Monday, October 26, 2015

cafe rio, who's moving, and what is LAGOM?

wow! thank you so much everybody for all the letters! my inbox was full this week with fun updates and stories from family and friends :) I wish i had time to respond to everybody, but we're tight today with sharing computers and the car. 

this week has been good! it was the last week of the transfer and we were getting ready for calls. we were pretty sure that sister taylor would be leaving and we were making sure to get around so she could say goodbye to all the people here. 

we had family home evening monday night at the church and we had the coolest guy come! his name is anthony and he's originally from Somalia but he lived in Manhattan for like 20 years. He actually met the missionaries a few years ago when he was living in the Netherlands, but he only played basketball with them hahaha. He liked the missionaries though, and when we stopped him on the street he was really excited because he recognized us! He wanted to know what we believe in, so we taught him on Thursday and he decided that he was going to stop smoking and start coming to church (we didn't even have to talk about smoking, it just felt right for him).

motivational speaking was interesting. i think it went well. mostly the kids asked us questions about america and if we had any pets hahaha :) 

We also taught Armin and Shirin twice this week. She's so ready for baptism, she's golden! i just love her :) when we went over the second time they made us this delicious persian dinner and i was in heaven. 

Persian food for dinner!

Pasha is our friend from Russia and we taught him about the plan of salvation. he enjoyed the lesson and liked the idea of the spirit world, where people have a "second chance" to accept jesus christ and change their lives. 

friday night we decided to do something special for dinner, since transfer calls would be the next day. with more than half of the missionaries here in sundsvall coming from utah valley, i made everybody some cafe rio burritos. they were delicious. it only took like two days to make everything, and it was so good. (proud of my cooking skillz)

cafe rio with the district

we met this really cool guy named Murre this week too. we'd actually stopped him on the street about 3 weeks ago and he was on our calling list. we were going to take him off the call list actually, and then one day he answered! so we met up with him. we taught him the restoration and after talking about the first vision we all kind of sat there in silence. then he looked at us and said, "i'm really happy i came to meet with you guys." from there he came to church the next day with an RM from the branch and stayed the entire three hours and then some. He talked to lots of people and really liked the feel of it all. I'm pretty excited to see where things are going to go with him. 

in other news, one of our investigators invited us to smoke hookah with him. we said no. 

Saturday morning we got transfer calls. Sister Taylor and I were holding our breath waiting for them to tell us what was happening. They started moving through the list of transfers and then they came to Sundsvall and said "EVERYONE IN SUNDSVALL IS STAYING THE SAME!" and we were shocked. I would say we were speechless but that would be a lie cuz we shouted "YES!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?" and cried a little. So we'll be sticking around together and getting all of our friends baptized and celebrating halloween and thanksgiving up here in cute little Norrland! we're excited for the next transfer! 

ready for a really cool story?
i know you are. 

so. when i first came to sundsvall it was the night before my birthday. I said a prayer that night and told Heavenly Father that I was feeling kinda down about being transferred out of Jönköping and that I wanted him to send me someone to make my birthday happy. A birthday present, if you will. The next day we went out contacting and stopped this guy named Bereket and got his number and gave him a book of mormon. Later as we were walking down the street this other guy randomly walked up to us and just started talking to us. His name was Kevin and we gave him a book of mormon as well and got his number too.  
Kevin becomes an investigator. 
We met with Bereket earlier this week and he becomes an investigator. 
We arrange for a member to pick up both of them (because they live in the same area) and drive them to church.
While at church we find out that they actually know each other.
Kevin had walked up to Bereket right after we'd given him a book of mormon and asked where he'd gotten the book. Bereket pointed us out and told Kevin he could talk to us about it. 
we found all of this out yesterday at church. my mind was blown. it was so cool! and both of them wanted to learn more. they asked for the gospel principles book so they could study the sunday school lessons before hand and then come to church and know how to answer the questions. 

I've been doing a lot of conference talk study this week, and one of my favorites is Pres. Uchtdorf's talk from preisthood session called "be not afraid, only believe" it talks about Daniel and how he had to really stand out from the crowd to exercise his faith. And it talks about how sometimes the world would try to make you think that been cynical and skeptical is so sophisticated. But when you believe in something you are so much more courageous, and you understand everything so much better. I felt like it was a talk made perfectly for sweden, because swedish mindset is "LAGOM" (meaning, not too much, not too little, just right) as in if you believe in God you're too extreme, but you can't believe in nothing. So a lot of the time people will say they believe in something, some higher power, but refuse to say that it's God. It's prideful and ridiculous (in my opinion), but that's why we're here. To show people that admitting to the existence of God isn't being weak, it's being faithful and knowledgeable and understanding. I wish we could round up all of sundsvall and have them sit and listen to President Uchtdorf's talk. 

I'm about out of time, but thanks so much for reading and writing me :) 
have the greatest week!
love, syster janessa brink

 accidentally coming half an hour early to our lesson. awkward.

we're so excited to be sticking around here!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

hey team!

we've been having a super good week up here in Dragon City! Too bad though, all the dragons have flown south for the winter (they're migratory, don't ya know?) so i won't be sending any more dragon pictures. And they were so cute too! oh well, all the more reason to come back to sweden next summer ;) pretty please?

monday night we had family home evening and had a super good turnout! Abel and Girum both came and so did our new friend Pasha (he's from Russia) and it was so much fun! We had a great spiritual thought on the Holy Ghost (which was awesome, because most of the people there didn't really understand what the holy ghost was) and then played a little get to know you game and had some fika afterwards. from there we went over to the train station to pick up our good friends sister Kamauoha and Sister Irene. They came up for some workovers!

the next day sister k and i went out and did some missionary work, beginning with some gardening for an elderly sister in our branch and then went to the library to help Pasha with a school assignment and then taught Girum about the restoration. A full day of missionary-ing and lots of good stuff coming from it! we had a good time together and before we knew it we had to drop the sisters off at the train station again! from there sister taylor and i went to the church for our last lesson with Patrik, because he's moving down to Lund. 

we had sister's conference in stockholm on thursday, so a good portion of the week was spent on a train. we made our way on down to the conference and after the first train ride we were pretty drained. we got to stay with the Hägersten sisters and both of them (sister Modersitzki and sister Mecham) went to Lone Peak high, so we had a fun night playing "do you know ____" sister mecham played soccer with kelsey and we had a good handful of other friends in common! the world just gets smaller. 

sisters conference was amazing! sister beckstrand really outdoes herself. we had lots of little classes about building a Christ centered home and what it means to be chosen for the work. it was so good and so uplifting. one of my favorite parts was the class about letting go of things and we released balloons with things that we are going to let go of. I also got to see all of my comanions! with half of them heading home in the next two months i had to get a picture with them all. I love those girls so much! 

the elders have an investigator who does motivational speaking at schools, and he invited all of us missionaries to come with him and help him with a speech. so next week i'll be trying my hand at some motivational speaking. we'll be sharing experiences about our lives and how we came to end up here in sweden. we worked on what we wanted to say on saturday morning, and then he invited us over for dinner (it's his birthday) for later that night. 

we've been doing really well with Armin's mom, Shirin. She is just the cutest! She is going to be baptized on november 14th and we're just getting her ready for that! we taught her about the restoration this week and as sister taylor was saying the first vision, Shirin felt the spirit witness to her that it was true. and Shirin only speaks persian. regardless of what language we are speaking, the holy ghost always testifies of truth. 

the weeks have been getting shorter (and so have the days) and this is the last full week of the transfer. this coming saturday we'll be finding out what the Lord wants to do with us in regard to location here in sweden and we are anxious! we really want to stay together, because we have been seeing so much success! but you never know what the Lord has in store for you, at least, I never do. 

we look forward to this coming week and all the good people we're meeting with! 
stay safe out there with the roads getting icy and the weather getting cold. 
fun to hear about the family vacations that come with fall break!
jag älskar er så mycket!!!
-syster janessa brink

blessed with the best! here are all my companions!

my MTC sisters! 

trains=invent your own fun.

the train company felt sorry for us, so they upgraded our seats to first class, right next to the apple bowl!

when I'm not out contacting I'm laying here with my favorite book (can anyone guess what it is #notharrypotter)

just enjoying my time up here in Sundsvall!

Monday, October 12, 2015

ain't no mountain (but pretty close)

this week has been fun! on monday we took a climb up the highest peak in sundsvall and to the top of the tower on the crest. it was fun! Got lots of great pictures of the little city from above.

monday evening it was really cold and we were out contacting people. my fingers felt like they were solid ice when we started heading home. we were feeling done for the night and pretty good about our contacts. as we were walking by this creepy tunnel we saw this woman walking toward us. we usually don't contact people by the creepy tunnel because, well, it's creepy. but for some reason we stopped this woman. we talked with her and she told us about how lately she's been looking for God but her religion wasn't doing anything for her and she didn't understand it. we told her about the Book of Mormon and she was like, "well maybe i need to read that book!" and we said, "yeah! you should!" and handed the one we were holding to her. she was shocked that it was free and was so excited! she confessed to us that that evening she was actually planning on killing herself at a nearby hotel and she was ready to give up on everything. but for some reason she felt like walking a different way home and ran into two half frozen representatives of Jesus Christ. and to think we were about to let her just walk right past us! we have been texting her all week and it's amazing to see the things that have been changing for her. she told us that meeting us was a sign to her from God and that she is so excited to meet us again!

tuesday morning i woke up to a text from Alex (member from Jönköping) with pictures and videos of my cute family who he went and visited this week. I'm glad he was able to deliver everything safe and sound and that you were all able to have a fun evening with him and Kaleb! later that day we went and did some gardening for an elderly member and taught this crazy guy who thought that the book of mormon musical was church doctrine and would not accept what we said. it was exhausting but it's all in a days work.

cool random picture of some stuff in a souvineer shop

on wednesday we taught this guy that sister taylor met like 3 months ago. his name is abel, and he's from Ethiopia. we taught him the restoration and he told us he wanted to be baptized. I don't know what it is but the baptismal dates seem to be falling from the sky lately. Abel came to church and even brought a friend with him who also said he wanted to be baptized. I'm just gonna say that god is putting the prepared people in our path. it's not anything that sister taylor and i are doing, we're just talking to the people that we see.

i got on this floaty little dock thing and it started floating away from the edge. this is what happens when you go contacting with me.

the rest of the week was just a modgepodge of meeting with less actives, investigators, and contacting people on the street. we have been teaching lots of lessons about the sacrament lately and it's been really cool to step back and think about it. when i first moved to sundsvall the missionary leadership asked us to really focus on sacrament and keeping the sabbath day holy and see if there was anything we could do to understand it more. and then in conference i swear there were like 5 talks about the sacrament! so it's been pretty front focus lately. I've been doing a fair amount of study on it and have been learning lots of good things!

it was elder cragun's birthday, so we threw him a little surprise breakfast party. sisters aren't allowed in elder's apartments, so we ate outside.

friday night we saw the northern lights! i totally spaced bringing my camera and sd card drive (glömsig...) so i can't send the coolest pictures ever. i will have to see if i can get back here sometime today to send them off. sister taylor and i were super excited about them and we set up chairs in front of the kitchen window and wrapped ourselves in blankets and got out a space heater and ate homemade chicken noodle soup while we watched the greatest light show that ever was! there is no way that God doesn't exist because we literally watched Him paint the sky that night, it was amazing. perks of living in norrland.

me, eating soup and watching the northern lights (no, you can't see them in this picture :( )

all in all its been a good busy week and we've been getting a lot of stuff done :)
hear from all of you guys next week!
love, sister janessa brink

our lewis and clark picture

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

sugar rush

dear family i got the birthday package this week, thank you so much! it was so much fun to open it and blow up the balloons and read the card and everything :) as you can see, I had a lot of fun. 

it's been a good, busy week here in dragon city, and i don't even know where to start! last week for p-day we went bowling and yes, I'm still terrible at it. all good fun though. 

to answer my parents questions, most of the time we walk places, but when we're not in town we get around by bus or car. we have to share the car with the other four elders in the area, so it just depends on the day. i have only had to take a train once while being here and that was for zone training. super different from karlskrona and jönköping where we would take the train at least twice a week! we like the car though :)

other news this week, we committed three more people to be baptized this december! we have a lot of work cut out for us, seeing as sister taylor and i now have 6 people to teach and prepare for baptism! we're excited though, because we know heavenly father will qualify us (learned that at conference yesterday!) and he will help us with the things we can't do on our own. 

we were able to teach armin and his mother this past week and they are so sweet. Armin was recently baptized (like 2 or 3 months ago) and his mother isn't a member. She only speaks persian so we have to have Armin translate for us or we use google. she's the sweetest woman though, and she even came to conference these past couple days. we were able to pull it up in persian and she watched the women's session and the saturday morning session. she loved it! even though there's a language barrier, i really enjoy talking with her :) 

we also taught a group of students from the high school. they interviewed us about our church and we taught them the plan of salvation. they were all really nice and asked some great questions. one of the last questions they asked was what our favorite part of being a mormon was. I answered that it was knowing that i was a part of something bigger, and that because I am a child of God it means that I can become like him one day. 

Patrik, one of our friends, has been learning about the church for a while. He just finished the Book of Mormon this week and said he enjoyed it. He came to conference too, and stayed for both preisthood session and saturday afternoon session. We've been having really good lessons with him and he's pretty cool. He really does want to know if this is true and seems to have an earnest desire to find out. I'm really excited to see how it all goes for him! He'll be moving to Lund in ~2 weeks, but he'll be back and forth here in sundsvall during that time, so both us and the Lund sisters will be teaching him :) 

Conference was awesome. It's tradition to get a giant bag of godis (candy) for conference, so we did that and my blood sugar was spiked the entire time. Some of the talks seemed to be pointed right at me and a few of the messages felt so personal that at some points it felt like the words were taken right from my patriarchal blessing. There was so much about keeping the sabbath day holy, being a loving parent, and being centered on christ. I really enjoyed the comments from the three new apostles, Elders Rasband, Renlund, and Stevensen. I had the opportunity the other night to ask the Lord about their callings and learn for myself so that i could sustain them wholeheartedly. Heavenly Father seemed to know exactly what I intended to ask before I even got the words out. As I said my prayer I could simply feel that the callings these men had recieved were correct and that I could safely follow their council in the coming years. 

me and SaySay, our super cute little vietnamese friend :)

I'm so happy to be a part of this church, to know about how Heavenly Father works with his children and to be on the streets everyday telling people about it. this week has been so sweet (in more ways than just the godis) and I'm so excited for the next one!
super windy here lately!

have a good week! I look forward to hearing from you all next week!
love, syster janessa brink