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.
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