Saturday, April 16, 2016
Before I truly begin, I would like to invite all of you to get on Google or YouTube or something and look up the song "Homeward Bound" by Vocal Point. I got sent an MP3 of it a while back and it is SO GOOD!
I cannot believe that I am sitting here right now writing this email...How could 18 months go by so fast?! But at the same time, it feels like I somehow fit a whole lifetime into these 18 short months.
In all honesty, I never wanted to serve a mission growing up. It was one of those, "I'll go if I must, but otherwise, not for me." I was fully expecting to be the first in the Griffes clan to not serve and I was totally okay with it. Don't get me wrong, I always looked up to my siblings and all the missionaries (past and present), but I didn't think I could do it. I was scared! 18 months is a long time! And what if I went to a foreign country and had to learn a new language? Did I really want to put everything else on hold for the time I was gone? There were lots of questions and lots of fears before. It is funny because if I look back two years from today, I was not planning on serving. But, all along, the Lord had been preparing me to serve a mission for Him. He was placing the right people in my path and putting me in the right place at the right time. I prayed lots about whether serving a mission was right or not, but decided that it was. By the time I made that decision, I actually wanted to go. I got to the point where I knew that I would be devastated if I didn't go. So, I acted in faith and turned in my papers.
Moment of honesty: I didn't know much about Sweden when I got my call. I kid you not, I spent hohen I got my call to SWEDENurs researching it the day after I got my call. But the cool thing was that the moment I read that I was called to serve as a missionary and assigned to the Sweden Stockholm Mission, I knew it was right. All fears aside, I knew that I needed to be there. And oh, how I have learned that is true since that time.
I have loved my mission. I do not think that words can completely explain just how much my mission has been a blessing in my life already and I know that it will continue to bless me daily. I learned things out here in the field that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I don't think that I could ever really explain my mission to anyone else. The longer I am here, the more that I can see that my mission really is between me and the Lord. I could never help anyone else understand how it felt and everything that it means to me. I could never explain how I have grown and the love that I have for the people here.
Out of all of the many things that I have learned, the most important are these:
Heavenly Father loves me. He loves you. Literally everything that we have here is a witness of that love. He knows you by name; He knows your thoughts and the desires of your heart. And He loves you, nonetheless. I know this! I have felt just a portion of His love for those around me in the time that I have been here. The more I know about the world, the more I know that He is there. He is our Father. I know that He listens to us when we pray to Him. I know that He is always there and that He answers our prayers. But I also know that He knows best, so the next time a prayer isn't answered in the way you think it should be, remember that He is in charge, you just have to give Him the reins.
Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is your Savior. He is our Savior. He is truly the Son of God. And thanks to that Divine Identity, He was able to perform the Atonement. The Atonement is about more than just bad to good, it is good to better. He suffered for our sins, transgressions, sorrows, pains, all of it. He is always there and He truly understands us and everything that we go through because He has been there before. We can rely on Jesus Christ through every step in life. He is our Hope! Without Him, there is no purpose in life, there is no way to move forward and become better. But Because of Him, we have endless potential and opportunities. He loves you and is always there. This is His Work, this is His Gospel, this is His Church. I am so grateful for the time that I have had serving side-by-side with Him in His Garden.
Love you all dearly. See you on the other side :)
Monday, April 11, 2016
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Went on splits with Syster Jackson in Trollhättan this week. LOVE HER! She is just the funniest person on the planet! They have a nice balcony on their apartment and a pigeon laid eggs in a box on the balcony. They have been waiting for the eggs to hatch for a while now. We woke up on Wednesday morning and the pigeons made a noise, so she ran out and said this in the most American accent in the world. There is no good translation....Direct translation- "Does there exist a body of flesh and blood?" (like...is there a body?). Needless to say...way funnier if you were there...but none of you were :)
-The days are just kind of melting together now. Syster Bateman and I have been having a really hard time getting in contact with people to meet because everyone is just really busy. Lots of contacting and swing-bys this past week :)
-Syster Bateman is a gem and planned out my whole birthday. It was a huge party on p-day. We went out to my favorite Swedish-Italian restaurant and had dinner with an American family that I love :)
-Splits in Trollhättan was so good! Got to see lots of people that I know and love. Plus, a day with Syster Jackson is always so good! She is so insightful and helpful. We talked about lots of things like what she should do when she trains, how I feel about going home, everything in between.
-District Meeting this week was on Spiritual Gifts and how we all have some that are just a part of our very being. But there are others that we can develop as we work and pray.
-Our Nigerian investigator invited a friend to meet with us! Doing missionary work before he is even a member, he inspires me!
-And of course...general conference was this weekend! I love General conference! We have the magnificent opportunity to listen to prophets and apostles every six months and hear direction from Heavenly Father for us today. I am getting so much out of it! I LOVE CONFERENCE! The Church in ancient times was, "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner" and that is how the Church is built today too. We receive revelation today just as in times of old. The Heavens are Open! Heavenly Father loves all of His children and wants to speak to us even today!
Love you all dearly!
The link for conference:
Monday, March 28, 2016
Quote of the week is from Syster Jackson. Syster Bateman and I were out shopping with Syster Hall and Syster Jackson last Monday and we saw a giant teddy bear. She is so funny, I wish you all could meet her!
Pretty good week:
-Had dinner at the Bishop's house. He is French, but we all spoke English because 1. I do not speak French. And 2. There was an American family there too. It was really a lovely time and we shared the new Easter video because you know...Easter! It was good and we had a nice discussion on how Christ and the Atonement have changed our daily lives.
-Spent a lot of time doing swing-bys and contacting this week. Pounding the pavement every day :)
-Met with our Swedish investigator a few times this week. She is doing well. We talked about how we just need to move forward with faith, ignore temptation, and trust in the Lord. We shared a clip from the talk, "Cast not away therefore your confidence" by Elder Holland. That is one of my all-time favorite talks :) She is so ready to be baptized!
-Shared the Easter video with as many people as we possibly could this week! I love it!
-On Friday, we had my last ever zone conference. It was just a roller coaster of emotions! I bore my final testimony. Every missionary going home does that, it is just weird to think that I am done with it now. I talked about how much the mission has changed me, but the biggest change has been that my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has been strengthened so much. It was a very sad day too because I had to say goodbye to some missionaries that I have come to love so much! These people mean the world to me! I held it together until they were all gone, then I totally balled my eyes out for a good 20 minutes. It just hurts my heart to know that my time here is finishing! I just love this place and all these people! But Heavenly Father needs me back home. And I have family and friends there too!
-Service Saturday was a success this week. Zucchinis were like 5 kronor each, so we got a bunch and made zucchini bread then went by members and shared them. It was way fun and we talked to lots of people on the way.
-Easter Sunday was a stellar day. All 8 of the missionaries (2 sisters, 4 elders, and a senior couple) sang "I Stand All Amazed" in Sacrament Meeting. Strong Spirit :) We were invited to a member's house for Easter and had a lovely time with their family. Then we all participated in an Easter Concert that night. Lots of people came and the Spirit really testified to me of the reality of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. He lives! And He loves YOU!
Love you all,
Monday, March 21, 2016
Quote is from Elder Mecham. We say a group of teenagers wearing mostly black. Swedes wear SO MUCH BLACK! It has rubbed off on me a little... :)
-We can definitely start with last Monday. For P-day, Syster Bateman and I took a bike ride ALL OVER GÖTEBORG! We literally biked like 14.5 KM (if my math is right, that might be about 9 miles). It was SO FUN! We made a list of 9 different churches in the city and went to all of them. The sun was shining, it was warm, just a perfect day! We had a blast and we were so tired and sore after :) But I would do it again in a heartbeat. Fun fact, you can actually rent bikes here in the city and drop them off at any of the bike stations all over the city. We didn't do it because we have bikes, BUT if you ever make it to Göteborg, I would definitely suggest that. Another suggestion: do not do it on a Monday because most of the Churches are closed then... :) But the outside of the Churches are beautiful ändå (anyway)
-Almost all of our plans fell through on Tuesday, so we spent lots of time contacting. It was actually really fun and successful (not always so... :) Many good conversations, showed the Påsk (Easter) film with many people. It was sunny and beautiful. We had dinner that night with a wonderful member family. The Spirit is so strong and present in their home! I love them :)
-Had lunch at a member's house on Wednesday with her and one of her friends. It was way fun and we got to teach the Restoration to her. So good! We also had a lesson with one of our Swedish investigators and invited her to be baptized. She feels like the time is right and is preparing to do so :)
-Thursday was all with members, active, less active, and new. It was a stellar day!
-Friday, we had district meeting. We have it at the YSA Center and another district in the area has it same place, same time, so we all go out to lunch together after. The Elders' new favorite thing to do is to ask me questions about things that make me trunky (which means that I am longing/desperate to go home). It cracks me up! I then went on splits to Jönköping with Syster Wilson. She is from Australian and just hilarious. A really great missionary with the potential to make a huge difference in this mission. Her mom is actually from Sweden, so this is another home to her. I wish I could stay longer to see all of the miracles she will be a part of :)
-Saturday was traveling back and weekly planning. Sunday we had a lovely block of Church, a member dinner, then contacting and dinner. I love missionary work!
Been thinking lots lately and having many conversations with different people about different things (many of them are about going home, but I promise that I am still focused here!). One thing that I have thought lots about is who I want to be when I go back. I have learned so many things and changed in many ways, I just want to keep getting better! It made me think of the quote by Dr. Seuss, "Be who you are and say what you feel, for those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." I am me and that is who Heavenly Father needs me to be. Don't spend time trying to be someone that you are not. Always progress and become the very best person that YOU can be. Heavenly Father has great plans for you, individually :) I know that because I have seen it every day of my time on my mission and very day in my entire life. I am so blessed!
Love you lots!
Syster Sarah Griffes