isle 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)
So 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.
On 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 HönöWith 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…
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,