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