PREPARATION AND THE CALL
My desire to serve a mission, along with my growing testimony, was rooted early in life. Although there are moments and activities in my youth that helped strengthen my testimony, I can’t pinpoint one specific event when I knew I had a testimony or that I knew I would serve a mission – it was just something that grew and evolved as I did.
Although I had planned on going on a mission most of my life, it was during the summer after high school graduation that I began to think more seriously and prepare myself for going. I had two good friends, Dave Shipp and Brent Carter, who left on their missions that summer. Their excitement to go and subsequent letters to me of how great it was helped psyche me into making my plans more definite. I began reading the scriptures more earnestly and regularly, and used a guide for marking important missionary scriptures that Dave Shipp sent me.
I would turn 19 within six months of graduating from high school. But since I had received a full year scholarship to Dixie College, I decided to go ahead and complete a year before I left on my mission. But I was excited to go, so I made plans to prepare for the call so that I could leave right after school got out in June the next year.
I received my Patriarchal Blessing on September 25, 1977, exactly eight months before I would start my mission. The inspiration I received in that blessing was of great benefit to my spiritual preparation, for both my oncoming mission and my life. The following are excerpts from my Patriarchal Blessings which spoke to my mission experience:
As you receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, your life will unfold quite rapidly. One of the first and important things is to represent yourself, family, church and the Lord in fulfilling a full-time mission. In this service, you will be the most contented, happy, and will be filled with joy in doing the Lord’s work. I bless thee to teach effectively in the language where you are called. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, might mind, and strength. Seek Him in prayer. Ask for guidance and direction in the many duties you are called to do. Place your faith and trust in Him and He will guide thee and open the avenues wherewith you will be directed to those who are seeking the truth. Already you know the value of the scriptures. Study, read, and learn the truths which will enable you to be a most effective missionary. Let these same truths aid you in your life’s journey.
I bless you with health, not only on this occasion, but in filling your life’s mission.
Always be interested in your fellowmen. Enlarge upon your personality. You have a pleasing character which takes well with people.
Accept every opportunity given you to participate in the Lord’s work. Have respect for those in authority.
I bless you with the means to sustain you on your mission. Save and aid all you can to support yourself. I bless your home and family with the means to sustain them. As you serve, let them serve with you through your letters.
As your life unfolds, so will life’s mission unfold to you. Continue your schooling. Through your missionary experiences, may your life’s work become plainly envisioned to you.
On my 19th birthday, I invited the Elders – Elder Tindall and Roskelly to eat Sunday dinner with my family. I made an appointment (to go out on splits) with them the following Tuesday. I went visiting and tracting with Roskelley. Later, I went out with Elder Tindall to teach a couple of girls at the girls college dorm Dixiana. I was given the chance to bear my testimony to them. This was a good getting-my-feet-wet experience.
During winter quarter I took an early morning missionary prep class at the Institute. It was a great way to get my feet a little wetter. While there I took a language aptitude test, which I did pretty well on. I hadn’t yet learned any foreign languages, but had a desire to learn French, or something.
After meeting with the bishop, I sent my papers in on Friday, March 17, 1978 – the day that I left to go on a tour with the Dixie College Concert Choir to southern California. While there, one of my friends, Hugh Howard, was telling me about his mission to the Oakland California mission. I had him guess where I was going, and do you know where he said? Sweden! Right on the nose.
Sweden or anywhere in Europe sounded good to me. I had long been intrigued with and wanted to go to Europe. Stan had gone to France and Switzerland, and I thought that sounded cool. Anywhere in Europe would be great. And, although I was willing to serve wherever the Lord sent me, I knew it had to be foreign. Yet, south of the border and South America did not excite me. I had a pretty good feeling that it would be foreign, especially since my patriarchal blessing said I would “teach effectively in the language” where I am called. Either I needed help with English, or I was going foreign.
We came home from California on Wednesday the 22nd, and from then I waited only 3 days to get my call. It took a total of only 8 days – the fastest I have heard anyone getting a mission call!
It was Saturday morning, the 25th of March at 7:30 when mom came in my room and said the telephone was for me. I really hated being woken up on the only day I can sleep in. I thought to myself, “This had better be important.” I answered the phone and heard “Hi, Ken. This is Spence Esplin at the Post Office. How would you like a mission call?” Spence, a postal employee, was the husband to one of my college teachers, Olive Esplin, who knew I was preparing to go on a mission. He evidently knew the sight of a mission call letter from the Church. I couldn’t believe it had come already. I went and told mom, and then took a shower. I remember thinking of all the different places it could be to. Sweden did come to my head, but it came and went just like every other country I thought of.
As I was getting ready to go, mom asked to come along. Halfway there I told her we were going to wait until we got home to open it. She then got all flustered and said “Well, what did you take me with you for?” She wanted to open it right away. I guess I needed just a few more moments to ponder this big change in my life that I was about to learn more about. When we got home, I had everyone guess a place before I opened it. Wendy guessed the closest with “Denmark”. So I opened it up (almost hesitantly) and shot down to the bottom of the first paragraph (I knew where to look!) and saw “Sweden Stockholm Mission”.
Wow. So it was real. I had a place to go – and it was in Europe! Mom and I rode out to Santa Clara where Dad was working and told him. He was shocked, because he wasn’t expecting it for a while, either. The rest of the day I called up and told everyone I could think of.
During the last quarter of school before I left I kept pretty busy with school and preparing to go on my mission. I had to make arrangements to complete my coursework early, since school didn’t get out until a week after I was scheduled to be in the LTM, on Thursday, May 25, 1978. I thought I had timed things right so that I would be leaving after school got out, but with receiving my call only 8 days after having the papers sent in, and the Church wanting me to go within two months of getting the call, I was cutting it a bit close. I think someone must have been waiting eagerly for me to get there. During the following two months, I was mostly excited to leave, although I did have some moments of being nervous. I was ready in my life to “fly the coop”, so the mission was good timing for me. Even though I easily conditioned myself to the thought of going to the LTM, going to Sweden was a little harder to picture.
On April 29th, I went to the St. George Temple to get my endowments. Mom, Stan and three friends, Errol Foremaster, Hugh Howard and Norm Black came along with me. Norm was also leaving on his mission to Milan, Italy shortly after me. I remember being deeply impressed spiritually, and also a bit confused. But I knew I would understand it all someday and that I was doing the right thing. It was a special day. Getting used to wearing garments was a bit weird, but with it all, became a part of the way I wanted things to be.
Mom, Wendy and I went up to Salt Lake one weekend to do my missionary shopping at Mr. Mac’s. The salesman tried to sell us everything in the store. That’s where I got most of the stuff I needed.
I went to the temple a few more times before I left. Norm Black and I went again in St. George and also took a trip up to the Manti Temple where his grandparents were working. It was interesting to see the ordinance ceremonies performed live, rather than on film, and to move into different rooms. While we were there it snowed, which was weird to see in May. I was taken by how really beautiful the Manti Temple is at night with the lights shining on it.
We made contact with an older Swedish couple living in St. George that invited me to come over to their house. They gave me a lot of information on the country and the language and showed me some slides on Sweden. They were very enthusiastic about Sweden. Now things were becoming more real. I was not just going on a mission, but to a place I was beginning to know something about.
As the day approached for me to enter the LTM, I became both more excited and a little sad. My year at Dixie College had been great and I had made a lot of friends. I had been quite involved in the music and theater programs that year, and the Drama club had scheduled a trip down to California just before I left. My friend Errol volunteered to drive me down so that we could come back in time for my farewell the Sunday before I was to leave. While there we went to the LA temple – and although we didn’t have time to go in, it was neat to see. Although my friends on the trip didn’t get back in time for my farewell, they did come over later to our open house.
We returned from California to give me about three hours to prepare for my farewell, so I spent the time doing just that. I wasn’t as nervous about it as I thought I would be. It really seemed weird though, because I knew it would come some time, for a long time. All of a sudden it was time. I couldn’t think of what to say, so I prayed about it and it helped. It went great! I really felt the spirit during the meeting. By some standards, it could have been considered more of a concert than anything, but it was my way of celebrating the gospel, music and people I loved. All the musical numbers were beautiful and everything was perfect.
The program went as follows:
Mission Farewell Program
Prelude Music: “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning”, Dixie College Concert Choir
Open Hymn: “Come, Come Ye Saints” (one of my favorite hymns)
Invocation: Brother Les Young (Grandpa)
Sacrament Hymn: “I Stand All Amazed” (another favorite)
Musical Number: “Little Things”, 7th Ward MIA Girls
Recitation: Valerie Young (with Mom accompanying on piano)
Talk: Wendy Young
Talk: Stan Young
Musical Number: “Sabbath Prayer”,“Climb Every Mountain”, Dixie Program Bureau
Speaker: Jan Young
Musical Number: Piano solo by Hugh Howard
Speaker: Al Young
Musical Number: “The Master’s Touch”, Dixie College Chamber Choir
Speaker: Ken Young, missionary
Closing Hymn: “I Love America” (to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic), Dixie College Concert Choir
Benediction: Errol Foremaster
My mission farewell was a huge moment of spirituality and thankfulness in my life. I was excited and ready to go!
The night before I was to enter the LTM (later to be called the MTC, about half-way through my stay there) I had a final farewell to my pre-mission, gentile, Dixie Days. It was the annual Drama Awards Banquet, and since I had been heavily involved in that stuff that year, it was important for me to be there. I was nominated for an award (though didn’t win) and performed a duet musical / dance number with friend Mace Pratt from the musical “No, No, Nannette” that I was in earlier in the year. It was a great way to end that period of my life.
AT THE LTM / MTC
The next morning, May 25th, I was scheduled to be at the LTM at 9:30, so we (Mom, Dad and I) had to leave early in the morning to get up there in time. (I entered the Language Training Mission, or LTM, but left the MTC two months later. The name changed halfway through my time there, after the training programs for domestic bound missionaries were brought in, following the closing of the Salt Lake Mission Home.) We stopped at Errol’s apartment first so that I could take a shower. I slept all the way up and I kind of felt that I didn’t want to wake up yet because my life would be so different. But as the events unfolded that day I had changed my mind and was glad to be there.
Mom and Dad joined me in an orientation meeting, and then it was time to say goodbye. I knew the time had come, and though I was a little sad, I knew this is what I had to do. I left Mom and Dad both teary-eyed and then ventured on to get my housing and meal ticket. I received a temporary companion who ate lunch with me and went to more orientation meetings. I then received two permanent companions, Elder Romrell and Elder Smith, both from Idaho. We went with other new missionaries called to go to Sweden to a language class and began to learn how to say some thing in Swedish. My journal entry for that day ended with “I just want to end by saying it was a great first day!”
First letter (postcard) to home:
“Hur mår du? (how are you?) We’ve started in with the language already! Sunday begins “speak your language”. I’m really excited to be here, I love it. I have two companions, not one. Elder Smith and Elder Romrell. They’re both great. I can tell I’m gonna like it here. Thanks for all. I love you.”
Teachers: Sister Bergström, Sister Englund, Elder Christiansen
I had some great teachers in the LTM / MTC who were great spiritual examples as well as good instructors. My favorite was Sister Gerd Bergström (the pronunciation of her name in Swedish is much prettier than it looks: Yaird Berry-strom). She was a cute, fun, enthusiastic, inspirational and motivational person. She was a convert from Sweden who chose to move to the US for a while and ended up teaching at the MTC – lucky for me and many others. In one of my letters home, I wrote:
We have some excellent teachers here at the LTM. I especially like Sis. Bergström. She teaches well, is really nice and has a great spirit about her. She can be quite funny, and when she talks about Sweden she gets me excited about going there.
Sister Bergström knew how teach the language and gospel well, but was also effective in keeping things interesting. Sometimes if things had been too heavy or serious for a while, she would tell us stories of her life in Sweden and fill us in on the way things either different or the same over there. She was also a sometimes jokester, and using our trusting spirits, she had fun by scaring us with how big the mosquitoes got over there in the summertime (larger than your fist!). Speaking of the depth of the Swedish snowfall, she drew a horizontal line on the chalkboard, then drew a house well below that line, with a snow tunnel going up to the top. I think we were all caught off-guard for a second with our jaws dropped. She got a kick out of that.
Sister Englund was not assigned specifically to our class (district), but taught the cultural class once a week and assisted with our language achievement review tests. One of her cultural presentations was on Sankta Lucia, a wonderful Christmas tradition in Sweden that I would grow to appreciate more and more through the years. Sister Englund’s hair was a very white-blonde, which made her perfect to represent the traditional Lucia.
Sankta Lucia (or Saint Lucia) is a historical figure celebrated and represented at the beginning of every Swedish Christmas holidays, and is usually (traditionally) represented by the oldest daughter of the family or chosen community representative. A blonde, long-haired Lucia, dressed in a long white dress with a red sash and wearing a crown of lit candles is the traditional look. So Sister Englund looked very much the traditional part. She explained the story behind the tradition and all that goes with it, including the procession, singing of the Lucia song and refreshments.
The language achievement review (FSI) tests were one of the things I wanted to excel in. A goal for a missionary well-prepared in the language on leaving the MTC was to achieve a level 2 on the test. A level 2 out of 5 (level 5 is considered native proficiency) in language proficiency was not an easy thing to achieve in 2 months time, but achievable. I remember giving the teachers (especially Sister Englund) a hard time in one of the early tests with my purposeful wrong use of “många bra” (many good) instead of “mycket bra” (very good) just to get their reaction to the error. That became a joke between us afterward for a while.
As the day for our final language test neared, I studied hard and really wanted to achieve a level 2. But despite my efforts, I messed up some of the grammar, and ended up with a 1+(+), or almost a 2. I knew I could have done better and was upset for not reaching my goal. Later in the evening, I went back to them and half-jokingly said “I’ll take it again.” So, they humored me and asked me to talk about a topic not explored in the last test – the government – thinking this would get me to go away. But this was the one area I had studied but didn’t have a chance to talk about the last time. I proceeded to tell them what I knew, and they appeared a bit shocked and let me continue. After a few more questions correctly answered, I walked out of there having achieved my goal with an adjusted score of a level 2! I was so excited!
Elder Christiansen was another teacher who was only with us for a month. He was a returned missionary who had been attending BYU – a great example of a good missionary and a good teacher.
While I was in the MTC, the historic revelation given to President Spencer W. Kimball about blacks receiving the priesthood was announced. It was an exciting way to place extra emphasis on spreading the gospel to all the world at the beginning of my mission. I remember standing outside by the back fence watching the sunset and thinking about what this meant and what a great moment this was! Truly the sunset of one era and the beginning of another. I immediately had a testimony that this was both right and true.
Singing and songs:
Music of course has always been important to me, and was part of my MTC experience, too. I was able to sing in a threesome at church, singing "Framat Herren's Kampar" (Onward Christian Soldiers) and enjoyed learning some new Swedish folk songs, such as "Vem kan segla forutan vind" and "Vi gar over dagstankta berg fallera" as well as the national anthem "Du gamla, du fria".
I developed a good friend and brother in my companion Elder Doug Romrell. Although I was in a threesome with Elder Kevin Smith, too, I connected more with Doug. They were both from Idaho. Doug was quite the crazy, funny guy and was real good about making me feel good about myself. It was nice to have a close friendship to help ease the stress and challenges of starting a mission and learning a new language.
My first church talk in Swedish:
Although it was quite simple, I gave a short talk in Swedish in Sacrament meeting one Sunday, based on the Lord's atonement and my testimony of it.
P-day's were usually just about doing laundry, writing letters and relaxing. However, we were actually able to escape from the MTC a couple of times: once our district took a bus to the University Mall in Orem and went to a photography shop and had a group shot taken of us all in Civil War style uniforms. Tons of fun. I was dressed as a Confederate soldier. On another P-day we got approval to rent bicycles from the BYU bike shop and took a ride out to Utah Lake for the day. Quite an escape from the buildings of the MTC. I'm sure that kind of escape is no longer allowed.
One evening the whole MTC was treated with a show of the Lamanite Generation (Living Legends) at BYU. I really had a good time whoopin' it up with the Mexican dancers.
Other LTM / MTC letter and journal excerpts:
Learning the Language
I’m getting into the Swedish language and I like it – it’s fun. It’s not really too hard. I can’t wait until I can say something good, instead of trite, necessary conversations.
The Swedish language is really interesting, and you don’t have a chance to get bored of it.
The first Sunday, 3 days after we got there, we were started on a “Speak Your Language” program. We were expected to always communicate in Swedish. It was tough at first, but forced us to learn new words real quick!
Learning the grammar wasn’t so easy at first. I never really caught on well to English grammar, so I was a little handicapped. Yet, I found as I learned and understood the Swedish grammar, I could better understand English grammar. My mind got boggled at times, and I got to the point where I was glad to be able to sleep, just to give my mind a rest.
It really gets exciting when I can say more new words and be able to understand more of Sis. Bergström’s chatter.
I really like it when I’m able to talk Swedish right. There are so many grammar rules you have to follow in every sentence. It’s coming, but I really have to work on it.
We had a marathon for several days once, where we we not allowed to speak a word of English. It was tough, but I did it!
Learning the Discussions
After one week of language learning, we began learning and memorizing the discussions, starting with the Baptismal Challenge. I prayed the Lord to be with me, because it wasn’t easy. Of course he was there, and I began to do better as I plowed on.
By the time we leave here, the LTM will have taught us 6 of the 8 discussions. If we want to learn the other two, we must do that in our own free time. I’m shooting for that.
They’re pushing us hard these last days. I’ve got 2 more discussions to learn before I leave, and I’m really going to have to work hard to get them done.
(End of 2nd week) After racking our brains all day, trying to get the memorization of the discussions down, we kind of let loose in class after dinner. We were really joking around and we didn’t maintain the spirit, so Sister Bergstrom stopped us with a break and we all thought about it. I felt kind of dumb joking about everything. We are here for one purpose and we must accomplish as much as we can in the short time we have here, and always maintain the spirit.
Both of my companions start feeling down when they can’t memorize fast and it makes me feel bad to go faster than them. I hope I can help them and that Heavenly Father will help them.
One week after entering the LTM we went to a session at the Provo Temple. I really enjoyed going to the temple while there. That first time (my 6th time since getting my endowments), we had a meeting with the Temple President after the session. We were able to ask him many questions about the temple that you can’t talk about outside the temple. It was real neat, the spirit was strong.
This morning we went to the temple (second time here). When we got to the temple I realized that my recommend wasn’t in my wallet like I thought. I had left it in my shirt pocket last time we went. So all three of us ran back to the LTM, and just because of me we were late! Before going I asked both comps if they had theirs. (Dumb, huh?) After having questions answered the last time, I felt I understood more during this session.
The Provo temple is closed now for a couple of weeks for cleaning, so instead of going there we (our district) had a testimony meeting this morning. Det var mycket bra! (It was very good!) (Then later..) The temple is still closed, so today our district, with our two teachers, left the LTM at 6:00 am and climbed up the berg (mountain) and had a short testimony meeting. It was so great to go up there. I just wished we could have stayed longer.
I bore my testimony in Swedish (as best I could) on the first Sunday I was there.
We had a good companion interview today. It’s frustrating not to be able to know how your companions feel, and today we were able to have a good talk. Both companions seem to miss home some and think about it. I’m not really having much problem with that, though I do miss Dixie College and my friends. But I am glad to be here.
I really love both of my companions and am glad I was set up with them
Enjoyed Being There
I sure love and appreciate all you have done for me. My testimony is growing and I know this is the Lord’s work, and I should be here. I am happy.
I feel a little tired sometimes, but I think it is just adjusting to this new schedule.
Everything is going fine. The food is good (almost too good – always fattening, but I’m trying to refrain) and the bed is comfy.
Letters from home / friends
I think I learned early on and benefited from the proverb “As ye sow so shall ye reap”. I think the other elders in my group were jealous of my harvest of letters while at the MTC. I wrote a lot and got a lot – thanks to many friends at Dixie. The harvest lasted for a while, but slowly decreased as my mission went on. But I certainly didn’t have a lack at the MTC.
A couple of months ago Dave Shipp wrote me a letter and asked me what my full name was and who ordained me an elder. Well, guess what? He just sent me a paper that tells exactly where I got my priesthood from, and traced it back to Christ! I was so excited to get that.
The revelation (on the blacks receiving the priesthood) was explained to us, but we didn’t have a discussion. It was stated that the descendants of Abel were promised to one day receive the blessings, and now the day had come. (Then later) I also want to say that I know the prophet’s latest revelation is from God. The LTM held a special devotional tonight about it. It was great. That really is a blessing for us.
I’ll give you a copy of my daily schedule. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, this is the schedule:
6:00 Wake up
6:30-8:00 Retention period (study)
8:45-9:15 Read scriptures
9:15-10:15 Gym (run, exercises and volleyball)
9:50-10:30 Prep time
10:30 Bed time
On Tuesdays we have a devotional at BYU instead of gym and at 5:30-6:30 we have a branch meeting. Friday is P-day until 5:30 and then we have retention. Sundays we have the norm meetings plus a scripture test, familjehemafton (family home evening) and a cultural meeting.
This last Tuesday, instead of having a morning devotional at BYU, we went there at night and saw the BYU group “The Lamanite Generation”. They had a lot of Indian culture, song and dance of different Indian tribes. It was very entertaining and I kind of “let loose”. It made me miss the stage.
Today we’re riding bikes for P-day to Utah Lake. I’m so excited – I need a break.
On June 6th we had a very spiritual devotional with Elder Ballard, an Assistant to the Quorum of the 12. He had everyone who hadn’t read the standard works raise their hands (almost everyone), and it made us feel bad. He then expounded on how necessary it is for us to have read and know the scriptures. I have promised to read the Book of Mormon while here, and if possible I want to start something else.
Preparing for Sweden
I’m getting a little excited about going to Sverige (Sweden). But I’m also scared. We have it fairly easy here.
I am certain that I was more cut out for a mission than the military. Anything that approaches blind obedience to ridiculous things bristles me. So, although I was inspired by a talk given one Sunday by our Branch President regarding obedience and keeping the commandments and mission rules, I still had a problem with committing to following one of the rules: polishing your shoes everyday. I decided that it was silly and unimportant (I mean, hey – these shoes are new and we aren’t yet running around outside in them much!) and that I would keep all the rules except for that one. In retrospect I can see the purpose of obedience for obedience sake, but it didn’t quite work for me then.
Sending Off the Older Missionaries
Last Monday and Wednesday the older Swedish missionaries (those who had entered the LTM one month before us) finally left. But it was kind of sad, they were good friends and examples to us. In our cultural meeting Sunday night us newer ones sang the traditional “Vem kan segla förutan vind?” and “När vi går över dagstänkta berg, fallera” for them and had Swedish cake logs after. It was great.
We (4 of us) sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” in church today and it was great!
THE JOURNEY TO SWEDEN
The Big Day started by waking up at 3:00 am and getting ready for the bus. We boarded the bus at 4:30 am and headed for the airport in Salt Lake City. I couldn’t believe that I was leaving the MTC. As soon as I got off the bus, I saw my family – Mom, Dad, Wendy and Val. Stan had to work, but sent a letter. I almost didn’t want to talk to them, but it was great to see them again. We talked for about an hour and 15 minutes. We said goodbye – me leaving them emotional, and I wasn’t sure whether I was or not.
Our plane to Denver (on Texas International) was late. So that trip from Salt Lake wasn’t the best. It was weird to think I was taking off finally – in my first jet plane ride. We ate breakfast on that not too smooth ride. Since the plane was late, we had to really hurry when we came into Denver to catch our next flight. We ran across the airport and boarded right onto another plane. This one was a little bigger and nicer (United). We left Denver at about 9:10 am. On that trip, I tried to sleep a little, and they fed us lunch. Elder Lundquist and I were sitting next to a girl, and we started talking to her about the church. I told her of Joseph Smith’s story, the Book of Mormon, let her read 3rd Nephi and Moroni’s promise, and gave her 3 pamphlets: “The Joseph Smith Story”, “What Mormons Think of Christ”, and “The Plan of Salvation”. When we were through, I wondered if I laid it on kind of heavy. (I’ve since wondered if a good seed was planted and if she ever did anything to nourish it.)
It seemed like in no time we were in New York City, landing at 2:45 pm. We had a three hour layover there, which passed very fast, and then boarded the big Scandinavian (SAS) 747 at 6:05 pm. It was a nice plane. I sat next to two Danish people and tried to talk with them. The girl said she could understand svenska (Swedish), but couldn’t speak it. I understood a little of what she said, but it wasn’t until later that I found that she could speak English real well. The ride was smooth, which I was thankful for. They fed us dinner, and right after showed the movie “Saturday Night Fever” which was edited. But I still didn’t think it was a good missionary movie, so I only watched the good dance scenes, and listened to music during the rest of it. It was so weird, because just a little after the movie ended, the sun which had just gone down was coming back up. I tried to soak in as much sleep as I could, but didn’t sleep too well.
We landed in Copenhagen, Denmark (Wendy was right – I did go to Denmark! – barely) at 6:30 am their time, which was about 11:30 pm to our normal schedule (Utah time). We were there for one hour and said goodbye to the missionaries that were going to the Göteborg (southern Sweden) mission. Then I slept the whole way to Stockholm, and it was 9:00 am local time (2:00 am in Utah) when we landed. When we got to the gate to show our passports, I couldn’t find mine. I searched frantically all over myself for it, and thought, “Great – fly all the way here and you can’t get in the country!” Finally, someone asked me if it was inside my ticket booklet, where I didn’t think to look – and lo and behold.
President and Sister Holmgren and two assistants met us and took us to the mission headquarters. It was almost 3:00 am for us when we left the airport. So, at more than 24 hours after we woke up to start the journey, and having achieved a fair amount of jet lag and feeling dead, we were asked to fill out some papers, buy some books, and wait to have an interview with the president. I don’t think I could have made a very good impression on him with my head swimming. I really felt weak and about to faint. When we finished with all that, they took us to a hotel so we could sleep a little while. By then 27 hours had passed since we started.
We slept for 4 hours, and then we went to the President’s home. It seemed like a new day in the morning, yet it was evening on the same day. My body was confused. We were fed a good meal and afterwards had a testimony meeting. It was all good, but I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I could have, because I was still tired. Then the big moment came. We all received our assignments. None of us are going to the same place.
My first assignment was to the northernmost city where missionaries serve in Sweden, called Boden (just below the Arctic Circle). I was scheduled to fly up the next with Elder Porter, who was assigned to serve in Luleå (Loo-lee-o), a city near Boden. We would be in the same branch at church. My first companion, Elder Tor Eriksson, was a native Swede – what a way to learn the language!
That night, back in the hotel room, I wrote of the day’s events and my feelings, which included: “I really can’t believe that I’m here in a country that has always just been a place on a map. Europe – wow! It all seemed too simple. I always thought going to Europe would be a lot harder than this. But, here I am! I just pray the Lord will be with me so I can now push extra hard to serve Him.”
The next morning, following breakfast, we were taken to the police station to a residence permit. Then we had an orientation meeting at the mission home where they crammed a lot into us. When it was over, we were off to see the wizard! My MTC companions left so fast I didn’t have time to say goodbye, which felt like yanking the well-used crutch out from under me.
Elder Porter and I were taken to the Arlanda airport where we waited for about two hours - I really didn’t feel like getting on another plane. But this was it, the final leg of the journey. The flight took about an hour, and we were met by Elder Porter’s new companion and my District Leader, Elder Johnson – and we got on the bus into town. Then I was sent on to Boden on my own. Wow. The feelings were coming on strong now. This was it – my work as a missionary was finally about to start. I wanted that bus ride to be both quick and very long. The countryside was beautiful, and at the entrance to Boden I was greeted with “Välkommen till Boden” (Welcome to Boden) written in flowers that were planted on a hillside near a pond.
This surely didn’t look like what I had pictured in my mind for northern Sweden! It was green, with lots of trees and flowers. I must have been sent south to Holland! Where were the ice bergs, the snow and the polar bears? No where in sight.
FIRST AREA: BODEN
When the bus arrived in Boden, I was met by my companion Elder Tor Eriksson. We had to walk about five blocks with my 500 lb suitcase to our apartment. We live in the upstairs of a Mr. Paulsson’s home in town. A lot of people here live in apartments. Houses are expensive in Sweden, along with everything else. It’s a pretty good place we have here, except for one thing – there’s no shower, not even a bathtub! So we go to a member’s house every other day or so (we’re hoping we can find another place). Mr. Paulsson charges 2 crowns for the use of his (shower).
When we left the Stockholm airport it started hitting me that I’m on my own now. I had my district at the LTM to associate with the whole time, and I didn’t like it when we split up. I guess I didn’t know how much I really loved and appreciated all of them until I left them. I was just used to having them around. But on Sundays when we go to church in Luleå there’s Elder Porter (he was in the other district) and Sister Parson. She left the LTM 4 days after I entered, but I had met her.
My First Companion Elder Eriksson
Elder Eriksson, from Karlskrona in southern Sweden. He was a quiet sort of guy, but when he talked Swedish – man! It was fast! He spoke English fairly well, but there were times that we struggled a bit in communicating. At first, I didn't really having any problems saying what I needed to say, but when I tried to understand what my companion, investigators or anyone else said to me – I couldn’t! I really had to listen close to pick up some familiar words. One of our first investigator visits was with a guy who my companion was trying to help along, who wasn't super interested in the church. So Elder Eriksson decided to have an informal chat with him, which went on for at least an hour. My head started to spin trying to keep up with them and I began to wonder if they had taught me the right language at the MTC.
Elder Eriksson played the piano and classic music pieces very well. He took advantage of opportunities to play whenever a piano was around.
I occasionally struggled with being a junior companion to with Elder Eriksson. Though he tried in his own way to lead, I often felt he was not very effective in his use of time; some days just weren't spent well. I learned however that it created friction when I tried to tell him what to do. We spent 3 months together, which were mostly good, but I was glad to be able to move on when the time came so that I could have more control over the work.
My 2nd Mom, Sister Näslund
We have a nice member lady here who lives with her 16 year old son Robert, who loves missionaries – we go there and talk and eat nummy desserts. Her name is Sis. Marianne Näslund – she takes us to church. The chapel in Luleå is newly built and small. There’s about 40 people in the branch. Since Luleå is about 25 miles away, we stay there for all meetings and they fix a dinner there for us after Sunday School. We took a turn one Sunday cooking the meal, made up of Swedish meatballs, potatoes, soup and saft - a concentrated fruit drink.
We had lots of good times at Sis. Näslund's place, usually on Sundays or late evenings. She often offered good food and fun, and I'm afraid a few too many times watching TV! I think since she was single, she looked to the missionaries as being a part of her family, with a good influence on her son. Both of them spoke English very well, which was comforting to a newbie.
Boden is a town of nearly 30,000 people, located about 1 hour south of the arctic circle. Most of the people work in the big hospital here, or are with the Army camp. Boden is an army town. We have a train that goes right by our house – and every time it goes by the whole house shakes.
I couldn’t really believe it, but it is quite warm here now. We even sweat! Another thing –most of the people here just seem like Americans who talk another language. Things are a little different here – but not much. One thing I noticed is that a lot of people are riding bikes – even old ladies. I think that’s because cars are so expensive here, too. But it’s funny to see so many old ladies on bikes! A lot of people wear wooden clog shoes. The bikes here are all old. They work fine, but they don’t look the greatest. I’ve seen very few ten-speeds. Just bike-bikes.
Boden seems like a kind of slow town so far as baptisms are concerned – not too many people are interested in religion.
The countryside here is beautiful. Forests everywhere! Even in Stockholm, between the main city and the suburbs, forests! I think all of Sweden was one forest and the people have just cleared away what they needed. Sis. Näslund took us out for a drive looking for mushrooms in the countryside - very beautiful. I picked and sent some wildflowers home to Mom.
Learning the Discussions
A big effort was made up front to memorize and pass off the eight missionary discussions (lessons). A lot of preparation for that was done in the MTC, but actually being able to memorize and present a full discussion, including memorizing the scriptures that go with it is quite a task! Being able to pass off my 1st discussion to the District Leader, Elder Ken Johnson, shortly after arriving was exciting. I then set a goal to be qualified - ready to with all 8 within a month. It took a bit longer than that, but I finally got them done. One day we did splits with the DL and his companion - the two seasoned elders went out and let Elder Porter and me stay in and studied the discussions all day.
We had a handful of investigators, but at first none were really nearing baptism. We rode out one day to a little settlement outside of town called Bodsvedjan, trying to find an investigator’s home (my companion has only been here 2 weeks more than me) and we were riding the whole countryside looking for him. He’s an investigator who’s had all 8 discussions and read the Book of Mormon, but there’s something holding him back. I don’t know what. We’re trying to get the film “The First Vision” for him to see.
One day, Elder Eriksson and I went to visit his uncle who lives here, and I found out that his wife is Sister Bergstrom’s (MTC teacher) cousin! I was so excited – It was nice to make a connection with someone who knew someone that I knew. All his uncle wanted to do was debate, so not much happened with him, although I took the chance to bear my testimony!
We also taught a Finnish girl named Maarit, who asked, "How can the Book of Mormon be scripture when it says in Revelations that nothing can be added?" I knew the answer to that one and was excited to do so! We met with her several times before she moved to Umea to attend a university. I had high hopes for her and we sent a referral to the missionaries in that area.
Thoughts and Feelings
I’m a little scared being here, but I am also glad. I know the Lord is with me and I really want to dig in to the missionary work. I gave my first door approach the other day. I can say it fine, the only problem is when they say something in return that I should reply to. That’s where Äldste Eriksson takes over. Tracting (knocking on doors) is what usually took up most of our days, and a lot of time it was in the stairwells of apartment buildings. But I really liked it better when we would tract homes in neighborhoods.
I wrote this at the end of the first letter home from Sweden: I know that this church is true and that it is directed by Christ through our prophet Spencer W. Kimball. I also know that it is the only true church on the earth today. Thanks for all. I love and appreciate and miss you all. May the Lord be with us. I hope we can all be together after this life with our Heavenly Father.
P.S. – I am so disgusted! I don’t think the Swedish believe in wearing too much in the summer! I needn’t say more.
Letters were very important to receive, especially during those first few months. I had several good friends who wrote along with the family. It would make me a bit homesick sometimes. One good friend who helped me a lot during this time was David Shipp, who was serving in Ireland.
They have a type of milk other than the normal, here, called filmjölk. It’s thick – it’s texture is something like yogurt but more sour – and a lot of people eat it here, but I hate it.
District meeting with spiritual assistants - Train ride home
First baptism Pia Nyström, living with a man
Fixing the camera, losing pics
1st Jehovahs Witness - all mouth and no ears, bore testimony
New apartment with a shower, nice kitchen
Took the wrong train got off in Alvsbyn, tried to call Lulea, next train at 10:03 baptism at 7, didnt dial area code could nt figure it out thought church had phone off hook. Got E. Johnson, told E. Porter to go home to Boden overnight. Train an hour late, midnight walk through Boden. Pia wasnt baptized - reincarnation beliefs
Lulea gren beach party - played frisbee baseball, egg-toss, three-legged race, toasted marshmallows and other food, sang songs, almost got thrown into the lake by gren sisters
GREAT SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
The Savior's arm around my shoulders
Viktor Back's conversion
Learning to Draw on the Powers of Heaven
Pres. Kimball's Biography
....more to come.
Aug 20 Sunday
I slept in again! Boy am I a slob! I've got to get with the program. We had all the normal church today. I led one song in Sunday School and I think next time I do it I'm going to give a little talk first on "the importance of singing loud." They need it. I remind myself of Sister Youd in the LTM (a sister missionary who was really into music and teaching it).
Then in Sacrament Meeting I gave a revise version of my talk on Jesus Christ's crucifixion that I gave in the LTM. The missionaries were surprised to hear that we were on the program to sing, but we all got up and sang "Kom, Kom Gud's Folk" (Come, Come Ye Saints) without practice - that's how it sounded! Sis. Parson and I were the only singers.
We cooked the food and it turned out good, and I am quite sure that everyone was satisfied. After dinner Sis. Parson told about her travels throughout Europe and I was just dying of jealousy.
After church we went with Sis. Tapani - a relative to Elder Eriksson, and visited her non-member family. We dark some saft (fruit juice) that she made that tasted like it had turned into wine. I think it had some alcohol in it. We were all wondering about it. We then went to another relatives and ate a big filling meal and talked. They seemed like they are a little interested in the church, so there's a possibility there. Both two houses were nice and reminded me somewhat of American homes.
Aug 21 Monday
P-day #4. We couldn't wash our clothes today because we forgot to reserve the tvatta stuga (laundry room). We visited Pia Nyström today and Elder Eriksson gave her a lot of scriptures which helped her out in her wondering about reincarnation.She's got a testimony and should be baptized tomorrow.
Aug 22 Tuesday
Well, Elders Johnsen and Porter came up again to visit Pia Nyström, but found out they guy was back in her house, so she couldn't be baptized today. Elder Bonan (Zone Leader) came also and they'll talk to her tomorrow. Seems that the District Leader has been making quite a few trips up here lately, but that's good - I like variety. They all stayed here overnight and Elder Bonan was quite inspirational. He told about that he was a convert to the church and didn't grow up in it, and how bad he did in the LTM and the troubles he had to get qualified. But what was neat - he said soon after he was qualified he was made an area leader, then a district leader and now a zone leader. It gave me faith and makes me want to strive harder to get qualified as soon as possible Elder Bonan is also quite the entertainer - many stories.
Aug 23 Wednesday
Well, we woke up and began to be entertained by Elder Bonan again. They (Bonan, Johnsen and Eriksson) went to Pia's at 11:00 and didn't come back until 3:30. They've finally got her to be baptized tonight at 8:00. Me and Elder Porter got a lot of study time in, but it was really hard to study.
We went to Näslunds to call Pia, and Elder Bonan picked up the guitar and played. He's an excellent singer and player. It was fun to hear and sing with. He's a neat...(He keeps telling me I can't say it - but so what) GUY! For some reason we can't say "guy" or stick our hands in our pockets. Such freedom taken away!
It was a real neat experience tonight. We drove into Luleå with Pia's daughter Erika (who is 19 years old and looks like a prospective member) to the baptism. Elder Bonan entertained us with some really long, dumb story-jokes, but yet they were quite funny.
Pia seemed excited and ready for it. The program went really good and the spirit was there (even if I hadn't heard of the song I was leading before). Elder Eriksson baptized her and did it twice. Then President Berg confirmed her with us missionaries helping. A very fine evening.
Aug 24 Thursday
Today was... well I should consider it a not so good day, because we didn't do much at all. The only thing we did today, so far as missionary work is concerned, is meet Pia and her daughter Erika. But I think our long visit opened Erika up more and got her a little more interested in the church. I have a feeling she'll be a member soon. Pia is going to be a strong member of the church.
I got some more done on my discussions and will pass off F and H Sunday. I should have been qualified by then, but I'm now shooting for the week after.
Aug 25 Friday
We didn't visit Erica again, but found out that she missed us, so we're going to teach her Monday. Tonight the axle between the pedals on my bike broke in two, so I'll have to get that fixed, or get a new bike.
Aug 26 Saturday
Well, the bike would cost 100 kronor to repair, so I'm using Sis. Näslund's until I can get another. We went out to the country today and visited Herr Larsson who has had all discussions. I think if we push and help him, he can be a member. And the rain came tumbling down.
Aug 27 Sunday
A normal Sunday. Pia and Erika came to church, but Erika only to Sunday School because of work. We visited Westfall and Qvick, who are very nice and we feel we can baptize.
Aug 28 Monday
A normal P-day. We visited Erika and Pia and gave Erika the 1st and 2nd discussions together. She'll be a member. We've set a goal to baptize 3 people next month and I think we can do it.
Aug 29 Tuesday
Today we saw Maarit again. She's in town until Saturday - I hope we can teach her one more time. She's very nice. We met Carlsson who is also back in town, but seemed to be a little affected by the influence of alcoholic beverages on the body - drunk. We also tried to give that family an FHE (Family Home Evening), but couldn't tonight.
We met Pia's sister-in-law who has had all 8 discussions and has a testimony but isn't sure baptism is important and her family isn't so excited about it, so she doesn't want to be the only one. She's also very nice. Now I am very tires and very worried about how much money I've spent. I just got a check today - 679 kronor. Already today I've spent 300 for last and this month's rent, 100 kronor for a new bike, 63 kronor for assorted needed items, 28 kronor for letters and I don't have a heck of a lot left. Oj oj oj!
Aug 30 Wednesday
We met with Erika again this morning, and though we had an hour and a half we were only able to give half of the 3rd. She is very willing to hear more and we'll visit her tomorrow morning. She said herself that she wants to be a member, but wants to learn more first - very excellent. I' getting more into the work now and it's neat when we have neat investigators.
Aug 31 Thursday
We taught all Pia, Erika and Pia's dad today. Erika has had a lot of teaching and all she needs now is to gain a testimony. Pia's dad is very positive and willl probably also become a member. He said he'll try to go one week with keeping the Word of Wisdom. Erika might also. We got Pia and Erika to pray finally, by prayer circle. They fed us after and it was then I first tasted surströmming (fermented herring). It smelled but didn't taste so bad, but I could taste it the rest of the day. I tried eating a banana, some peanuts and ice cream, but still had the sour taste in my mouth. Yuck.
Sept 1 Friday
We met Irene - Svanbold today and they seem very nice and interested, and said they will come to church Sunday. It's funny - My first impression of them was fairly bad and I thought they wouldn't be interested, but I've seen nothing but good so far.
We were going to go to Luleå to GUF (Mutual) with Erika. We also invited the Norrsken girls and Moustaffa wanted to go. Well, Sis. Näslund had to go to the hospital today, so we only had Erika's car with too many people to go, and then Erica felt tired, so none of us went. Blew our night. Elder Eriksson likes to visit Moustaffa and I think he is a good, but I will be glad when he leaves so we won't spend our time there. It was good when he was gone to Stockholm.
Sept 2 Saturday
Elder Eriksson's uncle came and picked us up and we took a ride through the country and saw some old houses that his mom and dad lived in. I took some pictures, but it was rainy and a little too dark, but I hope the pictures turn out. I went out and picked some blueberries - it's weird - I've never seen such an abundance of berries free to pick!
Sept 3 Sunday
Fast Sunday. I passed of discussions F and H today and almost didn't finish it (it was hard to remember). I hope to pass off I and J next Sunday so I can be qualified. We ate dinner at another of Elder Eriksson's uncles that lives in Gammelstad and as ususal I ate like Porky again. "The Muppet Show" was on TV there - funny! Elder Eriksson's relatives drove us home - I'm wondering about all this relative business.
My first tape from home came today. It was neat to hear them - but Wendy , Val and Stan talked so long that mom only got a minute's worth and dad none. Elder Eriksson's bike got stolen and mine is broke so we've become "walking elders". We visited Sis. Näslund in the hospital - she's getting her asthma problem taken care of. We bought her a box of candy from the whole gren (branch). Visited Pia, Erika and Roland.
Sept 5 Tuesday
Our work has really been hindered because of no bikes - a normal day.
Sept 6 Wednesday
We walked all over Boden today. We visited Westfall and Qvick. They need some help - they've had all discussions but don't understand everything. Pia's dad will soon be a member. He's coming to church Sunday and wants to keep the Word of Wisdom.
Sept 7 Thursday
I got my first package from home today, which had TANG! and granola bars. I'm eating the bars up fast.
We visited Erica and Pia today with the intention of teaching Erica. Pia was quite unsure of some things, so we ended up spending our time clearing them up for her. I hope we can get Erica going.
For OP (off-program) today we watched "Scooby-Doo". I've really decided that as soon as I'm Senior Companion, I'm going to do everything right and "On Program" and not "Off Program". I just can't tell Elder Eriksson what to do always.
We are going into Luleå tonight to stay with Elders Johnsen and Porter. We're all traveling to Umeå tomorrow morning for Zone Conference. Är jag spänd! (Am I excited!)
Sept 8 Friday
What a day! We left Luleå around 8:00 am and headed down south. Our Zone Conference in Umeå was also with the Sundsvall Zone. I met some other Elders that I met in the LTM. We all ate at a smorgasbord restaurant nearby first, which I stuffed myself at. We then started the conference - it was great. The theme was "Be ye doers of the word". President Holmgren started it off. He showed concern for us. He told us to eat properly and use money wisely. I felt good when he said he was going to write our parents and change the minimum to $175 a month. He promised us that if we would talk at night about the where, when and what of the next day and pray about it, that we'd have success. He also talked on obedience and goals.
One of the Zone Leaders gave a "How to Get In Doors" presentation. The 13 points are:
1. Får vi stiga på? (May we come in?) - most important
2. Don't be afraid to be yourself - be bold!
3. Be happy and show enthusiasm
4. Make you introduction short and ask "Får vi"
5. Show respect
6. Put your foot in motion
7. Don't be a grump!
9. Be creative and versatile
10. Express "urgency"
11. Have the spirit with you always
12. Keep a good attitude
13. Share the load
Sis. Holmgren gave a good talk on eating properly and what foods to eat. Then the Assistants gave their presentations which were excellent. Elder Nelson gave one on the quality of discussions and we went through the whole 1st discussion and decided good ways to react to his answers to our questions. It was stressed to give the whole discussion and don't leave anything out. He challenged us to learn the discussions word perfect and give it the same.
Elder Thornton talked about "moving mountains", and stressed PMA (positive mental attitude) and that faith is PMA. He also talked about the importance of enthusiasm. We listened to some good tapes of Bob Richards and Paul H. Dunn. PMA + faith + enthusiasm + work = A successful missionary.
We also had a discussion check and a testimony meeting. The spirit was there and strong, and it felt great. The Assistants and leaders are really good examples for me and I hope I can be more like them.
We slept with a member that night in Umeå.
Sept 9 Saturday
We left Umeå at 8:30 and Elder Eriksson and I finally got back into Boden around 3:00. I had a good but maybe little "OP" talk with Sis. Parson about movies, etc. on the bus. President Holmgren interviewed me on the bus.
We tried doing a little missionary work when we got back, but didn't have much luck. So, since it was Elder Eriksson's birthday today (23rd), we went to go see the movie "When Eight Bells Toll". It wasn't all that good and certainly not worth the 18 crowns paid for it. We then went to Pizzaria Roma and bought us each a a pizza to take home. Numtious! I ordered a a pepperoncini pizza since it was the closest thing on the menu to what might be pepperoni. I learned they are not the same thing. Guess they didn't have pepperoni. Oh well. We'll count that as our "cultural evening" for the month.
Sept 10 Sunday
Today in church, Sis. Parson and I sang "Framåt Herren's Kämpar" (Onward Christian Soldiers) as a duet. I think we're the only two in the gren that can sing. Pres. and Sis. Holmgren came up to Luleå and to church today and they both spoke. Sis. Holmgren had a guy translate for her because she's just barely starting out in the language. After church Elder Eriksson and I visited Lena and Mona Norrsken. We taught them the Joseph Smith story and other parts of the first discussion. I could tell they thought a little about what we said , but they need lots of help.
Sept 11 Monday
No mail! I haven't received much lately and am expecting from quite a few, including money from home. We shortened our P-day and went out earlier, because we missed quite a few hours this last week.
Sept 12 Tuesday
Well I finally got mt bike back today which I had repaired for 100 kronor. Elder Eriksson bout a new one yesterday, so everything's back to normal.
Sept 13 Wednesday
I talked with Robert Näslund yesterday about what he felt about his mom going off for 2 days with their friend. I guess maybe I insinuated that something could happen and he took it offensively. Well, tonight we went to Näslunds and I asked how her trip was, and she said "Why?" and "You're curious and I don't like it", so I've got myself in a rut.
Sept 14 Thursday
Oj! What a cold, rainy day! We went out to Bodsvedjan tonight and tracted and didn't have much luck. We did get 2 BOM's back which were needed. I went to Näslunds to borrow her iron and I could see things weren't any better.
Sept 15 Friday
We had a good discussion with Erica and Pia tonight. I felt like Erica felt something. She went running out of the room before we left, like she was scared that she was feeling something. We also met with Yttlings in Erikslund and had a good 2nd discussion with them.
Sept 16 Saturday
Today we went into Lulea for Karin Drugge's baptism. She has been having problems with her parents. They didn't want her to get baptized. But she just turned 18, so we dunked her. It was so neat. I had a feeling scome over me when I watched the baptism that it was a special, important and holy ordinance. Just before it, Sis. Parson and me sang "Trappan Till Evig Glädje" (The Stairway to Eternal Joy), requested of Karin. Then, when Pres. Berg and us 4 Elders gathered around to confirm her right after the baptism, I felt the spirit very strong. I felt like someone was standing right in back of me, though I knew no one really was. I then felt something very warm as if someone's arm was across my back. I felt and knew in my heart that it was the Savior's love helping me to feel that I was where I should be and doing what I should be doing, and that this truly was His work. I had my testimony strengthened of the power of the priesthood and the importance of baptism and confirmation.
After the baptism, Elders Johnsen, Porter Eriksson and I went to Sis. Tapani's and ate pizza and cake and had a good time, but I thought it was also wasted time. The reason we were going was to visit her husband, which we didn't do much of. (sigh)
I talked with Sis. Näslund today about our misunderstanding and got everything cleared up and had a good talk.
Sept 17 Sunday
I passed off the last discussion to Elder Johnsen today and I am now qualified as far as discussions are concerned. I thought the 40 scriptures were something else, not a part of being qualified - oh well. Sis. Parson and I sang "Trappan Till Evig Glädje" in church again today with a little different set up. It's a real pretty song and I'm glad I've had opportunities to sing. We visited with Näslunds after.
Sept 18 Monday
I figured it to be my 54th day in Sweden, and have been on my mish almost 4 months - time sure has gone by fast.
Today for an "outing" E. Eriksson and I visited the State Church. It was quite impressive. A big, old building built in 1831. Inside was the crucifix statue of Christ in the front of the chapel - it was almost eerie. It was very interesting to visit.
We went out to Backlunds and started to have a good talk with them, but had to leave because I was holding a FHE at the Naslunds for a part of my qualification. The FHE went real good. We sang "Oändlig Kärlek Stor" (How Great the Wisdom and the Love) and then prayer. I then gave a lesson on Christ's crucifixion and had them all hold their arms up as if on a cross for 5 minutes while I taught them. It was very effective and we had a good discussion about His suffering. We then played the candy bar - dice game and had a blast! Then we ended it up with snickerdoodles and Tang. The Naslunds loved it - even Robert who was skeptical beforehand. I really like them, they're nice people.
Sept 19 Tuesday
Elders Johnsen and Porter came up today for our monthly interviews. We all 4 ate at the Naslunds and stuffed. Elders Johnsen and Erikkson went out and visited Pia and Erika while Elder Porter and I stayed there. I had a nice long talk with Sis. Näslund. But things didn't go to well with the other two. Pia is really having a hard time with a lot of subjects and making it very hard on Erika. The 2 elders slept over.
Sept 20 Wednesday
We finally got our own telephone today which will save us time and money. We visited members today. I've really been thinking about Pia's problems and it bothers me that she's being so influenced by the devil.
Sept 21 Thursday
For the first time on my mission, I blessed someone. Vera Sandberg has had back problems and ask for one (a blessing). I think that's the first time I've ever given the blessing part - in English or Swedish.
We talked with Pia today and taught one of her friends the 1st discussion. We also met Vivianne Iwarsson who has had a lot of visits and teachings of missionaries before, and was almost baptized. She is very nice.
Sept 22 Friday
We met with Pia and Erika and they showed us a book called "Synen" (The Vision). I first thought, "Oh, no! not another work of the devil!", but this book talks about things that will happen in the future - a lot that coincides with D&C revelations.
We visited Backlunds tonight. They seem to be coming along real well and will be strong members. We talked with Bro. Backlund about a branch here in Boden. He wants one and it seems like it would help activate some of the members here in Boden, and it would be easier for us to get our investigators to church.
On the way home I saw for the first time some of the Northern Lights. It wasn't so big or strong, but it was at least neat to see. They say it looks really spectacular in the winter.
Sept 23 Saturday
We opened up a new tracting area near Pia's today and taught a couple named Erikssons the 1st discussion and it went pretty well. After the discussion we found out that they had the book "Synen" also. We're going to try to get a copy of it. They said they got it from the next-door neighbors, so we used that as a door approach, but it didn't work.
Sept 24 Sunday
Well, since there was a District Conference in Skellefteå, there wasn't any Priesthood or Sunday School in Luleå. We tried to get Erika to drive us to the conference, but she didn't want to run down her almost dead car. But we got a ride into Sacrament meeting with Irene Svanold and Bo Lundquist. We found out that if we only would have asked them they would have driven us to the conference. Well anyway, it was good to get them to church. Pia, Folke and Birgitta were all going to come too, but didn't make it. But we were happily surprised to see Enar Larsson there. Svanolds said that they would come to the party at the church on Wednesday, where Sis. Parson and I will sing "Minns i November" (Try to Remember).
Sept 25 Monday
Today marks two months in Sweden. Elder Johnsen, the District Leader, got transferred today to the Mission Office as an Assistant. I sure hope that I can be ready and worthy to receive such a call. We did the normal P-day stuff and had FHE with Robert and Sis. Näslund.
Sept 26 Tuesday
Two months in Boden. I got 3 letters from home today, postmarked on 3 different days. One had an enormous check of $365.00 = 600 kronor! I bought my winter coat with that, which cost 640 kronor.
Pia gave us a little more confidence today by saying she found the answers to some of her problems by praying and reading in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. We started today going out at 9:45 instead of 10:45 since I am now qualified - I qualified on Sunday.
Sept 27 Wednesday
The relief Society in the Lulea branch had their opening social tonight. Sis. Parson and Larssen and I sang "Minns i November" in the program. They served surströmming to eat. I guess it's tradition, they always have to eat it at opening socials. It's quite smelly, but I like it better this time than last. I met our new District Leader Elder Dirlam. He seems like a good missionary.
After the social, Sis. Näslund started talking with a half-drunk man outside the chapel who was making negative comments about the Church. We talked with him, and Sis. Näslund was being so nice to him, that we got him to take a "Vilka ar Mormonerna" (Who are the Mormons?) brochure and he might visit the church someday. Sis.Näslund makes a good missionary. We were out talking for quite a while, and on the way home we stopped at MAX and bought an ice cream cone, so we didn't get home until 11:30 - oj oj!
Sept 28 Thursday
We had a good talk with Birgitta Holberg today. She believes in all in the Church, but doesn't think baptism is so important and right for her. We've got a lot of good investigators. I hope we can do something with them now.
We visited Vera Sandberg in the hospital again today. She seems to be doing better. We met a 60 year old man, Herr Amqvist, who seems very good. We gave a good 1st discussion, but he is unfortunately moving. He'll come back in November. We also talked with Fru Iwarsson. She is very nice. I hope we can convince her, too. She's had everything, like Birgitta.
Sept 29 Friday
We met Pia and a not too interested family today. That's all I can remember. When we first went in the family's apartment, we found out that he had heard bad things about Mormons and through the whole discussion he avoided listening. Two other ladies came in after and we had to spend our time explaining that we are not just another church and that we really have got something.
Sept 30 Saturday
One more time with Erika today. We gave the 4th and started talking about their book "Evangeliet av Det Fullkomliga Livet" (The Gospel of the Perfect Life), and how the Bible and the Book of Mormon are God's word. It started off bad, but ended up with the spirit strong. We asked her to continue to pray about the Book of Mormon.
We also met Folke Holmberg and gave him the 4th. He believes what we say and if we can get him to church and keep the Word of Wisdom, he'll be a member. We then went out to Bodvedjan and met E. Eriksson's uncle and gave him and his wife the first. E. Eriksson was too scared to start it off, so I led the discussion. The aren't so interested, but might come.
Sun Oct 1
It was Fast Sunday. I talked with Elder Dirlam, our new District Leader, today and I really like him - a good missionary. Sis. Näslund invited us to eat with them - fiskpinnar o potatis (fish sticks and potatoes).
We taught the Yttlings the 3rd tonight. They're good people, but not so terribly interested in changing or believing. Herr Yttling is not really positive, but said it's nice to talk to us and we're welcome back.
We also met those other people (I fell stupid - I don't know their name) and they gave us 50 kronor for a BOM. We didn't want to take it (well, actually...) but didn't have any change and she insisted.
Mon Oct 2
Last Friday I received a chain letter from Dave. It said the letter had been going since January 1975 and that we could set a world's record if it wasn't broken. It told me to send a postcard to the 1st person on the list, take his name off and put mine on the bottom and then send 10 similar letters to my friends. I typed a copy with Pia's typewriter and had Sis. Näslund copy it off for me. So I spent
today doing that. It said I should get hundreds of postcards in 18 days, but we'll see if it works.
I baked some brownies today and took some out to Bäcklunds - they loved 'em. We didn't have time to stay, but nice Sis. Bäcklund gave me a hug and kiss when we left - oj! I was almost embarrassed! My first on my mission!
We also met an older woman near them who was nice, but as usual, doesn't want to change. I think a lot of people are scared that they might find out that what we say is true.
Tues Oct 3
I had a rough time clearing up my financial situation for this week. I was about to scream. Money is so bothersome.
We tracted in a new area today on Folke Holmberg's side of town. Taught a first to an older woman who didn't say much, but said she'd read the BOM. She was Fru Ekback. We hopped on our bikes and went out to Enar Larsson's. He is hard to understand and convince. He knows baptism is important, but doesn't think he's good enough or can keep the commandments. He gave us blåbärsvin (blueberry wine) that we thought was wine, but wasn't. A good drink.
We then visited Rosemarie Bäcklund and her man. She's not so interested, but come and see "The First Vision" which we have ordered. They have a cute baby named Angelica, ...and I'm tired.
Wed Oct 4
Well the day started off fairly good. We visited Vera Sandberg and tracted in the morning. We taught two discussions and it went good. Then we were supposed to meet Westfall o Qvick, but they called and said we couldn't, and then we had a terrible visit with Pia The devil has really gotten a hold on her. She is really having a hard time with accepting and believing, and now thinks it's fine that everyone believes in his own way. She was getting upset with Roland and told him to leave, and then us too, which we did fast. I don't know what else we can do for her now, other than let God take over. It's really depressing. We're going to try to show her and Erika and Folke "The First Vision".
Thur Oct 5
Happy Birthday Errol! Well, to top things off, after Pia was so negative last night, when we called Erika this morning she said that she didn't want to be taught anymore. We really feel bad about it, but there's not much we can do. We talked with Folke, and he still wants to meet us, but I hope Pia doesn't influence him also. It seems all of the sudden we don't have people to visit. We've been tracting a little more than usual.
Fri Oct 6
I've been feeling weird lately. I feel like I don't have the spirit like I ought to, I haven't "caught the vision". The cold weather is coming on now and it's very uncomfortable to ride in the cold, penetrating wind. Goll, if this is so bad, I hate to think what the middle of winter will be like.
We visited Folke, but just watched tennis. He still wants to come to church and will try. I hope he makes it, he's a good man. We then visited with Vivianne Iwarsson, who wasn't feeling so good. She's having problems with her back. She seems very positive. She even said that she would like to be married (if and when) in the Mormon church, and we talked with her about marriage for eternity in the temple. We think we can get both of them coming along soon.
Sat Oct 7
We stayed in later today and rearranged our schedule for today because we were going into Gammelstad. We decided to take something to Pia, so I cooked, or should I say, burned some brownies. We took the best of them. We found out that today was her name day. People used to give presents to someone on their name day here in Sweden, so it went real good. We then took the bus into Gammelstad and visited a relative of E. Eriksson's to ask about family genealogy. He referred us to a neighbor who has done quite a bit with genealogy. So we visited him a little while, and then walked out to Sis. Tapani's. We talked with her and her husband who isn't a member, but just had discussions 1 and 2 last night. We're all hoping for him. They were so nice and drove us home.
Sun Oct 8
The whole day today was spent at church. We didn't plan on it, but Sis. Näslund had a correlation meeting after church, and we didn't get home til 20 to 9. Sis. Larsen gave a good talk in Sacrament meeting. She based it on an example of a blind man that Jesus healed. The people wanted to know how he was healed, so in court he told all and was criticized for it. His parents knew Jesus had healed him, but wouldn't say because of the pressure. She likened these people to 3 different kinds of people today: those who know, believe and are not ashamed; those who know but are pressured to be ashamed; and those who won't believe and won't listen.
We helped Robert change their car tires after church.
Mon Oct 9
A normal P-day We taught a 1st in Erikslund and visited Sis. Bäcklund, who had a nummy tårta.
Tues Oct 10
I felt so stupid an bad because I slept in this morning, and because of that I've made up a schedule for me to follow every day. We received the film "The First Vision" today. We tried to arrange something so we could show it to Pia and Erika, but didn't work out. We talked to Vivianne Iwarsson and her man for a while, too.
Wed Oct 11
When tracting today, we decided to say something else in our door approaches. We said "We are representatives for the Lord Jesus Christ" or "we are authorized representatives for the Lord Jesus Christ." We got a couple of second looks from people when we said that. It feels good to be able to say that and know that it's true.
We visited Westfall o Qvick today. She seems closer to it than he is, but isn't convinced. We felt the spirit there.
Thurs Oct 12
Tonight was the big night. We held a WWA at Bäcklunds and showed the film "The First Vision". We took (or went with) Vivianne Iwarsson and her man Westerlund. It ended up that there was more people there than we thought would be, but that was good. Bro. Bäcklund played doctor with about 4 of them before we saw the film. We were having problems with the film. The projector ate it up, and when we showed it, it still wasn't smooth running. E. Eriksson opened up by telling a little about the film, and we then had a prayer. It was good to see it again. I don't know what kind of an affect it had on the others, but I think it helped Vivianne and her man.
After the film, E. Eriksson and I bore our testimonies and then I was almost worried when Sis. Bäcklund began saying that she knows it happened, because she and Bro. Bäcklund have had like experiences. I really think they have had a lot of spiritual experiences, but I wonder about them telling other people who are not so strong believers. But anyway, it went good for Iwarsson o Westerlund, and Vivianne said that she'll come to the dedication of the Luleå chapel on Saturday.
Fri Oct 13
Oh no, Friday the 13th! Actually nothing went wrong. It was, rather, a good day. I got in the mail a "Transfer of Assignment" form the Mission President that said I am now and equal companion. But I don't think it'll change much. I've always thought I was, but this just means I can lead the discussion now. I also got in the mail a crazy and good tape from Dave (Shipp). It's been a while since I heard from him last and it was good to hear him (even if his voice did raise up to a Mickey Mouse level because of the bad tape on the back side). He's a great pal, I really love him. I wonder sometimes why we're such good friends when we only knew each other as friends 3 months before he went on his mish.
Sis. Näslund held a spökfest (spook party) in her parents cabin for all of the youth in GUF and the missionaries. One of the Assistants, Elder Nelson, came with us while the other two and Elder Dirlam went to go teach Herr Tapani. One girl read a spook story and we all played "Murder in the Dark" and then ate refreshments. The other 3 came later, after quite a bit of worrying on the side of Sis. Näslund.
Sat Oct 14
Today was the big day for the dedication of the Luleå chapel. Elder Eriksson and I just barely caught a train in to Luleå at 8:30, Elder Eriksson wanted to practice on the organ. At 11:30 am we had a team meeting with the Assistants and the President. E. Eriksson and I gave a presentation on "Tips for giving out Books of Mormon." They thought we were good at it, just because we had luck and gave out 9 the week before.
The President gave a good talk and made me feel bad about doing OP things like listening to music and writing to Elder Romrell. I guess I'm going to have to quit writing to him, even though I can't really see anything wrong with it.
We then crammed 7 of us in the Assistant's car and they took us to Elder Dirlam and Porters where we ate pizza (first time I had pineapple on pizza!) We had just enough time to eat and then run out and catch the bus. E. eriksson needed to be there early to play the organ for the dedication, so when we got off the bus in town, we, with stomachs full of pizza, ran to the chapel. Ugh!
The dedication was real nice. There was more people in that chapel than I've ever seen. A lot of leaders were there and spoke you could feel the strength of all the priesthood bearers and the spirit was strong. Me and Elder Dirlam joined the choir singing "O Min Fader" (Oh My Father). The President then gave a good dedicatory prayer. We stuffed bullar and kakor with saft down our throats after that. So nummy!