Monday, September 28, 2015

Breaking News from Sundsvall

Dear family and friends, 

This week I have more time to email! I can't even tell you how awful library computers are. I felt so cheated last week. It's good to be able to sit at the church and know I'll be able to get out what I want to say :)

Our pday was really relaxing. We kinda just stayed in and watched The Testaments and took some naps (sunday isn't the day of rest, that's monday) and then we also bought some rain boots. My first day here in Sundsvall it was pouring rain and my shoes are not water proof (thanks to all those holes... eh.) and from there we went on over to the church to teach our friend Simo. He's cool. He's from Morocco and wants to get baptized so we're just getting him there :) we taught him the restoration and we'll be teaching him again tonight. He's a super good kid, and I really like teaching him.

We teach a TON of TU (tänkbara undersökare=potential investigators=restoration) lessons. I have never taught the restoration so many times in a week. There was this one guy we taught and the entire time we were teaching him it felt like he was trying to outsmart us. Lots of talk about astrology and orions belt constellations and how it all associates with christ figures that show up in every religion and that's why he doesn't believe in god. Are you confused as to how all of that fits together? me too. It was all pretty nonsensical. But we just ended up telling him that we don't know a ton of things,  but we're sure about what we do know, and we know that God exists and that Christ is the savior. After bearing testimony he wasn't really up to try and throw down anymore and just kinda shrugged off what we said but didn't try to deny it. I don't think we'll be teaching him again cuz he didn't seem too into trying to find out if God actually did exist or not. It's too bad too cuz I know he felt the spirit. Some people just aren't ready. 

We also met with some students from the high school this week and they interviewed us for a class project. They asked us all these questions about what we believe about life after death so we pretty much taught them the plan of salvation. Most of the questions though were about how our religion affects us socially and how other people look at our church. They had good questions and didn't try to argue with us so that was really nice. One of them actually seemed pretty interested so we're gonna try and get in contact with him again and teach him some more. 

Zone Training was in Umeå on Thursday, and since it's so far away we had to head out the night before. Normally we would stay with the sisters in the area, but there aren't any sisters in Umeå. So instead the zone leaders set it up for us to stay with a member up there. She was the sweetest woman I have ever met in my life. She was about 70 years old and she made us this amazing dinner and breakfast the next morning. I can't even explain how blessed I felt to be able to stay with such an amazing member. I really hope I get to see her again! Zone Training was great and we talked about how to work with the members and more fully involve them in the missionary work. 

Thursday night we met with these adorable girls that aren't able to get baptized yet because their parents don't like our church. They've got really strong testimonies and they're really sweet. We just have to wait until they're 18 to baptize them. So until then we're just meeting and keeping those testimonies strong. We're teaching them about preach my gospel because one of them wants to go on a mission once she's baptized. 

There was a street fair set up in centrum this week too! Sister Taylor tried a kangaroo burger. And since I've already had the kangaroo, I went for some spicy mexican food instead. I miss spicy food so much. I carry around a little bottle of tobasco sauce in my backpack to put on whatever I'm eating. 

The primary program was yesterday and it was so fun! We invited so many people to come and see them sing, and there was actually a really really good turnout. They were so cute. We have about 20 primary kids here, and it was fun hearing all the songs in swedish. And of course, there were all the fun little quirks of the primary program (the kids in the back row fighting, the girls in the front row playing with each other's hair. There wasn't any throwing up though, so this primary program was a little more mild than ones that I've been to in the past). 

Today we're planning to hike a mountain. it will be fun! I look forward to the letters and emails next week! 

ha det så gott! 
syster janessa brink

street fair food!

grafitti tunnel by our house

dragon city!

our cute friend from Umeå, sister Wirtala

NoeNoe and SaySay!

this is our friend Ward, he's getting ready to be baptized in a month

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dragon City

Dear family and friends,

I have like almost no time to email! ahhh! the computer at the church is shut down so we have to use the library computers and they won't let us book them longer than an hour at a time. so we'll just figure this out and hope I can send what needs to be sent haha!

to answer your questions: 
-my 8 hour train ride lasted longer than 8 hours. it lasted around 10 hours actually. you would think getting to the geographical midpoint of sweden would be easier. my two wonderful comps, the jönköping elders, and alex put me on the train at 10 am and then I was off. come to find out my connecting train to get me to stockholm was delayed because of power failures in Hässleholm. So it was going to be two hours late. I ended up taking the train that was supposed to arrive at 9ish but it came at nearly 12. from there i got to stockholm, and i had missed my connecting train to sundsvall by about 10 minutes. so there i was all alone in the middle of stockholm central with three heavy suitcases. it was kind of awful. thankfully i got my ticket changed and then had to wait another two hours to get a direct train to sundsvall. I got on the train and asked someone to borrow their phone to call my friends and let them know I'd be later than planned. her phone was dead. so i asked another woman and she just looked right at me and said "NO." so i kinda just sat there awkwardly and didn't talk to anyone for the next 30ish minutes. finally someone let me borrow their phone and i was able to get in contact with the office to let them know i'd be two hours late. when i finally arrived in sundsvall it was pouring rain. welcome to dragon city!

-i like sundsvall. it's been really wet this week. I'm buying myself rainboots. it will be my birthday present to me. 

-my companion is sister taylor. she's great! she's from canada and she's a rugby player. we've been having a lot of fun together!

-sundsvall is a branch. there were about 50ish people that came to church yesterday

-the church is like a 30 minute bus ride from our place. we have a car that we share with the two sets of elders in our area. that's right. we are 6 missionaries building zion here in sundsvall.

-the apartment is nice. big. it's supposed to house four missionaries, but right now its just me and sister taylor :) we each get our own bunk bed and it feels kinda like i'm at the MTC again with the rooming situation haha

-i have no idea what you guys are talking about with the water filter thing. i don't think i actually got that packed with me in the beginning. oh well. no "baltic beard" to report... although living in Norrland I could probably actually use all the body hair i can get... it's been kinda cold lately.

Thank you all so so so much for the birthday wishes! i wish I had time to respond to each of you individually but the computer is counting down and telling me i have less than 5 minutes left!!! due to a series of unknown unfortunate events, the pictures from the surprise sister carrington and demille through for me have been deleted. sad. but i got a surprise party nonetheless. it was wonderful and i had to hold back tears a little as different members of the ward came and gave me hugs and warm congratulations. i miss jönköping like crazy, but sundsvall will be amazing! for my actual birthday there wasn't much ado about anything. i got some coconut ice-cream from the grocery store and drank some water out of a street dragon they have here. i also got some random teenager to sing to me on the street so that was pretty cool hahahah :) 

story time: different cities in sweden have symbols. some of the cities are a little more proud of their symbols and display them more prominently than other cities. i have no idea what the symbols are for jönköping or karlskrona, but for Sundsvall it's a dragon. they have dragons literally EVERYWHERE. I'm gonna look around and see if there are any tourist shops selling dragon stuff cuz I'm kinda a little obsessed with them. (also nativities because mom said so)

this week has been a little all over the place. we've been out contacting in the rain a good amound of time and teaching people in the library. we've been busy but there isn't really too much to report on. 

I bore my testimony in church yesterday, and I'm just so grateful to finally feel confident in the language and get up and share exactly what I felt just then. I'm excited to get to know the people here. I'm trying to remember names, but when the missionaries are the only ones wearing a nametag it's kind of hard! 

I do look forward to serving here and getting to know all the people i serve with and around. it's going to be a lot of fun! 

enjoy these pictures!!!
-water dragon advertising the city's water company.
-sometimes we have dinner appointments with single guys but can't go into the apartment until the elders show up... so this happens

i love you all! wish i had a little more time to write!!!
catch you next week!
-syster janessa brink

Monday, September 14, 2015

goodbyes only get harder

WARNING: this email is actually pretty sad
I'll start out with a couple of funny stories from the week before it gets too serious though.
There was this one night we were waiting at the bus stop and the whole thing was covered with these gigantic spiders. Sister Carrington and I were feeling brave, so we went and got some sticks to poke the spiders with. The brave feeling went away very soon when the spiders started hissing at us and we cowered on the ground where they couldn't reach us.
Also this morning we got a text from Rikki saying he'd be a little late. We were super confused and told him to go back to bed and then he called us. He was at central station, on his way to the church. Then we realized our mistake. In a country that runs on a 24 hour clock, you can't say you want to meet at 7:30, you have to say 19:30. We just kind of laughed it off and he said he'd see us tonight :) 

It feels surreal having to leave a place you've called home and people who have become family. I'll be leaving tomorrow morning for Sundsvall and I'll be facing a cold winter in the north. I was really holding out to be in Jönköping for another six weeks, but it sounds like somebody in Sundsvall needs me there.
I thought that being a missionary would make saying goodbye to people easier. I thought I'd get used to doing it and letting go would become more natural for me but it's only gotten worse. Saying goodbye to my family and friends was the easiest goodbye of my whole mission because I knew they'd be there when I came back in 18 months. With these people and places here in Sweden I have no guarantee that I'll ever be able to make it back. Some of these goodbyes might be for the rest of our lives.
I kind of knew that this transfer would be coming, but it doesn't change much about being ready to say goodbye. I will say though that I tried really hard to just enjoy everything here as much as I could my last week. On Monday we hung out with Marina, Saneeka and Sam and then we went to Bishop Salo's for FHE. Tuesday we went and cleaned Edith's house, had lunch with the Robayos, dinner with the Nilssons and finished the night with Amy. Wednesday we taught Shasha in the morning, had lunch with Alex, went out to Huskvarna to be with Sonja and Ingalill, had a correlation meeting and then went back over to hang out with Marina, Saneeka and Sam. Thursday was district meeting and we went to Skövde for that. It was good seeing all my district buddies. We came home and taught Dudas at the church and did a choir practice afterward. Friday we went down to Värnamo to visit Carina and then came back and taught Anna-Lisa and Rikki and finished off the night with the most intense yoga class ever. Saturday morning we got transfer calls and I got the news I'd be going up to Sundsvall and my new comp will be Sister Taylor. I didn't have much time to process the transfer so I cried pitifully through our basketball activity that morning. We had lunch with Oscar and the elders and then went over and visited with Saneeka again.
Yesterday was hard for me. Everybody at church came up to me and thanked me for the past 4½ months I've been here and my heart just broke into all these little pieces. We had dinner with the Rönndahls and went out contacting for my last time in this city. We found this really nice guy named Patrick and got his phone number. I'm super excited to hear his story and everything that happens with him.
All in all I just feel sad. I was so comfortable and happy here and we were having so much success. We were getting upwards of 35 lessons a week (and that's a lot for sweden) and I have had so much fun with my companions. Missions aren't about being comfortable though, they are meant to stretch you and shape you, and mostly make you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about other people.

I can't say that I love Sundsvall yet, but I feel like I will. I've only heard good things about it these past couple days and I do look forward to seeing snow this winter and being up north. I'm excited to meet my new companion cuz I hear she's awesome and I do look forward to meeting more people in this country that I love so much. 

I'm super grateful for the time I have had to serve here. I just have to count my blessings on this nearly 8 hour train ride to Norrland ;)

I promise next weeks email will be happier, haha, I just had to let my feelings out somewhere. Good luck with all your activities and school work and life changes and home renovations. I'll be praying for you people this week!
attached are some pictures of my favorite people ever :) 

love you guys! 
syster janessa brink 

Monday, September 7, 2015

(No subject)

tjäna allihopa! 

sounds like you guys at home had a crazy week! Good to hear grandpa is doing well and Harrison too. Did they let you keep your appendix? did you get any pictures of it? I'm happy Makayla found the little family, so proud of you! And happiest of birthdays to dad! I sent you a letter, so I hope it makes it sometime soon. 

this week has been fun :) we had zone conferene so we went on down to Utby and met together with both the Göteborg and Malmö zones, President and sister Beckstrand, and the assistants. We talked a lot about being preach my gospel missionaries and how to use it more effectively. It's really cool seeing how much the mission has changed in the time I've been here. I got to see my friends from the MTC too! I haven't seen elder backman since we landed in stockholm! It's really cool to see how all of us have changed and grown since we first started our missions. 

we went blueberry picking with the Rasmussons and we got SO MANY. we also did dinner and a little family home evening with them. They're super great and their kids are sarcastic little munchkins. It's been a while since I've heard sarcasm, so it was really really fun to kinda take a step back into real life for a second where people are sarcastic and witty. it was a bit of a breath of fresh air haha :) also they had three-day old kittens. i was kind of in heaven.  

haha, so I honestly don't know what else to write that's been news worthy this week. We've just been working hard and visiting people and talking to people on the street. I just really love being a missionary and having the opportunity to get to know so many different kinds of people from all over the world. I love jönköping so much. The weather has been cooling off and the leaves have just started to change colors on their tips. I'm really excited for fall and winter. Holiday season is just around the corner! 

sorry for the short email! I'll have some more exciting things to write about next week!
love you guys!
-syster janessa brink

sometimes lessons through google translate don't turn out so well...

marshmallows in the fields

sister carrington, josef and me