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?