What a week. What a week indeed. We taught 15 lessons, which anyone who went to a Hispanic country may regard as sub par but for us came with much rejoicing. We have a few new investigators and several possibly new investigators come this week. One is Jonas, a extremely happy and passionate refugee from Eritrea. He just came into the country, speaks zero swedish but some sweet creole English that I wish I had naturally, (“you go sleep tight now broda!”) and is currently in a refugee camp 3 hours north of us. The difficulty is 1: he does not have residence yet (but he is a refugee and this Sweden so it should be fine) and 2: he does not have means to actually make it to Karlstad for church. He has a little bit of money from the government for survival until he can get settled but he says “the good people gave me money and I wanna show my thanks by not spending much of it.” So we hope and pray all goes well for him…. We meet a lot of refugees that have seen some terrible things and it is wonderful to see them working hard here in Sweden. They are very grateful people. They also awaken you to just how many people need to be helped in this world that is easy to not care about when you are far away and comfortable.
One very sad thing that happened this week was Samir (our investigator with a baptism date) lost one of his closest friends this week. He was killed as an innocent citizen by ISIS in the war in Syria. This was a very heavy blow for Samir. We are postponing his baptism date (it was suppose to be this next week) but he still is very strong and right now what is most important is being here for him. One would think going on a mission you are further from the things in the news but when you meet and teach people who are running from ISIS or have had family or friends killed by ISIS, it is very close to you indeed. I’ve never had to properly give these terrors much thought apart from the very American fear of another monument being blown up and our citizens dying, but now when I am teaching people that God is our loving Heavenly Father and they’ve seen horrible things, I couldn’t dream of and have had loved ones massacred by what I can call not much less than evil. It does become a weight on my heart. Terrorism was such a distant thing once, and now I am meeting and teaching those whose lives have been torn apart by it. For anyone who may look at this world and all that is evil in it and ask, how could a loving God let this happen? Please read Alma 14:8-13: This is when Alma, a prophet from the Book of Mormon, was preaching the gospel to the city of Ammonihah. Several people were converted but the judges of the city, were evil men who imprisoned Alma and his companion, Amulek and forced them to witness all the people they converted get burned to death. and it reads: “8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Often times, after witnessing or being closely impacted with a tragedy, one can feel heavy guilt that those they loved were killed and they are alive and safe. But, they can find comfort in what Alma says, that those who were good that were killed by the hand of those who are evil, will be rewarded in heaven, for God truly is loving. If they survived while their loved ones were killed, perhaps God still intends for them to do something very special in this life before going to the next. Perhaps even find the gospel! God loves each and everyone of us personally, and the pains we go through in this life will be paid 100 fold in love and peace and blessings in the life to come.
On a much lighter note, the rest of my week….. We are also teaching Monika’s daughters now. Cajsa is 17 and the first lesson went very well. She was the most engaged investigator on the first lesson yet. Hope for great things with that family….
We get a lot of people not interested, but Swedes are very polite about it and we’ve only had two interesting encounters this week…I always love interesting encounters. The first was this man demanding to see our Mormon papers. I showed him my license to proselytize but apparently that wasn’t the *mormon paper* he was talking about so he slammed the door, saying that we are not “real Mormons.” The second was a very friendly old man from Bosnia,who met the missionaries back in the 1991 (pretty sure, he had a thick accent) in Sarajevo and loved their message but had to run away from the war to Sweden (again from what I understood) and has not been contacted since….Unfortunately, he has completely lost his marbles. We talked to him for a good hour and every five minutes he thought we were the authorities and showed us his residence card, and passport, and debit card, and other miscellaneous papers….He also kept forgetting to speak Swedish and started slipping into Bosnian and asking if we met before and where his daughter was. He actually liked what we had to say and seemed like he would be promising if he was in the right mind, but you can’t really baptize or indeed teach someone who is in another dimension. On the outside, the whole event was comical but thinking more on it it was rather sad. He lives alone, with a very little grasp of reality or sanity, and could very well have joined the church when he was mentally able. People like him, I am positive will be blessed in the next life.
I should probably stop writing, for people with normal lives don’t really have time for these letters anyways. But just so you know, I love you all and sincerely suggest you visit Sweden (and Norway also, the Lidins in my branch moved from Norway and would very much tell anyone who asks that Norway is better) at least once in your life. Sweden is a gorgeous country, with beautiful untouched wildlife always just over your shoulder, the most picturesque towns and the world’s best bakeries. Come here as soon as you can! I’m falling madly in love with this place. Especially visit Värmland. It seems like every two minutes on the train there is another lake, dotted with brightly painted lakehouses in the most beautiful countryside on earth.
I love this church. I love this gospel. I love the Book of Mormon and I love how all three can bless lives. I also love my Dad who is turning 52 this week. Happy Birthday Dad! Thank you for being the best father in the world. Without you, I would not be here, or indeed anywhere if you want to be scientific about it, but more importantly without you amazing example I would not be who I am today. Thank you!
Love, Äldste Erik Scott