Monday, December 14, 2015


Hej! Hej!  I'm Here!  I'm FINALLY HERE!  I'm in SWEDEN!!! 

 Oh my goodness! I can't even begin to express how extremely exciting and beautiful and amazing this all is!  And I just can't stop excitedly saying, "I'm in Sweden!"  It is still apparently a little surreal, but I can't even begin to express how much I just absolutely know that there is nothing else I should be doing right now than serving the people of Sweden, and I don;t know if I have ever experienced so much pure happiness than I have this week!

Okay, well where to start?!  I guess just from the beginning!

So, Wednesday morning.  3:30am in the MTC Travel Office.  All 15 Sweden missionaries and about 100 other missionaries going all thoughout the world!  

{Syster Campbell and Syster Hall on the Frontrunner train on the way to SLC Airport}

Got on the bus on the way to the airport--and one of the biggest miracles of the day--my bags weighed exactly 49 and 50lbs!  it was truly a miracle!  Thankfully all of the other missionaries were right there at 50lbs., too, but we all were under! (The other miracle of the day?  ALL of their Visas were there waiting for them that morning!!!)

Okay, so first flight from SLC to Chicago, perfect.  Everything went great!  Next flight, we get to our gate and we see this big group of suits and we say Ahhhh!  Its the other Äldster (Elders)!  So we met all of them and headed off to our next terminal 30 strong from Chicago to Frankfort! 

The flight was about 9 hours, I would say not to bad, but I am the kind of person who just needs to be up and be active, and to sit for 9 HOURS... it felt more like 50, but I had awesome company, so it was all good!  I sat by Äldster Bentson and Banks and they were so good dealing with my ever so re-occurring, "oh my gosh! we're over the ocean!" "oh my gosh!  we're over Ireland!" "Oh my goodness! we're over London!", "Oh my gracious! we're over Germany!" "WHAT?!"  we're actually in Germany!"... so yeah, they were good sports! 

But, then Germany was the crazy one!  All 30 of us dressed to the 7's--I would say 9's, but we did just get off a 9 hour flight, so.... you kind of get the picture!   But all 30 happily traveling through the Airport...and then we get to Customs! 

The first of us started going up to the desks, getting our passports checked and we were cleared to be on our way!  But, slowly, one by one, they started taking longer checking each persons passport, and eventually didn't let the rest of them through!  It was just me and 6 other Elders that got cleared, and we were so confused! 

Here we are, 30 missionaries in an airport in Germany--6 cleared to go on and 24-ish on the other side, stuck.  NOT GOOD!  Poor Banksy (Aldste Banks), our travel leader was freaking out!  Long story short, Syster Hall told one of the German guys that our flight was leaving in 20 minutes, and asked if they were going to make it.  He looked over at us and said, "They are, but you, NO."  We were so confused!  We had no clue what to do.  

Finally, we just all went over to the other side and we just waited with everyone else.  We've all got to get out of here together.  MANY prayers were said, and at the same time our flight was supposed to leave, a guy made a quick call and then said "Come with me." 

They stamped all of our passports and took us through this back door.  We walked for a little bit and got to our gate a back way.  The guy looked at the people at the gate and said, "They're good."  We all passed through and made it onto the plane!!!  

As we were boarding,  the captain turned on the intercom and said, "Sorry for the delay. We just got the rest of our passengers and we are about 10 minutes behind but we will make that time up in the air.  Welcome to the Americans who just made it on!"  

Holy WOW!  This was completely a miracle! 

Apparently, all of our stuff had been put on the plane and then when it didn't look like we were going to make it on, they took off all of our baggage.  And then when we did make it, they put it all back on!  What a miracle!  I will forever love Germany!  So yes, we made it on and then it was just relaxing on our last 2 hour flight to our new home! 

Finally, we get off the plane, make it through the airport and then make it through the last gate---and we see all of these BEAUTIFUL black nametags on the other side waiting for us! We met President and Sister Beckstrand and all of the assistants and they were all just so happy, warm and welcoming!  It was so fun and fast-paced for our poor, tired 72-hour sleep-deprived selves!  It was so great, though!

The first thing we did, though, was we were told to quickly set our suitcases off to the side and then go off to the side to take the classic airport arrival picture!  Finally, I was on this side of it and it was so crazy! ,I have only ever imagined what it would be like to be on the other side of the flag and I finally go to experience it! 

Then, we quickly exchanged all of our money and said goodbye to American money for the next 18 months!  So weird!!!  And then we were off to get our visas in order!  (and take a tour around beautiful Stockholm!)

     {Syster Beckstrand guiding the tired but happy group through the beautiful Sigtuna--one of Sweden's oldest towns}

After that, the rest of the night was honestly a blur!  We were all so tired-- we were all just trying so hard to make it not so obvious!  But I think I can honestly say that I have mastered falling asleep while standing up.  With my eyes open.  I feel quite accomplished. 

{this was our first proof that Annie was safe and sound--and sleeping snugly in the warm, comfortable and well-lit Mission Home--thanks, Kimberly Pence!}

We got to spend our first night in the Beckstrands' beautiful home! And since Systers are just awesome, we got to sleep in the mission home while the Elders were in a hotel!  (Sorry Elders!)  It was so cozy, and Christmasy and lovely!  It just felt like home! 

{picture of the room the systers slept in at the Mission Home, courtesy of one of the "Moms" who was there shortly after Annie arrived, to pick up her son}

Needless to say, we all slept amazingly well that night--and got a full 10 hours of sleep!  It was lovely!  

In the morning, we got all ready, had our first homemade breakfast in 6 weeks, and then got on the bus with all of the Elders--and were on our way to Stockholm, where we would soon find out where we were going to be for the next little bit and who we were going to be with!  I can't even tell you how excited we were!  The four of us Systers just kept trying to guess where we were going to go, and just hoping that we wouldn't get some crazy companion! 

We got up to the Chapel right next to the BEAUTIFUL Temple, and all 30 of us greenies just sat by our companions for the last time, as the Beckstrands talked to us for a while.   Then, they left and went to go talk to all of the trainers which were apparently hiding in the basement of the chapel because they didn't want any of us to see them!  

But as they did, the AP's (Äldste Archibald and Stalin) had a little training meeting for us--and then, sure enough, all of the trainers started filing in, and everybody just got the biggest smiles on their faces!  There was just so much excitement in there right then! 

Then President came up to the front and said, "Okay now, I have all of your calls right here, and I will call you up one by one and you just come up here and just read the 3rd paragraph, and that will tell you where your serving and who will be your trainer!"  We were just flippin' excited! 

The first one goes up there and starts reading--just reads where he's going and then his trainer just jumps up and sprints to him!  It was SO Funny!  He didn't even have to read his name--just from the area mentioned, the trainer knew and was just SO excited!  It was so great!  Everybody was cheering and it was just so fun! 

Then guess who was 2nd in line?   You guessed it!!!  Not Me!  Because I was 3rd!  Gotcha!  

So yes, President called my name and I was the first Syster to go up, and so once he called my name everybody just started to cheer like crazy--it was so funny!  I go up there, get the paper and I was just shaking!  I just said, "Oh my gosh, I can't even open this right now!"  I shakily ripped it open and went down to the 3rd paragraph and read, "Syster Campbell, you are called to serve in the Täby....."and I just hear this SCREAM

I look up and here comes my trainer, running down the aisle so happy--and everyone was just laughing so hard! She gave me the biggest hug ever, and it was all just so fun and so great!   We sat down and all of the trainers around us were just like, "You honestly got the best trainer!!!"

After the meeting, we took the classic picture pointing to our new home--Täby, Sweden--with my new trainer Syster Bateman!  She is amazing, beautiful, HAPPY and just so loving!  (Honestly I don´t think I have ever met anyone as happy as she is.  She is honestly such a great example to me and I don´t even know how I got so lucky as to have such a great Trainer!) 

{Syster Bateman surrounded by her trainer and her new trainee!}

(And before they all left for their new areas, lunch, of course!  Annie's first official Swedish meatballs meal!)

After that meeting we were off and I went off to my new home!  TÄBY!,  and the coolest thing?   That's where the Mission Home is, too!  So we will be right by the Beckstrands all the time, and the AP's and the office Elders are in our district, so we work with them all the time--so I don't even know how I got so blessed to be able to be "born" here!  All I can say is that I feel the luckiest of all the greenies because I get to learn from the greatest people--ALL THE TIME!!!  Oh, and cool fact--only 2 other sisters have ever been "born" (as in start their missions) here in Täby... so that feels pretty cool! 

Okay, now more about Täby and the work here! Right now in Täby, we are in more of the building-up stages.  We are constantly trying to find more people to teach.  We have about 5 investigators--2 progressing, quite a few inactive and many that we have contacted and just need to really try to turn them into investigators!  So we are really in the building-up, and finding stages here! 

One of our biggest focuses right now is just really trying to build up the ward and try our best to get them to like us!  This week we have met with a few families, and let me tell you, there may not be many members here in Sweden, but when they are converted, they COMPLETELY are!  They are some of the strongest and sweetest members I have ever met! My first sunday in Sweden yesterday, and I already know that to be SO true. 

Quite possibly the best part of the week:  The cutest, sweetest most beautiful and perfect Swedish family--the Aspelins!  Sister Aspelin invited us over for lunch and then to make pepperkakor!  The delicious gingersnap-type cookies! 

So, we got over there, and ohh! they just have the cutest Swedish home ever!, It is so big and beautiful and just decorated SO beautifully... Christmas everywhere and it just felt so magical!  It was my first time in a Swedish home, and I don´t think I can ever forget the joy that just filled my heart right then!  They were just angels! 

We were just baking with Sister Aspelin and her beautiful daughter Julia (shes been going to BYU for the past couple years), and they are just so fun and sweet!  They were both trying to help me with my Swedish and just so encouraging and just always saying, " You are so good! You are doing so amazing and it´s just your first day here!" They were so kind, and since they know English perfectly, they were so sweet with explaining words and just helping me to understand the whole time!  

{their Christmas tree made of branches--thanks Anne Bateman for the photos--Annie forgot to send them to me in her emails today!}

But I can't even explain how extremely perfect everything felt right then.  Just to know that there will be hard times here, but I am just so grateful to had been so blessed as to have had THAT be my first big experience in Sweden, and I will always have that to look back on and just have such a perfect picture of what Christmas is in Sweden!  I already know this is just one of those families that I will absolutely LOVE forever!   

So, we just baked for a couple hours, using adorable, traditional Swedish cookie cutters, and just had so much fun talking about everything and just getting to know them!  It was truly magical!

Then, throughout the week, we just met with our other investigators that I will be telling you more about later!  But they are all so great, and its just crazy how quickly I feel like I have just gained such a great love for all of these people.  It is truly amazing! 

Since we are very much in the finding stage, we do a lot of contacting!  Its great, and its hard, and it sucks sometimes!  Syster Bateman is seriously just THE BEST!  She is so loving and great, and honestly I have never met anyone that is so great at just building EVERYBODY up.  She always tells everyone how grateful she is for them and she always tells me how proud she is of me, and whenever I attempt to talk to someone on the streets and feel like I just COMPLETELY messed up she is always there immediately saying, "That was SO GREAT! you did so amazing!" Even though I feel like she is lying she just constantly builds me up and I am just so grateful for her! 

So, yes.  Contacting is no easy thing--especially when you're not used to talking to random people about your Church.  You're speaking a different language.  NOBODY looks at you, and there is no such thing as eye contact while walking around here.  And its very rare for anybody to listen!  But its great--I love it and its comforting to know that I will never get worse at this whole Swedish thing!  I can only learn more and get better from here! 

Okay, but quite possibly one of the funniest things of the week:  So while contacting, EVERYBODY says, "Nej tack, jag har bråtum!", and walk away.  So that means, "No thanks, Im ín a hurry." So, apparently, one trainer a while ago, told her greenie that "bråtum" meant diarrhea!!  I know its horrible of me to say but its HILARIOUS!  So here is this greenie talking to all of these people on the streets thinking that EVERYBODY in Sweden has diarrhea and thinking man, Swedes are really open about this kind of thing!  So funny and so great!  We heard it about 30 times a day and it never fails to make me laugh! It is contagious here! 

Okay now some more fun things I have experienced while being here in Sweden:

--Jet lag is a real thing!  I think today is the day I finally got over it!  I am just assuming that because this morning out of nowhere I hear this loud alarm and get hear Sys. Bateman get out of bed. As were getting ready I ask, does that same alarm go off every day?, she assured me that it did and I guess today was just the first day that I wasn't just too exhausted to hear it! 

--Holy wow! The sun does not stay here!  Yesterday, we were waiting to get onto the bus and the sky was just super pinky and purply and I said, "Is it already the sunset?  At 2pm!!!"  "YUP, welcome to Sweden!"  Yeah, so we only get the sun for like 4 hours a day!  But the best thing is, is that there are christmas lights EVERYWHERE!  It is seriously SO magical!  In like every window of every home they have big lit-up stars and those candles that are tapered and just look so pretty! You should look up pictures,  because I am just not doing the Swedes justice with this explanation!  They know how to decorate! It makes contacting in the cold dark night totally worth it! 

Oh, yeah and the weather!  So It finally kind of snowed yesterday for the first time since I have been here!  It has been really cold though--well, to me it has been really cold--but really warm compared to prior years at this same time!  But don´t worry-- I will get my fair share soon!  

But it is seriously a completely different thing to live somewhere cold and to serve a mission somewhere cold.  We are always out walking and contacting at night and let me tell you--It  is cold.   But, I love it!  This morning Sys. Bateman said that she has all of these hand and feet warmers that she hasn't used yet, but she said she´ll break them out after Christmas, because the Christmas spirit is keeping her warm... but after that theres nothing, so then she will use her warmers!  Oh, she's the best! 

--Okay, and apparently Rollerblade Skis are a thing here!  IT IS hilarious!  We were just walking, and this guy just comes cruising down the sidewalk and Sys. Bateman was just like--"Oh yeah--you haven't seen these yet!"   She said they were rollerblade skis.  I saw that he was pushing along with the poles and I just started laughing!  But I thought it was like he just had regular rollerblades and then the poles.  But No.  As he passed I saw that they were mini length skis, but just with wheels on the bottom--and then you just push along with the poles!  It was the greatest thing ever! 

-- Oh, and apparently in Sweden, Floor One is one floor down.   A couple of days ago, I was silly enough to get off the stairs on Floor One and started walking down the hall--and Sys. Bateman was just like,  "Syster, where are you going?  We have to go down another floor!"  So  yeah.  Floor One is not Floo  One.  Floor Zero is apparently the new Floor One.  So not cool. 

--Here you just see kids EVERYWHERE by themselves!  Its ridiculous!  Just hopping on and off buses and trains in the city, and just going on their merry way! Its just so weird to me!  Yesterday, we saw one--and I swear this kid was just like 7 or 8--was just waiting for the bus, got on, and after a few stops, got off and then just walking off while looking down at his iphone... I don't know why, but it was just so funny! 

--Oh and Sweden is So different than I imagined!  There is just water everywhere and forests EVERYWHERE!  Its just so beautiful and it actually totally reminds me of Alaska, funny enough--I love it!  And its perfect because ever since our cruise to Alaska, I have always thought that I could totally live there--and now it feels like I am! 

--One last quick thing before I go:  Yesterday was Santa Lucia!  It was so cool to be here for it!  Sys. Bateman and I went into the city last night to this BEAUTIFUL super old kyrka, church, in Stockholm, and it was kind of like this play and then a concert.  Just beautiful singing, and just so cool to have a little glimpse into their culture!  It was simply beautiful! 

The language is coming... slowly but surely--it is hard at times, but I just love it and I am so ready to just know it all!  Everyone is just so great and encouraging!  I am just seriously surrounded by the best people, though!   Sys. Bateman is just always so supportive, and then since the AP's and office elders are in our district, we work with them a lot, and they are always just so sweet--always asking how everything is and how the language is coming. 

Members here love hearing "greenie Swedish", so I always talk, and all of the missionaries are just like she's amazing--she knows so much" (haha!) and here they always use the word duktig, which means like "talented", and so they always say "she's so duktig"... I know they're just being kind to me, trying to encourage me and making me feel better about speaking, but really--they are just the best!

But yes, one of our APs--I knew his sister and brother-in-law up at BYUI!   When I got my mission call while up at school, his sister came up to me one day and said, "My brother is serving there!", and sure enough, I met him within the first 10 minutes of landing!  And then we're in the same area, same district and same ward, so its pretty cool!  Small world in the Church! 

{Annie just fell in love with Sister Pence and her daughter at Church on Sunday!  She was welcomed to her first Sunday with a huge hug and lots of love!}

I love it all so much!  The members are all so great, and of course, to welcome me into the ward they had me introduce myself and bear my testimony in sakramentmöte på svenska!  I'm hoping it went well! 

So, everything here is just SO great!  I love it all so much!  But I love you all!  Keep doing what is right, stay strong, pray daily, never give up,  Thank Heavenly Father for your trials and be ready to see miracles in your life. 

med vändlig helsning, 

Syster Campbell

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