar. Then the Magura's package of cookies. dont want cavaties..... still puzzled over the paper chain from the YW, but grateful that someone tried to staple an oreo to it. That made it worth putting on my wall. Thanks for all the packages and Christmas cards and all, you are all great! There isnt much, but I'm sending a package to you all too, it wont get there by Christmas, but be looking for it!
We've had an eventful week - one of my favorite experiences of my mission! Last Thursday our favorite member, Sister Torres, went to the temple for the first time. She's been a member for 6 years. She is single with 3 kids. She has literally been through hell in her life, and had one disappointment after another. I think I wrote about her conversion before, but 6 years ago in Houston, her life was falling apart, she had nothing, and 2 kids to feed and take care of. She told us once she was desperate, and even had some really dark thoughts about taking her life. She cried at night "God, where are you? I've always looked for you, but where are you now?" She left her kids alone in her apartment and ran to the grocery store, and on the way back, in the pouring rain, on a PDAY, 2 missionaries called out, and said "Would you like a happy family?" She stopped dead in her tracks, felt something, invited them to her house, and was baptized that saturday at her own insitence. This woman is basically our mom here, she calls to find out if we are bundled up, or if we're driving when its getting dangerous outside. She sacrifices to feed us even though she's battling to feed her own kids. Amazing. I love her like family. When she walked into the temple, she just cried. All her friends, the branch president, us, the branch - all were there like a family to welcome her there, embrace her (well, for us handshakes). It was the sweetest feeling to see her there overcome with love, and tell how she felt God's presence wrap around her. The missionaries that found her were there. She encouraged us to look forward to that day when we welcome home those we are teaching now. It made the temple crystal clear to me. The temple is about family. It is a visual foreshadowing of that Homecoming when we are welcomed through the veil by the Savior Himself, and then enter in to be greeted with joy by all our loved ones. Beautiful. I love the temple.
Taught a family that speaks Burmese yesterday to pray... using pictures of Jesus Christ and having their children translate... cool...
THE PHONECALL! Well, I'm not sure what time it will be - probably about 1 or 2, so 3-4 your time. I'll call our house first, and if you arent there, Grandma and Grandpas house. They told us we could use skype, but we'd have to go to a members house and all, and I think it would be easier to use the phone. Ha. But let me know if you think it is possible on your end and we'll do it! SWEET!!!!
Anyone else want to write the 100 letters I need to write?
dont forget the reason for the season.
Do something rad for me in the talent show.
pray we dont die from eating too much those 2 days... I'm so glad I'm not sick this year, last year was rough trying to stuff myself and not die...


Hello familia!
Hm, seems like I just saw all of you.... Man, that was really good to be able to see everyone on skype - kind of like a reminder that home is a real place, sometimes it seems like memories of a different life long long ago... I definitely think we passed the 45 minute limit, but its ok. My companion talked to his parents, and each of his brothers and sisters scattered around the US as seperate 45 minute phone calls, so I figured we deserved a few extra minutes. Its weird how everyone looks different too! Everyone looks a lot more grown up (well, the kids anyway, the adults still look the same, ha) After the phone call I felt really good not trunky, like more refreshed. Glad we did it with skype, even though it was pretty hard.

It really was a sweet Christmas. Definitely memorable. Like I said, on Christmas Eve, in the morning, the hermana that just went to the temple for the first time, Hermana Torres invited us to her house to celebrate for a little while with her and her kids. And at the same time as we arrived, the Relief Society President, the Branch President, and the Young Woman's President all came too... we all went in, and after talking for a few minutes, they all sang US a christmas hymn (weird, we usually do that to THEM) and then each took turns saying really nice stuff about us as missionaries, how they felt that they were honored to have two GOOD missionaries in the branch, how they appreciated our obedience and diligence and love for the members and converts, etc. It was sweet, really dont think I deserved half of what they said, but it was a really sweet experience, I could feel the Spirit there, testifying that these people really sincerely love us. And we dont know why, but they pulled out a ton of presents that they had all pitched in to get for us - towels, cologne, shirts, socks, pictures of Christ, ties, you name it. We were super grateful - and later, we came home and once again, someone dropped off like 4 boxes for each of us, blankets and such... and then the branch president came at like 10 pm and had MORE.... we really dont know how to repay them, but I felt completely at home, really like I have family here. We made tamales with a member during the day (I cooked the banana leaves to wrap them in) and went by a bunch of members at night.

Then Christmas morning we had an activity (like I said, it was crazy -throwing eggs at each other, forcing people to eat jalepeno peppers, decorating my face with ketchup and pancake batter... we managed to fit in a reading of Luke chapter 2 in there thank goodness) then the skype call, then we went to Ogden and ate dinner with some recent converts, attended a Christmas baptism, and the had a lesson in Logan at 8 - which was sweet, we met the wife a week ago, and she said her husband might not want to listen, but to come by on Christmas and knock, and she would make a plan to get us in the door. Not sure what the plan was, but we knocked, he didnt really seem like he would let us in, but we said we were helping families remember the reason for Chritsmas, and in the middle of explaining why he couldnt listen, he ended up blurting out "come in, its cold." So we did, and after talking for a minute, we felt impressed to watch Finding Faith in Christ DVD, and the whole family watched intently, and after he said "I feel like I need to follow the Savior more. I talk about Him at our church, but I feel empty sometimes there. We need to follow Him, dont we?" He also mentioned wanting to feel like he "owns" the truth, right now he said its impossible to know which church actually has all the truth. It was a really neat experience. We set up another appointment - also seemed like he was going to reject it, but in mid sentence once again he blurted out "next saturday I'm home..." The wife looked really happy about it. Couldn't think of a better way to end Christmas.
So it was pretty great. And THANK YOU for everything everyone sent! the Maguras sent amazing homemade cookies (the candy cane cookies were the most popular), Aunt Jill and Uncle Dan, the pictures and the family update were great! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the Christmas card and check! Grandma Pat, that little Christmas tree was perfect for the aprtment, and the book, the Subway card, the glowsticks, and the other candy and goodies were awesome! The Smiths - those pears are the best I've ever tasted. And family, of course, thanks for everything - Jeffrey, you're right, the uke is super easy to learn, I love it! I think I'm driving my comp crazy, but we're going to take it to lessons and stuff, haha. The BYU blanket is great, and the pillowcase from the YM/YW is pretty intense. Elder Ruvalcaba loved his too! Thanks a lot for including him - it turned out that his family sent nothing, but the branch went overboard for him, and he had a lot for Christmas, felt a lot of love. He was really grateful that you thought of him too! Forgive me if I didnt think of everything right now, but we are really grateful for everything that was given, mostly that everyone remembers us!

And I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas back east too! It seemed like everyone was in good spirits. Next year we'll do it together!

Any other news? Had a baptism on Sunday - Gloria Wences. She actually got baptized 20 years ago, but under a false name and false ID. She felt like she was lying to God, and has never taken the Sacrament because of it, and went inactive. She came back to church, and wanted to be baptized again under her real name, and do it right - hilarious lady, she was always her interview she began shouting "THE ELDERS JUST WANT TO BAPTIZE ME THEY'RE FORCING ME INTO THIS!!!" Freaked us out, and when she came out of the interview all calm, she told us "Did I scare you? Just kidding." Punk. Almost didnt get baptized because the water turned out to be freezing cold, but she said "I heard my Heavenly Father say "Gloria, get into the water!" so I did." The whole night she shook her finger at me and said it was the gabacho (gringo)'s fault! Gloria. Hilarious lady, but in all seriousness she is really excited to finally be a real member and be able to worthily take the sacrament.
Well, I think that's all for now, the church is true folks! I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God! I know that the Spirit testifies of truth, and we can rely on it. I have seen and experienced promptings of that Spirit for 22 months (well before too) and through them we can get to know the Savior - He lets us know what He would say, or what He would do, or how He feels about people or situations - and then He lets US do it in His name. Love you guys, happy New Year!
Elder Thelin