Another busy week in Sweden

This week we went a bit insane….Our district was doing a goal to reach 20 lessons and we kind of freaked out and got 34 lessons which might be easy in South America, but in Sweden where lessons are as common as the elusive albino Moose (which you can find in Värmland) , it takes out a lot of you. I can’t really properly cover the entire week because for one, I cannot honestly remember it all and for two, it wasn’t all that much interesting material for a letter home. But there are a few things of note:

Firstly, Ghazanfar and his wife, Mesomeh, are amazing. We at first took things very slowly because we assumed it would be all very new for Afghanistan refugees but (with the help of our awesome translator, Mojgan),  they told us they’ve already read the Book of Mormon since we gave it to them. They’ve read all they can about our church in Persian and they could practically teach us the lessons. Ghazanfar said he has always felt like Joseph Smith in that he has always been searching for a true church and knows from the bottom of his heart that this is the true church and wants to not only be baptized as soon as possible but cannot wait to be sealed to his family in the temple. Mesomeh can bear a testimony that blows your socks off. They are to simply put it; golden investigators. They come from southern Afghanistan and have been through more than I could dream but you could never tell. They are the happiest, friendliest, most loving and optimistic couple in the world. Their smiles are contagious when you are with them.

Ghazanfar and Mesomeh and their son Amir.
Ghazanfar and Mesomeh and their son Amir.

But of course if a baptism seems to go all perfectly well, it must have a hidden catch. This one has two. One, they live quite a ways from the church and do not have the finances to make it on their own and we are yet to get members to agree to drive them ….. and two, they do not have Swedish citizenship and we cannot baptize former Muslims who have the possibility of being sent back to their home country if it is an Islamic state where they would be in mortal danger for being Mormon….. so we really hope the Swedish migration gives them citizenship soon.

We have friends from Syria where their families are being killed, where children are being murdered and their home towns bombed, who have been here for almost a year without even an interview yet from migration. It is a crazy situation. A situation that seems very simple for those not involved in it, (the apathetic “just send them back” resolution which sadly some people we are in contact with believe) but really is a complex battle of morals versus societal stability. I so desperately wish I could do more to help Ghazanfar and his family. The pursuit of happiness and safety should be a right for every human being. It isn’t…but it should be.

It is rather funny how very different one’s experience as a missionary in Sweden differs from the standard sterotype for what Sweden is. It isn’t all meatballs and teaching fishermen… I live in a neighborhood the majority of which is from the middle east where I eat out at middle eastern restaurants, get groceries at a middle eastern shop, play with a gang of middle eastern 8-14 year old boys, contact middle easterners, knock on the doors of middle easterners, and teach mainly middle easterners. I’ve learned more about Islam in the last few months than I have in my entire life before my mission and honestly, now some of my best friends are from the middle east. The opportunity I have is truly incredible. These are people who never possibly had the chance to hear about our church in their home countries. Maybe Fox news paints them as just a heap of terrorists, but really they are a prepared amazing people. Every Muslim you meet asks, very concerned, if you think they are all a bunch of terrorists. They have been thrown into a completely new western culture where they have been rather unfairly painted as some monster that they are not. They are the friendliest people you can meet. Knock on their door and you’ll actually have a conversation or be invited in. Anyhow… I always seem to go on a long spiel about refugees….sorry.

This week we were unable to have Daniel come out for teaches because Daniel being Daniel, called us saying he would not be able to be back in Karlstad until next week because one day this week he decided to go on a nice short walk in the woods and decided not to stop, and this being Sweden where there are trails everywhere, he ended up more than 60 miles north and has gone on a “Into the Wild-esque” adventure. Somehow he managed to get a tent on the way….everything just turns out for Daniel. He is the sort of person that is so chill and laid back he never worries about anything, just saying all will turn out, and somehow for him it always does. I wish I could be hiking with him right now….oh well, maybe after the mission.

I’m going to have to cut this letter short but it was a good week and this following week I am guessing will be my last with Elder Dahle… (but I hope to stay in Karlstad) I’ll write my eulogy to him next week. In the meantime, I love this work and know that this church is true. If it wasn’t this would have failed for me a long time ago. I love you.

Tills nästa vecka,

Äldste Erik Scott

My Week and Nine more to Go

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…”had to knock on this apartment, super scary on the inside”.

Started the week of with some trial running in a thunder storm, with my hardcore marine/ Oregonian friend, Elder Bean. It was good to get nature back into my soul, so I started the week of happy and healthy and it stayed that way. We have been eating more, now that we are approved to eat with all the members in our ward. Part of the ward is in Bettendorf, Iowa and there are many well to do members that feed us steak, but there are not as many humble hearts on that side.

I had a good exchange with a missionary I came out with. We talked all night long, talking about the mission, how we have grown but also what we have left to do.  It was a deep conversation that does not have room for this email, but to say the least it was inspirational and kicked me back in gear.

Speaking of gears, I made my big red mt. bike (named Clifford) into a fixed gear bike.Since my bike was sabotaged in Iowa City the gears were broken and the guy at the bike shop condemned Clifford to death. But, he has been resurrected from his bike box grave, with much work and by the grace of God I able to get the ratios just right to make him into a fixed gear without getting any components.

I’ve started a bike movement in the district and  now every one wants a bike. The local bike store loves me because all the missionaries I have been referring to them. Iv’e got to know the guys at the shop well. Some are going to go mt.biking with us and we are also going to do service, building a mt.bike park in Moline. I was praying I would find people to teach that I could relate to and my prayers were answered.

This week, we also found a guy with a tree of life tattoo and we showed him the meaning of the tattoo in 1st Nephi 8, and it blew his mind. I am not endorsing tattoos, but they tell you alot about people, and some have long personal stories tied to them.

I also gave a talk in church this week on missionary work, with out preparation. It felt like I was already giving my homecoming talk because I talked about so many experiences I have had on the mission. The main theme of the talk was, have we felt to sing the songs of redeeming love, have we felt the joy of the gospel and been redeemed  though Christ’s grace. If so, it is only a natural desire to share it with people. True conversion is the only honest motivation for doing missionary work.

A family I have been teaching a while came to church, but they like it but they were not used to the screaming kids that we seem not to notice growing up in the church. We have been getting more used to the new ward, so things are well.

Love, Elder Scott 2

Ian’s week and walking treasures:

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Ian’s second companion just went home. Elder Cleverly….”and I am gonna miss this guy. He has influenced my life and my mission, and is the most happy person on the planet.”

With the new ward boundaries, we cross the Mississippi more often and since I don’t know my way around Bettendorf and Davenport, we have been getting lost, and as a bi product we are burning though our monthly mileage allotment. So, we have been walking more and when you walk, you see more stuff and meet more crazy people then you would in the safe confines of a car. The IDMM, missionaries don’t walk but drive everywhere, so I love getting out of a car for a change.  We walked and walked and walked, this week like most missionaries in other missions, and I will tell you, it’s hard work.

IMG_0313My companion who is new to walking as a missionary has been introduced to finding ‘tracting treasures” AKA random junk on the side of the road. He found a rubber raccoon leg, a shot glass, a baby bunny he kept as a pet, a soccer ball, and action figures. We also picked up teaching a black preacher(” praise the lord, can I get a holler!”) and a lady that knows nothing about God but wants to.  We met a fellow Portlander who is having us over for dinner, a bunch of Hispanics that don’t speak English, a random drunk lady that jumped out of a bar window in front of my face to scare me, some snobby rich kids that thought they where so posh by wearing golf shoes, and a host of other characters. They are all people met on the mean streets of Moline. I like walking, as it makes you feel like your doing stuff when you really are not doing too much, but it makes me feel like a hip European missionary like my brother.

That’s all for now folks,

– Elder Scott

Spring Explodes in Sweden

IMG_5213[1]  Spring does not just casually creep into Sweden. It explodes. Flowers shoot up out of the most unexpected patches of dirt, and shoot up with an amazing power, like Sweden is trying to overcompensate for the dark winter, so I can’t help not be blomma3happy. Everybody is happy, and much more in the mood to talk in the street. Sun in rising around 5 in the morning now and it is still decently light past 9. Now I’ve given the standard small talk regarding the weather let me write about the week I just had.

I have been inducted into a hippy commune! It is rather tempting to just leave it at that….but I will expound. A less active member, Daniel, who is 24, lives at an interesting place called Ängsbacka. Ängsbacka hosts several very big new age festivals where people like my Grandma go to act like squirrels and not wear clothes. They ship in mystics from India and crazy stuff goes down….during which time Daniel leaves for a few days. When it isn’t holding festivals it is actually quite a wonderful place. I actually love it quite a lot. He, and several other volunteers do the farming at the commune and in turn gets a free place to sleep and meals. It is a very beautiful property, very reminiscent of The Edgefield back home… In fact,  I’ve felt more at home there than anywhere else yet on my mission.IMG_5214[1] The fellow workers, Utah missionaries may find weird, but I find them wonderful. and am very glad that I am here. There are Luna Lovegoods that laugh at hair in there eyes and keep beetles that crawl on your shoulder as pets, and engineers that just want a break from the world to relax and grow vegetables and do some quality yoga. Daniel looks like a Viking warrior, with a curly pile of blonde hair and beard, who always has some amazing wise statement to say that belongs in a folk song. He is one of my best friends now. After hanging out with him for a while, he had to attend a meeting inside a clay yurt and we went hiking in the forest behind the farm because it was a beautiful spring day, and Swedish forests are gorgeous. We found a clearing with a sign indicating that it was the forest temple and spent a good while just enjoying nature.

IMG_5212[1] I am so blessed to be in Sweden for my mission. It is just like the northwest almost exactly, but Swedish. I don’t know how I would be without having a forest to run away to when needed. After the meeting we met George Harrison. Well not actually George Harrison, but almost George Harrison except he came from the other side of Northern England. Jordan is a young truth seeker from York, England. He was raised going to a Christian school but in his teen years turned to atheism. He has gone on a sort of self discovery quest of sorts and has come back to recognizing that God is really there. He is working at Ängsbacka and wanted to hear everything we had to offer about the church. Daniel, like lightning, started us on the first lesson. (and it twas there that we found young Daniel to be a lion among men when teaching) The spirit was very strong in that clay yurt. Jordan took it very well and we’re meeting him next week.  One of the great things about Ängsbacka is they accept everyone and there is zero judgement, (and fairly common to act like a goat or start dancing randomly) so we are always welcome…and the doors don’t even lock.

The following day a miracle happened. When we were at the church waiting for Chales to come in for a lesson, an Afghanistan man walked into the church asking how he can be baptized! He has a friend who is a member of our church in Germany who had been telling him all about the gospel over the phone. This man, whose name is Ghuzanfar, only knew the location of our church and made a 2 hour journey to our church in hopes that there would be someone there….and we just happened to be there!!!! No one is ever at the church on a Friday evening, but we were there at the perfect time. That is a true testimony to me that God has a hand in our lives. Ghuzanfar does not speak much Swedish and zero English so we had a Persian missionary from Stockholm on the phone and we taught him the first lesson, gave him a Persian Book of Mormon and set up a day for his baptism, for he has already gained quite a strong testimony of the church from before we even met him. We are meeting his wife and 6 year old son tomorrow!!!!! IMG_5208[1]

On Sunday, we were rather burnt out from a very busy week and took a nice break to listen to conference talks on the church roof porch with Daniel then took him out to teach lessons with us because he is a teaching wiz. I love missionary work. It is the best. Everyone should give it a go, formal or informal, for your church, or just for love and kindness… When you spend your day meeting people, spreading a good message you feel fantastic. Tired at times, but fantastic. Put down your phones and meet someone new, physically. As a missionary I can really see clearly how enslaving phones are, for I spend my entire day around people, and many people miss the opportunity to meet us because they are wired to another world on their touch screen. If you are a member of my church ask yourself “if I wasn’t a member would I have stopped to listen to the missionaries in the street?” Answer yourself honestly, because the majority of people are too addicted to their phones to look up. Too addicted to look up not just at missionaries, but to look up at the beauty around them, to look up at their own friends, gathering around in circles to waste their lives away on self absorption and cheap satisfaction, all the while never actually doing anything important or even moderately interesting, wasting their days away with no stories to tell their children one day. (unless telling your children about that one instagram post you got that got 1000 likes is a thing you would do).IMG_5210[1]

Please, if you have any desire to be something more than just another brick in the wall of shallow boring society, stop wasting your life on your phone and all of the countless silly lowly apps to get favor for your decoy life when you aren’t actually doing anything worth writing a story about. Put it down for a while, do something interesting, make an adventure, read a book, step outside, be more than you were yesterday, actually live life to the potential it has. The world is completely fine without your search for it to compliment you. Try complimenting yourself by setting a goal and achieving it. It is a source of self-satisfaction that lasts much longer than the number of likes you get on whatever the silly thing you post gives…. plus phone addiction and all the side affects that come with it aren’t very attractive to those not sucked into the trance themselves. I feel like I’m in the middle of a social commentary sci-fi novella seeing all the people around me unconsciously being drained of their lives by some futuristic machine that turns their brains to jelly. If you don’t want to have jelly for a brain, take some time to put down the phone. Just some things to think about, from a missionary that is very happy to be disconnected from the plague of smart phones, and very sad to see those who miss the opportunities to find this gospel because of their phones. IMG_5207[1]

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21 Years and 21 Months

11102632_985403111470426_519324677842548938_nSo 21 years on the mission and 21 months in life…I mean 21 one years in life and 21 months on the mission. You get it? but that’s how I feel.

I started the week saying good byes to all the people in the old Rock Island ward that has now been mixed to a variety of other wards. All week people where whining about missing friends and going to new building that was a couple of miles further drive.  Well, the handcart pioneers didn’t have it this hard? After the new wards met, from my interviews with members,most of them found it was much better and saw the fault in the old Rock-Island ward. Many received confirmation that this was a good change and that the church is still true and Thomas s. Monson is a prophet who receives revelation from God even as the prophets of old. But, many others refused to go to the new wards and have gone less active, among are a  few good friends and recent converts. From this experience, I have learned how important it is to sustain our leaders and trust God has called them. Also, people need to be rooted in a testimony of Jesus Christ, not a sandy foundation of church social groups and conveniently close chapels. Always ask, why do you do things? and don’t just do things to do things, or you will do anything. You have a brain- use it.  You have a Father in Heaven that reveals truth, ask for it. So that’s the lesson today.

Elder Powell went home  this week,and left me with a good stack of magic cards and some action figures. He is probably smooching a beautiful California babe by now. He was a chill guy, who connected well with all kinds of people. I will miss him. Now,  I am with Elder Hopkins from Pasco, WA.  With an Oregonian and a Washingtonian teamed up, members are always asking if we smoke weed, (haha). Elder Hopkins being a stand up comedian/drama guy, he always has a funny comeback.  He reminds me of living with my brother, Erik again as he is always monologue-ing and thirsty for the spotlight.

I had a good 21st birthday. A member took me out to Whiteys ice cream- only available in the quad cities.  Thank you to all the people who contributed to the banner.  Thanks mom and dad for the  Legos and scrap-book was very sentimental.

To all the worried souls that think  I only eat granola, they will be happy to know I had dinner every day this week! For four days, I  had pizza, and the other two, I  had hamburgers. I hope your all happy my cholesterol has skyrocketed.  Since I am in a new ward and all the members don’t live on my side  to town, I will probably be going back on my granola diet( oats actually lower cholesterol and promote better heart health, people should be more supportive of the granola diet then the American diet).

I did not go to a jazz club, but the library had a free seminar with a big name jazz vocalist named “NNina”. She was amazing! It  was a real treat to hear real jazz again. Now,  I can’t stop singing old standards like “come rain or come shine” or “a tisket a tasket”. I talked to her afterwards and she told me to be obedient to what God wants you to do and he will get you there.  It was powerful to me.  After path of being a jazz musician was altered to becoming an artist, I was inspired by her, and was confirmed once again God called me to be an artist and I don’t care about what anyone else says. I love God, I love jazz, art and nature,  The trees are blooming in the city and my artsyspirit is coming back to life with the season.

Love,

Elder Scott

Another Eventful Week in Karlstad, Sweden

No new photos this week as Erik forgot his camera cord to download the photos but there are extra ones from last week/
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With the letter L for his brother’s Happy Birthday Elder Scott banner.

I have to ask your forgiveness for this week felt like a month and I did not do a very good job of updating my journal so I am struggling at recalling all of the events worth mentioning.

Last Monday was ages ago. The week began with Osaro, with all of his possessions at the church, waiting to get a call from Mehdi to move in with him. Later in the week, we found that Mehdi had a very unfortunate situation which made him unavailable to answer calls. So, Osaro had nowhere to live and he had to go to the hospital on Tuesday where they scanned his brain and found that he has a large tumor and is now in Uppsala waiting to get brain surgery. We are not sure if he will be able to return to Karlstad. All we can do is pray for his welfare.

Charles spent the entire week in Göteborg, which will means we are going to need to go into hyperdrive to teach all of the lessons before his baptism interview on Friday. Emanuel will need more time to commit to the word of wisdom but we are still meeting with him. Our very good friend, Mohammed, (one of the thousand) moved to Gävle for a few months. This is sad for us because he is a very good friend, but good for him because he is staying with friends from Syria which he very much needs to help with his emotional state, which being stuck in a refugee camp full of old people in the middle of nowhere was not helping. He is in good hands with missionaries in Gävle, and we still talk to him on the phone.

We also have a new progressing investigator this week. We first met Kim on the bus. Interesting story actually. The majority of the week was hectic and busy (26 lessons though, hurrah) but we had one small space of time with nothing planned so we decided to go door knocking but had no plan of where to knock. Walking down the road, we decided out of the blue to get on a random bus with no plan for a destination. Sitting on the bus, not sure why we were inclined to get on, I saw the most fantastic top hat atop the head of a Swedish bro who was a delightful cross between a mod, a 1980s British new wave, and a Tim Burton character. Such a combination does not sound possible, but believe me, it is. I wanted so desperately to contact him, based solely on his outfit, but all I could get was a “Tjena!” before he passed my seat to sit in the back of the bus. A few minutes later however, he walked back up and sat next to me and asked if I happen to know Brandon Flowers, since he could see that I was Mormon. Kim is a devote music lover and has read every book worth reading, plus more. He is trying to getting over drug addiction from his rock n’ roll lifestyle, but wants to change and has very strong faith in God. He believes that meeting us on the bus was God helping him find truth. He is going to read the Book of Mormon and meet us when he is done. (we met him yesterday and he should be done by tomorrow) We taught the entire first lesson and more on the bus and he loved it. IMG_3148

Right after, we knocked on some doors and some old man had us come into his house for him to tell us about how he met his wife at a dance in rapid värmlandska which I could more or less get the majority of, so that is very good. My Swedish still isn’t perfect, but it has come a long way from knocking doors in January. The work here takes a lot out of me physically, but I am spiritually revived and hopefully we will have some fruits of are labor in the near future. Sometimes, it feels like trying to tear down the Berlin wall with just my hands, but other times, with help from the Spirit, we can maybe make a little difference. Only with the Spirit. Alone, I am nothing.

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Killing Week and Birthday Boy

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The birthday boy turns 21 this week!

Not a lot was accomplished this week but we were busy.

Tuesday my companion did a death march( aka departing temple trip for missionaries going home) so I was deported to go on exchange for the day in my old area in Iowa City. It was good to see old friends. It was also hard to see some people change. I am not a big fan of going back to old areas but I like seeing the cool people I met. It required a lot of patience working with the elder responsible. It made me happy to go back to Rock Island.  I may not be serving in Rock Island anymore but I still live in Rock Island, with the boundary changes. I will know for sure by Thursday at transfer meeting. I will kind of be opening up the area for them, so all is well.

Elder Powell is going home this week, but first we have to teach a few more people today and tomorrow and then we are making a bomb out of his suit, so he is literally going out with a bang. It has been fun with Elder Powell, to say the least. Remember how we got that bow staff and sword last week? Well, we choreographed a fight scene and we staged it with the other missionaries present to make them think we were not getting along and we were going at each other to the death with swords. There came a point when our acting wasn’t convincing enough and it was just good jolly old fun. I may need to hit him for real with the bow staff if he keeps tempting me with all the swimming he is going to do and all the girls he is going to hug next week. For those of you unfamiliar with LDS missionary life, when a missionary goes home, his companion “kills” him, because he is dead from missionary life. So, I am going to have fun killing my companion this week.

With love,

Elder Scott

Påsk in Sweden

IMG_3145This week was nothing short of super stressful, but it ended in conference and the wonderful news that I have a new niece, Alice. I can’t wait to hold her…when she will be much bigger than she is now in two years.

Osaro will most likely have to go to Germany soon for EU law states that refugees have to seek asylum in the EU country they first landed in, and he had a connecting flight in Germany with a few hours in between flying here. We hope he can make an appeal to stay here but Sweden does have to abide by EU laws and fortunately the church is very strong in Germany and there healthcare system is just as excellent as Sweden for taking care of his epilepsy. Regardless, we will miss him and Karlstad will lose a very strong, valuable member of the branch. In the meantime he will be staying with Mehdi, a member from Iran.

The majority of this week was hectic, and may or may not have added a few gray hairs to my head, but all is well…. God is ouIMG_3147r loving heavenly father and he always gives rays of sunlight after you are tested. One of those rays of sunlight is in the form of Charles, our investigator from Congo with a baptism date. He loved conference, absorbs the gospel like a sponge and very much independently stands on his own two feet with his testimony and seeks to strengthen it himself.
Our other baptismal date, Emanuel, the Swede, is doing well also…he is still very focused on moving to the USA, and is now looking very much into moving to Utah after joining the church…. I wish Swedes could stay here and build up the kingdom in Sweden. Many members have moved to the USA. Our little flock needs to grow.
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Pask Celebration

This weekend was Påsk (Easter) I say weekend because Easter is a four day celebration here…..and very different from back home. On Saturday, all of the children dress up as cute little witches and celebrate the last witch burning in Sweden and go around to doors to collect candy….yeah, swedes have two trick or treats a year. Everyone dresses up and sings folk songs and have delicious Swedish pastries and it is a good day food wise to be a missionary.

Then came General conference which I’m sure all will agree who saw it, was amazing. I particularly loved Elder Ballard’s talk in Priesthood session. All should watch it. Conference as a missionary is pretty interesting, jumping from the Swedish room, to the English room to the french room to be with all of your investigators for at least some portion of it. Now that I am spiritually energized, I must go and get physically energized by getting some good sleep because I have not had very much quality sleep lately. Hope everyone’s Påsk was fantastic. I know that Jesus Christ arose from the tomb and was truly resurrected so that we, through his atonement can be likewise perfected.
and a Happy 21st Birthday to my brother in Iowa!!!!
Now for some beautiful photos for the week:
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Outside of Lysvik

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Lidins Farm
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