Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!! (Monday, Dec. 7)

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been another wonderful week here in Stockholm, Sweden. I can't believe I am here sometimes. It's mind boggling to think that on Friday of this week I will be half way done with this mission the Lord has entrusted to me. I have so much left to do here, and I am so very grateful for the opportunity I have to serve. I am blessed every day with the Lord's tender mercies, with health, with joy and with a strong testimony that what I am doing right now is blessing the lives of many of the Lord's children here. I also hope it is blessing all of you.

I have had a wonderful first week of December. We weren't as busy this last week as we have been in the past, but everything we did was very worthwhile! We were able to teach Kristoffer and Niklas again this week, both teaches went very well. We are putting our faith and prayers toward knowing how to invite Kristoffer to be baptized. We want to make sure that it is right and that the Spirit will be the one that invites him to act.

On Thursday, after District Meeting, we went out in the middle of the city to a place called Hötorget and we did some Christmas singing and playing while we contacted people there. We all sang a couple of songs together, and then others went out and contacted while I sang Jul Sånger (Christmas Songs) for those walking past. It was such a wonderful opportunity to share my voice with so many. There were many who stopped to listen and it gave many opportunities for Sis. Swenson and the others who were there to talk to them about Christmas. I hope we get the opportunity to do that again. :)

On Friday, we had Jul Bord (Traditional Christmas Dinner) at the new YSA Center. It was really great. We had about 15 minutes before we were going to meet Kristoffer and we went out contacting down a random street. As we walked, we met a young man named Reese. As we got talking to Reese, I realized he was not quite all there. The more he talked, the more interesting he thoughts were to tell him we needed to go and give him a pamphlet on the way. The next thing I know, Sis. Swenson asked him what he was doing and if he wanted to come to the dinner with us. He said, "Why not?!" So off we went to meet Kristoffer. Through the night we were very stressed out. We had 4 YSA investigators who came to the dinner and we wanted them all to have a good time. Luckily, the Elders kept an eye on Reese for us so we could make sure everybody else was doing ok. Well, the night ended, and we said good-bye to Reese.

The story continues.....we get to church yesterday and about half way through Sacrament Meeting...who would walk in the chapel but Reese....but not alone. Reese brought his dad to church with him. Now, this is where I know that the Spirit really does inspire us. When I saw them, I remembered that Reese had told us that his dad grew up a member of the church but hasn't been active for many years. It just so happens that the night we met Reese, he had run away from the mental institution where he has been staying. He had been wandering around Stockholm for a day or two and then we talked to him. After he went to the dinner with us, he decided it was time to go back "home." I think back now about how I had so quickly judged him...and he really did need our help. The Lord put us in his path and I'm so very grateful now that we were able to help him...even if it was just a little bit.

Now, I want to skip back to Saturday. We taught Swedish Class on Saturday and then we went out to Lidingö. Brother Koch, our Ward Mission Leader invited us to an old folks home to sing and play with his family who went last year to do a little Christmas music for the people living in this old folks community. I just have to express my gratitude that we were able to go and sing for them. It's amazing the joy that I could see in their faces as we sang Swedish and American Carols. I got to thinking about those who are old, and don't have family close...or who don't have family to come visit them and it reminded me of Pres. Monson's talk in Conference where he talked about how lonely it gets to be old. I hope that all of you find an opportunity to visit with somebody who might need a visit during this Christmas Season. I shook their hands after we had finished performing for them, and they were so glad and thankful for the little bit of time we had taken to come and entertain them. This time really is about service....service like the Savior would do.

Sister Swenson and I were talking about the Christmas Season and how wonderful it is to be missionaries right now. There is so much we are grateful for, and so much service for us to do here. We talked about how as missionaries it really gives us a different outlook of Christmas. We don't have family here with us to focus on, we don't have money to buy presents with, and we have the opportunity to serve all the time. The thing that has been most impressive to me has been the opportunity we have to focus on the Savior at this time of year. Along with all the other good and wonderful things that come at this time of is the Birth of our Redeemer Jesus Christ that we have real reason to celebrate. It is His coming to the earth that makes it possible for us to return back to our Father in Heaven some day.

I am so very grateful for the fact that I can focus on the "Reason for the Season." I know that I will be sad in moments when I wish I was home singing, playing, visiting and being with all of you, but I know that I am serving the Savior, and that is something I find great joy in. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I'm sure all the decorations are beautiful, and the lights are shining, and I hope that you all continue to give and help others feel the Spirit of Christmas! Love you all very much!!!

Sister Suzanne Wood

P.S. Svenska ord för denna vecka är BARNKRUBBA....which means MANGER. Its the place where Christ was born. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let the Holiday Season Begin!!! (Monday, Nov. 30)

Dear Family and Friends,

I will start with an update of my last week on the mission. It was wonderful. We didn't have as many teaches last week, but we had memorable times, and we were able to have some really good teaches with our investigators.

I'll start with Wednesday. It was a busy day! We started out Wednesday morning at Kathy Hsieh's house. She is the 50 year old Taiwanese woman who served a mission 30 years ago and then became less active. Let me know if I haven't told her story and I'll explain more about her next week. The important thing is that we went over there and taught her about the Word of Wisdom. She is always accepting of the doctrines we teach her, but what was really awesome is that when the teach was done, she got on Skype with a man in Taiwan who she taught to baptism. The crazy and cool thing is that he and his entire family are now active members in the church. He is a patriarch, his wife is the Relief Society Pres. and his daughter just got done serving a mission and is going to go to BYU in the fall. It is so amazing to see that what Kathy did 30 years ago has had a tremendous effect on so many lives.

Right after Kathy, we were able to teach Charles. He's the man from Gambia who I sent the conversion story of a couple of weeks ago. We taught him from Conference....Elder Bednar's talk about being more diligent and concerned at home. Charles has a twelve year old daughter who he is raising on his own. The teach went really well, and then...every time we meet with Charles we sing for him before we end. We sang a Swedish song called, "Blott en dag." It's very popular here and I'll be sure to sing it for all of you when I get home. :)

After Charles, we went directly to Niklas. He is the friend and co-worker of David and Kristoffer. Kristoffer...the investigator I often talk about. We talked to Niklas about the Restoration of the gospel. He has been taught by the missionaries before, but it wasn't right then. During our teach he said many times, "Oh I see. It makes sense to me now. Maybe it's the right time for me now." Just what we all want to hear as missionaries! He was sincere and humble, and we left feeling like things went pretty well and we set up a time for another teach. Then, David called us later that evening. He let us know that Niklas had talked to him after the teach and that he really feels like what we told him is true. He sat right down and read what we had asked him to read from the Book of Mormon and said that he would give prayer a try before we meet him again. Wow!!! Totally awesome!!!

Then, after Niklas, we went directly to Qi. Her mom has come from China and is Christian but not a member of our church. We have been spending time with them lately and on Wed. evening they fed us some authentic Chinese food for dinner and we were able to leave not only Qi and her mom with a thought, but also Qi's non-religious boyfriend. It was awesome!! We talked about how we know through the Spirits that are in us that we are the children of God. It went really well. The Lord really is preparing people all the time to at some point be in a situation and place where they can accept the Gospel if they choose to.

Now to THANKSGIVING!!! On Thursday morning, we got up and made our assignments for Thanksgiving Dinner. We made a Green Bean Casserole and a fresh homemade apple pie. Sister Swenson got the apples cut and ready for me....then I did the crust and put the pie together. It was my first time baking a pie on my own. turned out beautifully!!! I'll be sure to send a pic. of it when I can....don't know if I will get to it today. But...the pie was perfect!! The casserole also turned out well. We then headed to Täby where we had a joint district meeting with all of the missionaries in the Stockholm area and then got ready for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was really nice to have a nice dinner and have all the traditional favorites. One of the Secretaries in the office was in charge of the turkey and stuffing and he did a great job. We had all the fixings and a great afternoon. We then went on splits and did some finding work. I went out contacting with Sis. of the newer missionaries in the field. She is awesome and really anxious to learn. We had a great time together. better way to end the day but knocking on some
in some university housing. We had a great day on Thursday!

The weekend was just as great. On Friday, we taught Carina...another member who is the only member in her family and needs some support once in a while. She is awesome. We taught her about the Atonement from Heavenly Father's perspective and how he must have felt to watch the Savior go through what He did. It was really something I've thought about quite a bit and the Spirit was very strong during the lesson. It's interesting to think that Heavenly Father would have left the Savior alone....but he did so in order for there to be no feeling in the world the Savior had not that He could help us, even when we feel entirely and completely alone.

After Carina, we taught Marc. He is completely positive. We invited one of the YSA's who just came home from his mission to come. We talked about commandments, and why we have them. The teach went really well, and I'm continually praying that we will see Marc be baptized. He has a big test he's taking on Friday and is busy until then, so we'll wait a little bit to bring up a date to be baptized. I do know that he is truly humble and seeking for the truth. It's wonderful to have so many positive investigators.

Friday evening and Saturday, we helped move all of the stuff from the old church building to the new Center for Young Adults. The new place is awesome. We have a missionary room where we will be able to do all of our teaches. It will be wonderful to get completely moved over there.

Yesterday, we had a completely wonderful 1st Advent day. First of all, we went to church and Sis. Swenson and Elder Hanes played their violin and viola for church and I played the piano for them. We did "Silent Night", and some other song...that I don't know the name of in English. It's "Härlig är jorden" in Swedish. Ok, Sis. Swenson looked it up and it's "Beautiful Savior" from the Children's Song Book. It went really well. The Spirit was brought to the meeting by the music.

Then after church we went to the mission home to the Open House. It was a little feeling of being at home. There was good food, many wonderful people to visit with and we were asked by Sis. Anderson to be in charge of the music for the night. Sis. Swenson and I had checked out some Christmas Music books from the library and we played some duets, she and the other elders who play instruments played, we had sing along with many of the people who were there, and it was just plain wonderful. We had a great evening and there were many people there who are not members of the church who also had a great time. It was a pleasure to go and help with the evening!

Last week was really wonderful. Even though we didn't have as many teaches....our teaches went really well and I truly hope we were able to help somebody come closer to the Savior over that last week. I know that the Lord blesses us with what we need, and I am comtinually thankful for my blessings and the opportunity I have to be here serving the people in this beautiful country. As far as health goes...I'm doing just fine. My back is only hurting a little bit. It's not hindering the work in any way and I'm so grateful for that.

I will say that I did miss home on Thanksgiving. We had a really nice day...but there's nothing like being home with the whole family. I love you all. I miss you all. We have many things planned for December through the Holidays and that will help to keep the Spirit of Christmas with us....and hopefully not have too many thoughts of home. :) I hope all of you have a wonderful week and that the season of Christmas is with you throughout the week.

Sister Suzanne Wood

P.S. Swedish word of the week is BETLEHEMSTJÄRNA......that
would be BETHLEHEM'S is a tradition here in Sweden to hang a star in the window with a light in it....representing the star that was seen when Christ was born. I'll try to take pics. of some of them. It helps to see all the lights in the windows when it is so dark all the time.