My Mission

I served as a missionary in Sweden for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from May 1978 to June 1980. I chose to donate my time for two years to bear witness to those I contacted the reality of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, including all he has done in restoring his true gospel on the earth in recent times. Although it was many years ago, I still hold stongly to the purpose and memories of that wonderful experience.

This blog is intended to give an overview of my experiences in Sweden, and to offer to anyone interested further information regarding my testimony of Jesus Christ.

A Call to Serve in Sweden

I knew from an early age that I would someday serve as a missionary. My testimony of Jesus Christ and his restored church had developed over the years, and at age 19 I was ready to serve. I had always been interested in places beyond my backyard, was curious about other languages and cultures, and had a strong interest in Europe. So being called to serve in Sweden was a natural fit.

I received my call just 8 days after my papers were sent in, and I was to report to the Missionary Training Center two months later, on May 25, 1978. To this day, the receipt of calling and report date seems to be one of the quickest I've heard. They must have needed me there without delay.

My missionary service was from May 25, 1978 to June 6, 1980.

Experiences and Conversions

As most missionaries do, I had many faith-building experiences and was able to participate in the conversion of some wonderful people to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I'll recall some of them here.

The first, important conversion was that of myself. I was already strong in my testimony (see My Testimony posts) before entering the mission field, but the entire mission experience served to strengthen me to a deeper level of love and appreciation for, and dedication to, those things I knew in my heart to be true. I was converted to the importance of maintaining a relationship with the Savior and staying true to Him and the gospel throughout my life.

Early in my mission I was blessed to feel His love, while participating in a sacred ordinance. Following the baptism of a girl in the Lulea branch of the Church in northern Sweden, I joined the circle of priesthood holders to lay our hands on her head and confirm her a member of the church, and grant unto her a blessing to recieve the Gift of the Holy Ghost. While this occured, I sensed a strong and very real sensation of warmth around my shoulders, as if someone had their arm on me. I knew there was no standing behind me, but I had a stong feeling that is was the spiritual arm of the Savior, letting me know that I was in the right place, doing what the Lord wanted me to do, and that he would be with me and strengthen me during my mission. It was a powerful experience that even 30 years later I still hold dear to my heart.

More to come...

Missionary Training Center

Although it was challenging, my two months at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) was an exciting and spiritually fulfilling experience. I loved the group of new missionaries I was training with, and loved the teachers. Sister Gerd Bergstom, from Sweden, knew how to bring the right mix of language learning, gospel instruction, cultural understanding, humor and spiritual feelings in her class. I felt well prepared for the task ahead because of her efforts, and those of many others, including Vivianne Englund, Elder Christiansen, etc.

My companions at the MTC were Doug Romrell and Kevin Smith, both from Idaho. We had a great threesome. I was to serve as companions later with two others in our group, known as the Goteborg District, Eric Davis and Kelly Grubaugh. I love them all very much for the great asssociations, friendship and shared experiences.

Cities and Companions

This is a summary of the cities in Sweden I served in, and the missionary companions I served with:

August - October 1978 in Boden.
Boden is a small city in northern Sweden, about 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle. I had expected it to be very cold, with polar bears, etc, because of its location, but when I arrived, I wondered if they had mistakenly sent me south to Holland. Summer and fall in Boden was warm, pretty and green. No polar bears in sight. It is a nice little town. Only a few members lived here that attended the Lulea branch, 45 minutes to the south.

My companion in Boden was Tor Eriksson, from Karlskrona, Sweden. He spoke some English, and I spoke some Swedish, but with a Swede I was given a chance to focus more on learning the language quickly. Tor was a great piano player, somewhat reserved, and reminded me in some ways of my brother Stan.

November 1978 - April 1979 in Vällingby.
Vallingby is a suburb of Stockholm. It has a town center, but is fairly spread out in land area. The first month we lived with an older woman several miles outside of the town center, but then moved in to town in an apartment owned by Sis. Hernelind in the Hasselby area. We attended the Stockholm 1st Ward, with about 10 or so other missionaries.

David Owen was my companion the first 3 months. David was from the SLC area and struggled a bit with being motivated. We both came in as co-area leaders and took the area over from the Sisters, and felt like we were starting from scratch.

The next three months I was in a co-area leaders threesome with Eric Davis from Payson, UT and Daniel Bray from California. This was a great companionship and a lot of fun. We enjoyed singing together. Though I lost contact with them both, I have recently renewed a great friendship with Eric. Eric was in my MTC group.

May - October 1979 in Gubbängen.
Another suburb of Stockholm, I served 6 great months here as District Leader. A beautiful area with a nice little town center and lots of green open spaces. We lived with Brother Wallgren in his townhome just a few blocks from the Gubbangen stake center. We attended the Stockholm 2nd Ward - a good, strong ward with great members.

My first companion there was Randy Richardson from SLC, an energetic newer missionary who had frequent communication with a serious girlfriend who later became his wife. We had some good success, and spent a P-Day with Sis. Bergstrom from the MTC.

My last three months in Gubbangen were with Donald Burdett from California. An artist and a comedian, Don and I had a good time and enjoyed success together.

November 1979 - January 1980 in Gävle.
Gavle is a mid-size city two hours north of Stockholm, and was the birthplace of the first LDS missionary and the first branch of the church in Sweden. I served as a Zone Leader in Gavle - A good, strong branch of the church with great members that made winter and the holidays a great experience.

Although I only served one month with Paul Ruben, who finished his mission here, it was a great month. Paul was fun, inspiring and a great missionary.

The next two months were with Kelly Grubaugh of Oregon, who was in my MTC group. Somewhat shy, Kelly was a dedicated and fun guy to be with. We had some good success and enjoyed serving with some great sister missionaries in Gavle, Cyndi Van Woerkham and Suzanne Redd.

February - May 1980 at the Mission Office in Täby, Stockholm.
In the Mission Office, I served as Assistant to the President, and enjoyed serving with several elders. Although much time was spent indoors, I had great proselyting experience as well, mostly in the Solna area. The experiences of traveling to many areas of the mission for zone conferences and spending time with President Holmgren were choice. It was a great way to finish my mission.

My assigned companion was Robert Nielsen, from Texas. He inspired me with his example and kept me up late in great conversations. I also proselyted with David Burton, Karl-Erik Forsman and Alan Winters - all great men.

President and Sister Holmgren

The Holmgrens: Wonderful people, great leaders, good examples, and loving second parents. They helped make a mission in Sweden a special experience.

More to come...

My Testimony of Jesus Christ

I have a personal witness or testimony of the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my Savior. When I have read, studied, pondered and prayed about Jesus Christ and His gospel, I have had the spirit testify to me that He is real and loves me, and though I sometimes stumble, he is always there for me when I truly seek Him. I am thankful for all he has done in creating this world, providing his commandments and gospel, coming to earth and showing the way, and providing redemption for us all through his sacrifice and atonement.

Once when I was a young man I was blessed to be able to portray him in a seminary open house presentation. I received a powerful witness of who he his and what he did for us all. Later on a mission in Sweden, I felt a strong manifestation of his love for me, as if His arm was around my shoulders. Since then, I have had numerous spiritual reminders of His love and the truthfulness of His restored gospel - our way back home to Him and Heavenly Father.

My Testimony of the Restored Gospel Through Joseph Smith

I have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. From an early age I enjoyed and believed in the prophet's story of the first vision, seeing and receiving instruction from God the Father and Jesus Christ. Visiting the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York where this vision occured at the age of 12 brought the reality of this great event into my heart. As I grew older and prepared for a mission, I received stronger witnesses of the spirit that Joseph Smith truly was called as a servant of the Lord to help restore that which was lost through the centuries, including priesthood authority and the word of God. His dedicated service and leadership, revelations recieved, and sacrifices to include his life provided a firm foundation of faith for all who would accept this greater measure and fulness of the Lord's gospel.

Having today ongoing revelation and guidance from the Lord through his chosen living prophet and apostles, additional Holy Scripture which compliment and clarify the Holy Bible, and the priesthood authority to participate in saving, eternal ordinances is a wonderful blessing in my life, and a blessing I know is available to all who desire it. It is a blessing meant for everyone, but will only be given to those who will open their hearts to it.

See also:
A testimony of an absolute truth: Joseph Smith was a chosen prophet of God

My Testimony of the Book of Mormon

The spirit of God has witnessed to me that the additional Holy Scriptures which were revealed through the restoration of Christ's gospel are also the word of God, as much as the Holy Bible. This includes The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I have read this book several times and my heart has rejoiced in the depth and strength of spirit that has come to me while reading. There is so much in this book which has helped me to understand and have a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

I love the stories of the people who journeyed to ancient America, their lives, struggles and inspirational experiences. I love to read what the prophets who wrote these records offered, adding much to help us understand the meanings of many gospel principles. I love the account of Christ's visit to the people in America after his resurrection in the Holy Land, seeing that he truly is the Savior of the whole world and that his gospel is the same for everyone. I am saddened, yet inspired by the accounts of the personal struggles and sufferings by those who followed the Lord.

The promise of the last prophet who wrote in this book, Moroni, that the spirit of God will confirm the truth of this book of Holy Scripture to all those who sincerely seek to know, has worked for me. I know that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is the word of God.

My Testimony of Living Prophets

I know that the Lord has provided constant guidance and direction for us in our day through living prophets, who have been called directly from God through the power of Holy Priesthood that was restored to the earth. I have grown to love and appreciate the leadership of several living prophets of God in my life. Special feelings that I have had for Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley have helped me to listen to and follow their guidance.

Today's prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has long captured the attention of my heart and spirit. I was fortunate to meet him while serving my mission in Sweden. I love hearing him speak, telling stories of love and offering words of wisdom. I have no doubt that he is a man of God, called to lead the Lord's church in our day.

More to Come....

More blog info is coming on:

Experiences and Conversions

President and Sister Holmgren