Friday, December 26, 2014

God Jul Allihoppa!

With the Holiidays the P-day schedule is all over the place for this week and next but we will be back on a regular schedule soon.  

Well, my mind is kind of boggled right now in several different ways. For one, it's about -10 Celsius outside and we have no snow. This is my second non-white Christmas in Sweden, and I thought I was guaranteed one at least 1 year. And then there's the other part- I've had two Christmases in Sweden. It's a little freaky, but so cool at the same time, especially since I actually understood what was going on this year!

Let's see, we'll start with last week. We made popcorn balls with cards and spiritual thought for ward-members, investigators, and less-actives, and it's been a lot of fun to see the general Swedish reaction which is usually something along the lines of 'Oh, the sweet sisters..... what is this strange American concoction?' Caramel popcorn just isn't a thing here, poor people! But, it's been really nice getting to share EVEN MORE the importance and power of our Savior's birth. It honestly has been so wonderful this Christmas to get to witness of the Savior's birth and ministry to literally EVERYONE. It's been great to hand out popcorn, and it's been great to realize what a miracle modern technology is so we could share 'He is the Gift' with our street contacts and members using our phone in just about any language. I think what I've loved especially about this Christmas season is that in sharing the gift of our Savior's birth with so many people, I've brought it a little more into my own heart and I've realized at a much deeper level that we celebrate so much more than a baby's birth every Christmas. We truly celebrate our Savior and the fact that he loved us enough to humbly come to Earth as a baby and one day offer up Himself as a sacrifice for each and every one of us, as imperfect and flawed as we all are, and for that, I am so, so grateful. 
Zone Conference was great; I got to play a duet of 'Away in a Manger' for the  Conference, and it was so fun to see so many of the friends I've made in the last year one last time before a lot of them head home.

Other news.... well, we had a little heartbreak with our investigator who travels so far to make it to church. Her husband and sons have all become Christian, but her father who still lives in the Middle East is still Muslim, and wasn't too pleased when he got the news that she was seriously considering converting to Christianity, so for right now, she's taking a little break until she can sort out what she wants to do. I know how strong a faith she has, and I know that she truly has gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but for right now, we can't tell her what to do, both because it needs to be her decision, but also because of the potential for more serious problems that could come from this, so for now....  we don't know what to do with her until she knows what she wants to do.

And then, there was Christmas. It's been so much fun; I got to watch Kalle Anka again this year, and it was amazing to realize I do actually understand what's going on in all of the cartoons now (take that, Swedish!), and as always, the Swedish tradition of Julbord has been great. But think Julbord on steroids. Seriously, I've had three or four Julbords in the last 2 days, and I'm really starting to get sick of meatballs and Janssons Frestelse, although it was fun to convince Sister Allen there was no fish in the Janssons Frestelse only to tell her a few hours later it was some of the fishiest stuff I've ever eaten (no pun intended), as well as to get the chance to try some Finnish foods, and to try eating bear, boar, and hart meat. It actually all tasted really good, I just don't know that I can eat many more Julbords after the last week!

And now for the big news. And just so no one is surprised, let's think this through: what do they always do to Syster Maxwell? They transfer her! And since there's a pretty large group going home next week to make it home for school, guess who's getting pulled out of Norrköping? This girl. And do you want to guess where I'm going? Stockholm! Yup, I spent seven months in two of the three or four sisters areas around T-Central in Stockholm, so it makes sense they would send me back just to make sure I really get the full Stockholm experience. Haha, it should be lots of fun, especially since they're putting me back with Sister Stewart, my MTC comp!

And yeah, that's Christmas in Sweden! I love you all tons, and I hope you have a fantastic Annan dag Jul!

Syster Maxwell

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nu Tändas Tusen Juleljus


Well, it's been a jam-packed week. We're still waiting for our white Christmas here, but we're definitely going to have an ICY one. Seriously, there are days I'm pretty sure it would be just as effective to wear ice-skates around as my boots.

So, Monday, as I said last week, we were in Stockholm for a doctors appointment (all is well and healthy, so I'll be here in Sweden for the next few months!), and then got to go around Gamla Stan with a few friends from way back in the MTC days before getting on a train back to Norrköping with the one and only Sister Stewart. Seriously, I love that girl to pieces, and it was so fun to get to spend a day with her and realize that after being out 14 months, we can actually speak Swedish now, and we are no longer playing pictionary with our investigators. That, and, it was just fun.

Otherwise, it was essentially a normal week. We seem to have a lot of luck finding people who want to get into 'friendly' bashes lately (there is no friendly bashing. I really hate any and all bashing; it's NOT effective), but it has been a nice opportunity at the least to realize that my testimony has grown so much in the last year, and that while I don't have the answer for everything, I do know what I believe and why. We've also gotten to show the Christmas video a lot, which has been fantastic, just to see the difference in the spirit of our contacting, and getting to get that little at least daily reminder that Christ is the ultimate gift given to each and every one of us (by the way, here's another plug to go watch the film- or - go watch it. Now. It's AMAZING.

Otherwise.... it rained a lot, and then snowed, and then rained more, so the streets are mostly ice, but we got to have some fun yesterday at a member's. They live a little higher up in the mountains (don't get too excited, these are Swedish mountains) where they actually have snow. They invited us and the elders over for Sunday dinner, and while they were getting dessert ready, they essentially banished us out to the yard for a snowball fight with the kids. I never thought I'd get in a snowball fight while wearing a pencil skirt, but it was so much fun, and I wish there was more snow down here in Stan!

Also big news from the past week: it was Santa Lucia! For those who don't know what Santa Lucia is, it's Saint Lucia's feast day, where, for the Swedes, it means that teenage girls dress up in white dresses, put wreaths with real candles on their heads, and sing Christmas carols in the local church. There are lots of different traditions around it, and if you want to Google it (a luxury not afforded to us poor missionaries), you can probably get a much better explanation of why it all started than I've got for you. But, in any case, it was amazing to get to sit in one of the old churches down in Stan and listen to these girls sing- with real flames on their heads. Seriously, I think that is one of the bravest things I've ever seen to walk down the aisles of the church pews with 5 legit candles burning on your head.

And otherwise.... it's been a good week. It's been a lot of fun, there've been great lessons, and lots of laughs. 

I hope you all have a great week, love ya tons, and God Jul!

Syster Maxwell

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stockholm? Again?

Well,  another week come and gone!

I've got a little countdown going until the 21st- that's how long I've got until the days are getting lighter and lighter, because right now, the sun is going down around 3:00, and then it's just dark. And there's no snow, so it's just dark. But on the bright side (clever, right?) there are lots of Advent and Christmas lights out, so it's been great!

Let's see.... well, in the last week, we've had a few adventures. We've been blessed to get to meet with a number of new investigators who are positive to varying degrees. The one thing I tend to notice as a general rule is that they're all very chatty, so we're doing our best to keep our lessons short, but they generally tend to run a little long. Oops. We'll be repenting and continuing to try to  work on that in the next few weeks.

Otherwise.... not much. Sorry, it's really short this week guys, but I'm currently not even in Norrköping, so everything's kind of getting squished in there. Where am I, you ask? Stockholm, that beautiful city that I never quite seem to escape. We came in for a doctor's appointment (no fears, this girl is healthy and staying in Sweden for 4 more months!), and we're headed out on splits with the Sister Training Leaders later tonight, which should be fun, since that means I'm taking Sister Stewart to Norrköping with me- making it the first time we've really had time together since the MTC!  It should be a blast.

More stuff next week, I promise, but I love y'all, I miss you like a fat boy misses chocolate cake, and I'll get back to you in a week!

Puss och kram

Syster Maxwell

Monday, December 1, 2014

He Is the Gift!

Hejsan allihoppa!

Oh, my goodness. It's December. Do you know what December means? CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, for those of you who don't know, Christmas is my favorite holiday EVER. It even tops Hobbit Day. Yesterday was the first day of Advent, and there are now lights up all over town, and I'm totally buying an advent calender (because Chocolate- must have) in addition to our paper chain, and pretty much, I've been talking to Syster Allen about Christmas since I picked her up back in October. That's how  much I love Christmas.

And please, don't think this is the selfish, childish, 'oooh, that means I'm getting presents, and Santa's coming, and all the gingerbread (although Swedish pepparkakor are FANTASTIC)'. I think the best way to sum this up is with a quote from President Monson:''To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes the spirit of Christ.'' I love this special time of year where simply by talking about the days to come, we speak the Savior's name, and I especially love that, as missionaries, we don't necessarily get a ton of expensive gifts or special work Christmas parties or concerts, but instead, we get to go out and tell people WHY we do all those things.

This Christmas, the church has put out an AMAZING video called 'He is the Gift' that's about exactly that- WHY we celebrate Christmas. It is so amazing, and I would invite everyone who reads this post to go find the video and then #ShareTheGift. I would even love to get emails back about how you've done it- be it sharing it on Facebook or inviting someone to church, or anything in between. As missionaries, we're really going to be focusing on that in the next month, and I'm so excited to have the chance to really bring Christ so directly into my missionary work. (BTW, the video is at Sorry, I know I'm now being a missionary even in letters home, but guys, I'm just super excited about this video, and I want you all to be excited about it too, and especially, I hope that you'll take the invitation given at the end of the video to think of ways you can invite Christ into your celebration just a little more this Christmas.

Okay, as for Syster Maxwell's week, it's been great. It was really kind of weird because my last P-day was over a week ago (week from Saturday to be exact), so it's been a lot of go-go-go, and it's been so fun. There's an elder in my district who's got a record of 13 blåsts in a week- we gave him a pretty good run for his money this week, but we also were able to get in some really great lessons as well, including a few teaches on the street- not as common as you might think, but even more especially since it's getting dark out and we officially hit negative temperatures (Celsius, thank heavens not in Farenheit) this past week. I think some of my favorite lessons to teach were watching the video with members and then inviting them to do something with it, and I really am excited to continue sharing it in both contacting and lessons. Serioulsy, BEST VIDEO EVER. 

What else, what else..... so many things, like the fact that we have no cake-pan, so to make kladdkaka, we take off the handle of our frying pan and put it in the oven, our bathroom STILL smells like something out of a septic tank. We had a man ask us if we like to 'vatten pipa' and I'm sitting there like, 'What is water piping in English?' Eventually through a mixture of charades and explanations that 'it's not a cigaratte, and it's not marijuana' we realized he was inviting us to smoke hookahs with him. It was a hard decision, but we had to tell him no. :)

We also were blessed (back to the spiritual) to get our investigator and her husband to church yesterday (remember when we were stranded outside Linköping? Yeah, after visiting them) to talk with the bishop about all the help they need, and then getting to stay for Sacrament, and it was so great to see them there with big smiles and listening to everything going on in Sacrament meeting, even though their understanding of English or Swedish is pretty minimal (thus my translating probably didn't help much). But really, it's such a testament to me that they would travel an hour and a half to make it to church where they don't understand much more than the general idea that they're talking about missionaries and to take the sacrament and worship the Lord. It's absolutely amazing.

I love you all, and i hope you have a fantastic week. Stay classy, watch He is the Gift, and know that I think you're fan-flippin-tastic. Love y'all tons!

Syster Maxwell

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Var är bussen?


Here we are again. With a small twist. It's Saturday. We've got some weird transfers this week because of Thanksgiving, so they moved our p-day to Saturday, just for this week. So, you'll all have to go over a week again before recieving another of my beautiful letters  (I'm sorry, you'll just have to deal with it; there's nothing I can do!).

Well, I guess I should tell you about how the week went. Monday was our first ever Family Home Evening- at least while I've been here. We've decided to try and get one going here because we've got a lot of New Converts and Less Actives who are about YSA age, and so we're trying to get it going for them. The first week.... it was an adventure. The elders had invited two older members to come, and while we'd invited a handfull of people, no one seemed like they were going to show up. Finally half an hour later, two of our new converts showed up- neither of them have much of a concept of time, so I don't think they'd realized it was closer to 7:00 than 6:00 when they showed up. In any case, they were late enough they'd missed most of the lesson, but they'd still come in time to play ping-pong, and so I ended up dodging ping-pong balls for about an hour while trying to eat my pepparkakor. It was a lot of fun, and so great to see them coming into the church! We've got hopes and dreams for next Monday that they'll be there again with a handful more.

Otherwise... we had quite the adventure on Thursday. We went out to Motala to visit our investigator and then went back to the train station to head home. We'd been sitting there about 15 minutes before we figured out something was wrong. Apparently, there was something wrong on the track a little farther up, and no trains were going all the way. So, we decided to take a bus instead, and it said that it would get us to Linköping, but halfway there, it pulled over to the side of the road, and the driver said to get out. He vaguely described to us where another bus should be leaving from in about 10 minutes, and there was another guy who was headed the same way, but honestly, we had no idea where we were or where we were going. By now it was about 8:00 at night, we'd been planning on being in Norrköping by now, and we had no idea when or if another bus was coming, and we were walking down a dark street in the middle of nowhere, hoping things worked out the right way. We were very seriously considering sending the elders a picture of us to use if they didn't hear from us that we'd made it home. No worries though; we weren't approached by any creepers, the bus to Linköping came, and we just ended up waiting another half hour in Linköping before another bus to Norrköping came to take us home. It was a late night, and very definitely not the planned night, but an adventure in any case.
We also had adventures with the elders yesterday- we were a little early on our way to a lunch appointment with a member, and just walking along our happy way when all of a sudden we get this picture from the elders. Of us. About 30 seconds before.  There was some seriousy stalking that ensued, and we ended up running all over the area around our apartment trying to figure out where in the world they were and get a few pictures back. No worries, we made it to our appointment with time to spare, and we got contacts in along the way, so we were still being effective with our time, but still....

And otherwise... it's been a good week. It was a lot of fun, it was really dark, and we're still out just doing the whole missionary thing 24-7. It's great. I love it; nothing better!

I love you all tons, and I hope you have a great week! Happy Turkey Day, and stuff your face just a little extra for me here in Sweden who has no day of thanks. Classy!

Much love,
Syster Maxwell

Monday, November 17, 2014

Go, You Chicken Fat, Go!

Well, Hejsan allihopa! 

Another week has already come and gone, and I'm back again. Weird. It continues to get darker (blech) and colder, but we've yet to have snow that sticks- actually, it hasn't really snowed since that first time, so from the rumors I'm hearing, it's currently colder and snowier back home in Utah than it is here in Sweden. Never saw that one coming. In any case, we're starting to get Christmas lights up again all over the city, and I'm doing my best not to get too excited over the fact that Christmas is coming because it's like the best holiday ever (celebrating the Savior, lots of food, and I get to talk to the fam- sounds like a great day, right?). But, for the record, there's less than two weeks until Advent, soooooo, Christmas is, like, here.
Anyhoo, it's been great here in Sweden. We've met with a lot of people, we've gotten blåsted a handful of times, and we've been up to Stockholm TWICE in the last week. Yup. I came back to this side of the mission, and now I seem to go up to Stockholm once a week at least. It's really weird, but hey, at least I was there long enough that I have no problem getting myself around the downtown Stockholm area.

This past Thursday was the Sisters' Conference in Stockholm, and it was a ton of fun. Sister Beckstrand started it off with a little warm-up exercise, which was a lot of fun, and included my old favorite, Chicken Fat. It brought back many warm memories of my first year at girls' camp and waking up every morning to go do Chicken Fat by the lodge. Still just as evil as it was then; I was sore for about two days afterwards (my mission has NOT helped me get in shape), but still a lot of fun. After that, we had a lot of great lessons from a few of the Senior Sisters in the mission, and it was so great to get to learn about their life experience and begin to look at how we can apply things like Gratitude, Faith, Optimism, and Decision Making both in our missionary work  and later on in life in careers and families, and whatever else we find ourselves getting involved in.

It was also a lot of fun because it brought all the sisters from the entire mission together, and I got to see a lot of friends- some of whom I hadn't thought I would get to see before they went home or I did- it's just a little weird how weird how stratified the ages with the sisters are in our mission (as in how long they've been out). There's always been a big group of sisters older than me, but given that there were only 2 sisters that came in after me up until my halfway mark and now there's another 20 sisters or so who are younger than me, it's really weird to see all these completely new faces and to realize that unless we have another sisters' meeting before I go home, a lot of them, I probably won't see again. In any case, it was a lot of fun to see Sister Byrd one last time before she goes home and to get to see Sister Stewart again.

Then, Saturday, we went back up to Stockholm again for Stake Conference. It was a lot of fun in so many ways. For one, I got to see a lot of the members from Hägersten since I'm back in their Stake, and it was so great to actually be able to understand what they were saying and communicate with them. It was also a lot of fun because we stayed with four other sisters overnight, and it was a lot of fun to spend a little extra time with them.

One of the things I really loved from the Stake Conference was that the general authority who came talked to us a lot about the importance of personal and family scripture study EVERY DAY. He gave us an invitation that if we hadn't started reading everyday yet, to start now. It doesn't matter if all you can squeeze in is just a few verses or if you choose to sit down for an hour-plus like the missionaries do. What's important is that we get into the scriptures daily. I knew before leaving on my mission that it was important to study the scriptures, but it wasn't until I'd been out here a while that I really was able to notice that there is a clear difference on the days that I do and I don't get all the time I need fo rmy scripture study. I'm crabbier, more stressed, and less... mentally and emotionally gathered when I don't study, whereas when I study, I notice I think more clearly, I'm more patient and loving, I feel smarter, and I truly can feel my love for the gospel and my Savior Jesus Christ growing. It's fabulous, and I truly would i nvite you all to do the same- if you haven't started reading every day in the scriptures yet, start now! There are so many blessings that come to us as we read and study- far more than I'll ever be able to count! I honestly can say that I love the scriptures so much, and the time I get to spend in them is probably my favorite time every day.

I love you all so much, and I hope  you can have a fantastic week! 

Syster Maxwell

Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a White November


Well, another week has come and gone here in beautiful, wet, dark, and somewhat snowy Sweden. Yup, that's right, SNOW. But we'll touch on that more later.

Let's see.... well, last week was fun in a special way. We got to go on splits, so Sister Allen stayed here, and I went up to Stockholm for the day. First off, I find it extremely funny that essentially every week since coming back to this side of the mission, I've been in Stockholm, and that's pretty much how things are going to stay until Christmas time. Great, right? But going on splits, I realized as well how grateful I am to be in Norrköping and that I haven't just spent my entire mission floating around Stockholm like my trainer thought I would. It is an absolutely beautiful city, and I will always love it because I spent essentially half my mission there, but at this point, I am more than happy getting to know a little bit of the rest of Sweden now. And just wait and see; just because I said that they're going to send me up to Luleå after I'm done training Sister Allen. 

It's also nice to realize that things are finally starting to pick up a little here in Norrköping and that the we're finally getting past the effects of doubling in where everyone the sisters before us worked with are suddenly terrified to answer their phones or seem to be on a permanent vacation. I'm so excited to see what we can continue to accomplish here in Norrköping in the next few weeks and months! As it is, this week, we were able to meet with a pair of Ny Omvänds from Uganda who've been essentially impossible to get in contact with over the phone and to get to know them just a little better, along with a few other less actives who we've been essentially stalking trying to figure out how we could possibly meet with them. (Joke. Missionaries don't stalk people. Except for when they avoid us. And even then, not really ;) )

So, this week was also exciting because it finally snowed. Do you like my use of the word 'finally'? In early November, it 'finally' snowed. We woke up on Thursday morning to see that the area around our apartment had turned completly white, and as we went into Linköping for district meeting, the snow just continued down there. Seriously, it just got me excited. Like, last winter wasn't as white as I'd been expecting, so right now, I've got a little bit higher hopes for the coming winter that we'll actually be able to have a white christmas and such (Speaking of Christmas, did you know it's coming? Do you know who's excited? This girl, right here!). Sadly, the snow only really lasted for Thursday and part of Friday, and now it's all completely gone except for a few piles here and there, but still, I've got hopes.

Do you want to know what conclusion I've come to this week? They should send a bunch of missionaries who speak Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Kurdish, and Syrian to Sweden. Seriously! A knowledge of Swedish is a must if you're going to communicate with people over here, but in the last week, we've met with and taught a number of people who speak those languages who are so ready for the gospel if they could just understand it! And it's so heartbreaking when you can tell a concept is hard for them to understand and you don't have the capability to help them overcome it because both your knowledge of the language

and theirs are so limited. It makes me very grateful for the language of the Spirit, because without it, I know that our message couldn't make it through to many of the people that we teach, and our simple words alone don't have the power to touch hearts in a way nearly as powerful as the Spirit.

I love you all tons, and I hope that you have a great week!

Syster Maxwell

Monday, November 3, 2014

Get Your Shiny On!

Well, it's been yet another lovely, dark, yet somehow warm week here in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. Yup, the sun that I never thought would go away in the summer has left once more, and it's dark outside as I'm sitting here typing up this email. It really astounds me how quickly the sun disappeared, but you know, it's all good. It only gets darker until Christmas, and then it's just going to get brighter and brighter and brighter until I swap time-zones. So, the darkenss is okay for now.

This past week was a lot of fun. It was a lesson of patience for sure. I think we set a record Tuesday for most blåsted lessons within 6 hours- we'd had four lessons set up, and not one of them worked out! So, we had a giant ring-stund in the church while waiting for coordination meeting. I think the elders sensed it had been a rough day, because they very kindly gave us the last of their chocolate before we left the church that day.

Wednesday went A LOT better- Zone Conference! It was so fun to get to 1) go up to Stockholm for a day and go through the area I spent 7 months of my life in (and really, it was like a 5-mile radius. That was NOT a big area for being there 7 months) and 2) see so many of the amazing people I've come to love out here in the mission field. There were a lot of great things spoken about- I loved the idea that was discussed a lot about being unified in the gospel with your companion, the ward, and the Savior. One thing they talked about as well was sacrifice. They mentioned giving one more thing up than we already have as missionaries- one that's not OP, and not even bad. Poor Sister Allen has decided to go without chocolate (she's a stronger woman than I am!). As for me, I've decided to put a lot more time and focus into prayer- something I've been meaning to get better at for a while. We also were instructed to 'Get yo shiny on!' with the coming winter and to not let the dark keep us from going out and doing our best each and every day. Yes, this is now written up in our apartment, and yes, we do remind each other frequently to 'get yo shiny on!'

Let's see... other adventures this week include going all the way out into Linköping's area to meet with an investigator who wants to meet with sisters specifically. She's from the middle east and has been through a lot, but it was amazing to see how much her struggles and trials (that are still going on, might I add) have only served to strengthen her faith. It's also something I've come to enjoy during my mission- the realization that you can have literally no idea what is being said as two people next to you are speaking Persian or Arabic or Chinese, or whatever other language they speak, but you can understand that the Spirit is there, and that it's speaking equally well to everyone's hearts. I'm so excited to get to continue working with her and seeing her progress!

Let's see, what else...... Well, last night at a members, I got the unexpected pleasure of trying out ax-throwing as a sport. I failed terribly at it (seriously- the elders got video, and I think they're now going to use it as a laugh on bad days), but it was a ton of fun. 

You know what else is a ton of fun? Deep cleaning your apartment. Yup. For the last two weeks, our bathroom  has smelled like sewer every time we opened the door.  Management in our apartment was supposed to come fix it, but they hadn't, so today, we made the dive under the bath tub. It was the NASTIEST thing I have ever done. Cleaning today essentially consisted of pulling up the bath tub (because you can do that in Sweden) and then pouring bleach on the worst parts of the floor and scrubbing like there's no tomorrow.  Seriously, the 1/2 inch layer of grime I scrubbed away was so nasty- especially when compared with the hairball I pulled out of the pipe and then scrubbing off the drain. Meanwhile, we'd propped the bathtub up in the doorway, and Sister Allen was scraping away the nasty scuzzy fuzzy.... schtuff with a butter knife from outside the bathroom. This is but a small part of the adventures we had this morning. What does this teach us? Children, listen to your mothers when they tell you to clean, because if you don't, it just builds up and gets really nasty, and then starts smelling like sewer. So listen to your mother!

And yeah, there's our week! Stay tuned for next week when we introduce a new twist to the plot: the imminent possibilty of snow! Love you all, and I hope you have a great week!

Sister Maxwell

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where's Mary?

Well, the adventures of doubling in continue! Things are still going just a little slow for us in terms of actual teaching, but as a plus, they're also definitely starting to pick up a little bit! 

We have had some fun in contacting and ringstunding this week. Highlights from both: contacting this week, it was raining a little bit as we went, so it wasn't too weird to see umbrellas, but there was one pink umbrella tilted so far down that it was pretty obvious the person was blocking their face. Right as the bright pink umbrella got close enough for us to contact whoever was underneath, a little old grandma started slowly lifting it up to see if we'd gone by. The second she realized we were close enough to talk to her, she flicked it back down and ran away as best she could; we didn't even see her face for more than a split second, but it was enough to see the total alarm that we were close. And honestly, all I could do was laugh. Really loud. Right there on the street.  It was just so overdramatic. What's the worst we're going to do- offer you a pass-along card? Invite you to church? Oh, the horror of either of those options! We also managed to contact a 'helpful atheist' who wasn't interested in our church because she was living the practical application of it. She was very nice, but as before said, not interested. 

And then ringstunding. I just love calling people- it's like a box of chocolates; you never know just what you're going to get. We called one man from the potential investigator list, and all of a sudden, I was under interrogation. 

'Who's Jesus?'

 'Um, the Son of God?'

 'Very good, very good. And who's Mary?'

 'His mother.'

 'Okay, okay. Where's Mary now?'

'With God?'


'With God. In heaven.'

'Okay, I might come to your church.'

As you can see, there's been a lot of going by less actives and old investigators along with calling everybody in our phone. Things for the next week are finally starting to look like they're going to get better, But, we did actually manage to teach a few lessons. It's been so much fun getting to know the members here. We had one lesson we were trying to teach about getting answers to prayer using Ether 2, but the sweet older couple (who talk 100 miles/minute in thick Finnish accents) was somehow convinced we were talking about family history work. Somehow, we were able to swing this into answers to prayers about family history work, but I'm still not entirely sure the intended message got through. We've also met with some really sweet recently activated members and with some less actives too, getting to know them and start thinking through what they need most right now.

I think one of my favorite lessons from this week was going to visit a family from Syria. The dad and his daughter had both gotten baptized within the last year, and the Spirit in their home was unreal as they both talked about their own conversions and their faith in the Savior, along with their journey from Syria to Sweden. I remember the dad talking over and over again about the blind man who the Savior healed, who was then brought before the authorities, trying to get him to deny that it was through the power of God that he was healed, and all the man would say, 'I know nothing but that where I once was blind, I can now see.' (John 9:1-41 for those wanting to know what the non-butchered actual scriptures say), and he was talking about how everything he had, came in and through God and Christ. It reminded me a lot of 2 Corinthians 12:9,10- 'And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.'
It is something I feel like I've gained such a strong testimony of on my mission; that God brings us low so we'll be humble enough to rely on His strength rather than our own and be able to become something bigger and better than we were in the beginning. 
I love you all tons, and I hope you have a fantastic week!  And a special shout-out to my grandparents (because this is the most effective way a message from me will get to them)- happy birthday to you both! I hope your birthdays are fantastic! Puss och kram to all!
Syster Maxwell

Monday, October 20, 2014

There are NO 'Mini Cats' in our Church!

Hey, guys! It's been yet another fabulous week in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. It's still rainy here in Norrköping (which, by the way is fantastic- even if it's not as rainy as Borås), and the fall chill is definitely starting to settle in. I think I'll probably be wearing tights from now until the time that I go home.

Last week was full of good-byes in Borås, but none of them were too bad- most people were guessing that they'd be seeing me again right after the new year. We'll see if that happens; for now, I'm loving being in Norrköping.

The actual transfer was..... well, I'm glad that there were always other missionaries around to help me with my suitcases, because I have no idea how we all would have made it to Norrköping in one piece otherwise. We left Borås on Tuesday afternoon so that we could spend the night in Stockholm to be in time to pick up greenies on Wednesday. It was really weird to be traveling right then - the sun set about 20 minutes after the train left Gothenburg, and we were mostly going through the country side, so it was pitch-black outside the train windows for most of the ride there. As it was though, it was still a great train ride with Sister DeMille, Sister Stewart, and Sister Dawson until we made it to T-Central and then headed up to spend the night in Täby.

 was obviously an exciting day. After a week of waiting to find out who I would be training, I finally was going to find out, and then somehow manage to get all my baggage and hers to Norrköping. And guess what. That lesson I learned about expecting the unexpected? Still valid. I'd known there was a certain Syster Allen coming to our mission who I'd gone to high school with coming in the group I'd be training, but I was totally not expecting it when she read my name off her training call. It's been so much fun getting to be her companion for the last few days, and I'm so excited to get to be with her here in Norrköping for the next few months!

As for being here in Norrköping, it's been exciting to be doubling in. Our first night here, we went to go visit a TU the sisters here before us had set up. Lo and behold, she's almost totally deaf and blind. Like, she understands just enough that the gist of things get through, but that's after MANY repetitions, and sometimes trying to find a new way to say things. So, in teaching the Restoration, the word 'myndighet' or, 'authority' is used many times in explaining prophets, and for some reason that word was especially hard for her, to the point that one time she literally asked us 'sa du nånting om mini katten?' or 'did you say something about a mini cat?' She's so sweet, and so... it just reminds me of Despicable Me where Doctor Nefario mishears Gru and builds a fart-gun (instead of a dart gun) and all Gru can say is 'Why...... why are you so old?' Don't misunderstand, I love her to pieces, but she's is definitely more than a little hard of hearing.

Other than that, we've been having a lot of fun meeting with less actives and contacting our butts off and getting to know the area. So, more adventure are going to be forthcoming, but for now, the greatest adventure is wandering around in a foreign city talking to people I've never met before and trying to figure out what in the world the Lord wants me to do to help them come unto Him- so, in other words, missionary work at it's best! Wouldn't have it any other way! 

I love you all tons, and I miss you like a fat kid misses cake. Have a fantastic week, and I'll talk to you all soon!

Monday, October 13, 2014

What To Expect When You're Expecting

toasted cheese and jam
- most delicious thing on the planet!
Well, the lesson I've learned this week is that a mission is about as unpredictable as Utah Weather. Seriously! Expect the unexpected! I've decided I'm now done guessing what the office is going to do with me for the next five months or so, because every time I think I've got things figured out, they spring something new on me!

This week's news goes something like this: on Wednesday, President Beckstrand called to inform Syster DeMille and me that we would BOTH be training. So, then, we were left untilSaturday to wonder and ponder who would be staying in Borås to train, and who would be headed somewhere new to double in with their greenie. Seriously, knowing a transfer call is coming is the worst thing in the world, because you spend the whole day on edge waiting for a call from SOMEONE in the mission leadership (they keep changing up who calls- the assistants, the zone leaders, President Beckstrand....) and wondering what crazy thing they're going to pull out of a hat that changes your entire life for the next few weeks or months. So, my crazy news is that after just three weeks of being back in Borås finishing Sister DeMille's training, they are sending me to Norrköping with a greenie of my very own. I have no idea what my baby girl is named, I just know that her plane is landing in Stockholm tomorrow morning sometime, and that we'll then be continuing on to Norrköping on Wednesday, and Sister DeMille will be coming back here with her daughter. So what do you expect when you're expecting a brand new baby girl? The unexpected. 

So, as for my last week in Borås, it's been great. We were blessed a lot this week with the lessons we were able to get. On Tuesday, we went to our investigator's apartment, and she told us she'd forgotten and had a guest over who wasn't feeling at all well. Later that day, she called us to say the time we'd set up for later that week didn't work, and invited us over then and there, and we had a great lesson about why Joseph Smith is necessary. 

We also were blessed in being able to go by a few less actives this week. I remember one we went by was completely wasted after a party at her house the night before. Her speech was pretty slurred as she was talking with us, but she was also a lot more open than usual, which was a bonus. She was talking to us about a dream she'd had where she came back to church and it felt SO GOOD to be back- she knows she wants to come back, but it's just getting her to remember that when she's a little more sober. Halfway through the lesson, someone started shouting from the bedroom out to us- apparently one of her friends had spent the night without either of them really being aware, and she kept a running commentary going throughout the entire lesson. And I'm still not entirely sure, but I think they may have said that there was another friend of theirs sleeping in the bathroom. The strange things that happen!

Going around to say goodbye has been hard- especially given that I am still working on saying hello to some members of the ward. I do feel a little better though, the bishop was calling me 'Borås' ping pong ball' yesterday, and the ward's been joking they'll see me again in three months when I'm done training. Whether or not that happens that I'm lucky enough to come to Borås a third time, we'll see, but in any case, I'm so grateful for the time I've had here to learn to love and serve the ward and carry so much into the rest of my missionary work. 

And, yeah, there's my week- no worries, I'll have plenty of fun stories for y'all next week about heading into Stockholm to pick up my greenie (bring on the T-Central gypsies!) and doubling into Norrköping. Until then, I love you all, and I miss you like a fat kid misses cake! Have a fantastic week!

Med kärlek,
Syster Maxwell

Monday, October 6, 2014

Come So Far, Got So Far to Go!

Hey, old friend, let's look back on the crazy clothes we wore. Ain't it fun to look back and to see it's all been done before? 

If anyone got that at all, they deserve a Marabou bar!

Well, it's been yet another fantastic week back in Borås! It still kind of throws me off how it's the exact same area, but at the same time, it's so different with a different companion in a different season, with different investigators..... so bizarre!

It also throws me off to realize that I was doing this missionary thing a year ago. Seriously, the time on a mission flies by so fast, and I love it so much, and I am overall just astounded and dumbfounded, and lots-of-other-big-words-ed by it.

In any case, Sister DeMille is AMAZING. By some missionaries logic, I have now become the Evil Step-Mother- Oj! I really hope she doesn't see me as evil..... In any case, it's been way fun to get to finish up her last few weeks of training, and it's been amazing to see how much she's really taught me even just in two weeks about so many different parts of the work while getting to know her cute personality.

Blessings of this week... Well, it didn't rain. You all knew it was coming, especially since I'm back in Borås. It didn't rain once in the last week, so I've just needed my jacket and tights for the chill rather than the wet. Sadly, it looks like that pattern is going to be ending soon, but while it's lasted, it's been absolutely fantastic and sunny, and brightly colored for the fall.

Another blessing of the last week- we now have a toaster! So, here's a funny story: Once upon a time, Sister Maxwell left Stockholm and went to Borås. And one morning after personal study, she decided she wanted to make toast. Nothing too questionable; all that happened was putting a piece of bread in a very old toaster and putting the inflexible cord into the socket. Well, the cord decided it didn't like this, and the wires literally exploded out of the plastic cord, and the fire alarm went off, and Sister Maxwell couldn't hear because her ears were ringing, and Sister Byrd was freaked out by the large bang that happened in the kitchen right before the rest of the noise (Sister Maxwell's shriek, the fire-alarm, and the sounds of pushing smoke out of the kitchen). And poor Sister Maxwell still didn't have any toast! Fast forward two months, Sister Maxwell has left and come back to Borås, and there is STILL NO TOASTER. We are talking serious first world problems here, people! Luckily, this was solved by the delivery of a toaster at district meeting, so Sister Maxwell (who is just now realizing she has spent this entire story referring to herself in the third person) could now enjoy her toast with cheese and jam for breakfast. And this is why we are grateful for toasters that don't explode. (Note: no missionaries or apartments were harmed in the making of this story).

And otherwise, it's been a fairly average week. We talked to a lot of people, I went on splits to Västra Frölunda with Sister Guinn, and Sister Ludwig came to Borås. It was a lot of fun getting to go into Göteborg for a day and meet some of the members there and learn so much from Syster Guinn.

We also got the chance to serve a cute older member in the ward who'd just started coming back to church when I left. She's had a fall since I left, so we got the chance to go over and give her a message, and then later come back and help her with a few things around the apartment that she can't manage herself. It's one of those things I don't understand, but am so grateful that you can be blessed with so much love for a person you don't really know all that well- that you are so happy for the tiniest chance to serve them in the most simple way and help them understand their worth before God and to know that He's there and loves them. Seriously, getting the chance to serve others so regularly (beyond just the normal range of missionary work, i.e., teaching, contacting, etc) has been one of the things I've loved most about my mission so far.

I guess the last thing worth mentioning is general conference- the three general sessions I've seen ( the Saturday Afternoon session starts too late for us to watch here) have all been fantastic. It truly is a blessing to be talked to by a living prophet every six months and to be so spiritually fed that you go back to your apartment that night more tired than if you'd been out contacting the entire day. I can't wait to watch the fourth session and to get the chance to read over the talks again in the Ensign and start applying the things that we've been taught in my life and in my missionary work. That, and, it's super cool to realize that in that moment, we as a church are absolutely one. All over the world, people are stopping to watch conference. My family, my friends at home and on missions, the members and new omvänds I've worked with here in Sweden, everyone, is stopping to watch conference. It's kind of a cool concept, and I'm so very grateful for the chance I've had to learn and watch alongside so many both literally and a little more metaphorically.

I love you all so stinkin' much, and I hope you have a fantastic week! Ni är bästa!

Syster Maxwell