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