Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January in Skövde

      This week has been a very white snowy week.  We have had some very cold days here in Skövde but I realized I have acclimatized when today we went out and it was very warm, or at least felt that way then looked at a billboard that read it was 3*C.  We had a few white days this week which surprisingly has nothing to do with the weather.  A White day is when you look at your schedule the day before to plan and realize that you have absolutely nothing scheduled.  These days are some of the hardest as any missionary could attest to.  Its easy to stay happy when you feel productive and doing good.  But the only option we have is to never get down and do the best we can with that time.  We went through notes past missionaries have left and tried to figure out people who haven't met with missionaries for a while but may be willing to re-meet now.  Through this we now have a few more people willing to meet which will hopefully keep us occupied.  
      I've also been finding out more and more interesting things about Sweden and her culture over this week.  The Swedish government does an amazing job of registering citizens and keeping up to date census information.  The crazy part about this is its all open to the public.  If you type in a name or a phone number on this website it will give you a bit of information and where they live on the map.  Its weird to think how different governments deal with these kinds of things.  Another cool thing is Semlorna.  This is an early spring baked good and they are quite good.  They are cinnamon bun kind of things cut open to make a sandwich with a thick creme in between.  Another thing that has amazed me is the suns path.  The sun has yet to be above our heads although every day it seems like it does stay up for longer.  It peeks up and remains near the horizon then darts back down.  When its setting and rising you can actually look directly at the sun and it doesn't hurt at all, it almost looks like a yellow moon just because of how far away it is and how much atmosphere is in between you and it.    
     We visited a city named Skara which is the oldest town in my area.  The region of Sweden I am in is name Skaraborg after this town.  It was amazing seeing some of the first Christian churches in all of Sweden but also the old watchtowers.  You can tell a town is old if it has a tall stone watchtower in it from the mid-evil era.  We also went into Göteborg again for a training by Syster Newell.  Göteborg is the second largest city in all of Sweden.  It holds a beauty to it that is lacking in the U.S.  It has ancient buildings mixed in with modern style and architecture.  It is places like this that remind me slightly of home.  The big city with both the old and the new influence but with its own unique character and spirit everyone can pick up on.     
    This last week Issa told us of his will to be baptized.  He is going to be baptized on the sixth of April.  It is exciting to see people change and make their way towards Christ and his gospel.

   Äldste Moe

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ståle was baptized! So happy for him.

 Ståle and his daughter Nicole at his Baptism.
       Highlight of this week is Ståle was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday as a member of Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sista Dagars Heliga.  He is an amazing example to me, he has such energy to go forward and always be better.  He has a desire to be the best he can be and for that I respect him greatly.
        We got to visit the port town of Lidköping this week to meet with some people.  Its crazy, the biggest lake of Sweden was right there and a giant river that flowed into it was completely frozen on the top.  The old architecture and style of these cities is really beautiful. 
 An old tower in the town of Lidköping in our area.
     This week was also accompanied by a lot of denial and cold weather.  In Skövde we get a really bad wind chill because we are in between the two big lakes of Sweden.  This has definitely been my coldest week in Sweden.  When you see parking lots with boxes to plug your car into so they aren't destroyed while your shopping you know its cold out.  We have been trying to get a hold of older Investigators.  To teach and see if they will allow the gospel a second chance to reach them.
    The language is getting better and I can see myself slowly starting to subconsciously understand people, as in it no longer requires my full concentration to follow someone word by word.  Although watching others change brings a missionary the greatest amount of joy, one cannot help but notice the changes taking place inside of themselves.  I truly have felt myself grow and become better then I could make myself alone.  I know the Lord accompanies us in every good ambition and thing we do in his name.  Helaman 5:12 reads,  "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation".  We must remember that anything we strive to do or accomplish we should strive to do with righteous purpose, for those are the things that will last into the eternities.  I definitely am proud of the things I have learned and the things I strive to live but as part of this its important to realize that there can always be more done, and there can always be more learned or lived.
        One of the Investigators we have been teaching told us this week that one day he would be a member but the task seemed so far away that he didn't know where to start.  Its important to remember that with sincere heart everything is possible through the Lord.  That person we see ourselves being or becoming but think its too far off, why not?  Start with any little step in that direction and as you integrate more and more the rest will become natural.

 Our district, from left to right, Me, My Comp Äldste Geddes (England), Äldste Sanders (Utah), and Äldste Bressan (Italy).
Äldste Moe

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yes, it's cold here!

Our centrum (Central) train station

Church of Sweden in Skovde
   So this last week our Investigator wasn't baptized but he will be this Saturday.  I am so excited that he is making this decision to come closer to Christ.  I am about half way through with the 12 week training program which is crazy to think about since I don't feel like I have been in Sweden that long.  In less then two months is my six month mark.  I am not counting down but someone said that the other day and it shocked me to think already so much time has gone by.  It feels like a blur.
Country Lake completely iced over
   The winter everyone had been promising me has come.  Its very snowy out and has gotten very cold.  Every time I look at the temperature its around -2 C.  So I have stopped looking at the temperature to say the least.  Its also snowed for the last couple of days and the sky is always gray.  Even though its always cloudy it is way bright out because of all the snow everywhere.  Its crazy how these kind of things can play tricks on you.  
   I got to visit another part of Sweden this week for district meeting.  We went and visited Karlstad.  It is a city with a large University next to it, although its further North then us it is not as cold because of our slightly higher elevation.  I really did love Karlstad and took some pictures, although its not as large as Skövde, Karlstad Centrum (Or Downtown) is a lot more built up.  So it was cool feeling like I was back in a bigger city.  Karlstad hasn't ever been known for having a lot of Baptisms or success but they had a baptism this last week and have five more scheduled in the next month.
  This week we had a day where three appointments in a row all called to cancel.  So we were left with an afternoon that was completely open.  We went to run by some Old Investigators because that's what we planned as a back up and we approached into a man who was looking at us quite a bit.  He told us immediately the origin of both of our names and was able to tell where we were from by our accents in Swedish.  He told us he used to teach English and  so could tell that but he knew about our names because he loves family history and history in general and knew the church through his Family History Research.  His name is Chris and he told us that he would be a Mormon if it wasn't for his addictions.  We asked him if he would like help with that and if he would like us to visit.  We will be seeing him later this week.  The Lord probably knew that we were needed there instead of at our appointments.
   Thank you to everyone who has been reading and writing to me.  I love hearing from people and I especially love hearing from my parents that people are reading the blog.
   Äldste Moe     

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy New Years from Sweden!

Sunrise outside our window.
Building in Skovde.

Long winding and cold road, this day we got stood up on 3 appointments and  a bus drove right by us without picking us up and we were way out in the country.

The ReseCentrum in Skovde or the center of their bus system.
  My time in Sweden has definitely lived up to the pending excitement while I was waiting to come.  It has been very exciting and very cold at the same time.  New Years we were out until twelve which was very weird.  I haven't been awake past 10.45 for the last 4 months.  Being out and about after 12 am was very weird.  We spent it at a members house and they fed us such good food.  I am really starting to love the food here in Sweden.  Speaking of which I had Pizza kebab which I came to learn is pretty much what it sounds like, it is pizza with kebab strips all over it with sauces and fries all over the top.  It is very good but its also a lot of food when I do eat it. 
Pizza Kebab
     The weather continues to be cold but it is nothing compared to what its supposed to be, Most of the snow has actually melted here in Skövde.  Everyone I've talked to though guarantees me that winters not done yet.  I can see a lot of grass and the sun has been coming up more often, If winter is over it will have been one of the shortest Swedish winters pretty much ever.  I probably have around seven hours of light a day though so its not that bad like up in Norrland (Northern Sweden).  
     The most exciting news of the week is last Tuesday we committed someone to be Baptized on the 13th of January.  His name is Ståle and he is golden, he is such a perfect example of someone waiting to accept the gospel.  We taught him about Visdomsordet (The Word of Wisdom) and he talked about how he has seen the benefits of living like that and how inspired it must have been.  We then asked him if he was ready to be a member and follow Christ's example through Baptism, he said yes and hopefully will be Baptized on the 13th.  
    Last week was a Zone Meeting.  For Zone meeting  I got to go down into Göteborg.  Göteborg is so beautiful and amazing I want to go back in to see it again sometime.  The one sad part is I forgot my camera that day so no pics from that.  I loved Göteborg, hopefully I'll get to serve down in the city sometime but for now I am part of the Göteborg zone but our District is the district that is farthest away from the city so it was quite the commute for us.  So Wednesday night Karlstad (the other elders from our district) came and spent the night with us so they were a bit closer to Göteborg so we could commute together.  It was fun meeting them, Elder Sanders and Bressan.  (Sanders from Utah and Bressan from Italy).  Our Zone Leaders are Elders Hally and Ingall.  They are sweet and know how to get all of us pumped about the second Harvest.  My zone is amazing, we are all going to do so well together.  We had the meeting at the YSA center.  They have 4 YSA centers in Sweden.  Its basically, a place the church rents out and fills with stuff to do like musical instruments, pool, ping pong, computers, board games, puzzles, food, and a big living room.  They then allow the YSA to come and hang out there and spend time together doing awesome stuff.  It also really helps the missionaries in the area find people to teach.
The Goteborg Zone
   We stayed the night with the Zone Leaders so I could go early that next morning and get some of my Migration work done.  I went on Splits with Elder Hally.  It was way cool being with him.  He is from Idaho Falls.  We went to visit some non-members and on the way knocked the doors.  We got quite a few people interested and so we got appointments with those people.  One guy named Vincent allowed us to come right in and teach him, We came in and after teaching the Restoration I committed him to be Baptized!  He said yes!  Although later he went backwards as we tried to set him with a date.  Still, we just walked right in and got someone to agree to reading the book of Mormon, Praying about Joseph Smith and being Baptized.  Its incredible how much the Spirit can guide you in the work.  The spirit gave to us so strongly what we needed to say and both of us could tell he was feeling the spirit so strongly.  He was even talking about how good it felt.  I wish he was in my area and I could keep teaching him.  But Elder Hart is awesome and will help Vincent so much.
    Although I could go on forever about Sweden and how amazing the Lord is that is all for this week.

Elder Geddes and I both slipped on the ice.  Mom thinks it's staged! Notice the sidewalk next to them.
     Äldste Moe

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas in Virginia-Elder Moe left for Sweden on Dec. 26th

This post is out of order because Marilee is posting late. Sorry Jonathan! I didn't have a computer over the break. Jonathan had a wonderful Christmas with the members in Virginia.  The members there were so good to the missionaries.  I'm so thankful for wonderful people who took care of my son during the holidays.  He spent the time with Elder Thueson and Elder McClellan and the rest of his zone.

First Days in Sweden; Called to Skövde

My MTC District arrival in Sweden with President and Syster Newell. We're so happy to be here!

 Hello all, as you may have heard I finally made it to Sverige! (Sweden!).  I am so excited to be here and be a missionary in Skövde, a town to the west of Stockholm but just North east of Göteborg.  My companion is Äldste Geddes from Cambridge England.  He is awesome and I am excited to be his comp.  He has been in Sweden for around ten months.  His hump day (Year mark) is in two weeks.

Well before I go into details I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, I was still in the Richmond Virginia mission for Christmas and was hosted by a member family which was amazing, I had such a great holiday season.  They made amazing breakfast and Dinner on Christmas day.  It was sad saying goodbye to the ward I had gotten to know but I did it and eventually had to say goodbye to my companions to fly to Sweden.  Because of the six hour difference I lost a day in transit.  When we finally got to Sweden President and Syster Newell were there waiting for us.  It was finally good to see them in real life.  They are both amazing they both care so much for the missionaries and do they're best to make us feel welcome.  Which they did.  We went straight in to Stockholm and did some street contacting.  It was actually a lot of fun.  We were in downtown Stockholm and it reminded me a lot of Soho in New York.  The people were all way nice and willing to talk.  We spent the night in the mission Home.  The mission Home has a strong spirit to it and immediately you feel at home.  Syster Newell is an amazing cook and we ate with them that night.  We woke up at 6:30 the next morning to go on a run.  It was so cold, I don't understand how I did it.  We walked to a certain place then ran back.  After like fifteen minutes of walking I wasn't as cold because it had sunk in but I could feel myself thaw out when we got back inside.  We went to a few meetings then I found out who my comp is.  His name is Äldste Geddes and he is from England, we are serving in the Skövde area which if you look at a map actually includes 8 largish towns because it includes all of the area in between the two big lakes in Sweden.  So our area is definitely quite large.  We take the buses and trains to different towns in our own area.

    I love Skövde, Its beautiful and the city is quite old.  Because it is winter though its very cold and there is ice everywhere.  There's some places where there's like three inches of ice you can see through and see the sidewalk like three inches below your feet.  Its weird and everyone slips everywhere.  I have also yet to see the sun since my first day in Sweden and that was while flying in.  So I don't know if Ill be seeing it again till end of march.  There's only like five real hours of light a day so most of the work is in the dark but that's ok, it just takes getting used to.  Its definitely different then the U.S.  I do love it though, the people are amazing and the style is awesome, the buildings, clothes, everything.  The food is amazing, there's tons of variations of nutella.  I didn't even know Nutella had any other kinds.  There's also something here called JulMusk its only sold during the Holiday season, it tastes like a strange mic of coke and root beer but a lot better then that actually sounds.  I actually kind of like it.  The one other time of year they sell it is Easter and its called PoskMusk.  They also sell something called a Pizza Kebab everywhere I've gone but I haven't gotten to get one yet so were gonna go grab some today.

     On my first morning here Äldste Geddes took me to a giant hill outside Skövde where a swimming pool and center is run during the summer but was completely iced over now, anyway we could see all of Skövde below.  It was really quite significant being up there the spirit there was strong.  We had a prayer to start our transfer together and although it was cold and snowy and windy we were warm as we stood and prayed asking God to guide us as we worked in the area below.  We set high goals for our transfer here with faith knowing that we could do anything.

    The work is definitely picking up in Sweden, I am so blessed to be here during this time.  I love the country and the people.  And Ive only been here a couple days.  I am getting beat up when it comes to Swedish but I am trying very hard to catch up and become fluent.  I hope everyone is well.

MVH,  Ha en God Jul och en bra Ny År!
    Äldste Moe.

(This message is from Elder Moe from last week)