Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, we didn't realize the library closed early on Saturdays, so this one might be a short one...Oops. My bad. Haha! (PS: #luleåproblems--having to pay for internet access. Whose idea was this.)

It has been a big week!! On Tuesday, we got a call from President Beckstrand, telling me that I will be TRAINING! My very own greenie :) I will pick her up on Wednesday next week, and we will be heading to Luleå! I am all sorts of nervous and excited, but it is going to be super fun to give someone their first taste of Sweden :) I will get to show her all of the good food, and help her learn the language.....ahhh. Weird. I feel like I was just barely a greenie myself!! Syster Bolton will be transferring to Jönköping, in the south. Even though I am sad to see her go, I know what's next will be great! Especially up here in Norrland! It is magic up here :)

Yesterday, we drove for an hour and a half to visit less actives around the Finland border, in a city called Haparanda. I absolutely loved doing that. A lot of people here in Sweden don't have cars, so it is difficult for them to travel far distances. These less actives can't come to church just because they can't get there! We met with one man named Stig, who was so excited to see us and read out of the Book of Mormon. We asked him about his favorite chapter, and he immediately said "when Christ comes to the Americas". We read a little out of that, and he was so happy. Right there in that moment, I honestly felt like I was making a difference in someone's life. That is what a mission is all about! That is the happiness that comes! :) Anyway, I wanted them to be able to come to church, so we called around and found out that there was a church 30 minutes away in Kemi, Finland. I called President Beckstrand to see if the missionaries living in Kemi could come visit our less actives in Haparanda, and he said he would try to work something out. My setting apart blessing talks about how I am going to open doors in the gospel that haven't been open before, and I think this experience was one of the ways. :) It was so cool to be there and see all of them though! Some things here in Sweden make you appreciate all of the churches in Utah a little bit more. ;)

Well I love being a missionary!! I love being here! I am so excited to see what is next for me, and to meet my greenie, and to become a mom (mission lingo--your trainer is your mom/dad) ;) And Thanksgiving is this coming week!! Woooo! While you are all eating your great dinners and being grateful, remember the cute missionaries around the world who are eating the stuffing out of the box that their moms sent them ;) (S/O to my mom for being the best and sending me Thanksgiving dinner stuff!!!) I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Have a good week :)

xoxoxoxox Erin

Walking on the frozen ocean!

More pictures of the frozen ocean! It's soooo pretty!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Baptisms and Blåsts

Hejhej everyone!! (This is a normal greeting here, like "Hey hey, how are you?")

This week was the BEST. My goodness I loved it. I can't even choose a favorite part! So many funny stories and fun things and baptisms...wait what? That doesn't happen in Sweden. Haha yay for breaking stereotypes!

So on Thursday, we flew down to Stockholm for a big sisters conference! All of the sisters in the entire mission, from Malmö in the very south to our little northern city of Luleå, got to come to Stockholm for the day. It was the best thing that could have ever happened. I love all the sisters here so much! Syster Beckstrand, the mission president's wife, started off the day by leading us in a zumba workout type thing...hahah have I mentioned I love this mission? It was a blast. After that, we had classes from Syster Beckstrand and all of the other senior sister missionaries. Syster Taylor (who knows my Aunt Jody, shout out to her:)) taught the coolest class on gratitude. I guess it's the season, right? :) I have been working hard on being more grateful lately, and it was so helpful to make me realize just how much I have to be grateful for! I've been making lists of all the blessings I have seen come from my mission, and I've been amazed by how much I can come up with. For example...
1. I have the most amazing family at home who loves me and is so proud of me.
2. I have had the opportunity to get to know so many great people here, missionaries, members, and investigators alike.
3. I can speak a new language. (Or attempt...hehe it counts)
4. I have a firm testimony of the gospel.
5. I am more bold than I have ever been!
Those are just a few, and I could go on and on, but my email time is limited (and you guys would just get bored, let me tell you). ;) I am just so grateful for the opportunity to be here. It amazes me that God decided to use me in His great work.

We also did normal missionary work this week, which always results in some kind of funny story...I don't know if other missions have this, but when you make an appointment with someone and they don't show up, don't answer their phone, and just leave you hanging, we call it ”getting blåsted”. Syster Bolton and I actually hold the record in our zone for the most blåsts in a week (10 holla). Haha! But. I had called a less active lady earlier that week and asked if we could come by. She said yes, so we decided a time and all of that. She didn't answer her phone either time I tried to confirm the appointment, but we went anyway. We knocked and she didn't answer, but we could hear her moving around in her apartment, sooooo I called her. She was not getting out of that appointment that easy! All of the sudden, we could hear her phone going off inside the door, then her picking it up, looking at it for a second, and then silencing it. Hahahah oh we were dying. Some people just really don't want to talk to you, which is weird. All we want to do is help you go to heaven... Haha!;)

To top it all off, we had our BAPTISM this week! Stefan was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday. He was so excited! He wanted to have his baptism in Skellefteå (because they have a chapel. Our chapel is currently under construction right now, so we meet in an elementary school. It's great.), so us and quite a few ward members drove 2 hours in the snow to get there! It was completely worth it :) The baptism did not go at all as planned...the program had to be fixed last minute, the guy that was supposed to give a talk was an hour late, the baptism started 30 minutes late because of the snow, the elder who was supposed to play the piano jammed his finger in a car door... But everything sorted itself out. I was not stressed for one minute because I just knew things would work out! Stefan was really happy after everything. I was so lucky to be a part of his conversion process! He is so special, and I feel like I didn't do a single thing because he was so ready to become a member. It was really cool to see. He was so happy, and bore the coolest testimony right after he was baptized! He knows the church is true, and that strengthens my testimony too.
The happiest day! Attila (Stefan's dad), Stefan, Syster Mod and Syster Bolton.

The baptismal font in Skellefteå.
So yeah! It was a really good week :) I love Sweden, I love Luleå, and I love everyone here!! Even if they blåst me :)

Also, my pday for next week has been switched to this coming Saturday due to the Thanksgiving holiday and people going home and whatever, so if you guys want to email me, you should do it before then :)

fuuuun facts:
-Reindeer pizza exists, and I am determined to have it this week. Stay tuned.
-We drove by our church building the other day, and I found out it is right next door to a Jehovah's Witness church. Apparently, the elders and sisters have both had investigators go there on accident...hahaha.
-Instead of using salt to make sure the roads aren't icy, Sweden uses gravel. Every time we walk around outside, I manage to kick gravel into my boots. It's kinda painful and I don't know how it happens, but it does.

LOVE YOU ALL!!! Have a great week :)
xoxoxoxo Syster Mod

The Skellefteå church. It's so cool!
Sunrise (from the plane) on the way to the sisters conference in Stockholm.
Sweden has such cute sister missionaries!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We have a BAPTISM this week!!!!

Heeeello from the North Pole *insert snowflake emoji* :)

Things are just going so well up here! In fact, we have a BAPTISM this coming Saturday :) Unfortunately, it is not the one we were planning on with Ehsan...he kind of stopped talking to us. Won't answer our calls or texts, doesn't answer the door...I feel like his stalker but it's fine. Anything to bring the sheep into the fold ;) I used to get so sad when people didn't text me back at home, but now it's nothing. Going on a mission makes you as tough as a rock :) But anyway BAPTISM!! We had a family home evening with Stefan, his dad, and his stepmom this week. We talked about how setting a baptismal date was totally his choice, and then he pulls out a date in December. Syster Bolton and I just looked at each other and were like "lol NOPE". The boy is so ready and does not need to wait until December! Äldste Allsop came in and saved us by telling him how hard Satan works on a person when he knows they have decided to do something good. It would be unnecessarily hard on Stefan to wait until December. I completely agreed because I have seen that with Ehsan :( But we talked to Stefan yesterday at church, and he said he wants to be baptized this Saturday!! (There may have been happy dancing after he turned around). He is so excited, we are so excited, and his family is so excited. YAY GOSPEL! :)
Our week was great with other investigators as well. We had 2 really awesome guys come to church. One is named Abood. He is very solidly Muslim, but has read the Book of Mormon twice (in two different languages) in the span of 4 weeks and feels something very different about the book and meeting with us. He always has so many questions and it is way cool! He participated in Sunday School a ton because he actually knew what they were talking about when they were reading from Alma. I was proud. Haha! The other guy is named Henrik. He has read the Bible like 5 times through (I KNOW right) and, in his words, is "taking a leap of faith" by trying to change his life with us! He came to church, he is reading the Book of Mormon, and really trying to believe. We were so excited they came to church!  

And of course, I know you all are dying to hear about the surströmming fest. My verdict: it was really really really gross and I will never ever ever eat surströmming again. We watched the elders and one of the young men open all of the cans of rotten fish...the cows in the field we were next to came running because it smelled so bad. And the fish tastes like it smells! No thank you! Some Swedes absolutely love it......they are crazy.
Surströmming.....Mmmmmmm. Or not.
Erin's reaction! Hahaha!

At the surströmming fest.
Now this is how it's supposed to be eaten!
Yesterday after church, we were able to eat dinner with the Tolleys and the Kohlers, two missionary couples here who were on a road trip through Luleå. The Kohlers have their daughter with them as a missionary too, and it was really fun to get to know and talk to all of them. We ate Hawaiian haystacks (oh my goodness I miss those) in the elders' apartment (that was too weird. haha). We were going to eat at our apartment, but I guess no one wanted to squeeze into a one room-er...#livinginstyle ;) It was SO FUN. I encourage everyone to serve a senior couple mission because the missionaries absolutely will worship you ;)
Syster Bolton, Syster Mod, the Kohlers and the Tolleys.
Facts of Sweden:
-it gets dark at 2:30 *erin dies*
-IT GETS DARK AT 2:30!!!!! *erin dies...again*
-we don't have snow anymore, but I heard Utah does! hehe! ;)

Älskar ni alla!!!!!!! xoxoxox Erin :)
She was in the newspaper AGAIN!! This time in Luleå!
A guy just came up to Erin and Syster Bolton and asked if he could ask them a few questions. Most people featured are from Sweden, and then the two missionaries from Utah.

The RS sisters from Meadow, UT (the Beckstrands home stake) knitted mittens for ALL of the missionaries in Sweden. This is just a small group of them. Each pair contained a cute little note. What a sweet thing to do!

Some of Erin's favorite girls! Aren't they darling?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween :)

Hi!! Oh this week. Where do I even begin! 

On Monday, we flew down to Stockholm to sleep over with my trainer, Syster Hill! IT WAS THE BEST. I love sleepovers :) And the flight was a very pleasant hour of my life compared to the 19 it took to get here...(#notbitter) We had an awesome mission conference on Tuesday with the northern half of the mission! President and Syster Beckstrand are honestly the best. I loved every part of it! I love seeing my friends, I love hearing from the Beckstrands, and mostly I just love being around other people who understand what I am doing on a daily basis. Missionary-ing in Sweden is no cake walk, folks. But it's fun nonetheless :)

So Halloween!:) Swedes have a small bit of a struggle with this dear holiday. I had one ward member tell me it was a vulgar American tradition and that's why they don't celebrate it. Call me vulgar (and American for that matter), but they are missing out! It's fine, whatever, more candy for us ;) For Halloween, we tracted (almost like trick-or-treating but people aren't as nice to you and you have to bring your own candy. lame.) and had tacos at a member's house! The cute members, the Näslunds, tried to make us feel right at home with pumpkin pie and godis (candy) galore. Unfortunately, their dog got into the pumpkin pie before we could eat it...I was a little bit bummed. I may have made up for it by eating a bajillion pieces of candy, so it really did feel like American Halloween ;) The Näslunds asked us all about Halloween in America and what we do and if people actually decorate their houses all scary. It was fun to feel like I was the cool foreign person for a little bit :) But we had such a fun night! And to top it all off, I saw the Northern Lights!!!! They were too weak to get pictures, but I felt super cool. 
The extent of the Halloween decorations in Sweden
Halloween with the Näslunds
My Halloween costume! Going all out, you know me ;)
Instead of Halloween, Sweden celebrates Allahelgons Dag, or All Saints Day, on November 1st. They light lanterns at every grave in a cemetery so they shine at night! It is beautiful! I thought it would be kinda creepy, but Bolton and I were both impressed with how pretty it was. We need to adopt that too America :)

Lanterns lit at the cemetery for Allahelgons Dag (All Saints Day)
Missionary work this week has been interesting, to say the least. We have been dropped by like every investigator (even the cute Persian family :( we were so sad!), we weren't able to meet with Ehsan or Stefan at all, and we did a lot of swing bys. Aaaaaa lot. It was one of those weeks where you just need a fresh start! I have been calling every potential investigator in the area book, we have been going through old investigators...It has been hard to find interested people! However, we did receive the news that Stefan's mom has finally approved of him being baptized, so YAY! :) We are going over to his family's house tonight to decide a date and get things ready again :) 

I was reading in Ether this week, and Moroni is talking there about his weaknesses as a writer. He says he feels bad that his words aren't perfect, because he knows how important they are in the Lord's work. The Lord comforts him and says, "Fools mock, but they shall mourn, and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness." When I read that, it made me feel so much better about my work this week. I put in my best effort, and the Lord was pleased. No one can hinder His work if they are putting forth their best effort. Everything happens in the Lord's timing. No one can take advantage of my weaknesses as a missionary. The same goes for all of you! :) No matter your situation or what you are doing, the Lord is proud of the effort, not the result. 

Okay sorry for the Serious Sally moment, but I have those sometimes because I am set apart to do that. Haha :) But! FUN FAAACTS
-...I am running out of these and I have only been on a mission 6 months. That is a little embarrassing but it's fine.
-The lakes are freezing over here! Apparently they get thick enough to walk on and even DRIVE on in December. You could say I'm a little excited for that :)
-We are having a surströmming party this week with the ward...Surströmming is rotten (okay *fermented*) fish that people here in Norrland think is the best thing ever. I have to try it on Saturday. Extra prayers would be appreciated. They say if you touch it, the awful smell stays on your hands for days after, no matter how many showers you take...yaaaaay culture

Haha xoxoxoxo love you all!!! Have a good week :)

Love, Syster Mod
Syster Mod and Syster Bolton
Erin lives at the little blue dot at the top of Sweden. That's Luleå.
She celebrated her 6-month mark with a balloon and a burger. Gotta love this girl! No burning tights. She needs those!
Erin lives in this beautiful place. It's gorgeous!