“All is quiet on New Year’s Day”

 

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So, I have been gone from the blog for an awfully long time now. Strange holiday scheduling and far more missionaries than computers has left me away for the last few weeks……but I do not mind for the holidays were unforgettable and even if there are way more missionaries than we have computers for they are all so wonderful and I would not want any of them not here.

So Christmas…… Here in Sweden, Christmas Eve is the biggest holiday of them all. The traditions are beautifully rich and we had the amazing opportunity of being able to spend it with our Bishop’s family.
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On the way en route to his house, we found an old drunk man with a paralyzed leg hobbling in the wild winter wind. He would walk a few feet and then fall over, get back up and try again only to fall again. It was a heartbreaking sight to see on Christmas eve. He was completely alone, with only a bottle of whisky to keep him company, stuck in a sort of wind vortex Bermuda Triangle  in the centre of the empty city.
IMG_2706[1].jpegWe proceeded to spend the good part of an hour parading him around central station on our arms to help him find a nonexistent train he was determined to take. The whole event was hilarious and at the same time heartbreaking. He was laughing, we were laughing, we were going in circles, carrying him like he just scored the winning goal, with an imaginary destination we all knew we could not find.  And yet, the moment my mind stole to what will become of him once we eventually set him down somewhere and left, was painfully frightening. As I was holding his arm, it felt as if all I was holding was his bone, with no flesh… He could hardly speak, certainly could not walk, and was not in any mental state to keep himself physically safe. What a terrible Christmas for him to have.
We eventually dropped him of with some station workers to hopefully attend to his safety and went on our way, but he stayed in my mind. How many souls would be out on the streets of Göteborg, and indeed anywhere on this earth, cold, starving, on the brink of death, with no family to embrace them, no warm house to sit in and enjoy the Christmas eve coziness. The story of the little match girl, by Hans Christen Andersen, the wonderful Danish author, enveloped my Christmas Eve. Even though Christmas is over,  please read the story. Next Christmas,  I want to do a little more to make sure others are having a happy Christmas. I think that would increase the value of the holiday.
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Anyhow, after this train of thought, we made it to Bishop Angelini’s home for Christmas eve. It was unforgettable. They are such a loving family having such a traditional Swedish Christmas made it a beautiful Christmas eve…. Our bishop even pulled out his guitar and performed some songs from his days as a lead singer in a 1980s French rock band. (yes, we do have the coolest bishop) The next several days were just a blur of our wonderful members of this ward having us over to watch Disney movies. (and we were able to watch It’s a Wonderful Life so that made me very happy) This really is a particularly loving ward. I scored lucky. as they are tight knit and generous. I got several Christmas presents from members this year! Not just dollar tree gifts, but really thoughtful gifts. Shirts and socks and pieces of Sweden.  I really have the greatest ward right here in Göteborg and I never want to transfer from it.
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And then I got terribly sick, as in throwing up my lefse and still kind of sick. For the first time in my entire mission, I had to take a day off and stay home. It felt weird in the sort of way I do not like, having to sit around and just watch The Testaments and read. Something is very off when you aren’t out working as a missionary. But at last my vomiting ceased and now I am able to be out working with a new energy for the new year!

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By the way, if you want to have a quality New year’s eve, spend it in Sweden. They do not have lame firework laws like back home so literally ever Swede and their husky shoots off full fledged aerial fireworks at midnight and the entire city is a 360 degree firework display for miles and miles and miles. We were able to spend New Years Eve with the Måttsson family and six missionaries with the funnest members this side of eternity  from 7:00 till midnight which was unforgettably fun.

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Anyhow, it is a new year believe it or not and as cliche as new year’s resolutions are, there is a mountain load of things for me to work on that I hope to improve in the upcoming 2016. This transfer for assigned topics to teach in district meetings is Christlike attributes. I love it sooo much. I get to teach about love and Charity and Faith and humility and Obedience and it is just the greatest month of topics yet.  My resolution is to dedicate this year (and my life, but to put extra focus now) into improving my self with Christlike attributes. Everyone needs to hold me accountable, okay? If I return home this fall the same little punk I was when I went to Sweden, slap me thrice across my face and send me right back on the plane until I improve.
Much love,
Erik 

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