Monday, January 26, 2015

"It's so pathetic; it's frozen milk and it's stronger than me!"


Guess who didn't turn into a popsicle up at the arctic circle? That's right, this chick! So, the week got off to a great start by doing work-overs up in Luleå and then heading up to Jokmokk and the arctic circle the day after. On the way up there, the thermometer said -34 C, which is still around -34 F. So, cold. Like, my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows, my nosehairs- frozen in about 20 seconds out there. It was COLD.  But also freakin' cool, like, I can now say I've been so far north that there are days of the year that the sun just doesn't rise. 

Other than that, it's been a great week. We got to go to Stockholm for ANOTHER meeting (I swear, I have been in Stockholm every week since October. Or at least it feels like it). It was a really good meeting; lots of great ideas for changing up things with planning and the area book, and my favorite was that we got the special surprise of watching 'Meet the Mormons' at the end of the conference. Guys, it's so good! Like, being 100% honest, I was crying. My mission has turned me into a waterworks, and I was very definitely crying. But hey, that's how you know it was good, right????

Otherwise, missionary work continues as always. Yesterday was especially full of tender mercies and miracles. I got to play 'Be Still My Soul' in sacrament meeting, and I can still say after however many months I've been out that music is my favorite way to bear my testimony. There's just so much power and feeling that I can put into music that I find hard to put into words. Unfortunately it doesn't work to take a violin out in Swedish winter, but on the rare occasions I do get to play, I always feel that much more effective.  We also had a tender mercy yesterday after church. The bishop came and grabbed us to say a woman had just walked in to the chapel wanting to talk to somebody, so we went through most of the first lesson with her. The spirit was definitely there helping us all in that lesson, which was so wonderful. And after that, we got to go to a member dinner that was DELICIOUS, and in which I lost a battle with a bucket of ice-cream. It was frozen SOLID, and I struggled to get more than a half-scoop of it out. I felt a little better when the elders and members ALSO struggled, but still, it was pathetic, I was defeated by delicious frozen cream.

And yeah, there was our week. I love you all tons, and I hope you have a fantastic week. Lycka till med allt!

Syster Maxwell

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's like my own personal version of the Birds!

Okay, so, first off, I'm really getting sick of this whole 'ice' thing. This is the story: it finally decided to snow in Sweden! And then it snowed for three days. And then it started raining. And then everything froze over, and now I think I should really just get a pair of ice-skates from a second hand store, because I'd probably get around just as fast on skates as I do on my boots. And it's never quite cold enough for the snow to stay, but somehow, the ice manages to just keep getting thicker and thicker. Jag fattar inte.
Let's see, other news, I got chased down the streets of Uppsala by a flock of about 200 ducks. I swear, I did nothing to aggravate them or suggest I had food (aside from carrying a shopping bag, but there was no way that thing smelled like food!), but for some reason, as Syster Bass and I were walking along down the river behind the Domkyrka, talking to the elders on the phone, a few of the ducks sitting on the frozen river decided to come over and see what we were up to. And then the other 190 decided to follow after them, and they were literally falling over the edge of the snowbanks and walking on our feet. Deciding a quick get away would be best, we retreated to the other side of the street. And they FOLLOWED. Like, there was probably only 20 or so that actually RAN after us, but the full 200 was definitely making it's way down the street towards us. For some reason, the ducks decided I was more fun to follow, and so, Syster Bass was left to take pictures and laugh as I ran two or three more blocks with the 20 fastest ducks following right after me, and the rest doing their best to catch up. Guys, it was terrifying.  And the videos and pictures afterwards were hilarious, but I still have no idea what we did to convince the ducks we were worth following after for that long!  
Among other stories is trying to get out to a member who lives about 40 minutes from Stan by bus. And we initially went to the wrong bus-stop. I was running for about 20 minutes straight on solid ice. Again, I'm excited to be done with this whole ice thing, but luckily, we made it to the member's and had a fantastic dinner, and there was no more than the usual slipping and sliding on the ice.
And another ice story: we were climbing up the hill to our apartment, and I literally started floating away. Syster Bass had to get up to a snowband and then pull me in so I didn't float off into the street and down into a field. Have I mentioned that I'm done with ice?

Let's see, otherwise it was a good week. We had meetings in Stockholm off and on all week, and I got to go on splits in Uppsala, and I'm still so proud to say that I did not get us lost on the side of the street in some ghetto corner of Uppsala. Like, it's something I still don't get about missionary life how you can get to know an area and the members and investigators, and then you get a call that you're moving to the other side of the country, and within 3 weeks, that new area is home, and you know your way around, and you know the people, and it just feels like you're right where you're supposed to be. It's so weird, but I can honestly say that I do feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and I'm so happy that is Uppsala!
Let's see, let's see... otherwise, it's been a good week. We have an investigator who is progressing well towards baptism hopefully in the next week or two, and we've been able to get in contact with a few more of our less actives. We were in and out of our area so much in the last week that things feel just a little slow, but just the same, it is so good, and I love love love it.
Other news: I'm in Luleå right now. For those of you who don't know Swedish geography (and we don't hold it against you if you don't), that's far, far up at the North end of Sweden. We're on workovers with the sisters today and tomorrow, and we're hoping to get to go up to the Arctic Circle (like, the actual, literal Arctic Circle, and not just the burger joint that I miss so much) tomorrow, and if it clears up, it's my hope and prayer to see the Northern lights, but, I'll have to let you know next week if that actually happens.

And yeah, I love you all tons, miss you like a fat kid misses cake, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

Syster Maxwell

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's not that it was a Bad Day, it's Just That the Best Part Was when I Ran Through a Field Throwing Snow and Singing "Let it Go"


Guess what magic happened this week..... IT SNOWED! Duh-da-da-DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After more than a year in Sweden, I was beginning to doubt it was even possible, but then, this week, it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. Meaning, we've got about 4 inches, but watching it come down was 1) one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen and 2) looked like if we were in Utah, there would have been a foot and a half by the end of the night. I still have some hopes; it's supposed to snow more later in the week, but as it is, I'm loving that Uppsala has become a winter wonderland.

Other than that, it was actually a pretty chill week. I think that the weeks around New Years  (at least in Sweden) are universal finding weeks because everyone starts saying "contact me after the new year" and so, the new year rolls around and you have to start doing more swing-bys than you thought existed in your area book and more ring-stunding than you knew you had phone-numbers for. It's seriously been a huge push for finding, but I think in the next two or three weeks, we'll start seeing it pick up again- tomorrow is tjugondedagen Knut- "tjugondagen knut körs Julen ut" or in other words, "on the 20th day of Knut, we'll drive Christmas out!" meaning, people can stop blaming their inability to meet on the holiday season, and we'll get back to missionary work as usual!

Other news.... sorry, guys, there isn't much. We got a new elder here this past week, and his train came in 5 HOURS LATE. So, that was an adventure. And then I got to make cinnamon rolls. Like, really, it was just a slow, placid week. Yesterday, after a solid day of letter writing (we have a woman who doesn't want us to go by to teach her her, but she wants a letter explaining what we believe in), and updating area-book stuff, I think I must have snapped to some degree, because, on the walk home, there was no one there, and so, I literally started singing "Slå dig loss" ("Let it Go"- both the English and Swedish were involved here, so both deserve credit), and right after the big dramatic moment "... don't let them know. Well now they now! Let it go!" I would run out into the field, grab a huge handful of snow, and just throw it as high as I could. Seriously, it might just be the strange missionary part of me, but I can honestly say it was the best part of the day to just "let it go" and laugh a little extra. 

And yeah. I pinky promise there'll be more fun stuff to tell y'all next week, but until then, I love you all, I hope you have a great week, and stay classy!

Syster Maxwell

Friday, January 2, 2015

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Hey! Well, it's been a more than average week here in Sweden.

So, let's start with back in Norrköping- we got invited to one last members for Annandag Jul (the second day of Christmas), where, luckily, I think they realized we'd had four Julbords in the last 2 days, so they just gave us pasta and a little salad, and then, we tried to teach them how to play scum. This poor couple.... they were giving it their best, but between our Swedish skills (how often do you have to explain card games to Finns???) and their trying to figure out the game mostly by watching, we only made it through a few rounds.

Then, SaturdaySaturday was dramatic. So, we'd already gotten the call that I'd be transferring from Norrköping to Stockholm to be with Stewart, and the elders and Syster Allen had decided we should go to lunch to celebrate my last day. And, then, on the way there, we get a call from the assistants to say that they hadn't thought through that Sister Stewart and I both go home in the beginning of April, and they didn't want to double us out of Stockholm, so they had decided to send me to Uppsala with Sister Bass, and Sister Stewart would be staying in Stockholm with Sister DeMille joining her. 

Sunday was some saying goodbye, especially to our family of nyomvänds from Syria. I loved getting to know them so much, and it was so hard to say goodbye, but I know I've left them and all of Norrköping in good hands. 

Monday we got up, and I got on a train just before 8:00 up to Uppsala. And things have just been crazy ever since then. Literally, I have not had a slightly normal day since Sunday. Monday was getting my things into the apartment, and then lunch with a member, and area work with the elders, and then running around to teach lessons, and then packing up so that we could spend all day Tuesday doing work-overs. The sisters in Gävle doubled in when I got to Uppsala, so we went up to help them sort through their area book and get some stuff set up for the next few days. It was a lot of fun for a few reasons, 1), I finally made it north of Stockholm, guys! 2), it was a lot of fun to get to spend some time with Sister King and Sister Jacobs and get to know them better. It was Sister Jacobs birthday, so we got some kebab and put candles in it, then sang to her in English and Swedish. They're both amazing missionaries, and I'm excited to get to work with them more in the next few weeks.

We spent the night in Gävle, then took a train back to Uppsala the next morning to get ready to go to Upplands Väsby at the north end of Stockholm to spend New Years eve with a lot of sisters and the Tolleys. SOOOO MUCH FUN. They'd gotten special permission from President Beckstrand for us to watch Frozen and a few other movies, so we played games, watched Frozen and a few Hallmark movies (and bawled our eyes out watching one of them), and then they drove us back to the Täby sisters apartment right around midnight so that we could spend the night there before they came back to drive us to Uppsala this morning to manage our tvättstuga (laundry).

So, in response to the question, 'how's Uppsala?' it's good from what I've seen of it. There's more snow here  than I've seen for quite a while, although it's currently doing its best to melt away. We live a ways outside of central stan, so we have to walk through a bunch of fields and rådhus to make it to the church, but is in in walking distance, so that's a bonus. Hopefully I'll have a little more to report next week on how things are actually going here, but for the time being, I'm loving it. 

I love you all tons, and I hope you have a great week and an amazing 2015!

Syster Maxwell