Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Beautiful Stockholm, Sweden frozen over.

Dec. 9, 2013

"We found this beautiful tree in Karlskrona"
Hej Everyone!

This week was another good week and I thought a few exciting things happen!  The major event of the week was our zone training in Helsingborg on Thursday.  We had to get up at 5 to catch a 5:50 train to Helsingborg and got there a little after 9:15, so that was exciting.  We had a nice little zone training and I liked the lesson the zone leaders taught.  After that President Newell was going to interview everyone there (they like to interview people as frequently as possible).  So we all basically sat around and waited for our turns and the interviews were going really long.  While we waited I was able to go to Ikea with another missionary and get some of the good Ikea food haha. Anyway basically all the sisters in the zone were able to get interviewed and then go home.  However there was a storm that was coming so after our interviews were done it was too late and the storm had shut down all the trains.  So we had to sleep at the zone leaders apartment with the Kristianstad and Halmstad elders.  It sucked because we had no change of clothes or anything.  Anyway so the next day, Friday, we kept trying and trying to catch trains and we thought there would be one leaving in about 2 hours so we took a little walk around the city and the water was really choppy out in the ocean (Helsingborg is a coastal city, right by Denmark) and the wind was probably the windiest I have ever been in but still just wind.  When we got back to the train station all the trains were canceled until Saturday morning.  So we had to spend one more night in the zone leaders apartment and then Saturday afternoon we were finally able to leave.  Friday night it snowed (finally!) and that evening one of the zone leaders and I went down to the beach and got some awesome pictures of the storm and of Helsingborg.  I will send them to you guys!  They look a lot crazier than it was and literally the rest of the city was perfectly fine.  "Stormen Sven" (the storm Sven) was a big problem to us missionaries hahaha!  
"Stormen Sven" in Helsingborg, thats the Baltic Sea coming up on the road.
The other exciting thing that happened this week was my interview with President Newell.  He again told me that I will for sure be leaving Karlskrona, however during the week he called me and was wondering about my French and how many years I took and stuff for what he said was information for transfers and stuff.  So I started to read the Book of Mormon in French this week to sort of catch up on my French.  Anyway during the interview he was asking me questions in French and then basically told me to keep reading the Book of Mormon in French and to keep focusing on Karlskrona until the day I leave and that he will still be calling me for transfer information to verify everything.  

It is always so great to hear from you all.  I love hearing about all of your weeks and glad that this week had some fun highlights.  Dad, it was really cool to understand nearly all of your letter in Swedish.  There were a few words that I didn't know but it was still cool to see my progress with the language.  I am not sure how well google translate is because I am not perfect with the grammar yet but I think it gets it right usually.  

The weather here has been a little colder and it finally snowed! Yay!  It was snowing a ton at church and then Sunday evening it turned to rain :( so there is basically no snow left.  I think I have all the clothing I need for the winter.  I have a great winter coat and my hat and gloves are great.  Only my feet got a little cold this week so I have started wearing wool socks :)  I will certainly let you know if I need anything.  Thanks for being the great parents you are and caring for me.

I don't know any Sister Richins but I will ask around and see if anyone knows her.  That is really cool that she is here too!  I think it is awesome all the people you are finding that connect to Sweden!

Dad and Jake that sounds like a pretty cool hike you went on this week!  Except that you got all wet and cold!  And we will have to go snowshoeing and camping in the Uintah's when I get back!  That sounds so fun!

That is nice to hear that the ward is so supportive of me and that Bishop England thinks highly of me.  We have such a nice ward!  That is fun that you got to help the young men with the giving away presents thing!  I'm glad that the families who it helped enjoyed it!  Oh and so great that Abby gave a great talk!  In her email she made it sound like it wasn't that great but longer than 2 minutes haha.  I will have to tell her that it was awesome!  And here in Sweden I am trying to be a better public speaker.  I think speaking in another language is definitely helping, that means giving one in English won't be so bad!  

I love that mormon message with Elder Nelson.  I saw it in the MTC and it is just such a great one and so true that we need not be afraid, especially of death.  I also love that line about not needing to reach perfection in this life but trying to reach it!

That is great that the Jazz are better now that Trey is playing!  I can't wait to watch them when I get home!  And that sounds like a pretty cool bowl game, Michigan vs. Kansas State!  And hopefully Stanford will trash Sparty in the Rose Bowl!  Also I am surprised to hear that Missouri and Duke both went to their conference championship games!  I don't think that has ever happened in Duke's history and Missouri was only 5-7 last year and no one really expected more this year!  It sounds like the Aggies will have a tough game against N. Illinois!  But that is awesome that they nearly beat Fresno and won the Mtn, west!  Sick!  I will have to put the Lions game on my watch when I get home list!  How is Reggie Bush doing and Megatron and Stafford?  Lastly, good to hear that Ohio lost :)

Our lesson with the family from Albania fell through and they won't be able to meet for a while because the husband is really busy now.  Peter, a nice guy who wasn't really investigating but liked to come to church to try his faith is leaving to Italy to become a monk, but I hope that one day either in this life or the next that he accepts the message of the gospel.  He is a great guy.

It was cool to see Denmark!  I would love to go there soon!  I recently figured out which countries I am from with percentages and everything and I am 50% English, 12.5% Swiss,~12% Danish, 10% Swedish and those are the big ones!  I also found a cool story about an ancestor from Denmark.  It is really cool to see some of our Danish ancestors were brought the gospel by Erastus Snow, another ancestor, just on my other side!  I don't know if you guys know this but Erastus Snow one of the early apostles in the church, who we are directly related to, opened up missionary work in all of Scandinavia which (obviously) includes Sweden!  

That is so nice that Elder Allsop sent you guys that letter.  I will have to tell him thanks so much.  He is a great guy.

That is fun that Christmas decorations and preparations are going on!  I sent you guys a package this week so I hope you get it before Christmas!  Make sure to open it before because there is something in there that might be nice to have before Christmas :)  Oh and I have received 2 packages from you and am they look exciting!!  And I have been loving the advent calendar that you guys sent :)

That is great that Abby's doing great and going to another dance and is half way done with her lab!  The time is flying by for me! hahaha

Also, I hope Jake is still enjoying basketball and school and his foods class hahaha.  I am glad that he is always so happy to help with everything though!  What a stud!

I am glad that Estee is still doing great even if she is a little sassy hahaha.  At least she is on Mom's side always! I miss and love all my wonderful and awesome siblings!

I love and miss you all so much and you are all in my prayers!  I just remembered that we need to set a time to talk on Christmas!  We can use Skype so I can see all of your faces!  What time would be good do you guys think?  I won't be in this area for Christmas so it is a little hard to figure out everything now but they want us to get all the plans set up :)  I love you all!


Äldste Ward

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dec. 2, 2013

Hey Family!

This week was another good week and it was fun to be able to "celebrate" Thanksgiving here!  Let me give you a run down of the week!  Last Monday we got to go into town and we got to see some of the cool city sights!  The centrum (like the downtown I guess) of Karlskrona is actually on an island, but it doesn't really feel like it.  We also got to teach this little family who are from Albania.  The wife doesn't speak any Swedish and very little English so we teach her husband who knows English and then he can translate for her.  We don't know the husband's name right now but the wife's is Fatmire.  They were so nice to us and said that they would read the Book of Mormon. We are going to teach them again this week and I hope they can continue to feel the spirit!  

On Tuesday the only really highlight I can think of is that we got to teach this one guy who don't really think is progressing but just likes the company of the missionaries.  He is an old guy that is really big so probably can't get out often.  We are going to meet with him a few more times and try to go over things really clearer so that he doesn't always ask the same questions.  Also he is kinda hard to teach because he is really hard to understand. He is old and kinda speaks I guess "sloppy" just that it is slurred so a little harder for non natives to understand :) The accent they have down here doesn't help too much either haha.

On Wednesday we got to do splits with the zone leaders.  So I went to a city on the west coast of Sweden called Helsingborg.  Our first lesson we taught a guy who is from Ghana and was baptized a year or so ago but is now being deported because he doesn't have official papers.  However the Ghana Embassy won't give Sweden any of his papers so he is just sitting in this immigrant prison.  So we got to go to the immigrant prison and share a little lesson with him.  And also if he goes to Ghana he is some sort of war criminal so will be killed when he arrives!  Crazy!  He also told us a story that his friend that is in the prison too and is in the same sort of situation.  Apparently the Swedish forged some papers and forced the guy on a plane to Africa.  But it had some layovers and the guy told the French officials to make sure his papers were right and they realized they were forged and so sent him back to Sweden and his guards allegedly were beating him for telling the officials about his papers! However I have no idea how much if any of this is true, but it makes a good story.  We taught a few other lessons that day and one was to this Philippine woman and she cooked us sooo much food!  We had the main course of poatos and meat and this soupy thing and then she made us all sandwiches and had us pack some for later and then we all (we were with the other elders in that area) had to eat this carton of ice cream hahaha.  It was super good but a lot.  If Zach doesn't gain weight on his mission in the Philippines then he deserves an award.  But also in Helsingborg it is just a few miles of ocean from Denmark and so I got to see Denmark and I also got to see the castle (in Denmark) where Hamlet (supposedly) takes place!  So cool!
Andy in front of a castle
On Thursday we didn't have any dinner appointments so we went and bought some salmon and some mini baguettes and cooked those up with some vegetables and bought some bottles of coke and had a great missionary Thanksgiving dinner!  

Friday was the real Thanksgiving though.  Our branch president set up some things and invited all the missionaries in Karlskrona (just us and the sister missionaries) over for Thanksgiving dinner!  Also a lady who lives in Provo and has a son on a mission here was there and helped cook a ton of the stuff she was so nice and her name was Sister Knecht.  She took some pictures of us and will probably be sending Mom some pictures this week because she is on that Swedish missionary moms facebook group.  But dinner was great and there was turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and apple pie!  It was so good :)

On Saturday the highlight was going and having dinner with this less active guy who was baptized almost a year ago.  He is from China and his name is Fu.  He cooked us all this wonderful Chinese food that was so good!  (I had a lot of good dinners this week!) He is such a great guy but doesn't know any Swedish and isn't great at English.  It is really sad because we found out that he didn't know a lot about the commandments in the church like that alcohol was against the Word of Wisdom and that you are supposed to go to specifically our church on Sundays.  I guess the missionaries who baptized him must have thought he understood everything.  But he is super awesome and I really like meeting with him.

On Sunday the highlights were getting to meet a recent convert and less active guy who loves computers and had like 11 terabytes of storage on his computer for gaming.  My companion loved talking with him about computers.  But we also got to have dinner with a very nice non member guy who usually comes to church just to "try his faith".  His name is Peter and he is very strong in the Catholic church but we are still trying to find out more about him.  Anyway we all had dinner with him and he made us some delicious ribs!

That was pretty much the week, but also this week I have been trying to make sure that we do language study every day (because sometimes it doesn't happen with just being busy) and I really feel like the Lord has blessed me with better understanding of what people are saying!  What I have been doing for language study is going through the Swedish-English dictionary and learning words that could be important and then quizzing myself on them frequently.  Also I started to read the Book of Mormon in Swedish and then writing down key words that I don't understand!  It is cool to be finally starting to feel comfortable!

This week I have started to see a ton of Christmas decorations!  In the city there are big lights that hang down over the streets and look really cool.  We also see Christmas trees set up all over the place!  However, there is not a sign of snow coming.  It is getting pretty cold but the weather has been great this week!  I think it rained once and then another day was overcast and the rest of the days were sunny and beautiful.  

So far the major industries I have seen here have been a little bit of the navy, and then there is a technological school too, so not really anything specific to a place by the sea.  And we actually do see the sea every day because we live really close to it but it is just a little river basically.  There are a ton of reeds by it and lots of birds live there.  It doesn't really look like the ocean.  

The main issues where we are that I can see, is that the branch covers a huge area and there are a few big cities that are far away so anyone that lives there and wants to come to church would have to travel a long way.  But other than that, the branch/ward is small but it seems like a great area!  

That is so fun that you guys all had a great Thanksgiving!  That is awesome that you guys all ran a little 5K and that Grandpa could come down!  I loved the picture of you all!!  

So far there hasn't really been a food place that we frequent a lot.  We go to this one kebab and pizza place every so often but its not nearly as good as in Gothenburg.  I was excited to have the kebab down here because I heard it was better in the south but it isn't haha.  Maybe in Malmö, but Gothenburg is my favorite for now! And the names of the missionaries in the area are me, my companion Elder Ogaard from Idaho; and then the two sister missionaries Sister B, from Spanish Fork, and then Sister R from Rexburg.  They are all cool and fun to be with.  

I am glad to hear that Dad and Jake are being Clark and Russ and getting the house ready for Christmas!  I will have to get some pictures!  

Also Mom that sounds like your lesson was so great!  I really like that about individual testimonies and that through Christ our fears can be overcome!  So good!  

Dad those football games sound insane!  That is good that Utah won even though they are again, not eligible for a bowl.  Also sick that Utah State is going to the Mountain West championship game!  I am excited for them and to watch the game in a few years hahaha.  But holy crap the Michigan Ohio game!  That is insane!  That sounds like a good ole Michigan Ohio rivalry game and Hoke reminds me of the old coaches that would try to win it rather than end the game in the tie (even though the seniors picked to go for it).  I will have to watch that eventually!  

Thank you all for being so nice and loving and supportive of me!  I love you all and miss you and pray for you!  Have a great week and I love you all!


Äldste Ward

PS I got one of the Christmas packages!  I almost accidently opened it hahaha but I didn't!

November 25, 2013

Dear Family!
To start off, today in Karlskrona it is a beautiful day!  The sun is out and there is not one cloud in the sky!  The water of the sea and the streams and rivers is just so blue and makes it a great p-day.  I am probably thinking it is really nice because basically everyday here is cloudy, it actually reminds me a lot of Michigan...I wonder if Sweden or Michigan has more cloudy days.  As far as I can tell, Michigan and Sweden have the same weather patterns.  Always cloudy and a long, cold winter with snow that might come by Christmas if you're lucky. 
I was ecstatic to hear that Brighton went to the state championship game!  That is so awesome even though they lost.  That is neat that Abby was able to go and that they played at Rice-Eccles! 
I am glad to hear Jake had a great birthday and got to do all that fun stuff.  I really like that he got a "honey badger don't care" shirt.  There was a football player from LSU who dyed the middle of his hair blond (kinda like a mohawk) and so people would always call him Honey Badger because honey badgers have a blondish stripe too and then he would always take the ball from the other team because "honey badger [didn't] care" hahaha.  Hopefully that makes sense.  Also Jake what are you going to do with the go-pro?! You need to send me all the videos that you make.  Maybe we can set up a dropbox or something and then I could send all of my videos too :) That is really cool to hear about the sea scrolls too.  So do they have all of the old and new testament mostly on them? Or less or more?  But that is really cool. 
Geez our poor sports teams...Good to hear that Utah State won but dang Utah needs to fix some things.  And dang Iowa...they always play a tough game against us.  Has Hoke lost at home yet?  The only reason I am sad that BYU lost is because that makes Utah look worse too :(  And so far on my mission I haven't starting leaning to BYU at all.  Still a hardcore Ute :) in case you guys were wondering. 
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving especially with Grandpa!  That will be a blast!  We aren't doing anything special for Thanksgiving.  We are actually teaching a guy from Guatemala that day that we haven't met and then a member from the branch from El Salvador is coming along too.    On Sunday we are going over to a members house for a Thanksgiving dinner which should be awesome.  So I am sure that will be a good Thanksgiving here :)
Anyway a little about how my week has gone.  It was a pretty good week.  There never really is anything to complain about.  Karlskrona is a cool place to be and I am always trying to get better at Swedish.  So far it has been mostly cloudy but once every while we get a nice day, like today :).   And even though the weather is cooling down quite a bit there is still no sign of snow yet :(.  My new companion is good too.  We really get along well and are able to get a lot of work done.  He really wants to work hard which is great and I think now that we kinda know the place a little better we are going to have a great week this week.  And he does miss playing video games, but he is the opposite of a sports gamer so has never played NCAA football!  He actually this morning told me all that you need to do to beat Minecraft :).    
I want to tell you guys two cool stories from this week.  The first is pretty funny.  So on Thursday we had our normal district meeting and all the members of the district are me and Elder Ogaard and then the two sisters in Karlskrona, Sister Bass and Randall.  After the meeting we decided to go and grab some lunch.  We went to go to a Swedish hamburger place called Max.  However, the only problem was that only Sister Randall knew where it was and wasn't sure where the bus stop was that is closest to it.  We got off and then had to walk all over the place crossing streets and walking on the side of the road because there weren't any sidewalks for some reason.  Well we are walking and then in the far distance we see the sign for Max (one of those signs that went really high for people driving on the freeway).  Instead of walking around on the streets to get there we see that to reach Max and our lunch we only need to cross this field for probably around half a mile.  We all decide it wouldn't be hard to cross the field and get to Max quicker.  Let me just describe the weather really fast: it was cloudy, not raining, but yesterday it had rained for pretty much the whole day.  So the only problem with this field is that it has been cleared or whatever and is just dirt.  We start going and realize it is a little wet and muddy and all do are best to avoid getting mud on our nice church shoes.  We were all doing pretty good and then Sister Bass ran into a particularly wet spot.  It was like thick quick sand and the mud swallowed her shoes and she was up to her shins in the mud, in her nice church clothes.  After grabbing the shoes we all hurried out of this muddy field.  It felt like one of those World War 1 or 2 movies where the soldiers are all muddy and they have to cross a battle field that has been all torn up from gun fire and is just mud.  We all probably looked like crazy people when we got to Max.  Lucky for me only a little bit of my shoes got muddy and I just cleaned them and shined them later and now they are good as new.  :)
The other story is a guy I met at the ward activity we went to on Saturday.  I had met him once at the Göteborg Stake Conference, but found out he lives here in Karlskrona and goes up to nothern Göteborg every so often because he studies at a university there.  He was baptized about a year and 3 months ago.  There isn't actually much of a story but I just think he is such a cool person.  He is a previous Muslim and just described to me a comparison between the Koran and Bible.  He said that in the Koran there is a woman who has committed adultery and the prophet Mohammed says that she must be stoned.  However, she is pregnant so he decides that they must delay her stoning until after the baby is born, and this is what happens.  However in the Bible when they ask Jesus what they should do with the woman who has committed adultery and if they should stone her, he says any of you that have not sinned throw a stone.  He said that Islam teaches to strike fear in the hearts of your enemies but Christianity and Mormonism teaches to love your neighbors.  He doesn't understand how brain washed people can be to reject the message of love that is taught, and either do I!  Anyway I thought that was very interesting and hopefully that is all correct.  I think the interesting thing is that I have heard that Islam is the most similar religion to Mormonism but when it comes down to the basics they are completely opposite.  Strange...
Hopefully that all makes sense I don't really want to go through and make sure it does.  Have a great Thanksgiving and week!  I love you all so much and miss you and love to hear from you!  You are always in my prayers and make sure to tell Grandpa and Mollie and Mackensie that I love them and pray for them and miss them so much!  Know that I am doing well and the Lord is blessing me so much and I am just so grateful for what a wonderful family I have!  I can't think how it could possibly be any better!!  I love you all!
Äldste Ward
PS How are all my grandparents doing?  And Mollie and Lindsay and Moe and Brad and the Ali's and everyone else? 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mission life pics

View from a glass elevator in Goteborg, in Swedish spell it Goteborg, and in English you spell it Gothenburg.  Same city, which Elder Ward just got transferred out of.
This is the little Christmas tree and advent calendar we sent him so he can enjoy it all season, it got there fast!  I think that is his new companion Elder Ogaard, in the background. 
Wow, impressive art by Jake and Estee, respectively.

Sunrise in Karlskona, Sweden (southern part of Sweden)

Elder Ward waiting in a bus stop in Karlskrona, Sweden.

November 18, 2013

Dear Family,

Thanks so much as always for writing me :) I do always love hearing the adventures you guys are having back home.  But first off I got your package today and it was great!  Thanks so much!  Some pictures are attached of the Christmas tree and the advent calender and then me wearing the little crown thing that was in there too.  Thanks so much for sending all the stuff that you did! I love you all!  

Anyway this week was a crazy week getting adjusted to our new area!  My companion is named Elder Ogaard and he is from a little town in Idaho like 45 minutes from of Boise.  He is a funny guy that loves to "game" (like video games) but we get along really well.  Anyway, basically the rundown of the week was Tuesday was my last day in Göteborg and then Wednesday morning at 6 AM Elder Allsop had to be taken to the train station to catch his train.  I said bye to him at the station and I am sure I will see him around.  The rest of the day I was with the elders who I lived with who served in Kungsbacka (an area just south of Göteborg) and who are both going home in December.  They are both awesome and funny guys and one is from England and was the AP when I arrived to Sweden.  They are good successful missionaries!  Anyway we actually had a pretty boring day just driving people to the train station but we did get to have some pizza hut buffet for lunch :).  After I got on my train and had like a 3 hour train ride to a stop and then I had to get off and catch a bus and an hour later got to Karlskrona.  The travel plans were that I was going to be waiting at the station from 8:30-9:30 for my companion to arrive and then the sisters in the area would give us the keys and stuff.  Well at 9:20 the sisters got there and said that Elder Ogaard's train had been delayed (there was a freight train accident by Stockholm that screwed up some of the trains for the week) until 10:30.  So we waited around and then at 11, he still wasn't there so after calling the missionary office and stuff they said wait there until 12 and then call President Newell.  Well a little before 11:30 he got there and we caught the last bus to our apartment and then after a little difficulty found our apartment and were able to go to bed by 1.  

Unfortunately the next day was a little crazy as well haha.  We unpacked and got settled a little bit and then were able to check out the church and then we grabbed some kebab and got on a train BACK to Göteborg for a special zone training we were having with 4 other zones.  So we got back late and I slept in the same apartment that I used to sleep in, just in a sleeping bag not a bed haha.  (I still slept great!). Luckily we had some time before we had to catch the tram so I took my companion and the sister missionaries from Karlskrona to a glass elevator in a hotel which overlooks Liseberg, Gothenburg's theme park, which was all decked out for Christmas.  It was really cool and now they all think that Göteborg is the coolest place ever (which it is pretty cool).  
View from the glass elevator in Goteborg.
The next day (Friday), we had the zone training and it was pretty good.  We got to meet most of the missionaries in my zone, and President and Sister Newell were there and President had an interview with me and asked how everything was going and stuff and said that the plan is that next transfer the plan is that I will be training one of the new missionaries who come in!  Crazy!  Of course plans change often but I was surprised that he thought that I was ready enough in 6 weeks.  I also think that is really cool that he thinks that about me!  Anyway that night we, for my third day in a row, took the 4 hour trip from Göteborg to Karlskrona.  

Yesterday at church was pretty good I guess.  I bore my testimony in sacrament and told a little about myself to everyone. Elder Ogaard previously told the branch president that he is the man to call if they ever need someone to give a talk so of course he was asked to give a 20 minute talk on Saturday.  But his attitude about public speaking was really good: "it is actually great to public speak because no one can stop you from talking for as long as you want".  I thought that was a great way to look at it and humorous.  We also got to teach a lesson to a primary class.  I am super lucky and fortunate that the Lord helps me so much with Swedish!  Learning a language is really hard but I am getting there :)

The weather here is not too bad still.  It is not a whole lot warmer down here than Gothenburg but I feel like it is noticeably warmer.  I think all of Sweden just rains a lot :/ hahaha.  Still no sight of snow.

Dad those are some cool facts about Karlskrona.  There are a bunch of islands in the area and a lot are connected by bridges from what I can tell from the maps.  I honestly don't know too much about it and I haven't been able to see much of it yet, but 30,000 people sounds like a correct number.  

Also really neat that you met a person from Sweden!  That is way cool that they have a cabin on the Baltic Sea!  Way neat!  I think it would be really cool if I could go to the far north (although that is mainly because I want to see the northern lights!).  I have also heard that the fjords in Norway are really neat.  

That sounds like a pretty crazy sports week.  Too bad to hear about Utah losing to Oregon, but at the same time glad they stuck in there for as long as they did.  Also good to hear the Jazz won finally.  I hope Trey Burke gets healthy soon but mostly I hope that he is still playing for the Jazz when I get home!  And way to go finally for Michigan!  That sounds like a nerve racking game!  It also sounds like a pretty sloppy game.  But that is awesome that they won!

That is hilarious about Abby and Huckleberry Finn, It reminds me of the time when I wrote in the middle of a paper for Financial Literacy: "I doubt this sentence will be noticed, but if it is circle it" and then I got the paper back graded and that sentence not circled hahahahaha.  

But Abby is just so smart.  That is sweet that she was able to pull out the 4.0 despite the challenges! I am happy to hear that she is destroying in chemistry too. Keep working hard Abby!  When do you take the ACT? :)

And also congrats Jake.  Keep working hard too :)  You are way smart (just like your older sibings hehehe) and are awesome!  Have a great birthday and I am so sorry I didn't send you anything :(.  Have fun skiing (you little turd, I can't believe mom is letting you get out of school!!) with dad and get ready to teach me how to do it in 2 years!  Good luck with Junior Jazz season!  I loved your drawing you drew in the package I just got too :) haha

Good to hear that Estee is making friends and having a blast with school, ping pong and chess hahaha.  Estee you are awesome!  Keep being the great girl you are :)

That sounds like a neat movie about the guy on the ship.  It is so true about life.  Never is everything perfect and we always have tasks to accomplish.  Luckily like you said we always have help and need never fear.  

And yes we are still spending time at the church every week to do family history work.  This week I found a story about one of the Holmsteads (I think it was Eric) who came from Sweden and one point in the journey the ship was going slow and he said that he could swim faster than the ship was going and then someone dared him to do so.  So he jumped off the back and swam all the way to the front when the crew pulled him in and the captain threatened that he might have to put him in chains!  A crazy story!  

How is Grandma doing health wise?  I pray for them and will continue to do it!  Awesome that you tell Grandma that I am on a mission in Sweden and remind her every time.  I want them to know! :)

Thank you all for all the nice things you guys do for me and always writing me and sending me letters and packages and just being such a nice and loving family.  I can't think of a better family!  You guys are the best and I love you all so much.  I miss you and can't wait to hear from you again.  


Äldste Ward
Pictures of what I hung up on the wall today

A little crown I wore today from a package I got (I hope it was a crown :) 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Transfer to Karlskrona!!

Dear Family,

This week we got a call from our mission president on Friday to tell us that Elder Allsop is being transferred and that I am also being moved!  I move to a place called Västerås on Wednesday.  It sounds like a nice place and is just a little northwest of Stockholm and in the Stockholm North zone. Actually Elder Allsop will be the new zone leader there.  Cool!  It was really nice yesterday at our last day at church because of all the nice things that people said to us.  It made us feel like we did a good job in the area which was a great feeling.  

Also my Swedish is getting a lot better and I am getting a lot more confident with it.  On Wednesday there was a missionary leadership conference in Stockholm and Elder Allsop had to go up as our district leader.  I went on splits with the neighboring district's DL's companion.  His companion was named Elder Williams and he has only been out in Sweden six weeks less than I have so it was really good practice for my Swedish because I had to do a lot of the talking.  It is still hard to understand the native speakers sometimes but usually I can understand and say what I want to say.  

Some stories from this week were first on Thursday we went and had dinner with (one of) the Malm families (all are actually children of the general authority from Sweden, Per Malm in the 2nd quorum of the 70).   The husband is a heart doctor,  we had a lot of fun with them and had a fun dinner after.  They are a really nice family.

Also on Friday we went with our investigator, Arthur, the nearly blind, old, American, nice guy who worked with drug rehabilitation people, to a place he said was a cheap lunch and would buy for us.  It turns out it was an old church where the lunch was really cheap because it was to help homeless and like those who are trying to overcome addictions and stuff.  Well it was all pretty good except for there was this crazy guy in there who freaked out and was yelling and threw his coffee cup across his table and then stormed out and grabbed a little metal book shelf thing for papers and threw it on the ground.  I was thinking why he wanted us to go there.  But anyway it was fine and the lunch was fine and we went to a different part of the church and had a lesson with Arthur and his friend.  It was a really cool lesson.  Arthur asked us about the scripture in the Bible that talks about not adding to God's word and we turned to 2 Nephi 29 where it says that God gives more nations his word so that when they are put together they are God's word and prove that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He also asked about the scripture in the Bible that says watch out for false prophets (like in the church movie Legacy) and we told him the same answer that is given in the Legacy movie which is that you will also know them by their works and then he talks about the Book of Mormon and we did the same.  It was a cool lesson.

Other highlights from the week include getting a Göteborg specialty- called the halv special.  It is a hot dog with mashed potatoes on it and it was actually pretty good.  

It was great to hear from all of you.  I do not know what pigs say in Sweden haha but that is funny that they make a different noise.  I also heard that bees make a different sound as well because they don't really have a z noise so they don't go bzzzz.  

A kebab pizza is typically a thin crust pizza (they only have thin crust here) with a bunch of kebab meat (I'm not really sure what it is, I think it is lamb) and then kebab sauce on it.  I have come to realize that putting fries on it is more of a missionary thing, unfortunately because the fries on it are really good.  

We haven't checked out Volvo yet and we probably won't because this is our last day :/.  But a member in the ward works for them and actually we were talking about Volvo cars and stuff a little bit.  But I don't know much about them other than that they have a factory here and that there are a ton of Volvo cars here so I am guessing that most Swedes really like Volvo as their car company!

That is too bad to hear that the week has been stressful.  Know that you all are always in my prayers and I will make sure to pray these upcoming weeks especially.  But Dad that is really cool to hear about that cool case you got with the guy who got hit with the arrow, even though that is so ridiculous that that happened.  So will he be able to use his face again with the nerve all sewed up?  Also Dad congrats, or in Swedish, Grattis!, that you got to go and do that faculty course that was held in Salt Lake!  I am sorry to hear it was a little stressful though.  I think your job is so cool and amazing and how hard you work is such an example to me and I am so lucky to have you as my Dad!

And no getting the sports news isn't depressing at all.  It is just good to know how well our teams are doing!  And I when I have some free time when I come home will be able to watch highlights from a few games or something :) Too bad to hear about Michigan and Utah and the Jazz though...

My companion is doing great and my roommates are doing great too.  They both go home next month so are excited to be going home.  The sisters are also doing great and are great missionaries!

So far I haven't seen any Swedish lines on Mom's side yet.  I have been able to find Norwegian and Danish lines so far though which is pretty cool.  Swedes can understand Norwegian and can usually get the main idea of Danish, or so I am told. 

I don't think I need any of those sad lights, but I am going a little more north now so I will keep you updated.  How exactly do they work? Thanks for watching out for me :)

So as I was writing the very end of this email I received another call from President Newell that said that some things have changed and that I am now going to a beautiful place in South eastern Sweden called Karlskrona.  He said some very nice things about me which were great to hear, like they needed someone who could come into a place and hit the ground running and immediately be effective and someone that could leave in December (the transfer in December is just a few days before Christmas) and not have any drama.  I told him I was their man haha.  He also said I was the most pliable that they could think of or something like that.  I am excited to go there!  So remember that I am not going to Västerås anymore, I am going to Karlskrona :)

 I love you all and miss you and pray for each of you and hope that you all have a great week!  


Äldste Ward

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 4, 2013.....later in the day

Luckily he had a chance to go back and check his email!  I was praying he would!  Makes me feel better knowing he feels loved.  :)

Dear Family,

I thought I would come and check my email again really quick to see if there were any new emails and there were!  Thanks so much for always emailing me and just in the future I would completely understand if things are too busy to write me all the time.  But great to hear from you all.  

I don't think the weather is too cold yet; so far I haven't needed to wear my big winter coat I got yet.  It rains pretty often but not an overwhelming amount.  I will make sure to buy any winter clothes that I need!

Right now I am just finishing the Book of Alma actually.  I plan to just read and study through all the standard works.  I hope to finish reading the Book of Mormon by the new year and have already finished The Pearl of Great Price.   I also love 2 Nephi 4.  Especially the verse where he has just finished saying how imperfect he/all of us are and then says but I know in whom I have trusted or something like that.  All we need to do is trust God.  But I agree with everything you said dad!  I sometimes feel so selfish because there is no way I can thank the Lord for all my wonderful blessings He has given me.  I am so grateful for my wonderful family too.  I feel like I have been put in virtually the best circumstances that anyone could have be born into.  I love you all so much! 

The other Swedish line married into the Benson line I think.  It was really cool to read about them (there was a story on the lds family history site) and how they had a huge estate right by a lake and then sold it all and helped other saints come to Utah.  And they aren't from Göteborg but they are from an area close to it.  If you want to look it up it is called Alingsås.  

I don't know too much of what the English influence is in Gothenburg.  All I know is that virtually everyone in Sweden knows English and there are some immigrants in Gothenburg that don't know any Swedish so we teach to them in English (obviously).  

Anyway good to hear about the sports news. Kinda.  Good to hear about Utah State but that is awful about Michigan.  Dang sparty...   

I am so jealous it has snowed there!  It just slowly gets colder and colder here and rains every little bit.  Its a lot like Michigan because it is always cloudy!  I am also jealous that you guys are going to be skiing soon!  I am really excited to all be skiing together as a family!  That will be so fun!!  Dad I hope you like your new skis!  I am happy that the weather is starting the "fun" part of winter there.  

Oh and yes I do get your letters in the mail.  I just forget to write home and tell you how much I love to hear from you all!  I am sorry I haven't been able to hand write you any letters yet.  Usually at the end of the day I am a little tired and it is hard to just write in my journal so I hope you understand :)  I haven't yet gotten the one that you sent a week ago, but I will be looking for it. 

That is a great idea that you divided up my investigators to remember everyone while praying for them.  I really thank you all for your prayers, for them and for me.  That is fun that you got to go to the Russel's little baby's blessing.  That will be crazy to come home and remember when she was blessed and see that she is almost 2!  And I also found out that Sister Christensen was in Elder Lambson's MTC group so they came to Sweden at the same time!  It is such a small world!

And that is so exciting that Taylor came to shadow Dad.  For a few years once and a while I would wonder how he was doing and where he was.  I will have to talk to him when I get home.  Anyway I love you all so much and miss you all!  Thanks for all the motivating things you guys write and all the letters and the emails!  Love you and have a great week!


Äldste Ward

November 4, 2013

**This week something happened with our email and it didn't get sent to Andy!  We didn't realize it didn't go through until we got his letter with this picture in it!  It made me so sad to think that he thought we didn't write to him!  We ended up sending it as soon as we realized, but I felt bad all morning. :(

Dear Family,

I hope you are all doing well.  The work is coming along great and the language is still improving, not perfect but I know so much more now than I used to.  Here are some highlights of the week:

First, last Monday we apparently had a level 3 hurricane warning, whatever that exactly means.  It was raining pretty heavily all day and then stopped at around 3.  The storm was supposed to come at 5 and that is when the whole city shut down (buses and trams).  Instead it didn't rain or anything at all until 8:30 when a windy rainstorm came in.  We were making fun of the level 3 hurricane for a while because it was so ridiculous how many people told us to watch out for the big storm that was coming.  Also the next day the headline of the main newspapers was "The Chaos!" (but in Swedish) and had some pictures of firemen running around in the rain.  The whole thing was funny haha.

We also got to watch some NFL this week!  Which of course I loved.  One of the members usually invites a bunch of his friends to come over and watch some football with him so we all thought it would be a great idea to go and see if people are interested in a non intruding way, I guess.  Unfortunately, the night was planned sort of quickly and so a bunch of people canceled last minute and it ended up just being us and the member watching football.  It was still fun but we decided to leave after watching about a half.  It was still really fun to watch some football!

This week we taught a guy who works with helping people who have drug problems and he is from Seattle actually and really old now but he told us that once in Seattle he found out that someone had these drugs or something and one of the gang leaders had a 25,000 dollar price for his death!  Luckily it all worked out but I thought that was pretty crazy.

Our assistant ward mission leader, a really nice guy who just got his mission call to come and serve in Sweden actually, took us to the grave sight of the first 2 missionaries to die in Sweden (in 1890 and 1898).  It was really cool to see the old grave and we put candles on the grave, which is something all the Swedes do for their ancestors or something at a time around halloween or some holiday they have I think.  

I hope you are all doing great at home and had great weeks!  Dad that is so cool that you got to see Taylor!  I'd like to talk to him again! I just remember us always playing in the hall in between our apartments on the 13th floor.  I love you and miss you guys!


Äldste Ward

PS Here is a picture that my companion decided to send home and I thought I would also send it home :) 


A cute group of Swedish missionaries, including Elder Ward.  Can you find him?
It is called Julmust.  It's like the Swedish christmas drink and is basically like some sort of Dr. Pepper or Coke or some other dark carbonated drink.  Anyway it is pretty dang good stuff!

October 28, 2013

Hej min familj!

It sounds like you guys all had fun and pretty busy weeks!  My week was pretty good too.  I keep practicing my Swedish and sometimes it is pretty decent and sometimes I have a hard time understanding but I guess that is just how you learn a language!  I think that I think about it too much...just like I would do with sports and stuff.  But yes, the Swedish is coming and it is always encouraging to see missionaries who can speak it so eventually I will be able to get to that point!  

Week rundown:

Monday- Was a pretty laid back pday.  We got to email and stuff and I got to practice a little basketball.  We did also get to have some kebab pizza from Mossen's and we went to the YSA's FHE activity.

Tuesday- The mission has started telling us that they want the chapels to be unlocked and open in case anybody comes by and wants to learn more about the church 2 days a week from 10-6.  So usually what we have been doing is we take a morning 4 hour shift and then an afternoon 4 hour shift on a different day and when we aren't there the sisters are.  The mission told us that for 1 hour a week they want us to be doing family history work.  So I was doing a little bit and found another line of Swedish ancestry!  It was pretty cool to find and I found out that they lived in an area not too far from where I am now.  Hopefully I will be able to go there at some point in my mission.  We were also able to swing by a less active lady and it was good to talk to her.  I hope she can start coming to church again.  In the evening we also had a volleyball sports night.  We have started doing a sports night with the YSA's and it is really good because less actives and investigators come.  And because it is fun to be playing some sports!

Wednesday-  Highlights were having a member dinner with this really nice family (the mom is from Brazil and the dad is from Sweden) and then having a lesson with our investigator Jessica and her family.  Her husband is a member but very inactive but wants to start coming back to church.  Jessica wants to be baptized which is great, the only problem is they have four kids and are always really busy (I am sure you guys understand) and they just moved to a new house.  One of their sons is a really good badminton player and usually plays every Sunday because here in Sweden every sport event I have heard is on Sunday!  So his Dad usually goes with him.  He is eleven and a neat kid, actually reminds me a little bit of Jake even though Jake is almost 13 now!  Anyway we taught her about the Word of Wisdom and watched the Restoration movie with her because last time we tried to teach the Restoration it turned into the Plan of Salvation.  It went really good and the dad, Bob, drove us home in their Mercedes :)  Also one time we were over there and just talking and we literally started talking about the price of tea in China.  I was trying not to laugh when I remembered the saying "what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?"  Hahaha, anyway she also came to church on Sunday with her two little kids and it was great to see them there.

Thursday-  Was district meeting, and then we had lunch with a a member and an investigator from Kungsbacka who we have met a few times.  It was a good lunch of Thai food.  So far in Sweden I have had some good Thai food!  We also had a dinner with a nice family and then went by a less active guy that lived quite far away from where we live.

Friday- A member took us out to eat with the sisters to a delicious kebab pizza restaurant.  It was very good and I got pizza with pineapple and kebab on it :)  We also met some people from Minnesota, and they were really nice talking to us but weren't very interested.  We also had a dinner appointment with another nice member family whose son is going to turn 8 soon so they thought that we could teach him the lessons before he was baptized.  So that was pretty neat to teach him the Restoration.  He actually had quite a few questions.  

Saturday-  We helped with the YSA's Halloween weekend thing which had people from all over Sweden, Norway, Denmark and even a few from England that all came.  We also went by a really nice family who have a little 5 month old baby.  We also went into town to look for our investigator, John, who plays the nickelharp but he wasn't there so we ran into a store to buy something and while we were in line we met a guy who was interested in meeting some more!

Sunday- We had a weird church schedule for the YSA's Halloween weekend so we had Priesthood from 10-11 and then regular sacrament meeting from 11-12.  We and the sisters had quite a few people come which was great!  In sacrament there were 3 investigators and 2 less actives that hadn't been to church in a long time!  Also at the end of sacrament a little girl starting throwing up and her Dad tried to carry her out and she just got puke all over the gym floor.  We ran out to grab some stuff to clean it up and us and a member cleaned it all up.  After that we set some things up and welcomed people from 12-1 and then from 1-3 was the YSA's sacrament meeting that was focused on Christ and the sisters had an investigator there that was a Muslim so he didn't really believe much about the divinity of Christ so the subject was perfect and then it was a testimony meeting so people were going up and the spirit was really strong and apparently this guy was crying during the meeting because the spirit was so strong and now he wants to be baptized before he leaves for Malmö on Thursday!  Very exciting!

Dad thanks again for the sports news.  I couldn't keep up with the records but I didn't think I had heard Michigan lose to anyone else but Penn State other than being in a ton of close games.  I hope they just dominate Sparty this week.  Hopefully the Utes can beat ASU, last year they got destroyed by them.  I think that Utah State should have an easy win against Hawaii.  And that is cool that the Tigers got so close to going to 2 straight world series, hopefully in 2 years they'll be back :)

Sounds like it will be a fun Halloween this year!  Not many people celebrate it here but our ward is having a trunk or treat and a Halloween party (both organized by Americans).  Dad good luck on your case with moving the nerve from that lady's leg!  That sounds like a really cool surgery.   And good luck Mom with arranging Estee's class's halloween party! That will be fun for those little munchkins. :)

Have a great week everyone, it is always so great to hear how the family is doing.  Know that I pray for you all and am so grateful for your prayers.  I love and miss you all and know that I am doing well and our Heavenly Father is taking care of me.  Talk to you in a week!


Äldste Ward

PS My companion decided to get another winter coat so I was able to buy his nice old one for cheap and I think it will be a really great coat for the winter.

PPS Also I bought a portable hard drive so I can save pictures and videos I take on there.  I think with the hard drive I won't be have to be anxious about taking pictures so I am now planning on taking a ton of pictures.  But that is the thing we bought when we met that interested guy in line, and that is why around 50 dollars were taken from my card in case you guys were wondering.

I bought a hard drive

I bought a winter coat

Beautiful fall in Sweden

This looks like it could be in the mountains by our house, but it's in Sweden.

Sun hitting the beautiful fall leaves.

October 21, 2013

Dear Family,

Great to hear from all of you as always!  Mom and Dad that is really cool that you guys are in New Orleans.  It sounds like a cool place, that has good and bad parts.  It's cool that they still have a lot of French stuff from back when the French ruled that area (I see some of the flags inside the picture of the old cathedral).  That is cool that Brad and Jess got married down there.  That would be a neat place to have a wedding.  I think I would like to try a beignet, they still sound pretty good even if a maple bar would be better.  Maple bars are hard to compete with :). All that seafood that you guys are having sounds really good!  I'm sure there are some decent seafood places here in Gothenburg, but so far I haven't really looked for them.  Talking about baked goods reminded me of something I really like here in Sweden.  They bake pretty good bread and donuts.  I guess its a European thing to have really good bakeries or maybe I just didn't try enough stuff from the bakery back home, but it's good here.  And just so you know I am not eating from the bakery a ton hahaha just the few times I have been able to eat some stuff freshly baked it has been good!  And that sounds like a lot of fun having the Pankratz come down to hang out with you guys!  Tell them hi for me haha.  

That is very exciting that Zach had his farewell yesterday!  And yes I have been able to talk to him a little, which was great.  I am sure he is going to be a great missionary down in the Philippines!  I have also been able to hear from Eric.  He told me he just past his year mark and few weeks ago and that they use a ton of facebook and his was the first mission for every missionary to have iPads!  Our president has told us at the beginning of next year we are going to get iPads so hopefully that is what happens! 

Dad, as always, thanks so much for all the sports news.  That is great that Utah State got back on track and beat New Mexico. It is too bad that Utah lost!  What's their record now? Actually what are all the teams records?  The good thing about BYU winning is that it just makes Utah look better :)  Good news about Michigan winning and keeping their home streak! Also that is really cool that Gallon broke the B1G record for receiving yards!  It is god to hear that the Tigers had a good season finishing just short of the world series. Hopefully they're still good when I get back.  I don't know if I have told you guys this, but a ton of people here wear Yankee hats and American flags on their shirts and stuff, because I think they think it is cool to look American.  Apparently when you ask them about the Yankees or whatever they have no idea what you're talking about hahaha.

A little news from Sweden.  It is getting kinda cold here, and winter is coming!  There are lots of fall leaves and now it is getting pretty cold but no sign of snow yet.  However, I think it is going to be raining quite a bit over the next little bit so maybe it will make some snow!  From what I have heard it sounds like Sweden will be like Michigan weather, where it is mostly cold with not too much snow, and it doesn't snow that much before Christmas.  It reminds me of one Christmas we had in Michigan where it rained. :) 

Week highlights-

We went to the gym twice this week!  We have an investigator that is super into lifting and working out so we scheduled to go with him and a less active guy, but the first day it only worked out with going with the less active guy and that was on Thursday.  Then on Saturday we got to go with the investigator and the less active guy.  I was kinda nervous because my companion played football for Dixie and did a lot of lifting and the guys we were going with were pretty big guys.  However I did a pretty decent job and it was fun to get to work out and get stronger.  Hopefully we can continue to do that!   

Also this week we had an investigator who has done a ton of research of the Book of Mormon and had all these questions for us and some of them were crazy things that we had never heard about so that was fun.  We need to work on him praying to find an answer instead of trying to trust his intellect.  He had a bunch of reasons why it must be true and reasons that mean it might not be true with all these crazy stories of Joseph Smith he had found.  

I'm not sure what other highlights I have...I feel like its kinda boring to talk about the week but I'm sure its a little interesting for someone who isn't a missionary...but I don't know what else I want to say.  We did go to a huge store like the size of 2 Costco's called Gekås I believe.  So that was pretty cool and Allsop found a good suit there but they only thing I got was some candy bars.  Just so you guys know I have a ton of candy here now.  It takes me forever to eat it just like when I was home and would "hoard" candy because I would never eat it.  The same thing is happening here!!  

The language is coming along pretty good.  I can for the most part talk with people, but that Swedish accent still gets me a lot.  I am pretty comfortable speaking, it is just a little rough trying to understand everyone.  But it is good for the most part now. :)

I don't think there is anything else I needed to tell you guys other than that I love and miss you all!  I am thankful for your prayers and for all you do to help me.  Thanks for all the nice things you write to me!  Have a great week and I will keep working hard here!


Äldste P. Andrew (Andy) Ward