Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 26, 2011

Hola,
I hope you all enjoyed Christmas. I sure did! In the morning we only had sacrament meeting, no other classes. We did a special program where we read the Christmas story out of Luke 2 and had people share their testimonies. We also sang Christmas songs together as part of it.



Our branch president is from Ecuador and they roasted a pig, an entire pig, and we ate it. It was pretty good, but also pretty gross. There were times I had no idea what I was biting into and some parts were really chewy, but we enjoyed it.


The best part was talking with our families. It was wonderful to hear everyone's voices and be able to talk for a little bit. The time went by really quickly, but it was definitely the best part of the day.

We visited a family in the afternoon, on Christmas day, and we shared a message with them about the true spirit of Christmas and about how much we have been given. I feel so grateful for my family because it is such a huge blessing. Heavenly Father gave me a great gift when He put me in my family. I am also grateful for the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. I am grateful that He loved us enough to come to the earth and provide for us the means by which salvation can come. He wants us to return to Him with our families. I am also grateful for the gift He gave me when He called me to serve a mission in Spain. This has truly been the greatest experience of my life. I know that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth through the Prophet, Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is true. The plan for our happiness is laid out before us in plainness and purity. The atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ is central to that plan - it puts it all into affect. I know this is true.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

December 19, 2011

Hola,

I'm back to preparation day being Monday. Puertollano is a relatively small place - it's not a big city in size but somehow it fits about 50,000 people. The branch here is tiny, but they are great people. There is one Spanish family, and the rest of the people that come are from Ecuador and Peru. Elder Seely is an amazing missionary. He went to the MTC on April 27 of this year which, if I remember correctly, was the same day that the Elder Fagersten in Arizona entered the MTC - so it's like my litle brother is my companion! Haha. Elder Seely, however, is not little. He's not quite the 6´7" that Elder Taylor was, but he's 6' 3", from Hurricane, Utah, which is down by St. George. We have a really nice piso. It's about 2 minutes from the train station, 5 minutes from the grocery store, and about 10 or 15 minutes to the church.

Here's the address:
C/ Cooperación 5, Planta 2
13500 Puertollano (Ciudad Real)
España

So, with the change in location and companion and climate (it's a lot colder here!) there are a lot of new opportunities here to learn and grow and improve. I'm really grateful to be here.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. I am thinking of you a lot. I hope we can all remember why we celebrate Christmas and that we will remember just how much God loves us.

Love,

Elder Fagersten

December 12, 2011

Muy buenos días,

Well, I have a surprise... I'm getting transferred this week! President Clegg called me on Thursday and told me that I will be going to Puertollano with Elder Seely.
I'm kind of sad that I won't be here for Christmas, but it's okay. On Monday, Elder Manning, my zone leader, told me that the choir in Málaga wanted to do a Christmas program as well, so we just decided we would let them do a program instead of us. We are okay with that because it would have taken a lot of work that we wouldn't have had time for. Elder Thornley, who I am training here in the office, seems a little nervous about taking over after only two weeks, but he will do fine. He learns really quickly, keeps things organized, and gets things done. Also, he can call me whenever he has a question about something, so, he won't need to worry about that.

Transfers always bring about a lot of emotions, a lot of reflection and meditation. I love the people here in Fuengirola. I have learned so much while serving here and have met some amazing people! The Lord has blessed me in so many ways and I feel so grateful for the time that I have served here. I know He lives! I know He loves me! Christmas time is a really special opportunity for us to feel that love and to come unto Him. I know that He appreciates every effort we make to live His gospel. His grace is sufficient to make weak things become strong (Ether 12:27). Because of His perfect atonement He can lift the heaviest burdens and heal the deepest wounds. He has drunk the most bitter cup. And He did it because He loves us. His faith in his Heavenly Father's plan never failed. He has prepared the way for us and He will never, ever give up on us.

I love you all so much.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

December 3, 2011

Hola a todos,

Well, the Christmas season is upon us. It's so exciting!!! President Clegg talked to me on Monday and told me that Elder Thornley is going to be the new secretary. He came this week and now I'm training him. I will be in Fuengirola for Christmas, but after that, I'm not sure. He's a great missionary, really nice and really smart - he's picking it all up fast.

I think I mentioned it before, but President Clegg invited each of us to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas. We are looking for and marking every reference to Christ. The Book of Mormon is FULL of them. It is another true testament of Jesus Christ. I know that with all my heart. If any one wants to feel a deeper appreciation for, and a closer relationship with the Savior, they should read, study, ponder and pray about the message of the Book of Mormon.

Keep smiling! President Clegg often tells us, "You're a lot better than you think you are." And it's true! Heavenly Father loves you so much. You're doing great.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

November 26, 2011

Hola,

We had two new missionaries come this week. They waited for their visas for quite some time, but they finally arrived. La Costa del Sol is staying warm - I think it was about 70 today. Not too bad. It has rained a few times, but not very often. The Primary in the Spanish-speaking ward asked me to accompany them for their program tomorrow. It will be fun.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at the mission home with Presidente and Hermana Clegg. The whole Malaga Zone came for the meal and we had a great time. There were a couple of missionaries from Ecuador and they brought rice, and they were the only ones who ate it. It was really funny. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, green beans, carrots, and, being from Iowa, I brought some corn.



The former Elder Niebergall, now he's just Kyle Niebergall, came and visited with his family! He ended his mission in Huelva with me, and he was the mission secretary before Elder Stoner. It was great to see him.

We have seen and experienced some interesting challenges, but, as always, the challenges give us opportunities to apply the teachings of Christ and draw closer to Him. Elder Taylor continues to be a great companion. We are excited to be together and be in Fuengirola for Christmas (after that, we don't know what will happen).

We are doing well. I am really grateful for you. Thanks for everything. I know that this is God's work. He lives and He loves us.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

November 19, 2011

Hola,

Well, it's almost kind of getting cold here. It is definitely chilly at night time, but it's not as cold as it is there. However, the houses and apartments here are all made of cement and brick and tile, so there is no insulation and central heating is a luxury that few have. Because of that, it feels colder, especially inside the apartment. In Spain there are quite a few Chinese people, and they always have little shops just full of stuff - it's like the Dollar Tree. Anyway, one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Ferguson (don't worry, people never get our names mixed up, haha), showed us that the chinos (that's what we call the stores) have Jiffy peanut butter! That was an exciting discovery.

There is no such thing as Thanksgiving in Spain, but Presidente and Hermana Clegg have invited the Malaga Zone over for a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. We might also celebrate Thanksgiving with our American friend, Brice, and his family. It will be fun.

President Clegg has challenged the whole mission to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas. At Zone Conference, he handed out a paper-back copy to each missionary, in their native language, and invited us to underline or circle every reference to Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon. Then he said, "If you've already done that, underline every reference to the gospel - faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. If you've already done that, underline or circle every time the word "remember" appears in the Book of Mormon." We are all excited to do this study. I love the scriptures. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that it's true - every page, every verse, every word. The Holy Ghost has witnessed that to me, personally.

I am really grateful for my companion, Elder Taylor. He and I have learned a lot together. We've butted heads a little, but we have both grown and learned how to better communicate with one another. Communication and forgiveness have brought us a lot closer together, and it has made a difference in our teaching, in our contacting, in our studies and everything in between. The guidance and companionship of the Spirit is worth every effort we make to align our will with the Lord's and live so that we might merit that gift and promise.

I love my family! I love all of you so much! Love is the great motivating force behind Heavenly Father's plan for our happiness. It was part of the power that sustained Christ as He carried the massive load of our sins and sorrows in order to bring salvation to our souls. He did that because He loves us. He laid down His life and took it up again to provide the path that leads to eternal life and never-ending happiness.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

November 12, 2011

Hola,

Last Sunday we had Stake Conference in Granada. The Granada Stake covers a very large area - from Fuengirola to Huercal-Overa and all the way up to Jaen. It was a great conference and I was able to see a lot of the members from Almeria, my first area! The stake has a lot of missionaries currently serving missions, about 14 or 15 I think. During the conference, they gave time to the returned missionaries from the stake (those who had returned within the last six months) to bear their testimonies. We all felt the Spirit very powerfully as they shared some of the experiences that they had during their time as full-time missionaries. The Stake President, President Muñoz, spoke last. Between the speakers and the musical numbers and everything beforehand, he didn't have very much time to speak, but his message was very powerful. The chapel was full; the over-flow and everything; not an empty seat; probably over 1,000 people there. He began to speak, and after a few minutes he asked all of the primary children to stand up, and for the adults to be silent. All the children stood, and he again asked the adults to be quiet. A reverent silence filled the chapel, then he read, "And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God" (3 Nephi 11:38). The Spirit filled that room. He closed shortly thereafter, but he didn't need a lot of time to communicate that message. The Spirit that we felt filled in for the time that he would have spent talking to us.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's true church. The fulness of the gospel has been restored, along with the authority to teach and administer the ordinances of life and salvation.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

November 5, 2011

Hola,

Well, the week of transfers was CRAZY! We were really busy this week, but it all turned out all right. I am continuing to feel the importance of our time and see the value of planning, setting goals, and filling our lives with worth-while things. Time is going by really quickly.

We visited Carlos and Alexandra this week and we talked about faith. The Spirit was teaching all of us as we read and studied the scriptures, asked questions, and discussed this basic but important principle. The gospel is simple, no matter how complicated we try to make it. Nowhere is the gospel taught more simply and more clearly than in the Book of Mormon. Heavenly Father does not want us to be confused about what we need to know, feel, do, and become. He loves us enough to give us a choice, and by exercising our agency righteously we can prepare ourselves to return to His presence and live with Him again. He has prepared the way for us. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us "the way."

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Pictures!

These are picture from Mijas
1) Brice's leather shop - Elder Taylor is in the red shirt, Elder Stevens in the hat, and Brice is there behind Elder Stevens

2) Suit of Armor

3) La Costa del Sol behind me. That's Fuengirola, over my left shoulder

4) Brice also took us up to his house - these are his two sons Kevin (on the left) and Noel (on the right). His wife, Krisztina is from Hungary, so she speaks to them in Hungarian. Brice is half American, half French, so he speaks to them in French. Brice and his wife speak to each other in English, so the boys understand that and they're starting to speak it a litte, and they go to a Spanish elementary school, so they will grow up knowing four languages.

Monday, November 14, 2011

October 29, 2011

Hola,

Well, this is the last week of the transfer. I am not going anywhere, this transfer, or the next probably. In the office, you have to train your replacement for a transfer before you leave, and since nobody is coming this transfer, I know I will be here through Christmas and the New Year. You will never guess who the new Assistant to President Clegg is.... Elder Ferreira! The same that was my companion in Sevilla. He came on Thursday. It is great to have him around. We all live together, Elder Ferreira, Elder Fetzer, Elder Taylor and I. Now Elder Taylor is the only one whose last name doesn't begin with an "F". There are a LOT of changes throughout the mission! There are 2 missionaries going home, 7 new missionaries coming in, and 32 other missionaries are transferring to new areas. I spent a lot of time today working on those travel plans.

This week Elder Taylor and I finally had the chance to do some service! I'm talking about service where you sweat get your hands dirty. We helped a couple (the Turners) from the English Branch remove the concrete tiles they had for their patio and stacked them on some pallets. Each tile weighed 35 pounds and we removed and stacked 338 of them! It took us a little less than three hours to get the job done, then Sister Turner made us Yorkshire Pudding. It was delicious!

Today we went up to Mijas, a little town up on the side of the mountain. It's called the white city - all of the houses and buildings up there are white walls. A good friend of ours, Brice, works at a leather shop up there, so we visited him and saw a little bit more of the village. We brought the Massaros (the mission nurses) and the Stevens (who are in the office with Elder Taylor and I). We had a lot of fun.

I want you all to know how much I love you. I love you a lot. I really do. I love my Savior and I love the opportunity I have to be one of His full-time missionaries. God has not ceased to be a God of miracles. He lives! He loves us! He has prepared and provided the way for us to be happy - truly happy. He invites us to come unto Him and partake of His goodness. I know that when we let Him in to our lives, and into our hearts, deep down in there, we have peace and purpose in our lives.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

October 22, 2011

Hola,

I have felt a nearly overwhelming sense of gratitude and love throughout this week. Last Friday night I challenged a recent convert, Jisaura, to a race to finish the Book of Mormon. I was in Alma 42, so that's where we started from. (We're both reading in Spanish, so it's fair.) If I win, she will make me the best Ecuadorian food that she can. If she wins, I will make her brownies. We both agreed and we continue with the race. The purpose, of course, is not the race itself, and it's not the food (although it is a strong motivator). The Book of Mormon has an amazing power to change our lives. Quite a few years ago, when Brother and Sister Bevans still lived in our ward, Brother Bevans served as 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric, and in a sacrament meeting he shared his experience of reading the Book of Mormon. At the time, if I remember correctly, he had set a goal to read the Book of Mormon in a month. That's quite a task. It requires reading a lot of pages, every day. He told us, in his testimony, that as he sought out the quiet moments of the day, or whatever moment he had, to read from those pages he felt his testimony grow within him and felt the Spirit of the Lord in greater measure. I attribute the nearly overwhelming sense of gratitude and love I have felt this week to the same thing. As I have sought out every spare moment to read from the Book of Mormon I have felt and experienced changes. I am more patient, I feel greater power to resist temptation, and I feel the guidance of the Spirit. The Book of Mormon is truth, pure truth, eternal truth. I love it.

A great difference between those we teach who grow and progress in their faith and testimony, and those who don't, is reading the Book of Mormon. I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, and as a result I have "also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). That is the Lord's promise to each of us. With this knowledge, we have peace and purpose in our lives as we continually strive to live and honor and obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

The experiences of our lives are opportunities for us to choose to turn to God and draw nearer to Him. Every experience. He just wants us to do our best. I know He appreciates every effort we make to live the gospel and to share it with others.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

October 15, 2011

Hola a todos,

I was so excited to hear that I am an uncle again! Welcome to the family, Audrey!

Time is absolutely flying by! We are already finishing up the 4th week of the transfer! That means two weeks until transfers again. Things get really busy in the office around transfer time - welcoming new missionaries, figuring out travel plans, sending out all sorts of paperwork for residency, and then making sure people get where they're supposed to when they're supposed. But, it's all right. It's an exciting time. I don't know about you but I am already feeling excited for Christmas. The Stake President, Presidente Muñoz, has asked Elder Manning (one of our Zone Leaders) and I to organize a Christmas concert/devotional/fireside. It will be another big undertaking but it will be a lot of fun.

In Fuengirola there is also an English speaking branch. Elder Taylor and I are assigned to that branch, the Mijas Branch, so we teach English speakers and Spanish speakers. It is very interesting to teach in English, but it still goes well. We are coming to love all of the people that live here in Spain, no matter where they are from. Elder Taylor is awesome. He is always striving to improve and to be an effective missionary. He loves this work and not only does he love the work, he loves to work. There's a saying that goes, "When all is said and done, there is usually more said than done." Well, we are trying to make sure we get the things done that Heavenly Father wants us to do.

We learn through our study of the gospel and from our teachers and things like that, but we also learn by our experiences, by doing and becoming the things that we feel and know. That is part of the great plan of happiness that our Heavenly Father prepared from the beginning, coming to this earth to have a body and to use our agency to learn to make correct choices and follow God. As we choose to learn and live the gospel, the Lord will lead us safely to Home. Each of you have been part of that guidance that He has given me. Thank you for helping me along the path that leads to life and salvation. Thank you for caring enough to correct me, to encourage me, and to strengthen me. He will do the same for you, "for that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored" (Alma 41:15).

Love,
Elder Joseph Fagersten

October 8, 2011

Hola,

First I must say, Happy Birthday Mom! Yeah! I am so grateful for you, Mom! I am so grateful for my family. I am grateful for the example of my little brother, Ben, who is serving a full-time mission. He has always taught me and helped me learn and live and love the gospel. Today is also Elder Fetzer's birthday. Party. He will celebrate it today with the baptism of Jorge, an amazing man they have been teaching.

General Conference last weekend was amazing, wasn't it? I loved it! Hearing living prophets and apostles strengthens my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ. We watched the Saturday Morning Session on Saturday night, and then we watched the Priesthood Session and the Saturday Afternoon Session on Sunday morning, and the Sunday Morning Session on Sunday night. We visited Carlos and Alexandra on Sunday night and they kept going on and on and on about all of the things they learned from the different speakers and how much they loved all of the messages that were shared. For literally an hour straight they shared their thoughts and feelings with us. I feel so grateful for the blessings we receive from our Heavenly Father.

This week we had a lot of meetings at the mission home. On Monday and Tuesday we had Zone Leader Council, which we attended, and then we also had District Leader Training, which we also attended because Elder Taylor (my companion) is our District Leader. President Clegg talked to us about hearing the voice of the Lord. He taught us about the importance of learning how to discern that voice, to understand it, and then to hearken to it, or obey the direction and guidance it gives us. He repeatedly told us, "Don't confuse simple with easy." The gospel isn't always easy to live, it's not always easy to make decisions, it's not always easy to hear that voice, but it's simple. The Lord is not the author of confusion. He wants us to clearly understand what He requires of us in order to return to His presence. He has revealed those truths to the prophets through the ages. We have the scriptures, which contain their words, and the words of living prophets. He also communicates to us personally through the Holy Ghost, and that is how we gain a testimony of the words of the prophets and come to know God.

I am grateful for the opportunity that our Heavenly Father gives us to know Him. It is what Jesus prayed for, that we would have eternal life, which is to "know...the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] has sent" (John 17:3). We have this opportunity because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. He lives and loves us.

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

October 1, 2011

Hola,

This week has gone by very quickly. On Tuesday, a group of new missionaries came in. They came late because they had to wait for their visas, but they are all here now. I enjoyed being part of the welcome to the mission and seeing how excited (and a little nervous) they all were. There is a new couple that will be here in the office. The Stevens, from Idaho. Brother Stevens grew up on a farm in Utah I think and when I told him I was from Iowa and that my dad works at John Deere he got pretty excited. I had to explain to him that I grew up "in town" but I guess there are some things I've learned about the farm. I told him about the Youngblut's delicious sweet corn and how they had taught me some stuff out there. So, it's a lot of fun.

Last Sunday, Brother Pedía, a member of the Stake High Council, spoke in the English Branch, and said something that impacted me a lot. He said, "Doubt enters our lives when we forget." That is so true! The scriptures tell us to remember all of the time. Part of our baptismal covenant that we renew every week with the sacrament is that we will "always remember Him." Our covenants help us keep the commandments, and the commandments help us keep and honor our covenants. We have the goal and we have received the commandment to become like Him. If we strive to "always remember Him" we will change and we will become more like Him.

I want you all to know how much I love you. I really do.

-Elder Joe Fagersten

September 24, 2011

Hola,

I have learned sooooo much this week! The baptism last Saturday went great. The grandma, Rosa, doesn't see very well and she's not as strong as she used to be. Elder Stoner helped her into the font and I stood in there as well to help her go under the water and get back up again. It all went fine, and when she came back up the just looked at Elder Stoner and said, "Thank you, Elder. Thank you." Next came little Juan Camilo, and I baptized him. After we had changed and all of that, they shared their testimonies. When Juan Camilo finished giving his testimony, instead of going straight to his seat to sit down where he was before, he came up to me and gave me a hug and said thank you and started crying. We have continued to visit them this week and I have felt so much love from Heavenly Father for these people, and they have helped me feel Heavenly Father's love for me.

Elder Stoner left this week, and guess where he went. Sevilla! He will be there with Elder Thomas and they will work in the other ward (Sevilla 2), but they're in the same apartment as Elder Ferreira and his companion, Elder Alejandre. Elder Stoner taught me a lot, especially about forgiving myself and moving forward. He's a great missionary and I will miss him, but I will see him around. He and I will end our missions at the same time (unless something comes up). Elder Adam Taylor is my new companion. He's from "la fabrica" (the factory) as they call it here - a.k.a. Utah. He's awesome. I love him to death, and I really look up to him (he's 6' 7"). Seriously though, he is great.

I know that the Lord knows each of us perfectly and personally. He doesn't just know things about us, he knows us. He invites us to come to know Him; to know Him, not just know things about Him. We simply need to follow the path that He has prepared. Our Heavenly Father's plan is perfect. We have the opportunity to learn more and better understand this plan next weekend in General Conference. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet, and that the Apostles are special witnesses of Christ. They know Him. They are true prophets, seers, and revelators. We will know how to follow that path that He has prepared as we listen to the Holy Ghost and heed the words of the Lord's servants here on the earth.

I love all of you.

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

September 17, 2011

Hola,

President Clegg went to Denmark last week for the Mission Presidents Seminar. Elder David A. Bednar visited them and taught them. During our Specialized Training meetings with President and Hermana Clegg this week, they told us about the conference and how it was to be there with an apostle. President Clegg asked us a question that Elder Bednar asked them during his time with them. The question was, "What is the worst sin you could commit?" Everybody immediately thought of the serious sins, things that are really bad. Then, President said, "You know what Elder Bednar told us? He said the worst sin you can commit is the one you think you can get away with." There is a lot of wisdom in that. It really made me think, and it's true.

Miracles are continuing to occur in our mission. About a month ago, a lady called the mission office and I answered the phone. She asked if there was the Church was in Almería. I told her yes and since I began my mission there, I was able to tell her exactly where it was. I then gave her the phone number for the Hermanas (the sister missionaries) there in Almería, then I just kept on going with my normal office tasks. Well, yesterday, President Clegg told us that this lady is getting baptized! I can't remember if it is going to happen today or next week, but it was a amazing to hear that. All I did was pass along some information, and the Hermanas did a great job following up with her and teaching and inviting her. So, one of the many things that I keep learning here is that there are many things we do that, perhaps without us even realizing it, are part of the Lord's plan to bless the lives of others. As a mission we have a goal to baptize 300+ people this year and we are well on our way. This weekend we will match the total number of baptisms we had all of last year. All of us are focused and working to increase our faith and give our all in the service of the Lord.

Carlos and Alexandra are working on getting married so that they will be able to be baptized. Today, Juan Camilo, Alexandra's son, and Rosa, Alexandra's mother, will be baptized. We are so excited! We have felt so happy to see them have personal, spiritual experiences, and see the Spirit teach them the truths of the restored gospel.

I know that the Lord, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. He is our Brother. As Elder Richard G. Scott once said, "He is not an absent Lord." He is very much aware of and involved in our lives. In Revelation 3:20 we read His words: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him." I know that He is there. He really is there. He loves us.

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

September 17, 2011

Joseph Fagersten joseph.fagersten@myldsmail.net



Sep 17













to Amy, Andrew, Benjamin, Dad, Elizabeth, Grandma, Jacob, Mom, Rebecca, Savannah, me, Stephanie









Family,

Some of you may have already seen this, but even if you have, it is worth watching again. This whole page is about forgiveness, but I wanted to invite you specifically to watch the movie, "Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light." Here's the link.

http://lds.org/family/forgiveness?lang=eng&query=mormon+messages+forgiveness

I love you!

Elder Joe Fagersten

September 11, 2011

I don't know if you have already heard, but the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be broadcasting a special Music and the Spoken Word commemorating the 10 year anniversary of 9-11. It will feature Tom Brokaw, and I'm pretty sure you'll be able to see it on the Church website. Just wanted to encourage you to watch it when you can.

Missed one....July 18, 2011

Hola a todos,

Sevilla continues to be hot, but it's a wonderful place. Elder Ferreira and I have seen the Lord's hand here in so many ways. It continues to be a blessing to me to have this opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary. My life is changing as I learn more and seek to apply the atonement of Jesus Christ, and we are able to see the lives of others change as they learn and apply these things as well.

The experiences we have are opportunities to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every decision we have to make, every situation we find ourselves in, every relationship we have, and every challenge we face are opportunities given to us to act for ourselves, to choose, to use our agency and apply the teachings of Christ. I love what the Bible Dictionary tells us in the section about faith. It says, "The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation." We can trust in Him without reservation. As we do that we find a greater peace and purpose in our lives. Making changes in our lives is not easy, but it is possible.

We continue to see faith grow in the hearts of people as they hear the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This faith and these changes come through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith. They called him as a prophet, and through him the gospel, the church, and the priesthood authority of God were restored. The Book of Mormon is true! I love reading it. I love pondering its message. It helps us understand the Bible it is a powerful testament of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
I love all of you sooooo much and thank you for being who you are.

Love,

Elder Fagersten

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 10, 2011

Hola,

What a fantastic week! We have taught this family, Carlos and Alexandra and their children, for about a month, and on Sunday we talked to them about confidence, commitment, and covenants (which is the gospel - faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end). Carlos and Alexandra are not married, and they had told us about some difficulties they were having. After talking a bit about faith and repentance, Elder Stoner and I talked about covenants and read President Monson's story that he shared in the Priesthood Session of the April General Conference this year about the couple who had arguments quite often, and they called President Monson, their bishop at the time, and asked him to come over (at 2 a.m.) and resolve their problem. He didn't know what to do, so he offered a silent prayer. He then asked them how long it had been since they had seen a sealing ceremony in the temple. It had been a long time, they said, so he invited them to go to the temple with him to witness a sealing ceremony. As they sat there, in the temple, and were reminded of the covenants they had made, they decided to start over and try a little harder this time around. So, we talked to Carlos and Alexandra about the power of our covenants and how they help us be happy and stay on the true path. We then invited them, and they committed, to pray about getting married and being baptized.

We returned to their house on Tuesday and before we even said the opening prayer they told us that they had decided together to get married and be baptized! Alexandra told us that she woke up early in the morning, earlier than usual, and went out into the dining room and sat at the table with her Book of Mormon. She prayed and then opened the Book of Mormon. The first thing she read was about baptism, and having faith in the Lord. In that moment, she felt the Spirit witness to her that this was what God wanted her to do. So, she went and told Carlos, and he was elated. He had been wanting to get married and baptized for a while, and it was a major surprise to him because she came and told him! As they told us all of this, we felt such a sense of gratitude and happiness to see the light and determination that came from receiving and accepting the witness of the Holy Ghost. They are truly dedicated to the Lord and have great desires to make covenants with Him. Our hearts were filled, and we will continue to work with them toward these goals.

I know that our Heavenly Father lives. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior. He lives. His hand is in our lives. His work is indeed "a marvelous work and a wonder." Because of His atonement we can change, and we can make covenants that tie us personally to Him and to our Father, and the Spirit seals those covenants as they are made through the holy priesthood and kept through faithful obedience to the commandments of God. And those covenants, when honored and kept sacred, will allow us to return and enter the presence of our Heavenly Father with our families in never ending happiness. I know this to be true!

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

September 3, 2011

Hola,

Fuengirola is a great place. Besides my feet being eaten by mosquitoes at night, I have thoroughly enjoyed this week. I love each of you so much and I am grateful for you. My lack of letter-writing does not reflect a lack of love, I promise, it's mostly a lack of time, and perhaps a little bit of planning as well. But, I still want you to know that I love you.

I also feel a great love for the people here in Spain. As I have served them and prayed for them, studied and planned for them, that love has grown. I have also come to gain a greater love for the Book of Mormon. I have come to love the people who kept that sacred record. I was reading in Alma, chapter 29, and a few verses really caught my attention. Alma is bearing his testimony and he says, "I know that [God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?" (Alma 29:4-6).

I also know that to be true. God only wants us to be happy, so why wouldn't we obey his will, why wouldn't we "perform the work to which [we] have been called"? There doesn't exist a greater feeling than that of knowing and obeying God's will. Obedience to His commandments allow us to grow and progress. That is the invitation that Christ has always extended. "And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?" (2 Nephi 31:10).

Heavenly Father's plan is perfect. It is made operative through the perfect atonement wrought by the Son of God. I know that He is our Savior, and that as we strive to "perform the work to which [we] have been called" we will come to know Him, and our Father, and "this is life eternal" (John 17:3).

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

August 27, 2011

Hola,

We are teaching a great family right now and they are experiencing wonderful changes in their lives that have come from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we began teaching them, Alexandra, the mom, told us that she believed us, she believed the things that we were teaching, until we said that God loved us. Well, she believed that too, but she told us that she hadn't felt God's love for her. She didn't understand what that was. After beginning to read the Book of Mormon, and praying, and then obeying the Lord's commandments, she had her own spiritual experience. She felt God's love for her. There are still things that they need to change, just like all of us, but seeing those changes and their progress makes us happy, and I know that Heavenly Father feels happy when we choose to obey Him and experience the love that He has for us.

I have learned so much this week! The Lord always gives us opportunities to grow and progress. I am grateful for Him. Elder Stoner has helped me a lot during my time here. He and I talk a lot and we help and encourage each other to change and become better. He gave a talk in church last week and he pointed out that there are times when we are struggling, and we can't figure things out on our own, but we know we need help. We need to seek that help from the Lord. Then he said, "Sometimes we don't even know what we need, but He does!" It's true! As we continue in prayer and study of the scriptures we will feel the guidance of the Spirit. As we obey the promptings of the Spirit we will receive more promptings and more guidance. Heavenly Father doesn't want us to walk blindly through this life. The Savior marked the path and led the way. I love the feeling He gives us when we do what is right. Through the His atonement we can change, we can be free, and we can have peace. I know that He lives and loves us. I love each of you!

Love,
Elder Fagersten

August 20, 2011

Hola,

Well, here in the office we have our preparation day on Saturdays, so, emails will now come on Saturdays! Last week, we went to the Rock of Gibraltar! It was a lot of fun, even though it was a really hot, long, sweaty hike to the top. We all enjoyed it a lot. There are a bunch of monkeys there and they are really, really accustomed to the people. I didn't want one to climb on me (I didn't think they were very sanitary...haha) but we saw them climb on other people. People give them food, so they are always looking for something to eat when they see people. Afterward, we bought some delicious smoothies. Oh, another thing about Gibraltar is that it is actually part of Great Britain. So, I went to a different country! Haha! We had to show the police our passports in order to cross the border.

I have really enjoyed my time so far in Fuengirola. Each day, I learn more and strengthen my testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an amazing thing. I feel such a great amount of love for each of you. I love you! I know that Heavenly Father loves you, and I know that Jesus Christ loves us. That love is what changes us and it is that love that we must develop to prepare ourselves to return to Their presence. As Moroni said, in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:33-34, " And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father." Mom used to tell me, "Love facilitates change." I know that it is the love of the Savior that changes our hearts and allows us to become what He would have us become. We become truly free and truly happy through His "merits and mercy and grace" (2 Nephi 2:8).

Love,
Elder Joe Fagersten

August 15, 2011

Hola,

Well, now I'm here in La Costa del Sol! Fuengirola is about 30 minutes (in car) west and a little south of Málaga. It's right on the beach and it's a little bit lower temperature here than in Sevilla. Elder Stoner is my companion and he is awesome! He and I are the only two missionaries in this mission who entered the MTC on the same day, so we're the only two in our group. We get along really well, and I'm grateful to be here with him.

The experiences I am having here are really helping me learn and grow. Planning and goal setting and discipline are so important. Time is one of the most precious gifts that our Heavenly Father has given us, and the way we choose to use that time will determine what we become and who we become. Heavenly Father's plan for us is designed so that we can be happy. That happiness comes through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I love the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie when he spoke of the atonement and of the divinity of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Said Elder McConkie, "He is God’s Almighty Son... He is our Savior and Redeemer, and... salvation comes in and through His atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us may walk in the light, as God our Father is in the light, so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, will cleanse us from all sin." I know that those words are true, and that only through Christ will we find peace and happiness.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

August 8, 2011

Hola,

Well, my time here in Sevilla is over. It has been incredible, and I feel so grateful for the experiences I have had here. Elder Ferreira is an amazing missionary and I love him sooooo much. It will be hard to leave these wonderful people, many of which are progressing in the gospel and close to entering into the covenant of baptism. President Clegg called me on Saturday morning and told me that I will be going to Fuengirola, to be the new mission secretary. Elder Stoner is the current secretary, and he will train me for three weeks, then leave. He and I entered the MTC on the exact same day - in fact we're the only two missionaries in our group. He's great and I am excited to be with him for a little while and then serve in a different way here in the mission. I'm not exactly sure what all of the responsibilities are but it's going to be different.

With that in mind, I have thought a lot about what I did with my time here in Sevilla. I see my time here as a very special time in my mission, and I am grateful to have had the opportunities and experiences that I have had here. The Lord has a plan for each of us and the purpose of that plan is our happiness. The plan is only possible because of Jesus Christ's perfect atonement. As Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, "Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father's eternal plan of salvation become operative." I know that the Savior lives, and that He came to this world to free us from death, and, upon those terms and conditions that God set, free us from sin. He is the light and life of the world. I love Him. I love the prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the Savior appeared, and through whom He restored the fulness of His gospel to the earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of God.

I thank each of you for your love and your kindness. It is a great blessing to me.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

August 1, 2011

Hola a todos,

We had a great week. It's amazing how much we can learn when we recognize our experiences as opportunities to grow and progress. I am grateful for those opportunities and that the Lord helps us use them to draw closer to Him.

Yesterday, Elder Ferreira and I were teaching a family and talking about baptism. The dad is a member, and we're teaching his daughter, his daughter's boyfriend, and his granddaughter. So, we started talking about what we need to be baptized and began reading in Mosiah 18:8, which says, "And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God..." My companion then asked the question, "What do we need first in order to be baptized?" We were hoping they would recognize that they first need the desire, and all of the sudden, the dad says, "Well, you need water." We all started laughing. He's a quiet guy but he's pretty funny too. It was hilarious.

Later on in the lesson, the same man shared his testimony about the change that came after his baptism, and how the Lord removed from him the desires to do bad things and continue his old habits. He bore testimony, as did Alma, of his faith in "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness" (Alma 7:14)

Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is our Redeemer. He is our Mediator. Through his perfect atonement we can change and be cleansed from all unrighteousness.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

July 25, 2011

Hola,

Well, we continue to enjoy our time here in Sevilla. It hasn't been as hot during this week, so we have enjoyed that. We love the people more every day and that love changes our hearts. The atonement of Jesus Christ provides the means by which we can change and improve and learn and grow.

On Saturday, we, along with the sister missionaries and some of the young single adults, set up a pancarta near the hospital in this part of the city. A pancarta is like a little stand we set up with pictures and some information about the church and invited people to come and see and hear the message of the restored gospel. Elder Ferreira and I left for a little while and walked around the neighborhood talking to people, and when we returned we saw the young single adults (there were 3 that came) saying good-bye to somebody. They told us that they had talked to this lady whose mother is sick and she feels very lonely. She gave them her phone number and address and that afternoon, Elder Ferreira and I went and visited her. Yesterday she came to the church and we have another appointment with her on Tuesday. The Lord is preparing people to hear this message. I know that.

I am grateful for our Savior. I am grateful that He loves us perfectly and He knows us personally. I am grateful that He restored his church and his gospel through his prophet, Joseph Smith. I am grateful that He has revealed once again the plan for our happiness. I am grateful that God has not ceased to be a God of miracles, that the heavens are open, and that we can choose to accept this opportunity to gain eternal life. It is worth every effort we make to love and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7-11-2011

Hola,

This past week was fantastic. Olympia, a lady we have been teaching for quite some time, and missionaries before us as well, entered the waters of baptism, yesterday was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit was very, very strong at her baptism. It was a beautiful day.

I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know that it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It changes lives because it testifies and teaches of Christ with clarity and power. The Spirit bursts from the pages as you read and study the message it contains. On the plane ride over to Spain, I was reading the 34th chapter of Alma, where Amulek, Alma's missionary companion, testifies and teaches about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He says, "And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice," [so here is the purpose of the Atonement, number 1] "to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and [number 2] bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption." The Atonement fulfills a lot more than just 2 purposes but when I was reading that on the plane, the second one really impacted mean. The atonement, that sacrifice, that promise, is the means by which we can have faith sufficient to repent, and thus bring about the "great and eternal plan of redemption."

I know that these things are true. I love the gospel. I love my Savior.

Love,
Elder Fagersten



I apologize for seriously lacking in sending photos, so here are a few...

1) My one year mark in the mission and the "cake" that my companions prepared (a cookie with Mr. Choc on it - Mr. Choc is like the cheap version of Nutella... it's good)

2) A car that made me think of Nick DiMarco, for obvious reasons, that was sitting right outside our piso
3) Elder Ferreira and me
4) Olympia's baptism

7-4-2011

Hola,

Happy 4th of July! It will be strange to not have fireworks or anything, but that's all right. I like Spain too, haha.

Not yesterday, but the Sunday before, we, the missionaries, did a musical fireside here in Sevilla. It was a lot of fun, and it was another good opportunity to share the gospel. We centered it on Christ and the restoration of His church. It went really well and the people said they enjoyed it a lot.

Elder Kirkham, Stanley, and Walton all left, and Elder Ferreira came. He's awesome and I have been speaking Spanish 24 hours a day. It's helping me a lot. We are both really excited about this marvelous work.



I recently read a story about a missionary who had a companion who he got along with pretty well but his companion stunk! He smelled sooooo bad, and this missionary could not stand it. His companion didn't shower hardly at all and he could not understand it. It drove him up the wall. So, he told the mission president about it, how gross his companion was and that he smelled bad and all of that stuff. Then, the mission president asked him, "Did you know that where your companion grew up they had to travel 15 miles to get water? Water was precious to that family. They couldn't waste a single drop." In short, this missionary's perspective changed quickly.

It's easy to draw conclusions about people, especially when we see things that are different from us or that in our opinion "shouldn't be that way". The truth is, however, that we don't know everything. I know that every person on this earth is a special, beloved child of God. I had an experience similar to the one that missionary had, in that I found out something I didn't know before and my perspective, my thoughts toward him changed. It was a humbling experience.

By applying the atonement of Jesus Christ we can change our perspective, our attitude, and our character and put them in alignment with the Lord's will. I know that He lives and loves us so much.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

6-27-2011

Hola,

Elder Kirkham is being transferred! Elder Stanley is going home, Elder Walton is also being transferred. I will be here in Sevilla with just one companion now. Elder Ferreira, from Uruguay. My Spanish is going to get soooo much better! haha.

Well, I don't have a ton of time, but I know that God has not ceased to be a God of miracles. I love all of you so much. The greatest miracle of all is the atonement of Jesus Christ. I hope all of us can experience and see and feel that miracle in our lives every day.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

6-20-2011

Buenos días,

Last Sunday, not yesterday but the 12th, there were two members that were visiting Sevilla from Latvia. I translated the meetings and classes into English for them, and they had a good time. I asked them if they knew the Hansens and they said yes, they did. Small world! So, Brother and Sister Hansen, Dainis Lepesh and Aivars Bite both say hello and wish you the very best.

Last night we had a Family Home Evening with the family of a recent convert. Candelario is his name, and he is from Peru. His two daughters, Lili and Juana, their boyfriends (who are Spaniards) Mario and Sergio, and Lili's daughter, Zesley, were all there. Candelario is the only member of the Church. We went last Saturday and taught about the restoration of the church and gospel of Jesus Christ. Yesterday, we went and talked a little more in depth about the Book of Mormon. They brought up questions and doubts and we gave each of them a different chapter to read in the book of Mormon that would help them resolve their doubts and answer their questions. At the end, Elder Kirkham and I sang "Our Savior's Love" and we closed with a prayer. After the prayer, Lili said, "I just wanted to thank you for coming here. I have kind of distanced myself from this stuff for a while, and I haven't felt the desire to learn much." Then, with tears in her eyes she said, "But you have filled me with that desire again." She quickly got up to "go prepare the food" but it was such a beautiful experience to see the Spirit work within her.

The Lord lives. He cares about us. He is our Savior. "And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever" (Moroni 10:7).

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 13, 2011

Hola,

Found a new apartment! Here's our address:

C/ Gonzalo Nuñez de Sepúlveda Nº1, 2ºD
41009 Sevilla, Sevilla
España

We had a fantastic week. There are so many things that we can learn and feel and know. Then, we have to opportunity to put those things into practice, to do them. These are experiences that help us grow and change and progress.


This Sunday, the 19th, is Father's Day! I love and appreciate you Dad. You were the first Elder Fagersten, and there are two more Elder Fagerstens serving as full-time missionaries right now. You have always taught me, through example more than words, about hard work and dedicated service. I remember so many instances that you would remind us of how important our time is and that we would do well to use it wisely. That counsel has taken new and added meaning while I have served as a missionary. This week will also mark one year since I began this mission and it has gone quickly, but I have learned a lot, and hope to change and improve in this year that I have left.

Our lives are easier, they are better, and we are happier when we accept and do the Lord's will. It is more difficult to fight that inner battle between obeying and not obeying than it is to surrender our will to His. I used the word "surrender" but it is in fact a victory, a victory over pride, temptation, selfishness and the natural man. It is a victory over our adversary and those who follow him when we "surrender" our will to the Lord's, give our hearts to Him, and are willing to know, do, and become what He would have us know, do and become. It is in fact easier to obey than it is to resist and fight and battle within ourselves. We know that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7).

He has prepared the way. The Savior said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). We follow Him. It is His will that we are happy, and that we have "eternal life" (2 Nephi 2:27-28). Through His atonement, we can be healed, we can change, and we can know, do and become all those things that will give us "peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (D&C 59:23).

I know He lives. It is an honor and a privilege to bear witness of Him, to be His representative, and bring the world His truth. He leads this work. He leads this Church. Joseph Smith was the prophet He called to be the instrument by which He would restore His church and His authority. Because of that, we are able to perform and participate in all the ordinances and covenants of life and salvation.

I love all of you so very much, and I know He loves you even more!

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6, 2011



Hola,

I love being a missionary. It's wonderful. The joy comes from sharing the gospel, not just being a missionary.

We continue to learn and progress every day, and help others do the same. I know that the Lord appreciates every effort we make to live the gospel. He is aware of us, our strengths, our weaknesses, our goals, our hopes, our fears, all of it. He has provided for us these opportunities, these experiences, to grow and continue in our eternal progression. There is so much more to this life than what we see. Truth has been restored, in its fulness. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Only through Him can we return to live with our Heavenly Father again.

I love you all so much. Thank you so much for helping me learn and grow and accept the beautiful, healing gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

May 30, 2011

Hola,

We had a great week. We didn't have any meetings or conferences or things like that. It was a pretty normal week, but it was still great.


God has not ceased to be a God of miracles (Mormon 9:15). I know that miracles happen. They occur every day. The Bible Dictionary says that, "Miracles should not be considered as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher." To forgive and be forgiven is a miracle. To live with faith instead of fear is a miracle. To feel the prompting of the Holy Ghost is a miracle. To show love for another person is a miracle. To pray and know your voice is heard is a miracle.

I know that our Heavenly Father lives and loves us. The greatest miracle we have in our lives is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He extends His arms to us daily, inviting us to come unto Him. It is a privilege, an honor, and a joy to be a voice of that invitation and see the peace and light and blessings that come into the lives of those who accept it.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

a bit of business...

Our purpose for this letter is to discuss and share a few problems we have been having with packages being sent to your missionary, but first we have to say something about your son or daughter.

We are sure that we have the best missionaries in the entire church. All over the mission our missionaries are doing their very best to be a “Consecrated Missionary” and to be focused on their purpose; that of inviting all to “Come Unto Christ.” The enthusiasm we feel from every Zone is fantastic. We are exceeding our goal of 300+ baptisms and know it is largely because of the dedication and commitment of every single missionary. That is impressive, and it is because your son or daughter is doing all that he or she can to further the work and demonstrate their faith in the Lord We love each one of them and thank-you for sending them to us so prepared and ready to work.

Now to address the problem of packages. For some reason Spain has been targeting large packages that come from the United States and holding them in the customs in Madrid. When they do deliver them we are obliged to pay 50 Euros (around $70.00) to receive the package. We cannot continue to do this so as of June 1st, we will be refusing packages that have been sent after May 25th. This means all the money you, as a parent, have spent to send the package, plus the contents, will be sent back to you.

We have a few guidelines to suggest and hope that they will aid you in deciding what to send to your missionary.

1.Don’t send large packages, which are bigger than 12 by 12 or the rectangular priority box that is a little bit bigger. They seem to target the larger ones more than any other. Remember that Spain is a modern country and if you want them to have some clothes or personal supplies, just add money to their debit card (if they have one) and tell them to buy it here in Spain. It is so much cheaper than mailing.

2.Send your packages directly to your missionary’s address. Also, don’t send them a package after they have been in an area for over two transfers. The mail is slow here and there is a good chance they will move after 3 or 4 transfers in an area. Send packages just after they have been transferred. Don’t send anything express; there is no such thing here. They deliver it when they get around to it.

3.Fill out customs forms completely and don’t send anything of real value. Again, they can buy anything here. They will almost always hold up packages that say “medicines” and will not allow them in and more than likely they will be returned. Again, we have most all the same things here and we now have Elder and Sister Massaro, two retired registered nurses, who are helping our missionaries and they can find what medicine they need here in Spain.

4.Send letters. I know what you are saying, we e-mail them every week. If you could see all the missionaries when we come around to Zone Conferences or trainings and see how much they hope they get a letter. They love the e-mails; don’t stop them, but to have a hand written letter is better than a package. As one missionary described it, “it’s like gold.’ Pictures are also a big hit. Small envelopes and letters come just fine.

5.Finally, please don’t send CD’S and items that are not “mission approved.” They can listen to anything that can be played in a Sacrament Meeting. Don’t send headsets or fancy electronics. They cannot use them and they will be held in the mission office until they go home. Send them uplifting and encouraging letters and e-mails. You can’t believe how hard it is on them to be burdened down with concerns from home. Write them your testimonies often and build them up, they love this. And please don’t miss a week of e-mailing them, they look forward to this and when they haven’t heard from you for more than a week or two it affects their work tremendously.

We hope this will be helpful. We hate to see you spend a lot of money on a package that is held up for 3-6 months and then gets returned back home. We love our missionaries and just want what is best for them.

Sincerely,
President and Sister Clegg

May 23, 2011

Buenos días,

We had transfers this week, but nothing happened here in my companionship. The week went great and we continue to enjoy this special time. It is getting hotter here in Sevilla, and all the people are telling us that it still hasn't even begun. We'll see how it is around July and August.




A few days ago we were on the bus and an old lady got up to get off at the stop. She had been talking to a couple of other oldre folks and as she got off the bus she said, "Que Dios te conserve." I laughed so hard. It doesn't quite translate literally, but the verb conservar is "to preserve" so, she basically said, "May God preserve you." Ya know, sometimes people say, "God bless you," stuff like that, well, she hoped that God preserved these other old folks. It was hilarious.

The opportunities we have to learn come every day, almost constantly. I am grateful that the gospel gives us guidance to make correct decisions. The Lord gives us our agency, our ability to choose, so that we can act for ourselves, learn, grow, and progress. All choices have a consequence - this is the law of justice. The consequence can be good or bad, but the consequence will come. Heavenly Father wants us to become like Him and be able to enjoy all of his blessings. We do this by choosing to be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Jesus Christ's atonement is central to this plan. I know that He lives and that He loves us. I have faith in Him. I want to believe that He lives, that He is my Savior, that He will forgive me, and that I can change. I want to believe that Heavenly Father has a plan for my happiness, that I have purpose, and that things will work out. That desire has turned into faith, which has brought me to a knowledge of the truthfulness of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I love all of you so much. It's amazing and beautiful to see how the gospel brings so many changes and so much happiness to the lives of those who accept it. The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the restoration of the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet, Joseph Smith. I know that it is true.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

May 16, 2011

Buenos dias,

I always say "hola" so I decided to change it up this week. MY LITTLE BROTHER IS A FULL-TIME MISSIONARY!!! I feel so excited every time I think about it. I love you Ben, I mean, ELDER FAGERSTEN!

We had a fantastic week. We had Zone Conference on Tuesday and heard some great workshops, learned a lot, and really felt the Spirit. We talked about the Book of Mormon, commitments, obedience, attitude, agency, faith, and diligence. It was an opportunity to identify those things that I can improve and the things that will help me be a more faithful servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ.


On Sunday, the story of "The Little Engine That Could" was shared during our Priesthood class. That story really touched my heart. I haven't thought about it in years, but when it was shared, it taught me a lot. A while ago, while thinking of the Savior's statement about our faith being able to move mountains, I thought about spiritual mountains we face in our lives - temptation, doubt, fear, a grudge - whatever it might be, and that our faith in the Savior and his atonement can move them. While listening to the story of the "Little Engine That Could," the thought occurred to me that our faith can also move us over the mountain. The little engine that could kept saying, "Creo que puedo," or, "I think I can!" In Spanish, the verb creer means "to think" or "to believe." Faith is to believe, to hope that it is possible. We put our faith in Jesus Christ, but we must also believe in ourselves. You remember the story, that after he had reached the summit and came down the other side, the little engine said, "Sabía que podía", or, "I knew I could!" The little engine had faith from beginning to end. By putting our faith in the Lord we too can put faith in ourselves. "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33).

I know that the Lord is by our side when we try our best to do what is right. He loves us and appreciates every effort we make to live His gospel. It is amazing to see how His love, His atonement, change lives.

I receive emails sent by Elder Frodsham, and I appreciate his testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I feel the Spirit bear testimony of his words. Elder Frodsham is one of my best friends and he has such an amazing love for the Savior and for the people he is serving.

Jesus Christ lives. He is our light. He is our hope. Our faith in Him will build a foundation for our lives that nothing can shake. One day, we will have the opportunity to thank Him, personally.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

May 9, 2011

Hola,

Sevilla isn't too hot yet but they say the temperatures will be rising soon. You should watch the temperatures in Phoenix and Sevilla and see what kind of weather the Elder Fagerstens are working in.


This past week in Sevilla was La Feria, "The Fair." Basically, it was a big party all week long. But one thing that was different was that all of the girls dress up in flamenco dresses and all the boys dress up in suits to go down to the fair grounds. It was pretty cool to see all of the different colors and flowers and everything. The city buses were PACKED. It was crazy, but fun. We didn't go down to the fair grounds, but we did go by on the bus.


We had a great week. Yesterday was great, to be able to talk with Mom. I'm so grateful for Mom and Dad and for all the things they have given us and done for us and continue to do and give. They're amazing people. The thing I'm most grateful for is that they helped me gain a testimony and knowledge of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father's plan for our happiness.

We visited a member on Friday afternoon, and she shared her testimony with us. She shared how she gained her testimony, and made a comment that taught me a lot. She said, "Sometimes our testimonies are strengthened more by opposition than by spiritual experiences." Both types of experiences - spiritual ones, where we feel that warmth and peace, and opposition, where we might have to fight to hold on to and defend what we believe to be true - are opportunities for our testimonies to be strengthened. That impacted me a lot because we face a lot of opposition in our lives. For this sister, she faced a lot within her own family, and at times it was really difficult for her to even be able to go to church. But she held on to that feeling, that hope, that belief that God really was her Heavenly Father, and that He loved her, that He had a plan for her to be happy, that He sent his Son to be her Savior and Redeemer, and that Christ had called a prophet again to restore His church and His gospel and all of His promised blessings.

The Lord will help us as we do all we can to hold on to our faith in Him, and trust that He will give us rest from our troubles, sorrows and cares. One way He has done that for me is through the Book of Mormon. Another way is through each of you, and the love and support you give to me. I appreciate it, and I love you. I know that my Redeemer lives.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

May 2, 2011




Hola,

You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that there are TWO Elder Fagerstens.

We had an awesome week! Elder Kirkham arrived on Tuesday and he is now my companion. Elder Pallas is in Almería, where I started my mission! Elder Stanley's companion is now Elder Walton, and Elder Phillips went to Antequera. We are all doing well and enjoying this great work.

I had the opportunity to do an exchange with the missionaries in Huelva, where I served before. I was able to say hi to some of the members there and we had a great time!

I know that the Lord loves all of us. There is NOTHING that is more important than the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It leads us on the path of happiness and our lives have purpose. I invite all of you to read the Book of Mormon, to study it, to ponder and meditate about it, and ask God, in humble and sincere prayer, if it is true. This is promise given in the final pages of the Book of Mormon, in Moroni 10:3-5.

The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. Through it we come to know Him. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God and that he was a prophet. I love all of you soo much. You are such a blessing to me. Sometimes these emails are short, and sometimes you write to me and I don't respond for a really long time, but it's not because I don't love you! Haha.

Remember who you are. The love of our Father in Heaven has the power to change our lives, but it's our choice to accept it.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 25, 2011

Hola,

The week of Easter, Semana Santa, is quite an event here in Sevilla. That Google search would entertain you for a while. However, it rained nearly all week, so we didn't see a lot of the processions and stuff they normally do.

Over the past few weeks I prayed a lot for comfort and strength to do those things the Lord expects of me. I wanted to know my standing before Him. I wanted to feel His love. I wanted to know if He was pleased with my efforts. With these things, and quite a few other things on my mind, I went to church. During the week I had been pondering quite a bit about the Savior's life and his Atonement, and tried to focus on Him while taking the sacrament and listening to the talks being given. While the Bishop gave his talk, he said something and I felt a warmth spread through my body. It went from the top of my head all the way down to my toes. It was brief, but it was real. I felt it, and I knew that the Lord loves me, He trusts me, and that with His help I can move forward. I felt encircled "in the arms of safety."

Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He knows each of us. He extends His hand each day, to lift us, to strengthen us, and to lead us.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just sayin'

I am so excited that Ben is in the MTC!!!!! TWO Elder Fagerstens.

April 18, 2011

Hola,

Another great week. Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Cordoba! It wasn't Cordoba, Argentina, Dad, but I was pretty excited to go there. Elder Stanley and I went there for exchanges with Elder Stowell and Elder Hales who are serving there. We went and saw "La Mesquita" which is similar to "La Alhambra" in Granada. Both were built during the time when the Moors, the Muslims from North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean, ruled southern Spain (about 700-1500 A.D.). You can search more information online, probably more accurate too, but it was really cool to see. When the Catholic church came, and the kings of northern Spain came down and conquered it again, they turned La Mesquita into a cathedral of sorts, and they still use it today.

This week was filled with more experiences and opportunities to grow. I have felt the Lord's love and guidance as I try to overcome weaknesses and difficulties through His atonement. The Holy Ghost leads and guides and teaches us to know what and how we can change. He guides us into all truth. He guides us to the source of all truth, that is, God. We learn of Him and begin to have faith in Him, and in his Son, Jesus Christ. This week is a special time, and an especially important time to study, ponder, and meditate on the infinite and eternal atonement of our Lord. The April issue of the Ensign has great talks that will help us do that. I especially recommend "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane" by Bruce R. McConkie. But also, our own personal study of the scriptures will give us opportunities to be taught by the Spirit. It is a beautiful thing to experience.

I know that my Redeemer lives. He is the light and life of the world. His love is infinite. His law is eternal. Through that love, through His atonement, and obedience to His law, the restored gospel, we will find peace and hope in joy in this life, and the life to come.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011



Hola,

Well, yesterday we had Specialized Training instead of our preparation day, so that's why I didn't send an email yesterday. We had a good week. I am now in Sevilla (well, I guess in English it's Seville) with Elder Pallas and Elder Stanley and Elder Phillips. It's a lot of fun with four of us in the apartment. Sevilla is about an hour and 15 minutes away from Huelva, so, I didn't move too far, and I am still in the same Zone. The first week here was challenging, but as always, the challenges are opportunities, and the Lord helped me.

I know He lives. Prayer, study of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, have helped me come to that knowledge. I have never had an experience where I read the Book of Mormon, prayed and asked if it's true, and received, in that moment, a strong, powerful witness from the Holy Ghost that it is. It didn't come to me that way, but it did come. To be honest, I'm not really sure when it did, but it did. I feel it when I bear my testimony, my testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the prophet Joseph Smith, and of the reality of the plan of salvation, the plan of happiness, that our loving Heavenly Father has provided for us.

Each of you are part of that happiness that I feel in my life, and part of my testimony that God loves me. You are a blessing to me.

I love you!

Love,
Elder Fagersten

***A personal note from the author***
Elder Fagersten's letter reminded me of part of a talk we heard this past General Conference from Elder David A. Bednar.


"I invite you to consider two experiences most of us have had with light.

The first experience occurred as we entered a dark room and turned on a light switch. Remember how in an instant a bright flood of illumination filled the room and caused the darkness to disappear. What previously had been unseen and uncertain became clear and recognizable. This experience was characterized by immediate and intense recognition of light.

The second experience took place as we watched night turn into morning. Do you recall the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon? In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun did not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light increased, and the darkness of night was replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light.

Revelations are conveyed in a variety of ways, including, for example, dreams, visions, conversations with heavenly messengers, and inspiration. Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly. The two experiences with light I described help us to better understand these two basic patterns of revelation.

A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. Descriptions of such immediate and intense manifestations are found in the scriptures, recounted in Church history, and evidenced in our own lives. Indeed, these mighty miracles do occur. However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.

The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, Nephi was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1)."

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 4, 2011



Hola,

This week is transfers, and I already left! On Saturday morning, President Clegg called and told me that I will now serve in Sevilla. It is only an hour or so from Huelva, and I'm still in the same zone, but I am going to miss the people in Huelva a ton! They are such wonderful people and I am so grateful for the friends I have there. Elder Niebergall is going home, and Elder Shaver's new companion is Elder Becerra, who will come on Wednesday. Right now I'm in Fuengirola for a meeting, and don't have that much time, but I just wanted to let you all know.

General Conference was great! I know that we have a living prophet. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us. I know that the true Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Lord, along with the fullness of the gospel, and the priesthood authority to perform the ordinances necessary for our salvation and exaltation. The Lord is very aware of each of us and I know He wants the best for us.

I love you all so much!

Love,
Elder Fagersten

Friday, April 1, 2011

Funny Story



Just a quick experience I had:

During personal study one morning, Elder Shaver, out of nowhere, looks up at Elder Neibergall and I and says, "Whenever I read Psalms I just want it to rhyme, but it doesn't." He said it so seriously and I just died laughing.

March 28, 2011



Hola,

This week was absolutely fantastic. On Thursday we had a special Zone Conference in Sevilla with Elder Schutze, an Area Seventy, and his wife, who were here on a mission tour. He is an amazing man and we learned a lot. Elder Schutze grew up in East Germany, which, as we know, was under communist control. He didn't talk about that a lot, but you can imagine how difficult that would have been. Despite all of that, he grew and progressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looked to the Light of the world, when the world around him was dark. He told us, "We didn't have Church manuals or magazines. They couldn't get to us. We had these (pointing to his scriptures). This is what we had." The scriptures were his light and his guide. As he spoke to us, his words were filled with faith and power and testimony. He knows his Savior. I left that conference strenghtened in my testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer, the Son of God. I have a greater desire to strengthen my relationship with Him and continue to "learn of [Him], and listen to [His] words; walk in the meekness of [His] Spirit, and...have peace in [Him]" (D&C 19:23).

Another thing that we did that made this a great week was a fireside. Last night we met at the chapel and Elder Shaver, Elder Niebergall and I taught the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music and narration. Elder Shaver played the guitar and sang, Elder Niebergall narrated and sang, and I played the piano and sang. We have been working on it for a few weeks and I know that the Spirit helped us do it. It went really well. The people said they felt the Spirit and felt strengthened by the message. It was a great experience for us. We felt the Lord's hand help us through the program and things went so well. It strengthened my testimony of this message and this work.

I know that my Redeemer lives. He loves us. He wants us to be happy. I invite each of you to seek and strive to know Him. It will help you while preparing for General Conference and in this Easter season.

Thank you so much for everything.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

March 21, 2011

¡Hola!

I hope everyone is doing well. I was way happy to hear that everything went well for Ben, going to the temple, and taking more steps on the road of growth and progress that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. How exciting!

When I lived at home, I talked to Dad about a lot of stuff. I asked him questions, told him how I was doing, expressed my concerns, shared my goals, my hopes and dreams, and he was always willing to be there and listen. He helped me a lot in my efforts to improve, to learn, and to grow. Well, I don't live at home anymore, and Dad isn't here in Spain with me. The communication is limited to one, very short hour that we have each week to write emails. So, in this time that I have been away, without Dad right there at the house, I have turned more to my Heavenly Father, in prayer, and have asked Him questions, told Him how I am doing, expressed my concerns, shared my goals, my hopes and my dreams, and He has always been there and listened. I know that He loves us and we can find great comfort and strength by communicating with Him, talking with Him, in prayer. His invitation is that we have faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, that we repent, that we honor our covenants, and receive a greater measure of his Spirit. In the Book of Mormon, we read the words of King Benjamin, who invited us to be humble, "calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith," and promised "that if [we] do this [we] shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of [our] sins; and [we] shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created [us], or in the knowledge of that which is just and true" (Mosiah 4:11,12). I know that this promise is true, and that it is fulfilled, as are all the promises of God, through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Our faith in Him, and His atoning sacrifice, will bring to us the highest and greatest blessings of our Father in Heaven.

This week, we had the privelege of helping one of our brothers enter into the "path which leads to eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:18). Benjamín entered in "the gate by which [we] should enter. For the gate by which [we] should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of [our] sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost" (2 Nephi 31:17). We had a beautiful baptismal service on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday morning, he was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have really enjoyed seeing him grow and progress, and we are anxious to continue to help him draw closer to Christ.

I love each of you soooo much! Thank you for everything. Each and every one of you are cherished, beloved children of God. Your happiness is His greatest desire.

Love,
Elder Fagersten

March 14, 2011



Hola,

It rained quite a bit this past week, but it didn't dampen our spirits. This week we had a little suprise. There are three of us now! Elder Neibergall, who served as the mission secretary the last 8 months, has come here to Huelva to finish his missionary service. He leaves on April 5, but between now and then, we're going to work, work, work. We do our best to stay focused on our purpose and do the Lord's will. Elder Neibergall is from Roosevelt, Utah (only my second companion from Utah, including the MTC) and he's awesome. He works hard and will help us really continue to do all that we can to bring souls unto Christ.

It is amazing how we change by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is a blessing to be able to see other people's lives change through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a gospel of transformation, a gospel of becoming, a gospel of continual growth and progress. These changes come through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We accept and apply His atonement by living the gospel. There are so many blessings that are available to us, and they will be ours when we choose to obey the commandments of the Lord. Our eternal progression depends on how we use the gift of agency, our ability to choose. We are "free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:27). We don't choose the consequences of our actions, and we don't choose how other people act. We can't. We control our thoughts and our actions. I know that by studying the scriptures each day, and praying each day, our thoughts are more often turned toward the Savior and his teachings, thus our thoughts become more like his. As we do this, our actions also become more like his, and we do and become like Him. Let us take the counsel of Lehi, let us "look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit" (2 Nephi 2:28). It is His will that we are happy. It is His will that we are free. It is His will that we come unto Him, and partake of his goodness, so that we can live forever with our families, and with Him, in a state of never-ending happiness. The choice is ours!

I love you all so much and thank you for your prayers and for your love.

Love,
Elder Fagersten