Monday, October 26, 2009

Almost Halloween!!

Dear Family,

This week has been really good. We have had many teaches, the weather has been cold...but not too cold yet, and we are now 4 people staying in our apartment. Being the Stockholm sisters....has really been exciting. There are two sisters in Jakobsberg which is just outside of Stockholm who last week realized that they have a huge mold problem in their apt. So, they have been staying with us this whole last week. We are crowded, but really enjoy being around each other. We also had Norrköping sisters stay with us Sat. just imagine 6 girls in a one bedroom apt. There was NO floor space. :) We had a blast being together.

As far as the work goes, the work is going really well here. We are seeing real success with both Kristoffer and Tina. We went to visit with Tina last week, and we took the time to really talk about something that she had brought us...and that was that she feels like God has left her alone. She has felt like the things that have happened to her in her life have some connection with God's love for her, and that He must not love her for her to go through so many trials. We read a couple of scriptures that really help us to understand why we feel that way sometimes. It was amazing. After we had her read one of them, she said, "That was just for me. I feel like that is exactly how I have been feeling...and now I understand why I have had the trials in my life, so I could learn from them and become better." It was awesome. She is progressing really well. She is reading in the scriptures, and enjoys our visits. We are praying that she will be healthy enough to come to church soon. That is one of the only things that we are worried her coming to church. It's just really hard for her....with Borelia (she got bit by a tick during the summer and nobody checked for that all summer, so now it's become really bad) and Fibromyalgia...which gives her a lot of trouble also. So we just keep praying that she keeps getting better so we can see her in church. We'll go again tomorrow to visit her. :)

Things with Kristoffer are also going really well. We have taught him the first two lessons of the gospel and he came to church again yesterday. We are seeing the ward really reach out to him. He is making progress, and we pray that he continues to think and ponder on what we have taught him to know for himself that it's true. He really likes the Book of Mormon, but didn't read what we had asked him to from last time. I know that reading and praying is the only way he can begin to develop a testimony of the things we teach. Our words will not get him a testimony. He needs to be converted by the Spirit...which I know he has felt. We look forward to our teaches with him and see that he has a great potential. We're meeting with him on Wednesday and talking more about Joseph Smith. Without a testimony of Joseph Smith...the Book of Mormon....and the church cease to be true.

We also meet with several new members every week. There is a member named Wan, she is wonderful. There is another girl named Qi....also wonderful. They are both from China, and have come a long way from when they started learning about the Gospel, but there is so much to learn, and so much to understand that I am grateful for the opportunity we have every week to see them grow in their knowledge and their testimony of all the things they are learning about. I love new members of the church. They have such a desire to learn, and are so willing to try and be better. It has reminded me that I too should have the attitude of a new member...always willing to learn more, and to always strive to be better.

Otherwise, the week went well. We have found several new people that we are going to try and get together with this week and teach. We are always busy. We teach Swedish class twice a week which has been going well, we try to stop by and get a hold of less active members, and we talk to people and invite them to learn about the gospel all the time. The work is going really well. We want to teach more people, and we are really trying to work well with the ward, because we know how vital that is to everything in the work.

I hope you have all had a wonderful week. I am sure Halloween will be fun. We will be having a Halloween Party at the YSA Center on Friday, so that will be fun. I am healthy and happy. I know the Lord is pleased with my decision to serve, and I pray and hope that I am continuing to show Him that I will do all I can to invite others to come unto Him. I hope all is well wherever you are. Time is flying by. We'll be seeing another transfer a couple of weeks, and who knows what will happen then. I love you all. I pray for you and hope that all things you need...the Lord is providing. Remember to be thankful. All that we have comes from our Heavenly Father...because He loves us and wants us to be happy.

Sister Suzanne Wood

P. S. Here's a Swedish idium....två flygor med en smäll. It literally means two flys with one smack....but is equivalent to our....two birds with one stone. Pretty fun to use these....makes me sound like I know the language. :P Swedish really is going pretty well for me. ;)

A little inspiration...

This is a story of a man we met when we were working with Sister Pierce in Södertälje. I have met Charles...have gotten to know him, and know that the Lord is aware of all of us, and really does reveal what we need to continue in our journey back to him.

Here's his story:

Charles is a convert of about a year who is from Gambia (a country in West Africa). Charles was a main general for the army there during the war a few years ago, and he worked directly with the President of the Country. Through some happenings at the time that I would call "secret combinations" Charles was decieved and ended up being charged with treason. He fled from the country with his daughter, and they came to Sweden. While he was here in Sweden, he met the missionaries, who taught him and helped him make many changes in his life. He was baptized and he met with the bishop every week thereafter to continue to work through things.

You see, Charles has been through many things in his life. Things that as he explained them to me, left me in awe that anyone could have such a hard life. There are many experiences that he has had that continue to haunt him today. After some time, Charles recieved a phone call from his mother in Gambia who told him that he needed to come back to the country and to sign some papers or their family would be "picked up." Charles had no idea what to do because he knew that in going back, he would be killed, but he didn't want his family to be in danger. He counseled with the bishop for quite some time and they came up with plans of how they were going to get Charles and Meri safely back to Sweden.

First off, Charles said he needed to take a gun back with him-he's been in the army, he knew how things were done and thought he would surely need it. The bishop told him that he felt so strongly that Charles shouldn't take a gun back with him and not trusting Charles, the Bishop made him stay in his house the day before he left, took him to the airport himself to make sure. The bishop also role played with Charles about what he would say if the President asked him specific questions. Charles has a bit of a temper, so he helped him come up with answers so he would be prepared and not fly off the handle. Also, the night before he left, the bishop felt very strongly that he needed to give Charles the Aaronic Priesthood, so he did, and then he printed out a line of authority for him to put in his wallet.

Okay, so Charles and his daughter were on their way home-Charles explained it as the longest flight of his life, and being in the army, he knew there would be soldiers there waiting for him when he got off the plane. He didn't trust in the bishop and the Lord and he doubted that anything would work out. As they arrived in the country, there were no officials to take him away. He walked past numerous checkpoints and to his total disbelief he made it to his home without anyone taking him away. No sooner had he and his daughter hugged the rest of his family, and sat down, there was a knock at their door. They had come for Charles. At least his daughter was safe in the hands of his parents. Then they took him away.

So Charles was "picked up" and put in a cell for a few days. They then took Charles and brought him to the President, who began to ask Charles a bunch of questions, all of which he was prepared to answer. Charles knew the President and he knew that he was a crazy guy-calm one minute and flying off the handle the next, so he had to do everything so carefully. The Bishop preparing Charles was absolutely inspired-He knew how to react calmly and say the things he needed to. He knew exactly how to answer each question and by the end, the President offered Charles his old position back. Charles did not want his job back. He had left his life behind him and didn't want to be that kind of person again, so he told the President that he couldn't take his job back because he was now a Priest in his church. The President didn't believe his explanation, so he took out his line of Priesthood which had been given him the night before he left by the bishop. Somehow, So, they brought some papers in front of Charles and gave him his release. Through all this Charles was completely stunned. They let him go and he and his daughter made it back to Sweden in safety. The journey back to Africa was an absolute miracle. What an inspired bishop, who gave Chales all of the tools he needed to accomplish this and what great faith Charles had in following the counsel of the bishop!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Always good times... (Monday, Oct. 19)

Dear Family,

I have realized that every week I write very spiritual and uplifting experiences...which I won't cease to include in this email, but I read a line from dad that said, "I hope you still have your humor" this morning, and thought you should all be aware that I laugh all the time. As a missionary there are all sorts of crazy experiences we have. I will try to include them so that you all know that I too....Sister Wood...have a good a missionary way. :)

So, here's a little funny story for this week: We have these two investigators to the church. They are Fan and Huiayu. We have been teaching them now for quite sometime. Well, we went to their house to teach them last week, and Huiayu came to the door before we even knocked and said "We are having a problem with the cat." We of course asked what is wrong...and he replied, "Well we are trying to potty train her, and it's just not working. She just pees all over the floor in the bathroom." In a little bit of confusion, we looked into the bathroom. As we peeked in, there we saw kitty litter in a weird toilet bowl cover thing with just a little whole in the middle. What we didn't realize when he was telling us they they were having a hard time potty training, is that they meant literally to have the cat go on the toilet. Haha. Super funny. That's not even what was the most funny to us. We have known them and the cat for some time, and no joke...the cat's name is Pe Pe. So, Pe Pe won't go pee pee in the potty. What a laugh we had over that. I hope it gets a giggle from all of you. :)

Now, other things that have happened this last week. We had the most teaches this last week that we have had here in Stockholm, and that I have had during my entire mission. It's amazing what happens when we plan well, and then everything goes through that we have planned. We visited many less active members, we had 3 dinner appointments with members (rarely happens) and we were able to teach all of our investigators this last week as well. We were literally running from one appt. to the next, and it was thrilling for both Sis. Swenson and I.

Things are going well with Tina. She is still pretty sick, but we went and taught her God's Plan for us. She was so open, and asked really good questions. She feels like she can make better decisions since she has met us and we have taught her about the Spirit and that it can be with us and help us to choose the right things to do. We will go and visit her tomorrow and pray that she will continue to progress. The hardest thing will be getting her to church because of her poor health. She has come already such a long way...and her friend Susanne...who is a member but has been inactive said that she would start coming to the teaches we have with Tina. It's amazing...the blessings we are seeing and the change that is taking place in this wonderful woman's life.

We did teach Kristoffer last Friday. The teach went really well. He was very open and accepting to the things we taught him. He is a very deep person and it's interesting to teach him. We gave him the challenge to read and pray, and he accepted that. We then invited him to the baptism we had on Saturday, and he came to that as well. We are excited to see him reach his potential.

On Saturday, there was a baptism of a man named Thommas Takhashi. The Elders have been teaching him for about a month now. He is about 20, and his story is interesting in that he grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and actually went to church there because a lot of his extended family are members in Brazil. When he moved to Sweden 11 yrs. ago with his non-member mother, he lost contact with the church. As it would happen, he is a sales person for a phone company who's head guy is actually a member of the church here. They ended up discussing religion at length one day, and it's all history from there. This member gave the referral to the office, and Thommas was contacted by the Elders only a month ago. He could remember singing " am Child of God"in Primary when he was young. What a preparation for him. What a knowledge and testimony to me that the Lord knows us personally. He knows where we are. He knows what we are doing, and He know's who we need in our lives to help us to progress. The baptism was wonderful, the Spirit was of course very strong throughout the meeting, and I'm so grateful I got to be part of it.

I really have had a wonderful week. We were busy, we were able to visit with and help many people. There are some really wonderful members in our ward who just need some support, so we were able to visit them last week, and uplift them from the words of God. That really is an honor to me, and everyday I have the opportunity to help someone see the blessings of God in life, and the miracles that have happen, and that I see happening come because of faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and all that He stands for.

It's getting colder here all the time...but not too bad. I hear the worst is January and February...we'll see. :) I hope that Fall is treating all of you well. I love when the weather cools down and the leaves are changing color. I hope school, work, and everything else is going well for all of you. I miss you all, I love you all, and I hope that you continue to look for opportunities to serve those around you. It's really wonderful to know that you are all being blessed as I serve the Lord. Have a wonderful week!!

Sister Suzanne Wood

P.S. Swedish word of the day is.....actually two THANKS.....and SNÄLLA is PLEASE. I think you should all be able to be polite på svenska när jag åker hem.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wonderful blessings! (Monday, Oct. 12)

Dear Family,

We have had a great week here in Stockholm. There have of course been trials, but there have been many more blessings than trials...when we look for the hand of the Lord in His work. I am always so grateful and amazed when I take the time to see what the Lord does for each of us...even on a daily basis. I think it's when we forget to notice the miracles, or small blessings that we become discouraged of think that the Lord has forgotten us. There is so much to be said for counting our blessings. Speaking of which, we sang that yesterday in Relief Society...and I started to all know me....big baby...well there is a wonderful sister named Louise Gleissman who was leading the song, and as we sang she looked at me and teared up to. It was such a wonderful spiritual reminder to always look for the blessings the Lord provides for us.

We have had several wonderful experiences this week, but I am going to focus from about Friday until yesterday. Sister Swenson and I have spent much time over the last week really trying to do the will of the Lord. We have prayed much to be led in what we need to do here in Stockholm. We had a couple of hard days before Friday, so as we did our Weekly Planning, we focused very much on what we can do to help the people we are working with and the ward members in Stockholm. Planning went really well, and we felt like we had some wonderful inspiration as to what we need to do. So, we went on with our day...and everything seemed to go down hill from there. Our appts. cancelled for Friday night, and we ended up having nothing solid planned for most of the day on Saturday.

Well, we tried to stay positive on Saturday, having lots of time to contact people in the city, and look for those people who are looking for the truth, and it seemed the longer we went, the more people were not exactly kind, and our Spirits were getting down. We continued to work hard though, knowing that the Lord always needs us to prove our faith in order to give us the blessings, and so we continued to work hard. We went home, ate dinner, and then went back our on Saturday evening to find a few less-active members we did not have phone numbers for. It was freezing, and we were not having much success. Well, as we walked, we got a phone call from a member in a ward called Gubbängen. His name was David. He called to tell us that he has a friend that he would be bringing to our ward yesterday. We couldn't really hear what he was saying, but just that one phone call made the rest of our night look SO much better.

We had started our fast Saturday evening, and when yesterday came, we were excited for the possibility of someone who might be interested in learning the gospel brought by a member to our ward. Well, as it goes, along with fast sunday, we also have testimony meeting. Well, during the testimony meeting, David (the member who brought the friend) stood up and bore his testimony, which was wonderful. Then, no sooner had he sat down....that his friend Kristoffer stood up in a congregation of people he did not know, in a church he knew not very much about, and he told us about the things that he knows are true. I can not even describe the Spirit that was in the room when this before Atheist man stood up at the pulpit and expressed to us the gratitude for the feelings he had in the meeting and for the experience he has had finding God. It was absolutely amazing.

After Sacrament Meeting, we all went to Sunday School and we talked about our Heavenly Family. The realization came to me during class that we really do have a Heavenly Father who knows us infinitely well. He gave us our personalities, our talents, and we had a very clear picture of what we were agreeing to when we decided to come to the earth. I sat there, and thought about my love for music. It hit me...I loved music before, I learned about it before. Heavenly Father gave me those talents of music before I came to the earth, and wanted me to come here so that I could bless the lives of others with what He gave me before.

I don't say this to express my "talent in music" but to point out that no matter what it is we are good at, our strengths, our talents, our personality traits, we had them before. We are all God's children, and I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that God loves each of us enough to give us those things we love, that we can improve and bless others with, and that we can have as a testimony that we were given so much before we came to the earth.

The rest of church was wonderful. I felt the Spirit strong the entire block of meetings, which I really needed. I felt so close to the promptings of the Spirit. After church, we invited Kristoffer to meet with us and learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, "Of course!" We will meet with him this week, and pray that his heart will remain open to accept the simple, beautiful, eternal truths that are the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have lots of plans for this week. We are excited about all we have to do, and the new investigators we have. We are continuing to see success here, and even though some days it's just the very smallest somebody who is not interested in the Gospel being kind in their rejection...but the blessings are everyday, and everywhere if we look for them.

I am grateful to all of you for your support and love toward me. I am grateful for all I am learning in this amazing time to serve the Lord. I love Sweden. I love the people here. I am understanding the Atonement more all the time and that Christ really did atone for all of us. Those who accept Him and those who don't. It really was an infinite Atonement. I am grateful for the knowledge I have that we can be together forever if we strive to live the Gospel. I love you all very much, and I miss you too!

Take care and have a wonderful week!!!

Sister Suzanne Wood

P. S. Swedish word for the day is BRÖ you can all guess what that's BREAD. I had to do that one because we have started to make this homemade a bag...that is delicious and super easy. We are becoming professional bread designers besides the servants the Lord needs us to be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Always love Conference!! (Tuesday, Oct. 6)

Dear Family,

This last week has been very good. We have had success in the area, and are glad we are here. It has been an interesting week of work because the last few days have not been traditional missionary work. On both Saturday and Sunday, we were able to watch conference. We got to watch a couple of the sessions at the same time as all of you watched them. That made it a little better knowing we were all watching at the same time. I love General Conference. It always helps us to know exactly what we need to do to improve ourselves. It is such a blessing that every 6 months we get to hear from the Prophet and Apostles and other leaders of the church and receive the guidance and direction we need to keep progressing and becoming better.

The concept of revelation is something that I am so grateful. We are always trying to listen to and heed the revelation of the Spirit...and after conference, where they talked a lot about promptings of the Spirit, I see even more how important it is.

I loved watching and listening over the weekend. It was a much needed boost I needed. I was a little discouraged last week. We have not gotten any more new investigators and are really having a hard time to know what to focus on in the area. So, I was SO grateful for conference and the much needed guidance I received.

I have a much better outlook this week. We also had Zone Conference yesterday, which was fantastic!! We had a visiting member of one of the quorums of the 70. It was Elder Paya from France. The conference was also much needed for the work we are trying to accomplish here in Sweden. He talked about our mind set being a lot of what we will be able to accomplish. As he talked, it was so obvious that he had something else prepared, but followed the Spirit and told us what we needed. He reminded us that the reason we are out in the mission field is to find people who are ready to receive the Gospel and be baptized. It was so good to hear the success stories, and have a boost of confidence in what we are doing.

We also taught Tina again last week, and took a member of our ward with us. Irene and Tina had a great time together. They are similar in age, and just had a lot in common. Tina continues to be sincere in her desire to learn and understand and we continue to pray that she will progress and take the steps needed to be baptized. We love to teach her, and can see the change that is taking place in her as she realizes that God really does love her and will never forget her.

Sister Swenson and I have decided that we want to...and need to be more unified in our goals for the rest of the transfer and that we both need to set aside what we think is the best thing for the area and really take it to the Lord and do what He wants us to do. We are growing together more all the time....and realizing why we have been called to serve together in the wonderful and incredibly potential area of the world. We want to have success, and we want it to be the Lord's will we accomplish. We are both excited about this week, and the rest of the transfer. We have been encouraged by Pres. Anderson that he feels like every companionship can have a baptism this transfer. We are looking forward to that....and know we have a lot of work to do on our end to see that amazing blessing happen.

I'm trying to have an increase of faith in the work. I know that by faith in the Lord...we can do anything. I also know that when we don't show our faith, and act in the Lord's name, that there can be no miracle. My goal is to accept the miracle this week. I know as we work hard, the Savior will provide the miracle for us and show us success in His work.

I know I am doing the Lord's work. I know that the Savior Jesus Christ leads this church. I know that through the Prophet and Apostles that He communicates with us. I learned so much during conference. I am grateful for all that I learned and all that I have to imrove on. I love all of you very much. I hope that the Fall is beautiful, and that you all know how much I appreciate all you do for me.

I hope that this week is wonderful...full of good experiences!

Sister Suzanne Wood

P.S. Let's see, I am trying to think of a word that would be about HÅRKLIPPNING...A HAIR CUT.....Sister Swenson cut my hair this morning. Don't be scared...she happens to good at everything. :) Plus it's more healthy...even if it's uneven. Love you!