The last few letters I’ve sent have been full of poor luck so you would think this week would be the week where it all falls into place and we finally get the promised blessings for enduring. False. Well, not entirely…. Good stuff happened, but I have not been given the grand exit from Västerhaninge I was hoping for.
On Friday night, just before Joseph’s baptism, he called us very distressed. He had taken the Saturday off work to be baptized but his boss was demanding he come into work on Saturday or else he would be fired. So, the baptism was cancelled and we called as many people as we could to let them know but still had to wait at the door to tell those who did not get the news that the baptism was off. It was a bit depressing. The worst part is the treatment Joseph gets from his job. It is illegal. In Sweden, you can’t work more than 8 hours a day and get paid double on weekends….He leaves his house at 6 am and gets home at 8 pm every day, getting paid under minimum wage, with no change in salary on weekends, no overtime pay, and no rights. Some people cheat the system, whether it is here in Sweden, in the USA or in India, and the poor people of this world suffer from their horrid greed. The good news is he will be baptized on Saturday and his wife will be baptized the following Saturday.
I’ll be off to Västra Frölunda, Göteborg, on Wednesday so I won’t be able to see the baptisms, but that is all fine, for I must be off to the great west. I’m quite excited. Göteborg is the Portland of Sweden. Laid back, down to earth, hip and beautiful. I’ll also be missing Västerhaninge dearly though. I’ll miss Maryam, my dearest Persian friend. It has been so wonderful to be able to see her grow, from the day we first met her, a shy angel with a world of worry and sorrow on her shoulder, to now. The gospel has changed her. She is confident and happy and serves everyone she meets, with her limited Swedish and actions that speak more than words. The day she was baptized was one of the happiest days. This week we were able to go to the temple with Maryam to do baptisms and it was incredible. She cried for the first time since she left Iran. AAAAAHHHHH I will miss her loads. Even though not everything in Västerhaninge went according to planned, Maryam changed my life, and her life was changed too, and that is worth more than all the world’s riches.
This week in Sweden something dreadful happened. Just north of Göteborg a man walked into a school and killed two people with a knife (Thankfully this isn’t the USA or else it would be a semi automatic assault rifle) to protest against immigrants coming into the country. This is the first time ever a school killing has happened in Sweden. It has seriously shook the nation. Sweden has been asleep for hundreds of years. They have had no catastrophes, no natural disasters, no wars, no large large civil unrest, no shootings in their modern history. They’ve always been blessed and safe through all the global tragedies. Now is Sweden’s time to stand. 12 million Syrians need homes as their nation has been torn apart by war. Sweden has plenty of room, one of the best economies in the world, and plenty of resources to take in a decent handful of the war torn refugees….. but that requires not only the money and space that Sweden already has to give, but the hearts of the people to be opened. Either Sweden will change dramatically and never be the same country again, or they turn their backs and go back to sleep. I already gave my speech on refugees on this blog back on world refugee day in the summer but I must reiterate just how huge this is. For you reading from Oregon or Utah or wherever you are safely settled, this is a distant problem you hear on the news. Here, this is life. The train stations are full of homeless, hopeless, starving Syrian children with no idea where the future will take them. Some walk past, pretending they don’t exists. Some get angry that they are disturbing their luxurious easy lives. One of my friends out here witnessed a man go to the nearest store and buy lunch for a couple dozen of immigrants. . Amongst the bigots and neo nazis that are cursing them and burning down refugee camps with sleeping young children, there still is goodness. There still are the kind hearted that reach out. It is a blessing for me to be here in Sweden to see the Swedes with hearts of gold reach out. I wish I could just hug every refugee in T-central and give them all warm beds and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been my privilege to become very dear friends with several. Their stories break my heart but when they open their hearts to the gospel, the greatest source of happiness, which they could not obtain in their home countries, it is the loveliest thing to see. I love them. I wish I could do so much more for them.