Monday, April 28, 2014

splitting up the a-team


This week fleewww by- We had a successful week and were laughing and talking about how excited we were to skype home to our families together in a couple of weeks, when we got a call from President Newell saying that LaFontaine is leaving me!!! We were SHOCKED. We thought we for sure had another 6 weeks together. 

He told us that we have been the a-team (Sister LaFontaine had to explain to me what that was... it's like "the dream team") here in Katrineholm and he was very happy about the work that we have done together. And we are too. It feels like it went so fast but we were able to accomplish all that we could accomplish together. AND... SISTER CHRISTISON (EMI) IS GOING TO BE MY NEW COMPANION. I said "wait who???" Just to make sure that I heard him right. I am so excited. She will get here on Wednesday :))) (Adelide and Emi are friends from Highschool!)

On Monday last week, we went to a family's house for dinner who actually invite the missionaries over quite often. They are not members nor are they progressing investigators... but they are the coolest family. They believe strongly in their own bible and in a Korean Messiah. The dad is Swedish and the mom is from Japan. Their wedding was arranged but it has worked out very well because they both have the same strong core beliefs. They have three daughters and they live in a cute red barn house in the middle of a field with a huge garden. 
The dad is really into bird watching which I love. He showed me all of his bird books and pictures (because I am the only one interested in that sort of thing) and then on the drive home he stopped at all of the lakes so that we could get out and look at the birds :) I am grateful that although they don't believe in what we believe in, they think it is very important that we missionaries get fed and feel at home... and I love them for that. 
As for Katrineholm and our branch... The Tolleys' got taken back out because our branch is functioning a lot better! There is a man in our ward, Brother Palomino, who is from Peru and his wife is from Chile. They have five kids and they used to be inactive. But then the missionaries worked with them and got them back to church and a couple months ago Brother Palomino was called to be in the Branch Council. He has been amazing and has really stepped it up. They are doing so much for the Branch. He is a Doctor, has five kids, and is now pretty much running the branch. His kids are all awesome- they go around and make sure that they hug every single member of the branch- young or old. It is pretty cute. 
They have been working on a song with us four missionaries for the past two weeks. It is a song about Christ Brother Palomino and his oldest son play on the guitar and we finally did it in church yesterday! It went well. It was worth the hours of practicing mostly because we got fed by them two Saturdays in a row :) ahhaha. But really it was torture. They kept trying to have Sister LaFontaine and I do this duet part and we could NOT for the life of us get it. Hahaha it was so embarrassing! We just kept singing the exact same tune. We are not the most talented singers but we do enjoy singing the hymns together every morning with a smile on our faces. 
The bad news is that we need a new location for our branch... We have a while until we have to move but we are not having any luck finding anything. But the branch has really been coming together to pray and fast for finding a new location. It is hard especially because we don't have enough people coming to church to build a chapel... It is stressing out the members that there won't be a place for them to go but I AM NOT WORRIED! If it is the Lord's will... I am positive that He will guide us to a place that will be perfect and that these wonderful members will be able to gather together to take the sacrament. 
Another hard thing is that the Yasavolians have to move from their apartment in Vingåker because they got residency. Vingåker is the best and the worst. It's the best because that is where we have most of our success but it is the worst because the people living there are not there for good. Two of our investigators, Abraham and Nour both moved this last week as well... It is hard because we are trying to build up the branch in Katrineholm so it doesn't help when the people keep moving away... Which is why we are focusing on less active work. BUT there is good news! One of our less actives, Nils, is now considered active! We have been meeting with him for the past 3 months and he has been coming to church almost every single week! yay. 
As for everything else... The sun is shining, I went down from 5 blisters to 2, I have found a new love for lemon sparkling water (the Swedes drink sparkling water rather than normal water and I used to hate it but now I love it!), strawberries are starting to sell on the sides of the road, we helped Cat move AGAIN this week, and a fun food market came to us for three days this week! It was the same one that was in Kristianstad in the summer AND it came to Halmstad in the fall. We had fun going there with members and less actives and investigators to look around, eat, and have a lesson. :) I feel re-energized with the sun being out! And I can't believe Grace is still getting snow in Canada! She is tough.
This week I have been so grateful that the church teaches us to live in the present. To love and enjoy today, to become better today, to be happy today. To not take thought for tomorrow because tomorrow will take thought for itself (3 NE 13:34). Like dad wrote to me, it is so important that we find deep meaning to our lives. A lot of times we think that one day things will get better or that maybe we can change our bad habits in the future. But God teaches us that is not so. We need to repent today and be happy today. If there is anything that I have realized, it is that time moves so fast! 
And we have the opportunity to make each day the best day or the worst day. We get to choose if we are going to be learners and accomplish-ers for the day. Happiness, faith, gratitude, learning, and growth are the things that bring meaning to our lives. When I focus on the here and now, I see so much beauty in my life... so many blessings. I am so grateful to be on a mission. I am grateful that I can live in the present and that I don't have to dwell on my past and on my mistakes... I can look forward and move forward in HOPE. I have the power to change today! I am grateful for today because its sunny and we are going to have so much fun together on our last preparation day. I am grateful to be in Katrineholm with this small branch. I love it. I love my life. I love what each day teaches me. I love the gospel. 
have a fantastic week.

love adelide

Monday, April 21, 2014

glad påsk

happy easter!

Yesterday I was sitting on my bed looking out the window- the sun was shining and it looked so warm. I was preparing for the day and for my personal study and I was just sitting there thinking about past Easters with my family and also about why Easter is celebrated... The Swede's have a tradition of tying feathers onto branches and then waiting for the branches to blossom. It is cute and fun, but also a good reminder of "new beginnings".
Which to me, is what Easter, and spring, are all about. It is about newness and beginning again. It is the time when animals are born, flowers begin to blossom and trees get their buds... It is a reminder of the Hope that comes from the Savior... that through his Atonement we can begin again- start over- turn a new corner. And it is hope that through His resurrection, we will one day rise again and be able to live in the presence of God.
I think this may have been my favorite Easter- I may have said that last year when I was in the MTC sitting in a room among 4,000+ missionaries all partaking of the sacrament together... But this year, Easter means more to me than it ever has because it is the first year that I really understand the WHY. It has never felt so personal to me in my life.
Of course it has been fun to celebrate the Swedish Easter traditions as well. This is my only Easter in Sweden so I just enjoyed every minute of it! On the Thursday before Easter, all of the little boys and girls dress up like witches and go around to the houses and give their neighbors a letter that they wrote and yell "Glad Påsk!" And in return they receive "Godis" (candy). I think the Swedes are a little mixed up between Halloween and Easter hahaha. But the real reason why they do that is because apparently on that Thursday, the witches used to travel to "Blåkulla"- Blue Hill and have a dinner with the Devil. All of the homes would lock their doors and shut off their chimneys to make sure that no witches entered into their homes. Unfortunately we were out in Vingåker on Thursday (I think there is a total of 10 real Swedes who live there- mostly immigrants) So we only saw one witch... BUT- one of the houses that we tracted said they weren't interested and we said "ok but happy easter!" And they gave us candy hahaha. #score.
On Friday we had an Easter party with our branch where we painted eggs (they don't dye eggs, just paint them with water colors) and had a real Swedish Easter lunch which consists of bread, butter, anchovies, tomato, boiled egg, and cucumber and if you're really daring, you can spread caviar on- which comes in a tube... (I had a piece of lettuce with tomato and cucumber.) :)
Besides Easter, we saw so many miracles this week. On Tuesday in our District Meeting, we all decided as a district to change the way that we are praying. To give more thought to our prayers and more faith. In preach my gospel it says that "effective prayer requires great effort." God wants to hear all of our thoughts and what is going on in our lives, not just the repetitive prayer that all of us sometimes give.
 I always think this is so interesting because God knows all of our thoughts before we tell him, but I think it is an act of faith to be able to kneel down and tell him what did or didn't go well during our day. And when we do that, he can answer our prayers and bless us because he knows that we have the faith to ask and receive. So this week, with more faith, and more sincere prayers... we truly saw so many blessings and miracles in every detail of our work.
We were able to teach unplanned lessons, find new investigators, and find a less active who lives in the middle of no where who no one really knows about, and she told us to come back again this week.

One day we decided to go visit a member who is so sweet but has really been struggling lately. She lives far away so it is hard to get to her but with faith we decided to go anyways, hoping that she would be home and let us in. We knocked on her door with some cookies in hand and she answered! She was shocked to see us but she happily invited us in and said that she had just walked in the door five minutes before we knocked... We got to meet her daughter who is 26 and is in a wheel chair. She can't talk or eat by herself. She was a foster child and they adopted her when she was 10 months old. The member, and her husband, have seven kids- all of which are not active in the church and her husband is not a member, although he has taken the discussions a hundred times. He loves what we believe on "The Family" but one of their daughters who was active in our branch just got a divorce and this has been hard for the whole branch because they all looked up to them as the perfect happy family. So now her husband is doubting that it could be true.
But the member said to us, "you need to know 100 percent for your self. Our testimonies cannot be grounded in another person-  people are not perfect... we make mistakes. But God does not. He is perfect." This member is a saint. She is a hard worker and she loves the gospel and knows its true despite the fact that no one else around her does.
This week truly was perfect. We had so many other miracles and happy sunny days. Yesterday, Sister Tolley spoke in church and told us about how her and her husband still had 10 more years until retirement, but they got an answer from the Lord to serve now. So they sold EVERYTHING they owned. Their house, their cars, all of their belongings so that they could serve. She said that at first it felt like a big sacrifice but the blessings have been so much more than what she has given up. This made me think about "what are we willing to give up for the Lord?" What can I lay down at the Saviors feet so that I can more fully follow him... he asked asked us with arms extended to give up our weaknesses, sins, worldly possessions... so that he can bless us. I am so grateful for the Savior, for this work, and for this time of year. I am grateful for the small sacrifices that I have made to serve a mission... and like Sister Tolley, I have come to find that they really aren't sacrifices at all because the blessings are so much greater.

Sorry this is so long. I love you all!! Have a happy week.
xo Adelide
Meals for this week: On Saturday we had a Chilean lunch with the Palominos- a family in our branch, sushi for dinner, and a Dominican Desert- sweet beans- that the Dominicans make every year on Long Friday. It was delicious. And for Easter dinner, we had gluten free pizza with shrimp, mushrooms, and cheese from Cat. . . hahaha not exactly your typical Swedish meals.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Always be a little kinder than is necessary.


I hope you all had a wonderful week! Here is my week...

On Monday, we visited Åsa who is a less active. She is a cat lover and is obsessed with Yankee candles and I love her. Tuesday was spent in Vingåker in the rain. Wednesday was Syster LaFontaine's birthday so we woke up and went running with a member, Myriam, and then she made us breakfast! We ran back home afterwards and I gave Syster L the necklace that you sent me- IT WAS PERFECT! She loved it. Thank you Mom!! The day started out great with lots of lessons planned which ALL ended up canceling - so the rest of the day was spent tracting in the rain with no success. Hahaha Happy birthday to the ground! I felt so bad but she was positive and we had a lot of fun. It will definitely be a birthday she wont forget. And of course there are always highlights of tracting... namely... a man in his 30's with his shirt unbuttoned #hairychest, holding a HUGE orange cat, petting it the entire time we are talking to him (cat hair flying in my mouth)...
On Thursday we had Zone Training in Södertälje and then I went on Sister Splits with Sister Dawson in Handen/Västerhaninge (Stockholm-ish area). Sister Dawson was also trained by Sister Swenson AND they just got put BACK together! I am so jealous. We had a yummy member dinner which was fun. We don't get fed by the members here in Katrineholm so it makes me even more grateful for the members in Kristianstad and for Senja and other members who always feed the missionaries. It is not so much the food that we as missionaries want- but it is just comforting to be invited over for dinner- it makes us feel more at home. On Friday, I got to see the Stockholm temple again which is beautiful. Then we switched back to our areas.

We went out to Vingåker again on Saturday and taught some pretty sad people. It was a rough day... One of our members is doubting, Esther gave us the Book of Mormon back, Abraham doesn't keep committments and he is going through a rough time... our other investigators cancelled and the Yasavolians are struggeling. BUT I did realize by the end of the day that I had not foccused at all on getting numbers- but just on the people... and my desire to help them and teach them was so much stronger. I am grateful for this change in my work- it is helping me be a better missionary. It helped me focus 100% on the people we were with and on how I can really help them change and receive that hope and joy that they are searching for in their lives. 
Yesterday I decided to fast for the work here in Katrineholm and more specifically for a baptism. But as I sat in church yesterday looking at our small branch, I had an overwhelming feeling that the missionaries are sent here to strengthen the members. That doesn't mean that we should not focus on finding or teaching investigators and it does not mean that we can't baptize... but the members are really struggling. Everyone is so tired and burned out and it is hard enough to get everyone to do their callings- let alone come to church. So we have decided to really focus on strengthening and serving the members because if we don't have strong members, then it is going to be tough having a new member join. We can already see that with the Yasavolians. I am grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me to be in this area and work with these fragile people. 
I am grateful that we have the Tolley couple in our branch now. They have been good at getting things up and going. Sister Tolley got up and bore her testimony in Swedish for her first time with out using notes and when she sat down, she was crying a bit and she turned to Elder Tolley and said "That was really hard!" And he said "Well, that's the only way you learn!" She is so awesome. And I completely agree... There are so many things that are hard and uncomfortable but those are the things that truly help us grow. 
 After a long week of lots of "No's", rude responses, and trying to understand people who just operate differently than myself, I reflected a lot on why it is so important to treat people with kindness. Interestingly enough, Dad's letter today went along with my thoughts on: loving the unlovable... and the unkind. It is so easy to react with anger or frustration or to say something rude when you are offended or hurt... and that is why we must accomplish the ultimate test, as dad said... to "find the people who need to be cared for and to be lifted and to be loved-  to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them who hate you and pray for them who despitefully use and persecute you." 3 Nephi 12:44
The ultimate test is to be kind. Kindness means charity- which is the pure love of Christ. It means to have compassion, to love, and to be gentle. I love this quote that was in a talk from one of moms friends... "Three things in human life are important.The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." :) After I contacted a lady, who was not at all interested, she swung her hand down and hit mine pretty hard and stormed off. I dont think she meant to hit me but if that would have happened to me before my mission, I probably would have yelled "calllmmm dowwwwn." But luckily I have learned that the best way is to "kill 'em with kindness." I believe that Jesus Christ was the perfect example of being kind. He succeeded at "always being a little kinder than is neccessary." This is my new goal. To always be a little kinder than is necessary. To watch my words and thoughts and to be an example of what Christ would do in situations where it is harder to love and accept and be kind. 
 Have a happy Easter this weekend! I LOVE YOU.


Monday, April 7, 2014

everything will be okay.


Wow. What a wonderful week it has been!

Of course, being able to listen to the Lord's servants this weekend was a beautiful way to end the week.

At the beginning of the week, we taught a few lessons, which made me feel a little restless afterwards. I just couldn't stop thinking about our investigators and if I or we as a companionship, are really doing anything to help them come closer to Christ. We have people to meet with, of whom I love deeply, but I have been a little unsure of their desires or reasons for meeting with us. It is hard to get them to keep commitments, and I feel like we are sometimes just getting a lesson to "get a lesson". Sometimes I walk away from teaching someone thinking, "did that even change or inspire them in any way to be better?" I have also been struggling with feeling confident in the language. Almost everyone we teach only speaks English or very little Swedish, which forces us to use a lot of google translate or have someone translate over the phone. I sometimes think it would have been more useful for me to learn Arabic. (haha). But I do feel like I am just on a plateau. Not getting any better, not sounding like a Swede... just kind of drifting.  

This week as I was reading my scriptures, I came up with a new goal for me to work on... and that is: NOT DOUBTING. Just as Russell M. Nelson said in his General Conference talk, we need to have FAITH- more importantly, faith in our Savior Jesus Christ.

I feel like I have faith in the Savior. I have faith that the church is true and that I can be healed. But at times on my mission, I doubt. I doubt myself, I feel inadequate to do this work and therefore I doubt the work. I doubt that I can really help someone come to Christ. I doubt my abilities to speak the Swedish language. And even sometimes, as I approach someone on the street, I doubt that they will listen. 

She ate a burger and said "That is the LAST time I am eating a burger!"
This week as I was studying, I realized that if I REALLY loved and trusted and had full faith in the Savior, I wouldn't have any doubts. I wouldn't doubt my testimony, my ability to learn a language, the power that I have to carry the spirit with me and to testify at all times. I was promised when I was set apart that I would be able to accomplish all of these things- all of the things that I sometimes doubt... I know that I need to strengthen my faith. President Newell once said, "if the missionaries here had more faith, they would baptize monthly." I have faith, but I need more faith. Faith in Gods word, His spirit, His love, His mercy, His grace. Faith in myself, my abilities, my testimony. Faith in God's children, my brothers and sisters, that they will be prepared.
Once I focused on faith this week, I saw some miracles happen with some of our investigators. Three of them, Goltom, Abraham, and Anicet committed to stop drinking coffee. Esther, invited us back and listened to us intently. Nour, after not being able to meet for two or three weeks, answered her door and set up a time for us to meet on Tuesday. We were also able to meet with less actives and see some progression with their testimonies and wanting to come back. And we also received a call from the Elders in Malmö reporting on an investigator that we used to teach, who then moved to Malmö and was given as a referral. He is their most progressing investigator, has referred one of his friends to the missionaries, and has decided to be baptized once he receives an answer. 

Looking back on this past week, I have noticed, that maybe these small miracles have been happening all along. I have also noticed that faith is a positive word. It is an action word. So once I decided to increase my faith with the work, I was able to see the beautiful tender mercies around me and know with a surety that they are coming from God... that this is His work and he is moving it forward. Not every miracle results in a baptism. But as I see these investigators take baby steps towards becoming better, they are coming closer to Christ and they are strengthening ME and MY testimony.

I am happy that we were able to meet with Esther again. When we first sat down, she told us that she has not opened the Book of Mormon because she doesn't understand why we need another book. When she said that, my heart sank low into my stomach. I opened up the Book of Mormon and began to read. Both me and my companion bore strong testimony and afterwards she said that she wants to have a testimony like ours. She wants to be able to believe in something so strongly that she can stand up for it no matter what... I felt the spirit in the room change. I felt like she was beginning to understand a little more. I felt God'
s love for this sweet woman, and also that we need to be very patient and sensitive to her beliefs and to helping her accept the gospel. And I have faith that she will. 

Esther told us about her mother~ She said "My mother has a pure heart. I have the same body, face, and sicknesses as my mom, but I don't have her heart!" She said that every time something went wrong or they ran out of money... her mom would just turn to the kids and smile and say "everything will be okay." She had so much faith that God would not leave them comfortless. At the end of each month they would go to town and buy groceries for the next month. Esther's mother would pull out a list of names of all of the people that she knew who were suffering... and before they would make it home, she would bring food around to all of them. What an amazing example.

I loved the messages from conference. I felt like most everyone really focused on how we REALLY need to prepare. They were bold and they touched on all of the simple things like: being kind, being grounded, serving others, reading, praying, and going to church. I really hope that you all had the opportunity to really sit down and listen and take notes from these inspired leaders.

I loved President Uchtdorf's message on gratitude. I loved the power and testimony that Sister Reeves gave about standing on solid ground. I loved W. Craig Zwick's on being cautious with our words, as well as Elder Holland's on being kind. I am grateful for these reminders. . . to be MORE grateful, to be kindER, to be strongER, to stand up for what I believe a little more, and to reach out and serve those around me with more love and compassion. Because when we do these simple things, "everything, truly, will be okay." 

srrrry that this is so long! But let's be real... I could write for hours. :) The weather has been a little warmer! We made Sushi with our investigator Grace this week! I received the BEST package from my wonderful mommy! In conclusion: I have no reason not to be the happiest girl in the world.
Love u miss u. peace & blessangs.


Ps. I told my companion that I hoped my mom sent me fruit snacks instead of candy... YOU READ MY MIND. LITERALLY. I was sooo happy!! Thank you sosososo much for the packie! I LOVED everything!!