Monday, August 25, 2014

Attitude is the key

Hey guys! It's been another fabulous, windy week here in Malmö. 

Things were truthfully a little slow for us here in Malmö; we still have been going out teaching and contacting our butts off, but for some reason, a ton of our appointments just fell through this week. Silly people! All the sisters want to do is tell you that you're a beautiful son or daughter of God and help you have a better day and eventually better eternal life. Sillies. 

Anyways, a definite bonus of this week was getting to travel up to Göteborg for mission tour, which is essential Zone Conference with a general authority. Something that I really enjoyed was how much I felt like they emphasized how much your attitude determines things- contacting, lessons, and your overall success as a missionary, and much more than the numbers ever will. It helps me realize how much I have to work on. I've got to be honest, it can be discouraging when you have sweet grandmas shout at you, or a less active slams a door in your face, but it says right in the first chapter of Preach My Gospel not to let this be discouraging; that weakens your faith. And that really is something I want to strive after- remembering that it doesn't matter how they've reacted, I've fulfilled my purpose in inviting them to come unto Christ and giving them an opportunity to learn about the gospel.
Another upside to mission tour: I saw two of my most favoritest women ever there. I walked in, and the first person I saw was Syster Stewart. There may or may not have been immediate enormous hugs and laughing and a small shout/scream of joy involved which may or may not have scared all the greenies. You get excited when you haven't had the chance to talk to a person in 10 months! And, right after her, I saw Syster Byrd. I gotta be clear, I love Malmö, but in some ways I'm still really sad I didn't get longer in Borås with Syster Byrd. In any case, it was so exciting to get to see her again and to find out that one of the investigators we found together was supposed to get baptized this past Saturday(still haven't gotten the Second Harvest email, so I'm not going to say he was baptized until I know for sure- also, for those of you who are regular readers, this is the guy who prayed things could be like cowboys), and that another has a baptismal date for the weekend before my birthday. Even if I was only there six weeks, I in no way feel like I didn't have a purpose there, and that it was exactly where I needed to be for myself and the people there.

As for Malmö, things are still going well with Sanny. It was a little harder for us to meet this week because of his work and some health problems he's been having, but after our lesson he was asking if we could talk a little more about baptism. We've gotten to meet with some great less actives in the past week too, from one of which, I got a really good recipe for cherry saft-which also apparently works for Strawberrys. It will not die when I leave Sweden!

So, there it is. Sorry, there's not a ton this week, but know I love you guys ton, and I hope you have a great week!

Med vänlig hälsningar (MVH)
Syster Maxwell

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Name is Syster Maxwell and I am a Closet Nutella Eater

Hey family! So, this past week was super great! It finally cooled down a lot, and guess what- wind is really cold when it blows in off the ocean a kilometer away when the temperature drops to under 70 and it's raining. Just for those of you who weren't aware.

Speaking of the ocean, it's absolutely beautiful. Last week for P-Day, we went out to Alles Stenar, which is essentially a Swedish stonehenge. The rocks aren't as big, but overall, it was one of my favorite p-days so far. We had fun with the rocks, but I think being so absolutely close to the ocean was the best part. Alles Stenar is one of the southernmost points of Sweden, and it is so beautiful. The rocks were up on an enormous ridge, where the wind blew so unbelievably hard it felt like I was in a wind-tunnel.  We got the chance to climb down the ridge to the beach, and it was so much fun just to be so near to the water. Seriously, it was just so beautiful and calm (except for the wind) that I'm not really sure how to describe it.

As for the rest of the week... let's see, what adventures have I had? Well, to begin with, I cut hair for the first time this week. Apparently the elders got desperate, because they asked Syster Ludwig and I for haircuts. Overall, I think it turned out okay. No one's bald just yet, so we'll take that as a sign of success!

Also of worth to mention is my recent nutella addiction. I had successfully avoided nutella my entire mission, and then when I got down here to Malmö, they had a jar of it in the pantry. I was doomed. I've already finished off one big jar of it, and I'm a good way into the next one. I think the best is that Syster Ludwig has a habit of finding me scooping out just a little bit when I want just a few carbs before bed- essentially hiding in the closet as I eat nutella straight out of the jar, smears of it still all over my face. I'm a classy chick, okay?

As for the work, it's going. Things are still progressing with Sanny, and we're still working towards mid-September. I think between the changes he's been making and some other things going on in his life, he's been struggling a little bit, but he's always so willing to do whatever we ask him for a commitment, and he's so concerned for us and the elders. He really is so amazing. We've also met with a few other investigators, including an African woman named Chika who's super sweet, and a Korean woman who is trying to prove that Mormon's don't believe in the Bible. While she definitely knows her Bible, she hasn't stumped us yet!

A major blessing of this week was realizing the worth of gratitude. I mentioned almost a year ago that I'd had a habit of keeping a gratitutde journal. For space reasons, I'd decided not to pack my gratitude journal and just to write it in my normal journal, but eventually even that died out.  And then my mission got hard. And then it got better, but I still felt like I wasn't anywhere near the missionary I wanted to be- and SHOULD be- after 10 months out in the field. I'd been wondering for  a while what I could do to change my attitude and to find new energy. And as crazy as it may or may not sound, the thought that came to me in the middle of my personal study was to start writing down the things I'm grateful for again. Now, I'm by no means saying everyone needs to go out and buy a small notebook to write down the things they're grateful for again, but I can say that it's amazing even the last week to see how big an impact being grateful for the blessings we recieve can have on missionary work. I am so extremley blessed in so many ways, and  I really am so grateful for the time I have out here to learn and to grow, and to bring myself and others closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love you all; miss you like a fat kid misses cake, and have a great week!

Puss puss and love y'all!
Syster Maxwell

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Like the Bruce Lee of Religions

Hej käre familj och vänner!

So, this was yet another fantastic week in Sweden. Things are going really well with our investigator Sanny. We meet with him pretty regularly, and it's been amazing to see the changes that he makes in his life so automatically from partying and going out drinking to coming to the church and reading in the scriptures and watching 'I'm a Mormon' videos on (By the way, those things are the BEST EVER- WATCH THEM). It's just fun to get in lessons and have him tease us about seeing us in nightclubs, and then instantly turn it around to something he's learned and done to apply the gospel in his life. It is so cool to get to teach him! By the way, the post title comes from a member present in one of our lessons with Sanny.  I think they were discussing how being an active member of the the church takes a lot of work, but it makes you strong like Bruce Lee. :) 
We've finally got a baptismal date set with him for mid-september- wish us luck!

Other things this week.... Well, we finally made it out to one of the parts of our area that's just outside Malmö in Trellleborg. Guys, it was crazy. There were chickens and roosters and peacocks running freely around Stan! I seriously stopped for about 20 minutes just to look at all of the birds- they were in trees, on fences, on the ground. I think the best was when we were walking through the park, and we could see a man walking to a bench. Following about 3 feet behind him was a chicken. It followed him exactly for a good hundred feet or so until he (the man) finally sat down on the bench, and it was discovered he had breadcrumbs. Suddenly thirteen birds or so ran (most of the chickens didn't really fly) to the man and swarmed on the bread. I really wish that I could have filmed it.

We also celebrated Syster Ludwig's birthday this week, which was a ton of fun. I told the elders it was coming up, and they made some very yummy cupcakes to surprise her with after church yesterday. I have seriously had so much cake in the last few days it's not even funny. Princess tårta, Äpple tårta, and cupcakes, and I honestly don't know that I could tell you which was my favorite.

I think the biggest thing this week was when I had a moment of profound insight. I was studying in my scriptures during personal study, wondering what I could do to be a better missionary (10 1/2 months down, and I see PLENTY of room for improvement), and I started reading in Alma 46:12, or the title of liberty, and Moroni says, 'in memory of our God,our religion, and freedom, and peace, our wives, and our children.' It just kind of hit me that of all things he could have listed, he put his faith and family first, and that, more importantly, he put God first. And in so many ways, though I am more focused on ever than the gospel, it kind of sank in how easy that even as missionaries, it is so easy to put other things first- pleasing members and investigators, schedules, trainings, 'did I really do my best in that contact' and how much your feet ache after a day of walking/running all over Stan. Those are all so much a part of missionary work, but that's not why I came out here. I came out here because in that moment, I put God first. I had enough faith to act on that prompting I got that I needed to get on a mission, and it's that same faith that will see me through the next few months.
The final connecting thought I had is a phrase that's been bouncing around my head for a while now. Come unto Christ. It's the Youth theme this year, but I think it's worth mentioning as well that this is the focus of missionary work. There is an amazing article in this months Ensign called 'Why We Share the Gospel' about missionary work, and there was a thought at the end of the article that has stuck with me. The plan of Salvation can be summarized in just three words: Come unto Christ. As missionaries, we invite others to come unto Christ, but really, the goal of everything we do in Church, and hopefully in everything else we do is bring ourselves and others closer to Christ.

I love you guys tons, sorry for rambling. I hope you have a great week!

Syster Maxwell

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Angel Ludwig and Angel Maxwell take Malmö

Well, I strangely feel like I have nothing to say. Just give it a second or two and then I'll babble away.

Okay, so this week was super fantastic. Malmö is so much fun. Like, I'm still missing Borås, but things are really getting going here in Malmö, and it's been amazing to see how much the Lord has blessed us already even in just the last week.

We've been able to meet a ton with Sanny, our investigator this past week, and it's been absolutely amazing to get to see the changes going on in his life. I think my favorite is probably when he prays in our lessons. He always prays that things will go well with my diabetes and that we'll have success as missionaries, and that we'll extend forever so that we can always stay here as missionaries. I remember one prayer where he called us 'Angel Ludwig' and 'Angel Maxwell.' He's just started making so many changes in his life, and he's doing so well. It is seriously so fun to teach him, and so great getting to see the blessings coming.

Let's see, other highlights this week included going on splits this past week with the sisters in Lund. We had a crazy day running around Malmö, but we got a buttload and a half done, and it was fun getting to see so much of Malmö. So far, I've been able to go out past the fields in the country (sadly, I just missed all the yellow rape seed flowers, but the fields are still amazing) with windmills all over the place, and in downtown Malmö, there's the river, and the Turning Torso, and so many other amazing things to see. It really is beautiful down here, even if every so often I have serious problems with Skånish (kidding! It's just really fun sometimes to listen to the strange ways they pronounce things).

One thing I'm noticing that's lingering from my time in Borås is that I LOVE the rain. It's rained twice in the last week, and it's been HEAVENLY both times. I guess a month and a half of never knowing if it'll be scorching heat or pouring rain had it's effect on me.  

Highlights of the week include that one time I saw a reindeer in the grocery store. Like, legit reindeer, once living and now a victim of taxidermy standing in the middle of an add for polarbröd. I could have touched it's fur- already touched that by the way, and it's not too soft- but it was just standing there, in the middle of the grocery store.

Another funny story this week. On the way to the grocery store (where we saw the above mentioned taxidermical exhibition), Syster Ludwig was texting the elders to let them know that we would be at the church soon and it completely escaped her attention that there was a pole right in front of her. I never thought I'd see someone plow into a pole like that anywhere but a movie, but I am here to tell you it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen when without missing a beat she walked straight into the pole and then bounced off again with a confused look on her face that just said 'When did that get there?'

Ooh, also, I think I've discovered a new beautiful food. You know 'The Best Two Years' when Elder Rogers ( I think that's his name) stops to buy Dutch waffles? I have found them. They are AMAZING.  We happened to be going through a store for språk the other day and we found them, and I'm now slowly making my way through a package of them. SO GOOD.

To close, if there's one thing that I definitely feel I've learned this week, it's that I need to do a better job of relying on the Lord. I like to be so stubborn and try to insist I have enough strength on my own to do everything that's demanded of me as a missionary, and sometimes, I just have to admit to myself and the Lord that I can't do it. It is an ENORMOUS work that we have been called to, and to come out and rely only on ourselves stunts our growth in so many ways. I know that I want to go home in eight months changed for the better; I want to be a little stronger, a little more loving, a little more converted, a little more confident, a little more like my Savior. I'm so grateful for the time I've got out here to do that, and I really hope that in the next few months, I can get closer and closer to that goal.

I love you all tons, and I miss you like a fat kid misses cake! Have a great week!

Syster Maxwell