I'm in Sweden now! Can you believe it? Because I can't. It's ridiculous. Everything is really beautiful here! There are so many trees everywhere, and there are huge forests right up against every big city.
Dad, don't be too jealous that I got to see the Amsterdam airport. I was only in it for maybe half an hour tops, and we had to rush through it to get to our connecting flight. So I didn't have time to ogle at any double decker planes. The plane we took from there to Stockholm gave us really yummy sandwiches and delicious Dutch cookies, so my first meal in Europe was a hit.
The first day was pretty hectic. We did Visa paperwork, learned a little about etiquette (you have to hold your fork upside down in your left hand, which is really hard. I eat really slow still because it takes me so long to maneuver food onto my fork.) The jet lag kicked in later in the afternoon too. We were watching these car safety videos and I was falling asleep, so I stood up to stay awake, but then I just fell asleep standing up. The first night the sisters stayed in a hotel while the elders stayed in the mission home. We went back to the hotel around 7:15 and I could have fallen asleep right then, but I stayed up until 9:30 having one last good talk with Syster Dawson before we got our new companions the next day. It was cool because I told her I wanted to stay in a city around Stockholm, and we figured out that the only one they were training sisters in was Västerhaninge, so I prayed that night that I could go to Västerhaninge! And here I am!
Wednesday we had some more training and met our trainers. I had already picked out Syster Sjöblom when I found out she was going to Västerhaninge, and she's great! She's not Swedish, but her name is and everyone here gets so excited when they find out. (It means sea flower). The bishop calls her Syster Svensk (that means Swedish) and he calls me Syster Joseph Smith. I just asked if she's an elk hunter, and she said no but she'd like to be, and she likes elk roast. So she's got pretty good potential. She has a beautiful singing voice and she plays the piano and violin! But she didn't bring hers either. She's been in Sweden for over 5 months, and she was a trainer after 8 weeks here. (The mission practically doubled, so almost everybody was a trainer.) I'm her second ''daughter'' which apparently means I'm more spoiled. I actually met my older sister the first day here, but I didn't know she was my sister at the time. I also met my grandfather but I'm not sure how that works. I don't have a father yet. Syster Sjöblom gets to choose who my father is, or maybe it's my first district leader, or something. It's kind of weird. Oh, and Syster Sjöblom looks and sounds like Melissa Taylor (whose last name I don't remember.) They have basically exactly the same voice. Also she has 10 siblings and 17 neices and nephews. I got to see a picture of them just now and they're cute.
The Västerhaninge II area is actually the Nynäshamn area. It's kind of difficult because our apartment is in Handen, we're in the Västerhaninge ward, but our area is around Nynäshamn. Basically it means that we have to take a 45 minute train ride to our area, and the different cities are really spread out, and there are not very many members there. So we have to plan a lot to be really effective. But what else is new? The good news is, the temple is in the Västerhaninge area! The church where I'm emailing from is just across from the temple and we get to walk past it every day, and we'll probably get to go once when it opens. (The people from my MTC district will be jealous about that!)
This area used to only have two sisters, and then we doubled it, so we basically started from scratch. We have no investigators, we didn't know who was less active or who we should focus on, and we don't even know how much we can trust our ward list at the moment. The other day we went through the ward list and sorted out which families are in the Nynäshamn area and which ones are in Västerhaninge. There are way more in Västerhaninge because that's where the church and temple are. We don't have any new investigators yet, but we are having a baptism next month. I don't know who yet, but I'm sure we'll find them in the next day or two. We talk to lots of people on the street. Our goal is ten contacts every day, which is really hard when you're shy like me, but so far we've been able to do it every day! I try to talk to at least everyone with a dog, because I know how to say ''I like your dog'' and because dog people are nice. Yesterday was Adorable Dog Day because there were so many cute dogs everywhere! Also, Syster Sjöblom says I have the best Swedish that she's ever heard from a greenie, which turns out to be a good contacting strategy. I can say I like your dog, then she tells them I've only been here for a week and they're amazed, then we get into great conversations about why we're here and our message. It's great! I've had a few Swedes tell me that I have a great Swedish accent too and that I don't even sound that American.
I felt like we were archery hunting earlier today. We went and picked wild blueberries in a forest that seemed similar to the Red Cloud Loop. The blueberries were pretty good I guess. For blueberries. Syster Sjöblom still has red stains on her hands from picking them, because she couldn't get them off. The weather has been great. I haven't been rained on yet, which is apparently a miracle. Today I think it was 70 degrees (Farenheit. I still don't know Celcius or kilometers or anything.) It gets a little chilly in the evenings. I've heard that this is a great summer and last summer it rained every day. So I'm happy. We get fed dinner basically every day. I have had some really good fruit here already. We had some apples that taste like apple jolly ranchers and I'm addicted.
I don't really know if we've had a typical day here yet. Syster Sjöblom is just as new to the area as I am, and our area book was not very well-kept, so we've been spending a lot of time going through it and figuring out what's up. But we ride the trains every day and a lot of busses too.
Everything's going great though! I love it! I can understand lots of Swedish but I don't know a lot of words, but I'm getting better at it every day. And at talking to people. Even when they don't have dogs.
Jag älskar er!
PS-Good luck in school småsyskon!