We have been finding a lot of good families and Africans to teach lately but our area just got changed due to a major ward boundary change in the quad city in other to to balance out all the faithful and well to do Utah Mormons in Bettendorf with the impoverished and overburdened Rock Island ward. Because of this, we lost all our investigators( so sad),. Who knows where I will be since it was such a dramatic change. We may be white washed, but who knows. I will know by next Monday if I’m transferred.
We moved someone else this week and were left with a punching bag, two 50 lb dumbbells, a ninja sword, a medieval shield, a bow staff, and a Darth Vader mask . People think the missionaries are doing service but in reality we get a fair payment in random toys people give to us that they don’t want. (Haha)
I have been going two weeks with out spending a money on food, since I don’t have money to spend or members that feed us. We have become very creative in our desperation and discovered how to make a lot of different things with oats including: granola, fried oats, oat cakes,oat flour,etc. This famine has been a blessing because I have learned and loved so much of the versatility of oats, plus it is good for your cholesterol levels. The Lord never lets his servants go hungry. This week was like the miracle of Elijah and the widow, but it was with oats and maple syrup rather then oil and meal.
My companion goes home next week, so it has been fun there has been a range of emotions, but under the circumstances of our area getting changed. We are still working as hard as we can. Sometimes it is crawling but we are trying and that’s what matters.
p.s.- It’s my birthday this week: if ye love me, fill my mailbox.
His email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elder Ian Scott’s current address:
2902 38th apt.L
Rock Island, Illinois, 61201
Note from his mom: Erik was too heavy-hearted to write a letter last week, as many immigrants he knew were deported and others received sad news of loved ones killed in Syria or other sad issues…
Now, this week’s letter:
So, it was transfers this week and Elder Dahle and I are staying together for at least 6 more weeks. The work here is in hyperdrive. We have two investigators with baptismal dates. Charles is our brodah from Congo who has the testimony of a rock. His languages are Swahili, then French, then Spanish, then Portuguese , then English, then Swedish, specifically in that order. Despite English and Swedish not being his first languages, he understands very well. We contacted in the street, thinking he was one of our Nigerian investigators, Dede, for they own the same coat. He immediately acted like we’ve been best friends for years. He loves the gospel, the church service and even takes notes during lessons.
Our second baptismal date is for Armando, a Swedish 35 year old man we contacted. He really wants to move to America. There is this sort of glamorous vision of America as this dream land of fast cars, endless sunshine, everyone is successful and celebrities are walking around everywhere. Americans here find it hilarious but then again we Americans have a glamorous vision of Paris like Target paints it as…which the French probably laugh at. He has had a serious headache for the last 22 months that he can’t diagnose but says subsides amazingly when he is with us or at our church.
We have many more investigators that will hopefully be baptized soon for they are very prepared. We’ve picked up quite a few new progressing investigators in the last few weeks. We have not had much time to kill lately so I can’t include any cool adventures in the letter because it is mainly going from lesson to lesson. This weekend is Påsk (Easter) and General Conference so it will be fest to remember!!!!
Osaro is now passing the sacrament and we are preparing him to be the new branch mission president. We do role plays with him, having him teach me the lessons. He has no shortage of dedication.
I’ll be hitting three months in Sweden on Wednesday and I already cannot imagine having to live in America again. I love America, especially the Northwest, but every day it becomes more and more possible, and in turn more and more needed for me to live in Europe. It really isn’t very hard to do. Living in the UK and then an annual trip to Scandinavia….but we will see….. In the mean time I’ve got to focus on Karlstad. This branch can be a ward with enough work.
I started off working on a farm this week. It was good to get outside and help a guy, missionaries have been trying to baptize for years around the farm. He is a cool guy and has inspired me to want to have a farm, just big enough that I don’t have to go to the store to get food. I also think green tractors are one of the coolest things since sliced bread. Speaking of bread, I burnt my toast so bad this morning. It was a piece of black chaff, so that as fun.
I got a hipster cut with a hard part. It was the talk of the town but I mostly got it so I could be ” on fleaque” like my brother in Sweden.
We had zone conference last week and it added some emotion with my companion giving his final testimony and my good friend and inspiration, Elder Cleverly gave his last testimony. Missions don’t last forever, but since my companion already said he was done, I can’t imagine we are going to do too much this week. Also, considering they are re-doing the ward boundaries next week and our area is going to change dramatically but we don’t know how. So, we are just spending time with the members we like and the investigators we like before we might lose every thing.
A couple we are teaching, took us on a tour of the Rock Island arsenal( what I talked about last week). I got a lot of my facts straightened out in the museum which was pretty amazing. They had guns from ancient China all the way though the Revolution to big bad guns thatthey use today. The old vet who took us knew everything there was to know about the big artillery and the tanks .It was very educational. After that, we went to a German restaurant(since this family is German) and had some spotted veal, and weiner schnitzel. I was reminded that food tasted good! It was also fun helping the waitress with her chalk drawing of the menu. The staff got a kick out of it and the German pop music made me want to get out my lederhosen. It made me want to go to Germany real bad and listen to some sick German elect beats.
We also taught a lesson with with a guy over an old school 70’s impala he was restoring. It made a great object lesson for the restoration of Christ gospel. I like how the mission exposes you to all kinds of new things,but i am still my self. I just am a little bit more hip, a little more into farms and tractors, and little more into German pop, and a little bit more of a man, or maybe a little less.
Love you all, read the Book of Mormon. It would make a great HBO mini series. You will see what I mean in Alma 45-62, if you just read it like an epic movie its fun, because if you not having fun, you aren’t doing it right. and that applies to anything.
My area: I don’t know much of the history of Rock Island but people have been here long before the revolutionary war. It was Black Hawk village back in the day before it became the grungy town it is today. You might know about the black hawk wars and all that jazz. He was a warrior who allied with the British to fight against colonists and there was many years of opposition till the white men gave them the boot.
The town quickly grew into a city with the good position it holds on a peninsula between the Rock river and the mighty Mississippi. With the invention of the stainless steel plow by a man named, John Deer, Moline the neighbor city became the head quarters for this would wide revolution of big green tractors. As a result, many rival tractor manufactures settled in Rock Island to keep tabs on John Deer. The rapid amount of jobs back in the golden years brought in a large amount of Utah Mormons in the 70’s and 80’s to where there were 3 wards in this area, which has declined to one old ward of characters that because of a deportation of jobs over seas and bankruptcy of many other tractor company’s like Case.
Today, the city is mostly run down due to the loss of manufacturing. It has attracted those seeking the thug life from the forbidden land up north called, Chicago. There are many good people here, a lot of church goers( as it is mostly in the Midwest) the missionaries have baptized many people here who are found in rough situations. As a result the ward, is worn out and tired of missionary work (despite a few individuals who we work to the bone, because they are still willing).
He is a very loving person, non judgmental, and he and he doesn’t care what people think of him, and speaks his mind. It doesn’t get him in trouble. It just makes people laugh.
This week we moved a disabled man out the most rancid apartment I have seen. The the same two guys who do every thing showed up and we moved every thing that wasn’t infested into a better apartment. It felt good.
This one guy told us to go away and Mormons didn’t have souls, but my companion noticed he was playing magic( the card game, which is a favorite among missionaries around here, I’m not super into it but I can smash pretty good with an army of minotaurs) and instantly his heart was changed to hating us to being his best friends and he is standing up for us, and we are going to a tournament. #geekout=change of heart. people are frustrating, but they are still just too funny you have to love them.
We met with the old bomber and his wife, had a great lesson and she is now interested despite saying she didn’t believe it when we first met her. People change- it’s great. Picked up a couple more people this week,some African brothers and sisters and one is already a member so that makes it easy. We decided to do track-ting again because my companion will not have an opportunity to do it, and it is reward to serve God’s children and make the ward leaders mad by bringing people into the the church, but doing what the mission president said, all at the same time. It’s a rough place to be in , but after all is said and done, I am home in 3 months.
This is a really hard week to remember the details; very busy, stressful and very little sleep so my mind is half functioning right now. Sorry. On Tuesday at the Lidin’s farm, their baby lambs are starting to be born so we got to cuddle with a few (which is in the top ten best past times that do not take too much planning to do in life) and I shaved a cow which takes almost an eternity….but it looked fabulous after and that is what counts. All the animals on the farm could not take their eyes off her luscious hair. She’ll probably be on the next Cow Vogue.
On Wednesday was another fantastic day at the refugee camp in Glava. We have a new investigator their from Albania named Angela. She started quite closed off to us, unsure how a God could let there be suffering and evil in the world (which she knows first hand) but by the end of our first lesson she was very softened, comforted and open for another lesson this Wednesday. The rest of the week was running from one lesson to another, which is very good that we have lessons, in fact it is the best thing for us, but we could really do with some extra hands. It is hard to get two members of the branch to come out at the same time so we can divide, and we are too far from other missionaries to do workovers so we just had to do the best we could as two missionaries. We have a great many people interested.
The Swedish people I love to death but we are yet to teach a Swede who will come to church. Most of them are interested in our religion from a sightseers view, wanting to be fully knowledgeable about our church but not really looking to make a change. So the people that are disappointed that we are only bringing immigrants to church need to understand that we are teaching plenty of Swedes, they just aren’t coming to church. (at least they will always be honest with us so they never break any commitment)
This Sunday we gave Osaro the Holy Ghost and confirmed him a member. He is a very excited to serve in the church. By the end of the week, we had taught 11 new members/less-actives and had 12 other lessons. Now I’m kind of physically dead and want to just take a day to revive myself but today we already had 3 lessons and have two more planned for tonight. The work is going strong in Karlstad, I am just praying earnestly that I can keep up with it. 🙂
I did my first baptism this week! Shall I first shall go in chronological order? This week began in Stockholm. We went to mission conference in Stockholm to hear what will be the new mission president for the Scotland/Ireland mission in July speak. I love my mission and I love President Beckstrand and Sister Beckstrand and I would not want anyone else to be my President but all I will say is, boy, you Scotland/Ireland missionaries are very very lucky. Not only are you in Scotland, which is the greatest place on earth but President Donaldson will be an amazing mission president. He and his wife are from Liverpool and are just the coolest thing out of Liverpool since the fab four. They actually were Liverpool teenagers during the height of the Beatlemania. They spoke about the importance of the Holy Ghost in our work. I loved it.
Afterwards, we took a hop and skip around Stockholm. Excluding the British isles, it is the most beautiful city I have walked in. In Gamla Stan, the old part of the city, it is countless narrow cobblestone streets with old brightly painted buildings selling hand carved Scandinavian art. It is a labyrinth I did not mind getting lost in. One of the most unique things I found in Stockholm was how quiet it is. I am certain it is louder in the summer but golly gee, Scandinavians are very peaceful people indeed.
On Tuesday, we did the standard Lidin farm visit with the farm work, good food and new member lesson for Johanna. The rest of the week was a blur of busy missionary life. We were pleasantly booked with appointments which is the best way for it to be in Sweden that does not always happen, but this week it did. When I went to the refugee camp on Friday for Osaro’s baptism interview, I got to play soccer!!!! I am horrible compared to the Syrians and when Africans start playing I am pathetic. But against the Syrian 5 year old I’m okay. I met some more wonderful people there. A civil engineer from Syria who is having his first child in a few weeks, a Syrian kurdish 18 year old who just got citizenship and is hoping to attend Karlstad University, a Pakistanni 17 year old that has no living family and no possessions to call his own but a dream to become the next AVICII. All of them have stories. I wish I had time to write them all down. I would love to go into journalism but I love transferring reality into fiction too much… Don’t worry, I’m honest about everything in these letters.
When we opened up the font on Saturday, we found that the spout had a leak. One small drop every 20 seconds. The font was about 5 inches deep in old water. It really showed how long it had been since it was used last. We had to do a deep clean to get the mildew off, but it was ready for the next day when Osaro was baptized! I was very nervous doing my first baptism but it turned out fantastic. Osaro cannot stop going on about how new and energized he feels now. Now we just have to get missionaries visiting his wife and children in Nigeria. We sent in a referral to Nigeria several weeks ago but she has not heard word from them 😦 I’ve talked to here several times on the phone and email her on P-days but really hoping the Nigerian missionaries step on it because Osaro has taught her and we’ve taught her and she is ready and Osaro wants to be married in the temple in a year’s time.
We also are helping a less active quit tabaccoo, beer and coffee all at once. This is very hard but very uplifting. At this point, his whole body is shaking and he can’t move very much, but he is very strong willed and I have faith that he will have power to get past his addictions and return to church. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ all things are possible.
Today after taking Osaro back to Arvika, we decided to get back on the train westbound and may or may not of walked into Norway…. We only went a few meters into Norway so don’t worry. We are not rebel missionaries….we just wanted Norwegian chocolate. I’ll hope to cross the border much further in two years time. Sweden is beautiful but Norway is jaw dropping. Of course you don’t see much change over the border but it felt like coming home.( as he has so many ancestors from there. ) Sappy but true.
Anyhow, my Mum is having her birthday this week so make sure to tell her how awesome she is! Also, my very good friend Lucas who is serving his mission in Portugal likewise is turning the big 1-9 on the same day. You can also send an email his way. and my Mum’s production of Charlie in the Chocolate is opening, so everyone should see that. I know it will be amazing. I am very happy I am on a mission and would not trade it for the world but it still hurts not being in a Black Swan play. I miss the plays dearly.
Thanks for figuring out my student housing. I feel really bad I can’t be independent and you guys have to pay for literally everything. The best I can do is try to make you proud, but not unto boasting. This week was slow. I was tired from all the work and stress from the baptism( kind of like how you are going to be after this play) and Elder Powell is going home in four weeks so not as motivated.
So, they decided to do a disco pose…
I went to a music store today and tried playing a trumpet. I forgot how to play, it was sad… but I hit a high c but it hurt my lungs since I have a dislocated rib, that I need a chiropractor to put back soon. We also went to a free seminar on Irish whistle and flute music, because I have started getting into the Irish whistle and my companion did his fair share of Irish dance, so we where both edified by a man who played some ancient tunes on old whistles There is a simplicity masked by the complexity of the jig, but the flutes and whistles sounded good alone with out a a backup and I think I have discovered that I am a flutist deep down. Just some random tells..
So, last week, we still did a little bit of work, saw a lot of ward members and a guy named Jim who is a crazy old artillery sargent and is also a great great grandson of father Brigham. He is not ready to join the church but is very curious because it is part of his roots. We where able to get the wife more involved this time. I’m going crack the whip and get back in shape this week. I am just so out of shape and my diet is so bad. The warm weather should help, and a mountain in the back of my mind, that I need to be in shape to climb. I need to take responsibility! and honest inquiry is the first step. so there you have it, my letter from the land of Lincoln.
I will try to get a cool card out by your birthday. If not, happy birthday my Mom that does everything.
Elder Scott 2
His letter to his Grandpa Rog, that he wanted to add:
Honestly grandpa, I came on a mission out of obedience. Because I knew as the prophet said” every able bodied young man should go on a mission” so I qualified thus I should go,. It was never a question. The question of should I stay on a mission was more of the trick part and it has come with a great many trial and experiences that I could not have happened in any other situation. If I question that decision then I compare Elder Scott with Ian Scott. The most important thing I have found is that Ian needed running and mountains to mentally survive, while Elder Scott needs only faith in Jesus Christ for his mental support. Though I have lost some things and gained others, that single thing is of the most worth to me. The answer to why a went on a mission is good but the answer to why I have stayed is much better.
I witnessed a miracle this week. Joel was baptized and the ward came together to help him. It is amazing to see someone who doesn’t believe in God anymore and has hit the end of their rope, then two months later is baptized and says this the happiest he has ever been! I don’t give a rats boot what you say, but you cannot deny this restored gospel makes people “happy,happy, happy!” I’m glad I came on a mission. Yes, you have read all my many complaints on life but I have overcome them and with the help of Christ every day we drop kick Satan in the face. No matter how hard the battle, I am always happy.
My last companion got the boot so am I going to enjoy next transfer with my good old friend I knew in Iowa City, Elder Powell, from Riverside, California ( he has only been jumped once, which is less then the average in Riverside). As a southern Californian, he is very chill but is a crazy driver. He loves manga, Legos, action figures and was a Marshallese speaking missionary for a time. He is a passionate ballet dancer, loves sports, sleep and food.
Speaking of food; I have had nothing but pizza and hamburgers for the last week( embrace the culture of the mission and Erik- I want a semla!). Sorry mom….. correction I did have KFC one day. Yes, my health has gone out the window and I don’t even remember the last time I worked out but I am happy.
Anyways, Elder Powell is so fun, and was a great hep baptizing Joel since I could not dunk a one legged man alone. We did not have time to change since we arrived late as we had to help Joel get in the car and get the wheel chair, showing up 20 minutes late to the baptism but we got it done and it was amazing! I forgot my camera today so you will have to wait until next week to see it. The ward has softened their hearts and many are reaching out and helping Joel with out being told to. It is great encouragement to keep doing the work. Rock Island is growing on me.
Erik is 19 years old today! Here’s a post worth reading all the way through, so read it for Erik, and you will be taken to Sweden and Erik’s life and incredible experiences. without leaving your screen, as every gifted writer is able to do.
So, first off a big thank you for all of the birthday wishes and to everyone who took a picture for the banner. That is by far one of the best presents I have ever received. I have people that love me! It is a blessing I have taken for granted for the majority of my life. Thank you, all. I opened it this morning but have not had a chance to hang it because it has been a bit of a rushed Pday. I had to help Osaro (Jerry) get on a train back to his camp this morning and I have to catch a train to Stockholm in an hour to go to a mission conference and will not be back in Karlstad until Tuesday night. (saving my birthday dinner for some fine capital city cuisine).
I always say my letters will be brief and they always end up being longer than anyone has interest to read but this time it will have to be brief because I cannot miss the train. It was probably the craziest week I’ve had yet. Every day but Sunday, I was several hours from Karlstad.
Tuesday was the standard weekly day at the Lidins. It is honestly one of the greatest feelings in the world, spending a day working on a farm and eating delicious food straight from the farm. The Lidins are one of the most amazing, kindest and spiritual families I have met. I love their farm. Every time I return to Sweden I will have to visit it. We had lamb chops that I butchered myself. I’m still not a lover of butchering in the slightest, but still, very tasty chops.
The following day was entirely spent at Osaro’s refugee camp. I wish there was a way everyone could visit a refugee camp. It will change the outcome of this world if all of us who live comfortable, privileged, safe lives see, meet, and befriend those who are running from war, violence, disease, persecution, terrorism and are simply wanting the right of life and a future for their children. Sweden, which is one of the bigger refugee countries is having a bit of difficulty with anti-immigration/racist sentiment. A large portion of the Swedish people are of the opinion that Sweden should stop letting refugees have citizenship for they don’t want Sweden to be flooded with Africans and middle easterners. We have met quite a few Swedish people with very anti-Muslim, anti-African, just all around anti-anyone that isn’t white and speaks perfect Swedish beliefs….always awkward to not offend them and at the same time not agree with them.
So this year Sweden is making large cuts to immigration and many of our investigators are afraid. It is really easy to just say no immigration when you are tucked away in your suburb….but when you are in the camps, hearing each refugee’s story you could not possibly have the heart to send them back to their certain death. We unfortunately have some who even feel we should be focusing only on Swedish people to baptize…..Well, it is high time we liven up the branch with some more color. There are 12 tribes of Israel, not just Ephraim.
So anyways, back to Wednesday. We spent the day teaching a group of Syrians and Bosnians and several Africans. This time, we were in the family quarters so we got to be with all of the refugee children. I felt like a National Geographic photographer except I did not bring my camera and I did not take photos. It was a day too special to take photos. My heart broke quite a bit. Syrian children are some of the most adorable children in the world. There was about a dozen little Syrian children from ages 3-9 that we got to play with. Alaa, who we met before, took the lesson very well. He is a very hard worker so is very busy most of the week. He is hopefully going to be able to attend Karlstad University in engineering. He was one in Syria. He is very focused on doing all he can possible as fast as possible for his wife and two daughters are still in Syria and he is praying everyday for their safety until he can get the money to bring them here.
Another Syrian, Mohammed is also very open. The difficulty is he has post traumatic stress disorder and one of the symptoms is bad memory. He is a 21 year old economics major, so very smart, but he has difficulty even learning Swedish now because his condition. Many of the refugees I am positive have PTSD but are not diagnosed or properly treated so they have to live with nightmares of what they have run from in bare bedrooms not knowing if they will be here or on a plane the next day. Every refugee I meet is a combination of gratitude and fear. They are so happy by the simplest things but they all hide a fear I could not even imagine having. They also are the most charitable people. They have almost absolutely nothing yet they want to give all they can to us. They insist we take their apples and bread, sit in the best chair, and would give the clothes off their backs if you asked. Because they have nothing, they are willing to give everything.
On Thursday we had to go to Stockholm for zone training which took up the day and we spent the evening watching The Testaments at the church with members and some investigators.
On Friday, we went to another refugee camp, in Ekshärad, to meet Jonas. We had been out of contact with Jonas for several days because some man was running from the police and he happened to be walking by when the police cuffed him and took him to the station without letting him explain that he was completely innocent. The police did not actually have a description of the criminal, but a black refugee around the scene of the crime they concluded was clearly guilty. So, he was detained and found to be completely innocent and released until several days later. The good news is Jonas has read most of the Book of Mormon, believes it is the word of God and wants to be baptized. First we need to help him quit smoking though which will be hard because as a escapee solider from Eritrea he has very bad post traumatic stress disorder. He has difficulty being alone. The forest outside of his window gives him irrational fear. He has a lot of guilt for his past and bad memories. It is a blessing he found the gospel to help. Only the atonement of Jesus Christ can fully heal such wounds, far more than cigarettes.
At his camp we met Mohammed who has a very amazing story. He is from Iraq and there he served as a journalist for the Washington Post, giving information from places they could not reach. By doing this he was putting his life in jeopardy, literally willing to face death for the United States. Now ISIS wants him dead. The USA promised to give him US citizenship but when he was sitting on the plane to fly to America, he and his family were forced off the plane. He was not able to pay for his family to escape so he put them in hiding and ran to Sweden. Now the Washington Post has been silent and ignoring his calls and emails. He was promised safety but is more likely to get citizenship in Sweden before he gets a response from America. He is in constant fear everyday for the survival of his family in Iraq. I wish I could do something for him, and for every refugee but I am powerless in helping them. There needs to be something done. As a missionary I cannot do anything for their physical safety.
Saturday was the craziest day ever!!!!!!!!!!! Osaro was on the train here, planned to stay the night at an inactive members apartment (Desmond, an awesome Nigerian 25 year old who plays wing for the Karlstad soccer team) but Desmond called saying he was called into work all night so couldn’t have him stay over. Osaro was going to have no way to return back to his camp until Monday morning so we called everyone, and after the nativity-like struggle, we got permission to use fast offerings to pay for a hostel for him. It was simply the best Sunday service. Jenny, the Indian PHD student, came and she loved it. She says she prays to God every day that he will guide her and she believes us finding her was a miracle of God and that she was supposed to find this church. She loved the service and will read the Book of Mormon. She will be in India for the next two weeks but she will come back with her husband and she wants the two of them to receive the lessons together. Osaro was absolutely in 7th heaven. After church we spent the evening with him teaching him everything, plus more, watched several conference talks and Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. He is so excited that he wants to move his baptism date up a week. So next Sunday after church, I’ll have my first baptism in Sweden!!!!!
Got to go, but thank you everyone. I love you all.