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!
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