Monday, May 23, 2016

Transfer Calls

Dear Sister Brink,

You are hereby called to serve as a normal member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the USA Home Mission.  It is anticipated that you will serve for the rest of your life.

You should report to the Salt Lake International Airport on Thursday, May 26, 2016.  You will prepare to preach the gospel in both the English and Swedish languages.  Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of your Heavenly Father.

well. Here it is. I feel like when I started this journey I never really grasped that one day it would all come to an end. 18 months of joy, sorrow, swedish, life lessons, restoration lessons, testifying, studying, prayers, public transportation, companions, best friends getting dressed in white, persians, swedes, syrians, love, hope, trials, scares, snow and sunshine. 

And here I am. 

I had the realization earlier this week that I'll be going back to a world that knows me only as Janessa, and I've been living as Syster Brink for the last year and a half. That will be an interesting adjustment, but bear with me.

There are no words to sum up the time I've spent here in Sweden. I wouldn't be able to do it justice. I feel so grateful that Heavenly Father chose me to serve here. My life is forever changed because of the people and places and experiences I have had. It's not so much the things we see as it is the way we feel, and I have felt closer to God here than I ever have before. 

I am grateful that missionary work comes included in my baptismal covenant. That even though I have to be released and take off the name tag and wear pants again I can still be a full time servant of Jesus Christ. I'm excited to get on facebook and talk with the people I've met here and continue sharing the gospel with them (sorry I'm such a nerd, but facebook is probably the greatest missionary tool that was ever invented). 

I am excited to see you guys again. While my heart is still breaking into pieces for leaving all of this behind, I am excited to see my family, they are the reason why I decided to serve in the first place. 

cheers to the last 18 months, the savior who helped me through them, and God who called me to them. I love them. 

-syster janessa brink




















Monday, May 16, 2016

scandinaviska äventyr

sitting here at the computer once again at the beginning of the week and I'm not sure what to write about because everything has been amazing.

I had this amazing idea last night. 
lately I've been going to bed but haven't been sleeping because my thoughts keep me awake.
so i figured that if i just wrote the things I was thinking about I'd be able to actually fall asleep and be rested. I fell asleep with a pen in my hand and a notebook by my pillow and woke up with random words such as:

oven boots
chiropractor
honey lemon maple syrup
patches
tull deklaration
chocolate? 
souvineers
phone number?

good news is I feel very well rested. and I have some questions for my parents, haha :)

-should I take the oven boots home with me? 
-if you haven't already set up an appointment for the chiropractor, could you please get me in asap?
-what is my phone number? after so long I've totally forgotten everything.

this week we had a miracle.
we were out contacting and literally 30 people shut us down really hard. like. really hard. haha, goodness, missionary work sometimes is a little disappointing. But we were still in pretty good spirits and kept walking because we just felt like something good would be coming out of this. we got into the city center and i saw this guy and felt like we NEEDED to talk to him specifically. We stopped him and he was like, "oh yeah, I totally know about your church. My mom is a member and lives in Salt Lake City and my uncle is the stake patriarch in Nigeria. I've actually been thinking about getting baptized but I feel like I need to know what you guys believe in before I do that. Could I meet with you?" WHOA. Now, before you guys all fall out of your seats and skip to the end of the email to see him dressed in white, I have to say we haven't been able to meet him yet. He's got a pretty tight work schedule. But we were able to run into him again while waiting for the bus. He's still interested :)

Its been super cool because every single day this week we have been LEAD to someone who needed us. 

We have been finding all these less active members all over the place that I didn't even know about. This week we were able to meet a few of them and start teaching them again. 

Linda and Lars and their family are my absolute favorite people ever. This week we've visited with them 3 different times already and I think we're all going to be best friends pretty soon. At least me and their 3 year old, Patrik. He and I are pretty tight. 

I also got to go on splits this week with Sister Giles. What a blessing to be able to start and finish our missions together. I love that girl so much. 

yesterday at church we had a ward celebration- Paj Söndag. We all ate pie together as a ward. It was so good. Swedish pie is to die for. Sister Crawford and I even made a pie for it. I'm impressed at our abilities, I was really worried it would taste disgusting, but it was actually pretty good!

Also at church we had a new convert confirmed in sacrament meeting. After his confirmation the bishop welcomed him to the ward and we raised our hands to show our support for him. Do you guys realize what an amazing opportunity we have every single time we get to sustain someone in a new calling? Or welcome someone new to the ward? 

My goal for next week: Love every single day. 

I love you guys! 
-syster janessa brink

Swedish baking

splits with sister giles

cedric, a new member in Hägersten, got me these as a present

my final planner

Johanna passed her baptismal interview!

Monday, May 9, 2016

proclaim it on the rooftops

this week has been amazing.

pday was a little crazy, and we weren't sure if we'd be able to actually make it to IKEA, but we did, and it was fun :) we even got some lunch there before heading to home evening. 

IKEA!

On tuesday we went on splits with the stockholm sisters and I got to go with Sister Anderson. She's a new missionary here and I am absolutely blown away with her. She is fantastic :) She showed me around stockholm and introduced me to both members and investigators alike. We had a lesson with some of their investigators that are going to be baptized soon, George and Elvis, and they were fantastic. 

The whole day I was walking around the city just in awe of everything (as I usually am when I get to go to stockholm) and feeling so grateful that I get to even be here. We went back to their apartment in Södermalm and once we got there sister anderson was like, "I want to show you something." So we took off our shoes and she opened the window of their top floor apartment and climbed out. Both of us out on the roof, we walked around and looked over the harbor and watched the sun set over the skyline. I don't think I've ever seen anything as beautiful as that. It was a once in a lifetime experience. While standing up there, I said a little silent prayer thanking Heavenly Father for Sweden, and for the people, and for the blessing I've had to be here. Standing up there made me realize how much all of this means to Him. He loves this country even more than I do. He gave me a little glimpse of what He sees when He looks at Sweden. 

Stockholm

We also had the opportunity this week to teach the husband of one of the members here. Her name is Linda and his is Lars. He hasn't been baptized, and just recently started meeting with us. We had a couple really tender lessons with them this week. 

Other things this week included discovering less active members that we didn't know we had and talking with EVERYONE we could. 

Yesterday for Mother's day was a great time to talk with the family and share the testimony I've been able to develop day after day in the Lord's service. 

in my entire life, I have never come across anything that parallels missionary work. I just feel grateful that heavenly father and Jesus Christ trusted me, little sister janessa brink from highland utah, to be a conduit for the spirit here in Sweden. 

until next week,
-syster janessa brink


stopping to pick some flowers

me and Johanna

me and sister Anderson on our morning walk

Monday, May 2, 2016

Oh the Places You'll Go

dear family and friends,

well, its that time of the week again! this week we had lots of fun and plenty to do. 

For pday last week we went to the mall of scandinavia and it felt a little like walking into the great and spacious building. There were, thankfully, no people there pointing and laughing at us. But I did definitely feel like I took a step into the world and realized just how "out of the world" I've been living for the past while. 

we did splits with the Västerhaninge sisters and I got to go to västerhaninge with sister Hatch. She's super cute and she's on her last transfer of being trained. I had so much fun with her! She's really relaxed and knows her way around missionary work and also she's like, super talented at swedish. We taught lots of people and helped set up for sister's conference. 

me and sister hatch

Sister's Conference was great. Sister Beckstrand is super creative and puts them together with the cutest themes. This time it was Dr. Seuss themed. Lots of good reflection and learning and I also got to see my favorite sisters :) There was a training about post-mission life and we read "oh the places you'll go" together. I sat there reading and got stuck on the parts that said:

"There are some things down the road between hither and yon that will scare you so much you won't want to go on."..."Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find, for a mind maker upper to make up his mind."

all those things ahead of me leading me to exaltation.

Wow. Dr. Seuss speaking right to my heart. For the past while I've been getting a lot of people asking, "So, how does it feel?" and honestly I don't know how to describe it. I'm just going to do a rain check on the response to that question until I find the right words. 

We also went to the wesemeyers and moved some giant stumps and burnt a huge fire to help them set up for Valborg. 

elder burton, me, and rahaf getting ready to move some stumps.

Speaking of Valborg, that was on the 30th. The last day of April is "swedish burn day." We also had stake conference. We hopped on the train to get to the saturday evening of stake conference and made it one stop down the line before they made us get off and told us there wouldn't be any trains going north for at least the next 2 hours. Ouch. So we were stuck in a teeny tiny town called Rönninge where the streets aren't marked and nobody there knows how to get anywhere. We ended up having the Woods, a really sweet senior couple, come and rescue us and take us to stake conference. We made it for the last 30 minutes. I'm just thankful we even got there. Then after stake conference we all headed out to a field by the chapel and got all smokey with some other missionaries, people from the city, and President and Sister Beckstrand. 

valborg!

Yesterday we had stake conference via web broadcast and it totally reminded me of how every time we tried to do that at home the stake center would always (without fail) lose connection to the tabernacle. Guess what happened? Glitches in the system made it nearly impossible to sustain the people they called to stake positions and the opening song skipped like a broken record, hahaha. We did get to listen to most of the talks and then when the stake president got up to speak we lost connection entirely. So did all the other buildings that weren't in the chapel they were broadcasting from. So we sung a closing hymn an said a closing prayer. It was still a really good, uplifting meeting. 

We didn't see as much of the inside of our chapel this week, but we did get some good things going because of all that restoration teaching last week. We've got some people pretty solidly progressing towards baptism! 

I love you guys! today I'll be heading off to the biggest IKEA in the world. I'm gonna buy myself a shoe horn. 

have a great week! write me, send me letters, take pictures, I want to hear from you guys!
-syster janessa brink

just for fun :) 

thing one and thing two


these are the sister's I came into the mission with!


this guy came in for our district meeting, we taught him the word of wisdom.


just a pretty picture of the king's garden in stockholm

Monday, April 25, 2016

the restoration

hej på er!

this week though. 

we taught the restoration to everyone in this whole entire city.

I am exhausted. I don't think I've ever been so tired. 

Good things usually come from weeks like this though, so we've been looking for the good in every moment of every day. 

We went to stockholm last week (and we'll be doing that again today! woop!) and saw the vasa with the Clouses. They are the sweetest people (and apparently sister clouse is mom's best friend! ;) i hear you guys talk pretty often?) the vasa is this huge 17th century war ship they brought up from the bottom of the harbor after it sat there for over 300 years. it was super cool! 

what did we do the rest of the week?

well. 

we saw a lot of the inside of our chapel. and the inside of our area book. and we taught the restoration. doesn't make for a very exciting email, or for very many pictures (sorry!) 

We got to help with zone training this week and talked about teaching the commandments simply and clearly. We also talked about being unified as a zone because we feel like it's about time for something huge to happen here and we're gonna be ready for it! Lots of spiritual highs and impressions happening in the preparation and presentation of this zone training. I'm super glad that sister crawford and i got to be a part of all of it! 

remember that cute little syrian family i talked about last week? we met with the woman (would have met with both of them, but he had swedish class) and it went super well! she said she's not really ever been the "church-going" type, but when she met us she felt like she wanted to come to church. She even looked up mormons on wikipedia to find out what we were all about (she obviously didn't find anything too crazy, cuz she still came and met with us). We taught her the restoration (you guessed it!) and she really enjoyed all of it. I'm gonna need to learn arabic though. they'll be coming to family home evening tonight :)

yesterday it snowed here. yes. in the middle of april. i do live in sweden don't i?
also, yesterday I was able to really take it easy in sacrament meeting and actually feel the spirit. I let myself stop stressing about who is sitting with who and which investigator i need to talk with and how many members still need callings or whatever. It felt so good to just have a few minutes that I could be alone with the savior. and i really needed those minutes because if I didn't get them this week I might have fallen apart before next week. it's so good to be a part of a church where we can do that. where we can give everything over to the savior and recommit every week to be a little better and cleanse ourselves from those things holding us down and holding us back. 

this next week looks like it's gonna be another crazy one. but never fear, this week i will be taking more pictures! so you guys can be a part of the craziness all the way on the other side of the world :) 

craziness happens. you get busy. sometimes it feels like life moves too fast for you to keep up with. but just for the record: i don't think i would ever trade this craziness at this time for anything else. I know why I'm here. I know where I'm going. 

i love you guys!
vi hörs nästa vecka!
-syster janessa brink

Vasa Skeppet!


prep for teaching


it was sunny this week!


it also snowed ;)


dear parents: I think I'm gonna move to stockholm. We'll set up the plans and everything over skype on mother's day :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

living up

guys. i love you.

starting things off, this week has been crazy. I think I write that literally every week but I keep expecting my weeks to calm down and then they don't haha. 

On monday we traveled up to stockholm and we were going to be playing volleyball but then when we got there they didn't have any nets on the volleyball courts. So we sat on the grass and grilled some korv instead and some of the elders played frisbee and fotball. It was a nice relaxed pday and we had a good time :) 

tuesday was super busy and by the end of the day i was pretty sure I'd gotten blisters on each of my toes. We walked SO. MUCH. We visited basically everyone in Södertälje. It was a big goodbye day for sister nielsen and we got to chat with this sweet member named Linda, who just had a baby. We got to play with her son while the baby slept and talk with her a little bit. Mother life is crazy, and I think I'd be fine putting it off for a little while haha! We also met with Roba (who is a genious) and Rahaf (who is my best friend) and said goodbyes to them. After that we had dinner at the Schiazzano's. During the whole dinner they took pictures and put them on facebook (so I apologize if I looked exhausted that day). We had a giant chilean dinner. With cheesecake and kebabs and fruit. I think I ate like 10 kebabs. 

dinner with the schiazzanos

helping sister nielsen pack and make the weight requirements


The next morning I helped sister nielsen finish packing up and the elders came and picked up the luggage. We said our last little morning prayer and cried like children nearly the whole time. I got to take her all the way up to t-centralen and see her off with the assistants and the office elders. I stood there at the ring in the center and realized that for me this marked the beginning of the end.

Being aware of the time is the biggest curse/blessing that ever was. From here on out I can literally count on my fingers how much of everything I have left. It hurts but it's motivating. I'm going to try to refrain from counting things though, at least consciously. 

After dropping off sister nielsen (and crying again that such a fun companionship was over) I got to go with sister giles back to Hägersten. Neither of our companions would be getting in until later that evening. I helped her clean up the Hägersten apartment. She's actually been serving in Gubbängen for the past week because her last companion got the visa she was waiting for to go to her actual mission in the states (same mission as brooke young! small world, ja?) So we picked everything up, I broke her mop, and we picked some flowers on our way to the train station. 

flowers with sister giles!

A little bit of freaking out happened when sister crawford wasn't on the train she was supposed to be on, but soon I found her being helped by a stranger and we taught him about the restoration before heading off to our apartment. 

we had dinner at the wesemeyers the next day with rahaf and the elders and they asked us for help cutting down a tree. We cut down the tree, and it almost fell right on top of all of us. It was a lot bigger than we thought it was. Rahaf got a video, but her phone died before she could send it to us! 

Friday was awesome. We went to the mission home for our mission leadership council and I got to see some of my friends from around the mission! I even got to see elder payne, who was on his very first transfer in the mission during my last month in jönköping. The training was awesome and we talked about the commandments and how we can help those that we teach to accept them more readily and start living them in preparation for baptism. We are super excited to start this transfer!

that night we met with a guy that investigated the church last year and called us randomly in the middle of MLC. His name is per and he wanted to thank the past sisters that served here for their prayers while he was going through surgery. Such a nice guy! we committed him to give the church another shot and to start reading and praying about the book of mormon again. 

Saturday we woke up and took the craziest travel ever to eskilstuna for district meeting. normally district meeting would be on a week day, but because it was transfer week and we randomly had MLC on a friday instead of a tuesday we had to change everything around. District meeting was great though! Long travel back to södertälje left me exhausted and dizzy from trains and busses. We did get to meet with a new convert named Mathias though, and went over the plan of salvation with him. It was a great lesson, and Mathias is super cool! 

flen, a teeny tiny town that you only go to if you take 4 and 2 trains busses to get to and from eskilstuna on a saturday

yesterday was a stresser. sunday is not the day of rest for missionaries. I felt spread very very thin yesterday. we got here early to set up chairs and sister crawford played the piano and spoke in sacrament meeting. Then we taught the sunday school class in both english and swedish at the same time. From there we were going to teach young womens but there weren't any young women there so sister crawford and i went to primary so she could be the primary pianist. I love being a missionary, and I love helping. yesterday felt like a little much though. Is it bad to admit that I am a little excited to take a couple selfish sundays once I'm home to just enjoy the sabbath and have it all to myself?

we did get to talk to some super cool people on the street yesterday. We even found a family, refugees from the middle east, that just had a baby and were out walking with him. They were like my little shining light. I am so excited to meet them again! 

sunday morning walks

today we will be going to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm (you guys can read about it in the newest ensign or liahona. Elder Renlund wrote an article about it) with the Clouses, the office couple. We are gonna have a nice day of traveling, since södertälje is like, BARELY in the stockholm area it takes us like an hour to get there. It's super worth it though, there is so much to see and do in stockholm! 

you guys sound like you had a busy week! back from canada, up to idaho, helping people move and fixing shelving and such. And thanks to grandma for the sweet email of advice!!! 

ni är de bästa som finns. 

i look forward to hearing from you guys next week!!!
love, syster janessa brink


video
saw this this morning on our way to the chapel to email, crazy huh?

Monday, April 11, 2016

shortie

hey guys! not much time today pga we're having volleyball in stockholm and we are in charge of it! 

transfer news? 
I'm sticking around here *surprise surprise* and getting sister Crawford! I'll be here until the end of the mission :) 

speaking of the end of the mission and everything: Mom, when you do get travel plans and such, you don't need to let me know when I'll be getting in hahaha, I'll be fine planning for that the week before it happens.

we did a lot this week with sister nielsen saying her final goodbyes before she heads back to the states and us finishing out a little bucket list of items she wanted to do before she left. We taught a lot of people this week and unfortunately I just don't have the time to write about any of it! It's okay though, next week I'll have more time, I promise! 


we went to stockholm last pday and this is like, the only good picture we got haha

dinner at a real sit down restaurant with menus and a waiter and everything. it was the beginning of the month, so we splurged a little bit. 

gott moss! its pretty much a hot dog with mashed potatoes on it and who knew it would be so good??

we had a jewish guy on the subway tell us we were idol worshippers because he visited the salt lake visitors center and they said a prayer in front of the kristus statue. part of that train ride i sat like this. 

with sister nielsen "dying" (going home) this week, the district had a small little funeral for her. 

last but not least, this is from this morning. 

have a happy monday!!
syster janessa brink