Monday, May 25, 2015

six months down

Wow, I can't even believe it's been six months already! Time seriously just flies by so quickly! I feel like it was only a few weeks ago that I got to the crazy beautiful country, but at the same time I feel like I've been in sweden for forever and I just never want to leave! I hope you all are having the happiest Memorial Day! 

this week we have been ALL OVER THE PLACE. Lots of good times to report on!

  • We celebrated Elder Pearson's birthday and my 6 month mark on tuesday. We went on a cool hike and I burnt my tights on top of a cliff. It was the greatest ever. Definitely a day that I'll never forget! I am so blessed to be here as a missionary. I get to meet the coolest people and see the prettiest country in the whole world. 
  • We had Zone Training in Göteborg this wednesday. So I went on splits with Sister Allred and she cut my hair for me :) Not too short, just a trim. We also went to the biggest candy store I have EVER seen in my entire life. Sweden knows godis. 
  • Sister Sandelin and I were in charge of activity night this week. So we did minute to win it games. Oh my goodness, it was just crazy! I got covered in shaving cream (shaving balloons activity) and we had a super good time. I love being able to do fun activities with the YSA and I love that they all want to get together and have fun!
  • While we were in Göteborg, we were able to go to a baptism. The Utby elders put together a great program. After he came out of the water I just wanted to clap and cheer hahaha :) It's always the GREATEST seeing people change their lives and wanting to follow Jesus Christ. I can't even explain how happy I was for him (and I didn't even know him)
  • There's this new convert here named Amy. She was a self referral in the beginning and she was baptized only 2 weeks after first meeting with the missionaries. She's basically the most prepared person in the whole world. We were able to go over to her apartment this week and have a great lesson with her about Enos. She wants to get to know the Book of Mormon better so we've decided to start sharing stories with her to get her more familiar with it. She is the cutest woman ever. She is so so excited to go to the temple for her endowment (she can go next year! hopefully I'll be serving around a temple and I can go and be with her :) ) 
  • Last night one of the YSA, Marina, accidentally left her computer at the church so she went to go and get it at like 8:00. She ran into this little chinese woman walking up to the chapel. This woman wanted to look around the church so Marina showed her what it looked like and then got her phone number and set up an appointment for her to meet with the missionaries (us!) this morning. So today we came to the church and started teaching her. She doesn't speak much english, so we called a new convert that lives in Kristianstad to translate for us. I am so impressed how well everything went down with the huge language barrier. She was glad to meet with us and told us she wants to meet with us EVERY SUNDAY. So we are really excited! 
  • Lasse is still so excited to be baptized! We taught him the word of wisdom yesterday and he was so ready to commit to it! I LOVE PEOPLE!!!!
COOL PLACE: the cliffs by the lake

I hope you all have the greatest week ever! Challenge for the week is to PRAY DAILY. You can always have a better relationship with your heavenly father :) 

puss och kram!
syster janessa brink
prepping to burn the tights

Photo sent to me by YSA Leader Alexander Hegyessy

YSA Leader Alexander Hegyessy sent this to me.
A picture we decided had to be sent to you.

hike through this crazy swamp! happy 6 months! :)

Another picture from Alexander

world's biggest candy shop

sister sandelin likes selfies
i'm looking like a dork, but this little primary boy is the cutest

this is what i get for being in the "splash zone"

hanging out on the beach!!! the water is COLD.

I just love being a missionary!!!! it's the greatest thing I've ever done :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

first week in J-köp

Dear family and friends,

I'd like to announce that I have arrived safely in Jönköping after four long train rides. I'm happy to be here! It's so pretty and the church is HUGE. Walking up to it everyday is the highlight of my life. Also we live SUPER close to it so we only walk 5 minutes to get there. There is a really cute park by our house and we like to go there to workout in the mornings and someday I'm just gonna take some time to play there for a couple minutes. The ward is great! My first day here we had like 3 different dinners and I met A TON of members who's names I completely forgot but it was way fun :) 

(yes, alex is in the ward, he's a YSA and he's super cool. we like to party)

  • I went to a baby shower my first day here in Jönköping and EVERYONE and their dog was there. It was so cool! I've never seen that kind of support from a ward before. I also learned weird little swedish childrens songs there like "Lilla Snigel" (little snail) 
  • We had a YSA activity on friday and we played some beach volleyball. They have this giant lake here, and a whole bunch of volleyball courts on the beach and we played for so long. I love the YSA here! Lots of diving for the ball and lots of sand in my sweatpants but I think I want to play volleyball every week the whole time I'm here
  • Andreas (from Karlskrona) was in church yesterday. I was standing there greeting people as they walked in and introducing myself to the members and then in walked Andreas and I almost ran up and gave him a hug (no worries though, I gave him a firm handshake instead) He was in town for his cousin's wedding and he wanted to go to church while he was here. So he showed up and it was so nice having a familiar face in church. 
  • I got to give a talk yesterday in church. Usually we are just asked to give our testimony when we first come to an area, but they called me yesterday morning and asked me to give a full on TALK in sacrament meeting. So I got up and talked about Ammon and the sons of Mosiah and I think I said most of what I needed to say. But I got to look at all the people I'd be serving for the next 6 weeks and I was able to feel comfortable. Like I could do this. Because leaving Karlskrona was probably one of the hardest things ever, and I didn't know if i will ever see them again. But like, I have been praying so hard for Heavenly Father to open my heart to these people here in Jönköping, and I know he did a little bit when I was up there. 
  • We taught this great investigator of ours named Lasse. We were teaching the plan of salvation and I think I might have gotten the gift of tongues... I don't think I've ever had a lesson more led by the spirit. 
COOL PLACE: The Dala Bear. This super cute bear in Borås that's painted like a dalahäst. I thought it was just adorable

I don't have much time. We went and visited a less active family on an island and our whole P-day got eaten up so sorry this is so late! But I love you guys and think you're all the greatest! Have a great week and stay busy! Your challenge this week is to learn a new recipe. I forgot my cookbook in Karlskrona so I've been trying to get creative. Woop! 

pictures to come :) 
puss och kram,
syster janessa brink

The cutest little dalabjörn you ever did see. Also say hi to my elder friend Farnworth
the ikeas here are so high class compared to the one in Utah.

 I love this chapel! 
exploring Jönköping and finding this fun fountain in the middle. We found a hat in the fountain and sister Sandelin fished it out for me :) 
the cool hat I got from the fountain haha

 I just thought this was funny
ferry ride out to the island yesterday! so sunny and beautiful!

me and sister sandelin

   me and my elder friend Pearson having a good old time at these castle ruins
(hahaha!! I think this is really funny!!)

this is a better picture of sister sandelin and i :) we have a good time

 Loving it here in Jönköping! 

also today is my six month mark!!! I can't even believe I've been serving my mission for six whole months! I feel like it was only a few days ago that I said goodbye to all of you and walked into the MTC. It feels even shorter from the time I walked off the plane in Stockholm and saw this beautiful country for the first time. I am so happy to be a missionary and I can't even wait for the next year to come! I want to stay out here and be a missionary forever. I have learned so much about myself, about other people, about the Savior and my Heavenly Father. I will say that being a missionary is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but it is so so SO worth it, it completely makes up for the hard days. I have met some of the most amazing people here and my life has changed so much. I love you guys so much! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

the eternal purposes of the lord shall roll on

This week has been the greatest. It's crazy how the Lord blesses you when you need it the most. I love being able to see my prayers answered in the coolest ways!

answers to questions:
-skyping with the family was super fun (even if they did waste 7 minutes talking about vitamins) and it was great seeing everybody's faces again!!! The call weirdly dropped at the end though, so I hope you got my little video message. I HOPE YOU HAD A GREAT MOTHERS DAY MOM!!!!

1) We went up to Kalmar/Nybro this week. We changed out pday from Monday to Wednesday (I emailed on Monday, but that's all we did) and we went to go see Carolina and help her renovate her kitchen. and then all four of us (elders too) went to go see Kalmar Slott! It was my first time actually going INSIDE the castle and it was so cool!!! I need to come back and live in Sweden. I just have to. Carolina offered to let me stay with her so I've already got something kind of figured out ;)
2) We went to visit Robert and Sigrid again this week and help out on their little farm. They have LAMBS!!! Those three pregnant sheep (that we so skill-fully sheared) delivered a total of 5 little lambs and they are the CUTEST LITTLE ANIMALS EVER. Also they have baby bunnies. I'm obsessed. I have to live on a farm now. I can't even imagine not.
3) We had a Spanish activity night in Kristianstad and it was super great! I had the spiciest food I have had so far on my mission. I MISS SPICY SPANISH FOOD. It was a good night, all in Spanish. I had to listen to Swedish translation for the meeting. And then we had food and dancing and friends and it was all so much fun :)

1) This week we were able to challenge 3 different people to baptism and all of them accepted. So be praying for my friends Maureen, Jenny, and Emad!!!
2) Yesterday I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting. I don't know how to explain how much love I have for these people here in Karlskrona. They are my family away from my family. This was my first area and these people have taken such good care of me. I got up to share my testimony and the words just poured out of my mouth. I really don't know what I said the whole time, but I could feel a little bit of what Heavenly Father feels for all of them.
3) We taught Jenny with Irene the other day. And while we were sitting there I just knew that she was not going to have any problems getting baptized. She's so ready and so prepared. Such a blessing to have those investigators that really do want to know everything they can about the gospel!

Cool Place(s): Kalmar Slott (for the 5th time. I just love this place), Sigrid and Robert's farm, The Karlskrona chapel (my home)

Last of all I should probably say that I got a transfer call on Saturday morning. I will be moving to Jönköping on Wednesday (they call Jönköping "Jerusalem" because there are so many different religions there and everyone believes in god) and my new companion will be Syster Sandelin. She is a swede so lets celebrate that my Swedish skills will increase like crazy now :) I actually got to meet her family earlier this week so that was pretty cool! I don't know exactly how to describe how mixed my emotions are about this transfer. Everytime I think about going to Jönköping I get so excited, but then when I think about what and who I'm leaving behind my heart just breaks into little pieces. I had no idea that I could love so many different people so much, so quickly. It's almost harder saying goodbye to them than it was saying goodbye to my family because I don't know when I'll ever get to come back here. But I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, and right now he needs me in Jönköping and I know that he knows better than I do.

I love all of you guys so much!!! Keep me updated on all the cool things at home :)

love, syster janessa brink

 sometimes the members go all out for dinner

one day we were both sister austin

Last day with Sigrid and Robert! I'm going to miss them SO MUCH


baby bunnies!!!
 my favorite lamb ever

Carolina my favorite!! :)

family picture :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

strange things

this week.... was a little rough. Sometimes Heavenly Father gives us trials and we don't know why and it's just life. Sadly, I have a lot of stories this week that might not be following me home, ever. Sister Austin and I are keeping our heads up though. We are working hard to see the purpose in our trials and figure everything out.

to answer my mother's questions:
-I will try jump roping
-We are still feeling things out with our one investigator. We are not teaching her right now, but we'll be calling her up sometime this week in order to see if things are good and if she still wants to be taught.
-public school busses count as public transportation
-Church ends at two (here in sweden) so I'll be skyping runt omkring 4 or 5ish depending on the situation. I'll try my best to keep you updated if anything changes. We probably won't be calling via phone, so watch for the skype

1) we taught the biggest group of primary kids I have ever seen here in Sweden. A whopping 15 children!!! A family was blessing their baby and they decided to come and do it here in Karlskrona, the branch where they grew up. SO they invited EVERYONE. And it was so much fun! But, oh my goodness I think I'm gonna have to learn the word for "reverent" in Swedish if I ever have to teach primary again.
2) VALBORG. This week there was a traditional Swedish holiday called Valborg (vall-bori) and it was my first red-day. We were supposed to be with members or in our apartment because the way Valborg is celebrated is by lighting GIANT BONFIRES symbolic of burning witches that cast spells in the summer. It was. so. cool. We spent the day with some members and they invited us over for a campfire and dinner. We got a little rained out but it was still super fun :)
3) I ate MOOSE MEAT this week. We were visting teaching with Lina and we were at Joanna's house (she's the relief society president) and we made dinner with her. She pulls out this interesting lump of kött and tells us that it's going to be the main dish. Moose. It was pretty good actually.

1) I have only one significant uplifting moment this week and I can't even share all the details. I'm just going to say that I know that this Church is true. I may not have all the information. I may not understand why we have certain commandments. But I KNOW that Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet for this day. He is leading and directing the Church under direct guidance from Jesus Christ. God will not allow his prophet to EVER lead us astray. I know that God hears my prayers and answers them. I know he has a plan for me and for the people here in Karlskrona. He watches over all of his children and he knows all of us personally. I know there's a reason for me to be here in Sweden right now. Sometimes I feel like Sister Austin and I are completely alone in our beliefs, but it doesn't even matter. Because we know together. And we have Christ on our side. D&C 6:32-34  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you. Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." I am holding on to those last words with everything I have. I may not understand everything the way I want to right now, but I am built on Christ.

New Place: This super pretty forest behind a member's house. We celebrated Valborg here and it was kind of awesome

stay off the internet for a whole 24 hours. Turn off the data on your phone. Shut down the computer. Don't listen to your ipod. Take some time to just be. Don't worry about what's happening with twitter or instagram or facebook. I know the weather is nice over there, grandma keeps telling me that it's sunny, so go have some fun outside or something. You could even celebrate Valborg. Tell me how all of it goes :)

love you all! don't worry about me! have a great week!
puss puss, syster janessa brink

på väg till festen!

enjoying the valborg festivities