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.

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