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 Gek√•s 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 

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