Hello, my dearest family and friends! I hope all is well for all of you!
It has been yet another wonderful week here in the beautiful world of Täby! I am just constantly blown away by the fact that I am in Sweden. It still doesn't feel real! Well, before we get ready to go out into the world, we have to put on 3 pairs of thermal fleece-lined tights, 2-3 pairs of socks, skirt, boots, shirt, sweater, big snow jacket, scarf, mössa (hat, beanie thingy) and 2 pairs of gloves. Then we go out and still freeze! Oh, Sweden.... I love it here!
Well, being the last week of my first transfer here in Sweden, I have been thinking about all of the wonderful things that have happened and all of the miracles I have been able to see. I have met so many amazing people already, and I have truly seen the Lord working miracles here in Sweden. There truly is a special spirit here. I don't quite know how to describe it, but its unlike anything I've ever seen or been around.
This week we had the chance to have so many street lessons just while contacting, and we have just met some of the coolest people. Its really interesting and special talking to people about their beliefs and about God. Many people here say that they used to believe in God--and then they say, "but then I grew up." It breaks my heart every time, but it is really special to be able to tell them that He is still there, and to see them slowly start to listen a little more.
Many people when we stop them just put their hand up to us and say, "Nej" and walk away. But, there are those that have been slowly prepared by the Lord to hear His message. Its really humbling knowing that sometimes when we talk to people it is the first time they have heard of the concept of a Loving Heavenly Father. That He actually loves us and is so very aware of us.
When we go out, we often ask people what they believe the meaning of life is and what gives them joy in life. Their answers are often so profound, and it always amazes me. They talk about how they believe the meaning of life is to help others. To serve and love... that its about families and being good to other people. Oh, I just love Swedes! They get it. They truly are the best and sweetest people. They are so humble and loving, och dem undervisar mig så mychet varje dag (and they teach me so much every day).
Okay... and super cool--so we were able to give out 2 Book of Mormons this week--one to this awesome guy from Georgia, and no, not the state! And then the other one was on Thursday to this adorable little family we met while tracting.......
Before we left home that morning, I was just looking at our shelf full of Book of Mormons thinking which ones I should take. I grabbed a couple of Swedish, and then I was going to take a Russian copy and then thought... um... wait, what is that one? I reached in the back and saw a Chinese one and then thought... okay--I'll bring this one and the Swedish one today. So then we're tracting, and we meet this adorable Chinese family, and start teaching them a little lesson--and then I am just hoping that Sys. Bateman ties it into the Book of Mormon--and sure enough she does, and says, "we have an English one if that's okay, but we can get you one in Chinese"... and I just said, "well, we actually have a Chinese one, too!" Haha! Oh, it was so cool! The Lord is so very aware!
Now, going to the start of the week.... INNEBANDY! I finally got to play Innebandy!!! Oh, it just made me the happiest little girl in the whole world! Innebandy is this awesome, intense indoor hockey, I guess you can say. It felt so good to: 1) play sports again; and 2)PLAY Hockey again!!! I have missed my field hockey so terribly--BUT oh, my goodness! It felt so similar, and so I didn't feel like I had to learn how to play or anything! I even got like 5 points for my team! Oh, it was the best! The only thing is that I think about it every day now, and just want to play so badly! Innebandy is the BEST!
And then after, as a little continuation of P-day, I finally got a real snow/winter jacket! And its crazy...I'm not as cold! Ha... who would of thought! Haha! But I love it, and it keeps me warm in this COLD, cold Nordic weather! Oh, and speaking of that, there is this really cute line from a song Sys. Bateman found before coming here and it says, "When you're gone to the Artic Circle, there's a fire that will keep you warm!" Oh, it is so true! Every day while its completely dark outside and we are just walking around trying to talk to people while we literally cannot feel our hands, feet, ears or nose, we just think of that line and it just always brings a smile to our frozen faces! It is so true!
There is a fire in this work that keeps us warm and lets us know that being frozen for this little time will be so worth it in the end! I also often think about before getting my call, and always hoping I could go somewhere cold. I always dreamed of it and thought...oh my goodness...like what do Syster missionaries even do when they have to serve out in the cold cold nordic weather?.... haha, and now I know! Ah!! Honestly, every once in a while, while we are walking I will just be thinking and then just smile and laugh a little and Sys. Bateman will ask, "What?", and then I just say, "Oh I was just thinking about how I always wanted to serve somewhere cold...and now I'm here!" It never fails to make me happy looking down and seeing layers and layers of clothes--trying to stay warm out in this beautiful Arctic country!
Then Tuesday came along, and I can't remember what exactly we did....all I remember is thinking about my dearest Sarah coming home the next day! And then finally Wednesday came, and I was just freaking out all day! I was just like, oh my goodness....she's saying bye to all her people right now...she's packing....she's probable doing this, or that, and I just was so excited! Then, we got home at like 18:30 and had a little celebration and made signs and all....It helped me calm down a little bit!
Then Saturday came along! All of us Täby Titans met up at the church early to practice a song because we were asked to sing at our Ward party later that night.
Then we all went out to eat at good ol' Texas Longhorn....the only place we ever go to with the Elders, and then came back for the AP's baptism! Oh, it was so cool. My first baptism to go to in Sweden, and it was so special. There was such a strong Spirit there. And then an hourish after, we all stayed for "Cool äfter Jul!"--haha! our after Christmas-Christmas party!
Okay. This ward is just the best. They have my heart, and I just love them all so much. Swedish parties are just the cutest and happiest things EVER! There was also a cake competition too, and guess who got to be the judges.....US! Haha, well us and a couple others, so that was pretty fun! Then, they had some of the cutest and funniest games planned...it just felt like playing crazy games at a big family reunion!
At the end, they played this Swedish song where you dance around in these big circles, one in the middle of all of the guys and the outer one of all of the girls. and then throughout the song it would say different things that you were supposed to do, and it was just the cutest and probably one of the funnest things I have ever done! Oh, I am just in LOVE with everything here! Okay...and then our favorites... Pontus and Susanne, they got Sys. Bateman and I the cutest sweaters! What is this?! They are just the best! The cutest little sweaters to keep us warm out here!
But, yes. Life is just grand. I love it here more and more every day. And just like last week, I feel like I have just learned so much. I love my personal study time more and more and it helps me so much. Since this has been the last week of the transfer, I have been thinking about all of the things I have learned since coming here and thinking about what I want to happen next transfer and what I want to do better.
I spent some of that personal study time listening to talks and watching Mormon Messages... which, sadly I soon found out apparently were sucking all of the data from our phone...so naturally I sucked all of the data for the month by the 13th! The 13th...less than half-way through the transfer and the data is gone! Haha--we just have to learn directions a little better now not having it on our phones! Yeah...my dear companion has shown so much patience with me, I don't deserve it! But while draining all of the data, I was able to learn a lot from the videos and talks! Greenie mistake! But hey, we live and we learn!
Aside from that though...one things I am really trying to focus on this transfer is developing Chirst-like attributes. Everyday we have been choosing one attribute we want to focus on and I study that in the morning and I have learned SO much. It has been really cool to take them apart and really search each one a little more and see all of the ways they can be applied in my life everyday.
Going throughout the day I have realized that just starting my day off with that, I am able to think about it more and it has helped me see things, situations, and people in such a different light. I have found that I have more patience, more faith and hope than I had ever thought. I have found that these attributes apply to everything--especially while out on a mission. While studying these attributes, it has really helped me to understand my Savior a little more and has brought me a little closer to Him day by day. It has been really cool for me to actually feel myself changing little by little.
At times when I would previously be impatient, or find that I am not showing enough faith, or whatever it is, I find myself now turning to my Savior. It has always been hard for me to say that I think I have been improving in something...I just have never been able to, and I have realized this week that I honestly feel like I can say that I am starting to see a difference in myself.
But while I have been thinking about that this week, I have realized that it is because I have found myself praying. Praying more than ever--in every meeting or lesson or just anything we are doing--I have tried to pray specifically for help to strengthen my faith, or patience, or diligence, and I can see that I am growing closer to my Father, and it has just been really special to me. I know my Father is so very aware of me--and I know without a doubt that he is so very aware of you. I have felt His love for others so strongly since being out here. It has honestly brought me so much happiness, more than I ever could imagine.
This is the work of the Lord and this is the true Gospel. It has been brought back and we have the privelege to live with the blessings that come from that knowledge and we have the privelege to share this knowledge with all of those around us.
One more really interesting thing that I have been wondering about lately, is about how other people feel about their religions. This week, we have met quite a few people that go to church, but say they don't really know why. One guy we were talking to said that many churches preach that they are the right church, but all of them go home at the end of the day knowing that they don't actually know that. That really hit me, because I have been wondering about that very thing. I have thought--we know that we are the true church, so what do others think when they say they are. And that just really hit me when he said that.
At the end of the day, they know they are not. But we do. It has made me appreciate the fact that we are a part of the true and restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That we can wake up in the morning and go to bed at night knowing that this IS the True Church, and we have been blessed with the truth. I have been especially grateful for that this week. So, I will leave you all with that, and I love you all so dearly!