Tjena from Provo, Svergie! i.e. Västerhaninge (pronounced vest-er-han-e-ya to save you the trouble of looking it up),
I am in quite a shock here. Coming from a branch of 15 on a good Sunday, to 250 plus members at church last Sunday. It has been a wild adventure. I will have to learn how to be a completely different missionary. Just about everything here is different. When I arrived at Karlstad, our apartment had 3 light bulbs working,. The kitchen chairs you would have to balance on just three legs, the frying pans were questionably cancerous. The mattresses were torn up and moldy. The pillows were more like old yellowed rags you stuffed inside your pillow case. The office chairs were missing wheels and had to be tied down to keep the backs from falling out. The lazy boy had a gaping pit of despair where one is supposed to sit . The bathroom was covered in mildew. The fuses kept blowing out if you had more than two burners on and the entire place had not had a solid clean since the Elders that we using the apartment in the 70s.
This apartment on the other hand, is like an Ikea model apartment. We have are own washer and dryer, a large fridge and freezer, a sleek Swedish kitchen, a BATHTUB!, a sleek Swedish living room, all ikea, very nice new ikea beds, those really cool Ikea closets that come with shoe racks, another bonus room just because, and a little garden with a hedgehog statue. (I’ve been forgetting to mention that I have seen quite a few hedgehogs here….they are always to speedy for me to catch though).
In Karlstad you travel an average of 2-4 hours to visit investigators and nobody you contact has heard about our church. Here we have a wee little area where everyone already knows who we are and if they are not members, or friends of members, or have been contacted by the missionaries before, or have investigated our church before, they are probably from out of town. When a giant LDS temple is in the dead center of town, and a large fraction of the community Mormon, it is very hard not to know who we are.
My last two days in Karlstad were very nice. On Tuesday night, I taught Ghazanfar and Mesomeh for the last time in Karlstad. 😦 We were going to meet them at the church and they did not have enough money for the bus and had no idea how to walk to the church from the hospital where they were before. (for an appointment for Mesomeh. She should be giving birth in the next week!) Ghazanfar prayed and they started to walk. Right on time they showed up at the church and said that they could feel a warm hand guiding them down the streets, having them go left and right, which lead them to the church. The gift of the Holy Ghost came in a very special way for our two new members. I am going to miss those two wonderful souls and their son Amir very much and hope to see them as soon as possible. Luckily, in Västerhaninge we have some Persian investigators so I’ll be able to see them hopefully over Skype during Persian Sunday school.
As I am adjusting to the new area I am steadily falling in love with it. My new companion is Elder Burton from Cardston, Alberta. He is an awesome Canadian brodah who has been in many of the same plays as I have been in. We have even both played Malvolio in Twelfth Night. . He knows his Shakespeare and we can both keep the apartment very clean and organized. (ahhh the bliss) We should have a very nice, enjoyable and productive companionship indeed.
On Thursday, we played soccer with a group of refugees (The Somalians creamed me…) and on Saturday I was able to go to the temple!!!! Everything was in Swedish… I don’t know as much Swedish as I thought I did I guess. I was blessed to be sent to Västerhaninge at a very special time. This upcoming week is the 30th anniversary of the temple dedication so from Tuesday till Friday we will have a super awesome celebration with special speakers, Meet the Mormons playing every night, and four live concerts. We as missionaries ,are going to be busy the whole week with this. It should hopefully turn out to be a very good missionary tool to get people interested in our church…..plus I will get to see several live concerts and meet the mormons. That is about it thus far in the new stomping grounds.