Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turning 20

Adelide's Birthday Celebration, Thanks to Isam
I have been showered with letters and gifts this week and I feel so spoiled on my birthday! Last night Isam came all the way up from Kristianstad and threw me a birthday party with his famous dinner! It was so fun to see him and catch up on life from my first home here in Sweden. 
He is so thoughtful and printed out a ton of pictures of me and hung them up- when I walked into the room, I was not expecting to see what he did for me and I started crying. Haha. It was very special. I am all partied out and ready to get to work on my real day of birth. 
Last Monday we went to Gekås which is the biggest store in all of Europe! And it is only here in Halmstad about an hour away. People from all over go there and spend ridiculously amounts of money and I am proud to say that I only bought three items- fruit for lunch, chocolate, and gluten free pasta. It was funny to be standing in line next to people with three carts full and I just had three little things. 
My Birthday package from home and a pillowcase from Aunt Christine!
We had a fun party that night at Senja's with Elder Christensen and his parents and his mom gave me my birthday package from you! THANK YOU. It was an awesome package. I am very blessed with a wonderful mother. :) 

This week has been a mix of miracles and busy days and of some days with nothing planned. I loved mom's message to me to "try again tomorrow" in a quote she sent. I wrote about that phrase after a long day of nothingness and the next day was a perfect example of why it is important to take courage and "try again tomorrow". Because then it was tomorrow and that "tomorrow" was a wonderful day. 
Ferry from Sweden to Denmark
Senja picked us up early on Saturday morning and we drove to the Denmark temple! She is so awesome- she went separately with just us so that we could go otherwise it would have taken too much of our day to go with our whole ward. It was so fun to ride in the car with her and talk. It always feels so weird to be in a car because I am so used to buses. When we got to the edge of Helsingborg we took a ferry over the ocean to Denmark. It was my first time on the ferry because we took the train last time! I felt like I was on a cruise! Haha. It was HUGE. 
Adelide and Senja on the ferry
There was a gift shop and restaurant and we went out on top and got some beautiful pictures of the ocean and Denmark. The temple was a very personal and special experience for me. I had not done a session since the MTC and doing it in Swedish was an experience that I wont forget. 
Denmark Temple
On our drive back we listened to a talk by John Bytheway where he mentioned Joseph Smith and his experience in Liberty Jail. I don't even know how many times I have read D&C 121-123 because they are some of my favorite chapters to learn from, but as I listened to him explain Joseph's experience, it became so real to me of what he went through. That it isn't just a story of him living in that tiny room during a bitter cold winter with no privacy, but that it really happened. And in this place he writes honestly of his feelings and of what he went through. In D&C 121 he explains his sorrow, he says 
"O God where art thou?" He also receives peace and comfort that his afflictions, though large, will only be but for a moment. And in 122, he is given a list of "ifs" and how if he endures these "ifs", these trials, he will grow and learn from them. And in 123 vs 17, it reads one of my favorite versus of scripture, 

"Therefore dearly beloved brethren, let us CHEERFULLY do ALL THINGS that lie in OUR POWER; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed." 
Here, within these three sections, He goes from crying out to God in sorrow, to receiving guidance, to teaching his beloved brethren of how to cheerfully endure. 

Sometimes I imagine myself dressed in rain boots, dirty pants, a t-shirt, and dad's yard gloves that are too big for my hands- holding a large brown sack filled with seeds. These seeds are precious and my duty is to plant each one of them and watch them grow into something beautiful. In my other hand I am holding a pail of water. I walk around day after day holding these seeds. These seeds are the invitation to the gospel. As we open our mouths to God's children, our brothers and sisters, we are giving them the opportunity to take this seed and plant it and let it grow into something beautiful. 
Some wish to not take the seed. Instead, they let it fall to the ground so that it doesn't even go under the soil. Others take the seed and plant it but they don't give us the opportunity to water it- to nourish it. A seed cannot grow without being planted. It also cannot grow without water and sunlight. To me, the water represents the gospel- lessons, our testimonies, the Book of Mormon. The sunlight represents God. You can't give someone the knowledge of God, or the sun, with out the knowledge of the gospel, or the water. The sun can't make the seed grow. We as planters can't make the seed grow. It must receive it all- the soil, the water, and the sun. And all that I have in my power is to give out the seeds, the invitation. And to nourish the seed with water, my testimony. And I will do all in my power with a cheerful heart. I would love to see someone soak it all up and become something beautiful -but until then, I will give out these seeds, these precious seeds, with love and happiness in my heart- knowing with assurance that if I do all that is in my power, God will reveal his arm, He will do the rest. 
Some days it is hard to pick up the heavy bag of seeds and go out to work. Sometimes I am rushed to get these seeds out so that I can rest, but as I imagine my Savior going out among these people, I picture him gently and humbly placing these seeds to God's precious children, and it helps me slow down and remember the hope that I can spread by patiently opening my mouth and placing seeds. 
After the temple, we decided to go tract in an area by our church. We walked by a woman standing outside pulling out a cigarette. I almost kept walking until I felt an impression in my heart to open my mouth. I did, and she gave me the weirdest look. My first thoughts were that we are wasting our time and that she was probably going to say "I'm not interesting," but instead she began to tell us that her sister killed herself two years ago and that she has been wondering what the purpose of life is ever since. We told her that we think this message is something that she needs to hear. She gave us a big hug and her number. 
We then tracted two buildings with no success, but the last door we knocked on in the third building was a girl about our age who invited us in immediately. We taught her the plan of salvation, gave her a Book of Mormon, and have another lesson to meet with her in a couple of hours today. 
I am always surprised with the tender mercies we receive here. Like when people say "yes I am interested" or "yes come into my home, I want to hear". It does not happen very often but when it does, I am so grateful and honored to be in this place at this time being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. These mercies, are testimonies to me of God's love for his children and for this work. 
Isam's Famous Dinner
Tomorrow I am turning 20. It is a new year for me to become better. I am grateful for the completion of the past 19 years of my life. This birthday, I think I have realized the beauty of birthdays. It is not a day for everyone to celebrate me and my life, although they do and I am so grateful. But rather, I view it as a day for me to be grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life. This birthday I am grateful to give this day to the work, to not focus on myself but of what I can give of myself.
Keep smiling. I love you all.
Adelide Syster-Christensen 

Monday, November 18, 2013

beautiful people

6 o'clock p.m.
Hello dear ones.

Last Monday we got to go to the Bishop's house for dinner to say goodbye to Elder Tanner and then they invited us over again yesterday to say hello to Elder James and we are lucky enough to go there again tonight with some of the families in our ward for a party! So needless to say, this past week has been amazing. 

Senja making us dinner

We have the coolest bishop in all of Sweden and his wife, Senja is a big example to me and is also my "mother figure" here in Halmstad. I have truly met some amazing people here in Sweden who have welcomed me into their lives and have also helped me to see what kind of person I want to be. It is such a blessing to be a part of a work that is so centered on people because i. love. people. I love how everyone is so unique and has their own story about who they are.
making dinner at Senja's yesterday
Isam called me last Monday and said that he didn't understand any of the words I was using. haha He said that I need to write more simply so that everyone can understand. He is so awesome and we still keep in touch. In fact, he is so great and is planning on coming up next week on my birthday to make us dinner. And I do have to say that Syster Swenson is probably the best friend right now. We still write each other hand written notes every single week. She sent me a birthday package this last week as well. 
Syster Richins :)

And Syster Richins and I can't hardly wait to see each other at zone conferences to catch up on everything. And I love Syster Hosenfeld as well. She is h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s. She says the funniest things. We actually took a test this week that tells what your top 24 strengths are and our top three strengths are the exact same (1. gratitude, 2. faith- being spiritually sensitive, and 3. easily loving others and being loved) and our last one is the same (humility- haha). I'm so grateful to be meeting some of my greatest friends on my mission. 
hej då äldste tanner
As for the other people that I am loving and meeting- One of our investigators, Jolanka, is seriously the cutest lady. She is in her early 60's and comes from Serbia- she knows the bible inside and out but doesn't belong to any church. I love teaching her and discussing things with her but I most of all just love HER. She gets so happy when we come over and wants to give us things and make us feel at home- which is such a great feeling after long days of "no's" ... to have someone that is excited to be with us. Another lady named Ingvor is a less active member and she also has us over every week. She used to be in a pretty well known band and she has an amazing voice- but now she is lonely and so we go over and sing hymns with her. She's great. 
cloudy with a chance of meat balls or its raining meatballs

Another less active that we are working with, Paola, was not at all excited when we first moved here to Halmstad. She ignored our calls and didn't want to meet. A couple weeks ago we felt like we should make her cookies and bring them by- so we did and she invited us to come over the next week. We went over and shared a comforting scripture with her and got to know her better and after we left she texted us and invited us over for the next week! We went over this past week and she told us that she loved the scripture we shared last time and she actually shared it with a friend who was struggling. Paola is from El Salvador and was baptized when she was about 16 but she has never been to the temple and is married to a non-member Swede now. We taught her about the temple and we are trying to get her ready to get a temple recommend so that she can do baptisms for the dead. I am grateful that the Lord softens hearts and also helps us know what to say, specifically, to his sons and daughters. 
 I am so grateful for the different and unique days that we have here on the mission. Every day we follow the same routine and guidelines but each day we experience different joys, hardships, lessons, beauties, and of course people. I was humbled by the line that Meisha Christensen wrote in her email last week due to the destruction in the Philippines. She said "if the church does a clothes drive, feel free to donate my closet." It is a beautiful thing we learn out here on the mission of how little worth our material things are. I am in a Country that is taken care of by the government and that is also pretty up to date with the style and technology- but I have also been humbled in a different way with how the Swedes live. They live with "just enough". Its kind of like when Jon Stewart went and interviewed a Swede who was pretty famous and they went inside her apartment that only had one room and one bathroom and she had all of her garbage recycling piles etc. and he asked her "why don't you have three flat screen tvs or 3 bathrooms or a maid to do your garbage?" (like most famous people in the US) and she was almost shocked because she didn't need more than what she had. I love that and have learned from their simplicity. 
heating pads\ awkwardly kneeling
Thank you for your letters this week and for the special little things you send me. I put rice in the feet warmers you made me and sewed them up and they keep me so warm :). I guess it has been snowing for a while up in Norrland and we might be receiving snow next week but im not sure! I love you all. Have a ponyriffic week! as Lillie would say. 
Elin and Alice at young women's
XO Adel

Monday, November 11, 2013


As I reflect on this past week, I can't pick out any tremendous successes that occurred. In fact, as we retired home each night, I thought back on the day not really knowing what kind of impact we had or if we had done or changed anything from the day before. Lots of lessons fell through and most of our investigators are not too excited or anxious to meet with us- but I cannot describe to you the joy and gratitude that I have in my heart. I just absolutely LOVE being here. I have loved this week, walking in the pouring, freezing rain singing the same three songs over and over again with my companion as we went by old investigators who are not interested or shall I say they are not "interesting". (They get confused with interested and interesting and think that they need to answer us in English so we REALLY understand. haha). I have also loved the small opportunities that I have had this week to prepare lessons, study the scriptures in depth, and learn more about this wonderful and beautiful life. I loved loading wood piles last Tuesday for 4 hours in the rain with the Elders and our 73 year old ward mission leader from Finland who can't speak English and only speaks a little Swedish. He is seriously one of the coolest people I have met here in Sweden. 
Nana is the one that got baptized and he is the one on the left next to me.

And I also   l o v e d   receiving a call from one of our investigators in Kristianstad inviting me to his baptism this past Saturday. His name is Nana and he is from Africa. I think I mentioned him in past emails, but he is so incredible and I got the biggest tears in my eyes when he called me to come. I am so happy for his decision. We can't leave our areas so I was unable to go but I know that he made the right decision and I know it will bless him the rest of his life.
the library at night
This City is beautiful. It is so artsy and the people here are all very down to earth and very cool. There are a lot of dreadys (people with dreads) and I love them. As Christmas approaches, they have begun to put Christmas lights on the trees around the center of the city and I have heard that this is one of the only cities that does this. I just smiled and stared at them for a good ten minutes the other night because they reminded me of temple square. The weather is pretty cold, but we have not received snow yet! It usually rains a lot in November and December here and they don't get snow until the end of December- March. But it is very windy over here by the ocean. I am very grateful for my warm coat, tights, hats, and gloves. :). It gets dark around 4:00 pm. here but it will slowly start getting dark around 2 or 3. And at 5:00 pm it feels like 9:00 and that we should be in bed, but the night is just getting started! It's definitely a great experience.
This is a statue in the park to represent the poor children in the world.
I guess I have been made the new Relief Society teacher- not really, but I taught last week and this week! For an hour. In Swedish. On topics that are not a part of the main missionary lessons where I have the vocab down. It's hard for me because I have so many thoughts that I want to express in my own way but I can't fully express myself in Swedish. But it has also been good for me. Yesterday I gave a lesson on putting God before all other things. I began by sharing the story that I shared in my farewell talk about the huge mirror that dad made and gave to me for Christmas a couple years ago. I shared how dad related the mirror to sometimes being in relationship to vanity and how another word for vanity means meaningless. I then asked what are some things that everyone does that are "meaningless" and we talked about the "vain things of the world." Then I asked how we could better prioritize our time and put God first in everything that we do. The women had great feedback and it was interesting to really think about all of the things we do in our day to day lives that don't necessarily invite God or his spirit to be with us. Or maybe they are just things that are not the most important for us to do. I switched gears a little and read a poem that dad had sent me in a letter earlier in the week called "the lanyard" by Billy Collins. He talks about the Love of a mother and how we as children can never repay our mothers for everything they do for us except for by the small and simple things like being grateful. I then used dad's idea to tie this into God's love for us and how we will always be indebted to God for all that he has done, as King Benjamin talks about in Mosiah 2. We read Mosiah 2 vs. 21&40; Where King Benjamin says that God has given us breath and our lives and even if we served him our whole lives we could still not fully pay him back. I liked these two contrats (scriptures?) because once we understand God's infinite love for us, we understand why it is so important to set him before all things. If we love God, we will serve him. And we will serve him by doing small things. And all that God wants from us in return is to be good and to be grateful.

As I focus on gratitude in this beautiful month of November, I have reflected on my gratitude book where I have written one thing that I have been grateful for, for everyday of my mission. I have loved being able to notice the smallest of things on my mission- the things that I am so grateful for on a daily basis. Gratitude lifts me up and helps me to see my life as a wonderful and glorious adventure- which it is. I love my life. And of course as I bring my attention to what I am most grateful for, the obvious ones stand out while I am here: The gospel, my family, the lessons and experiences I am having- and especially today, my mother.
This is my picture collage for you this year since I can't do one on instagram hahaha

Happy birthday to my beautiful mother and best friend. In dad's letter to me he wrote: "I am filled with gratitude for you and your mother as the official month of gratitude inches closer- my two November babies. There is so much that draws you and I together: Language- love of words and writing, trees and mountains, adventure, hiking and exercise, gospel ideas and meaningfulness, trying to be contemplative, music, and now Sweden and Swedish. There will be new bridges between us in the future. But the very most important thing you and I have in common is an uncanny, deep, abiding love for your mother. And it has been one of my greatest joys to watch her care for you and love you." How true that is. And this November- this month of gratitude, I am more grateful for my mommy than I have been in all my life. For her constant service to me. For her funny and loving personality. For her example and testimony. For her humility. I am even grateful and love that she is so touchy. Dad said "I think the reason your mom is so touchy and loves everyone so freely is because she thinks 'hey we are all in this together!'" She just wants to help people out and be their third arm. It used to really embarrass me- especially when she pulled out Scott Long's diabetic insulin thinking it was a tag. Or how she tucks in anyone's tag that is sticking out no matter who it is- but now I see the beauty of it. She truly does so openly and freely invite herself into others lives and make them feel important and loved. She is in other words- the opposite of a Swede and I miss that. She doesn't care what the world thinks of her. She lives a beautiful and graceful life. She easily laughs at her mistakes and continues to be better. She is ready to serve and help anyone at any time of the day. I am so grateful for the person you are and I love and miss you.

Have a wonderful week! I got gram's birthday package and letter! She is so sweet. Also- the Bishop asked me if I would start teaching a yoga class every Friday from 6-7 when we normally play innebandi and then we will play innebandi from 7-9! Hahaha. I'M STOKED. I am also so sad for the Philipines. I am glad to hear Meisha is doing okay. --Prayers going her way. Also Congratulations to Sarah Christensen for getting her call to England! So cool. I love you all! I am happy and healthy. 

Sorry I don't have a lot of pictures this week. LOVE YOU!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Can't Believe it is November!!


I can't believe it is November. I received my mission call on November 16th LAST YEAR. It is crazy that it seems like yesterday because I have done and learned so much this year.

After the storm
Last Monday we had quite the storm. After emailing we all had to go home and stay inside all night! Syster Hosenfeld and I decided to go out and brave the elements.. #yolo. So we went out and ran around in the class 3 storm! This is how I would describe it: Being in the ocean when the waves tumble you and you can't breathe. That is how strong it was. It would hit you and just knock the wind out of you. haha We wanted to go out by the ocean but we saw all of the flag poles swaying back and forth and thought it probably wasn't the best idea. The next morning no one was out, leaves, branches, and roof shingles were all over the road, and so many of the trees in the forest had fallen over. 
:( poor trees.
We had many miracles this week. We met five different people on the streets or tracting at the beginning of the week and we met with all of them! One of them is a lady named Jolanka who is older and is Christian. We met her on the bus and she invited us to come over the next day. We went over and it was pitch black outside at 5 pm and she threw her keys out the window for us to come up to her apartment and they got lost in all of the leaves from the storm. We were on our hands and knees digging through the leaves for about 5 minutes and then she had to come down and look with us with a flash light. We looked for 20 more minutes and Syster Hosenfeld and I were just PRAYING that we would find them and we did! 

We also met with a guy named Hossam that contacted us and then Hannie who we tracted into. They are all interested and want us to continue meeting with them. Another kid named Erik was at the bus stop and we started talking to him but our bus came so I literally threw a card at him and told him to call us and he did! He is 15 and is actually from Russia but has lived here his whole life. On Saturday we met with him and he showed us around Halmstad and took us up 150 stairs to the top of a hill and we had fika (means "snack-break) and talked about the gospel. He believes a lot of the same things as us and has awesome standards- so we are excited to continue to meet with him!
I love our ward here in Halmstad. Have I already said that? They are so incredible. On Wednesday we had an activity and played games and we had so much fun. And every Friday we play Innebandi (floorball) with our ward, investigators, less actives and whoever else wants to come. Syster Hosenfeld and I are sooo bad but we have so much fun. Everyone takes it so seriously and we just look like idiots but its so hilarious. 
 For Halloween we didn't do much but on November 2 it was All Saints Day and this is where everyone puts candles on the graves- so we took Alice, a young woman in our ward to the top of the 150 stairs to visit a cemetery that was in the middle of a forest. It was beautiful but really creepy. The cemetery was for animals and it was SOOO dark. We only had a little flash light but it helped a lot and this is kinda cheesy but it really just hit me of how much we need light in our lives. When it was completely dark- even this small flash light made a huge difference. And I have felt even the smallest glimpse of Christ's light in my life when I seem to be wandering in darkness. The light is what guides us and comforts us.
HAHAHAA Look at Alice's face. Swedes don't smile.
This week I have been focusing on God's grace that comes through Christ. I have been reading the New Testament in Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians and the word GRACE has stuck out to me so strongly. I often question myself if I am doing all that I can to apply the gift of the atonement and God's grace to my life. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says 
"And he said unto me, My grace is SUFFICIENT for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 
His grace is sufficient for each of us. His mercy and love reaches to us at our lowest of lows. All that we need to do is take a hold of His hand that is already stretched out. I am so grateful for grace. For the gracious atonement that I am so needful of every day. I sometimes wish that I was perfect and that I didn't make dumb decisions or fail or struggle. But I love how it says "Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." It is through our imperfections and our weaknesses that we become perfect. Not perfect as Christ was perfect, but perfect as in complete or whole. We become whole from failing and by trying again and by taking ahold of Christ's gracious atonement to heal us. I know I probably sound like a broken record with my letters about what I am learning, but that is because I have to learn these things again and again and again. Hopefully one day it will all stick. :)
I love you all. Thank you for your love. "Be perfect. Be of good comfort. Be of one mind. Live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." - 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Love Adelide

Castle in Halmstad