Monday, December 16, 2013

Sankta Lucia

I'm staying in Halmstad! I hope. There are only a couple changes before Christmas but I have heard that there might be more changes on the 30th. But I think its safe to say that I am staying, which I am happy for. I am not ready to leave this place yet! 
 Typical swedish dinner at Lena's
Last week on Monday, we had a fun party with Lena who is less active and another lady in our ward, Karin. We did gift exchanges and had a lot of fun. 
Lena, Karin, Me, Hosie
Afterwards I had the bright idea to have Karin help me dye my hair from a box to go more my natural color which so happens to be brown now because A. it hasn't seen the sun in a good long while and B. I don't know... it's just not blonde anymore. But we had so much fun with her dying it. We were laughing so hard because when she was trying to rinse it out we were both getting soaked with water. It was hilarious. We brushed it out and dried it and I can't exactly explain the color. . . It was like green, gray, and bronze. 
green gray hair
So needless to say it was a fail and I immediately went to a hair dresser who dyed it brown. It was kind of a last minute decision and it turned out a lot darker than expected... So this week I went from blonde, to green-gray, to brown. It was an adventure. Sorry mom :/ although I don't feel like myself, I promise it's still me!!!
If there is one thing that I am mastering on my mission, it is looking people in the eyes when I speak to them. I can't even tell you the amount of people that answer the door in their underwear or no clothes. I have gotten really good at just looking at their faces and ignoring the fact that they aren't wearing any pants.

This week we have really been focusing on planning with FAITH. We have been having so much faith that if we plan three lessons even if we don't have any names written down, we are going to have three lessons. Everyday that we did this, we ended up having the amount of lessons planned. Which means that this was our first week in Halmstad of hitting 20 lessons! Woot. I have such a strong testimony that if we tell Heavenly Father our plans for the next day as we kneel down at night, he will help us accomplish those plans. 

A couple weeks ago we went tracting in a neighborhood and we saw a lady walking very slowly out to get her mail. I asked her in Swedish if I could help her and she spoke back in English in a voice that sounded very familiar. She said that she would love the help. We helped her get the mail and talked to her for a bit. She comes from Barbados and moved here because she married a Swede. He died 15 years ago but she has stayed here in Sweden even though she doesn't speak the language. She also had a stroke about six years ago which makes it really hard for her to get around. She told us we could come back and visit with her the next week. After we left Syster Hosenfeld said, "I swear I just read about a lady from Barbados in our area book." But we thought it was probably just a coincidence. We forgot about it that day until this week when we made plans to go by and see if she was home. 
Bethlehem for dawgs
Before we went over we looked through the area book and read: "Isa from Barbados". It was her. I turned the paper over and realized that I had called her last month to see if she wanted to visit but she said no. We went over to her house that day and she told us about the missionaries who visited her in 2009 and she pulled out a white paper with the plan of salvation drawn out in full detail with bad hand writing. We had a great lesson with her and have plans to go back again this week. If we would have not seen her that day we were tracting in her neighborhood, we would have never known that she would be willing to listen because she said "no" when we called a month ago. I am reminded again and again of how much God loves his children and this work as I witness miracles like this.

Later that day we went tracting in another neighborhood where a dad had answered the door a couple nights ago and said we could come back. This time his wife answered holding two little kids in her arms and another one was standing behind her. She invited us in and said that she too, had met with the missionaries about 7 or 8 years ago and that she would love to meet with us. And then on the bus, Syster Hosenfeld talked to a man named Morgan and got his number. We called him later that night and he said he would meet us at the library. He is a Swede and he has been meeting with the Jehovah's Witnesses for the past year or so. He is really searching to find the truth. We taught him the restoration, he said that he would be baptized when he gets an answer and then he came to church yesterday. Of course this Sunday was the primary program, so I kept reassuring him that it isn't like this every Sunday. He was very patient and listened to all of the speakers and afterwards had a lot of questions. I taught him the plan of salvation with Karin, while Syster Hosenfeld taught another class. And then he stayed for all of Priesthood. He is meeting with a ward member two times this week to talk and we are also meeting with him. This week has truly been a week of miracles!
A LONG time ago I talked about us going to an old folk's home to help out there because we didn't have a lot going on here and we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to serve. But before we heard back from the Old Folk's Home we ran into an old lady, Aina, while tracting (this was about a month and a half ago). She invited us in and we talked to her and shared a little message. She loves talking about the Bible, but when we tried showing her The Book of Mormon, she said she was to old to read a new book. But we continued to go by and have gone by every Thursday since we met her and most of the time we just listen to her talk and tell us about her life. She always has little chocolates set out for us and she absolutely LOVES it when we go over. She even tried paying us to listen to her. We are so grateful that we met Aina because right after we did, we started having a lot more going on and we wouldn't have had time to do the Old Folks Home every week. Instead we get to spend a couple of hours with Aina each week. At our last visit, we brought up the Book of Mormon again and gave one to her and read out of it with her. She loved it and said that it makes so much sense that we would have a book for "our time". She is a very smart woman for being in her 80's and we love her. She also helps us with our Swedish which is a bonus.

At the Sankta Lucia Concert
Another lady that I love is Göta. She is a member and is also in her 80's. She reminds me a lot of Brita Eriksson from Kristianstad. She is always smiling and she takes a taxi about a half and hour to church every Sunday. She is pretty blind and she doesn't talk much, she just comes and sits there and smiles and loves it. So no one else can have any excuses about it being to hard to make it to church! Haha
Santa Lucia Concert
This week I was able to go to a REAL SANKTA LUCIA concert! I have heard about Sankta Lucia my whole life from dad and I always thought it was so weird that a girl would wear real candles in her hair. But it was so fun to see. Santa Lucia was a saint who died for the Christian church. It originally came from Italy but the Swedes have always celebrated it. "Sankta Lucia" wears candles in her hair because the people tried to burn her but she didn't die so they cut her in half and that is why she wears a red sash around her waist. #interesting. They sang beautiful Swedish Christmas songs and I loved being able to be a part of this tradition that I have heard so much about.
Yesterday as we were riding home on the bus, I watched the HUGE red and orange sun slowly set at three pm. It was so beautiful. This week I have been thinking a lot about slowing down. Although I love to meditate and do yoga which is very slow moving, I am also known to be pretty fast paced. I am impatient, I walk fast, and I just like things to get done! It has been a struggle with some of my companions because we all move at different paces and I always want to walk faster and just get to everything on time and then get out and keep going, going, going. So as I was watching this huge sun slowly set, I thought of the lyrics by Michael Franti, 
"Don't fear to walk slow, 
don't be a horse race, 
be a marathon." 
It is such a good reminder to slow down. To take deep breaths. To walk slowly with my companions and get to know them better. To learn to be more patient. To sit in each lesson and focus on the people I am with and not be so worried about making it to the next lesson on time. And to be able to take life with ease if things aren't going the way I planned.

This week I got a cute package in the mail from Marian and she included five awesome talks that I loved learning from this week. I am so grateful for all of the Christmas letters and gifts! I feel so loved. I CANNOT WAIT TO SKYPE HOME NEXT WEEK. I can't believe that time is already here. We won't be emailing on Monday because we are supposed to proselyte that day so I will Skype home and then write on the 26th. Love you all! Have a wonderful week before Christmas!!


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