First Baptismal Date!

Guess what? No, I don’t have free cake for you, sorry bout that. No, I didn’t just win the lottery, but you did! That’s right! PICTURES!!
So, the ones that are all snowy, those are from the MTC. I miss those guys like crazy (District 43C FAAAAM!). And the other ones, those are my apartment. The skateboard is another Elder’s, but he had to go home for a little bit. He got the board out here from a member, and couldn’t pack it up, so I told him I would hang on to it until he gets back out!

So, maybe I mentioned this earlier, but I have been perma-sick since I got out. After maybe the first week, I got a dry cough, and then a week ago I got over it. But then, four days ago, I picked up another one, and my throat was on fire for a day or so. Now I’m getting over it, but I’ve been coughing so much I might be developing a six pack, so there’s a silver lining somewhere! But even though I feel like I’m falling apart sometimes (I get these coughing fits every time we go somewhere we have to be quiet, like in meetings), I feel the Lord sustaining me throughout the day. Tender mercies.

Alright, in other news, our investigator B. Tinder is getting baptized on March 5th!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!! We knew from the beginning he wanted to be baptized, but he had his interviews with the bishop and stake president, and they gave him the green light! I’m really happy for him, he’s an amazing guy, and he has come a long way to get to this point. Just being around him, my testimony of the changing power of the Atonement has grown so much.

We have been stopping by the people that the previous Elders were teaching, but every time we go by, nobody is home (or nobody answers the door). We have gotten in contact with one person and are trying to set something up for next week, so we’ll see how that goes. (fingers crossed!)

So, I had an amazing experience that I’m really excited to share with you, but it’s kind of a long story. Not that it’s complicated, but an institute teacher told us a story and it’s a big one. Changed my life, but it happened two days ago and I’m still trying to get all the details of it down on paper, so I’ll have to share it next week. (sorry bout that!)

Well, that’s all I got for this week! Love you, miss you, awesome story coming soon . . .

– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

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Aloha! (Everyone in the mission says that a lot here, even though we’re not in Hawaii)

This week has been just a little slow, it feels like we aren’t seeing lots of results from the work we are doing, but maybe that’s just me having to adjust my expectations a little. When I got out here, I thought we would be teaching lessons every other day and getting baptisms every other week, but that’s just not the case for this mission. The members are amazing and take such great care of us, and are trying to help us find people that we could teach, so hopefully that will start to yield some results.

Maybe I should specify. The WORK has gone slow, but the WEEK went by super fast. It’s crazy to think that I have already been out here for a whole month! Someone said something a while ago that I really like, that “weeks are days, and days are weeks” meaning that if you look back at the end of a week, it seems like things flew by, but if you look back at the end of a day, you can remember so much more that happened, so it seems like you had more time. Hurts your brain to think about, huh? Time is weird, guys.

So, crazy stories for this week, last night we were over at a member’s house for dinner, and they have two cute kids. So, we had burritos with mac and cheese in them, (which is delicious, btw) and at the end Elder Prevette and I decide to teach the Restoration. At the end of the lesson, I’m sharing my testimony and I’m talking about how even though I was raised as a member of the church, I didn’t have my own testimony until I was about 16, and I was sharing with their daughter that she didn’t have to wait until she was older to know that this is true, she could find out now. So, as he is walking us out to our car, he tells us that she is actually his step-daughter, and that she isn’t a member, even though she comes to church. She was ready to be baptized, but a few days before her baptism her dad said he didn’t want her to be baptized. WHAT?! Looking back at it now, I normally wouldn’t have spoken directly to anyone, but I felt a prompting to speak to her about that. I’m grateful that the Lord answered my prayers to help me know what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to.

So, guess what everyone? Still no pictures this week. I know, I know, you want to see what my apartment looks like and the crazy people in our mission, but I still have no way to get them off my camera! It will be here soon, so next week for sure!

Love you, miss you, I love being a missionary,

Elder Ahlstrom

Palaces and Teslas

G. E. W. D. GOOD MORNING Everybody!

*phew* what a week it has been! Just want to start off by saying that I still won’t be able to send pictures this week because, well, I don’t have a way to get them off my camera! *duh* So, as soon as I figure that out, I’ll send SOOO many pictures!

Anyways, we had a lesson with another person that the previous missionaries had been meeting with, he’s an older man and his wife is a member in our ward. So we’re sitting in church after the gospel principles class, and this lady comes up to us and asks if we could teach her husband, and of course, we’re psyched because we don’t have too many investigators since we’re so new to the area. Anyway, it’s the day of the lesson and we get over there for dinner, and they don’t live in a house, it’s a small palace. I almost bowed, but then remembered we weren’t in Buckingham. So, this guy is super smart and is very focused on finding evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, like, factual evidence, old relics and maybe like, the ship that Nephi and Lehi sailed over in, but we were all, “no, just use faith man” and then gave our lesson on the Plan of Salvation, and then challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true, and he said he would! *woot*

After the lesson when he was driving us home IN HIS TESLA (holy crap that’s like driving a house down the street) he said that we had really “opened his mind” and that if he had any questions he would call us, which made me really excited to see how his reading goes!

This week has just been full of so many crazy experiences like that, where things just happen and later we look back and realize that it happened because the Lord is setting people in our path and giving us the right words to say at the right time, and I’m so grateful to be a tool in His hands and to be part of this work. Sometimes it just blows my mind to think that the Lord could have chosen anyone to be where I am right now, and he chose me to come to this area and meet the people that I have, and to do the things I have done.

So, also, it’s my birthday today, and I got some awesome packages from my family, which was so nice! I got a bunch more ties, so now I have things to trade with *woop* and more pictures of my family, and so much candy. We now have a drawer so full of candy that it’s difficult to close (Elder Prevette also got a bunch of candy for Valentine’s day from his fam). So yeah, we’re gonna get fat now. 😀

But this week has been so amazing, I couldn’t have asked to get sent to a better mission. My dad said to not be afraid to share the bad times as well, but, I haven’t had any yet *knock on wood* and I am so grateful for that. I feel like I don’t have a moment that I can spare to be sad here, I’m so busy with being a missionary that I don’t have to worry about myself, and the Lord will help me take care of the rest!

I love you all so much and am grateful all your prayers and support! Love you, miss you, I’ll send pictures soon! (Hopefully)

Also, little side note to everyone who emailed me this week but didn’t get a reply, sorry! We are really short on time this week since we aren’t emailing on pday, and Elder Prevette and I have two lessons today! Wooooooo! I promise I’ll try to write more next week!

– Elder Ahlstrom


Week One – Newport Beach

It’s been great so far! I made it through the MTC, so I must be  able to make it through at least the first 6 months of my mission, right? Yup! The area that I’m serving in is the Newport Beach 1st ward, and I kept hearing from all the other missionaries how lucky I am and how awesome the ward is, and I though to myself, “yeah, maybe they say that about every area?” Nope. It really is all those things. The members are AMAZING and take such great care of us missionaries. We have a dinner appointment every night, and even better, they are all super involved in missionary work! Even (maybe so far as especially) the old people!

But enough about them, let’s talk about my trainer, Elder Prevette. He’s a convert to the church, so he has a super strong testimony, and he even got special permission to have his family come visit so he could baptize them all! He is super chill, knows how to play the guitar and uke, is a rubicks cube MASTER, and knows how to speak Marshallese. He’s pretty great.

So, we get to our apartment, and find out that WE HAVE NO CAR. Normally, that would be fine if we had a normal sized area, but we have a pretty big area to cover, and, we have to cover Lido Isle and the Balboa peninsula, which are hard to get to even if you DO have a car because traffic is TERRIBLE in that part of the city, seriously, I don’t know why people live there. Anyways, long story short, we now have bikes that a member is letting us borrow until our cars get out of the repair shop, which might be a few more weeks.

On the upside, we are getting to know our area really well, which helps us get around easier. And, it helps us to not get fat as fast (because, ya know, members feed us every night and we live around the corner from a Cafe Rio) Ah, California how I love thee!

Alright, story time.

So, my comp and I were walking around trying to stop by some of the member’s homes to try and get to know them before Sunday. So, after taking literally the slowest route to get to this small island neighborhood, we run into B. Tinder. (I can’t use his whole name, but his last name really is Tinder) Now, when you first meet him, B. seems a little wonky. There were notes in our area book about B. Tinder, and as we’re walking down the street, this older gentleman in a black with white stripes track suit calls out to us, “Hello, Elders!” which doesn’t really happen a lot in So Cal. So we stop and talk to him and he’s all, “Hello, I’m B. Tinder! The other missionaries were meeting me, and I’m anxious to hear the third lesson!” So we set up to meet with him after Church on Sunday.

So, Sunday after church, we get to his house and he welcomes us in, and this guy has a NICE house. He’s got an indoor pool right off his living room, and a bunch of paintings on the walls, a nice fire place, a GINORMOUS tv and sound system. So we start talking to him about his life, and it turns out he’s had a pretty interesting life.

He grew up in North Carolina, and his parents had a shaky marriage, his dad was an alcoholic and his mother was a faithful Jehovah’s Witness, so that wasn’t a good recipe for a family. Anyways, he was strong in that church, and eventually joined a Christian commune after high school. Then he met his ex wife, and after a while, the missionaries found them and they were all baptized. He said the main reason he was baptized at that time was because his wife was, and that he never really developed his own faith, just relied on her’s. Well, later on down the road, he developed a smoking habit and was excommunicated for reasons that we didn’t ask about.

After that, he and his wife got divorced and he started to try out lot’s of other different religions, and he then realized that none of them offered the things we did, and he realized at that point what he had lost in his life. Apparently, he’s been meeting with the Bishop for years and working on quitting smoking, and now finally he’s in a place where he can be re-baptized!

He had such a strong testimony, and all his experiences have made him humble enough to have faith in Christ. We’re working towards getting him ready for baptism (I think hes ready now, but, oh well) sometime next month, and he is such a great person!

Well, that’s my story for this week, I’m not going to be able to send pictures until next week because I don’t have my camera with me (oops) but then I’ll send tons!

I love you all, I love being a missionary, and I love the opportunity I have to teach the gospel!

Elder Ahlstrom’s Arrival in California

I made it! So I got on the plane, and our seats were in the very back of the plane. Almost as soon as I sat down I fell asleep, and then half way through the flight I woke up and have been awake since. We landed and were on our way to the baggage claim, and then BAM! We met our mission president, President Orgill, and his wife. The rest of the presidency was there, as well as the AP’s and STL’s. We took some pictures, then loaded our baggage in our cars and drove to the mission office, which is in a double-chapel stake center. It’s like a maze, if you were wondering. There was another Elder, Elder Vaipulu. He came here almost straight from Tonga. He is a little shy, (mostly because he thinks he doesn’t know enough English, but he’s fine). He and I are temporary companions until we meet our trainers later.

I met with President Orgill and found out who my trainer is (haven’t met him yet), and I’m so excited to finally be here! It’s a little weird to look outside and see so much green in January, but that is a nice change from the freezing ice-box that is Provo, Utah. The church building here is so nice, and I can only assume that the members here will be too. (I’m sure they are, but you never know).

Anyways, I’m glad to finally be here, and I cannot wait to meet the people and get busy serving the Lord! I love you all, and I love being a missionary!

Ready to Serve – Leaving the MTC

Boy do I have news for you! President Monson’s grandson is in our junior district! So we got a paper saying what missionaries we would be getting in our zone after our senior district left, and one of the missionaries is Elder Monson, and he looks JUST like President Monson. So we think, “Oh, that’s just a coincidence, it couldn’t be for reals.” So then they get here, and once they were all in their classroom the MTC President and his wife come up to say hi to them, (which never happens, btw). So our whole zone is leaving to go to dinner, and my comp Elder Ross (who is hilarious and blunt) walks up to him and is all “Are you related to President Monson?” and he’s all “Yeah, that’s my grandpa.”

But yeah, that’s a thing. He’s super funny and easy to talk to, and he has a powerful testimony of the gospel. Which makes sense, since he gets letters from the Prophet that aren’t his mission call.

But news about me this week, I leave the MTC tomorrow! (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH) I can’t believe I’m almost done at the MTC! It feels like three days ago I was getting dropped off, and now I’m going to teach people FOR REAL. I’ve learned so much in the short time here, and have been changed for the better, permanently. The Gospel is so simple, and here’s something to make it simpler for all of you.

The Church and the Gospel are two different things. The Church is things like Relief Society, Home Teaching, and the Young Men’s program. They are good, but they cannot save you in the end. The Gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Those things were taught by Christ, and are the things that will save you. If life get’s hard, and the people at Church are being little turds, focus on the Gospel, and the Lord will take care of the rest if you have faith.

I love this Gospel, and am so grateful for the Atonement in my life. I know that because of Christ I can change, and because of the gift He gave me I can live with my family forever. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a Prophet, and that he translated the Book of Mormon through the power of the Priesthood. I love being a missionary and cannot wait to go to California and change lives with this message.
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom