Monday, May 26, 2014

go with all your heart.


Wow- I was so spoiled last Monday with TWO packages from mom! THANK YOU. They came on a perfect day and they made me so happy. I got to see Sister Swenson TWO times this week which also brought me so much happiness because we hadn't seen each other for nine months! (since she left me in Kristianstad.) 

Sister Swensie!! (Adelide's Trainer)
I was going through my journal this morning (which I finished yesterday!) and I read a line that was bolded from last week that said: WHY IS THIS SO HARD? And then another bolded line from this week that said: WHY ARE WE SO BLESSED? I thought that was pretty funny. And of course I know the answers to both of those questions. And I hope I didn't scare anyone with my letter last week- yes it was hard, but that is not what matters. What matters is that we kept the faith and we kept going and we were so blessed this week- I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. 
Sister Young from Adelide's MTC group
In mom's package, she gave me a bracelet that says: GO WITH ALL YOUR HEART. It was perfect for this week. Sister Newell talked about the importance of LOVING what you do in our "Sister's Training Meeting" this week. I thought about this a lot this week and found that loving what I am doing, doesn't always mean that it is going to be easy or make things go the way I want them to go... BUT by finding joy in the journey, I WILL return home every night feeling completely satisfied with my efforts. I feel that because I try my very hardest to cheerfully do ALL that I can that I see so much success on my mission. 
this picture is dedicated to isam because we all served in Kristianstad :)
Everyday we accomplish something- whether it is by helping somebody else, or building my own character. It is all a part of the journey... and it comes by going with all your heart. Everyday on my mission I have written down something that I am grateful for, something that has made me happy each day, and a miracle that I have seen each day. It is never hard to pick something new and something unique... even on the hardest of days. Because everyday is so beautiful. 
As I have done this everyday, I have been able to notice the small things- the things that make each day worth it. The things that have brought me true joy and have helped me to realize that everyday has been given to serving the Lord. I couldn't ask for more success than that. 
all of the people that spoke at the sisters training
I always leave training meetings feeling a renewed energy to make new goals and to push myself a little harder- to being a little more dedicated. I wrote the following questions in my journal: 
1. How can I become a better teacher? 
2. How can I be happier and more satisfied with the work and my success? 
3. How can I become more diligent and dedicated to the work? 
4. How can I be more self confident and more humble at the same time? 
5. How can I love others more and show my love more? 
6. How can I be a better example to others? 
swe swe is beautiful :)
As I reviewed and prayed about these questions... I began writing again. And these were the answers that I came up with: 
1. LOSE YOURSELF- study for those you are teaching. 
2. LOSE YOURSELF- The work is about others- you will be happy if you stop focusing on your success and just be grateful for the opportunity to serve. 
3. LOSE YOURSELF- If I lose myself, I will stop worrying and complaining about me and will become more focused on the work. 4. LOSE YOURSELF- But first find yourself. Spend the minutes during exercise to ponder about your life. Love yourself. Love that you are unique... and then lose yourself for the rest of the day. 
5. LOSE YOURSELF- once you lose yourself you will be able to give all of your attention to loving and serving others. 
6. LOSE YOURSELF- and be more like your Savior. Live a life that is happy and adventurous. Live what you believe... and what I believe is that by losing myself- I will be: Happier, more grateful, an example, and a better teacher... Sister Newell has said that if you take YOU out of the picture than YOU will be blessed. 
we all got roses for mothers day (in sweden it was yesterday)
I saw this happen this week as we taught our investigator Frida. She is Swedish and we tracted into her on the same day that we saw the dog being roasted... I have been feeling insecure about the language recently and about other things so I was nervous going into the lesson. But it ended up being one of the most beautiful lessons I have been in. I was completely focused on Frida the entire lesson and as I did that, the Swedish came. The spirit was there. I felt confident and all I wanted to do was help Frida feel loved. She told us that as a teenager she did everything bad that you could possibly think of and then she asked "What would your church think of me?"

It was such a cool moment to look into her eyes and tell her that everyone will love and accept her no matter what but more importantly that Christ and God love her no matter what... and that they can heal her. We testified that through the atonement and through correct baptism, she can be cleansed from EVERYTHING she has ever done! What wonderful news. 
Bo Wennerlund's grandson spoke to our Branch in Katrineholm!
I thought I would share a day in the life of Sister Christison and I...

On Saturday we experienced one of the most stressful and most hilarious days on my mission. Starting at 6:30 a.m. when our alarm went off. I ran over and looked at the phone and saw that Paoline had texted us saying that she did want to go running- which also meant that we needed to bring something for breakfast because we promised that last time. So the first thing I said to Sister Christison at 6:30 am was "Paoline wants to go running- what should we bring for breakfast?" She looked at me so confused and we both stood in the kitchen trying to decided what to bring but we were so tired that our minds were NOT functioning. We just grabbed stuff, shoved it in our bags, got dressed and ran out the door. But everything went perfectly with Paoline. We run with her every Saturday and then have a lesson at her house. AND she came to church again this week! After Paoline, we ran home, did all of our studies and then got stuff ready to make lunch at the church with Grace and we left. After walking in the sun for about fifteen minutes... I stopped and said "do you have the phone?" and Sister C said no so I automatically assumed we left it at home because I could NOT remember putting it in my bag... We only had fifteen minutes to run back and get the phone, go to the store, and get to the church by 12:00.

i made home made gluten free knäckabröd!
We booked it back to the apartment- we were both in a full body sweat. We ran inside and looked everywhere for it but couldn't see it so I opened my bag and... there it was. HAHAHA. I was so mad (laughing really)- I pretended like I just grabbed it and didn't tell sis C that it was in my bag all along. We decided to take the bikes to the store and the church cause they would be faster so we get on the bikes and rode sooo fast to the store and we were dripping sweat- and when we got to the store, I realized that only my magnet was on my shirt and that my tag had fallen off :(. Luckily Sister Christison had an extra tag so we were both "Sister Christison" for the day. :) - 
We got what we wanted at the store and then got to the church and this was the highlight of my day... I put my helmet by the coat rack and walked into the kitchen and Sis C was standing there- being COMPLETELY serious- holding up a knife, a cutting board, and a tomato- with her face bright red from riding the bikes and her helmet still on and buckled up and she said: "Should I dice it or cut it in slices?" HAHAHAHA. I was DYING. We were both so stressed. 
how the swedes eat it :) Cheese and jam
I wish I had time to tell you the rest of the day events but I don't... We had the giggles so bad all day long as we kept reflecting on the day. When I was praying for us at night I started laughing so hard I could NOT for the life of me stop- So I ended the prayer and ended up telling her about the phone and how I was nervous to tell her but that I had it in my backpack the whole day! HAHAHA we laughed all night until we fell asleep. :) We are having so much fun and we were very blessed to be so busy that day.

In a letter I got from Grace (Gochnour)- she said: "We cannot slow down or waste time." WE MUST CONTINUE with all our hearts to find to teach to serve to talk to learn to grow... I love the experiences I am having here. I love serving with Sister Christison. She is so funny and we get a good laugh out of everything! I love all of you. I am so grateful for your examples and inspiring words every week! THANK YOU FOR BEING THE BEST. LOVE U.

Sister Christensen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Put your trust in Him forever.

castle in örebro

hello my dearies. . .

I don't think I could describe this week in one word. It was really quite a roller coaster- it started off okay and progressively got harder. But of course there were the few small blessings and miracles that kept me going.

We started off the week with Sister splits. I went to Örebro and was SHOCKED at how huge the buildings were there. They are not anywhere comparable to Stockholm which I have seen within the past four months- but I sometimes forget how small Katrineholm is. I kept repeating over and over again that the buildings were so beautiful and huge! I felt like I was in Sweden again! haha. When I got back to K-holm with Sis Emi, we had an awesome lesson planned with Frida, the lady that I talked about last week that we tracted into. As soon as we knocked on her door she let us in- which we were happy about but then she handed us the Book of Mormon back. My first thought was to just take the book and say "thanks anyways" but as soon as I opened my mouth- the words came out telling her (kindly) to just keep it and that maybe she will want to read it in the future. She took a huge breath and told us that her son was in the hospital and that she was not doing well but then she gave us her phone number and told us to call again next week. So that was a huge blessing. I'm grateful that the spirit knows what needs to be said more than I do.

After that, we had a full day ahead of us with nothing really planned. We did a lot of tracting and swing by's with no success. No one was answering their phones or their doors! Emi said to me " I think our phone is broken- maybe we should call the office." hahaha.

Thursday was a similar story- it was hard but we were very blessed. We had three lessons cancel on us so we prayed and tried to figure out what the Lord wanted us to do instead. We were deciding whether or not to go to Cats or out to Vingåker. We both felt that we should go to Vingåker and save Cat for another day. We walked up to the bus station but as we were walking, I had the thought to go to another bus stop instead. We waited for a bit and about five minutes later, our investigator Shila came to the same bus stop!! It was so awesome- we were both in shock because we had been trying to get a hold of her for a couple weeks. She looked surprised to see us as well but she invited us to come home to her house to have a lesson. It really is amazing how the Lord knows where we should be and what we should be doing.

Shila is from Nicaragua and came here because of her boyfriend who is Swedish. She is Christian and Sister LaFontaine and I tracted into her about a month ago. She started off asking us about the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity because she had read a little bit about it. I was a little nervous because I didn't want to scare her away- I know that she smokes, drinks, and lives with her boy friend. But we were honest with her and she didn't really say much more about it.

Emi on a bench
We taught the Restoration and it went really well. She had a lot of questions and the spirit was so strong. We taught her how to pray and she prayed for us and our families and for help to stop "sinning" so that she can feel better about herself. It was a perfect prayer. She said that she knows its bad to smoke and drink coffee because they are addictive and she knows that she needs to marry her boy friend. She said it is a lot to change but she wants to be better even if it takes some time. Both Emi and I hadn't had a lesson like that in quite a long time so we were both on cloud nine afterwards. It was the only lesson we taught that day but the rest of the day we worked hard with smiling faces because we were so grateful for that experience.  We walked out of Shila's apartment and a drunk guy on a bike road past us and yelled  "Hey! uhh.. merry christmas... and God... and all that stuff." hahhahaha and then he road his bike all wavey on the side walk- it was pretty funny. While we were tracting later that day, Emi was resting on a door that we had just knocked on and then the guy answered so she hurried and backed away which made me laugh as I was trying to contact this guy- and it did not help that he was standing there in bright pink and purple underwear... hah fail.

I am happy that we decided to continue with faith that day. The morning was hard and nothing was going right but it turned out that those other lessons canceled for a reason because we needed to teach Shila.

We are down to only two investigators which is hard but I am grateful for the two that we do have. They are not progressing a whole lot but we are working on getting them to keep more commitments. GOOD NEWS- a less active, Paoline that we have been meeting with for the past couple weeks, came to church yesterday! And Nils, who we have been teaching for the past four months, is now completely active and gave an awesome talk in church yesterday!

I guess I should have said that Sunday was the biggest roller coaster. It was a good day at church but last night around 8, I received HORRIBLE news from Sister Hosenfeld. My heart is broken and I am very confused. Missions are hard work. After talking to Sister Hosenfeld for an hour last night- I kept wondering why it is so hard to see success on our missions when the Lord has promised us success and when he has promised us that we will not fail... I looked at this situation and thought of this whole past week- how we are spending so many days barely getting one lesson, no one answered their phones or could meet, and we have lost contact with most of our investigators... But as soon as those thoughts entered my head, I got on my knees and cried to my Heavenly Father- and almost immediately I felt peace in my heart. I felt so ungrateful that I could even think that we have not seen success, especially after that one lesson with Shila.

The words that Sister Hosenfeld said to me entered my heart- and comforted me. She said that because our missions are so hard, we are growing so much and becoming so strong so that we will NEVER fall away. --- No matter what comes at me in my future, because of my mission... I WILL NOT FALL AWAY.

I never imagined my heart to get so hurt, sad, discouraged or frustrated-- but I know that I need these experiences... so at the end of the day- through all of this hard hard work and discouragement- what is most important to me is that my testimony stands as firm as ever... I KNOW that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I know that I am called to be a missionary at this time by God through our living day Prophet Thomas S. Monson... To be a representative of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know it. I know it with all of my heart. I know that I am doing the right thing. I know that by trusting in God and continuing with faith- (a lesson that I learned earlier this week), everything will be okay...

My mission has taught me so much about the importance of covenant keeping... Which a dear friend wrote me about earlier this week... She said "When we keep covenants we grow closer to the Lord and when we let even the slightest distraction get in the way of keeping our covenants, we will fall... we have to make daily choices to keep our covenants with our Heavenly Father." I have seen what breaking our covenants does to people so closely on my mission. It brings hatred, sadness, and guilt into their lives. It breaks my heart to see so many slip and fall but I am grateful for the reminder to always keep my covenants- because that is where true happiness comes. I know I can be better at teaching and living this principle.

I know that I have become fully converted on my mission and that I can say, like Nephi, that my trust is in the Lord FOREVER. I know that agency is given to each of us so that we can work out our own salvation and return home to God. My testimony has really helped me know that my mission is not a sacrifice. That I want to be here. I love this quote:

"Some outside our Church may feel that a mission is a great and unreasonable sacrifice. Our missionaries do not view it as a sacrifice. They view it as an opportunity to manifest their love to the Savior, who charged, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). They see it as an opportunity to express their love to all mankind. They see it as an opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of the world. They see it as an opportunity to build faith in Christ and to teach His saving and comforting doctrine."

- Richard Edgley

I am grateful that my mission is not over- and that it will not be over in four months. I love you all. Keep your covenants and know that they are what bring us true happiness. CHOOSE to trust in the Lord forever.

lunch I made today! Hummus- sorry not many pictures this week

Monday, May 12, 2014

365 days in Sweden!

I have been living in this beautiful country for a WHOLE YEAR! I would say that I can't believe it- but I can. I probably should be better at this whole missionary thing but I think I look the part and I can definitely feel it... hhahahaha. But that does NOT diminish the fact that I still love this place and this work the same as when I got here a year ago. In fact, I love it even more- because it has become a part of me and I am not the same as when I got off the plane in Stockholm a year ago. 
I will carry this adventure around with me for the rest of my life- the Swedish culture, language, people, art, my testimony, the lessons, the challenges, the scrapes from falling off my bike, the calisus from blisters, and the memories of walking the cobble stone streets everyday trying to find, teach, and strengthen... in the rain, in the snow, in the wind, in the sun, with a ice cream bar in my hand, and a smile on my face- or sometimes half a smile.... laughing and learning from my companions, getting the courage to open my mouth, and taking a deep breath when I am told to shut it... :) Oh- the experiences of a mission! I am so grateful to be here.
It was so fun to see my sweet family yesterday- it sounded like mom sure got spoiled on her special day. Everyone looks great and I wish that I had time to talk to you each individually- skyping is a bit awkweird, but what do ya do?. . . If anything it was just fun to see you. 
This last week was very adventurous. Some days we walked around in some areas thinking "I don't think we are in Sweden anymore..." We saw a dog being roasted, contacted over 50 muslims from Somalia and through it all, I think we spoke Swedish once. Which was actually our best contact- to a woman named Frida. She is a Swede and has four children and said that she was interested! We went back a couple days later and taught her. We introduced the Book of Mormon and have plans to go back again on Thursday! It truly made the whole day worth it- just to find Frida... The miracles that we see here in Katrineholm may seem small- but they are what carry us through each day. 
This week I read a talk that mom sent me by Richard G. Scott: Personal strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He said something about how each of us- no matter what culture, ethnicity, background etc. are born with the Light of Christ. Every single one of us has the opportunity to change and be converted. I loved this because it reminded me to open my eyes a bit more and to be less judgmental of the people. It helped me shift my focus and look at them knowing that they have the choice to accept- no matter what their religion may be or what their parents believe or what others think- they have the potential to become converted and to change. 

I also loved this sentence about changing and becoming converted through repentance... "The joyful news for anybody who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is tht the Lord sees weaknesses DIFFERENTLY than he sees rebellion." He then says 

"Unrepented rebellion brings punishment, but when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is ALWAYS with mercy." 

How comforting and lovely are those words? I am so grateful to have read that this week. Weaknesses are a part of being human. We ALL have weaknesses- our challenge is to overcome our weaknesses and turn them into strengths- which really is possible! It is also possible to repent of our human weaknesses as well as our rebellions- but I love how their is a difference between the two. 
I love a quote by Dallin H. Oaks that says: "The repenting sinner must suffer her sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment, its purpose is change." God knows that we can change. We can all turn our weaknesses into strengths- Dad pointed out to me once that the scripture Ether 12:27, does not just mean that we can overcome our individual weaknesses like impatience, but that we can put off the natural man- pride, sin, death, despair etc. It is all possible through the Savior! What a great message. 
On Saturday Isam came to Katrineholm and made us lunch! It was a very good weekend. I also got the cutest earrings from Hannah in the mail and the BEST letter. Lillie's letter made me cry this week- I love that sweet girl. I am going to Örebro tonight for splits- so that will be fun. :) I can't believe that yesterday was my last skype! Weird! Sorry this is short- I feel like we already talked about all of my other thoughts yesterday... Love you ALL.  (I am here illegally hahaha I still haven't renewed my visaaaaaaa :/. I will do it this week otherwise I might get deported. . . just kidding- I won't.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

christensen & christison

wow. hello my dearest family!

This week has been a WONDERFUL week and I am filled with so much joy and happiness. Firstly, CONGRATULATIONS DAD! You are so amazing. I am so proud of you for finishing your dissertation. I have been thinking about you so much this week just praying that everything would go well- and after I received a text from Isam, I screamed and scared Sis Emi but it was definitely a celebration worth screaming about. You have been working on that thing for YEARS (not an exaggeration) and I have always looked up to you for your diligence and patience... and mostly that you still took the time to work on all of my English papers and continue to do the family and work etc etc etc... you are the best.

Isam told me last week that my email home did not quite cut it for him...haha so I will do my best to be a better writer this week. :)

After saying goodbye to Sister LaFontaine, I waited in the train station eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich, writing in my journal all by myself for an HOUR and I nearly died. It was so weird to be alone. I kept looking around at everyone and I was feeling very unsafe for not having somebody right by my side. So... get ready mom- I will probably be following you around everywhere when I get home. The hour was the longest hour of my life and finally I saw the train pull in and Emi hop off with her suit cases and bright blonde hair and we just burst out laughing. We still could not believe that we were going to be companions. (and sorry that I am calling her Emi but it is hard because that is what I know her as!) 

We went to our baby apartment and then I took her to Cat's house because it is tradition to visit her first with every new missionary in the area. We were sitting on her couch and Cat started to tell us how she likes to sleep in what God gave her... and I just turned to Emi and smiled and said "Welcome to Katrineholm...."

That night we walked out to a beautiful lake and celebrated "Valborg" which is how the Swedes celebrate spring and say goodbye to the long winter. There was a huge pile of branches out in the middle of a lake and the boy scouts paddled out and lit it on fire. It is a very fun celebration and it was weird because we just felt like we were hanging out haha. 

Oh man it has been the best week of my life- Emi is so funny and so easy to be with. We have been laughing non stop the past four days and we are both LOVING it. Saturday was a rough day because we didn't have anything to do... so we spent it tracting for 4 hours straight and walking ALL over Katrineholm... (when we woke up the next day Emi said "Did we just climb mount Timpanogos
or something?" haha) But I couldn't have done it with anyone else. We laughed all day and had many adventures... many doors slammed in our faces (I think we hit a record) and by the end of the day we were literally limping home. (I have some weird nerve damage or something in my toes on my right foot and Emi has blisters all over). The best part about days like that, is that they build character. And they teach me about how to be diligent. 

I have chosen diligence to be my new Christlike Attribute for this month and I felt like Saturday was a perfect example of being diligent because we did ALL that we could do. And after we did everything we could think of- we were blessed with many small miracles. I love that we are not asked to do more than we can but that we are to be up and doing- to be diligent until the end.

As for the work- it is still the same. Our investigators are moving slowly but surely and our less actives are some of my favorite people to work with. Contacting is a little hard here in Katrineholm - we try to talk to everyone we can but walking down the street I could say that I already know or have talked to 4 out of 10 people and the other 6 are Muslim. Sister Emi has been shocked with the amount of people that I wave to as if we are friends as we are walking down the street hahaha. 
When Sister LaFontaine and I were together, we would always see this guy from Somalia who is always pretty drunk. The first time we talked to him at a bus stop- he repeated over and over again of how important it is when people ask you where you come from, to say that you come from "your motha". But if someone says what COUNTRY do you come from... then you can tell them the country. So every time he sees me he comes up and says "Hey, where you come from?" and I reply "my motha" and he walks off laughing saying "That's the truth!" So one day we tracted into him this week and had that same conversation and afterwards I thought to myself... I am actually so grateful that I come from my Motha... And what a perfect time it is to talk about my mother...

This is my "Glad Morsdag" in advanced. . .

THANK YOU MOMMY for being my best supporter, friend and example. Thank you for writing me two to three letters every single week my ENTIRE mission. Thank you for your numerous prayers that you give on my behalf every day. . . I know that you do that because I feel them constantly lifting me up... President Packer said "There are few things more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother." Its the truth. Thank you for your influence and for teaching me how to be selfless... How to love... How to uplift... How to accept life and others with open arms. You are an example of our Savior of one who loves, sacrifices, creates, and who serves. 

This week I read my journal entries from this time last year and I came across a letter that I had posted in from mom. She said after writing about hard situations that were going on in her life: "There is more hard work to come and I promise I'll do it." And you have done it! You made it through this year of finding a house, working, sticking by dad's side right until the very end of his graduation and so much more... I learn so much from you mommy and I am always trying to follow in your footsteps. I too wrote in my journal last year, "And while she is promising to do her work, I promise to do mine. I know my work will get harder- but I promise I'll do it!" You have taught me to be diligent... and to love the work and the challenges and the happy days that I have been given. I LOVE YOU. And I look forward to skyping home next week :)))

This week I  finished the Book of Mormon again. . . What an experience it is to read and finish that book. I love it more and more each time. I find myself just smiling and enjoying every word in those last few chapters and as I close it- it is like a spiritual wave throughout my body reminding me that it is true.

Have a wonderful week! And good luck with the little Brinton's! I miss them- tell them hi and send me pictures of them! Also- please tell Nana that I LOVED her talk that you sent me on the atonement and tell Papa thank you for the letter that I received in the mail today! He is the greatest.

Adelide Louisa