Monday, January 27, 2014

10 months and a baptism.

Hallelujah! One soul has been added into the fold. Morgan was baptized on Saturday and received the Holy Ghost yesterday! When we were filling up the baptismal font on Saturday, the heating went out. We tried filling buckets of water up from the kitchen sink and bathrooms and pouring it in but then all of the hot water in the whole building went out and it was FREEZING. Ice cold.
Morgan and Bishop Lindahl
Before the baptism, we watched a couple mormon messages with Morgan because they are so powerful. And then our bus friend, Marcus showed up for the baptism so we invited him to watch mormon messages with us. He was not interested at all but he came in and watched. Then we asked him if he would pray and he said he had never done that before and I said "just try" :). He said okay- so we all bowed our heads and closed our eyes and it was completely silent. I opened my eyes to see Syster Hosenfeld and Morgan with their heads bowed and with smiles on their faces and then Marcus opened his eyes and said "amen" and we all repeated amen. And I was just smiling because I love this work and these people. The spirit was very strong and we all just sat there in silence for a while. Here we were with Morgan who was getting baptized and Marcus who is "atheist" and wanted nothing to do with the church when we first taught him in November... But now he was at the baptism, in our church, watching mormon messages and praying. :) As a missionary you truly see so many people changing their lives even if it doesn't always result in a reactivation or a baptism.
Morgan's baptism started at five p.m. and we had a lovely program. Karin Bergman spoke about baptism and Senja bore her testimony on the Holy Ghost. Then we all moved into the font room and Morgan was BAPTIZED! He was smiling ear to ear and so was I. It was truly a wonderful experience. He will be an amazing member and addition to the Halmstad ward. Morgan was glowing the rest of the night and he looked so happy. I just kept thinking of this scripture in Alma 26:30 "And we suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this that perhaps we might be the means of saving SOME soul, and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some." 
My joy is full. It made everything so worth it to watch one soul come unto Christ. All of the tracting, the contacts, the "no's", the tired legs, the sad heart for those who do do not want to listen- it is worth it to watch the one go under the water and come back up clean. Present at the lesson we had an investigator, a less active, and Morgans boss came and he left holding a book of mormon. 
i   l o v e    m i s s i o n a r y    w o r k. 
I love watching people change their lives.

We were laughing the other day at all of the things that happen to us or that we experience that we are soo used to. Like the sun going down at 4 pm (now 5!), the silence everywhere especially on buses- no one talks to each other... people answering the door with no clothes on, the rude things people say to us, everything closing at 6 pm, people shutting their door on us or just shaking their heads at us... people blowing smoke in our faces, people just completely ignoring us or giving us the weirdest looks. hahaha it's all a good time. The best comment we got this week was when Syster Hosenfeld asked a lady how she was doing and the lady said "who is asking" Sys H: "me..." and then I stepped in and explained that we come from the United States so that is why we sound weird and ask people questions and she said "ohhh.... you come from United "Bluff" States of America." ... hahahahahahahahaha then she rolled her eyes and mumbled something and walked away... come on people...!

We met with the coolest lady this week from... TRANSYLVANIA... It is a real place and normal people live there! Not just vampires hahaha. And I think she is my favorite person EVER. She is in her 60's and we talked to her on the street and she asked us if we would come to her house so we could talk! We went over there this week and she told us that she had read that we didn’t drink coffee so she made us fresh squeezed orange juice :). 

Everything in her apartment is so artsy and she told us that she moved here to Sweden just to see and learn from another culture. She told us how she enjoyed watching how these people lived, eating what they eat, and talking how they talk. It was very inspiring. She has been reading a lot about Hinduism and she is just open and interested in learning more about the world. She gave us cheese and tomatoes and chocolates and made us feel at home. As we began teaching her she ran to the other room and grabbed a pen and some paper and started writing notes. It was awesome. People like her who are real and down to earth- who are unique and authentic, remind me to open up my eyes and see the world in a different perspective and to just love and enjoy the time that I am given to live and learn.
I have been thinking about my testimony this past week and how much it has grown over the past ten months. My testimony in high school was merely that I just wanted to be good. I wanted to believe and I tried to live the gospel in the way that I understood it. I felt the spirit in my life when I went to church and participated in good things but quite honestly, I was not always worthy of the spirit. My desire to know that the church is true was there, but it wasn't enough to keep me on a sure foundation... it was just kind of there.
p-day adventure
At the time that the announcement was made that I at age 19, could serve a mission, I felt prepared and ready. I just thought it would be a good experience. I prayed about it and within a week I felt that I should go. I got all of my paper work turned in the following week and then prepared for the following four months. I remember the stake president asking me to bear my testimony to him and I didn’t really know what to say. I believed that all of this was true but it made me a little scared that I wasn't for sure and that I didn't know very much about the gospel. I didn't understand what Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith had sacrificed so that we could have this gospel on the earth... My testimony was so small and so simple that I pretty much just trusted in the phrase that "God is my Heavenly Father, he loves me and I love him." I really just knew that God loved me.

I wrote this testimony before I entered the MTC, in the front of my English scriptures. "On my mission i want to strengthen my testimony, and use it as a witness that this church is true. I want to serve and bless my family now and my future family. I hope that my testimony and beliefs will be my foundation and an example to others of who I am when they see me. I am grateful for this gospel and for its promises and blessings. I believe that this is the only true church of Christ and as I learn of his teachings and example, I hope to become more like him. To walk in his footsteps, to love and serve as he did. I am grateful for Joseph Smith and for his curiosity to search and willingness to be guided by the Lord. I love my Heavenly Father. He guides me and loves me."

 I remember writing this and feeling so sure that this was a good and strong testimony- strong enough to help me become a missionary and help me through the hard days. But as I read it now, I can see with the words that I used like "I want to", "I hope that", & "I believe" ...that my testimony before my mission was a desire to actually gain a testimony. I wish I could have gained a testimony earlier in my life but it has been a very humbling experience to watch it grow out here on my mission as I have come to the realization of how imperfect I am and of how much I am in need of the gospel. 

Through feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and discouragement on my mission.... I have been filled with love, light, and security as I decided to give up my past life that I had been holding onto for the first rough months of my mission, and as I decided to hand my life over to Christ. I decided to trust in the gospel that I was here to share and I decided to humble myself and become a learner. I realized that my way was not His way. I took a few steps back and stopped trying to take charge. I instead followed. Followed my companions, the spirit, and the Lord and his teachings. 

At first I felt like a failure because I started noticing everything that I had been doing wrong- but then I quickly remembered my Savior and turned my thoughts, words, and actions towards Him. I now understand why my brother Jesus offered His life for the world. He did it because he KNEW... he already knew that we were going to make mistakes, that we were going to be imperfect and that we were in need of a Savior- of a glimpse of hope that we are not failing!

I have a testimony of daily repentance. I have a testimony that Christ’s atonement is p e r s o n a l. I have a testimony of personal prayer and of trials and weaknesses because they keep me humble. I have a testimony of missionary work and that the only way we know these things about the savior is through the Book of Mormon. It is my foundation. It is true. I have a testimony in the Prophet Joseph Smith and I love him for what he did for this church. I know that it is through him that we have the priesthood on the earth and that we have a true and living prophet to guide us in these hard times of living in a world where temptations and sin are all around us. I know these things because of a little seed- a small desire that I planted long ago has now been nourished and I have received my answer. I didn't come here to be converted but I am so grateful that I have been. I am so happy.

My favorite missionary quote: When you're homesick, work. When you're sad, work. When you're struggling, work. When you're sick, work.

I love you all.
love sis c.

Monday, January 20, 2014

winter has finally arrived.

ready to face the winds
Åh- this week has been busy busy!

First of all. IT SNOWED!!! It finally snowed on Wednesday which was one of the highlights of my week. (Not Syster Hosenfeld's though. haha.) But since we live on a resort we are lucky and have people come and shovel all of our walks :) AND we have heated floors in our apartment! Not kidding. But both of my heating pads that you made mom, have burnt in the microwave... Tyvärr. 

a guy shoveling our walks
One of my favorite things about contacting is the responses that we get from people. I will give you a few examples...

- Two girls
Us: What do you think our purpose is here on earth?
Them: To go around and ask people questions
Us: (HAHA not our purpose as missionaries, duh..) No, what is our purpose as people?
Them: I don't understand
Us: (ok forget it...) *explain for the 7th time*
Them: Ohhh!... I don't actually know, I've never thought about it.

- Old Lady
Us: Excuse us, we come from the U.S. to talk to people about why we are here on...
Woman: No.
Us: Ok, thanks anyways, have a nice day!
Woman: *Ten seconds later half way down the street* Don't you have anything better to do?!
Us: no..

- Lady in wheel chair
Us: Excuse us, we are here as...
Lady: I really love it when people stand right in front of me
Us: ...... :/

- Most adults
Us: Hejsan...
Them: I'm not interesting
Us: that's okay! We just want to share a message with you about God. Okej... hej då.

- Most teenagers
Us: Hej, we come from the USA to t...
Them: Oh cool! I have been/ want to go to (one of the three) California, Florida, or New York.
Us: (yes i'm sure you do)

first snow of my mission
This year we have started counting our contacts to report for the mission and we are supposed to have 70 random contacts every week. Last week we had 80 and this week we had 85. (not counting planned contacts or tracting). I can already see that this has been inspired from our mission president. We had 20 lessons last week and 23 lessons this week. 
#selfie. hahaha I bought a boy clip on accident and so I just keep it on my scriptures but I wore it this week! hahaha
Syster Hosenfeld and I were talking about when we first came here to Halmstad in October and we wanted so badly to get 20 lessons. We worked so hard but no one wanted to listen and we got discouraged. It has been amazing to look back on all that has happened since then, when we had no one to teach, starting from ground zero. We really were holding on to WHOEVER we could get to listen to us. I think we were lucky that first month to be getting five lessons. 
But, over time we have seen some serious miracles. It has been a testimony builder to me to never get discouraged with the work, because things always work out. It always gets better. And this whole experience in Halmstad has actually taught me to notice the smallest of miracles. Because it's the small miracles that get me through. Like finding my lost glove on the bus or talking to someone that believes in God on the street.
Ingvor every Wednesday
I have been very humbled this week as we woke up each morning having no plans or having a lot of plans fall through and by the end of the day having a lot of success. I went to bed many times thinking "okay, tomorrow is going to be a tough one to get through because we have been so blessed today" and then by the next night I am in awe with all that we are able to accomplish. I am so grateful. 

We taught some very spiritual lessons this week. I think my favorite was with Morgan. We hadn't seen him since last Sunday because he worked a lot this week and Syster Hosenfeld and I were a little nervous because we hadn't heard from him for 6 days. We got on the bus and the first thing he said was "I've got a lot of questions for you two today." *nervous.* 

We got to the church and he had some questions about what he had been reading in the Book of Mormon. They were questions that I had never even thought about before or heard so neither of us knew what to say. I said a little prayer that I would be able to know how to answer him and I just opened my mouth and started talking. It was an unreal experience. The spirit was so strong and I was in shock with the words coming out of my mouth because what I was saying was all new news to me. 

After I answered his questions he just said something like, "ok- can't argue against that"... No one can argue against the spirit. Because the spirit speaks truth. It testifies. It pierces the soul (helaman 5:30). It is the converter. I am so grateful that we were worthy of the spirit and that the spirit could speak through us and answer Morgans questions.
coming home from helsingborg zone training
We taught him about the priesthood and watched a Mormon message video. Tears ran down my cheeks as I realized how grateful I am for the power of the Priesthood. And how blessed we are to have the priesthood restored to the earth in these last days. After bearing our testimonies, we asked Morgan how he was feeling about his baptism this week and he said: excited
I love my necklaces :) I have not taken them off since I received each of them.
I got the cutest necklace in the mail from my mama this week. It was a Utah charm. I just held it and cried because I love Utah and home so much. It was so special to me. On the mission I never want to tell people that I am from Utah because most every missionary is from there and no one knows where Utah is unless they are Mormon or have heard about the mormons. But as I looked at this little Utah charm, I just thought of how excited I was to wear it- LOUD AND PROUD. It truly is a beautiful place. I am so lucky to live in a state with ten temples surrounding me and an lds church on almost every corner. :) I love the mountains and I love the stories of the pioneers walking the trails to get to this beautiful state. 
sorry for all of the selfies this week. Its just easier to take them myself then to ask sys hosie hahaha
Have a wonderful week! I am sorry this is all over the place. I always have so many stories about our investigators and the work and everything but the thoughts on my mind usually take up the majority of my letters. haha thank goodness for my journals who have all of my stories :)


P.S. As we were taking the bus into town yesterday to church, Syster Hosenfeld asked me what I was thinking about and I said "I was thinking about all of the time that I wasted when I was home before my mission, just sitting around or watching movies- and it scares me to think of all of the things I could have been doing!" She laughed at me because I am seriously in weird missionary mode.

a letter I got from an Olympus High Missionary!
"Dear Adelide, I do not mean to come off as strange or creepy in anyway, but I absolutely loved hearing your 2013 goals in the Olympus Newsletter!  In fact, I loved them so much, I wrote them on a paper that I have hanging on my bulletin board titled as "Adelide's 13 Steps to Better"!  Thank you so much for being such an example to me and for all the amazing work that you are doing.  I really do admire you and your kindness.  Hopefully, after the mission, we can get together sometime. 
Love you lots!
Sisar Victoria Vincent (Next door, in Finland) "

Monday, January 13, 2014

turn around

broken umbrella

What a wonderful week. We were so excited and ready to get back to the normal schedule this week that we stepped it up quite a bit with our work and saw some serious miracles. We were exhausted yesterday and I was so excited to go to bed, but once I was in bed my mind was racing with thoughts of all that has happened this past week that I don't remember ever falling asleep. haha.

A couple weeks ago we taught a lesson to an investigator in the library and there was a lady sitting at the computer who asked us which church we are from and we told her that we are Mormon. She told us that her cousins in Africa are Mormon and that she would like to meet. (fine if we have to...) ;). We met with her this week and actually found out that she had been baptized while visiting her cousins when she was twelve but she doesn't know anything about what we believe. She also told us that she had heard us a couple times before, teaching in the library and she went home and wrote on facebook "Two beautiful girls talking about Jesus in Sweden!? What!?" And then she said that everyone liked it and commented on it "no way." Hahaha. But yay. What a cool find. We have some reactivating to do!

Swedish Liahona article about my 7 generations of serving in Sweden!
On Tuesday, I pulled out a letter that papa had sent me in April, and it touched me so deeply. He told me stories from his mission and I just kept thinking, "wow. He was such an incredible missionary." I just sat there and sobbed. It gave me a renewed will to give this work my all. The same day I read his letter, I got a letter from mom in the mail that said her boss, Ellis Ivory, told their whole staff that papa on his mission, would knock on people's doors and then just walk inside and say "I've got a message that you're going to want to hear." haha I love him. In his letter to me he told how when he got to Michigan, all of the missionaries were baptizing about one person per year. An apostle, LeGrand Richards came to his mission and interviewed papa and this is from his letter: 

"Elder Richards said to me 'Elder Brinton, how many people did you challenge for baptism last month?' I told him there were twelve. Then he asked, 'And how many of them did you baptize?' I told him fifteen. He asked me how I did that, and I told him that we had become challenging and testifying missionaries. Then I told him how we got everyone on their knees to pray and taught them how to pray, and the spirit of the Lord converted them." Papa said that they would go in, teach a lesson, and then he would get on his knees and bow his head and just sit there. He said "As I kneeled, I could still see their feet. Most everyone would get down on their knees. It was awkward, but I would stay on my knees until the investigators came to their knees. Then once everyone was on their knees, I would ask the head of the house to offer the prayer. Once I would ask that question, I would go silent and just wait with my head bowed. If the time was longer than about 30 to 60 seconds, I would say something like, "Have you ever said a prayer out loud?" Usually they would say no. Then I would say , let me teach you how to pray."

It is the spirit of the Lord that converts investigators. And that spirit and conversion comes through prayer. This month and year my main goal has been to be more focused on prayer. And this week, my testimony of prayer has been strengthened tremendously. At the beginning of January, like I told of last week, I wrote down a list of positive thoughts. Every day this week I have spent many minutes down on my knees praying for these thoughts, these desires of my heart to happen. One of them was answered this week in a way that I am so grateful for and will be for the rest of my life. It is too personal to share but I just had to write that to say: PRAYER IS AWESOME. 

Another one of them has to do with something that we as missionaries are focused on which is... baptism. I have been praying every day telling Heavenly Father that "I know we are going to baptize this month." Not that I hope we will but that I know we will. We had a baptismal date with Erik for January 18th and although he is still positive, we will be pushing his date back a bit. The other baptismal date that we had was with Morgan for February 15th. So from the looks of it, I was pretty sure that it was going to be hard to find someone or change the dates for these two investigators for January. Syster Hosenfeld and I talked about it a lot and we decided that it wouldn't hurt to just ask Morgan if he would change his date to be on January 25th.
We met with Morgan on Friday and taught him the law of tithing and he gladly accepted. We then asked him how he has been feeling about his baptismal date and he said "good, but I have actually been thinking of postponing it." What!? This contridicted what we had planned on asking him, but following the spirit we told him our thoughts and asked him if he would be baptized on January 25th. He replied that, that date is way too soon and that he for sure wants to be baptized in February. We asked him to at least pray about it and he agreed. I hoped that he would pray but I was also a little doubtful because it did not sound like he was too excited about changing the date. 

We met again on Saturday and asked him if he prayed and he said "Yes, and... I want to be baptized on January 25th." WHAT!? I was shocked. I actually think I screamed a little. haha. He said that he prayed, went to bed, and received an answer that it is time and that he needs to take the next step. I offered a quick prayer of gratitude in that moment because all three of our prayers had been answered. We expressed our joy for him and told him what we need to do in the next two weeks for him to be baptized. We said "we know that your date to quit drinking coffee is on the 19th but if you are getting baptized on the 25th you will need to quit before then." And he said, "good because I had my last cup this morning, I am all out and decided to quit today." He came to church yesterday, a little tired, and we have now taught him all of the lessons.

Being a part of Morgan's conversion process has been amazing. He was prepared from the first day we met him on December 12th, and within a month he went from smoking 20 cigarets a day and about 7 cups of coffee a day, to quitting. And he had been doing that for about the past 25ish years. I am so happy for him. So so happy. 

In dad's email last week he quoted Les Mis when the priest says to Jean Val Jean, "there is more joy in heaven over the soul of a repentant sinner than the white silk robes of a hundred just men." Which is an awesome quote especially because it applies to everyone, we are all in need of repentance. But dad then said 

"It is interesting how we are perfectly happy about good righteous people, but there is something special about folks who stray and then return home. A cool word in Hebrew that goes along with the prodigal son narrative is Qetsatsa- it means coming home. The prodigal son is a story about all of us- we are all wandering and the promise of the gospel is that whenever we 'come to ourselves' whenever we find ourselves and turn around, our father is waiting for us with open arms. He celebrates our return." 

I love that. My favorite word in Swedish is "Omvända sig" which means to repent but what it really means translated directly is: to turn around. So whenever we ask new investigators what the word means they explain to us what it means to turn around which perfectly describes repentance, turning around or turning your life around.

The gospel changes lives. Prayer changes lives. I am so grateful for this week and for all that I am able to experience here. So many incredible people and stories.

Adel adel


Monday, January 6, 2014

36 Countries

I know you just heard from me four days ago but here I am again, to tell you about my journey here in Sweden.

Highlights of the past couple of days:
- We went to a beautiful art museum last Thursday on our P day
- Morgan quit smoking! He is so awesome. He just accepts everything that we teach and is changing his life.
- Your Christmas package found its way to me!! I was shocked and sooo happy!  But it was not one of the ones that got shipped to Germany so I am guessing that it was the Christmas tree one and another one that are in Germany. I don't know what the other one would have been... BUT I AM SO HAPPY THAT IT CAME!!! Thank you thank you thank you. I loved the gluten free treats, scarves, tights, candy, etc. You are so thoughtful. I especially loved the letters and the little leather journal. You know me so well.

I was also so excited to get the postcard of the painting of Jesus with the angel. Both mom, dad, and Camille wrote me about that painting that came from Denmark to BYU's art exhibit. It is such a beautiful painting and the way that all three of you described its' magnificence made it even more beautiful, because it was so personal to each of you. I love that short scripture in Luke 22:

 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
That is a verse that I had not noticed before but it is so powerful because even Christ needed an angel to comfort him in his time of despair.
I love your ideas (mom&dad) of positive thinking and writing down your positive thoughts of what you want to happen in your lives. I too have started doing this and it has helped me to be happier and have more hope in the work and in my life. I wrote down a list of things that WILL happen this month and as I go through this list each morning as I and tell Heavenly Father my thoughts, I realize that positive thinking is setting goals with faith. And from the words of Roald Dahl "If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
baby Matilda
Yesterday when I bore my testimony in relief society, I got a little choked up when I was talking about WHY I get up every morning at 6:30 to do the same work everyday. And WHY I not only wake up, but I jump out of bed with a smile on my face as I get on my knees in gratitude for the chance to share the gospel again. Everyday is a good day. I am so blessed to have this time in my life to just focus on serving. I love my mom's little reminders that I will never have this time again, because it. is. true. I will never have this time again to focus all of my thoughts, actions, and energy to serving and loving. Which scares me but also helps me to appreciate every single day.
A heated chair in the middle of Halmstad. #soartsy
I have been writing down all of the countries where people I have taught come from and this is my list from the past nine months.
- Sweden
- Albania
- Greece
- Ghana
- Syria
- Turkey
- Iraq
- Iran
- America
- Spain
- Chile
- Columbia
- France
- Nigeria
- The Congo
- Ecuador
- Denmark
- Iceland
- Afghanistan
- Bangladesh
- Morocco
- Uganda
- Barbados
- Philippines
- Nepal
- Pakistan
- Bulgaria
- Serbia
- Germany
- Russia
- Finland
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Brazil
- China
- India

How cool is that? I have learned so much about the world and about other cultures as I have been here and as I look at each of these places, I can think of specific people that have come from each of these amazing countries with such different backgrounds, and I have had the opportunity to share our message with them. I am so lucky.

elder zaugg . . . my district leader again
Have a wonderful week! Happy 24 years of marriage to my beautiful parents.

Love me

I know I look really scared in the jumping picture its because a car was coming right at me hahahaha

Thursday, January 2, 2014

nine months &

Syster Hosie and me on an excursion to Båstad
 I feel like I have not written for quite some time and I have so many thoughts so I apologize in advanced for the length. I do have to say that my Christmas here in Sweden could not have been better and may have been my favorite Christmas so far... which is really saying something because Christmas at home is always amazing. 
Christmas morning in our apartment. Hosie's mom sent us the tree :)
But, I think this is my first Christmas that I really focused on what is important, while also having fun with the ward members here, and enjoying the one hour of seeing your faces. It was actually quite strange for me to skype home- I had so many thoughts and emotions of missing home but of realizing how much I love it here and want to be here and also of how much I have changed while being gone for the past nine months. Yes. I have been gone for nine months! I hit my half way mark last week- this whole mission thing really does go too fast. 
baby Matilda
Christmas eve was spent at the Bishops. Senja, (pronounced Senia not SenJa... mom...haha) had breakfast all ready when we went over and we spent the day eating lots and lots of food. It was so much fun. 
swedish food
While I was talking to y'all on skype, The Tomten came and gave out presents to the kids. I didn't get to see it but I watched a video and it was so cute- such a fun tradition. He comes in and the kids go up to him one by one and they have to sing a song before they can receive their present. And he brought all of the missionaries presents! 
Senja gave us the cutest cook book, and the bishop's sisters also gave us gifts. We were lucky ducks to be able to be here in Halmstad over Christmas. On Christmas day, we woke up and opened presents in our apartment and then went over to the church with the elders and made lots and lots of American pancakes to take to the Källberg's for breakfast. 
breakfast at the Källbergs
We spent the whole day with them eating a lot more and playing lots of card games. The next two days were spent with different families all day. It. was. the. best. ever. 
Playing card games with ginormous cards
And... We are staying here in Halmstad for at least 6 more weeks! I am happy because I absolutely love it here and we have so much going on with the work. I am just hoping it snows sometime soon :). We did lose our district leader, Elder Bilodeau and our new district leader is... ELDER ZAUGG. Haha. He was my district leader in Kristianstad so he has been with me with all of my companions that I have had so far on the mission. 
cooking with elder
I got a news article in the mail from Nana and Papa about Sweden. It talks about Peter Forsgren and his brother John and it was so cool for me to read and be reminded of my family ties with Sweden. Ann Källberg was so shocked when I told her about Peter Forsgren being my 7th great grandpa. She said "your family is the reason that we have the church here in Halmstad." 
not fake
It meant so much to her which was cool for me to see because although I know he and his brother settled the church here in Sweden, it sometimes seems like a story instead of something that has really changed and influenced so many lives here in Sweden. I am grateful to be serving in this beautiful land following the footsteps of my fourth great grandfather down to my grandpa and my daddy.
svensk kyrka
It has been a wonderful year. I have had so many incredible experiences and adventures in 2013, and I know it will always be a year that I look on with joy and gratitude. As I reflected on my goals that I made last year, I remember the feelings that I had as I sat at my desk that dad built for me in my room, listening to my favorite music, and wondering what 2013 was going to be like. Everything was so up in the air. 

I knew I was going on a mission to Sweden but I had no idea what adventures were in front of me. So with out knowing too much or having too many expectations, I made very simple goals of what would encourage me and help me accomplish something great as I headed towards the unknown. 
Our adventure in Bastad
I re-read my goals often throughout the year and I tried my hardest to fulfill them. I love goal setting because it helps us reach objectives and perfection- which is what we are here to do on earth. Goals motivate us to do and to become. 

My goals were to 
1. Love everyone, love everything you do, love your choices. 
2. Do not give up 
3. Serve nine months of your mission. 
4. Realize your potential and work for it 
5. Gain a stronger testimony 
6. Don't regret anything! (Recently added: besides dying your hair brown- that, you can regret) 
7. Discover new talents 
8. Write everyday 
9. Do YOUR best 
10. Be healthy 
11. Practice yoga and meditation 
12. Uplift yourself and others
13. When you are sad, confused, depressed, angry or frustrated... sing, do service, be grateful, exercise, love, laugh, and write down your emotions and then let them go. 
these poor boots. I might as well sleep with them on because i wear them every. single. day. hahahahhaha
Although these goals were very broad, I am grateful I chose them in this way because I feel like I accomplished them in my own way as I kept growing and learning new things this past year. It was hard to make specific goals when I knew that I would be leaving on a journey that I couldn't quite comprehend what it was going to be like. I knew that I would grow and that it would be wonderful and that is exactly what it has been. 
A beautiful Swedish Church
And as I go through those goals, I can think of specific times on my mission where I really learned to achieve them. Now, I know what I am doing out here and my goals are more specific to what it is that I can do and achieve for the next nine months and also when I return home. This year my goals were made through a lot of scripture study and prayer so that I would be guided to know what it is that I can work on in 2014. 
we accidentally twinned
The new year celebration was wonderful. We went to bed at 9:30 and set our alarms to wake up at 11:30. When the alarm clock went off, both of us didn't want to wake up because we were so tired. But we got up and got dressed warmly and went outside and met Marcus, our bus friend. We walked down to the beach and set our towels out and waited for about fifteen minutes until it was 12:00... the new year. I layed back in the sand and looked up at the black sky filled with stars with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and I just thought.... wow. I felt like I was in a dream. 
The stars were so bright and I felt so happy. Happy because I am so blessed to be here. It was a moment that couldn't be captured on camera- only enjoyed. So I laid there enjoying the fact that it is January and its warm enough to be outside, and I am laying on the beach in Sweden with two great people that I would have never met in my life if I didn't come here. At midnight, the fire works started going off- they were HUGE and so beautiful. They would go up so high, right over our heads and then slowly float down and touch the ocean- lighting everything up on the beach, ocean, and in the sky. And then off in the distance people were sending off lanterns- just like the ones in Tangled. 
(by the way, we were allowed to stay up that late :))) ) 
Well, Happy New Year dear ones! I am so grateful for the fun we have been having and I am ohh soooo ready to get back to work. Relaxing on a mission is not possible. I tried yesterday and I almost went insane. Thank you for your love and letters and prayers and goodness. I am so excited for Grace! It's so crazy that she is in the MTC. She will love it and she will be an amazing missionary. I am hoping you will forward me her emails once she starts writing home.

Jul Must- special Christmas drink
my plate...straight veggies
the kids watching donald duck (kalle anke- a swedish tradition every christmas at 3 pm!)