Tjena from Provo, Svergie!

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“Stockholm Temple getting gussied up for the 30th anniversary.”

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.

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My last night in Karlstad…

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.

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With new companion, Elder Burton and an investigator.

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.

IMG_3953On 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.

Much love,

Äldste Scott

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Ian’s last post…

"My visit to heaven this week!"
“My visit to heaven this week!”

Dear Friends and family,

Thanks to all who have prayed for me. Thank you more to all who sent letters and emails. I regret not being able to respond to them all but wish I could. This is the final count down and have found my self getting emergency transferred to Des Moines for the last week in a half. I was meant to be here by God’s design,. Crazy stuff went down back in Missouri and I am back helping out some people in an old area and finding some new people( outdoorsy hippy types) I think only I could connect with.The week has been insane and I cannot describe it all in writing. I will say I have never worked harder and felt so much joy and purpose as a missionary.  I love my mission, and hope this week last.

It has been a miracle that I  got this far, through all the storms and opposition but am so blessed and happy that I hung on to Christ, and I give him all the glory for getting me though it all! Can I get a HALLELUJAH! up in here?!

-Elder Scott the 2nd

A well worth reading, long but powerful letter from Erik:

IMG_3768So, after six months in far out beautiful Värmland, I am off to the big city! I’ll will be moving to Västerhaninge on Wednesday. Västerhaninge is a suburb of southern Stockholm where our church’s temple is. I’ll be going from a branch of 15-20 active members to one of the biggest wards in Scandinavia (around 200 active members) so that will be a huge shock. I have grown used to missionary work being long walks down country roads to get to appointments, travelling for three to four hours to teach in tiny remote villages where everyone speaks Norwegian. I’ve been doing farm work weekly, having to knock on doors to get contacts because not enough people are outside in the majority of the towns. Now, I will be in a much smaller, much more compact, much more densely populated, urban area where the membership is huge and everyone will laugh at my accidentally acquired Värmlandska dialect which I am trying to get rid of. (the people of Stockholm sound like posh Stitch so that will be a big adjustment from the gentle half Norwegian sing-song of Värmland) .

My new companion will be Elder Burton from Cardston, Canada. I slept the night with him last transfer when I was in Västerhaninge a few weeks ago and I certainly got lucky.

IMG_3774This past week was really really hard at times. The mission is the one place where you have never been so depressed and at other times you have never been so happy. You have your all time ups and your all time downs. Fortunately, light always prevails and God is always there to love and comfort and we can always push through any obstacle. The knowledge that I am not alone, that God loves me and will help me, brings more comfort to my soul through the hard times than any solution created by man. If you face a ravine in your path, with no bottom in sight and no visible way to cross, do not lose hope. Our Heavenly Father will give us no trial that we cannot overcome. If we trust in him, follow him, and have hope, he will help us overcome all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and give us blessings to follow.  Jesus promises to give us peace, not as the world gives but far more than that. Eternally. (John 14:2) So if I am to be perfectly honest, this week I had reached the lowest point in my life, a level of depression I did not even know existed, and if I had written this letter earlier in the week it would have been very dreary, if I even bothered to write at all. but I am making it through that darkness and do not need to write about the dreariness anymore. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ, who has been through all of this for me. I know nothing can overtake me if I hold fast to Him.IMG_3775

On a positive note, this week was Midsummers, which means the sun is still up and shining before we go to bed and is high in the sky well before we wake up. It also meant that we were able to go to Göteborg for Midsummers (celebrated on Friday) to participate in some classic old Swedish Midsummer dancing around the Maypole. America is so boring with it’s holidays. Göteborg is a very gorgeous, untainted city. The perfect sized city. It feels like the Portland or the Glasgow of Sweden. I hope I can serve there someday.

The rest of the week was the hard say goodbyes to all the investigators and members that have become my friends over the last 6 months. It will be hard to leave them. Ghazanfar is still saying I am staying. On Sunday, we had a very good turn up at church. One of our Albanian investigators Gezim came and loved it. This week, when we visited him, the lesson started out not so well. It very much felt like he was just having us over to be polite. He kept on talking about how tired he was and he did not show much sign of being interested. Then, we had him read the testimony of Joseph Smith in Albanian. He started read fast and with a rather annoyed tone but the spirit in the room gradually changed…. He read more quieter, more slowly. His face changed from tired and apathetic to excited and beyond the description of words. When he finished reading there was a long silence and then in Swedish he thanked us for making his day and then asked if he can come to church on Sunday. That is one wonderful man I had the privileged of meeting at the end of my service here in Karlstad and hope to see progress in the gospel.

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Elizabeth and her daughters.

One really cool opportunity I also had this Sunday was being able to conduct a sacrament meeting!!! One of our members, and one of the greatest people in the world, Elizabeth, had missed her train to get to church but really wanted to see me before I left so she came an hour after church and the branch president gave us permission to hold sacrament meeting again just for her. So with her, her two daughters, my very good friend Mehdi and Elder Brinkworth we held a sacrament meeting with hymns, talks and everything. It was one of the most spiritually strong sacrament services I’ve been a part of ever. Elizabeth bought me new shoes (I had worn holes through the bottom of my old boots and she said she gave them to me because a missionary’s feet are blessed. She is just quite simply amazing.)

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With the branch president, Michael.
I am going to miss Karlstad, but need to get moving on. I will miss the branch, the friends I have made and the people of Värmland. I will very much miss Ghazanfar and Mesomeh. They are the kindest, strongest, bravest, greatest couple in the world. They are willing to sacrifice everything for their religion. They are willing to do anything to help another. They are the perfect example of a loving family that follows God and I wish to be a little more like them. Mesomeh’s baby will be due any day now and we are trying to get church documents as fast as possible so they can show Migration documented proof that they are Christian and therefore cannot be sent back to Afghanistan and hopefully can be able to be moved from their current, entirely muslim camp.  Mesomeh has stopped covering her head and has received a lot of persecution for it. Ghazanfar is shouted at everyday and their son, Amir has been beaten up by the other kids. They are true pioneers in the Gospel.  I hope and pray with my whole heart that Migration will show some mercy on them. Unfortunately migration is run by the Javiers of the world, not the Jean Valjeans… but I have hope for humanity.

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My favorite Iranian brother, Mehdi

Saturday was World Refugee day. I know the refugees of war torn countries feel like a world away for most people reading this, that it is much easier to ignore it and their seeking refuge in developed nations will bring an inconvenience to the easy way of living life, but these are actual people, with actual lives, with actual souls. It has been a blessing to be able to know many of them personally. Many I have taught, played with, called my friends and embraced I do not know if they are still alive. Sweden no longer wants to bother with them along with a majority of Europe, and they’re being forced back into the countries they were escaping for their lives. Many not to survive. If you went to a refugee camp and sat down in the Syrian’s sleeping quarters and listened to their haunting stories of their houses being blown to rubble, their parents, their brothers, their sisters, their own children being slaughtered, seeing the absolute fear in their eyes, their entire bodies uncontrollably shaking, children huddled in the bare hallways having tears every time you visit. Then, if you hear an Iraqi man or Afghanistani women tell you about how they sacrificed everything to oppose the evil in their country, and show you the scars where they have been burned, stabbed, or shot, and how they just want to live long enough to give their children a better life, and then  you tell me they do not deserve refuge from their countries, we clearly see morals very differently.  My heart is pained by seeing these poor, war torn people, who are saints in my eyes, who are kicked out of the country every week. I wish I had a solution. I wish I could save them. but I can’t. All I can do is pray for them, love them and serve them. If everyone had the opportunity to serve a mission where they get to be among the wonderful souls of the refugees, to become their friend, the world would have a much kinder and much more Christlike opinion towards them and hopefully be in turn a much better place where we all can have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..

July 2nd!

ianmishAs Ian did not send photos, here’s a few collages of photos from his mission to enjoy.

Okay, no complaints here.  Yes, my area got shut down even though there was a lot of work there. One of my new companions is super cool. He is from the northwest the other is a bit awkward and rigid.  The work is slow in Kirksville many of the locals just want to bash and persecute you.

I gave my departing testimony at zone conference and it was good even though I cried. I have two weeks left and I’m feeling happy. I felt confirmed that I did a good job even though I thought I haven’t, but  the spirit says otherwise and I’m okay with that. I got confirmation this mission was a success and it has helped me grow so much.

This super cool farmer family who is just like the Missouri version of the Weasleys( red hair,bunch of boys and 1 girl at the end). Well, one son came home and gave an excellent homecoming talk. He served in the same mission as Ricky did. (Ian’s brother inlaw). He didn’t have many baptisms but you can tell he grew to really love the Navajos and he talked about service. Later, I asked him if he was working until he goes back to BYUI, but he said he was just his mom’s slave for the summer, and I am looking forward to that too-no joke.

love you- Elder Scott

ianmis

Leaving Karlstad?

IMG_0232[1]This week Ghazanfar and Mesomeh were able to be confirmed and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was one of the most special opportunities I have yet been a part of. The spirit was so strong. It seemed like their faces were literally glowing with light. It was one of the moments of life I will remember for eternity. This week we found quite a few new investigators from street contacting including four more Persians (at this rate we can have a Persian branch here in five years. Three down, a dozen more to go. Fist pump.) and an actually living breathing young Swedish man. (what? imagine that!) His name is Robin Eriksson, He is in his mid twenties, has a normal job, normal life and will be gone on vacation in Turkey for the next three weeks so I will probably not get to teach him again because transfer calls go out this week and I’ve already served 6 months in Karlstad and to serve much longer would be rather rare…..but you never know where the Lord wants you….so maybe I will get to teach him…. we shall see. He was very interested in our message and has a very close relationship with God already.

We also have another new Swedish investigator (double heel click) that is a young mother who works in the hospital who has been looking into our church for years and is now ready to meet with us. Our first official sit down lesson will be literally the night before transfers…. If I do leave Karlstad, there will be plenty of work for the new guy. We also found three new Syrians (got to love the Syrians), a family of Albanians, another Albanian man, one Iraqi and hopefully more new investigators on the way because Shadow Chales want to help us with missionary work. (and will probably be baptized in the near future, that classy gent).

IMG_0212[1]  This upcoming week is Midsummers, the one day of the year apart from Christmas that we have completely off, so I am very excited to be able to dance around a pole, sing Swedish folk songs and have the sun still up past midnight. What sport, I dare say! We will have  to be in our apartment extra early and the next day we are also not supposed to go out until after 3:00 because Midsummers in Sweden is much like St. Patricks day in the USA when it comes to alcohol consumption…. hence why they are celebrating it on the 19th rather than the 21st. Anyhow, I hope if this is my last week in beautiful Värmland that I can finish with some good work. I love you all and wish you a very happy Midsummers! (please don’t get drunk though. That would a perfect way to spoil the evening.)

Always honest Elder Scott

Well, the week was going good, just loving life in rural Missouri.  It was a long humid day and I  was taking the shortcut to get home on a gravel road that we usually take out but I have never taken it.  As I was coming up a hill at 30 mph, I couldn’t see the sharp turn on the other side, so the road turned and I didn’t. Our car went though a barbed wire fence. The damage was just a lost rear bumper and a tail light, I explained to president we would just look like very one else around these parts, but we are too classy to drive without a tail light. Our president had been talking about closing down our remote area, so after this event, he did.

Our brotherly companionship ended  and I was put into a three-some in Kirksville for the last 3 weeks of the mission. Our bishop got  fired up because he lives in Green city and thinks it is the promised land. Yes, it is hard getting around but the people are nice and humble and the work is fruitful. It is mostly due to a loss of 50 cars in the mission and a big drop in missionaries and not enough coming out.

So, to all you fence sitters who cannot decide if you want to go on a mission, do it and stop caring about your self. The people  matter do and they need your help and you need their help to make you no longer a little brat kid but into a charitable man. I hope you enjoyed the eye brow singe but we need you,. I know I complain a lot about missionary stuff, but it has been worth it and  I would not trade the experience for all the riches in the world.

Anyways, I have 3 weeks left working both and all of Green city so there is alot to do!  I am with 2 young diligent missionaries and they are keeping me in gear. One is a little nerdy but very nice and gets it done and the other is a friend of a friend from Washington and he is a northwest brother from Enumclaw. He is into all the outdoor stuff that I like and he is also a sportsman. He doesn’t complain and he doesn’t give a rats boot, and says it how it is. We got in a bash with a  “logical”man and he was able to get the man to realize things he never considered. The man is a  computer science professor so I took the opportunity to say random number in binary code as a joke. Unknown to me, I said the holy numbers of 7 and 12, that really brought him to his knees. I never thought my first experience of speaking in tongues would be in binary? But, it softened  his heart more then another language.

So it’s been wild, but,  I’m going hard on the paint still and not letting the changes slow me down, but I will sure miss Elder Stock as  he was a cool jazzy guy.

A long-awaited day:

IMG_3646Sweden is bursting with beautiful color. The sun is setting around 10:30pm  and the sky does not really have much time to get dark before the sun rises again around 3:30am.  I am experiencing the wettest summer Sweden has had for over 300 years.

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Ghazanfar and Mesomeh’s Baptism

The overshadowing event of this week was Ghazanfar and Mesomeh were baptized this Sunday!It was a wonderful Sunday. We had a special satellite broadcast of Elder Holland and Texiqueria in Edinburgh, Scotland which all of the investigators who came to church loved. It was followed by the baptism which was fantatic, even though I had to baptize Mesomeh three times because she is 8 months pregnant and it was very hard to get the stomach fully emerged. They are truly two of the best people out there and it is such an honor to be their friend.

Their son, Amir.
Their son, Amir.

The earlier half of the week was quite unusual because we were out of town for two full days for the zone conference in Västerhaninge (where we received technology training because we will be receiving ipads in the near future but no set date yet) but the days we were here we were able to do some pretty good work. Samir and Roleen (the Syrain family) are progressing very well. We finally got our hands on an Arabic dubbed restoration dvd (gold dust in the Sweden Stockholm mission) and now have an Arabic translator for Roleen.  Roleen actually speaks more Swedish then many missionaries even though she hasn’t had a formal class yet….she is just extremely smart….Samir speaks like a native now…. Now,  we just need to get Ghazanfar and Mesomeh transitioned in as members and hopefully we can see a few more baptisms in Karlstad in the near future.

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Reunion of some of my MTC family in Västerhaninge (the temple)
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“Swedish National Day!!!!!! like fourth of July without the bad country music.”

A Good Week in Sweden

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Tracting into some Hobbits

So all who read this, sorry for the tardiness, (tardy is a strange word, isn’t it? I’ve always just accepted it as a normal expression having spent 12 years of my life in the public school system but when I stop and think on it, I find the word to be rather odd in sound….turns out it comes from the latin root tardus meaning slow and by the 16th century the French were using it to define those late to scheduled events….anyhow)

Yesterday, our train to take us back home from the border broke down so we did not get home until just before we had our first lesson and we were booked up until nighty nighty time…..so, this letter is one day late and will be quite short because we need to catch a train to Västerhanige for zone conference for tomorrow. (unfortunately we will not have time to go to the temple that is literally across the street from the church we will be at.)

So, what happened this week? It is awfully hard to remember for it has been a whole lot of wild crazy whippersnapping, running about, trying to do 20 things at once. It’s been a busy crazy week that I have wiped from my memory but at the end of all of the hootinanny and hollabaloo and drama (yes, when isn’t there drama….) At the end of it all, Ghazanfar and Mesomeh are all cleared to be baptized this Sunday! Be there! (well don’t actually if you are reading this from the States because that is quite expensive and I would not want you to do that to your wallet).

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These fine two will be getting baptized this week! (and the other missionary is Elder Heiner)

We had workovers this week (for Ghazanfar and Mesomeh’s interviews for baptism) which were rather odd for me because I have spent my entire mission thus far out in Karlstad where I only see other missionaries once a week so it was much like being home schooled and having some public school friends come over to my house for the first time in ages. The first day of work overs I was with Elder Heiner, my new District Leader who is from Eugene Oregon, so that was dandy. Oregonians just have this special bond out here on the other side of the world….maybe the Northwest just runs deep in our veins, or maybe it is because of all of the Utah missionaries prancing about. Whatever it is, the five Oregonians and the six Washingtonians are a tight knit brodahood… so it was really nice to spend a day with someone who also finds the Swedes to be quite tamed while the Utah missionaries freak out about having to recycle and when the only option for something is organic.

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Classic indefinable beautify of Sweden- it is more than just the view, it has a magic that you can only understand by being here.

That day, we visited Ghazanfar and Mesomeh and I can confidently say they are two of the greatest people I will ever meet. Ghazanfar told me then for the first time, his journey to Sweden. In Afghanaistan, they married ten years ago and had two boys. One of their boys when he was still very young, was shot by the Taliban and they have been running ever since with their younger son, Amir. They have had to run from Afghanistan to Iran, to Turkey to Greece, to Hungary to Germany, to here, losing all the possessions they had back home, losing their eldest son, and through it all have the strongest faith you can imagine. They give and give and give and love and trust in God unlike any other. What they have been through, I cannot imagine and still their optimism, their conviction, their hope surpasses mine. No one smiles wider than Mesomeh. No one hugs tighter than Ghazanfar. They are like two angels to me. They seem to glow the spirit, and no one is more ready to be baptized then them.

On the second day of work overs,  I was with my old MTC brother, Elder Backman which was awesome…. We are very similar, which can be a good thing, in that we taught the lessons dynamically, but is also a not so good thing as in we both have the same sense of adventure that it is hard to really quench on a mission, so by the end of the day we had climbed several cliffs, tress and hills, and got well lost in a forest. The day was very productive with lessons so it wasn’t a wasted day….We just got a little more muddy, wet, and sweaty than I probably should’ve…. I love that guy. Anyhow, I have to rush to Stockholm now so until next week.

Much love,

Äldste Erik Scott

“Only Four More of These You Have to Read”

Looking at Ian's view from his backyard...and his painting.
Looking at Ian’s view from his backyard…and his painting.

Not much to report, just driving a lot and talking to nice farmers who can talk for hours but they are always so hospitable and honest. When farmers do commit, they do it 100%. It just takes them some thinking before they get there.

At the branch, we had one member there this week, but we had two investigators at church, which is fun to have more non members then members at church. One is getting real close, he is just having trouble getting over those darn cigarettes.  The other one who came, is a classy black lady who owns the local hair salon/ nails/ face spa/  hospital scrub distribution/ tannery and taxidermy store. It’s  a small town and you need to have a lot of outlets to survive.

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Where he and his missionary companion live.

I helped some members on there farm. It felt good to wrestle sheep again. It’s a good reminder how we are compared to sheep by the Savior, probably because we are so dumb like sheep when it comes to following the ways of our master.  While working, a thunderstorm ended our chores so we warmed up to a delicious farm-raised meal equal to the deliciousness of my mother’s cooking. It was so good, and the lady taught us how to make the food. The trick is lots of butter and that is probably why it tasted like mom’s food so much.

Enjoy the pictures.

Elder Scott the 2nd

Another Elder Scott with a sheep.
Another Elder Scott with a sheep.