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