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!)                         

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