This week, to be perfectly honest, was a hard change. My heart absolutely did not want to leave Göteborg at all. My soul had settled into those streets so very comfortably, but change must always come. and we must embrace it. So, I had to cut the ties and jump the tracks, never to return…. and so on my birthday (thank you everyone for the birthday wishes!) I boarded a train heading north.
Sweden is so beautiful in the most subtle way. It does not try to dazzle you with high peaks or grand vistas, it just simply is beautiful. Of course, coming from the Northwest my ideal beauty is the mountains. The Cascades, Scotland, Norway…. but Sweden, in it’s subtlety, gets into you. Your jaw does not drop, and the essence of it’s beauty cannot be captured properly by any camera, but still you cannot get over it’s scenery; subtle and consistent. You can pass mile after mile of what seems to be the same exact red farm houses with white lining capped with snow on the edge of what you can very well believe to be a cloned forest speckled with thousands of frozen lakes. For hours the scenery outside is impressively the same…..not to be confused with the consistent stretch of nothingness that is the drive through southern Idaho.
The conclusion; Swedes are hobbits. Well, the traditional Swede that is. There are plenty of Baggins and Tooks in the lot, but so many of the elder generation particularly are hobbits, living their pleasant hobbit lives in their pleasant hobbit countryside, with their identical red painted farms stuffed with amateur oil paintings of reindeer and antique books of nature poetry by some old bearded Swedish hobbit who lived in practically the same oil painting and antique book stuffed house 100 years ago in the next valley over, which is essentially the same as every other valley for a hundred miles round, full of pretty much the same peaceful old farmer hobbits with their oil paintings and antique books and red houses with white lining. They do not need mountains. They do not need grand vistas. They just need their wild blueberries to pluck in the summer, their pears to pick in the autumn, their semlas to bake in the winter, and their potatoes to plant in the spring. They have gone hundreds of years undisturbed by the wars of the world, the newest fads and inventions, simply and happily living their hobbit lives in their hobbit countryside while the world of men keeps on changing and fighting beyond their safety bubble of forests and lakes. This is the heart of Sweden. This is Dalarna….my new area.
I spent the last 4 and a half months in the wonderful, exciting, bustling city where the Swedes are living the IKEA dream, going on vacation to Thailand for 4 months at a time, volunteering for some humanitarian organisation, actively saving the environment, getting yet another University degree because why not, all the while taking sips of their fairtrade coffee as they bike frantically to their alternatively decorated offices. In short, I’m now where the city Swedes go to visit their dear old grandparents for some rhubarb pie and a step back into 1963…. and I love it. I love both Swedens. The Sweden of today and the Sweden of yesterday. Dalarna is a piece of the past……and it also is filled with loads and loads of refugees! I just love Syrians. You knock on their door and the let you in instantly and would give you every worldly possession they own if you asked because they never ever ever think of themselves. They have gone through so much and yet are such good humans down to the core.
The work here is on an upward slope. We have found some lovely investigators. One in particular has left an impression on my soul. Robert. This is how one would describe Robert- Imagine 1990s Robbie Williams having never cleaned up his act. He looks like Robbie Williams, tattoos and all, he lives in a small bare apartment all alone, and he has had the roughest life. Borlänge is a mill town with not much going for it apart from natural beauty so it is rather like Kurt Kobain’s Aberdeen Washington in general atmosphere, and Robert is your classic product of such a town; rough childhood, very anti-religion father, been through all the drugs, and prison, and left with nothing but hope. His life has been very dark but he has grasped onto hope, and that hope is developing into faith, and so faith will grow to knowledge and love and charity and the gospel of Jesus Christ will work upon him to change him into a happy, light filled saint. This is what the gospel does. This is why I am here. I am so happy to be here for this purpose. He believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. Joseph Smith to be a true prophet and this church to be the one true church….and he wants to be baptised, and will be…………in June. . It will be a long path to get him there, with a lot of addictions to overcome and past barriers to overcome, but I know he can do it. I believe in him. He smiled at the end of our last lesson with him and for the smallest fraction of a second, his inner light of Christ shone through. I love this work for people like Robert. At first, I was honestly depressed about having to leave Göteborg, but that was all selfishness. I am supposed to be here for the people here, like Robert. Not sure what exactly I am supposed to do, but we will see when the time comes.