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. :)