Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

Käre familj,

Skyping was fun. Christmas was fun. I'm glad you put more money on my card because I just went and bought a book called "Swedish Traditions" that was kind of expensive but it's really amazing and you're going to really like it. It should be enough money because I'm not even checking an extra bag. I also still have some American cash. I've got a few kilos of chocolate all ready to go, and also some other Swedish candy.

I love my mission. I love Sweden, and Swedish people, and all the other people I've met here. I love my companions, my wards, my areas, my investigators, the members I've worked with. I love my Savior. This is the best thing I've ever done. I feel like my entire perspective on life is different. Not too drastically different, at least in most ways. I've learned that I love serving and I need to find more ways to serve when I get home. I've learned that communication is probably one of the most important skills in every field if you're ever going to be successful. I've learned to love the scriptures even more, and to understand them. I've learned to see the hand of the Lord in my life, and to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I've learned that I love languages not just for the language itself but also for the people who speak, and the stories they have to tell. I know that this is exactly where I've needed to be for the last year and a half, that I've met people I needed to meet and also a few who needed me too. I know that God loves each of us. I know that Christ is our Savior, and that He lives. I know that this is His church with His authority on the Earth.
Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you on Tuesday! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Käre Familj,

Sorry I don't have a lot of time today. We only have a short P-Day since we won't be proselyting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The plans for the week will be really fun. Christmas Eve we'll spend all day with the Stegeby family, including most of the kids and grandkids. There will be 16 kids there including 2 newborn babies. (I put that in to make dad jealous.) Then on Christmas all the missionaries are going to make breakfast at the church. I'm planning to skype (from the church) at 15:00 Swedish time, which is 7:00 AM in Riverton. Hope that's not too early for you. :) I'm sure there won't be any problems with adding you on skype so it shouldn't be too bad. Then we'll go to the Blåhammars' house for Christmas dinner. Friday is P-Day which will include a funeral for me and Elder Stafford. We'll get transfer info tonight or tomorrow to find out who Syster Jacob's new companion will be. I suspect they might stick her in a temporary companionship just for a week until the new missionaries come in January.

Yesterday did seem short, especially because we left home before the sun was up and didn't come back until after it was long gone. Although at one point I said "Wow, I'm surprised how light it still is." Then Syster Jacobs pointed out it was 3:30 PM. It was a short day but they've all been short for a while now. The exciting news is that we got a lot of snow last night, and it's still snowing. So it will probably be a white Christmas!

The Christmas program went really well. I didn't realize how many things I was a part of until I was running up and down the whole time. They had me leading the music too, so it seemed like even more. I also played a violin duet of Away in a Manger. Peyton's and Erika's was probably better because they probably practiced more than one time before performing it. It went really well though. We had one less active there, Eva, who came for the Christmas program. She's really sweet.

I've already said my goodbyes to Noe Noe, Matilda, Lisa, and Ingegerd. It feels weird. I still can't comprehend that I'm going home.

If there's anything you want me to bring back from Sweden I guess you can let me know on skype! Elder Stafford isn't even going to skype home. He tried to convince me not to either, but I didn't have the heart. I'm really excited for skyping.

Well, that's all folks. I'll see you bright and early on Christmas morning! Merry Christmas! Remember that Christ is the greatest gift we've received, and that it's His birth we're celebrating! (In Sweden it's impossible to find any reference to Christ during Christmas, which is really sad. I don't think I've seen a single nativity scene all month. Don't be like the Swedes!!)

Jag älskar er! God Jul!

Love, Delaney

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 15, 2014

Käre Familj,

I can't believe that Christmas is coming so fast! It's crazy! Christmas in Sweden is beautiful, but it would be more beautiful if we had snow instead of rain. Yesterday some of the old ladies in the branch were saying that this isn't normal and usually winter is much colder and snowy. I told her "That's what everyone said last year! I don't know if I believe you..." They thought that was funny. I guess I've escaped the worst of Swedish winters. I've still got a couple weeks left so maybe it will snow more.

We've done a lot of Christmasy stuff this week! We started it off on Monday night at FHE with the Gilberts. We went caroling to members in the ward. It was really good because we went to lots of less active members (like Lisa G. and Margit N.) and found out that they actually know some members so we don't have to start from scratch. Tuesday afternoon we went caroling again, this time with Celine and Cassy, who are youth in the ward. We went to more less active members and some of the elders' investigators. We also taught Mahshid on Tuesday night. She's doing really well. She told us how her life has been getting better and better since her baptism in February. Last week she got her residency permit here, which the ward has been fasting and praying for. She has such a strong testimony and it was really awesome to be there and learn from her.

Wednesday we went by Angela's work to teach her. She hasn't been at church for a while so we haven't seen her, but she's doing pretty good. On Thursday we taught Noe Noe. She pulled out the pedigree chart she'd started working on. She said it was hard but she finally asked her parents about her ancestors, and this time they told her and helped her figure more out. Next week we're going to make a Family Search account with her so she can put it into the computer. She still hasn't talked to her parents about the church, but we recommitted her to show them the Christmas Video, so she should do that this week. After that we went by some less active ladies in Sundsbruk, which is between Sundsvall and Timrå. They weren't home. But Ikea is in Sundsbruk, so we figured since we were there we might as well get dinner. It was Syster Jacobs' first time at Ikea and she was pretty excited.

On Friday we got a ride with Mahshid out to Ånge, which is halfway between Sundsvall and Östersund. Her friend Nima lives out there, who was baptized in June. We'd never met Nima before because he can't come to church because of his job. He makes pizza. Really good pizza!! He was so excited to meet us and he told us all about the first sisters who taught him and about his baptism.  And he made us each a pizza. So this week I finally took the kebab challenge and ate a whole kebab pizza all on my own. Syster Jacobs enjoyed kebab much more this time than her first time having kebab, which was her third day in Sweden. I think she was just jetlagged then. We almost missed the train back to Sundsvall, but we ran and caught it with a minute to spare. 

Saturday was Luciadagen, and we celebrated in style! First we taught Salaam (the one we contacted last week. Not Sassan, who is a less active member). He's from Iraq but has lived in Sweden for a long time. He converted to Christianity here but he's looking for a way to deepen his faith. We told him we could help. We had a really good Restoration lesson and he seemed to understand it really well and said he'll start reading the Book of Mormon, and he might come to church next sunday. He also said the closing prayer. After that we went with the Gilberts to Sundsvalls Bro (Sundsvalls Bridge), the new 1.8 km bridge they just finished making over the harbor. About 10,000 people gathered to walk across the bridge in order to set a new guiness world record for the most people in a parade or something like that. It was pretty cool. We also went to a Lucia Concert in the church here in town. It was a lot like the one you went to, only it was a more classic Lucia Tåg, so instead of tinsel they had green wreaths for crowns. They sang lots of classic Swedish Christmas songs that were really pretty.

Yesterday we spent all day in church. First we had church. I spoke, as well as Elder Stafford, who goes home at the same time as me. It kind of felt like our farewell to Sweden. I talked about how my mission has helped me understand the meaning on Christmas. I talked a lot about the He is the Gift video-which you need to watch! After church we had choir practice and then we had traditional Jul grött-rice porridge. I liked it better this year than I did last year. Then we watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional. I enjoyed it a lot.

I'm assuming you got my travel itinerary for when I go home. I'll go through Newark, then Chicago, then land at SLC at 7:58 PM tuesday night. I'm excited that I get to travel with Syster Eborn and Syster LaFontaine. I'll leave Sundsvall on Sunday after church to go to Stockholm, then we'll have a temple session on Monday morning. I'm not sure what we'll do all day Monday-interviews, testimony meeting, stuff like that I guess. Then Tuesday morning I'm on my way. Weird. Don't worry, it's still two weeks away. Christmas is throwing me off though. Our schedule for the next couple weeks is weird. We'll have a shortened P-Day on Monday to do laundry and grocery shopping, and I'll also get on to confirm plans for skyping on Christmas. Just email me before next Monday with the info and I'll let you know what time I'll skype. We'll probably just be at the church hanging out all day so I can basically skype whenever the elders aren't skyping. So if there's a time you'd like me to call, just let me know and we can probably arrange it! Then we proselyte on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is Christmas eve, which is the day that Swedes actually celebrate. We'll be with the Stegebys for their Christmas party. I think on Christmas day we'll just hang out at the church and play games with the elders. We'll probably also have a funeral for me and Elder Stafford. And a birthday party for Syster Jacobs. (Her birthday is December 30th.) Then Friday will be P-Day. But that's not until next week-this week is normal! It will be a great week!

I'm getting really pumped to come back to Sweden in June. The current thinking sounds great because then we can go north-south and end in Borås for midsummer. :) Remember when you went to Hawaii and kept thinking "the kids would love this!"? That's what I think every time we do anything here- you guys are all going to love this!!

Have a wonderful week getting ready for Christmas! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Käre Familj,

I'm so excited that you got to go to a Lucia festival! It sounds just like a real Swedish Lucia. Lucia Day is on the 13th of December, so we'll probably go to a Lucia concert on Saturday morning. THERE'S JULMUST IN AMERICA!?!?! Christmas is saved! I love Julmust. And I'm very excited to see how you guys like it. Most people don't like it the first time, but I love the stuff! The best way I've heard it described is that it tastes like liquid smarties. Don't let that turn you off-it's good.

This week has been a really great week. It was the first week of the Advent so everyone is officially celebrating Christmas time. We've been showing everybody and their dog (not exaggerating) the "He Is The Gift" movie that the church made. It's working really well. The dog liked it a lot. Have you seen it? We heard it was supposed to be the only advertisement on Youtube yesterday.

It feels like this week went by really fast. How is it already P-Day again? Last week after P-Day ended we visited Sassan, a less-active member from Iran. It was his birthday. He's really awesome and he showed us a video about the church's welfare program that he'd seen and asked us to explain it to him. He's active at heart, it's just hard for him to come to church...but he should still come! He's waiting for his family to get permission to come to Sweden from Iran, so he's pretty stressed out about it. Hopefully they'll be here by new year though! After that we went to Family Home Evening with the Gilberts. I'm working with their daughter Celine on a violin duet for the Christmas Program. I'm not sure exactly how it will turn out but it's good that I can help Celine want to keep playing the violin. It was a pretty chaotic FHE with five kids running around, violins, cellos, baking, singing, and putting up Christmas decorations. It was fun though.

On Tuesday we met with the RS President, Ulla-Lena, and got a list of the women in the branch who she thinks could use a visit. Those lists are one of my favorite things as a missionary, because they're so helpful in figuring out what to do! We're excited to go out and find all those women! It's especially useful during Christmas time because people are more open and we can use the excuse of bringing a Christmas gift. (And you know me, it will be cookies.) Then we went out to Torpshammar, a place about 60 km from Sundsvall, for a member dinner with the Karttunens. It was originally for Ali, since he lives in Torpshammar and the Karttunens drove him to church. It was still good. We had Sweden's second most popular dish: tacos. (The most popular is meatballs of course.) After we got back to Sundsvall we went tracting and found an entire apartment building full of Jehovah's Witnesses. They had all come back from a meeting too. It was weird. Then when we were walking home from there, we stopped a girl on the street and she was just like "Yeah, you can tell me about your message." So we showed her He Is The Gift and talked about the Restoration, but she didn't want to meet again. :/

Wednesday we made our weekly trip out to Timrå. We visited Lisa who shared her favorite verses from Alma 32 with us. She gave us candy this time instead of bananas. (We have a lot of uneaten bananas in our freezer that she's given us, so next time we go there we're going to bring her banana bread.) We've enjoyed the candy. Then we met with Noe Noe again. She had asked her parents about her ancestors! And it didn't go very well. I guess some people don't like talking about their families... We showed Noe Noe HE Is The Gift, which is our next strategy in getting her parents on board. I'm really hopeful about this one. She watched it and then she said "THIS is something I can show my parents!" We're praying hard for this one!! That night it was more tracting after the rest of our lessons cancelled on us. We taught a guy named Bo while his wife glared at us from behind the door. The Spirit really touched him but he said he's too busy during Christmas but that we can try coming back afterward. I'm going to be hearing that for the rest of my mission. On our way home we talked to a guy named Salaam. He's met with the elders before but then lost contact, and he already had a Book of Mormon in Arabic but wanted one in Swedish. So we gave him one and taught him a basic restoration lesson. He said "Can we meet sometime so you can explain that in a little more detail? Here, take my number and give me a call." We're going to meet him this coming Saturday. This is the third time the elders' investigators want to meet with us.

Thursday we taught Ingegerd. We're going to help her decorate for Christmas, which will be fun. We also went to the RS activity where we made little Christmas gifts to give to people. Little candles, candy, cards and stuff. It was fun. Lisa came and seemed to enjoy it. 

Friday was the big day when we took the 2 hour train ride to Östersund for the day. We got there about 10:15 Friday morning armed with 2 liters of cookies, gift bags, ribbon, and of course the scriptures. We took a bus to the south edge of town and made our way back up to centrum, dropping by all the members along our way. We ended up walking over 13 kilometers and it took us around 3 hours with all the detours and stopping to put cookies in the bags and everything. Not a single one of them was home. There were three people in Östersund who we really wanted to see: Matilda, our investigator who we've only met over skype; Oscar, who was taught and baptized by Syster Dawson when she was a greenie in Örnsköldsvik, but since moved to Östersund where he can't come to church ; and the Johansson family, who would be active if they weren't stranded in Östersund. Of course all of them could meet at four o'clock. So we convinced Matilda to meet us at the library at 3:30, then told the Johanssons we'd stop by at four, then told Oscar we'd meet him at the bus station at 4:30. Matilda was late and that plan went out the window. Matilda is awesome. She was an exchange student in Idaho Falls, which is where she came in contact with the church. It was cool to finally meet her in person. After we taught her, we figured we'd pay for the bus to get to the Johanssons since we were already so late. While we were at the bus stop, Oscar called and said he couldn't meet us any later. So he found us at the bus stop and paid for our bus, then took the bus with us to the Johanssons. When we'd called the Johanssons they said they didn't really have time, but I pressed so that they would at least let us drop by and say hello. They said we probably wouldn't even have time to come in though. This being the case, we assured Oscar that we would be super quick there and he decided to wait for us outside. We knocked on their door at 4:35 and they answered and said "Come in! We have dinner for you!" Their thing had cancelled so they had plenty of time. It was by far the fastest member dinner of my mission. We wolfed down dinner, wolfed down dessert, and shared a super quick message. They were really nice and understood that we didn't have a lot of time. I'm glad we got to meet them and strengthen them, they're amazing people. When we came back outside Oscar was still standing there waiting for us and we felt like TERRIBLE PEOPLE. We should have just told the family that he was with us and invited him in to dinner but we had no idea what was going on and were flustered. It's okay, Oscar was very forgiving and when we told him that they'd wanted us to come in for a sit (we didn't mention dinner...) he just said "Yeah, that's what Swedes do." So it was no harm done. Oscar really wanted us to come to his house and meet his mom, so we checked on Google Maps and with the bus times we had time to make it to his house and stay for 15 minutes before we'd have to take a bus back to the train station to catch our train. He was okay with that, so we were off. Unfortunately, when we got to his house his mom wasn't home. But we had a nice chat on his front porch and he shared his favorite scripture with us from the Book of Mormon. We didn't get to meet his family, but it was worth it to meet him in person instead of just over the phone. He's really nice and loves missionaries and the gospel. We asked him what he wants for Christmas and he said "I don't need anything. I already have the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that's the greatest gift I could have!" So it was a good day in Östersund. We caught our train with plenty of time and made it home around 9:55.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling super guilty for neglecting Family History for the last few weeks. So for one of the hours that we'd planned to go tracting, we did family history instead. I worked more on Launa's Swedish line and accidentally stumbled into the family I was looking for and found two more of their kids. That family REALLY wants to be sealed together!!!

Yesterday was a good fast Sunday. We had two VIPs. First, Mahshid, who the members just LOVE! She has so much support from the branch! And she also found out this week that she got her residency permit so she can stay in Sweden! The members have been fasting and praying for her so they were all really excited about that! Our other VIP was an investigator named Abdoul. We see him on the bus all the time and talk to him, but have never been able to meet with him. We saw him on the bus on Thursday and he asked us when church is, so we told him 11 every Sunday. He said "Okay. I'll come on Sunday." I've had enough people tell me that that I didn't really get my hopes up, but then Sunday morning while we were on the bus to church he called us and said he was about to get on the bus. He took the bus with us and came to Sacrament Meeting. He liked it and said he'll come every week. That was pretty exciting. The members were all really nice and welcoming too.

This week we have a lot of Christmas Caroling planned in. It should be fun. Thanks for your prayers and for keeping me updated on how everything is at home! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

Käre Familj,

Hello from icy cold Sweden! The temperature was -9 (about 16 F) when we left the apartment to come email this morning. Don't worry, we bundled up!

Your Thanksgiving feast sounds delightful! We had pumpkin pie on the train to Umeå which Äldste Gray made for us. It was very good. Actually it was the first time I've tried pumpkin pie, but I liked it. Not as much as apple though. The train ride was really fun andthere was a beautiful sunrise going on outside. The landscape on the way up to Umeå was also very beautiful. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a couple of members. We were at Mona's house, a really nice lady in the ward. She invited us sisters as well as a recent convert, Mahshid. They didn't even know what Thanksgiving was, but we told them all about it. So for Thanksgiving dinner this year I had älg (moose). It was real wild älg that Mona's brother hunted, so it felt like home in that way. There was also potatoes and brown sauce and salad. We had apple pie for dessert. It was a great Thanksgiving dinner! Meanwhile the elders and half the branch were at President Stegeby's for a real American Thanksgiving with turkey and the works. We were invited to that about five minutes after I told Mona we could come to dinner at her house on Thursday night. We were sad to miss out, but it's not every Thanksgiving that you eat moose with a Swede and an Iranian!! It turned out for the best because the elders brought us leftovers, which have always been one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner anyway. So for lunch on Friday we still got turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, yams with marshmallow topping (which I ate. I like those now.) and cornbread. Happy Thanksgiving! It's weird to think about last Thanksgiving and realize that I was in Sweden. I've been here a while.

This week has been really awesome! Monday was a full proselyting day and we had some lessons scheduled but they fell through. It's okay because an investigator called us and asked us to meet him at the library. So we got to teach someone anyway. He's only interested in learning English and coming to activities and said he's never going to come to church, which is why we didn't set a return appointment with him in the first place. But it was a little miracle anyway that we were able to meet him and teach him.

On Tuesday we went over to the ward choir director's house (Ingrid) and looked through violin music for the Christmas program. I played on her daughter Celine's violin. We found some good stuff and the program should be really good. Hopefully Celine and I will be able to play a violin duet as well. Another member is letting me borrow her violin for this whole month, so I can practice and everything. I AM SO BAD AT THE VIOLIN. It's crazy how fast you lose stuff. But we're going to practice and it will turn out great. Tuesday night we taught a less active member named Lisa G. (Not to be confused with Lisa S. who shares scriptures with us. They both smoke though.) She seems really sincere about wanting to change her life and come back to church, but we'll see if she's sincere enough to do something about it. She was SO EXCITED about getting American cookies though! Then Tuesday night we finally taught a woman named Joy, who we've been trying to meet with for weeks. She wasn't there when we got there, like usual, but we called and she was on her way home. She's from Nigeria and has met the missionaries for a while I think. We don't know exactly how long, or how long ago, because the missionaries before us did not keep very good records. She's read quite a bit of the Book of Mormon though.

Wednesday was a fantastic day, because we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders, Syster Eborn and Syster Bass. This time I got to be with Syster Eborn and it was awesome. It made me remember how much I enjoyed that companionship and how hard we worked. And we worked really hard! We were out the door by 10:00 to go contacting, and while we were out we taught a guy on the street about the Book of Mormon, and then someone behind us started yelling to get our attention, and we turned around and it was Joy! We went into her work and showed her a video on about the Book of Mormon, which she loved. So we taught two lessons in that first ten minutes. After some lunch we went to drop by less active members in a place called Skönsmon. They weren't home so we left cookies and then started tracting around that area. One of the first doors we knocked an old lady answered and before I could say anything she just said "Come in!" They were a very nice old Jehovah's Witness couple. We were going to teach the Restoration but the husband kept trying to bash, so we just showed them a video about the Restoration. The whole time the man was in the other room trying to find pamphlets to give us in English (I guess our Swedish must have been really bad because no matter how many times we told him IN SWEDISH that we speak Swedish, he would just say "I don't know english!") but the wife was completely enthralled in the movie. She was really excited to have a Book of Mormon and tried to pay us for it. (We didn't take the money, of course.) We were going to meet Noe Noe after that but she cancelled on us. We had to go to Timrå anyway, and on the bus down to Timrå each of us taught someone on the bus. I taught a nice Swedish girl named Felicia about the Book of Mormon, while Syster Eborn had a really intense Atonement lesson with a Muslim guy from Ethiopia. We had to go to Timrå to pick up the violin that I'm borrowing from Frida Samuelson. It was actually really cool that we could go there while on exchanges because Frida's husband Johan is originally from Norrköping, so Syster Eborn and I know all of his sisters. That got us into the house to share a scripture. They have a 9-year-old who hasn't been baptized, so we're working on operation Teach the Family. The elders have been trying and haven't even been able to get in yet, so we're on to something. Their kids were all really cute. We tried dropping by Lisa S. while we were there but she wasn't home, but then we ran into her on the street which was cool. We dropped by some other people too including an old investigator named Daniella. She let us in and we watched the Restoration video with her as well. When we came out from Daniella's we had just missed our bus back to Sundsvall and it was 7:00 PM, so we went to the grocery store to find something to eat. We bought some soup and rolls, and then asked at the cash register if there was any way to warm up the soup. We got a tour of the backroom of the grocery store, through a literal maze of hallways and up some stairs to their break room where they let us use their microwaves. It was quite the adventure. So my day with Syster Eborn was a lot like my companionship with Syster Eborn. We worked hard and had a ton of fun. In the meantime, Syster Jacobs was with Syster Bass, who served here in Sundsvall a few months ago and had a lot of good ideas and advice about the area. They visited Angela, Mahshid, and Sassan and got to know all three of them a lot better.

Thursday morning our train left at 5:49 AM, so that was fun. We had good pumpkin pie and I had a really good personal study as I wrote down things I was thankful for. Zone training was really great. It was all about the "He is the Gift" initiative. I AM SO EXCITED FOR IT! I hope by now you've all seen the video, but if not, you can go to for all the details about it. The church is going all out this Christmas! We show the video to everyone we meet. One of the things I'm most thankful for is that they translated the video into Swedish. I'm also really excited about the Youtube ads next Sunday, and the Time's Square advertising. This is the best time to be a missionary! After getting back to Sundsvall we went to Mona's for dinner. She had a really cool conversion story that she shared with us. And Mahshid did too. We had a lot of fun.

On Friday we found out that Margit, that really awesome old lady that we visited a few weeks ago, passed away. Everyone in the ward loved her, but we're all happy that she's in a much better place now. She was kind of frustrated to still be here alone and in so much pain. We'll sure miss her. I was hoping to be able to visit her and play the violin for her, because we'd talked about how much she loves music. But I'm sure there's even better music where she is now. Other than that sad news, Friday was pretty good. We met with Angela at the church and taught her there. Then we went to the neighborhood near the church and continued tracting there. We're almost done with that neighborhood. We talked to one lady who wasn't very interested, but all of a sudden her little (rat) dog came running out to meet us and it broke the ice so she let us come in and show her the Christmas video. She said we can come back next week and explain more about where the church came from. It was pretty exciting to get a new investigator from tracting! That doesn't happen every day.

On Saturday we got to meet another cool old lady in the ward, Inga-Britt. She's 88 and a little sick, but she's in church almost every week. She always smiles up at me while I lead the music. We came and helped her get her walker into the house and then visited with her. She has a cool story and a big family. Her 29th great-grandchild was born a couple weeks ago. It was kind of funny though because I knew the baby's name and she didn't. She said "When I saw her she was so perfect, I didn't even think to ask! What's her name?" (The baby's name is Flora and we haven't seen her yet, but I expect to meet her before I leave!) 

Yesterday was a pretty good Sunday. Our only VIP was Lisa S. We were excited to see her there. It was "Förste Advent," the first day of the advent. It's officially Christmas time now! The choir sang a traditional Swedish advent song. We stuck around for choir practice and it went really well until we tried to practice For Unto Us a Child is Born from the Messiah. That is not an easy song. We don't practice nearly as much as Peyton practiced for the Messiah performance! Luckily it's just the one song. I think the elders will be able to figure out the tenor part so it should turn out alright. After church and choir we had dinner with May. She gave us dinner our first Sunday in Sundsvall. We had meatballs and french fries and lots of vegetables. Then for dessert we had all the traditional Christmas things! Risgrynsgrött (rice porridge) with raspberry jam, pepparkakor, Lussekatter (saffron buns), Julmust (Christmas soda), and glögg. Glögg is like spicy cider stuff. It's usually alcoholic but of course we had alcohol free. It's really yummy.

Unfortunately Ali texted us this week saying he doesn't want to meet or have any contact with us anymore. That was really disappointing. We didn't get to meet Noe Noe either but she texted us to say she got the conference issue of the Liahona and is super excited about it, so I think she's doing fine. No progress with her parents though. Keep praying for them!

I find it ironic that the Hunger Hames movie was "good, but not to die for." Isn't that the point of the Hunger Games?

I'll try and figure out when they'll celebrate Midsummer next year with it being over the weekend and let you know. Good luck with Cody and Peyton's passports!

Have a wonderful week everyone! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 22, 2014

Käre Familj,

Happy Saturday! It's weird having P-Day on Saturday and I keep thinking it's Monday. Next week will be weird not having P-Day, but I'm sure we'll make it through. 

So far this week has been a little slow, but we've still been working hard. On Monday after emailing we went down to the harbor to get a better look at the ocean. It was really beautiful and we got some good pictures of the ocean. It got dark and cold fast though. We also found a new second hand store with a lot of good stuff. I got some more souvenirs there for cheap. After P-Day ended we visited Ingegerd. Every time we ask how she's doing she says "Så där", which means literally "so there," or alright. It's become our goal to get her to say "good" one of these days. We did make her laugh, so that's a start. She wants to come to church but she's afraid she'll feel lonely because she doesn't have any friends in church. Have I ever told you I have a STRONG testimony of Home and Visiting teaching? I think that is the only thing keeping us from being lifted up into heaven, because it would solve every problem.

Monday night we were planning for our day on Tuesday and we had a case of the blank planner. We were trying to figure out what to do because we've already dropped by everyone in our area so the only thing we have left is tracting. But at two in the afternoon, tracting is even less effective than usual because everybody's at work. We found some old investigators in the area book to go by and planned as much as we could for Tuesday. Then Tuesday morning during companion study, we got a phone call from Marja-Leesa. We tracted into her a few weeks ago and she gave us her number, but we hadn't been able to meet with her yet. She said she wanted to meet and asked if we could come over that day-at two in the afternoon. We went over and taught her and she wasn't really very positive toward our message, but the point was that there was someone who wanted us to come and was willing to listen to us. At two in the afternoon. It was a cool experience.

On Wednesday we taught Noe Noe again. She was really sad she couldn't come to culture night. We're trying to figure out how we can get her parents on board with learning about the church. Noe Noe is solid and has a strong testimony and wants to be baptized, but she needs her parents' support. So this week we taught her about Family History. We're all hoping that she can get her parents involved in that and then lead it into the church. Please pray for Noe Noe! And that her parents' hearts will be softened! She's the sweetest person ever and she wants to come to church in Sundsvall so badly. After that we had dinner with President Stegeby Sr. and his wife. (President Stegeby Sr. is the District President for the Umeå district. His son, President Stegeby Jr., is the branch president of the Sundsvall branch.) We had delicious homemade meatballs. And kladkaka. While there, they told us about our Christmas plans. We're going to be with the whole Stegeby family, which is so big that none of their houses is big enough so we'll be at the chapel. There will be so many kids and they all LOVE missionaries. It will just be a challenge to escape with all our nametags intact, because they like to steal missionaries' nametags. I'm so excited for it though!!!!!!!!

Thursday after district meeting we visited a less active woman named Ingrid. She's one of those less actives who refers to "your church" and doesn't seem to know that she's a member. When I pulled out my Bible to share a scripture she was surprised and said she didn't know we read the Bible. She also taught us how to make tacos out of hard boiled eggs and mackerell. I don't think I'll try it out though. Thursday night we were tracting and one guy stayed at his door long enough for us to teach him the Restoration. He lost interest very suddenly, but I was able to slip him a Restoration pamphlet as he closed the door, so maybe he'll read it and call us. We also found a cool playground with a spinny...thing that looked like it belonged in an amusement park. We had lots of fun on it. But I lost my gloves there, I think, because I haven't seen them since. It's okay, I still have my alpaca gloves from last winter!

Yesterday we got cancelled on and nobody we tracted wanted to listen. But we did our best to find people! We also got transfer calls yesterday. My heart skipped a beat when the zone leaders called and said they had transfer info, but they were just calling to say we were both staying. So I'm officially staying here with Syster Jacobs for the rest of my mission! Yay! The whole district is staying the same.

We haven't seen or heard from Ali since Sunday, so hopefully he's doing well. We're going to call him later today and see if he answers this time, and make sure he's coming to church. That's about all we can do, besides pray really hard for him! I think he's probably doing alright, just busy with migration stuff.

Our only Thanksgiving plans are zone training in Umeå. It's a 3 hour train ride both ways, so we'll have some Thanksgiving party on the train or something probably. I think Elder Gray might make pumpkin pie.... he was hinting about it at district meeting.

There's still no news on the car. Syster Jacobs' driving record has made no progress. Hopefully we'll get to drive soon, because our most positive people live outside of Sundsvall. Why is it always that way? We heard that the Hight Priest Group leader is going to go out to Östersund in a couple weeks and conduct a Sacrament Meeting there, so hopefully Matilda will be able to go to that!

I'm so excited that Taryn is getting her endowment! What a great Christmas gift! Thanks for keeping me updated on everything that's going on at home. If I were in Peyton's class I would probably try to steal her homework too. That was one smart kid. Almost.

Syster Jacob's computer just kicked her out so I'm going to give her the rest of my computer time. Have a great week everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that I can be on a mission serving the Lord, and that I get to meet so many amazing people while I'm here! And I'm thankful for my family and friends and everyone that supports me while I'm here! I'm thankful for all of you!

Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney
On splits with Syster Byrd.  They were companions in Boras
and found Boras street in Sundsvall

Family picture - Syster Austin, Delaney, Syster Jacobs
These are the 2 sister missionaries Delaney has trained

Delaney and Syster Byrd with easter eggs for old times.
We'll have to ask about this one when she gets home.
Syster's Conference

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014

Käre Familj,

Hello! Sundsvall is doing great! Every morning we check Riverton and Clearfield (where Syster Jacobs is from) on the weather app and count our blessings for being in nice warm Norrland. Did you know that Norrland is actually the warmest place at this lattitude? It's because the Gulf Stream current brings nice Carribbean (can't spell that word) up to our coast. I'm also very excited to see Sundsvall in June to see what it looks like in the light. There's not much of that around here! Sunset today will be at 15:00 exactly. Hurray!

Bummer that Riverton got beat in football. Did Cody and Peyton go to the game in the same car? That would be funny to see them getting in and out of the car together with their rival team colors. I'm sure everyone was a good sport about it and there was no contention at home.

This week has been a good one. We've had lots of little miracles and successes that made it great. Of course, we're most excited about Ali. He's read halfway through 2 Nephi now, and he loves it. He said 2 Nephi is a little harder to understand...we can thank Isaiah for that. We assured him it will get a little easier as he keeps reading. He wants to read the whole book before he's baptized. At this rate he'll finish in no time. (On a slightly related note, I decided last week that I want to finish the Book of Mormon in Swedish before I go home. Since I was only in 2 Nephi, I have to read at least 10 pages a day. I might end up reading a lot on the airplane...) We started teaching him the Plan of Salvation. And he committed to pray every day. His prayers are really sincere. He was going to come to the Culture Night activity on Saturday night but he ended up having to resolve some problem with Migrations so he couldn't come. Then on Sunday his ride to church showed up without him and we started to get really worried. He'd called but Ali never answered. I was leading the music, so I was sitting up on the stand, watching the member explain that Ali hadn't come. We were so disappointed! But then a few minutes later I looked up and to my surprise, I saw Ali sitting there in the last row. I didn't notice him come in, but there he was. Turns out he was already in Sundsvall so he'd taken the bus, but he got off at the wrong stop and had to walk a ways. He stayed for all three hours again and loved it. The members are so great and they all talk to him, so he loves church. It was an awesome feeling to realize that Ali had come completely on his own. He didn't need a ride, he didn't even need us to pick him up at the bus station. That's how you know they're sincere and they'll keep coming even without you there.

Noe Noe is also doing really well. We went out to Timrå again on Wednesday to teach her, and we realized we'd forgotten to bring examples of herbal tea, so we ran to the grocery store where we ran into her! So we could show her how to tell which tea was okay, it was perfect. Our lesson went really well too. She's still waiting for the November Liahona and she said she's DYING to read the General Conference talks. She invited her family to Culture Night but they weren't able to come. We have yet to meet her parents and convince them that we're not a cult. We also met Lisa (less active) while we were in Timrå. She showed us Book of Mormon scriptures she's read recently and how they apply to today. She couldn't come to church because she was sick.

The highlight of the week was Thursday, when all the sisters in the whole mission went to Stockholm for a Sisters Conference. I got to see Syster Austin and Syster Christison and all my other friends again! It was so much fun to see everyone there! I'm sure you'll see pictures on the Beckstrands' blog and probably the Facebook page too. It was weird to realize that I won't see a lot of those sisters again until they come home from their missions. On the train ride home we sat by two nice ladies who overheard us talking about Swedish, so they asked us where we're from. When we told them we're mormons they said "Cool-will you tell us more about Mormons?" We were happy to oblige. :) It was cool that we were able to teach a lesson even with the whole day taken up by the sisters conference. (We had to take a 5:30 train from Sundsvall to get to Stockholm on time, and we got back to Sundsvall at 20:56.)

I just had to switch computers at the library because my time ran out on the last one, and when I logged in everything was in Russian! It's okay, I got it figured out, thank goodness!

The rest of the week is hardly worth mentioning. We met some people who we called out of the phone only to find out they were investigators who had already been dropped for good reasons. I'm very thankful there were so many numbers in the phone already that we could call, but it's very annoying how none of them were labeled. So we've had a few instances of calling members and embarrassing ourselves thinking they were investigators. This is missionary life!

I almost forgot Culture Night! It was on Saturday night and it was a blast! This ward is super talented. The missionaries did a...well on the program it was called a mime play, so we can go with that. We mimed/lip-synched to first a song called "My Life is In Your Hands" and then to one called "Tomorrow." We wore all black and painted our faces white. I think people enjoyed it. We enjoyed doing it. I'm sorry I can't describe it any better, but there are some videos that I'll show you eventually. I think they're too big to send over email though. Afterwards the members all said we were great dancers. I guess you could have called it dancing. We had a lot of VIPs at culture night, including a less active woman named Ingrid who we haven't been able to meet before, and an investigator couple named Lena and Roland, who we've been trying to meet but also never got to until Culture Night. There were also quite a few other non-members there that came with their member friends. There were refreshments from all the different cultures represented in the branch. (Brownies from America, Rhubarb Pie from Sweden, Carrot-something from Finnland, a Canadian dessert, Iranian candy, and delicious rice and tomato sauce from Nigeria.) The other talents were mostly singing and instruments, and they were all really good.

Church yesterday was also great. Ali was our only VIP. The ward choir sang a musical number. (The EFY Medley, a medley of As Sisters in Zion and Army of Helaman.) I played the piano for it. Next week I'm going to accompany when Elder Stafford and Elder Smith sing Come Thou Fount. We're also practicing for the Christmas program. I've missed ward choir!

We tried to resolve the driving problem by calling the couple in charge. He said "Syster Smith, are you the one going home soon?" "Yes." "Then you CAN'T DRIVE." So I guess I don't get an option. Once you've been in Sweden for a year, your American license isn't valid anymore. So if any of us is driving it will be Syster Jacobs. They haven't gotten back to us yet on if she's legal or not. In the meantime, the elders have been having lots of fun in the car while we've been taking the bus. That's okay, there are people to contact on the bus. I don't know what kind of car it is, but it's blue and looks the same as all the mission cars.

Thanks for sending a picture of the deer! Was Cody happy about his decision to pass up that 4-point? I would have taken any of them. :)

Thanksgiving is next week, right? Our transfers and P-Day are a little thrown off because of Thanksgiving, so we actually are having two P-Days this week and none next week. So I'll be back on Saturday to email again, that's when we're having P-Day. The missionaries go home will go on Monday I think, or maybe Tuesday, and I don't know when the actual transfer will be. Just make sure and write me an email Friday night!

If it ever snows again I'll write you a note in the snow and take a picture. :)

Oh yeah, and the other good news is, I talked to the sisters that are in Norrköping now and they said that Olivia went to the temple for baptisms a few weeks ago!  She's a rockstar and she's doing great. They didn't have any other news about Pontus or the Dolmayas, but they're working hard down there.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Stay warm! (It's weird that I'm saying that to you.) Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney