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.)

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