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 happy. 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. 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.
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!!!!!
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).
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.