Monday, January 25, 2016

adventure trakting and östersund

what do you get when you put together -15 degree weather, Norrland, and two sister missionaries?

cold feet.

Lots of our people got cold feet this week. But that's life, haha. At least, as a missionary it is. 

and with all those cold feet there's nothing too big to report. sister davis and I have decided to do a little something we call "Adventure Trakting." What is that? well, it's basically trakting.... but with a spirit of adventure. Like knocking on doors like this:

translation: no advertisement OR religious propaganda, THANKS!

Oh I wish we had camera people following us around because adventure trakting gives us the funniest stories. 

This week, we also had a worldwide missionary broadcast. This is the first broadcast they've had to all missionaries worldwide in 10 years. It was really good! They discussed teaching repentance and baptizing converts. I feel like so many times as members of the church, we think about converts as people who weren't members of the church, and then get baptized. But a convert is more than that. It's a person who has gone through a mighty change of heart, and have changed their life because of that. They become converted to the gospel long before they become baptized into the church. And a convert can also be someone who has grown up in the church, gone through the same changing process and have become converted, building a testimony that keeps them strong through difficult storms in life. I thought about our investigators and those we teach, and whether or not they are "converts." 

Our day in Östersund was really good (you guys have been praying for us haven't you? ;) ). We took a long train ride out there and the elders took the car. We talked with people, we knocked on doors, and we met with members of the church that haven't been able to attend for quite some time due to long distances. One of those people is our friend, Oscar. I have been talking with Oscar since I got here in September, so it was really fun to be able to actually meet him. 

us and Oscar in the Östersund train station

Oscar is so excited about church and missionary work. We gave him a couple copies of the book of mormon to give to his friends. We're anxious to see how everything goes, because we aren't able to be there all the time in Östersund, his help could make miracles happen!

all those long car rides with the family prepared me for long train rides through sweden. we get to see so much of this beautiful country from the windows of the trains

All in all, we got lots of stuff done this week, even if all our usuals got cold feet. Thanks for the prayers and the advise and the info on life :) I love and appreciate all of it!

MVH, Syster Janessa Brink

Monday, January 18, 2016

"I've never felt peace like this before"

this week has been a lot of fun :) for p-day we lazer tagged and ikea'd and then went trakting. i used to hate trakting but oh my goodness, what a life saver when it comes to the cold weather. and you always have the funniest experiences trakting hahaha 

we were out visiting this less active member one day this week and the whole time we were sitting there i was craving a banana chicken curry pineapple pizza. weird cravings, i know. so after the lesson sister davis and i decided to start making our way to the pizza place and we stopped this super cute girl on the way. we chatted with her for a while and ended up teaching her about the restoration and joseph smith and it went so well she wanted to trade numbers with us. so we took her number and then called her phone. and the names Ashley and Dee popped up on her screen haha. Turns out she'd met the missionaries a couple years ago! She's only 16, and her name is Ayah. We decided to meet up another time and talk in a place where it wasn't so cold :) i'm going to say the pizza craving was a prompting. heavenly father can direct us in lots of different ways!

last week sister gardner and i met with Murre on splits and gave him a book of mormon (his own hard copy! FINALLY!) and he called us up this week and set up his own appointment with us. he told us he had some questions about the book and really wanted to know about them. So we met with him on friday and went over his questions. they ranged all from "what is the sacrament" to "how do you know it's the spirit you're feeling" to "can you really be forgiven after you make a big mistake." it was really good! i've never seen Murre so intent on knowing, so anxious to read and understand. I love it! It just strengthened my testimony that the book of mormon is the word of god and that it opens people's hearts like nothing else. 

saturday was a day to remember. we got our transfer calls and I am set to stay here in sundsvall for another month and a half :) I'm really excited to be sticking around! after studies, sister Davis and I headed off to the church to start setting things up for the baptism! I love hearing the water running in the church, it's the greatest sound ever! Farhad and Bakhtiar got baptized by the elders quorum president, Patrik and the meeting went super great! We had lots of persian food and chatting afterwards. Farhad and Bakhtiar bore their testimonies to us this week and one of my favorite things they said was, "I have never felt peace like this before." I'm so excited for them and the steps they have started taking toward heavenly father and jesus christ. 

we'll be heading out to östersund to start being "fishers of men" this saturday. Pray for us, cuz the six of us are about to tackle a big city. We want to throw out those nets and have them come up full! I'm looking forward to seeing what we can catch out there!

love you guys!
syster janessa brink

this week we learned hard boiled eggs make really great hand warmers. 

one of the doors we knocked on this week

stripe sunday with us and shirin!

getting ready for the baptism!

us, farhad, patrik, and bakhtiar

Monday, January 11, 2016

wow it got cold this week

quick update for all of you guys, it dropped below -20 degrees Celsius up here, no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, but it's cold. 

weather forecast for the week

We have been busy busy this week, and we had lots of fun :)

we met with Abass and got him back on track to baptism! He came to church and chatted with a bunch of members and enjoyed all of it. After Abass's lesson we went trackting and our eyelashes FROZE because it was so cold out. We didn't get a good picture of it because it was so dark out, but trust me, I had icicles on my eyelashes. After trackting we went to visit this cute Hawaiian/Swedish family in the ward and had SO MUCH FUN with them and their kids. We did family scripture study with them and we shared a message about how special all of us are to heavenly father and why he loves families so much. 

my frozen eyelashes on a different day (this doesn't look like much, but as i was saying before, i had ICICLES on my eyelashes a few days earlier)

this week for district meeting we organized our efforts to start setting up meetings in Östersund (a big city 3 hours away that used to have a branch). It was a really humbling experience as we sat there and looked at what we had to work with and where everything would be going. I've never tried to resurrect a branch before. But we knelt in prayer and decided on a day to go out there as a district and start this project, and we felt impressed do go out next saturday. We look forward to seeing what Östersund has in store for us. In a city so big, we'll be sure to find people that will want to hear what we say. We'll have to be very prayerful through all of this, in order to be led to those people who are the most ready. We won't have the opportunity to go out there very often, so we want to get as much done as we can each time we go. 

Thursday evening we met with our friend Peter again.This time we taught him about the Restoration and he was really into it. He asked lots of really great questions and listened for our answers. We ended up talking a little about baptism and the holy ghost and he was like "I think I could definitely use that in my life." He accepted a baptismal date for Feb 20! He then asked us randomly about coffee and tea and we taught him the word of wisdom too, to which he replied "huh, i think i'll try to stop drinking coffee." He just basically committed himself to live the word of wisdom, hahaha :) we're excited to be working with him!

The sister training leaders came up for splits and sister gardiner and i taught Farhan and Bakhtiar. They had their baptismal interview right after our lesson and both of them passed! We'll be having a baptism on saturday! 

the primary kids had an activity this week to "retire" the christmas tree. it's a tradition to dance around the tree and sing songs and eat candy. we even got a visit from our good friend, Jul Tomten! 

primary activity with the STL's

all in all, it's been a great week! We don't know about transfers yet, we'll be getting the call on saturday morning. I had an interview with president this week and basically told him I really don't want to leave, haha. It's a low probability that I'll be transferring out, seeing as I'm training sister Davis, but it's not impossible. we'll just hope for the best with everything and cross our fingers and pray that I get to stay here another month and a half!

I love you guys!
-syster janessa brink

i cut sister davis' hair!

video dancing around the tree

Monday, January 4, 2016

the news

hej hej allihopa! 

not a whole whole lot has happened in these past couple of days since I emailed you last. The world is still spinning and the work is still moving and snow is FINALLY falling here in Sundsvall (it's about time.)

Farhan and Bakhtiar are doing great! We sat down and (we usually don't do this) taught them all the commandments at once this week. The law of chastity, the word of wisdom, the law of tithing, the ten commandments, following the prophet, fasting and fast offerings, baptism and confirmation, etc. They took it like champs. I almost didn't believe them when they said they understood and accepted ALL OF IT. I had to start kinda digging to see if they really understood what all of it meant, and they totally did. Seriously, I need to start learning persian (actually, sister davis and i can hold a very small conversation in persian... but nowhere near teaching lessons haha) because the most prepared people I've ever met speak persian. 

I am also starting to get in with the primary kids. They are the cutest ever. And I'm becoming bffs with all of them. Yesterday in church one of the little girls drew sister Davis and I this adorable picture and I'm gonna stick it in my journal and keep it forever. 

Sidenote: I heard some new adelle song this week and it gave me a little bit of hope for the future of the american music industry. every other new song i've had the chance to hear has been...well... hemsk. 

We are buckling up for a new week with lots of good things coming our way. Goodbyes, interviews with president, and splits with the STL's coming up next week. So stay tuned :) and as always, there will be some surprises coming with the new week. 

Have a grrrrrrrreat week!

din ödmjukaste tjänare,
syster janessa brink

we made some ninja bread cookies

sometimes i have little moments of realization when i remember i'm living in sweden

sister davis told me about some shia lebouf motivational speech that went crazy. and we made a ninja bread cookie of him. JUSSSTTT. DOOO IIIITTTTTT! MAKE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE.

pictures from our best friends in primary!

we spent NYE with the Kääriä's. They invited Armin and Shirin and all of us missionaries over. It was so much fun!

Friday, January 1, 2016

1 January 2016

Happy New Year to all of you! 

With the changing calendar there comes lots of other changes too. Everybody has been setting goals and getting ready for the coming 12 months and I thought I'd add an item to everyone's lists of things to do. 

But first, a couple stories. This past week has been a lot of fun for me, visiting with members, talking to everyone on the streets, preparing people for baptism and teaching people from all over the world. Although things are sometimes a little dark and cold here in Norrland, the holiday season has kept everybody warm. We have been able to meet with some amazing people this week.

I think about Farhan and Bakhtiar and the willingness and eagerness they have to learn everything there is to know about the church. The way they happily attend all of our church meetings even though they don't understand any of it and only have translation every other hour. They sit there and listen, and although they might not be able to understand the swedish, they are able to understand the spirit. 

We met another guy this week named Peter. He's got a typical swedish story. He was baptized as an infant and confirmed as a 14 year old, but doesn't know if he believes in God. He only believes in "something." He was willing to meet with us after we talked for a few minutes on the street. When we sat down and began telling him about what we believe in and why we believe it, he opened up and listened openly and asked questions. At the end of the lesson, he said an amazing prayer, the first one he's ever said, out loud in front of us. I was so touched by his faith, in just saying "Heavenly Father, it's me, Peter. Thank you for what you've given me. Thanks for letting me meet the sisters. We'll be hearing later. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." Willing and ready, he decided to try something he'd never tried before. And he wanted to meet again. 

So. To add to all your new years resolutions, I want you to try having a more willing heart. I got an email from a friend from Heritage Tours a few days ago inviting me to give something to Christ for Christmas, and this is what I am giving him. I will be willing to talk to those people that I don't really want to talk to sometimes. I'll make my heart more open to love people without holding back. I'll follow those spiritual promptings that might put me slightly outside of my comfort zone. I'll willingly donate my time and energy to my callings, as a missionary, as unofficial branch music conductor, and as whatever calling I receive as a returned missionary this summer. I have already come so far in these past months, and that progress will continue unhindered if I allow it to. My heart is willing, and I am ready to face 2016. Recommitted. Rededicated. Willingly. 

love you guys!
syster janessa brink

p.s. now that the holidays are over, this will be my last out of place p-day. I'll be emailing again on monday the 4th like always.