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!
Syster Jacobs and Delaney pointing to Sundsvall
Norrkoping District-Oct. 2014