Honestly I've been a little scared to write this email because there's no way I can do this week justice. First of all, Happy Farsdag, Dad! All the men in our ward got a chocolate bar in church for father's day. That's all we did to celebrate since it was Ward Conference. I'm glad you had fun with the missionaries. When we come over we usually have to remind them that there are only two of us coming and not all four. We haven't had so many dinners in the last couple weeks but next week is jam packed with member dinners. And most of them are the Spanish speakers so hopefully we'll get some good Mexicanish food!
Tell Peyton my violin's name is Bree and that I'm super jealous that she gets to go to the SYTYCD tour! I mean, I'd rather be in Sweden, but still. That's pretty sweet! Also, I'm not really surprised about Zorro. It's hard to not fall off when he transitions into a gallop. It's by far the least smooth transition possible. I think it would be a smoother ride if he just started trying to buck you off.
So this week. Stockholm was super fun. We went to Gamla Stan, ("Old Town") which is where the King's Palace is. It's mostly a lot of touristy stuff. Souvenir shops and such. They had really yummy ice cream though! It was great! We might go in to Stockholm again today for lunch. Syster Sjöblom says there's a really good steakhouse that we need to try, and we need to take a district picture before transfers tomorrow. Speaking of transfers. We were all on edge Saturday when transfer calls happened, but no called for us-we're all staying! Our district is getting two more sisters, so it will be six sisters and two elders. (It's what we call a "Relief Society District".) Also, Elder Markus is going to be our new zone leader. I haven't seen him yet but I will this week now that he's coming down here. Anyway so we didn't get any lessons on Monday because we had a member dinner with all four sisters (kind of another birthday party for Syster Larson) and they taught the lesson. The week is a little harder when you start out with zero lessons. But if you can get a lot done on Monday night, the week goes super great!
On Tuesday I learned to make a reindeer bracelet with Marie. We're going back this week to learn how to finish, and to follow up on the Book of Mormon we gave her. We gave Dong a call that day but he didn't know enough English for us to communicate why we were calling. So I've spent this week figuring out how to say "Wo men shi Ye Su Ji Du lao shi. Ni yao xue Ye Su Ji Du ma?" ("We're Jesus teachers. Do you want to study Jesus?") Good thing I went to BYU so I know how to say Jesus Christ in Chinese. We're going to call him this week and try it out. Our lesson count by the end of Tuesday was two: the member we had lunch with (in a bar, it was interesting) and then Marie.
On Wednesday we went down to Ösmo to drop by Siv but she wasn't home, so we dropped by Louise and got to teach her about commandments. We're going to start the new member lessons with her soon since we don't think she got them right after her baptism. We were supposed to have dinner at three at the church, but it turned out they just left food in the fridge for us. That was good because we didn't actually want to eat at three, but we didn't get to teach them because they weren't there. We spent the rest of the time in the chapel because it was Wednesday and we're Temple Visitor Center missionaries on Wednesday. It would help if the temple had a visitor center or if people knew that they could just walk into the church and ask about the temple and the Mormons. We're working on that. Luckily Syster Sjöblom got to teach a miracle lesson on the train down to Ösmo, so by the end of Wednesday we were at four for the week. This would be a good time to note that we set a goal in faith of teaching twenty lessons this week. It wasn't looking so good at this point, but we still had faith and we take every opportunity we can to teach the Restored Gospel and invite others to come unto Christ!
So Thursday the miracles begin. We went to Nynäshamn to drop by a member who had just moved into our area. On the train down there, we saw none other than the Erik Formerly Known as Golden. He'd stopped investigating because his girlfriend said she'd dump him if he became Mormon. We testified that we just wanted him to be the happiest he could be and that's why we invite him to read the Book of Mormon and come to church. It was funny because just a few days before I'd commented how it was weird that we hadn't even seen him recently. It was great that we got to see him again though since he doesn't answer when we call. We went over to the member's house but it was portcoded so we couldn't even leave them cookies. Same with the other member we tried to drop by. But then on our way back to the train station we saw her, gave her the cookies, followed up on the commitment we gave her last time, and even found out that she was going to meet a non-member friend on Saturday and bring up the Gospel. Score! We kept walking back to the train station and stopped a guy on the street who was very spiritual and asked us questions that led into the Plan of Salvation. We missed the train but we taught him the Plan of Salvation and helped him strengthen his faith. That night we helped Louise out with the ...I think in Utah it's called Enrichment Night, right? They had that, and Louise was in charge because they were having an "African Night." We helped her bring all the food into the church-it was yummy! She did a great job and there was a really good turn out. I was really worried there would only be a few women and that Louise would be disappointed but there were 30 or 40 people there, so it was great! On the way home we kept contacting of course, and our tenth contact was another searcher. He had a ton of questions and totally agreed with everything we told him. After he left to get on the train we tried to figure out if we'd just taught him the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, or the Gospel of Christ, and the answer was simply "yes." I also had a ten minute conversation in Spanish with a guy from Nicaragua on Thursday. So in that one day we more than doubled our lessons, getting five including three unplanned ones with street contacts.
Friday we actually had lessons scheduled-who would have guessed! That seems to never happen to us because nobody wants to schedule anything. First we taught John, who wants to be baptized before he leaves the country at the end of December. He just has some scheduling issues with coming to church-it coincides with his lunchtime. We keep trying to help him understand that God will prepare a way for him to come to church if he just has faith. We committed him to come to as much of church as he could after lunch. Then we went down and taught Juan Carlos and Cie-Cie. Unfortunately we didn't have very good teaching locations for either of them so we felt like we couldn't teach a really good lesson, but we still helped them strengthen their faith in any case. We got four lessons (the fourth was the member who came to John's lesson) and started to realize it was becoming more and more possible to hit 20 lessons.
Saturday was looking like an effective but not-so-effective day. We had weekly planning, our three hours in the "Visitor Center," and an hour of family history to do. We took the morning shift at the chapel and talked to one of the bishopric members who asked us to make a list of the members in our area and what we've done with them. Many such lists exist already, since I've been keeping track in pencil on our ward list, but we took our church time to type it up and make it look nice. Three months of work adds up to a nice big Excel spreadsheet! It was pretty cool to see the progress that we've made in our area among the less active members. We then went to the Family History center where I still did not find any Swedish ancestors. The family history missionaries got talking to us and we couldn't escape for quite a while. On our way home we taught another lesson on the street. Another searcher. He had actually been trying to research the church and had thought of questions over the summer, so it was perfect. We made it home at three, not having eaten any lunch or anything. We snarffed down sandwiches (I put tomato on mine. Weird huh?) then headed out again to contact eight more people. We had a full night of stuff to do at home because we still hadn't done any weekly planning, so I was hoping it wouldn't take more than an hour to contact those eight people. We rode the train one stop, to Jordbro, and back to Handen, and got eight contacts. Fifteen minutes total. It was a miracle. And we even got to teach that one lesson during our full day of work.
And of course, Sunday. Sunday is the best. It's definitely the most stressful day of the week, but it's SO rewarding! Petra couldn't come to church because she didn't have anyone to take care of her dog. I was almost annoyed because Buster has been the reason she couldn't come to church every time we thought she would come, but then I remember that Buster is the reason I had the courage to contact her my first or second week here. So I'm thankful for Buster and I'm glad he's being taken care of. She's going to try and come soon though. We called Arthur to see if he wanted us to pick him up at the station again, and it turned out he got called in to work again. Bummer. But we got to teach Ulf, one of our less actives who's becoming very active as of recently. We're working on motivating him to get back to the temple, so maybe next month we can even go with him! That would be super cool. We went upstairs and found Hayder, another of our less actives. So we had two less actives at church! Then Jakob, someone that Syster Sjöblom contacted on the train a few weeks ago, texted to say that he was at the station waiting, so we went to pick him up. I forgot to mention that we called him this week to see if he could meet and he could only meet on Sunday so I invited him to church and he said he could probably come, but lots of people say that. But he actually came! We picked him up, brought him to church, and got him an Arabic Book of Mormon. It was ward conference, so Sacrament meeting was two hours long. (Honestly I was thankful Petra couldn't come this week, because I don't want to scare her off, and we had our hands full with Jakob.) I gave him 3 Nephi 18 to read during the Sacrament, and also the sacrament prayers. He was impressed that I knew the numbers so I could find the chapters! (At least, I hope I gave him the right chapters...) He was a little uncomfortable with so many people, but he definitely felt something and he's going to come back! After we'd given him a brief introduction to the Book of Mormon lesson, we came back into the chapel just in time to see John. He came! He found the other sisters first and sat with them, but he was there for the last half of the meeting-good thing it was two hours long! We taught him again but he was in a hurry to leave, so we didn't set a baptismal date yet. (By the way, John has had many baptismal dates. But he prayed this week that he could be baptized before the end of the year!) The ward had fika after church so we got food there instead of having a member dinner, then we had a couple hours left to contact. We found Oskar, who Syster Sjöblom contacted a few days ago. He's Catholic but he's interested in learning more. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and we're going to get one for him in Arabic. (We'll be putting in an order for more Arabic Book of Mormons soon.) Then we talked to Kristina. She believes in God and had a lot of questions about life after death so we taught her the Plan of Salvation on the train platform. We kept walking along our favorite little contacting path, and got rejected by our tenth contact. There Syster Sjöblom and I found ourselves with a problem. We had 19 lessons. We had things to do. It was dinner time and we hadn't done our hour of language study either. It wouldn't be effective to stay out just looking for one more person to teach, and we didn't feel right about that anyway. I mean it's one thing to teach people who are interested as you find them, but we didn't want to go looking just for that one lesson. We decided to use the Lord's time wisely and head home. But of course, we talk to everyone, so when someone was walking by we stopped and talked. At first I thought he was flat out rejecting us, because he walked right on by, but then he stopped and took out his headphones to listen. His name is Walter, and he is a searcher if there ever was one. He grew up Catholic but he's been trying to find the real truth, and to have the experiences to know it's true. I loved teaching him about the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ, and testifying that he could have those experiences, and he could know for himself that it was true. He said himself, there were so many similarities between the things he'd come to believe and the things we believe. He's excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. He's going to gain a testimony-he already knows what he needs to experience for it. His name is Walter, he's originally from Mexico but basically grew up here, and he's probably in his early twenties.
So we got twenty lessons this week, and I know it's because of our faith and our hard work! Our fasting didn't hurt either. We had a fast yesterday for Arthur, because we were planning on getting a baptismal date with him. When he couldn't come to church again, we still didn't lose hope-we knew our fasting would pay off! On our way home last night, he called us. He was still at work, but he talked to his boss and asked for Sundays off so he can come to church. His boss said yes! We didn't even suggest to Arthur to do that, he did it of his own accord. And he's excited to come to church again and meet again! God is making the way for him, and there's no denying the miracles he's had.
Pretty crazy week, right? I've loved it though. This area is going to explode soon-we've already made a ton of progress and things are set up for a great five weeks! (The transfers are weird with Christmas coming up. Basically one of us will probably be transferred the week before Christmas.) Thank you for your letters, your prayers, and your thoughts! And especially for doing member missionary work at home! It's super important! Remember that Elder Ballard promised President Monson for you that you would invite someone before Christmas!
Jag älskar er!