Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 8, 2014

Dear Brother & Sister Ward,
We are writing to express our appreciation for your son, Äldste Preston Ward. Äldste Ward has been assigned to serve as a District Leader in the Täby I area of the Sweden Stockholm Mission. He is a wonderful and well prepared missionary, and this added responsibility will be a blessing to him and to the mission.
May the Lord bless you and yours.
With respect and kind regards,
Gregory J. Newell
Gregory J. Newell, President
SWEDEN STOCKHOLM MISSION

Boden, Sweden

A bridge in chilly Boden, Sweden.

Aldste Ward with a recent convert.

January 27, 2014

Dear Fam,

This week was a pretty good one.  Not too cold if I remember right, but just decently cold hahaha (like average around -20 celsius).  I don't think the cold will bother me too much after this winter up here!  But first off I forgot to mention last week that we had a zone training (around 2 weeks ago now) and President Newell interviewed me then and thanked me for the card that you guys sent him and that he really enjoyed it.  Also he told me that Elder Clawson will be training next transfer and he felt that he should stay here so I will be transferring again! And if all goes as planned I will be going to an area in northern Stockholm called Täby.  It is where the mission office is and they want missionaries there to serve it full time because the office elders are busy doing stuff for the mission a lot so don't get normal proselyting time, so he said that I will be opening up the area for full time missionary work.  This ward is where President and Sister Newell go to and also it apparently is a wealthier area.  But all this is pending on if they can find an apartment which is hard in Stockholm, so we will see if I go there or not.  Transfer calls are this Saturday and then next Wednesday would be when I leave dear Boden.  

But I thought that I could tell some cool stories that I have noticed around me.  The first was when I went to Umeå for splits.  We stopped in this one building to do some tracting and visit some potential investigators (people they had met previously that said they might be interested in learning more) they had met and then I saw on the list of people living in that complex a guy who's name seemed familar, E.  Well when I came back up to Boden I was just looking through the phone for a number and saw a contact named E who was an old investigator in Luleå a few years ago.  I thought it was a neat little coincidence that we just happened to go into his building in Umeå and that I recognized his name.  But we gave his contact information to the Umeå elders and they went and talked to him and he didn't seem amazingly prepared but we will see in the future.  

Also another little coincidence I had was also while I was in Umeå.  We went and tried to teach this one African guy named A.  He lived in a weird student housing thing so there were doorbells to every room and he wasn't answering his so the elder I was with rang every single doorbell to try to see if any of them in there knew him and the last bell a girl answered and said I don't know who he is but I will go check the kitchen to see if anyone else does.  Well he was there in the kitchen and we taught him the first lesson and it went well and I didn't really think much more of it.  However the next time the Umeå elders went and taught him a girl came in and said oh I really like the mormon religion and was going to join but I still drink hot drinks so I can't.  And they asked what drinks she drinks and she said hot chocolate!  They said that was perfectly fine and she wanted to come to church and they have been teaching her and yesterday was her first time at church and after church next Sunday she is going to be baptized!  Also they were inviting A to come to church but he was saying that he couldn't because he worked until 4 AM and then had to work again on Sunday at 4 PM so he needed to sleep.  But when he said that the girl said well I work the same shift but I'll come!  It's church!  It was crazy how if we would have just given up ringing the doorbells that one day to find A this girl would have never been found!  It is neat to see the different ways the Spirit guides us.

Another one was this week we were looking out in this one town for an old investigator who seemed very positive but just disappeared off the map.  Our GPS in our car couldn't find the street name so we were just going to start looking on street signs.  We looked at one and it wasn't it and then drove a little more, in no pattern or anything just completely random and we stopped to look at another one in a different part of the town and boom that was the street.  We went and visited his house and it was his parents home and they said that he lives in Uppsala now.  So we gave the Uppsala elders his information and hopefully something happens with him because it was crazy that this random street we decided to check was the right one!

And one more fun little story.  We had a good day all set up and then it basically all fell apart and the last thing we did was go and look for an old investigator from 2010.  Turns out it was like immigrant housing or something and the first few doors we asked had no idea who we were looking for and then a really nice guy from Georgia (the country) who spoke only Russian, a tiny bit of Swedish, and read Arabic let us in as we tried to explain who we were looking for, and then that we were missionaries.  We ended up running to our car and getting a Ukrainian Book of Mormon and an Arabic one for him to read and he tried to give us the Quoran but we told him that we couldn't read it.  But we were all pumped because he was so nice, he is Muslim but really nice and there is a huge language barrier.  Anyway right after that we decided to just knock the next door just to ask if they knew this old investigator and it turns out it was an African family from Eritrea and Sudan and only one knew Swedish so he translated for the others.  They said that the two girls don't know anything about Christianity but need to learn more so they let us in and we taught the Restoration and wanted to come to church and have copies of the Book of Mormon in Amharic so they can read.  It was just cool to see how we were led to them even though it totally didn't feel like it!  
So those are my cool little coincidences that I have noticed lately, which I am sure aren't really coincidences and amazing things are going to come from them.  But the week was a pretty good one.  One funny thing that happened was that we went and had the car inspected for its normal yearly inspection (3 days ago) and then today as we were driving to Luleå to email and give the sisters the car for the next few days a light came on and the car started to make a horrible noise.  We slowed down and putted our way off the highway to a gas station and after a lot of phone calls and waiting we got it towed to the dealership to be fixed.  So that kinda threw off our day today and will probably throw off our week but we will see.  We've been joking that the dealership didn't do anything to the car actually or that they like ruined it or something because it was fine before it went in! hahaha

It is so great to hear from you guys though.  It sounds like it was a pretty good week.  And I am really happy that you guys found a renter and buyer for the house!  I actually felt that I should pray for that this week and also that Dad would not be so stressed at work and that things would work out.  I guess they were good things to pray for with all those house showings and especially with Dad's crazy day on Thursday.  That is another neat thing that happened this week I suppose.  

And I did write the Blotters a little letter, just to thank them for sending me their Christmas card and a little note and 20 dollars!  So nice!  I wrote a few other people who sent me things as well and am still writing thank you notes to everyone that sent me things.  A lot of people sent me Christmas cards and usually a little note as well.  I was grateful to receive them all.  Also I have gotten both of your packages and thanks so much for sending both of them!  So nice!  You guys are the very best!  The blue light makes a great alarm clock too, it shines a bright light on you with sounds!  But thanks so much for all your letters and packages :)

Also just fyi, I do get Grandpa's letters I just haven't had a ton of time to write him back yet!  I have loved hearing from him so thank him if you can before I do :)  I will try to write him back quickly!

That is also really fun that Abby had such a great time with Calvin.  I am so happy for her and any success or cool things that my siblings (and parents :)) have!  I'm sure you guys have an idea how much I miss you all, but just know that I love you all so much and miss you very much!  I love seeing pictures of you all on the calendar you sent and the Christmas card :)  My favorite is the one of me and Estee by that big nametag we got hahaha but make sure to tell Estee that :) haha Oh and tell Abby that that is too bad that she got those bruises from ice skating but I am glad that she had a great time!  Also that I do know exactly who Alex Outsen is.  I'm sure he will do a great job in Albania, what a neat mission.  I have met a few Albanians on my mission and they have told me that since it used to be a communist place, many people really don't have a religious background or sometimes they are Muslim.  Oh and I wanted to say that Bob sounds like the nicest guy ever and I am glad that you now know him!  Lastly, how exciting for Mollie and Luke!  I hope the best for them.  

Thanks for keeping me updated and I love to hear from you all and how things are going.  I love you and miss you and hope you have a great week!

Love,

Äldste Ward

January 20, 2014

Hey Guys!

Wow it sounds like everyone had a busy/fun week so I guess like usual!  Dad told me his schedule and he sounds busy as ever which is completely normal for him.  I love you all and hearing about how things are!  

This week was a pretty interesting one, and it has gotten a lot colder :/  -20 celsius doesn't feel too bad now (like it is now in Luleå) but -30 is kinda cold!  This p-day we haven't done anything cool but we did get haircuts from a guy from the middle east today.  He said that he thinks English is the best language and wants to learn it.  It reminded me how many people love the English language and America.  It is crazy really.  Everyone reallly loves it and anyone that doesn't like it just jealous according to what Swedes have told me and what I've seen.  I just remember how many teachers and stuff all said that Europeans think that Americans and America is so dumb and stuff but like that is not how it is at all!  I see more Yankee hats and American flag shirts here than I do home!  Like everyone in the world wants to learn English as well.  Anyway from this perspective it makes me grateful to think that I was born in that great land and I see that God really has poured out blessings on it.  

But also this week we decided that we better start sharing the car with the sister missionaries in Luleå.  Even though there is a bus system in Luleå that works pretty well it is pretty cold out!  So we have had to walk around Boden while it is COLD hahaha.  We went over to teach one of our investigators named T who lived across town and we thought that we could just walk there.  Well it was an hour walk both ways and got pretty cold.  It also exhausted us so luckily it was the last thing that we did that night.  

But other people we are teaching...S is a guy from Nigeria who we tracted into and he has been willing to read the Book of Mormon and learn about the church.  He is a nice guy and I think he has potential to be baptized soon!  He is busy but is continuing to read!

Also we have been teaching a lady named G.  She is an immigrant from the middle east and we use skype with a member in Stockholm who knows English, swedish, and arabic so she can translate for us.  G says that she feels that the church is true and the Book of Mormon is also true but she lives in Boden so it is way hard for her to come to church and her husband doesn't like us...but those are the primary 3 people we are teaching so feel free to pray for them.  

Also a last little highlight that I have is we took some boiling water and threw it outside and instead of turning into solid ice it just all turns into snow.  It was pretty dang cool hahahaa!  I got a cool video that I will have to try to send you.  

But that is cool about the random connection we have to the new president.  Its a small world!  And how neat that one of the new missionaries' family is moving into our new ward!  Again it is a small world.    

But I love you all and miss you all and love to hear from you!  Good luck in all that you guys do and have a great week!  

Love,

Äldste Ward/ Andy

January 13, 2014

Dear Family!  

This week was a pretty good week!  It finally got cold up here and oh man it got really cold!  Today while we were driving I broke my cold record because it was -32.5 degrees celsius which is -26.5 degrees fahrenheit!   But some highlights were that we had splits with the zone leaders in Umeå this week which was good.  The elder I went with was really good and taught me a lot and how to be better and how to better interest people that you talk to tracting and on the street.  

Also this week we traded cars with the Umeå elders.  I don't know if I have told you guys but we have a car because our area is so big (I found out it is bigger than the state of Vermont!).  Anyway that was exciting because we had to name the car (of course).  Our first cars name was Molly, after the name of a famous Swedish singer, and then the new one is named Veronica after another famous Swedish singer hahaha.  So far Veronica has been much better hahaha.  That is probably really boring but in exciting news today for p-day we went up to the Arctic Circle!  It was freezing but now its cool to say that I have been there!  We also visited a tiny little town called Jokkmokk and tried looking for some cool Sami stuff but we couldn't really find anything.  Me and elder Clawson both want sami knives like with a bone for the handle.  We will keep looking but no luck today.  ALSO today driving we saw some reindeer!! We both thought it was awesome to see them, but wish we could have gotten some pictures. :(

It is pretty cold up here and snows a lot.  We have driven across the river a few times but they didn't have any cones.  It is getting a little lighter which is so great!  I am kinda sick of it being dark all the time and never seeing the sun because it is always either rising or setting and never gets high.  

I will make sure to tell Victoria Wirtala that you guys loved the email!  She and her family are all so nice.  They actually have a son on a mission in England right now so they probably understand how you guys feel!  But I haven't gotten your package yet but thanks so much for sending me those things!  

And no I am not really speaking any French, the only people who I speak French with our the new converts Fxxxx and Oxxxxx and then also Dxxx.  So I read a chapter in French in the Book of Mormon with Fxxxx and I say prayers in French and I can understand a majority of what they say but their English is better than my French so I'm not really using it.  And no we haven't seen the northern lights yet.  Me and Elder Clawson are hoping that we see them!  But we didn't plan very well today so now I am out of time to email so I need to go now but love you all and so great to hear that you all are doing well still even though things are still always busy!  I hope Abby keeps doing well getting ready for the ACT and I hope that she beats me because she deserves it!  I have absolute trust that she is going to do great hahaha.  I also hope Jake and Estee keep doing well with skiing and basketball and kumon and swimming and playing with friends!  Love and miss you guys and you're in my prayers! 

Love,

Elder Ward/ Andy

January 12, 2014

Sister Wirtala sent me these great videos and pictures of some missionaries she had over for "tacodinner".   I love nice members that do this!!

video
The missionaries singing I am a child of God in Swedish.  I love it.
The darling sisters serving in Lulea area with Aldste Ward right now.

Eating "tacodinner"

Aldste Clawson (Andy's companion right now)
Wirtala Family who hosted the "tacodinner" they have a son on a mission right now and this is a pic of them skyping with him over Christmas.

January 6, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad and Family,

It is always great to hear from you and how things are going at home!  Yes, I will need to tell you guys more details about my life here.  

This week was a pretty good week after New Years...on Friday we met with two African members, Oxxxxx and Dxxx.  Oxxxxx was baptized pretty recently but is doing really well.  He can't speak much English and either can Dxxx so we bring another member who speaks French with us, named Fxxxx.  Fxxxx was also baptized pretty recently and is doing really well also.  He comes to church every Sunday and is learning English so we can communicate pretty well with him.  We meet with Fxxxx twice a week and read a chapter in the Book of Mormon in French with him and then once a week we give him 25 verbs to learn in English.  But these 3 are the only people who I actually speak French with and I can't say a lot in French but I can understand a lot more which is good.  Still not nearly that good but I try to say prayers with them in French and try to speak as much as I can with them in French.  

Anyway Oxxxxx and Dxxx live at this immigration house (they are from the Congo btw, and Fxxxx is from Somalia) and while we were walking in (with Fxxxx) there were some police that came and just asked us what we were doing and where we were from and then they left and we kinda thought it was a little weird.  But later Fxxxx told us that in the immigration house sometimes people sell drugs there and he said that the Mafia from Russia has a "base" in Luleå and then work with Arabs and Africans is what he said to sell drugs and stuff so that was kinda surprising to me that the Russian Mafia is up here but I guess I'm not actually that far from Russia.  But the good news is that Oxxxxx and Dxxx were having trouble coming to church because it is like a 40 minute drive and they don't have much money but they decided that they are going to sacrifice and save money for bus cards and come every Sunday because it is important for them.  

On Sunday at church I was able to meet our Branch President who had been out of town visiting family in Stockholm and actually President Newell because our Branch President is David Newell, the son of President Newell!  He went on his mission here and married a Swedish girl and they have a family here.  He actually teaches at Luleå University apparently, so funny little thing.  He seems like an amazing leader here and was very nice.  He also speaks French which is good for Oxxxxx and Fxxxx and Dxxx.  

We have also been meeting with an older Swedish guy named T and he really likes having us over (probably for the company because he might be a little lonely).  He has an awesome dog and it is a type of dog called a Lapphund, that live up here in the north and are like the kind that the Sami people use or something.  Anyway he has said that he will be baptized on Jan 25, but hasn't come to church!  He can't leave his dog at home and get a ride with the members (who were his friends who introduced him to the gospel) and he says that taking a bus won't work and his car won't work in the cold!  We just need to show to him that whatever sacrifice he makes to come to church will be worth it because this is the most important thing he could ever do!  But last time after our lesson he made us a bunch of toast and tea to drink.  Here in Sweden they always have butter and cheese on their bread, and not roasted or anything.    

Also a little about the grocery stores here, they aren't too different from back home, but they make you pay like 30 cents per bag to put your groceries in and then in general everything is more expensive.  Also the big stores all have like a post office thing in them and that is where you go to pick up packages you get.  At your home you get all of your normal mail and then if you get a package you get a slip or notification thing that says there is a package waiting for you at this grocery store, so then you go and get it.  

That is sad that Brother Perry passed away.  I remember visiting him once before I left for the sacrament I think with Dad.  I like that Psalm that you sent me, and yes I remember learning about the different constellations in Lewistown.  I wish I could remember all of the constellations!  Here the only thing I have noticed with the stars is that when I first noticed the big dipper it was like perfectly placed in the sky like kinda low, but like perfectly in place of how you would draw it so that is cool I guess.  And then we still haven't seen the northern lights up here!  We want to see them bad.  

Oh and being a senior companion doesn't really mean anything but apparently you just have the final say in what you do I guess or something, but I guess it is cool to be one. :)  But that is really nice that President Newell sent that nice letter to you.  I will have to thank him.  

That is good that you could all go up and give Grandpa Jorgy a senior wish!  I hope that they can keep doing well.  That is sad that they are still going downhill.  I am glad that Grandma always gets so happy when you tell her that I am on my mission in Sweden!  

Hopefully you can find a renter for the Mount majestic house!  

My companion, Elder Clawson, is a great guy.  He likes to work hard and to be obedient and we are getting things done!  He has only been out on his mission 6 weeks longer than me so it is fun to be with someone who has basically been out as long as me.  

These past few days have been a little harder for some reason.  I think that Satan is working hard against me right now, or at least it feels like it.  But he must just know that something big is going to happen soon if I just keep working hard!  

I love you all and pray for you and miss you!  Thanks so much for all you do and talk to you next week!!  Hopefully I can see the northern lights and send some pictures to you all!

Love,

Äldste Ward

Senior Companion January 5, 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Ward,
What a pleasure it is to have your son, Äldste Preston Ward, in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. He has recently been assigned to serve as a Senior Companion in the Luleå area.  He is a strong example of gospel living and of devoted, selfless service to the Lord, the members, fellow missionaries and the people of Sweden.
Thank you for your sacrifice in supporting your son in this sacred service.
 
With respect and kind regards,
Gregory J. Newell
Gregory J. Newell, President
SWEDEN STOCKHOLM MISSION

January 2, 2014

Dear Family,

Wow it sounds like you all had a fun week!  It is always so great to hear from you and all the neat things you are doing!  It was very fun for me to skype with you guys too and the time really flew so I guess that is a pretty good indicator that it was really fun (time flies when you're having fun)!  

I haven't been getting too homesick this holiday season, which is good.  It just feels different and I look forward to spending a Christmas season with you, but it is a very cool and unique experience I get to have hear in Sweden! Thank you for always caring for me and thinking and praying for me.  

On Christmas Day we were with that family for pretty much the entire day.   They were so nice and talked with us the whole time and seemed to enjoy it but we all loved it!   

That is so great that they Jorgensen family party was a success!  I bet I missed out.  That is so funny that Daniel and his girlfriend came with the Spaniards!  That sounds like a really cool party.   Does Grandma remember that I am on a mission in Sweden? Or does she still get excited everytime that you tell her?  How are her and grandpa doing healthwise?  

On New Year's Eve we got to go to a family's house and ate a ton of food with them (steak and potatoes :) and then at midnight got to go see the firework show in Luleå city.  It was cool and I recorded the whole thing, if you guys want maybe I could dropbox it to you.  And yes the dropbox works perfectly and it is great to see those pictures and videos!

And I haven't bought any vitamin d pills, but maybe I could find them somewhere...Actually how about if its not too much you can send them if you guys want me to have them hahaha. :)

But a little about the week I guess, I can't really think of anything cool that we did.  We have been teaching people and trying to find people who are interested.  Lately it also hasn't been too cold, like around 32 degrees F.  I feel like I have been getting fat up here with all the food that we have been given and then all the candy that we've got.  But know that I am doing good and trying to do my best and hoping that it gets lighter up here soon!  I am glad that you guys liked all the candy that I sent!  Did anyone like the "Fisherman's Friend"?  I don't think they are very good....but the other one's are way good!  Have everyone tell me their favorite so for their birthday I will have some ideas :)

I love you all so much and miss you and pray for you and hope the best for all of you!  I hope that things are as good as they sound there because they sound awesome.  Have a great half week and I will talk to you on the 6th (next monday).

Love,

Äldste Ward

Christmas!!

We got to Skype with Aldste Ward on Christmas Day for over an hour!  Best present ever!! It was so fun to talk to him and see his smiling face.  It made me miss him more though.  


The little Santa on the left is the newest and favorite part of my santa collection (the one holding the little Swedish flag).  
He showed up in this box all the way from Sweden!

Along with all this Swedish Candy.  

I'm not sure whats happening here...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The LDS church in Karlskrona, Sweden



December 16, 2013

Hej!

This week was another one out here and I'm still trying to do my best.  I received news on Saturday that the rumors were true and that I will be going to Luleå for the next few months!  I am excited to have a snowy Christmas right outside the Arctic Circle!  It is so great to hear from you all and hear all the exciting things that are going on!  I was able to talk briefly to the elders there right now and my new companion seems like a nice guy, named Elder Clausen.  They told me that there are a lot of immigrants from the Congo up there that speak French so I will have the chance to practice my French!!  It has been cool to read a little bit in the French Book of Mormon and see how much I can figure out.

I am glad, Mom, that you like the Santa!  I thought it would be a fun little present to have!  I also hope you guys like all the candies from Sweden!  Awesome that Abby had a fun time at her dance and that they all came to the house and had fun too!  Abby looks so beautiful in that picture you guys sent!  I am happy that Jake got to go skiing and go to a BYU basketball game and had a fun time and that Estee got TWO play dates with Jocelyn this week!  What a fun one!  

And it is good to hear that there is snow there.  There is still no snow on the ground here in Karlskrona!  I wonder how cold it actually is here...we don't have a thermometer or anything but one time this week it was really hot in our apartment so before we went to bed we decided to open the window and then we woke up the next morning and it was freezing!  And then last night we didn't open the window but then my companion opened it at like 6 because it had got so hot in our apartment!  So we might need to adjust our heaters. :) 

I think that is so great that you all read my letters together Monday nights!  You guys are too nice and I feel undeserving to have such a loving and kind family like you! I love you all so much!!

I love that quote that you sent me!  I think I might print that out so I can and remind myself those things more! This transfer has been a little harder and has taught me a lot about getting along and I just really like what you sent and hope to remember that more in my life!    

Dad, the guy that you interviewed who was applying to be a resident, that is really cool that he went to Sweden! Do you remember his name? Maybe some of the older missionaries that I know will know him, but maybe not because applying for residency is a few years down the road.  But that is really cool, another connection to Sweden!  

Oh and you asked how long the trip from Karlskrona to Luleå would take.  I just looked at the tickets and it is like a 5 hour train ride to Stockholm from Karlskrona and then we have a zone conference in Stockholm on Thursday so I stay in Stockholm for a couple of nights and then we take a hour train ride to some airport and then the plane ride is only like an hour and a half.  So like a total of 7.5 hours.  

Some highlights from this week are that we started teaching this one investigator and he is awesome and totally wants to be baptized and believes everything but is having trouble telling himself that he wants to get rid of smoking and coffee.  He says that he knows that God will give him the strength to stop but he just loves those things so much so is trying and praying for the will to stop.  He is a great guy and I really hope the best for him.  

Also I have a story that you may find humorous.  I believe that sometimes I was referred to as the "friend of the asian" just keep that in mind.  On Saturday we met with a less active guy named Fu and went to go play basketball with him.  It turns out it was the Chinese Union's gym rental time so me and Elder Ogaard were the only none Chinese there out of like 20 people!  It was funny.  We were also able to talk to a few of the people there about what we were doing here in Sweden so we will see if anything comes up from that.  I had a blast playing with them and hope that more opportunities like that come up in other areas because it is so fun!

On Friday we got to go to the St. Lucia concerts they have in the Swedish churches.  It was a pretty cool cultural thing to see.  They have a girl who wears like six candles on her head who is like the Saint for the event!  

Those are all the highlights of the week that I can really think of but I am doing well here and I am staying warm and things are good.  I will let you know more about what our plans for Christmas will be and what time we can schedule that will be best!  I love and miss you all so much!  Being out here and learning Swedish is such a neat and cool thing to do!  You are in my prayers!  

Love,

Äldste Preston Andrew Ward