Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

I think I jinxed myself last week when I mentioned that snow had finally come to Sweden, because the day afterwards, it melted away completely, and while it snowed once last week, we haven't had anything that's stuck. I'm still hoping for a white Christmas next week, but we'll see what happens with that. As it is, it's been warm enough I can shed a layer or two, and rainy. Contacting in the rain has definitely been fun in the past few days. Some times I think the US Postal Service motto fits the missionaries better- Come rain or snow, we'll be there.... or something to that effect!

The work is progressing, we're still working with the guy who started cussing us out on the street. He actually is really nice when he's not having a bad day, and it's amazing how much progress he makes. We've been working to get more lessons every week, and we're slowly but surely making it there. We've also gotten to teach a guy from Africa this past week who is... interesting. He's a self-proclaimed evangelist, and he has an enormous faith in Jesus Christ, which has been fantastic to see and to feel. He has some of the most bizarre word choices I have every heard, and it's kind of funny sometimes when he says one thing, and we say another, and after a few minutes of back and forth, we figure out we really meant the same thing. He's a challenge to teach at times, because he LOVES talking, and he'll get distracted on tangents, but really, it's just great that he has such a strong faith already.
Oh, I  suppose I should mention last week's Christmas concert  had some unexpected side effects. A lady from Hägersten Församling was there at the concert, and she heard me play, and decided it would be wonderful if I could also play for our sacrament meeting on the 22nd. She wasn't, however, sure who in the ward had a violin, so after a little bit of talking around, she decided that she wanted to take me to a violin shop and rent me a violin- and I have to say, it was a very sweet thought, and I would love to have a violin all the time, however, that's not something I want to ask someone else to do for me. It is too expensive on a missionary budget, and it is too much to ask a member to pay for, and beyond that, while transfers typically happen every six weeks, it isn't impossible that I could get called to another area unexpectedly. So, I tried to tell her I didn't think it would work and that I didn't want her to do it, which I think she misunderstood as me saying I don't know that it would be okay by the mission rules, because she then called the District and Zone leaders to get me permission to go to this violin shop and to see if it was okay to rent a violin for me. Then she called the proselyting office to be sure I wasn't transferring. And just to be sure everything was okay, she called President about it, which resulted in President calling me to figure out what was going on. I explained the situation to him, and told him I would much rather borrow a violin for as long as it was needed then give it back. He said he would see what he could do, and the next morning he called back and told me he had found me a violin for this coming weekend.
Really, I'm touched that this woman wanted to help so much; I'm an American missionary who she's known less than a month, and she was willing to sacrifice a lot for me, and that means a lot. I'm also grateful for President, who was able to calmly and effectively help us all figure out this situation. And I'm grateful as well that I'm getting to use my talents here on my mission; I've said for years that I would much rather play in sacrament then give a talk in church. Now all I do is talk in or about church, and I'm starting to realize how special the violin really has been to me, and it's great.
Speaking of talking in church, we had an adventure yesterday. We had just sat down in Sunday school after talking with some of the members when Syster McCollaum jumped back up and said we needed to go right then because we were teaching the Relief Society lesson. Apparently, she had recieved a phone call a few days before asking us to teach the lesson, and in all likelihood, she told me, and I promptly forgot, which explains why yesterday afternoon I was completely lost, and had no idea we were even supposed to be teaching in Relief Society. So, with 20 minutes until the meeting began, we started preparing a lesson about following Jesus Christ's example in our own lives. And I must say, it actually went very well. I'm still not able to understand all of what people say in church or lessons (it doesn't help that everyone has an accent from somewhere besides Sweden), but I could feel the spirit very strongly as we taught. It was really amazing to look at those women and hear their testimonies and hear a little of where they come from, and to know we are all united in and of that we are all members of the same church, and that we are daughters of our Heavenly Father.
And the other most spiritual moment of the week was Saturday, as we were able to go with Angie to the temple. She was going in to do baptisms for the dead for the first time, and she wanted to have us come with her, for which I'm extremely grateful. As missionaries, we're not allowed to be baptized, so instead, Syster McCollaum and I were able to sit and just soak in the Spirit for an hour or so. It's true I've only been out here a month, but I all ready miss having weekly temple visits; the temple is one of my favorite places to be, and I love the peace and strength that I can feel there. Syster McCollaum and I also had the chance to do some confirmations while we were there, and it was really cool to get to take such an active role in someone's baptism. It says in Preach My Gospel that temple work and missionary work are exactly the same, and in that moment in the temple, I could understand that statement very fully. That was one of the best moments I've had out here, and while maybe I wasn't out teaching or contacting, I felt very effective as I was helping others come to Christ through temple work. I'm sorry, temples are just the best. Seriously, they've got it wrong, Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth, it is the LDS temples. They're just awesome.
One last note: things are changing here in the next week. This week is transfers, and while I'm not going anywhere, one of our elders is leaving, while another is coming in, and the two elders we have will be training two of the twelve elders coming from the MTC this week. I'll miss Äldste Hills (but he'll be great in his new area), but I'm also excited to see who the new elders we'll get will be, especially as I was able to meet them in the MTC before coming out here. I'm also very excited for this because, while I may still be the youngest sister in the mission (in terms of actual age) for a few months, I'm not going to be the youngest group (in terms of when we got here) anymore! and it will be fun, because it means we'll have three greenies here in Hägersten, but it will honestly be great to have six missionaries here, and that in and of itself is great. Oh, and we'll also be having Zone Conferencethis Thursday, which means I'll get to see a fair portion of my MTC group, and that we'll get to have a ton of missionaries together right before Christmas.
And that about sums up my week! I hope things are going well for every one at home, and that I'll hear if it's otherwise! So, wishing you all a god jul, or a very merry Christmas from here in Sweden where I'll be eating clementines and peparkakor while drinking julmust and watching Kalle Anka. Lots of love and prayers, especially at this Christmas time,
Syster Maxwell

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