Hello to my friends in the 801 and all around the world. It's P-Day and it's emailing time and I've got some exciting stories to tell you about Sverige and missionary life :)
Last P-day we decided we wanted to do something really fun. We had a bag of stale old cookies so we went to go and feed some ducks! It lasted about 8 seconds though. Sister Allred threw in a cookie and the ducks ate it. And then she threw in the bag accidentally. So it was over pretty quick. We also went and toured the local battery/artillary fortress thing. It was super cool but also it was really REALLY cold that day so we weren't there for too long!
We went to Diana on Tuesday. Everytime I go over there I get more and more humble. She shared with us that she had just found out she wouldn't be able to have children anymore and my heart broke. She got a facetime call while we were there from her sister in law in Croatia. She said that she had been meeting with mormon missionaries there. And she had been praying that we would be sent to Diana to teach her as well. And then it hit me. We were sent there on a prayer. And not just one prayer but several. From Diana, from her sister in law, from my parents, from Sister Allred's parents, and the list goes on and on. It was literally a miracle that we found her.
Later that night we had activities at the church, but the elders were gone (Äldste Simonson got transfered to Utby and Äldste Silvennoinen was traveling up to stockholm to get a new greenie) so it was just us, Christian and Tony. It was good though because we got to know Christian better and better! He's the coolest person in the world and he speaks like 6 languages. And he downloaded the Gospel Library app so he could read from the manuel we use on sunday for Gospel Principles class. He is THE COOLEST.
*CONTACTING TIP: when contacting a group of teenage boys always begin with, "hej, vi kommer ifån USA" and they'll listen to everything you say to them. Swedes like Americans.
On Wednesday we taught Christian the Plan of Salvation. He had lots of great questions about it and then brought up concerns about our church. He's really been researching and went online and found stuff about polygamy and how we believe we can become our own gods (...?) so we clarified everything for him and he was good. I love that he feels confident in us and will ask us about these things instead of just taking what the internet says as truth. He's so solid.
We went tracting and met this 7th day Adventist who has read the entire book of mormon and said he really liked our religion but knew it wasn't true because and I quote, "Jesus said the word 'chickens' in the book of mormon and chickens couldn't have possibly lived back then." Ummm. Kay. The prize for the world's saddest excuse goes to this man. His conversion is hinging on chickens. He's a single guy so we can't teach him at his home without a member (missionary rules are fun) so we gave him to the elders.
We FINALLY went and taught Ereling this week!!! We brought Andreas, a new convert and our branch missionary. We decided we wanted to focus on personal prayers with Ereling because he's still saying the Lord's prayer, and won't get answers unless he starts having a personal relationship with God. Andreas shared his conversion story and then Ereling got into it and started trying to dissect it. Ereling comes off as argumenative but he just really wants to understand every aspect of things. So he's picking apart Andreas's testimony and Sister Allred jumps in and is like, "Ereling. We are talking about prayer. We could sit here all day and give you scriptural evidence as to why this is all true and debate and discuss but the only way you could ever really know for yourself is if you pray. Do you believe you can get answers to your prayers?" and he was like "...yeah." and he calmed down on the personal attacks and we finished reading the chapter. And at the end I got to explain to him that we have our church because of a prayer. Joseph Smith prayed to know the truth. We have the Book of Mormon because Enos prayed in verse 13 that the record would be protected. And it was. And the only reason I was there is because I have prayed and I know. Nobody can know spiritual things without prayer. So we gave him a hard invitation to pray in his own words. And to come to church.
Andreas wasn't even shaken up after the lesson. He knows this church is true and his testimony can't be shaken. He is the greatest. I love working with Andreas!
We got a text from a random phone number that night. It was Diana borrowing the neighbor's phone. She said that her family was out of money and her son was going to be having surgery and her children had nothing to eat. That's when I felt completely over my head. But we've been able to talk to the Branch about it, and we are going to use some fast offering money to buy them some groceries for the rest of this month. I am so grateful that we have that resource. Genorous fast offering donations CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES. What a blessing to be able to help her and her family through faithful member's donations.
At district meeting I got to see Syster Adamson, my old comp from the MTC! She finally got her visa and was able to come here from Chicago. We're now in the same district and I'm so happy!!! I also got to meet my new "half-brother" (mission families are confusing and one day maybe I'll explain it all) Äldste Purkey. He's from Michigan and he's straight from the MTC. Feels good not being the greenest greenie.
Paulina called us while we were at District meeting and said she needed to meet with us ASAP. Which is weird because she has never had any time for us before. So we get home to Karlskrona and meet her at her apartment and I'm hoping she's finally read the book of mormon and has a testimony and really wants to come to church. But she didn't. Instead she decided to chew us out for having a big empty chapel and not opening it at night for beggars to sleep in. I was kind of floored. Because if she had listened to anything the missionaries have told her these last 5 months she's know that the church is a dedicated chapel and we can't have people living in it. I only said maybe 10 words that whole visit. But I was really mad. I shouldn't have been but I was. And I'm not going to get into my huge whole rant about it but basically that night I read the scriptures to calm myself down and the sermon on the mount is what put it all in perspective for me. Matt 5.44-48 to pray for those who despitefully use you and bless those that curse you because God makes the sun rise on both the good and the bad. We're both daughters of God. And I have no reason to think that I am superior to her in any way.
The next day we woke up feeling sick. But we went out and did some family history contacting and then went to Diana to teach her about preisthood blessings. We told her that it could give her comfort and peace and we asked her if she would like a blessing from the elders. And she got quiet for a long time. And then she said no. And I was really sad because I didn't understand why she wouldn't want a blessing when she knew it could help her. She texted us later and told us that because her husband is a muslim she couldn't have other men in her house. She wanted the blessing, but couldn't recieve it because of the Muslim beliefs and traditions. While we were there I asked her about the book of mormon and if she'd prayed to know it was true. She just looked at us and said, "I know it's true. It's the word of God. I know when I read it." I love her faith. That's totally one of her spiritual gifts. She has the most incredible faith I've ever seen, and I want to be like her someday.
On Saturday we were still feeling pretty sick but we got out and went to brunch at Pres. Jusinski's house. We shared D&C 6 with them, one of the last verses that basically says, "fear not little flock, though earth and hell combine against you they cannot succeed." and we talked about how our branch is like a little flock, but we have Christ on our side and we will be okay through whatever happens.
Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. In Swedish. I was pretty nervous but I think it went pretty well. I talked about faith and family history and doing our part to exercise our faith in the best way we can. Christian came to church and so did Paulina. We translated for both of them and then we taught the youth sunday school class about the plan of salvation while the Elders taught Gospel Principles. Apparently that was the best lesson the youth have ever had so I feel pretty cool. After church Sister Allred looked dead. She is much worse than I am. So I decided she needed a sick day (she wants so bad to be super missionary, but if she's not going to stand up for her health someone has to) so we went back to the apartment and she slept for like 3 hours while I did the dishes and cleaned the apartment and talked to ward members and the zone leaders about our investigators.
We had family phone evening last night with the zone and they asked all of us to come up with a hashtag with the best advice we have from our missions (so trendy. so 21st century). Mine was #chileanwomenarecrazy. Because they are. But it's so much fun working with chilean women. I would take all the crazy in the world from them :)
I have officially been out on my mission for 3 months now. TIME FLIES SO FAST!!! I love being a missionary! I love having investigators that are eager to learn and want to hear what we say and change their lives! I am so excited for everything that will be happening these next few weeks here in Karlskrona. I'll be sure to keep all of you up to date :) Keep it real and ha det så bra!!! Ni är BÄSTA!!!
Syster Janessa Brink
my dorky picture from the marina haha
hanging out by the cannons. BOOM.
not many pictures this week cuz we were sick :(