Merry Christmas!

This week, I did something quite odd. I started praying every day for the Persian members of our church, that they can grow, and that we could find some Persian investigators. You see, on my mission the Persian people have become my mission. I have fallen in love with them. They are a large portion of my heart. Some of my dearest friends on this earth are Persian.

From my first Persian investigator, I felt an abnormally strong connection to the people of Iran and Afghanistan. So I’ve honestly been down  having gone for the last several weeks without a single Persian to teach; and so I put that in my prayers. I began praying for Persians to meet on the streets. I’m not one to make specific checklists in prayers, and I do not recommend making them, but this time it just felt right to do. And, what happened? Suddenly, Persians just started popping out of the man holes!

The greatest news I’ve received in a very long time came this week….It was honestly the best Christmas present ever. In a cardboard box, at Zone conference, I received 30 beautifully hardbound complete Persian copies of the Book of Mormon. You must understand how happy this gift was. We only had about half of the Book of Mormon translated poorly in a flimsy soft cover in Persian, disallowing Persians to read large sections of the Book of 2 Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, and excluding the book of Ether entirely. Now the church has finally published the Book of Mormon in full with pictures and everything, and a much better translation, in Persian. It honestly made me cry it was so happy. I can only imagine the rejoicing in heaven. So we loaded our bags up with the new complete Persian books, and with a increased energy walked every street we could and came home empty handed, having handed out all of our Persian copies.. From it, we have found some new wonderful investigators. One Persian woman we met on a rainy street started dancing for joy when we told her that we have another testament of Jesus Christ that had just been translated. They are such a prepared people. I love them so very much.

Unfortunately, we do not actually have a real p-day this week because of Christmas, so I can’t really write much. Despite how we are preaching that Christmas time is a time of peace to contemplate the birth of our Saviour and not get caught up in the worldly Christmas, we are still finding ourselves over stressed with all the expectations of places to be and things to do on Christmas leaving us rather flurried. Bu, I want to try as hard as I can this Christmas, despite the over booking, to set some time aside just to meditate on the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I love what Elder Christofferson said in this month’s Liahona:
“With all of that to come, though, I think it’s appropriate this time of year to just think about that baby in the manger. Don’t be too overwhelmed or occupied with what is to come; just think about that little baby. Take a quiet, peaceful moment to ponder the beginning of His life—the culmination of heavenly prophecy but the earthly beginning for Him.
The Holy Night

The Holy Night, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Take time to relax, be at peace, and see this little child in your mind. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world—when all of heaven rejoiced with the message “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”

I wish you all a very happy Christmas. I wish I could write more but I must run off to teach some people about this beautiful gospel.

much love,

Erik

New Companion in Goteborg

St. Lucia’s day. We could not see an actually performance on Sunday because we were too busy but we went to our friend Julian’s school to see the school performance. It really is a beautiful holiday that puts American Christmas to shame.IMG_2103[1]

 

First off, odd news, it was decided that we should have a little mini transfer in the first week of this new transfer, moving around zone leaders and assistants and stuff like that, plus a missionary that was waiting to serve his mission in Taiwan got his visa granted so his place had to filled in, and in the end of all of this craziness I ended up as a district leader again just when I was really loving being a normal missionary. When you don’t have to worry  about anyone but your investigators and ward members…. Ahhh….. It is the greatest feeling in the world. The best form of missionary work in my opinion is simplified missionary work, when it is just you and the people.

This year, I have really come to just fall in love with the people. This last week it became sort of an addiction to just talk to everyone because I have really come to love it. There are just so many different people with so many different stories and thoughts out there in the world that we can potentially discover every single day of our lives and so often we just put our headphones in and ignore them all because it is so easy live in your own bubble…. But so so very boring. Everyday that you talk to a new stranger, learn a little fraction of their soul, is a day well spent.

IMG_2066[1]
Elder Mecham
My new companion, Elder Mecham shares the same love of meeting new people, which makes us work very well together, so we can happily talk to everyone as often as we can, which makes missionary work very energising. It is a good companionship. In our mission, we keep track of unplanned contacts, meaning people we talk to on the way to somewhere when we haven’t planned talking to people. Very often, because some think glory is to be found in high numbers at the end of the week, missionaries get so caught up in obtaining the number of contacts they get weekly that they lose the whole purpose of contacting in the first place and are just contacting to get a number. When I have gone about contacting with that attitude, my contacting is always hollow and I hardly ever find success that way. I’m ashamed of all of the times that my thought process was “well I’m quite low on contacting numbers this week” to inspire me to talk to people. I pull so much more out of it, have a far greater impact, and have far more fun, when I contact to meet new people, to hopefully make someone’s day better, and to find people prepared to hear the gospel. We had so much fun talking to strangers this week.

A blog that I really loved back home before my mission was “humans of New York.” The author of the blog was formally a stockbroker who felt no meaning or substance in his job and so quit and just decided to meet a new person every day in New York, take a picture of them and catch a quote from them. It really is one of the most lovely blogs. It is just people. Real people. Real stories. I get to do that in a sense everyday. I have found as you show interest in others, in their life, they are far more likely to be interested in my message. It is the philosophy that Dale Carnegie taught. People generally will be interested in you if you are genuinely interested in them. The mission is just such a gift for me to see this to be true every day out here. IMG_2135[1]

In other news, Michael is doing fantastic. He keeps bringing friends to YSA activities and is even trying to reactivate a less active member. On Sunday, he went to Utby, the ward before ours, as well as our ward service after just because he liked church and wanted as much of it as he could get…hahaha.

Also, with talking to everyone on the street this week we have found some new investigators. I found a man named Cuong from Vietnam when I was with a YSA return missionary in our ward, Jesper, on Monday night. He came to church on Sunday and loved it. He is incredibly busy with work and school and raising a young family, and he still finds time for us. We also have found the loveliest Perisna couple. I’ve rather depressed with no Persians in my life last transfer so I was so happy to find them, because Persians are just the greatest people. They have already converted to Christianity and were just talking about the Atonement together when we contacted them. They are just a young couple with most brilliantly bright light of Christ in their eyes. I’m excited to see what comes of this and the other people we found this week. IMG_2096[1]

Hope all is well at home for all! A very very special happy birthday to the coolest and cutest Niece in the whole world, Elanor, who turned FIVE YEARS OLD on the 10th. Next time I see you you will almost be six! and probably taller than me.

Much Love,

Äldste Scott

 

IMG_2175[1]

It’s beginning to look a lot like Jultid!

 

DSC_6540isle of Hönö

Swedes are the masters of Christmas. We saw the most lovely live nativity the other night with a live camel and everything and adorably old Svenska Kyrkan priests playing the nativity characters to a chorus of church children’s choir of angels. We’ve also had our share of classic Swedish julbords (fish in just about every way you can think of preparing it) and have become rather addicted to glögg, which is essentially the taste of ultimate Christmas in a mug. I’m most excited for having a Swedish Christmas. I’ll be adopting large sheaves of it into my own Christmases when I have a family. (Though I won’t have my family open all their presents on Christmas Eve like the Swedish way… That is where my conversion stops)

DSC_6523So transfer news: Elder Adams is getting sent off to Linköping and I’ll be getting elder Mecham here in Göteborg. I know literally nothing about him apart from the fact that he is from Arkansas and I’m greenie breaking him. (which means he just finished being trained) we will also be opening up another pair of elders in Västra Frölunda, which will be Elder Richardson from EUGENE OREGON (and there was much rejoicing) who was on Gotland, that beautiful tropical island, where I served there for a few days  on work overs. Elder Richardson will be  a young greenie he will be training. This means my apartment will be turning into a four-man (oh dear) and I’ll be splitting up my area.

waveOn Wednesday, we were in dire need of an awfully big adventure. The inner city pressures were steadily overpowering us. Our work was rather stressful this week and spending the entirety of your time in the labyrinth of seemingly never ending buildings has an effect on you. I do love this city so very very much, and as far as cities go it is certainly one of the most pleasantly peaceful and down to earth cities this planet has to offer, but despite how lovely it is, it does not cancel the fact that I grew up in a forest, and cannot endure city life for an extended period of time without a release back out into the countryside…. So we decided to pay a visit to less actives that live on the outer fringes of our boundaries, on the scattered Göteborg archipelago. It was by no means a throw away day. We taught, we contacted, and we had loads of fun taking a ferry to one of the most gorgeous islands I’ve ever  seen. It felt like we were in Iceland. The North Sea was viciously pounding upon the isle of Hönö and I found myself soaked with salt water for the remainder of the day….and when it is dark by 3:30 you don’t dry too fast.

isle of Hönö12341488_10153402782522737_1674078541259946922_nWith that refreshing change of weekly pattern, we found ourselves energised and by the end of the week, we have four new investigators after several weeks of no one interested. One of those new investigators is Kingsley from Nigeria. One of the billion Kingsleys from Nigeria. I’m pretty sure Kingsley Shaklebolt was Nigerian, because it seems like every Nigerian man is named Kingsley. (just like every Iraqi man is named Mohammed…. Thus every Swedish missionary phone has a hundred Kingsleys and Mohammeds in the contacts).  Anyhow, we found Kingsley in central station when all of the trains were cancelled because a huge wind storm has ravaged Sweden this week, derailing trains and all that craziness. As I sat down amidst tired business people, desperately wanting to return home and panicking vacationers stranded in Göteborg, I started to talk to the man next to me, Kingsley. He has just arrived in Sweden looking for work and did not have a place to sleep or food in his stomach or a sufficient coat. Outside was a wild rain storm literally closing down public transportation and tearing down scaffolding and Christmas decorations… IMG_8636[1]

In our long conversation on the bench of that crowded central station, I heard his life story. His life on the streets of his shanty town, never having shoes on his feet or a full belly. Everyone he ever loved has died except his daughter. His dream is to give his daughter a bright future. A life like the one he never had.

My temporal uselessness for the situation pained me. I could give soup. I could give a scarf. But that was not bed for the night or a job to sustain him. He spends every day walking from place to place looking for one, but I pray that as he opens to the gospel of Jesus Christ that the spiritual nourishing will make up for my lack of physical nourishing.

As Christmas draws nearer, I would invite you all to do as Thomas S. Monson invited; “to catch the true Christmas spirit we need only drop the last syllable and make it the spirit of Christ.” What would Christ do this Christmas season? There are plenty of hands and heads that hang low here in this city to keep us busy all season long giving true Christmas spirit to, and I promise there are plenty around you too, wherever you may be. They might not be as starkly visible as war torn refugees, but they are there, in every city and town, in every walk of life, waiting for you to bring light, love and the spirit of Christ into their life.

Love you all,

Erik

IMG_8783[1]
In a Swedish light room in Goteborg.