Monday, February 24, 2014

The Miracle of the Rainboots

Well, things continue to get warmer and sunnier here in Sweden. We are starting to see little green things on the rocks in the Farsta Strand Tunnelbana station, and yesterday I nearly started jumping for joy when I saw some leaves on a bush (although, it's also possible they've held on since last fall). The sun is coming up earlier and earlier. Yesterday morning, I had a moment where I realized that it's going to be very different in the summer. 6:30 AM in February, and it's already light enough out that we can see around our apartment without lights and with the blinds shut. I am rejoicing a little more each and every day as it gets warmer and sunnier. Yes, it's true that I've learned to love the cold here in Sweden, but I'm ecstatic to see how beautiful Sweden is once it starts blooming.

So far as lessons go this week, they've been fantastic. Our recent converts, Shafik and Sajjad, are still doing great. Sajjad still isn't having any backpain, and Shafik is as happy as ever. The language barrier is still there, but the spirit is always so present in their lessons, and they're so eager to learn more and more about the gospel.

We also had a lesson with an investigator this week named Sebastian. It was a little interesting; he was a referral from the Västerhaninge sisters. He's from Africa, and very well rehearsed in the Bible. We were trying to get through a lesson on the Doctrine of Jesus Christ with him, but we got stuck on baptism and why it's essential to have proper priesthood authority. I cannot deny that he has a very strong faith in the Bible, but I also have to say that I'm grateful for the simplicity of the gospel. As he was talking about the specific wording of a verse  that was fulfilled later in the Bible, and how the power of Christ never left the Earth, and all of these other small complicated details, I was grateful for how simple the Gospel and the message of the Restoration are. Yes, it's true that there are some interesting words we use, and the story of Joseph Smith is nothing less than incredible, but the more I teach about the gospel and its necessity in our lives, the more it simply makes sense and falls into place.

Now to explain the rainboots. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for how present He is in every facet of my life. On Thursday morning, I'd woken up earlier than usual with a low blood-sugar. I went into the kitchen for some food, and when I looked out the window, I saw snow out there that hadn't existed when I went to bed. A little frustrated, I went back to bed, and hoped it would have melted in the morning (Side note: I don't mind snow at this point, I just felt lied to that it had been warm and sunny for most of the week and then it snowed). Unfortunately, at 6:30, Syster Robbins went to look out the window and shouted, 'Syster Maxwell, there's snow out there!' Which, later in the day turned to slush. As I was walking around, I realized it was too warm for my big winter boots and that the boots I was currently wearing were not very water proof. So, I began to think it through. There've been several times out here that I've missed the rainboots I left at home, but never so much as last Thursday, and as I was talking with Syster Robbins, I realized that the rainy season here in Sweden is going to be starting soon. So I began to wonder, would it be cheaper to get my rainboots sent here to Sweden, or to buy rainboots here? The only rainboots I had seen in Sweden cost the rough equivalent of $200.00 US, and I didn't want to spend that much, but it's also pretty pricey to ship rainboots the whole way to Sweden.

I wondered about it for a while, then forgot about it until later in the day, when we went to pick up Syster Robbins boots from the repair shop in Stockholm. They told her that they couldn't repair them, so she got her money back, and since she still needed boots to wear for the next few weeks, we went to another shoe store closer to T-Central during our dinner hour. While there, we passed a pair of rainboots on sale for 100 :-, which is about $18.00 US, which was far cheaper than either option I'd had earlier that morning.  It really was amazing to see how in the same day, a vague, far off concern was taken care of much more neatly and efficiently than I ever could have managed on my own.

Also this week, I was able to take part in and view some amazing meetings. This past Wednesday, we had a meeting with all the Systers on this side of the mission. I was able to see Syster Stewart and Syster McCollaum, as well as to meet many of the other amazing sisters serving from Södertälje to Luleå. We were able to have an amazing time listening to Syster Newell.
Mom's note : I'm the one in the sassy socks.  :)
As we were sitting in the conference, I was reminded of the verses at the end of John 6, where the masses leave Christ, and he asks the apostles, 'Will you also go away?' To which Peter responds, 'Where will we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life' (sorry for my terrible paraphrasing of scripture).  I was sitting there, and it occured to me that there was nowhere else I would rather be. I think about it often actually that many of my friends from high school are enjoying their freshman year of college. Some are preparing to go on missions, and some are preparing for other things. But what I do know is that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and that  I am grateful to be here in Sweden at this time.

And then there was last night. Last night, Syster Robbins and I made the trip back to Hägersten for a music fireside. They had begun to plan it when I left Hägersten three and a half weeks ago, but it didn't happen until last night. They had me come back so that I could play a violin duet of 'I Know that My Redeemer Lives' with Äldste Lambson, and play the violin part to 'Savior, Redeemer of My Soul.' This is quickly becoming one of my favorite hymns, and I love the words of the 3rd verse: O'er rule mine acts to serve thine ends/ change frowning foes to smiling friends/ chasten my heart till I shall be/ in perfect harmony with thee./ Make me more worthy of thy love/ and fit me for thy courts above. I feel this is such a large part of what I do. I am not a perfect missionary, and I make mistakes all the time. But I try, and as I try, He blesses me with all that I need to accomplish His will.

I got some exciting news last night as I was back in Hägersten. There was a sweet little Persian lady named Masoumes we had just begun teaching. We'd actually contacted her as we were doing a drop-by in Huddinge, and we'd headed exactly the wrong direction without realizing it. She was amazing to teach while I was there. In her second lesson, we'd asked her what she thought of the Book of Mormon, and she said she'd recieved an answer to her prayers as she read, because she'd begun reading as though she already knew the Book was true. Last night, Syster McCollaum told me that Masoumes has a baptizmal date set for the middle of March. I can't describe how excited I am to hear that; knowing that someone I've worked with wants to be baptized. It's something very special, and I know that even though I may not be there to continue to work with her, I'll be doing all I can from Gubbängen to help her to that day.

So, yeah, there was my exciting week as a missionary. I love you all tons, and I hope all is well at home. I pray for y'all all the time, and I love getting to hear from you! Thank you for your prayers and support. Love y'all!

Syster Maxwell

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