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

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

Käre Familj,

WOW, what a fun deer hunt! Thank you for your very detailed description! It's ALMOST as good as seeing pictures of the deer! I'm glad you had so much fun and got some deer! I especially liked how Cole's deer was tagged similarly to my most recent deer-shoot it til it drops. I'm very impressed by your Saturday hike too. Cody will be in good shape to go on a mission for sure! Tell Peyton I got her letter and good job on her concerto.

This week there's good news and bad news. The good news is, we got a car in Sundsvall! Which is good because our area goes all the way to Norway and there are lots of people out there where we can't really reach them by public transportation. The bad news is, since I've been in Sweden over a year now, my license doesn't work here until I get it renewed, which I haven't yet. And Syster Jacobs didn't turn in everything to be able to drive. But the good news is one or the other or both of those things should be easy to fix! So I'll be cruising around Sweden before you know it!

Even without being able to drive the car, we've had a great week here! On Tuesday we went to Timrå and taught Noe Noe and Ci Ci again. They're the best! We taught them about the Word of Wisdom and they already follow it. Like everyone else in Sweden, they were confused about why coffee and tea were in there, but they agreed (very enthusiastically) that coffee is addictive and committed to keep the word of wisdom. We invited them and their parents to the culture night activity we're having at the church this Saturday, so hopefully we can start teaching the whole family soon. It snowed all day on Tuesday and was very dark and cold.

On Wednesday we met one of our investigators named Erimas. He's from Ethiopia and was meeting with the sisters before we got here, but we hadn't been able to get in contact with him before then. We also taught another woman named Maria who met with sisters before we got here. They were both really interesting but I'm not sure if they're really interested... We're going to teach Maria again tonight though. She's a really nice Swedish woman who is Christian, but her husband is Muslim, so she's trying to figure out what to believe. We also taught Ingegerd again Wednesday night. Still no pants, but still really spiritual. She told us she has a goal to come to church before January. I love it when people have goals for themselves BEFORE the missionaries come and invite them to make goals and take steps.

Thursday we met three old ladies. They were all really sweet and really different, which made it very interesting to teach them all on the same day. First we met Lottis, an old investigator. She has been taught quite a bit and has read some of the Book of Mormon, but she doesn't want to let go of her old church. By the end of the lesson we found out she's had a really tough life and feels incredibly alone in life. We invited her to come be a part of the church family but she doesn't want to because she doesn't have the energy to be around other people. Sometimes people here just break your heart. The next woman we met was a polar opposite and probably the most inspiring woman in Sweden. Her name is Margit and she's 93. She's been a member for 40 years and is still active, even though she misses church occasionally when she's sick. The first thing she told us when we got there was "Att ha en tro är den dyrbaraste gåvan man kan få. Du kan älska en människa, men att ha en tro är den dyrbaraste gåvan man kan få!" ("To have a faith is the most priceless gift you can have. You can love a person, but to have faith is the most priceless gift you can have!") She told us all about her life and her family, how she met the missionaries (tracting! It works on some people!) and things she's learned during her life. She loves music and was really excited to hear that there will be musical numbers from now until Christmas. She was the coolest person ever! She even let us take a selfie with her! The third woman we visited was Eva. She's a member who has been through a lot recently doesn't always feel well enough to come to church. But she loved having us over and was really fun. She remembered seeing videos of me playing the violin last Christmas. (It was her grandson who sang the song from the Messiah.) In between Margit and Eva we were supposed to meet a guy named Kuba at the church for a church tour, but he didn't come. We've had a lot of people not show up to their church tours and Syster Jacobs said in frustration, "We're never going to give anyone a tour of the church!" I said "Of course we will! And they're going to be baptized in this font!" Then we went tracting and while we were there the ice cream truck came by. Since it's always been my dream to get ice cream from the ice cream truck, we bought some popsicles and ate them in the freezing cold. It was actually really nice because the popsicles weren't melting away while we ate them!

Friday was a pretty awesome day. We gave our first church tour! It was to a guy named Ali. He's a 25 year old guy from Syria who's been in Sweden about 6 months. We contacted him on Wednesday and he said he could meet on Friday, so we met him at the bus station and took the bus with him to the church. We showed him around and when we showed him the font he said "Can I be baptized here?" We told him we can help. So we taught him the Restoration and he had a lot of really good questions. You can tell he's thought a lot about it. His parents are Muslim but he told us he knows that's not the right religion. So we invited him to be baptized on December 6th. When we gave him a Book of Mormon in Arabic he looked at it and said "Which chapters should I read in order to be prepared for baptism on December 6th?" Then he said the closing prayer. It was really awesome. After Ali left, we taught Matilda over skype. We've heard all about how awesome Matilda is but this is the first time we were able to actually meet her and teach her. She has a testimony that it's true and wants to be baptized, the only problem is that she lives in Östersund (halfway to Norway) so she can't come to church very easily. She said she does have a goal to come before Christmas though!

Saturday everybody cancelled on us, but we totally smashed the zone leaders in a contacting contest-we got 57. Fifty-five rejections, but two positive contacts. It's all worth it for those positive ones though.

Yesterday was really great! Ali came to church with a member family. He lives in Torpshammar, which is about 60 kilometers away, but luckily that's where the Karttunens live and they were more than willing to give him a ride. Elder Gray translated for him during sacrament because I was leading the music. All the members were super nice and talked to him. It's great, because everyone here speaks English! Every time we asked him how he enjoyed something, he always said "It was amazing." Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and Priesthood were all amazing. He read the first 12 chapters of 1 Nephi and they were also amazing. He even got cake because yesterday was Father's Day, so they gave cake to all the men. That was amazing too. He's one amazing guy! Our other VIPs were Lisa and Mahshid. After choir practice things got a little crazy. President Stegeby, the branch president (not to be confused with his father, President Stegeby, the District President) asked us if we had a dinner appointment. We said no, but we had a lesson at 5. He looked at his watch. 3:30. "We can do that." They took their 7 kids home, then came back to pick us up. It was super fun trying to not let all the kids steal our nametags. In the end I was the only one who still had mine. I also tried to teach the 4 year old to count to 10 in Spanish. She was pretty good at it. We ate super good spagghetti and then took our cookies on the go as they drove Syster Jacobs and I to our 5:00 appointment. It was a girl named Joy, another number from the phone who we've never actually met. Even after confirming our appointment two hours earlier, she wasn't home. So we made our way to the Ekeke family's house (the same family where we ate African food last week) to practice our act for the talent show on Saturday. They had dinner prepared. Luckily I served in Västerhaninge, so I can handle back to back member dinners. My answer to "are you hungry" by now is "I am if I need to be." We ate, we practiced, and we left. The elders got to take the car home while we had to wait for the bus. We were supposed to teach a girl named Julia (our 57th contact from Saturday night) but she cancelled. So everything we had set up beforehand fell through, but we were busy anyway.

Today we're going to hike up the "mountain." It should take about 15 minutes. Some mountain. But the elders said there's a playground on top so it should be fun. It's really warm today and all the ice finally melted. It's been super slippery all week.

Thanks for letters and a great email again! I hope you all have a great week! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney
Selfie in the snow

French hot dogs - buns are baguettes

Writing in the frost at the bus stop

Ice cream from the ice cream truck

NoeNoe and CiCi with Delaney & Syster Jacobs

Mirta, Delaney & Syster Jacobs

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

Käre Familj,

Happy Halloween! And Happy November! Can you believe it's already November? I can't. On the way here I was talking to a nice lady on the bus and she asked how long I'll be in Sweden and I realized I'm going home next month. I remember when Syster Haynes was close to going home and she was freaking out about it, and now I understand! On Saturday Syster Jacobs and I hit the point where she's been out on her mission for as many days as I have left. And she's only been in Sweden three weeks! This is scary, folks. It's okay, I've still got plenty of time.

Remember how I said we were going to have dinner with the Ekekes last Monday? It was super fun! He's from Nigeria, she's from Sweden, they met in Hong Kong-just a typical family here. They made a Nigerian dish called Fufu. It's this white doughy stuff that looks like mashed potatoes but it sticks together more. You roll it into a little ball and dip it in soup and then swallow it whole. It was really scary at first, but it actually tasted better if you swallowed it whole instead of chewing. It made the soup taste spicier. I liked it but it was a little fishy. We also practiced our act for the upcoming talent show. I don't know if I can really explain it. We will be doing a dance/mime to some spiritual songs, complete with white face paint and everything. It should be fun.

Tuesday we missed out on the warmest day in Sundsvall because we went down to Stockholm for zone conference. It was a long day, but a really good conference. Everyone else in Norrland got to fly down the night before and stay the night with other missionaries, so we were a little grumpy when we had to get up at 3:45 that morning and take a train at 5 AM. The conference was good. I learned a lot and it was really uplifting. The train ride home was extra fun because I got to talk to Syster Byrd and Syster Eborn the whole way back up to Sundsvall. I've missed them both so much! They're companions in Uppsala now. We got back to Sundsvall at 10PM. It was a LONG day.

Our exchange day was really great though! Syster Jacobs went with Syster Eborn and I got to go with Syster Byrd. The goal was to have the area (including area book and phone) completely sorted out so that we could feel like we were in control. Because really, it's felt like we've been fighting to stay above water and not being able to go anywhere. Doubling in has never been easy, but it's never been harder than coming in here because there was nothing to go off of. Syster Eborn and Syster Jacobs did an amazing job going through the entire area book and sorting out which old investigators we should go by and which ones aren't worth the time right now. They also called every number in our phone so we finally know which ones work and which ones are investigators versus members, etc. While they did this, Syster Byrd and I got our hands on a ward list from the elders and made a copy, and we made a map of all the members in our area so we know who we have to work with. So we finally have some direction and the tools to get there. We really needed their help. Syster Byrd and I also taught Charles. It was a very interesting lesson... Charles likes to joke around a lot. What I've always loved about teaching with Syster Byrd is that we both finally get fed up at the same time. She finally told him off for not taking it seriously and told him that he was wasting our time. Then I asked if he wanted us to stop inviting him to do things and he said yes, so we said that there was no point in us meeting anymore. He agreed. Some people just aren't ready yet. Syster Byrd and I also dropped by a less active woman named Margit. It was a miracle that we got in, but it was a really good lesson and hopefully we'll be able to go back. Syster Byrd and I also found a street called Boråsvägen! (I'll send the picture next week because Syster Byrd hasn't sent it to me yet.)

Thursday was weird. We had a bunch of lessons set up and none of them cancelled, but we only ended up teaching one of them. The first one was a guy named Zaki, but when it came time to meet him it turned out there had been some miscommunication about the time so he thought we were going to meet earlier, and couldn't come anymore. Then the next guy was a guy named Johannes. I had him on the phone and we were both in the library trying to find each other when finally he said "Are you in Örnsköldsvik?" That's the area north of us. We sent his number to the elders there. Don't worry, third time's the charm and our third lesson showed up on time at the right place. It was a guy named Lawrence, one of the people from the phone. He's from Gambia but he's lived in Europe for the last 15 years. He was really cool and said he wants to get the same relationship he had with God back when he was in Africa. We told him we could help. :) And we invited him to be baptized! He accepted a baptismal date for November 22nd. That was super exciting. But then he went to Stockholm so he wasn't in church. And he hasn't answered his phone since. And he didn't come to the lesson we were supposed to have earlier today. :/ But we're praying for him, so we'll see what happens!

Friday was a good Halloween. I dressed up as Syster Austin. A lot of people guessed I was a prison inmate because of my striped dress. Nobody up here knows Syster Austin anyway. We taught Zaki. We were supposed to teach him inside the library, but the library closed early for a Halloween party, so we sat outside the library and taught him. It was very cold. It wasn't a long lesson. Especially because the whole time he encouraged us to read the Koran... we didn't set up a return appointment. The rest of our lessons we had set up didn't show up. But we did have yummy white hot chocolate to warm up!

Saturday was Alla Helgons Dag- All Saints' Day. It's a really cool Swedish holiday where they put candles in the graveyards to honor the dead. Like memorial day only more pagan. We were supposed to visit a graveyard...but the phone led us astray to the middle of a forest with not a single grave or candle in sight. I was really disappointed. It didn't help that none of the five lessons we had set up that day went through. We were supposed to meet Mohammed again but he texted us in the middle of the night saying he got work in Gävle and basically would never be able to meet again. (Then we saw him in the store today and he came right up and started talking to us. He said he's been reading in the Book of Mormon every night and it makes him feel really good when he reads it. Unfortunately he has absolutely NO TIME between his job here during the week and his job in Gävle on weekends.) We were also supposed to meet Moses, Kuba, Javier, and Danish. None of them showed up, even though we confirmed with all four of them the day before. Quote of the day from Syster Jacobs: "This is an ice cream day, but we're fasting!" Thank goodness for the blessings of fasting because otherwise I don't know if I would have made it through.

Yesterday was good. I was so ready for Sunday. And Fast Sunday at that! Angela was in church again. We're still working on actually teaching here. So far she seems pretty content just to come on Sundays. There was also a family of five from Hungary. They were tracted by one set of elders, then the other elders contacted them on the street. So they came to church! All the testimonies were really good and talked a lot about families being together forever. I think they really liked it. They said they'll be back next week. :D I taught the lesson in Gospel Principles about families being together forever. I think that's probably my favorite thing to teach about, because it is not hard to come up with examples of how my family has helped me and what I've learned from my family. There was also a baptism after church on Sunday. It was for an 8-year old in an active family, but still, a baptism's a baptism! I wished the family would have stayed for it because the Spirit was really strong.

Today has been a good P-Day. We had a little surprise party for Elder Smith because today's his birthday. (People still keep asking if we're married...) Elder Gray made cake with delicious cream cheese frosting, and we blew up balloons and surprised him at the church. Syster Jacobs also got more winter gear because it's supposed to snow more this week. We're excited for it!

We have a full week planned so it will be really exciting to meet all these new people from our phone!

Sounds like you've all had a fun week too. Good luck at the deer hunt! I'm looking forward to seeing lots of pictures from it!

Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney

Halloween - Dressed as former companion Syster Austin
Blowing up balloons for a surprise birthday party for Elder Smith

Delaney and Syster Jacobs

White chocolate hot chocolate

Zone Conference with the mittens knitted by women
in the Beckstrand's hometown of Meadow, UT

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

Käre Familj,

I have also had a great week. Especially because of benefiting from Daylight Savings this weekend. That was a very good extra hour of sleep yesterday morning! Except I'm not sure whether we really benefited from it because today the sunset is at  3:56 PM. When you're a missionary, the extra hour of sunlight in the morning is during study time, and we have an extra hour in the dark of proselyting. But it's okay, because missionary work in the dark works just as well as in the light! I actually think it's better in the dark because people realize that this is something so important we're willing to stop and talk about it in the cold and dark. The trick is getting them to stop and talk about it too!

Good work in your mountain biking race Peyton! I've loved hearing about all the races and adventures with mountain biking. I'm proud of you!

How was the Meet the Mormons movie? Did they do a good job on it? I heard there was a preview for the upcoming Reign of the Judges movie about the Book of Mormon. Did you see that too? Did it look good?

So I realized this week that the things that stand out to me, like falling in holes and running around after spårvagns probably aren't the same things that would stand out to you about my areas. So I hope all the things I include in my emails home are things you want to know. And I hope I remember to answer all/any of your questions too. :)

Last week after we finished emailing we went secondhand shopping and got lots of steals! Syster Jacobs is all set for winter with a coat, boots, and the works. Unfortunately Matilda didn't show up for her Skype lesson, and we still haven't met her. She's in Austria right now but we talked to her yesterday on the phone and she still really wants to meet us! Which is good, we were worried she'd been avoiding us.

On Tuesday the Tolleys (the senior couple in charge of apartments) came by and tried to fix the heaters in our apartment. They're still not heating very well. Don't worry, we're not freezing yet. Then they gave us a ride to Timrå, a little town about 15 minutes north of Sundsvall. There we visited Lisa Svedin, a really nice less active member. She has more National Geographic magazines than anyone I've ever met, including my previous science teachers. She's really cool and has the temple in mind, so we're excited to work with her on coming back to activity. Then after that we taught Noe Noe at the library. It was a really great lesson. We just missed the bus back into Sundsvall (I've gotten lazy with the iPhone so when it couldn't connect to the internet, I was helpless!) so we were a little late coming back to the church, but we caught the tail end of a really great correlation meeting and then we had branch council, which was also really great.This is a wonderful branch and the people have a lot of energy!

Wednesday we had a full day set up, but a couple of our appointments never showed up. So we got to work on calling everybody in our phone to keep figuring out what we have to work with. While we were in the library calling people, two different people came up and started talking to us. Turns out both of them were already the elders' investigators. But we learned that there's a weird trend of people just coming up to the missionaries in the library and asking them to teach them. So we'll be hanging around the library a lot. One of our appointments who DID show up on Wednesday was an investigator named Charles. He started by asking our names, age, and marital status... so we'll see how long we keep teaching him. A couple of his friends came and sat down with us and they were super positive though! One of them is from Uganda and he used to go the the LDS church in Uganda. He left his Book of Mormon there. So we gave him a new one. Have I ever mentioned how much I love people from Uganda? After that we visited another less active woman named Ingegerd. She loves to read and she wasn't wearing pants. It was definitely the most spiritual lesson I've had with someone not wearing pants. (No, I haven't had many of those lessons.) She said we were the first missionaries to visit her in over a year, which is weird because we just called and she said we could come. I'm really excited to get to know her better because she seems like a really sweet lady.

Thursday we had District Meeting and we went to get Syster Jacobs her Personnummer. Nobody we tried to meet with was home, but we did talk to lots of people! It was the same on Friday. The Friday night activity was good. Angela came again, and this time we played a game called the Spy Game. I'll teach it to you when I come home, because it was really fun!

Saturday we got a new investigator! A really nice guy named Mohammed. He was in the phone so I called him and we met at the library. He's from Syria and he's Muslim, but he wants to know more about Christianity. He seems pretty sincere. We also got to talk to a new convert named Oscar over the phone. He was actually found and taught by Syster Dawson and her trainer almost a year ago, and now he lives in Östersund. So we talked to him and he was really excited to hear that I knew Syster Dawson.

Yesterday was a great Sunday! Angela was in church again. Our other VIPs were Mashid and Sassan, who are both recent converts. (Sassan was one of those people who came up to the missionaries in the library and asked them to teach him.) They're both really cool but really busy so we've only ever really met them at church. After church we had choir practice. You know you have a good branch when it's got a choir. They sound pretty good too. In a couple weeks they're going to sing the EFY medley (As Sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman) and I'll play the piano for it. It's really funny to hear the Swedes singing in English. They say "sisters" like "seestERS". That's probably what they think when we try to sing in Swedish. After choir practice we had dinner at the church with a member family. They live a long way away, which is why they just brought the food to the church. We're two for two on dinners with vegetarians. But the food was still really good!

Today we're going to a dinner with the Ekekes. The dad is from Africa but I'm not sure where, and he's married to a Swede. We're going to plan our act for the talent show coming up. Then tomorrow we have zone conference in Stockholm, which means we'll be taking a train from Sundsvall at 5 AM. We'll get back to Sundsvall at 10 PM. The sister training leaders (Sisters Byrd and Eborn!) will be coming back with us for exchanges. They'll do what we call workovers, which means we'll be on exchanges but we'll all be in Sundsvall. So we're trying to double book Wednesday with teaching appointments so we can get a lot done!

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that it snowed already! It snowed on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, and again on Thursday night. It was great! Nothing sticking yet, and it's a lot warmer today, but winter is coming!

Please keep Noe Noe, Matilda, and Angela in your prayers! They're all really wonderful!

I hope you have a great week this week that isn't even arguable bad! Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney
Dragon in Sundsvall

Delaney with the Familjen Dolmaya

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Käre Familj,

Hello from cold, beautiful Norrland! The weather outside is currently 3 degrees Celcius (37 F) and there's a chance of snow on Thursday. It was actually snowing a little bit mixed with the rain when we woke up this morning. It was still early autumn warm in Norrköping, so I feel like I skipped the rest of Autumn on the train ride up here. Bring on the real Swedish winter! We've got plans today to get more winter gear. Luckily I have most of what I need left over from last winter, thank goodness.

My new companion is Syster Jacobs. She's really awesome! She's from Clearfield, Utah, and just finished her first year of school at BYU studying accounting. She loves Studio C so we've been quoting that all the time. And she's updating me on the new season. :) She also has a really good singing voice. She said she'd prayed to come to Norrland, so I guess we both got our wish! I hope she's not regretting it when it gets really cold and dark!

This week, like most transfer weeks, has been crazy. I'm really glad I only have to pack everything up and move one more time, because it is EXHAUSTING. I feel like I have jet lag right along with Syster Jacobs.

Monday was a really fun last P-Day in Norrköping. We ate at the classic Taco Bar with all the elders, then we had ping-pong tournaments at the church and took district pictures. More than half the district transferred this week, so it will be completely different now. Monday night everything canceled on us (I feel like Norrköping wanted us to have one last night like to remember it by...) so we finished up all the transition report and area book stuff that had to be ready for us to double out.

Tuesday was a CRAZY day, the kind where you do more than should be possible in that amount of time. Thank goodness for Divine help! We taught and said goodbye to Cecilia and Kirsi first. I'm going to miss them a lot, especially Kirsi. She's like my new Swedish grandma. Then we went to Olivia's house to say goodbye to her. We bought her a frame and gave her a picture of her on her baptism day. (Thanks for sending me that photo album mom, but I gave away a lot of the pictures from it...) It was really sad saying goodbye to Olivia as well. She's a rockstar. After that we came back to the church for the Swedish class and to say goodbye to Kerstin (who teaches the Swedish class) and Bishop and the rest of the ward council members who were there. Then this is where it started to get crazy. Pontus was supposed to come to the church sometime before seven to say goodbye. At least, that's what we both are pretty sure he said. When seven came and went without any sign of Pontus, we started to get worried. We still had to see Prossy and the Dolmayas before we went home. We tried calling Pontus, but to no avail. Finally we figured we'd best go say goodbye to Prossy before it got too late. So we went there and said goodbye to her, which was also sad. Then we still didn't know where Pontus was so we tried our last resort: dropping by his friend Mari's house, where they have a homegroup every Tuesday night. As we got to her door a lady was coming out, and we asked if Pontus was in there. "No, he left about a half hour ago. He said he was going to a church." Shoot. So we set off at a sprint for the church, while Syster Austin calls the elders (who were at the church still.) If there is one thing I've come to hate on my mission it is miscommunication. Or lack of communication in general. The elders answer the phone and say "Oh yeah, Pontus was here. He left about five minutes ago. But he left something for you guys." At that moment a spårvagn goes by from the church towards town. It was like a movie. I was a little hysterical so I'm not sure exactly what happened but I'm pretty sure I yelled "Noooooooooooooo!" as it went past. Just like in a movie. We tried to run and catch it at the next stop in case we could get on it and find Pontus, but we didn't catch it. Between ranting about the elders ("WHY DID THEY NOT CALL US WHEN PONTUS WAS THERE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?") I think by that point I was praying quietly out loud. Our last hope was that he hadn't caught the spårvagn and was walking toward the stop from the church, so we started running back toward the church. (It's a good thing our area was tiny or else all that running around would be too much!) Soon we saw Pontus coming our way. I was so glad to see him. (Knowing Pontus, it probably wouldn't be good for us to leave without saying goodbye.) We talked to him a little there on the sidewalk and then walked him to the stop to catch the next spårvagn into town. I hope everything turns out okay with him. By this point we were late to the Dolmayas so we went straight there. (Again, good thing for the tiny area so we could get to all these places.) They were heartbroken to hear that Syster Austin was leaving as well, but they did pretty good at cheering her up. They are amazing people and I already miss them a lot. The best part was when I secretly gave Judy a picture from her baptism (also out of the album that mom sent). I've never seen Judy so excited before! She didn't know there were any pictures left since we lost the phone right after her baptism, and most of the pictures were on that. We finally got home on Tuesday night and had to finish packing. Luckily I was mostly done and Syster Austin hadn't even unpacked half her stuff.

We woke up at 4:45 Wednesday morning in order to catch our trains. Mine left to Stockholm at 6:27, then Syster Austin had a direct train to Malmö at 6:33. The elders came and helped us both get onto our trains. The train ride was uneventful and a nice lady even helped me get my stuff off at Stockholm Central Station. She was impressed that it was everything I had and that I was moving to Sundsvall. I navigated through the station and met up with the rest of the trainers as we made our way to Täby. There we waited for a while before we met the greenies. I took the opportunity to give Syster Maxwell a run-down of everything that's happening in Norrköping. It was a weird Deja vu to be there again. Syster Dawson is training now so she was there and we had fun talking about how our missions have been going. Finally we got to go in and the new missionaries read their letters saying where they would be going. Syster Jacobs was the first one to read hers, so I didn't have to wait in the suspense too long! We took pictures at the map, had lunch, and then we all took a chartered bus to T-Central. There we waited for another hour or so for our train up to Sundsvall. It was about a 3½ hour train ride. Good thing I brought some potato chips to snack on and Jesus the Christ to read on the way up there! We were also sitting by Äldste Gray (he's my district leader again!) and his new greenie Äldste Bliss. (According to mission geneology, that makes Syster Jacobs and Äldste Bliss twins.) We got to Sundsvall around 6 PM so it was already dark, and the other elders in Sundsvall met us to help us with our stuff. Äldste Stafford and his greenie Äldste Smith. I have now met elders A. Smith, B. Smith, and C. Smith. This one is C. Smith. They helped us take our luggage to our apartment (which is HUGE) and then took us to get bus cards and groceries. Nobody has been living in our apartment for the last week so we had nothing but rice and eggs. We got groceries and brought them back to our apartment, and had about an hour left to eat dinner. It was a hectic first day.

The next day,Thursday, we had zone training up in Umeå. So we got up at 4:45 (again...) in order to catch a train to Umeå at 5:50. This was another 3+ hour train ride. Umeå was really pretty and there was a little snow falling when we got there. It was funny because we saw the church in Umeå before we ever saw Sundsvall's chapel. And by that point we'd still never seen Sundsvall in the light. By the time we got home from zone training it was 6PM again so we STILL hadn't seen Sundsvall in the light. (You travel a lot in Norrland because everything is so much further apart.) But don't worry, while we were in Umeå we kebaptized Syster Jacobs and Äldste Bliss. Too bad Norrland has the worst kebab. 

Friday we explored the city a little bit, called a bunch of people and contacted people on the street. We also had an activity in the church on Friday night. We played that game where you put flour in a bowl and make a hill out of it, and you put a coin in the top and cut away chunks until it falls down. Then you have to get the coin out of the flour with your mouth. I managed to cut chunks without making it fall, thank goodness.

On Saturday we met with some of our investigators that we've heard about but hadn't met yet. Their names are Noe Noe and Ci Ci. (Good thing this isn't a Spanish speaking mission...) Noe Noe is 15 and Ci Ci is 11, and they are from Thailand but have lived here about 6 years, and they are THE COOLEST TEENAGE GIRLS EVER. Noe Noe has a solid testimony of the church and Ci Ci is searching for one through scripture study and prayer. It was awesome to meet them and see how much they love Jesus Christ and the gospel. It's just a hard situation with their parents because they're not really for the church, but they have an uncle who's a member who's working on them. They were also super excited to meet us. (There were sisters here up until three weeks ago when all those sisters went home, so Sundsvall has missed its sisters in the meantime.)

Yesterday at church we got to meet the members, and they are all so nice! They talked to us, and they talked to each other, and they talked to the people in the ward who weren't Swedish. And they all know English and don't pretend not to know it as an excuse not to talk to people. We had one investigator there, a girl named Angela whose step-father is a recently reactivated member. We also had two less active members there, a woman named Lisa and one named Eva. Eva was there with her daughter, who is actually a member in Handen who I know pretty well because we had Thanksgiving dinner there a year ago. It was funny to be all the way up here in Sundsvall and see her again! There was another member from Västerhaninge here, and a member from Norrköping, Soloman. I guess he's actually from here, but he's in Norrköping's ward. So we were just missing Borås and I would have had someone from all my areas! After church we had choir practice. This is the first ward I've been in with a ward choir. It's awesome! Sundsvall is actually a branch, but it's big enough to be a ward. It's just because it's not in a stake. We're in the Umeå District. There's about 50-60 people in Sacrament Meeting every week, according to the elders. And we've got members from Canada, Hawaii, Iran, and Finnland to name a few.

After church we had dinner with the ward organist, Maj. She's vegetarian, but the soy chicken was pretty okay. It was all six of us missionaries there, and it was a really fun time. Maj is hilarious. And we were all speaking in Swenglish. I don't know which language we used more. There was delicious raspberry pie with blueberry ice cream for dessert. For a vegetarian, it was a pretty good first member dinner here! I think Syster Jacobs enjoyed it too.

We're still trying to get our bearings and figure out what we already have going on here. There wasn't much information left for us to go off of, but the elders are helping us out. Tonight we're going to teach a girl named Matilda who was an exchange student in Idaho. We've heard she's really awesome. She lives out in Östersund (halfway to Norway) so we're going to teach her by Skype.

Sundsvall is beautiful and there are dragon statues all over. We're going to take lots of pictures of the dragons. They're supposed to guard the city from burning down again. The elders left us a note when we got here that said "Dear Sister Smith and Greenie, Welcome to the wonderful land of Sundsvall. Highly known for the fact that it burnt down twice. Hence the dragons. Your area is approximately the size of Rhode Island."

Good luck racing in St. George and ACTing in not St.George! Thanks for the updates on how everything is going! Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Jag älskar er!

Love, Delaney
Syster Jacobs and Delaney pointing to Sundsvall

Norrkoping District-Oct. 2014