Thursday, December 3, 2015

Week Twenty-Seven - Newport

I've been sick, so this blog didn't get updated last week. But Elder Lovgren got transferred and here's what he said:

Hi :)
New companion! Elder Gough (Goff). I'm no longer in Irvine! Irvine was sweet - I learned a lot and saw so many miracles, but now I know a new area!

Transfer Meeting
Transfers were on Tuesday. At transfer meeting I heard, "...and Elder Gough is in the Newport Coast YSA area and is in a double senior companionship with Elder Lovgren." Yep! I'm in a YSA ward (Young Single Adults - ages 18-30) and it is so rad! My last area was tiny but now my new area is all of Newport! I'm a YSA Elder and our ward has a huge boundary - all the way from Santa Ana to Crystal Cove. All we're teaching are young single adults - people our age. It is so sick! It is so tight! 

Sunset Ridge Park
Yesterday we were at Sunset Ridge Park (right on the PCH.) We can't go on the beach but we were standing an inch away from the beach looking out over the ocean and it was the most incredible sunset! Once again I thought This is my mission?!! Are you serious?!! This is crazy!! I'm so stoked to be here. I can't wait to tell you guys more miracle stories.

We were walking on the OCC campus and these girls were like, "Hey Elders, here's some donuts!" They were really nice donuts. We were inviting people to come to a lunch and hear a message so we put the donuts down and I was like, "How good do these donuts look?!" They were like, "They look pretty good" and I said, "Well, this lunch that's happening in 30 minutes is even better!"

Organized Religion
This girl came up and I could see from far away that we were gonna talk to her. She came up and I asked her how the donuts looked and she goes, "Pretty gross." I said, "Yeah, they do look pretty gross but they're organic donuts. Pasture raised, non caged, and grass-fed donuts." She laughed and we ended up getting in a conversation. She said she didn't believe in organized religion. (That morning while Elder Gough and I studied I asked him if it was possible that someone who didn't believe in organized religion would come to church.) She talked about spirituality but not an organized faith. She then talked about how she had a horrible relationship with her dad. We were able to testify to her right then that she's a daughter of God, that she has a father in heaven that loves her and hasn't abandoned her. She told us what she believed morally and Elder Gough and I both looked at her and I said, "You know what's crazy? Everything you've been saying is the gospel of Jesus Christ." She was like, "Really? Oh my gosh!"

Mormon's are unlike anyone else. That might sound like tunnel vision but really, we are - we're so different. Logically, the church just makes so much sense. I really believe that. It makes sense because the gospel is rooted in truth. If you find truth in one thing then everything must be true because how could one thing be true but another thing be not true? Reading the Book of Mormon, or going to church, or taking the Sacrament...everything has a purpose, and is understood in a simple way - even to a child.

Elder Lovgren

Friday, November 20, 2015

Week Twenty-Six - Goodbye Irvine

Elder Lovgren's messages are the best! It's great to hear his voice and inflections on his weekly audios! And it's great to know by the tone of his voice what he means. Here's some of what he said last week:

Intro - Hi :)
<sounds like a news intro>Bud-uh-bup-buh-duh<singing>I'm leaving Irvine!<end> Wooo! Wooo! Wooo! Hi family :) It's another Monday morning - November 9, 2015. This is Elder Lovgren :) From my intro, you may have been able to tell that I'm getting transferred! I've been six months in Irvine and now it's time to go. 

I love this area. I really, really, really, really, really love this area a lot! I mean, of course!...It's my baby ward...It's my greenie ward!...I gotta love it!...This is where I grew up! But, I got the word on Saturday night that I'm being transferred and I'm really, really excited!! I know there will be miracles and amazing things in my next area, too :)

Mission Time Goes Fast
I'm so thankful to be out here! I think dang! next transfer will be 7.5 months - my mission is flying! Then I think about how I have three more 'six months' to go and realize it's a lot of time! Six months have gone by, but I don't want to think about what's gone but what's to come.

Reading the Book of Mormon Is Important
I love you guys! I guess the main message I want to share is the importance of the Book of Mormon. It is THE most important book to read. I'm not just saying that because I'm a missionary :) but because of the manifestations of the spirit that have touched my heart and soul. I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is vital for all of God's children to read. It's not enough just to read it but to study it and know how it speaks to us, individually. Take the leap and read it. Explore it. Read it again. Just do it. It brings peace and doesn't take anything from your life but only adds more. Who doesn't want more? 

I Love You
I love everyone here in Irvine, I love everyone in California, and I love the support you give me! All I can give you is my testimony and share my spirit with you. I encourage you to do things because I love you. It brings me joy, but I know, from the spirit, that it will bring you even more joy. Whatever I can do to step outside myself and my busy schedule to help you I'll do, and I know it will help you in your busy schedule.

Elder Lovgren says goodbye to the Barlow's

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Week Twenty-Five - Reality

Elder Lovgren likes to ponder about the deep things we all wonder. For example:

Real or Not Real?
Mom, I know how you talk all the time about how you don't know what's real/not real. That's because in the millennial generation - kids with cell phones - someone can tell us something like, "Frogs do back flips" and we're like oh, okay, really? and we pull out our phones, Google 'Do frogs do back flips?', see that they do, and then we believe it. But back in the day, someone told you "Frogs do back flips" and you believed it because there wasn't another dimension of "truth". 

Revelation Can't be Measured
It's an interesting thing to me because the gospel is a hard thing for a lot of people to believe. We tell them the restored gospel is here - the fullness, and they think oh, okay, really? Google, boop, 'Is the gospel restored?' and polygamy, or Jesus had multiple wives, or false doctrine, or attacks on the church, or something else negative comes up along with the truth. As well as what's true, a lot things come up that either don't matter or aren't true - we've heard them time and time again. What's interesting is that we have shifted our lives to know truth from multiple sources. Everything I base my life on is truth. (Like, following the spirit; aligning my will with God's; praying to know what I need to do; knowing the answers I receive are truth that will help me.) Every time I do God's will (ask a question "Should I do this?" or "Is it your will that I do this?"), the answer I get is revelation - truth that I can depend on. The thing is, revelation isn't something I can Google. 

Truth vs. Fact
The church is amazing because we learn truth. We talked about this in church yesterday - there's fact then there's truth in science. You can calculate how big the tree is because you can see it - there's fact as to how big the tree is based on calculation, but you can't calculate how you feel. A lot of people have a hard time with spirituality because it's how you feel in your heart and mind, and somehow you just know it's true. 

Elder Rosenow and Elder Lovgren at a baptism on Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week Twenty-Four - The Spirit Prepares People

This week, Elder Lovgren talked about how the spirit prepares people. He said:

What I Learned This Week
The theme of what I learned this week is: People are ready when they're ready, and I cannot change people. I can only be an example and change myself. In the end, would I rather be "right" or would I rather be "happy"? (Do I want to be "right" by forcing them to do something they don't want to do? Or would I rather be "happy" and love them for who they are, and enjoy the friendship we have?) Those questions teach me patience, humility, and diligence. So many things teach me. Time and time again I keep running into the fact that I can't change people. It's not me but the spirit that changes people. All I can do is invite the spirit and know that it's the spirit that changes people, always. 

Personal Experience
The spirit changed me. I remember being at home and planning to not go on a mission. I needed some money and it was on my mind. That evening, Elders came over. (No doubt about it - they were inspired to come over.) The Elders came over and I just remember a blonde Elder, I have no idea what his name was - he was a dude from Utah - a normal guy, just out of high school, and trying his best on his mission. He bore his testimony and I just remember the spirit I felt in our home and how it was everything. I wanted to be like that guy. He didn't make films or have an amazing portfolio with a bunch of cool things - he was just a normal guy - but the spirit he had was everything and I wanted it.  

Led to the Solution
I was in a humbled position, and I still needed money. No coincidence that the next day I was watching wedding films and thinking about how making wedding films was gonna make some money. I was watching couples come out of the temple and talk about eternal marriage. It made me think of my childhood and how glad I was to have been raised in the gospel, and how I had a warm and welcoming childhood growing up. Never did I ever feel pressure to do things I didn't want to do. Never did I ever have pressure to go on a mission. (Well, I did sometimes. Sometimes it was like, "Are you really gonna go on a mission?," but that's how much you guys cared about me. :) 

Being Prepared
I said, "Nah, I'm not gonna go on a mission" and you said, "Okay, just do something" and I did. I made films that I thought would fulfill my purpose. *I* was being prepared. I was living my journey and on my path. (Missionary work is real and true because we are doing the Lord's work. The Lord guides our lives more than we know and blesses us through others.) I was at a point in my life where I was humbled - I didn't have any money, I didn't really know what I was doing with my life, coincidentally the missionaries came over and shared a message that allowed me to feel the spirit, and the Lord placed me on a path to look up wedding films.

My Decision to Serve
Mom, I remember that day we were driving and I told you I was going on a mission. You were like, "What? You're going on a mission? You said you weren't gonna go."  and I said, "Nah, I'm going." We parked in the Jimmy John's parking lot to have lunch and I told you, "I'm going on a mission, Mom, because I want a family like our family." I remember saying that and looking at you and I couldn't see your face because the sun was shining and blinding me. I remember thinking that's not a coincidence. This decision is righteous. Part of me felt scared to say my decision out loud and part of me felt scared of the reality, but never did I ever question going on a mission ever again. (We all know that I must have been further prepared because it took me a while to go on a mission, but after those experiences I never lost sight of me going.)

We're Always Planting Seeds
The blonde Elder has no clue what he did for me - he changed my life! He bore simple testimony and it changed my life because the spirit touched my heart. He's probably in Utah doing whatever and has no idea of the impact he had on my life. We never know how we'll affect someone.

Sister Missionaries, Elder Rosenow, Elder Lovgren, and a family member ready to eat at a family's house

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Week Twenty-Three - People

I love to hear from Elder Lovgren. Here's what he said last week:

We went to the lake and saw an old man (who looked like he was in his 80's) with a broken arm sitting on a bench. His name was Theodore and he was from Yugoslavia. He started out telling us there was no God and that he didn't believe in religion or eternal life, but he believed there was a moral code to everything. We taught him the first lesson then he told us, "I was 11 years old and it was 1945-WWII. I was in my home and two Nazi's came in my door. They grabbed me-pulled me out of the house-and took me to the general's office where he yelled at me to tell him where they were. I kept telling him "No" and the guy slapped me so hard that I flew ten feet. Again he said "Tell me" and I said "No" so he hit me on the other side of my face and I flew ten feet. (The whole night before, we had prayed to God to keep us safe. I prayed all night.) They took my entire family, threw them into the camp, and they all died. All my friends died. I lived because I crawled under a barbed wire fence and escaped. Twenty year's later I realized there was no God because I prayed and he didn't hear me. In my mind I thought what do you mean he didn't hear you? You escaped under barbed wire! 

     Every One Has Agency
  • The thing is that we all have our agency. I can't even imagine how hard it would have been to live when the wars were-evil, evil men killing innocent people in the name of God.
Theodore, continued
We we're there to tell him, "You know what? There IS a God. Some people choose to do things that are obscene, and it's there as a testimony against them to the judgment of God because He's Just. Mercy does not rob justice, so those people are not in a good place and they chose that for themselves. For those who are innocent, they have opportunities-whether in this life or the next-to accept Jesus Christ." I just remember leaving and him thanking us so much because he remembered working with a couple of Mormons. He was a scientist. He said, "I was in a pharmacy and worked with a couple of Mormons. Great people, great families, and they were great scientists, too. They were great scientists because they could believe in God and be scientists, too." He had the biggest smile on his face and looked so happy after meeting with us. We gave him a Book of Mormon and I said, "That's the least we can give you for telling us such incredible stories."

Elder Lovgren behind the camera, filming a training in August 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week Twenty-Two - Obedience

Monday is the best day of the week right now because I hear from Elder Lovgren. Here are some things he said last week:

Being a Missionary
The demands of being out here this week made me realize how much I love being out here. I love wearing this name tag over my heart every day. I realized this week how much I love wearing these clothes and how much I love loving - loving people is the biggest thing for me. I have really come to love the people here in Irvine. I'm so happy that my prayers have turned from me-me-me to others. I think about how I can help others, be an instrument in the Lord's hands, and be a tool for Him to use. It's just going with the flow and following the spirit. It feels so good. It feels good when I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. 

Obedience and Happiness
What is fun about life when I'm constantly fighting "You should be doing this" and "You should be doing that"? What's enjoyable about feeling "You should be doing this right now" and constantly fighting (thinking "No, I don't want to)? The promptings are all out of love and they're to bless people. 
  • For example today: We're going to a restaurant for breakfast and this morning. I called the Elders and was like, "Are we gonna wear proths? Which is Proselyting clothes (white shirt and tie.) He was like, "I don't know, are you?" and I was like, "I don't really like going to clothing stores and having to take off my proths clothes when I try on clothes, so I'm just gonna wear normal clothes." Then I took a shower and the whole time felt like wear your proths clothes, wear your proths clothes.  I thought why? and then realized there are people who see us in proths, and they think about us and what we're doing - serving the Lord, and if we're just in normal clothes they won't think that. 
  • I have two years to be able to wear these clothes with this name tag - to be identified as a missionary - and I really realized there's not a moment to waste. I gotta be out there. I can sleep when I die. I can sacrifice at this time for greater things to come. As I kept fighting to put on my normal clothes  the impression was 'no, you should be putting on your proths clothes' and all of a sudden my peace of mind started going away. I thought what's the point of fighting it?, and so texted the Elders, "Hey, I'm gonna wear proths clothes." I put on my proths clothes and my peace of mind stayed. Now I'm back to cruisin'. 
That gives me perspective. And it's never easy, that's the thing, it's never easy. Every time I want to do something but feel in my heart that I should be doing something else - the Holy Ghost is tugging at me - it's never easy or convenient. It's not supposed to be that way. That's why it's so important to be truly converted to the Lord and let His will become mine. Every action I do is for Him. It's tapping into the spiritual side and seeing who I really am. I'm very grateful for being out here. 

Elder Lovgren's District - Latest District Meeting at the Mission Home

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Week Twenty-One - Miracles

This week is called miracles because miracles happen when acting in faith. Here are some things Elder Lovgren said this week:

To Act
If we want to progress in this life - to find our true selves and bless people around us - we have to act. That's what our agency is for - to act not to be acted upon. I loved in General Conference this past weekend how Elder Christofferson said there's incorrect thinking that we don't need religion but just spirituality. He brought up how we have hands and feet for a reason - to go and do, to go and serve (help) people. 

He said the church isn't all about self but serving (helping) as well. He said you get so much by serving others; and you do that by using your hands and feet. That meant a lot to me because we talk to so many people out here who try and find the truth for themselves, for their own means, for their own creation in their heads, but it comes back to being humble. How you become humble is first taking that leap of faith. 

Faith is SO important because you'll never come to a point of being humble and believing if you don't have the faith and willingness to take the leap. (You'll just always believe that your mind is the greater mind, and that there isn't a higher power. Your mind is the only thing you'll know.) To be honest, it is my complete witness that all the things I've done out here are not me. I would never be led to teach and help people if I didn't have the Lord. There's absolutely no way. And if you think about what the work is, it is to bring joy and happiness to people. Real joy and happiness is helping people find who they are. Real joy and happiness is helping them feel that they really are a child of God. That He is their Heavenly Father. That everyone's life has a plan; to return back to Him. That there is joy and happiness and that there is more to know. 

There's a scripture in Helaman that says "I do not say that these things shall be of myself because it is not of myself that I know these things." I resonate with that a lot. Another scripture in Alma basically says "I don't boast of myself but I boast of my God." That's just being honest. I thought what was interesting was what I read in an AA book (that the church put out for people with addictions) that pride and honesty cannot coexist. I thought that was so profound. PRIDE.AND.HONESTY.CANNOT. COEXIST. That's really something to ponder because I want to be the most honest person. But if I'm letting my own thoughts and desires come between me and God, and letting my own learning come above Him, am I being completely honest? 

At the September 6, 2015 Newport Beach Stake Temple Devotional with Elder Lovgren and Elder Rosenow

Friday, October 2, 2015

Week Twenty - Correction

Elder Lovgren has been out for twenty weeks (4-1/2 months.) He just completed his third transfer and each transfer is six weeks (3 x 6 = 18). He spent two weeks in the MTC (18 + 2 = 20). Let's not get ahead of ourselves! He's been gone for twenty weeks and next Monday will be 21. Here's what he said about completing the last transfer:

End of Transfer Three
I'm stoked because the transfer is over, guys! I did it! Yet another transfer done! Elder Rosenow, my companion, has grown a lot. He's becoming a good missionary. He's stepping out of his shell, talking, and engaging. I knew I was gonna learn a lot from him this transfer and that's exactly what happened. There's really nothing more humbling than to learn from someone who's fresh out. There's a purity in him only being out for a month. He's very set on being the missionary he dreamed of being his entire life and won't be swayed by anything.

Elder Rosenow, Elder ?, Elder Lovgren

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Week Twenty-One - The Holy Ghost

I love Elder Lovgren's messages! They are so thought provoking and heart felt. Here are a few things he said this week:

I want people to feel at least a portion of the love I feel because as of late it has been the most driving force for me. To think about love ... some people don't feel loved at all. We talk to people all the time who don't feel loved. They never have been and they try to find love through temporal things. They are loved more than they could ever imagine. I know and feel that. 

The Spirit is What Teaches
Forever now in my mission and in my life I will do what I can to invite the spirit. There is nothing that will change a person's heart more than when something clicks in their brain at the same time as when they feel something in their heart. When sometimes something doesn't make sense, its the reading AND feeling that causes the mind to understand. Every single person needs to feel the spirit and that's the job of missionaries. To bring the spirit to [our investigator] makes me so happy. I feel pure joy!

Bearing My Testimony
At Fast and Testimony meeting last Sunday every single person that went up spoke to me and it was exactly what I needed to feel and hear. I was sitting there just tearing up. The spirit was tugging "Go up, Go up" so at the end, with five minutes left, I went up. 

I told them about the experience I had with [our investigator] and teaching by the spirit. I said, "I wasn't there when Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ but I know that the way he felt when he saw them was the same spirit that touched the heart of [our investigator]. And it's the same spirit I've felt in here that's changed my heart." I pretty much bawled my eyes out up there saying, "The Holy Ghost is everything and the fullness of the gospel has been restored to the earth. We have it, and it's free to have if we just choose to have it in our life. I've never come to more truth and understanding - in my life - than what I've felt through the Holy Ghost." Pretty much half the congregation was crying. I've never poured my heart out that much up at the pulpit, but it came from a sincere place. 

Another Zone Conference for the Irvine Area, Where's Elder Lovgren? Shhh, don't tell! :)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Week Twenty - Mission Journey

Its good to hear from Elder Lovgren every week and in a way experience his mission with him. Here are some things he said this week:

Fulfilling My Life
I've learned about myself in general - The gospel is what gives me fulfillment, like "Once you have the spirit, and you follow it, you're filled." I feel fulfilled - at the cap - even though the cap continues to enlarge and I feel like I hit the top. If I were to put all my joy into the temporal things of the world I'd always be left slightly empty - I'd be fulfilling something but left a little empty. 

It's the Journey
It's huge for me. It's true that the journey is most important. I cannot wait until I make a movie and enjoy the journey. Instead of "Once the film is done it will be amazing when people watch it" (you know, that old perspective that was stupid) now it's "The entire journey is what makes it good regardless of the turnout." It's interesting because in 2 Nephi 2 it talks about how there's an opposition in all things.  In verses 11 to 13 it talks about how if there's no sin there's no righteousness, and it goes all the way down to if there's no earth there's no creation then there's nothing then it all vanishes away. It's true, there's an opposition in all things. 

The Journey Has Given Me Perspective
I wouldn't have this perspective now if I didn't go through making Symirroretry - putting all my eggs in one basket, going full force, hoping for the end to be a happy, joyful experience, and then it wasn't. 

My Character Is More Important Than My Skill
What's integral for me is to build my character. Regardless if I was strong in the gospel when I made Symirroretry, now I know that Heavenly Father was very aware of me at that time. He knew my progression more than anyone and knew what I could be. All the prayers for me and others resulted in blessings from Heavenly Father. They were tender mercies that eventually led me to being out here. It's a miracle how that worked because it was my decision to go or not go. Choosing to go was a pretty heavy decision.  

Elder Lovgren and two other Elders at the September 17, 2015 Zone Conference

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week Nineteen - More Thoughts

We have company this week (Per's nieces :), so here's another recap of some of Elder Lovgren's thoughts:

Excellent Talk
Read this talk by Elder Bednar: The Character of Christ.
Prior to knocking on doors we go see all our investigators and I love them.
We're given language and perspective is attached to that language. Language is imperfect - what I say can be interpreted in so many ways. If we meet someone on the street and say to them, "We have a message about Jesus Christ," sometimes they have a different perspective about Jesus Christ and don't want to hear it. I wonder how we can make our work effective because some people just naturally perceive things differently.
Definition of Pride
Every morning we have personal and companion study. One day I looked up 'pride' in the Bible Dictionary and it said that pride is a lack of teachableness. It hit me that having pride is basically a lack of being a missionary. I wondered how I had become so prideful and also wondered what it meant. I wrote down that it happened because the world became my focus and it meant that my self exploration was me relying on myself.

There I was at home exploring concepts and although the gospel had always been part of my life (I prayed every night, read the scriptures, believed everything, went to church) I didn't really have that full conversion. I was trying to find myself by looking inward. What I've learned out here is when you lose yourself you find yourself. I've always only been motivated by myself - by building myself, and it's hard not to think about myself.
I read a talk called His Grace is Sufficient about how God's grace isn't to pick us up but to fill us entirely. The talk is a collective of my feelings. I love this scripture:  

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears. – 2 Nephi 21:1-3

The scripture says "make him of quick understanding." 'Quickening' in the scriptures means so much. I'm around people who have so much knowledge of the scriptures and it makes me feel so inadequate, but there's a quickening of time. This experience makes my knowledge and understanding of the Lord quicken. Having the "fear of the Lord" makes me not judged neither reproved. "Wow!"
This week has been another awesome week! l'm continuing to grow - the week before was a changing moment about pride and forgetting myself, and this week was "put it to the test, now it's your turn" as I tried not to focus on myself. The days when I forgot about the past and my desires and focused on what the Lord wanted me to be as a missionary were the best days. I woke up psyched, I went to bed with a smile on my face, and I talked to everyone. The days when I focused on other things my faced showed that my mind was on other things, my demeanor changed, and I didn't want to be that guy! I want to be a good missionary and it's time to work on it!
Good Lessons Learned
I feel like this week has stretched me (always submitting to a schedule and to other people's needs.) I think, "Man, this is going to be so good for my life when I'm off my mission!" These are good things for me and it makes me really excited to know I can be the best I can be. 
It Doesn't Adequately Express My Thanks
I'm really grateful for everything. I wish I could do more for you guys back at home. I wish I could express more how much you do for me, all the things you send me, and the letters. Everything I ask for I get and it makes me truly grateful. I pray every day how grateful I am for everything. It's made me the most happy to sit for 20 minutes and pray about everything I'm grateful for - it makes my heart fill with joy.
My Hope
I hope to continue improving, coming closer to Christ, and making you guys proud! I want to make this the best two years of my life! (It's already been the best two months of my life.) It's going to be the best two years and I honestly feel like it's going too fast! I need to slow down and enjoy these moments. I want to come closer to Christ. I'm going to try my hardest. My goal this week is to always be out serving, because when I do the blessings come. 
Feeling Rather Than Seeing
There's such a visual coating on how Mormon's are perceived out here. Sometimes I wish we could not have eyes so people could just listen and feel. It would be so great if they would just listen to the truth about God and hear true principles of faith and repentance, but instead they're looking at kids in white shirts and name tags and automatically assuming.

Sometimes I experience the assumption. I'll say, "How's your evening?" and at first they'll respond but as soon as they see my white shirt and tie they assume and think "Don't talk to me, I don't want anything to do with what you say." Experiencing that has been so humbling! If someone comes up to me and says "I have a message to share" I'll listen because I know how rejection feels. 
I came on a mission to spread a message that is (from what I've come to know) truth. Literal truth. We know that God is real - there is a God, and the only truth comes from God. It's impossible to know truth that doesn't come from God. I'm out here trying to help people see that God is truth. That trickles down to how I keep the truth in my life. It trickles down but I see that it comes from Heavenly Father. He is the source of light and truth. 
I totally have a testimony that perfection only comes through building a foundation on Jesus Christ. It's such a foreign concept to people who don't even have an understanding of who Jesus Christ is, and why he was. They wonder "How does He relate to me?" Over the time I've been out here and seeing the design and purpose of why we follow Jesus Christ (what the church even means, why we take the sacrament) I've realized it leads us to returning back to Heavenly Father. 

Returning to The Father
It makes perfect sense that everything we're commanded to do is from God. It's where we can create a path where (with assurance) we can get back to Heavenly Father. Not only get back to Him but be able to live in His presence. (Just like last week when I said I was looking at the sun but it was too bright to see, the goal is to be able to look at Him and our eyes won't be hurt by His glory.) It's all about preparation.
Hi :)
What's up fam - it's Elder Lovgren! I'm here on my balcony and it's the end of week one transfer three. I've been out here a little over three months now and it just so happens to be that I'm gonna train someone! Pretty big news! This week was the week of trials, growth, and so much joy! I really feel like a missionary now - kinda funny to say that because I've been living it for three months - but having the opportunity to train someone else is a completely different experience. This week was tough but it was also so good.

Elder Lovgren and Brother Rasmussen at the MTC

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Week Eighteen - Thoughts

Here are some other things Elder Lovgren has said in his messages to us:

The Atonement Is Real
Yesterday I felt tremendous guilt to the point of not being able to eat and feeling sick. I prayed and had an impression to read the scriptures. Praying brought me peace and tears. Upon turning to the scriptures, the first thing I read was exactly what I needed -2 Nephi 32:3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost...feast upon the words of Christ...for the words of Christ will tell you all things that ye should do.
Purpose of MTC Accomplished
I feel like the MTC prepared me for the mission field; now that I'm in CA I get to apply what I learned.

My New Companions
On the day of transfers all the missionaries were at the mission home and the new missionaries were at the front. I looked at the missionaries sitting there and thought "one of those guys is going to be my companion". The Mission President was reading our bios then I heard him say, "Well this is something you don't usually read ... he makes films and music for his films" (one of the missionaries shouted out, "He made a skateboarding documentary.") My companions are 1) Elder Cedeńo (has skated for 10 years, gave me a tech deck when we first met and said, "This is going to be the coolest transfer ever!") and 2) Elder Cannon.
God and Art

Before going on my mission I always focused on being an individual, not conforming, doing things that had never been done before, being an explorer - an innovator, and being one with others. What it comes down to is that whenever I'm doing a project, making music, or making films I'm creating. God is a creator, an artist, and making art is being like God. Brainstorming, God (G) is in the middle of the circle. One thing God is is art, so I'll draw a line from the circle with a G and call it 'Art'. (Art can be nothing or everything. Anything can be art because it's our perspective. There's no right or wrong, it's both imperfect and perfect, and that, to me, is entirely God. All of who God is can't be understood and He had no limits put on him.)
Mission Time Flies
I've been so busy this week (a bbq, a bunch of service projects) ... The weeks go by so fast! ... Monday is p-day and Friday is weekly planning ... The time from Monday to Friday flies - then it's soon Monday again!
A Spiritual Thought
Spiritually, this is an amazing week! I'm so much more strong and have come close to the scriptures (especially D&C.) The verse in D&C that speaks so much to me is one that God sent: …for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual. –D&C 29:35

I've been pondering that scripture a lot and realize the commandments are spiritual. It's not striving to become something of man but of God. When you go to church, or read the scriptures, or pray you progress so much farther than this life; I've never seen it that way. We talk to so many people on the streets who say, "I can't stand organized religion" or "Organized religion isn't for me" and I think "Okay, but can you see how coming to church makes you get closer to God? You don't see God - He's not presiding at church, the church is run by men. But the power and authority there is from God. Coming to church builds you spiritually." All the commandments are meant for us to grow beyond our temporal needs. That means so much to me and gives me a different perspective on why I go to church, why I take the sacrament, why I pray, why I read the scriptures, and why I do all these things.
This week has been another awesome week! l'm continuing to grow - the week before was a changing moment about pride and forgetting myself, and this week was "put it to the test, now it's your turn" as I tried not to focus on myself. The days when I forgot about the past and my desires and focused on what the Lord wanted me to be as a missionary were the best days. I woke up psyched, I went to bed with a smile on my face, and I talked to everyone. The days when I focused on other things my faced showed that my mind was on other things, my demeanor changed, and I didn't want to be that guy! I want to be a good missionary and it's time to work on it!
First Transfer Is Over
This is the end of my first transfer. I cannot believe that it's already been one transfer - six weeks that I've been here! Wednesday five missionaries in our zone go home and I've grown close to a couple of them so it's gonna be sad to see them leave. I'm staying in Irvine another six weeks.

The Key - Obedience
I feel solid about being the missionary I want to be, and it's about being obedient. There's a line in the middle and on one side is darkness and on the other side is light. When I make an obedient choice I move toward the light and when I make a disobedient choice I move toward the darkness - it's as simple as that. I want Christ always in my life. 
The work out here is doing super good - super super super good! We've got two investigators getting baptized at the end of this month.

A Great Book
I've been reading the Book of Mormon - never have read it cover to cover - and right now I'm in the middle of 2 Nephi. Every morning I can't wait to read the book. There's something about it - when I'm seeking and having faith the book is for me and I feel so peaceful and happy. This morning I read 2 Nephi chapter 4 and I have to say that's probably one of the most beautiful chapters. Nephi is expressing how much this gospel means to him, how much God means to him, and I love the way he asks questions and is pleading. He says I've felt God in my life before why do I keep falling into temptation? Awake my soul - what am I doing? He asks all these questions, I'm seeing him go through this, and I'm thinking "Wow, this is so beautiful." That is an amazing chapter!

I Understand
Growing up, when I'd hear 'the pure love of Christ' I'd interpret it as the pure love of me loving Christ, but on my mission I learned it's the pure love of Christ loving me. Knowing the Savior loves me and focusing on my love for Him has put me in tune with acting like Him. I can love others and it starts with loving Him first. I've seen blessings come from that ... like being so much more enlightened this week. 
First lesson that changed my life 
The Lord reveals his plan step by step. It is so true! Step by step. Precept upon precept. Little by little. When we are directed to do something (the spirit guides us, "Go and do this") he reveals the thing, then the next thing, then the next thing. He doesn't reveal our entire life's plan. We have a plan, but knowing it is step by step. It's been amazing to have the spirit lead me to one place, then another, and then to look back and think "Wow! How did I get here." It's amazing to know "That was the spirit the entire time. That was God's direction and his hand in my life."

Second lesson that changed my life 
Focusing on investigators is most important. True happiness comes when I study for investigators, when I pray about them, and when I think about them all the time. I become more in tune with the spirit when I serve these people. Losing myself in the work like "this isn't about me at all" isn't a struggle any more. I don't struggle with or think about myself. Of course, I'm prideful in certain ways, but I'm making improvements - I know I am because I'm happier during the day and not ranting about who I am and what I've done. What a blessing that's been!
When the Lord asks me to give up something it's usually something that means a lot to me - because he wants to know where my heart's at. It's like that scripture that men look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. It's true. I think an honest heart is a godly heart. When my honest intention is to give up anything in this life to do the Lord's will, that's what He wants - to the point that He strips away things I hold dearest to me. 

Giving Up Something Dear
My camera broke. I thought my camera was gonna present an opportunity to create memories and exercise exploring my creativity. (Every day I walk around and see photos I should be taking but my camera's broken.) I bought my camera because I knew it wouldn't break, and I'm like "Why did this break?" I think the reason it broke was because the Lord knows I find peace in shooting photos, but He wants to know if I'm willing to give it up to let Him fill me instead.

Giving Up Another Thing
It's the same with music. I find so much peace in the music I listen to, but having to give that up and let it seem like I'm empty handed and just have the scriptures tells Him I'm willing to give it up. He knows my heart and I can tell of the blessings. 
It's Only Hard Until We Choose
It's easier to be 100% obedient than to be 99% obedient because when we're 99% obedient we're constantly having to remember God's will and then decide if we're gonna obey it or not. But if we decide to be 100% obedient, every time we're faced with a decision we already know and don't have to remember! If we decide to obey all the commandments we don't have to decide again when faced with the choice to obey or disobey, but if we decide to obey 99% of the time, whenever we're faced with the decision we have to re-choose.

I've had to decide whether or not to be obedient out here. When I choose to be less than 100% obedient I sit there and wonder "Am I gonna choose to do this or not?" Then my mind starts to stir and stir and stir, and I let in a little bit of darkness-the adversary pushes me away from the light, then my countenance changes and the look on my face is focused on trying to choose, and then I'm bummed. The adversary is in my life when I'm trying to focus on the light, and all that confusion wouldn't be there if I'd just make the commitment to be 100% obedient. Complete obedience is thinking "I'm gonna do everything I can to obey" and making the commitment NOW! 
Peace of Mind
Obedience isn't taking away control but giving us more control, because when we have peace of mind we're out more - we're out talking with people, loving people, and being better at work. Being a missionary is the same as me having a career at home. If I didn't have to constantly choose it would make making a film so much easier because I wouldn't have to constantly discern things. It's all about obedience. Obedience is actually loving Heavenly Father and that's the first commandment - love Heavenly Father then love our neighbor. When we love God we love our neighbors and when we love our neighbors we love God. We need to just love God.

Sister Luft and Elder Lovgren at the MTC

Week Seventeen - Pictures

Per and I have been gone on vacation for two weeks to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. It was too hard to update this blog from Per's laptop while we were gone, but now we're back and here are some pictures Elder Lovgren has taken on his mission:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week Sixteen - New Companion

Elder Lovgren is doing really well. The second transfer just ended and with the beginning of the third transfer he got a new companion. Here's what he said this week:
  • What's up fam - it's Elder Lovgren! I'm here on my balcony and it's the end of week one transfer three. I've been out here a little over three months now and it just so happens to be that I'm a daddy! (I'm gonna train someone!) Pretty big news! This week was the week of trials, growth, and so much joy! I really feel like a missionary now - kinda funny to say that because I've been living it for three months - but having the opportunity to train someone else is a completely different experience. This week was tough but it was also so good.

  • He's 19 - a young guy - but I truly believe we were meant to be companions because he's grown in so many ways this past week. Maybe right now he's new, but I guarantee that by the end of our training he's gonna be a completely different person. He's gonna completely step out of his shell. I know he has the potential to become something great!

  • This was the heaviest transfer so far. One of the AP's finished his mission as did so many missionaries that I know. This was the group of missionaries I've gotten closest too and it wasn't emotional but like, "Dang! I know every single one of them!" That's a first. Usually the ones going home have been missionaries that are old and I don't really know them, but they were missionaries I knew well and invested time with. It was crazy to see them go.  

  • I have a strong belief that the spirit truly doesn't dwell in unholy temples. I also believe it pertains to us - our bodies - because our body is a temple. That's why we eat foods that are healthy. That's why we don't partake in doing drugs or doing other things to harm ourselves. I also believe it pertains to the environments where we live. The spirit can't dwell in a home that's super cluttered and messy. You can tell an entire difference when you go in someone's home that's super dirty, dingy (and you can tell they struggle), or when you go into a home which is clean and they take the time to have an environment where you can feel the spirit.

  • I took having a clean environment to heart and was like "I want my 'greenie' to be able to feel the spirit and grow this transfer, so I'm starting with cleaning this house from top to bottom." When he walks in the door I want him to know it's where he should be. Walking into a clean home is so refreshing! This apartment is a home where I actually feel it's mine. This is a big moment for me. This is the first home where I'm in charge. I'm not paying the bills (probably different) but the fact that it's "my space" and I have to take responsibility to clean it is really cool - I love it! I'm planning on hanging up photos and making it a place where when we come in and do our personal and companionship studies - what we do in the morning - it will push the work even more. 
Elder Lovgren at the MTC