This will have to be a shorter letter than most for my p-day has been a bit shortened due to meeting with my branch president for lunch and a lesson with an inactive in a few hours. So, in the words of Friar Lawrence “Let me be brief”. (though the tale I have to tell is not nearly as long nor as well written nor as depressing as that of Romeo and Juliet’s.)
I’m steadily adjusting to missionary life. I feel like I molded into Swedish life perfectly fine, but I wish to mold into the language better. An 80 year old inactive couple we visit, got a chuckle out of the fact that I got sent to Varmland for my first transfer. The accent here is uniquely sing songy as far as Swedish accents go. I’ll get there…. I can speak well enough to give a lesson but the MTC does not do much for teaching you how to understand what an old varmlandska farmer is saying in insanely fast-rapid Swedish.
This week we received four new investigators, which is very exciting for this area, plus a few that we have dates to meet them. The first of the week was Monica and her daughter. Monica is from El Salvador and has lived in Sweden for a while now. Missionaries visited her awhile ago, but it has been several months since her last lesson. She really likes to talk to anyone about Christ, for in Sweden, Christians exist, but they are sprinkled among heaps of atheists. They are all very kind atheist that are never negative to you for sharing the gospel, but atheists nonetheless. The lesson went very well. She believes our words and she has a desire to be baptized. The baptism date cannot be made yet for certain reasons, but we will keep giving the lessons. She also will make homemade tacos with real Salvadorian spices next time we visit, which I look forward to very much, for Swedish food is delicious, but even the Kebab shops don’t get very spicy.
We also started teaching an old man (not sure what his age is) named Ivan who has an inactive wife. He collects cuckoo clocks and still has his hair like a snazzy 1950’s greaser. Our fourth new investigator came as bit of a surprise yesterday. Motty, from Finland, showed up to church asking how much it cost to buy a Book of Mormon. We were a bit shocked at first that an investigator actually came to us, but we recovered and informed him that it is free in any language he would like. We are now meeting him on Wednesday!
As for the rest of the week, we had a very fantastic Tuesday on the Lidin’s farm, taking care of the horses, pigs and sheep. Their farm is one of the loveliest places on earth. Bjorn Lidin is in the branch presidency. His son,Christian takes care of the farm now. He has a wife who is a recent convert and a little girl who turned 1 last Sunday. That night, we had some delicious chicken stew, from their own chickens, and they sent us home with a generous selection of their farm. We now have homemade loaves of bread on the table, a large bag of their farm’s potatoes that can last us months, and several pounds of their lamb in our freezer. (They also cooked lamb stew for the branch after church yesterday so they are very nice to have in the branch) We are going to go to their farm to help out again tomorrow after a day of contacting in Sunne.
On Wednesday, we gave out free hot chocolate and decided to take a short cut across a frozen lake to a lesson, which was awesome and initially a good idea, but then we forgot that their was a forest on the other side before the road. For me, that made it all the more better, but we had a lesson to go to….So, much forest rambling to go through, which isn’t a big deal in Sweden. You can camp a night on someone’s property, and legally camp up to two weeks with their permission. (Much different from the good old USA where you get shot in the chest for admiring someone’s maple tree). We made it to the appointment fairly on time.
The rest of the week was a decent cycle of contacting and lessons. On Saturday, we traveled nearly an hour to the town of Kristinehamn to contact a referral whose phone number didn’t work. Turns out the referral gave her friend’s address so her friend could make sure that we didn’t appear crazy first. She actually lives in Filipstad, which is another 45 or so minutes. So, we spent the rest of the day contacting in Kristinehamn which was actually very enjoyable. It is a very friendly community, and of the 45 contacts we actually got a few that will want us to come back. The friendliest of all turned out to be from Glasgow (Scotland) which explains why she was so friendly…. Glasgow missionaries have got it easy. Everyone from Glasgow will start talking to you like you’re their best friend. The lady was an active Catholic but it was nice to talk to a Scot nonetheless. One door we knocked on, an old lady threw out her back when answering the door and we had to run to get the neighbors for help. It was all very frightening and a bit of my mission I hope to blot out for eternity. All in all, I love Kristinehamn and intend on returning often. We had dinner that night at Igenborg’s house. She is a member who lives in Kristinehamn, writes poetry about Varmland, has been collecting church stuff since the 60s and has a room set aside just for the missionaries to hang out.
I am so thankful that I can be here, in beautiful Sweden, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and this gospel is the only way to receive true joy and peace. If it wasn’t true, the idea of sending out thousands of 18-19 year old boys all over the globe, to live in apartments by themselves, would’ve failed ages ago. There is no way young men and women can do what they do on missions if this gospel wasn’t true. I’ve come to know that it is, and so thankful to have it in my life, and wish to give it to as many people who will listen, and see it change theirs. Yeah, Swedish clothes are nice, especially the sweaters, and yes. food is very good as well, but if I put the work before all else and have the faith, the Lord will provide means for me, and when hard times come.
I love you all and I hope Oregon gets a little colder so you can ski properly. We are supposed to get a heap of snow this week here in Karlstad!