Monday, July 28, 2014

Syster Maxwell: Spider Killer

Hey,  guys! Well, I'm starting to get all settled in down here in Malmö! It has been so absolutely crazy; my first morning here we went for a walk down to the beach for exercise. That's right, THE BEACH. And do you know what I saw from that beach? COPENHAGEN. Yup, I am close enough to Denmark that I can see it across the water. How's that for crazy? That, and, signs on the trains show up in Danish half the time. It's kind of been amazing to realize that while I can't speak Danish (the accent and word choice fly by too fast for me), I can actually read it well enough to get the gist of it. At least in the emergency bits on the trains.

But, let's see.... Well, first off, leaving Borås was hard. I loved it there so much, and it's still not fair in my mind that I only got to be there six weeks, but so far, Malmö has been great, so I'll take the trade. 

So far, Malmö has been warm. Like, not just 'Holy cow, I've gone from freezing winter to summer!' warm, but even the Swedes are saying this is the warmest it's been in years. I kind of feel like a baby considering that it's about the same temperature as May in Utah, but it's also crazy to realize how much I've adjusted to the temperature here. But, it's okay; it just means that I get to find the least possible layers of clothes I can manage, and I get some pretty great tan lines from my ballet flats (seriously, those things are BEAUTIFUL). 

I think one of the hardest things about transfers (aside from leaving so many of the people you love so suddenly) is learning the new area. This week has been crazy in trying to figure out names of investigators and members and less actives.... I'm almost scared to try to count the number of people I've met in the last week who's names I'm supposed to remember and can't. Oh well, it will come with time!

I think the biggest adjustment so far has been the bugs. There are bugs EVERYWHERE. On the walls, the ceiling, my arms, my companion's hair, and pretty much everywhere else imaginable. I don't know where they come from, but suddenly there are bugs all over the place! And the worst is the spiders. I had to go and get the vacuum the other day to suck up a spider that was about 4 inches in diameter (like the ultimate daddy long legs) off our ceiling before we felt safe going to bed. And the spider webs that just pop up all over the place are seriously just sick-nast. Really, I have no idea how they just pop up everywhere so quickly, but I have seen more spiderwebs here in Malmö than I think I've seen in the last 10 years of my life.

But, otherwise, life is good. Syster Ludwig is an absolute sweetheart, and it's been fun getting to know her. She so far falls into the category of 'companions who will sing Disney songs with me', which, translated, means that we get along just fine. And as for the area, it's so good. It's definitely got a bigger feel than Borås did, but it's not as fast paced as Stockholm was. We have Africans and Persians to work with again, so I feel right at home there. 

I think probably the highlight of my week has been getting to know our new investigator, Sanny. We met him for the first time my first full day here in Malmö, and it's been really amazing in the past few days getting to know him and see how eager he is to get to know more about the gospel. He's far from a full understanding of things just yet, but he's getting there, and it's already been so cool to see how the gospel is impacting his life.

And yeah, there's week one in Malmö. Love you all tons, and hope you have a great week!

Much love,
Syster Maxwell

Monday, July 21, 2014

You Are Kick-ed from Borås

Well, it's been another week of dying in the heat. Not really. But it's been beautifully warm and sunny, and, in the absence of air conditioner, I really am coming to love it more and more. I never thought that once things got above 70 Farenheit that I'd be dying of heat, but I really am some days. It's so wonderful and so hot. I don't really know what to do with it, but I guess I'll enjoy it until I go back to freezing and 3 hours of sunshine this winter.

We had fun this week. On Tuesday, we went on splits with the Sister Training Leaders, which was, as you would guess from my last sentence, super fun. It's always great to get a different perspective on how you can do missionary work in your area. However, on Tuesday while on splits, we had some more fun than we were expecting. We were on the bus home from Göteborg after swapping to head out on splits when we got a call from President Beckstrand looking for Syster Byrd. We told him where she was and then sent a text to the Sister Training Leaders phone to tell them to call us as soon as they were done talking. Turns out, Sister Byrd is training this coming transfer starting tomorrow!

So, we went through the rest of the week basically anticipating a call on Saturday. As it was, we really had a great week. We were able to meet with our Swedish cowboy wannabe again, and things actually went really well with him. I don't think he fully understands everything just yet, but one day it'll come. 

It was really great this week as well in and of that I got the chance to get ready for a music night in Jönköping. I got to play in a few numbers, including Stradivarius and Savior, Redeemer of My Soul. It's so interesting to realize that while I may not have my own violin with me, I always have managed to find one and play Savior, Redeemer of My Soul for some reason or other in each of my areas. It's such a beautiful hymn, and I really do feel like in so many ways it describes a mission- you can't do it without the Savior there beside you, and though we're so imperfect in all we do, the Savior makes it into something beautiful- He makes US into something beautiful as we really seek to learn of Him and be like Him.

Well, I guess you've waited for long enough. Saturday, the call came as expected. Syster Byrd will be staying here in Borås to train, and I'll be moving down to Malmö tomorrow night. In so many ways, I'm still trying to process this. I absolutely love Borås. Syster Byrd and I joke that it's the Swedish Disneyland. It's so pretty here, and the ward is absolutely amazing. We had the bad luck of having a mission farewell here yesterday, so on my last Sunday, we closed with 'God Be With You 'Till We Meet Again.' I know they weren't singing it for me, but it kind of got to me by the third verse looking around at the ward that I've come to love so much in the last six weeks. I am never going to forget their extraordinary kindness to me and how welcoming and loving they were. I'm sad to be leaving after only six weeks; it doesn't feel long enough. I did NOT think when I left Stockholm that I would only be here a little more than a month, but there it is. 

As it is, I'm excited to be headed down to Malmö- I'm terrified to be surrounded by Skånish. It is a DIFFERENT language. You know 'The Best Two Years'? "That's not the language they taught me at the MTC!" We had a member speak a little to us the other day when we told him I was leaving, and I thought the word for 'boy' was 'train'. They sound just as dissimilar in Swedish as they do in English. 10 months out, and I'm learning a new language. Should be fun!

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

Much love,
Syster Maxwell

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hallelujah, Amen!

Hey, people!

So. The weather. There are weeks I legitimately wonder why I always have to start with the weather, but really, it can be pretty exciting here in Borås. Okay, not really, it's actually been nice and sunny all of the last week (I almost dropped dead of shock), and so warm that we were kind of dying of heat. And the true miracle in all of this is that after years of being super white, I have tan lines. Yes, the impossible has happened, I am no longer perfectly white. I'm this strange mixture of brown and red patches (still working on turning the last of those burns into a tan) with freckles all over. It's kind of exciting to see I still have possibilities to become brown next summer when I'm home. 

So, adventures of the past week.... Well, for one, we had some fun teaching a rather unexpected lesson last week. We were waiting in one of the main squares in town to meet with a new convert (who ended up blåsting us), when we heard this 'Hej!' come from the other side of the street. This strangely smiley and open Swede walked up to us and started talking. Apparently, he'd met with the Sisters here in Borås once or twice before I got here. As it was, it was more than a little fun for me to come in halfway through all of this. He was a minister from the Pentecostal Church, and was super friendly, and ended just about every sentence with the phrase 'Hallelujah!' or an energetic 'Hallelujah, Amen!' He had a lot of energy for the Bible and the Savior. It was just sort of an interesting thought, not related to him specifically, but to many people that we meet, that they can be so prepared to receive the gospel, and not have any idea of it, and they (being stubborn little buggers) won't meet with us, because they 'have what they need'. People! We love them so much, and sometimes, they're just..... problems, bless their dear little hearts.

We also had a lot of fun with Zone Training this past week in Skövde. The Zone Training was great, but the really exciting part was that we got stuck in Skövde for the whole day because our train got delayed all the way back in Stockholm. Yup. So, we had fun for a while getting acquainted with the main square and center in Skövde, and watching a dance group perform on the street, followed by A LOT of knitting.

And. Let's see. On Friday, we decided to go out to find someone to teach before dinner and weekly planning, so we just starting walking in the area around our apartment. We contacted a few people with little to no success, and were starting to think we might make it the whole way to Stan before dinner when we contacted a boy walking his bike home. It was so amazing to hear how many questions he had. They were deep, and meaningful, and we kind of ended up throwing a whole tangled mess of doctrine at him to answer his questions before we were able to ask if he'd like to sit down and hear about the Book of Mormon. He willingly did this, and we taught him about how the Book of Mormon can answer every question, and he was so willing to hear all we said and really experiment on the word. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to offer the prayer, which he did after we explained that it was whatever you have in your heart. He took this very literally, and prayed for 'A world a little more like the one we lived in a few hundred years ago- without cars and electricity. Like Cowboys.' It was one of the more interesting prayers that I've heard on my mission without doubt, but, nonetheless, very heartfelt. 

Honestly, I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying 'oh well, gotta let go!' Because, let's be honest, I need to celebrate and live my life.... Really, though, missionary life is so good. I told Sister Byrd my analagoy for how missionary work can work sometimes this morning, and I thought it was quite genuisy, so I'm going to share it with you lucky people. Missionary work is an awful lot like when we were all little and our parents would tell us that if we could get our bedrooms cleaned, they would take us to a movie or to get ice cream. And so, we would work as hard as we could as fast as we could, being old enough to realize that Mom and Dad would check under the bed and in the top of the closet, so we should really just clean. And sometimes, we would get it done in time to go, and sometimes, we didn't. Either way, we end up with a clean room and happy parents, and, sometimes, we really did get to go to the movies. Sometimes with missionary work, we see exactly how our work has helped an investigator come into the gospel and repent. But sometimes, we need to show our Heavenly Dad that we're willing to 'clean our room' or go and work our butts off each and every day before He gives us that Golden Investigator, or that amazing experience that was always there, we just had to work hard enough to earn it.

Life's good. For those of you who are unaware, Germany won the World Cup (this is second hand information, but I've decided I trust other missionaries), so I've won a plate of cookies. I laugh hysterically, I eat yummy food (like cookies), and I learn so much. Missionary life is da best!

Love you all, and I hope you have a great week!
Syster Maxwell

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy Dance for RAIN!

Hey, guys!

Well, first and foremost, Sweden has ruined my sense of temperature. By a miracle, for the past two days, it hasn't rained, and both days, I have been dying of heat. I think it scared Syster Byrd to see how happy I was when it started raining on our way to the library today. Like, we're talking extreme happy dance and some cheering and singing. In the rain. Rain just makes things so much cooler, and it's so much better! Really, I'm almost scared by how much I'm starting to like seeing a solid wall of water coming down outside the window.

And, yeah. This past week was a lot of fun; we got to go to Göteborg to meet the new mission president and his wife. President and Sister Beckstrand are very definitely different from President and Sister Newell, but I think things will turn out okay in the end. Haha, no, they'll be great, just different. As it was, it was fun to finally meet them after all of these months of hearing various rumors from members and missionaries. 

This week has been both a challenge (a.k.a. an opportunity to grow) and an amazing testimony of the power of faith. You see, in Swedish summer, people will randomly leave on vacation for a month or two at a time. And show up random places like Skövde when you thought they'd be in Borås. And this on top of the usual challenges of missionary work. So, understandably, we've felt things have been a little dead in the past few weeks, as we've had problems getting things set up.

However, it's amazing what the priniciple of faith can do. As missionaries, we make goals, and we do everything we can to accomplish them in the faith that the Lord will provide a way as His will matches ours. And really, at times (okay, all the time), all we can control is our attitude and the fact that we're putting ourselves out there and contacting. So we did that this past week, and it's been amazing to see how maybe we didn't meet every goal that we'd set, but we made it much closer than we'd thought we would be halfway through the week. 

I especially remember last Wednesday. By about 4:00 in the afternoon, pretty much every plan we'd had had fallen through. We contacted for a while in the hopes that we would find someone to teach, then stopped for a while to eat dinner. We stopped to say a prayer on our way out that we could find something effective to do with our time, then went out the door. We decided to swing by a less active who lived close to us and just see if we could get in, although she hadn't opened the door the last few times we'd been by. She later told us she almost hadn't opened the door, but we were able to get in and teach her, and then to meet her again in the week and get her to church yesterday. And we continue to see the blessings coming as we go out and do our best. Maybe not in the way that we want them to, but we are seeing lessons somehow manage to get lined up, and people are showing up as we really are trying to do what is in our power in missionary work. It's great.

And, yeah. There's my fun last week in Borås. We had fun for the 4th of July visiting an American couple in the ward and having hot dogs and Kool-aid (luxuries, I assure you), and we've had fun not getting completely fried in the sun. Joke, we're pretty well fried at moments, but we love it anyways.

Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week, and I love you tons!

Syster Maxwell