I can hardly think how to best describe this week, but it's been great! It has been a little weird because there hasn't been a ton of proselyting time, but we have done everything we can!
Monday 8 Sep - We had P-day and we went to a couple second hand stores because sister Eborn wanted to buy a new outfit for our big conference on Thursday, and so that was fun, I found a really cheap good rain coat, and got a $5 skirt so that was fun, but I am sorry, I didn't write you guys a letter last week :/ I am sorry! I am planning on doing one today. But anyway, last Sunday was the last time we would have church in this building, because they will be making this one bigger. So for like the next year we will be having church in a school! A little weird to invite people to, but that's how they use to do it, and still in some parts of Sweden they don't have their own building, so I can't really complain, and the branch definitely needs it bigger! :)
Tuesday 9 Sep - We did a bunch of record organizing and such before they closed the church and we don't have a way to get everything off the computers and such. Then we had a member dinner with Sister Marianne Näslund, who is just a sweetheart. I absolutely love her, she is older, and is very loving to us sister missionaries. haha Plus her food is amazing. Then we had a sisters meeting that was broadcast to all the sisters in Europe I believe, it was given by Bednar, and Ballard, and one of the 70. Super good.. although I listened to it in Swedish, still wonderful spirit and wonderful messages.
Wednesday 10 Sep - After studies we got on a plane and went to Stockholm! We did workovers with the sisters there, I went with Sister Vaarola, who is from Finnland and goes home in like 2 weeks. She was sweet and it was fun to see how others worked. Helped me remember I have to set my bar with companions, and I can decide how the work goes, and I want to have it high. But she shared a lot about having a balance on the mission, and it was fun to see her strategies with missionary work, and helped me see how I can grow more.
Thursday 11 Sep - Elder Bednar came and had a conference with all the missionaries. It was so amazing, it was like an open discussion with him really. He is truly an apostle of the Lord, he is called of God, and he has the Priesthood power and authority to direct the church! We also heard from Elder and Sister Kiriana (of the 70, I apologize for the spelling..) and Sister Bednar. They were all so full of the Spirit and I was grateful for what I was able to learn from them and the spirit that accompanied them. I will share some of the things I learned from them following, according to what I think can I apply to you guys and that you can also learn from. After we missed our flight home to Luleå because of traffic and complications, not really anyone's fault though. We had some time that night so we went contacting and taught a street lesson.
Friday 12 Sep - We had open church and weekly planning, when we went through records earlier in the week we found a list of old "think about only investigators" (don't know what english missionaries call them.) but I called and called and called lots of people trying to set up times for this coming week to meet and such, so that was good. I am getting more comfortable on the phone and talking to people slowly. I don't remember what else we did that night...
Saturday 13 Sep - We traveled to Umeå for district conference (like stake conference.. but we have branches not wards, so we have districts not stakes.) with the Elders and a new member Abdi. I drove the 3 hours down there and it was a lot of fun. We stopped here and there to get out and take fun pictures. Then the evening session of the conference was super stellar. I learned a lot, and came out with questions which I have been seeking. I know I need to ask questions as I go into studies and meetings, etc. so that I can learn specific things, but I just have been empty, I don't know what to ask, yes there is a lot to learn, but I just was having the hardest time with coming up with good questions. But I feel like now I can start with some simple questions, I want to expand my knowledge on a scripture story, then I will go in asking any questions I can about it, what, where, why, how, who, etc. and so I can really come to understand more. I felt like I received direction of how to continue improving, etc. It was really good! Then that night we stayed at a members apartment who was out of town, with the other sisters in our zone, Sister Barton and Sister Young. They are really nice, and both of them will be going home in 2 weeks as well.
Sunday 14 Sep - Also really good direction given in the conference, one quote I loved from Sister Beckstrand; "Make His house, your home!" aka go to the temple often enough that you are truly making it your home. I hope all of you are doing that :) But after I was able to really visit with Sister Beckstrand, which was so much fun. I just love and adore her. The Beckstrands (mission president and wife,) are the best. They are so inspired and are working so hard! I'm grateful for their leadership and love. We also visited with other missionaries as we had lunch together before we all headed home. It was a ton of fun, and I just was able to be completely me these past couple days is what it felt like. With teaching people on Friday, and then really getting to know people, being friendly, and loving. It was just really nice. But yeah :)
It was really weird that we weren't in our area that much this week, but I was grateful for the council we received. I want to share just a couple things with you. I have prayed about what it is that I should say, because I never have enough time like I would like to have. But this was mostly from Elder Bednar, but I learned a lot about it throughout the whole week I felt like.
Plain and simple: "The gospel is not hard to live, it is hard to not live!" read that again, a little slower. Understand it? Not exactly, well I want to explain what I have learned about how true that sentence is. Mosiah 2:22-24 reads
"And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?"
So really we are not required all that much, and as we do that, we are blessed immensely. So it isn't that hard to live the gospel. But it is hard to not live it! Why is that? What do you really mean by that? Well think about it, when you aren't living the gospel, how happy are you? When you try and do things on your own without God, is it easier? Sometimes the influence of the world makes the gospel seem like it is hard to live, but really isn't the world having a harder time because they don't have direction and understanding of what they should? Living the gospel is different, but the Lord only asks us to live it because He loves us and He wants us to be happy! He wants to bless us.. so let Him. Live the gospel to its fullest, because it is easier when you are, I promise you that. When I hold to the Lord, His plan, and His way, life is just easier and happier! Work, don't be lazy, that isn't what we are here to do.
The second thing that I really learned was about agency. Elder Bednar explained that agency is the thing that is most misunderstood in the church. We read Moses 7:32-33
32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
I don't have much time to describe this like I want to, but key points in this scripture. We are given agency... to choose God. We are commanded (vs.33) to love one another, but also to choose our Father in Heaven. He has given us agency, but we need to recognize there are parameters that are on that agency. We cannot say "I have agency, I can do what ever I want." No- we can't we are given agency to walk to church or to drive to church, but not going to church is not an option. It is out of the parameters. We are given our agency to choose God! I am still trying to understand what this really means myself, but I think it is pretty profound, from how Elder Bednar addressed it-wish you all could hear that, but just can't. I hope to gain more understanding myself..
I love love the gospel and am grateful for all I am learning daily. It is so much easier to do it the Lord's way. I love you all and I pray for you. The Lord loves you and wants to help you grow.
Work hard to stay close to Him.
I Love you!!