Monday, January 6, 2014

Week Nine – January 6, 2014 – Holiday Recap

What an amazing two weeks I've had. Kungsbacka's a great area, I'm loving it here. Christmas season has been so amazing. We had a beautiful Sacrament program filled with music from our incredibly talented ward. This ward is great and filled with some incredible families. They all really make you feel right at home.  

Vastra Frolunda Sweden LDS Meetinghouse and Family History Center
In Sweden, Christmas Eve is the day of festivity and Christmas day is a day to rest. We had an amazing time at the Hauglund's home. They are a really nice family with three young kids. It is a national tradition in Sweden to watch Kalle Anka, which is an hour of Donald Duck cartoons. It was really cool and I wish we did the same tradition in the States.
Afterward we had our Swedish Christmas dinner. We ate all kinds of great classic Swedish dishes, such as Swedish Meatballs, sausages, brussel sprouts (which were surprisingly good!), and glazed ham.
The most important part of a Swedish Christmas dinner though is Jul Must. Jul Must is a Swedish soda that is only served around Christmas and Easter and it is the best thing ever. I will be buying several gallons at a time at Ikea when I get home. The best part of Christmas Eve, however, was watching the family open presents. In Sweden the Dad dresses up like Santa (Tomte as they call him) and passes out gifts to the kids. On Christmas I am usually focused on what I'm getting, but it felt much better to watch others feel the joy of receiving. It helped me understand what Christmas is really all about.    
Tomte passes out gifts to the children in Sweden

JULMUST Christmas Soda

On Christmas day we had breakfast at Molly and Joel Hurray's house. Molly is from the States and Joel speaks perfect English, so I was happy to have a comfortable place to spend Christmas. They made us and the Sister Missionaries French toast, and then we watched A Christmas Story. It was a great way to spend Christmas. After that, we went to the home of a family named the Whites and we got to Skype home. It was great seeing my family and the perfect way to end Christmas. We didn't have a formal dinner on Christmas, so Elder Miles and I decided to go into down town Göteborg to our favorite pizza place, Mario’s. We had kebab Pizza for Christmas dinner, and I think it just might be the most memorable Christmas dinner I've had in a long time.  
Another Christmas tradition in Sweden is the day-after-Christmas sales. We went to the mall after Christmas and I've never seen more people in my life! The crowds were crazy, but I got a bunch of cool Swedish stuff for really cheap.  
Swedish Christmas choir - First night in Goteborg
Monday before New Year’s Eve we drove down to the train station to say goodbye to Sister Lowe. These sisters have been serving in the same area with us (Sister Lowe and Sister Anderson), and they have been together for about six months. Sadly, it was time for one of them to get transferred. Both of the Sisters have been really cool and it was sad to see sister Lowe go. The whole ward loved her and she is a great missionary. We met the new missionary, Sister Larson, on New Year's Eve. She was really cool also and I think she'll be fun to work with.

New Years in Sweden was awesome! We went to the Sagelstrom's. They made us some great homemade Pizza and we played games until New Year's. New Year's is basically like the Fourth of July in Sweden. We could see two great firework shows from the Sagelstroms balcony. Every sort of firework is legal in Sweden as well, so we saw fireworks going-off at every angel. It was an incredible way to start the New Year.
Memorable Experiences
Now, on to the missionary work. When I got my call to Sweden I thought there wouldn’t be anyone that wanted to hear the gospel here, but I couldn't have been more wrong. We teach at least two to four lessons every day and find at least one new person daily. Elder Miles and I have had a lot of cool experiences in the past three weeks, but I will share three that have been extremely memorable.  
On week two here, we had an appointment that wasn't home, so we started knocking on doors in their area. We were just about done, but Elder Miles felt we needed to knock on one last door. It was a Christian man who said he respected what we were doing, but he was not that interested. He said we could maybe come back later. As we were walking back to the car a girl literally got off her phone right as we walked past, so we contacted her. She said she would love to meet with us and gave us her number.  As we got to talking, we found out she was the daughter of the man we had just talked to. If we had not followed the prompting to knock on this house, the girl we met would have still been on the phone when we walked-by, and we never would have met her or her father. 

 The second great experience we had was about a week ago as well. We tried to swing by an old investigator’s house, but they weren't home. We started knocking doors again and I came to a Swedish man who was about 24 years old.  I gave him the usual introduction in my poor broken Swedish.  He said, “I don't really understand why you’re here, would you like to speak English.” He had been wanting to practice English so he was open to speaking with us. He explained that he was an atheist and believed in science. He wasn't sure if anything we could say would possibly help him. We explained that religion and science did not necessarily have to contradict one another and we asked if he would be open to talking about God and religion. He let us in and we taught him about the restoration of the gospel. We were able to address many of the problems he had with organized religion and he agreed to read the Book of Mormon.  We ended by having him pray and he said he felt a warm tingly feeling. He was willing to try religion, but only in baby steps.  We have another meeting with him in a few days and I am really excited to teach him again.
The third amazing experience was last night.  It was the end of the evening and we had nothing planned, so we decided to tract one of the largest apartment complexes in our area.  We went through a whole building of No's, then on the top left apartment building, we finally found a man that sounded excited to hear the gospel and we set-up an appointment to teach him later in the week. We felt we should go to a building on the opposite end of the complex next. We then went through three straight buildings of No's until we were just about ready to go home, but we felt really strongly that we should do one more building. The entire building said “No” and I was really upset that I had felt so good about something and no one was interested. As soon as we walked out of the building we saw a mother and her young daughter and we contacted them. The mother said she wasn't really interested, so we asked her if she knew anyone that would be. Her little girl said her daddy would like to learn, and she gave us her number and agreed to meet with us. It was so great to be guided by the spirit into such a heartwarming experience and I can't wait to teach them. I know that if we did not follow the direction of the spirit to do one more building we never would have been in the right spot to meet this great family. 
I love the work that we do and I can’t believe today marks two months on my mission. One-twelfth of my mission is already done… The time is flying by.  
I can’t wait for another week of great work!    
Love, Aldste Stoeltzing                 

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