A not so brief letter from Elder Erik Scott.

grass.jpgThis week was warm, as in a high 39 degrees and once even up to 41, which meant everyone was out on their bikes and wearing something less than a huge winter coat.  The sun was out for several days and the people, who are already fairly happy, nice, people, were even more noticeably cheery. I’m very much looking forward to the summer nights where the sun is still in the sky at 2 in the morning….We still have a sizable chunk of winter to finish off before that, as the sky reminded me today by snowing again. Still, I can feel the season changing. When I first got to Karlstad, the sun was setting around 3:30 pm, only getting about 7 hours of light, and now the sun is setting around 5:20 with 9 hours of daylight.

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Shocked by the sun.
Now for what really happened this week:

On Tuesday, we visited several people and Elder Dahle got a lovely oil burn on his arm from making Beignets. A few hours, after the incident his arm looked like the product of some bizarre medieval disease caused by a local witch’s tomfoolery. I am generous enough to not send pictures. Fortunately for others, and unfortunately for him the giant yellow bubbles on his arm w ere all popped the next day while working on the Lidins’ farm. While he was suffering ruptured bubontic plague sores, I washed some cows and enjoyed a nice day taking care of pigs, horses, chickens and sheep. It is a very good therapy for missionary stress.
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At the Lindins on Semlas Day!

The point of me telling this is not to put a spotlight on another missionary’s faults but rather to help illustrate two things; 1. If you are investigating our church, please know that missionaries are not perfect representations of the gospel. I certainly am not. Just because he is rude, does not mean our Church is terrible. I hope you do not have to have a rude missionary, but I cannot promise that everyone on a mission has adequate social manners. 2. If you are a missionary, whether full time or as a member, please love the person, get to know them, and be kind to them always. They will not be very willing to change if you hardly say anything to them all throughout lunch and then when you open your mouth you just declare that they are wrong about various principles. Love them first. Let them become interested in your message before you correct a few technicalities they have had confused…and when you do correct, correct with kindness, consideration and love. Slamming down Bible verses and telling them they are foolish in not seeing how straightforward it is, will only do damage. Anyhow…. I still need to get over it.

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With Osaro, “Jerry”.

So back comfortably safe in Värmland, we had a very productive week. Osaro (Jerry) finished the book of Alma, has had all the lessons, is bearing his testimony about the Book of Mormon and the importance of tithing, loves watching conference talks with us at the Church and wants to clean the church building every week and go on teaches with us as often as possible. Today, we are arranging for missionaries in Nigeria to meet with his wife. He is very excited to get baptized. We still need to find a way for him to come to church on Sunday though…. With faith, I know it will work out.

Samir is extraordinary. He has two language classes a day.  He is studying to take the dental license exam in a few weeks, reads the Book of Mormon consistently,  finds time for us to teach him and then he teaches everything we teach him to his wife. All the Syrians we meet with have a unique ability to balance time, while others can’t fit us in….because of ice hockey on tv.

tower.jpgDefinitely, one of the crowning days of the week was Saturday. Firstly, we got to ride bikes, which I love, and our first lesson was with Anders at homeless hangout cafe. These places are pretty awesome. Anyone can walk in a get some free cake and snack food and tea. It is a brilliant program for the winter months especially. It holds many interesting visitors. If it wasn’t for the bright lighting and clean ikea furniture you would think it was the Hogs Head.  While teaching Anders, we met Jeremiah. This guy is quite the character. He is in his late 20s and looks like a Mirkwood elf. He has long blond Legolas hair and a clean shaven face. He once had a well paying job and a traditional Swedish life but then when he was reading the New Testament he decided to let go of all of that and just travel around giving to others and living free of material things. He is a legit rambler. He has wandered from the fjords of Norway to the highlands of Scotland, to the beaches of Greece to the peaks of the Alps. His life purpose is to live like Christ and appreciate the beautiful earth. He goes wherever the wind blows him. Pretty much Ian’s ideal dream before the mission made him all set on getting married. To make him even cooler, he spent a larger amount of time in Scotland which for some reason has given him more a Scottish accent than Swedish accent so he sounds percisely like Ewan McGregor. Some might think he is a little eccentric in giving away any money he receives and believing the internet is imprisoning the human race, and following Jesus’ words of living like a bird literally, and finding symbolism in everything, but underneath the grandiose presentation, all of what he lives by stems from truth…he just overdoes it a little. He is definitely one of the most interesting people i have ever talked to. (and again Ian would love this guy)  He knows the Bible like the back of his hand and quotes it in the same breath as Bob Dylan lyrics or Shakespeare sonnet lines. It is kind of hilarious. He was very interested in our message and will read the Book of Mormon. We just hope next time we are scheduled to meet he will still be here….never know whether he will still be here (I think he is visiting family?) or on the way to Spain or somewhere…. He would make a good member…just got to tone down his “into the wild” lifestyle and get him to embrace cell phones as not an evil thing.

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Erik said the celebrated exceeding their six week goals by eating at a pizza kebab place. Weird combos eh?

After that lesson, we visited Christopher Bjork and three of his friends in his quintessential Swedish apartment. I must emphasize how rare it is for young, successful, hipster Swedish men to be seriously interested in our church. It was crazy!!! They had loads of questions, and where honestly open. Christopher agreed with everything we said and will read the Book of Mormon. The only thing he has difficulty understanding after we read Mosiah 4 and about being charitable to the poor and Mosiah 18 where it talks about equality in the church, then wondering why the majority of our church is conservative… hahaha. If anyone has a good response we’d appreciate it. One of his friends, Karl, who is the most interested in the church, is actually conservative, which is unusual to find in Sweden. A Swedish conservative is like  an American moderate. He already knows a lot about of church because he is a big Romney fan. He had me read six chapters in the Book of Mormon to start off with and write in my testimony. Hopefullt the fab four (as we will refer to this quartet of fine young Swedish gentlemen) will progress. It was a week of ups and downs, but overall a week of blessings. I am so thankful to be out here. I love this gospel. I know it is true.

Best,
Aldste Scott
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A Brief Letter From Elder Ian Scott

So, transfers are this week  and my comp is a goner. We had a seventy come to  at stake conference, named, Elder Richards. He spoke a lot about the use of councils and how the leader’s job is not to provide answers but questions. It is the council’s job to provide their own diversity of opinions, and a unanimous agreement of councils signify the Lord’s will. People have many different opinions, but when all can find unity with out compulsion, it is only by the spirit of God.The pattern does not just apply to church government but family and relationships.. Such mutual respect and understanding doesn’t exist in a worldly government but can only exists were there is faith and and charity and the spirit of God. it is good to have differences and diversity and it is good to be unified, and it is diversity that can in the right spirit create true unity. He said much more but that’s just what I remember well.

This week we watched “Ephraim’ s Rescue” with a part member family. It is amazing what a good movie can do to help change hostile attitudes toward the Church. It’s a wonderful movie  and you should all see it. My goal in life is to have a beard and be manly, folksy and spiritual like Ephraim Hanks.

Disappointedly,  Joel, our investigator (who is getting baptized this week)was on fire with the gospel and was so sad he couldn’t come to stake conference for health reasons.  Then, two hours later, he drops us out of the blue.  Please pray for him so he can see though the mist of darkness talked about in 1 Nephi 8. Every thing will work out. I do not fear. though there is a storm around me, there is inner peace on the inside.

Hold to the rod and stay faithful my friends.

Elder Scott II

Another busy week for Erik!

Good thing Erik likes to talk so much and loves to talk to all sorts of people.. It’s helping him as a missionary for sure, as you will soon see…
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Karlstad
Last Monday, we were forgot that buses in a certain area of town stop running after 8:00pm, so we were standing at a bus stop for a long time, with our arms full of groceries before we remembered.  Also waiting at the bus stop, forgetting that no bus was coming, was a women named Jenny from India who is here to get her PHD at Karlstad Universitet. She also lived in Kronoparken (the ghetto where we live.) It isn’t really a ghetto compared to American ghettos. It’s actually  quite nice and quite clean, but according to Sweden, anywhere where most of the people aren’t blonde and you can get quality authentic Kabab is “ghetto”. So,  we helped carry her groceries home. We talked the whole way home and now she is an investigator! She actually is a Christian (pretty awesome since only 2.3% of India is Christian). This week she is going to cook us legit spicy Indian food! It is more exciting than you may think because Swedish food is delicious but they don’t really do spicy at all. 

The rest of the week was a series of very good lessons where we get to see our investigators progress closer to Christ. Some of them, like Jerry and Samir are already very close to Christ as it is. Jerry is amazing as always. He wanted us to give him all the pamphlets so he can study the lessons before we teach them so now he is practically teaching us the lessons. He was able to come to Karlstad on Wednesday where we escorted him to a job interview (he wants to move to Karlstad so he is close to the church) and then showed him the church and had him meet our branch president, Michael, who also is Nigerian so they hit it off like brodahs.

Sadly, a lot of the investigators we had from his refugee camp were transferred to another refugee camp without any notice, but they were given cards to request missionary visits if they were transferred as we were predicting. That is the hardest thing with teaching refugees. Neither you nor them know if they are going to move to the other side of Sweden without any notice. Jerry has been moved 5 times since he got here in November. We still have a Bosian, Ugandan and the two Syrians at the camp. We are teaching seven Syrians total. I can’t explain exactly why, for I don’t know entirely myself, but Syrians are my favorite people in the world. I love them. I’m trying to learn a little bit of Arabic…. just how to write and say a few simple things…. not much. I kind of need to learn Swedish first….

In the meantime, Samir has been truly inspiring. He has a solid testimony and amazing heart and wants to get baptized….He just wants to be baptized the same time as his wife, because he is very firm that in marriage you need to be unified and all steps need to be together. She does not speak Swedish or English (taking care of their baby so she has not been able to take classes yet) so we can’t teach her but he gives her the lessons after we leave. I’ve said it before, but I just love that family. Samir has taught me many things through example, like what true sincere prayer is and how to be a good husband and father. (I’ve of course learned this from my parents as well.) He unfortunately was not able to come to church this week because his baby had a high fever. Jerry was not able either because the morning bus that he got up extra early to catch was not actually a real thing. No buses go through Glava on Sunday. He was quite distraught by this so now we need to find someone to let him sleep over Saturday and Sunday night until he can move to Karlstad.

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Yummy, yummy semlas!

Our other investigators are doing well, and we got a few new ones including a Swedish girl who works at a book store. (#discountonharrypotterbooksinswedish) The week was not all rainbows and semlas. Though there were several of those….Oh,  and it is international semlas day tomorrow which is a bigger deal here than Valentines so you all should celebrate with a semla!

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Erik’s desk. Notice the Swedish Harry Potter…

We had an inactive not want us to ever contact him ever again (to put it nicely) and there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses who from time to time bear false witness about our church and view missionary work kind of like how gangs view their area, which means a lot of good nice people who are afraid to talk to us because the last church that knocked on their door said something along the lines of eternal damnation, which really isn’t our message. I just want there to be peace…I also don’t want them telling people lies about us…but I’d rather have peace than fight about that. Anyways, we are now teaching a ex-JW who was told not to come back to their church because he was asking too many questions. We had some answers he liked and plus he likes celebrating Christmas so it is pretty positive. He came to our church and liked it….but I’ve been fairly fortunate.

Sweden is one of those missions that is painted as a low baptizing, low success mission, which maybe is true compared to Latin America or Africa, but I have fallen in love with this country and these people so deeply that I honestly would not take an offer to be sent to a higher baptizing mission. I could not possibly get myself to leave Sweden for the next two years. This is my home. These people are amazing. Honestly, the fact that I haven’t baptized yet while other greenies have baptized 20 in Guatemala or wherever by now means nothing. I am so attached to these people that numbers do not matter, people do…. and people take time, patience, love, and service. 

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Another amazing sunset in Sweden.

What a Great Week for Elder Ian Scott

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Ian with the McCormicks after their temple sealing.

This week was pretty great.

Started out on exchanges with a referral to drop off a Book of Mormon for someone who worked at the front desk of a Lutheran College and the lady working started laughing saying, ” you really have the nerve to come in here. You know where you are right,” and then she went into a fit of laughter worthy of note. After wards, we track-ted into our investigator who didn’t give us their address, followed by finding Brigham Young’s great great great grandson, who apparently snuck into the Salt Lake temple, even though he is not a member yet. He was a funny guy we pickup up this week. His wife had read the Book of Mormon and said she didn’t believe it and she was too involved in the Methodist church board, Jim said he was too radical for the board and he would like to believe the book is true but he has to be 100%( that what we love to hear).

We have Joel, who is getting ready for baptism. He is coming to church and walking more. Like I said last week, it’s amazing what this can do to someone who has faith in it. We were teaching a
big family of Africans but only the oldest son was interested. He is a cool kid. I am not teaching a whole tribe like my brother in Sweden, but I love the African people.

Then to top it off, if you remember the McCormicks, who I taught at the start of the mission..They went though the temple and were sealed for time and all eternity!  It was the happiest thing I have witnessed, and I am definitely putting temple marriage as my goal. It was the first temple marriage I witnessed, so I know what I want.

With four months to go, I am more focused then I have ever been because I have much yet to accomplish. Then, I  can find my self an outdoorsy wife. It was a amazing being in the Nauvoo temple surrounded by missionary friends and people I know and love from multiple wards on my mission. It was a big temple day so I knew everyone that was in there, and all y’all who don’t know much about LDS temples, they are pretty much a symbol of heaven on Earth(
https://www.lds.org/church/temples?lang=eng) so it is a pretty sacred
place and you can read more on them here.

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Ian, in the back with the hat on in the back with the McCormicks, missionaries and other church members at the Nauvoo Temple.

It was a metaphor to what heaven is going to be like. So many people I love are  going to be there and it’s going to be so happy, because the other day was the happiest I have ever been. Yes, even more happy then skiing in 2 feet of fresh powder. It’s going to be a party and I want to invite you to my party, so you better be there!

Parts of my mission have been tough but “after much tribulation cometh the blessings”. This is so true. I  am very blessed and sometimes in life it feels like  going though trials. Just keep the faith, endure to the end, it’s all worth it.

Love,

Elder Scott the 2nd

What an amazing week for Erik

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Our week started with everything going wrong but then by the end,  turning out for the best. On the way to district meeting in Örebro on Tuesday, the phone was left on the bus.  If I wasn’t a missionary this would be annoying and I would do what I could to track it down but seeing as I was a missionary,  this was  *Titus Andronicus level tragic. (There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and someone may or may not have lost there hands and tongue and we were almost baked as pies).  We had a heap of information on that phone, plus investigators, branch members and mission leaders needed to get a hold of us, and we needed to get a hold of them.  Luckily, thanks to the “find my iphone app” the Örebro elders chased down the lost phone the following day and we celebrated over curry. IMG_3232[1]

While we were without a phone earlier that day, we also had a charter bus pass us without stopping, which would not come again for an hour. At first, we thought this was terrible but when we asked to borrow a girl’s phone to call, she invited us to her house until the bus came which ended up being a very positive lesson. If we had made the bus, we would have never taught her….so sometimes what we think is a bad thing can end up being a good thing that God had planned for you…Though, it is still bad to lose your phone, despite the girl we met and the good curry that came of it.

When we got the phone, one of the missed calls was from a Nigerian man named Jerry (his real name is very long to spell so he goes by Jerry), who met some other elders in Borås at a train station and they gave him our number because he is in our area. We took a three hour bus ride to his refugee camp on Thursday and it was the best day I know I will probably have on my entire mission, for I’m in Sweden so I can’t expect everyday to be miracles and rainbows….but this day was. (minus the rainbows). We get off in a tiny town named Glava, which consists of a typical swedish Svenska Kryka, the smallest grocery store imaginable and a large old manor that has been converted into a refugee camp.

IMG_3230[1]First it must be said, I love refugee camps. Sometimes they can be sad and leave your heart heavy, but there always is a certain energy of hope and the people you meet are some of the most amazing people you’ll ever know in your life. We met Jerry, who full on bear hugs us first thing, and started teaching him the first lesson. This man is incredible! He has been fasting for 40 days and reading the Bible and praying at every opportunity he can so that he can bring his wife and children to Sweden. He was an accountant in Nigeria and works super hard on Swedish to get a job here. The lesson went from giving the message of the restoration to teaching every lesson at once. He already lives the word of wisdom, preached to us for about thirty minutes about the importance of living the law of chasity. He wants to move to Karlstad just so he can be closer to the church. He will be baptized in March. After the lesson, he jumped up and said “All of my brodahs and sisters need this message! Come, help me win souls for Christ” and then he ran out of the door and started knocking on doors and gathering people to here our message.

We taught the first lesson, four more times that day to over 30 people and found nine new investigators who want us to return; two Syrians, one Ugandan, one Cambodian, three Eritreans and one Ukrainian. All of them are awesome. Jerry was even helping us teach the lessons which we just taught him.

We left that night laughing about how incredible it was. We then walked into a Kabab pizza place on the way home where we got in a long conversation with an Iraqi Christian who was interested. After that, we thought there was no way our day could get better.  Then, while we were waiting for the train, a 25 year old Swedish man walked up to us and asked if we were Mormons and if we can meet him next week!!!! That never happens! Craziest day ever.

Locking himself out of his apartment while doing laundry.
Locking himself out of his apartment while doing laundry.

On the train ride home, I could not help but laugh about the miracles of that day. All of them just sort of fell on top of us. The following day was a very great lesson with Samir. He committed to follow the word of wisdom instantly. He will take the tests to become a certified dentist in Sweden soon. Both of our investigators with baptism dates are doing very well. Jonas is nearly done with 1 Nephi and defended our church to a quarrelsome Muslim. For the record, most Muslims aren’t quarrelsome and tend to be the nicest when you knock on doors.  Our investigator, Jerry was already in the book of Mosiah two days after we gave him the Book of Mormon. He is going to be an awesome member and a better missionary than I’ll ever be. We had 21 lessons and 11 new investigators total, which, though I should always dream big, I don’t think I’ll reach again for a very long time.

Sometimes,  I wish I had the spiritual excitement of the progressing investigators, like Jerry who said he has been looking for this all his life and he thanks God continuously for finding our church. But, I don’t need to find the gospel to have that energy. I just need to look at what it has done for me in my life, have gratitude and serve. When I meet refugees that have lost and sacrificed so much, who are giving thanks to the Lord everyday and are so happy for the simplest of things, I realize how unappreciative I have been to all my many blessings; for my family, for my health and safety, and most of all for this gospel that can give us true, pure, everlasting joy. I know this church is true, that Jesus Christ died for us and that Heavenly Father loves every single child of his, and if we look to him and follow his commandments he will bless us, in this life and the life to come.

Aldste Scott

*Titus Andronicus is a Greek tragedy written by Shakespeare, that is beyond tragic, thus Erik’s comparison. Haha

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Elder Ian Scott’s Week in Iowa

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Ian sent this painting he did to my grand daughter, Elanor this week. He told her, it’s his dream tree house.

So this week we found a bunch of Africans who were interested in learning more.  Congolese are always fun to teach as they are good people but they have their disputes in doctrine and that is never edifying. We have been teaching a nice Liberian who is humble. I love Africa.

One man we’ve been teaching is Joel. It’s been cool to see the gospel change his life. He came to church this week and is progressing. Two months ago, he said he had lost his faith with all the things that has happened to him,  but now he says he has never been more happy in his life. His situation has not changed but his faith and knowledge of the Savior has and that has carried him through. It’s amazing what the restored gospel can do on a soul. The ward was friendly toward Joel when he came and the plan is for him to be baptised at the end of the month.

I am actually starting to like this ward. It has problems, but there are some great people. One of the ward members who we have been teaching with is an old guy who was one of those hardcore missionaries from  the 50’s who served in the South. He tends to say it how it is. He dodged bullets and battled religious bigots. He has a story for everything back in his mission days. He is such an inspiring man of faith and you can feel it. It’s the same work today but we need more of the faith like this man. We need it more than ever before.

I was talking to a guy who didn’t understand religion. He said it is all on faith, you can never actually know. He said even if there are facts, there a millions of different ideas and it is confusing to know what is true or false. I told him the story of Joseph Smith and his response was that it takes faith to believe. I agreed, telling him faith is what it is all about. If there is no faith, there is no miracle, because you have no witness until after a trial of your faith. It’s what it all comes down to. I have seen and felt things of the spiritual nature but if I did not have faith, it would be meaningless to me or anyone else. I have learned that faith doesn’t just happen. It grows at the pace  we desire it to. I have seen with my buddy, Joel. that faith can do anything. so that is my soap box sermon for the day.

IMG_0152Love your faces and Happy Valentine’s Day, “life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get”

Elder Scott the 2nd

A Busy Week For Erik

tors.jpg     It was a very good week. It was the sort of week I don’t really expect to get many more times on my mission. We had twenty lessons, five new investigators, another baptism date (for Jonas) and some very special experiences that I feel blessed to be there for. It wasn’t that we did anything particularly Ammon level as far as missionary work. Things just sort of fell in front of us….all we did was be there. Sunday night in particular,  we had a member present lesson and then visited a less active and were exhausted and soaking wet (it snowed buckets here) so we stopped by the apartment to change our socks and shoes at about 7:30.  We had a fairly productive day and felt a very strong temptation to just throw the towel in early and stay in the warm apartment safe from the of the snowstorm outside.IMG_2918[1] It was so tempting…..but we forced our way out the door and only a few minutes into knocking doors, we knocked on the door of this one lady who recently lost her mother and had been thinking about religion but did not want go looking for a church for she felt the right church would find her….and we knocked on her door! We gave the entire first and part of the second lesson at the doorstep and she is going to read and pray about Mormons Bok!  If we had given into quitting early, we would’ve never met her. The lesson I learned was that often the times that it is hardest to do missionary work, is often when it is most important to do it. We also had three positives that wanted us to return and another lady who is friends with a member who wants to come to family home evening….all on the evening we did not want to go out.

      The rest of the week, in brief summary, was busy in the best of ways. We had three days of pretty much nonstop travelling. On Wednesday, we traveled six plus hours total to visit Jonas. He is amazing. He calls us every night to ask questions and discuss things. A few days ago,  he apologized for only reading four pages in the Book of Mormon that night. Most days, he reads several chapters. I love him. He is just amazing.

Mohammed is one of our strongest investigators as well.  He is from Syria and moved here 11 months ago but just this week was finally able to pick up his wife and children from Syria. All of his kids are very shell shocked from all the horrible things they have seen and they currently only have a one room apartment for 6 people plus he is taking 8 hours of Swedish class a day so he is a bit busy but still mamages to meet with us….He is so amazing.

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On Thursday, we had to travel to the suburbs of Stockholm for Zone training which meant getting up at 5:30 and getting home at 10:30.  On Friday, we traveled two hours to the Lidins to give Johanna new member lessons. We butchered sheep….which was not my cuppa tea but a good thing for me to know how to do if I’ve got to go Jeremiah Johnson some day….but like Captain Moroni I do not delight in the shedding of blood….at all. I couldn’t look when it happened, but now I am able to skin a sheep all by myself…..not that I want to unless I have to…but really good sheep korv on Sunday.IMG_2914[1]

We have quite a few new investigators but I don’t have time to expound upon each of them. I have to go but I love you all and I’ll explain more of what happened last week in next week’s letter as I have to go to district meeting.

Love
Äldste Scott
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Ian in Illinois and a Baptism

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Ian and his companion with Peter Red Crow.

So this week was concluded by some dump-age of snow that cancelled church a second week in a row, so now we have a rats-boot of missionary work to go because the whole ward is less active!( ha ha) My companion did not want to go outside yesterday since we were grounded because of the snow, so I took an hour long nap outside our window as I burrowed in a good 3 foot snow drift.  I did have a good ski dream as I slept in the snow,  but don’t worry I am not “trunky” yet. Instead, I’m  at that stage where I am pretty dedicated to the work; I have less then five months and am thinking “holy cow, there is work to do!”.

We were able to have a baptismal service for Peter Red Crow, an extremely prepared guy we have been working with, and another lady the other elders in the ward were teaching. It was a great day, and it felt good getting wet. The only down side was I forgot a change of clothes so it was a very wet and cold night after the baptism!

Companion relations have been on the up. All this time shut indoors by the snow has given a better understanding of it it not being wise to have one way of doing things to be esteemed as better then the other or trying by force or compulsion. Rather a coexistence of understanding which leads to resolution to a common opinion and goal, is the better way.  It does not take a PHD in Psychology  to make resolutions. It involves a spirit of understanding and love and change through the grace of Jesus Christ, and that doesn’t include a theology degree to understand, but an open heart.

Have a good week, and all y’all out west can steal the snow in the Midwest so you can have good skiing. Because snow is like faith, faith with out works is dead( James 2;17) . Even so, snow with out mountains is henceforth good for nothing if it is not to be shredded under the skis of men.

Love ya faces-

Elder Scott the second