What a crazy week and a half! Being sick and Christmas and all the things!
We really started feeling the Christmas Spirit on Tuesday Dec. 16th when we went to a wonderful Jul concert. A member in the ward is a music teacher at a music school here in Trollhättan. Their concert was...AMAZING! So many talented young people! They even did a Lucia part, so we got to experience that too. They sang Swedish songs and English songs and it was just wonderful! That Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling really, really sick. Debatably the worst cold that I have had in my life, so we stayed in so that I could rest up and get better. I slept quite a bit and did language study things. We started to get real bored, so we made a checkers board (medicine vs. make-up)...too funny! That Friday we had a zone conference with the Göteborg Zone (mine) and the Malmö zone (south of us). It was wonderful and very spiritually uplifting. I learned a lot and it was exactly what I needed. Plus, I got to see some of the Elders from my MTC group and it was great to catch up with them and discover that we are all experiencing the same struggles as being new missionaries.
Our ward party was last Saturday. Have I mentioned how perfect Christmas is in Sweden? We had a julbord (think like Thanksgiving Dinner, but with traditional Swedish Christmas foods) and just sat and talked with people and had people sing. It was perfect. Our ward is absolutely the best! Sunday, the 21st, was the shortest day of the year. The sun rose at 8:57 and set at 3:20. It only gets longer from here! We only had Sacrament meeting, but there were some beautiful, beautiful musical numbers. I just sat there and thought about how lucky I was to be in Sweden with all these people that are so wonderful and so happy, I almost cried! I was just so full of love for them! Then, they did even more and gave us Christmas presents! That sounds so lame that that matters to me, but just the thought that the ward members were thinking of the missionaries in all of the craziness of Christmas was really touching.
Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow. It was so cool to walk around Stan (the main part of the city) and see everyone out doing last minute Christmas things. The sun was out and so many people were smiling. It just made me so happy! We got to talk to many people and they were warmer than usual because they were definitely feeling the Spirit of Christmas which, in reality, is the Spirit of Christ, even if they didn't know it.
Christmas in Sweden is kind of a big deal. The 24th is when they really celebrate Christmas. They have a julbord and invite lots of people over. They also have this hour of disney cartoons that plays every year. It is the same every year and has clips of the disney classics like Cinderalla, Donald Duck, Ferdinand, Mickey Mouse, Bambi, Snow White, etc. We spent the morning with 2 members, Gerd and Christer. They are absolutely the best! They made up baskets for people with chocolate and sweets and such then we got to help them pass them out to ward members and friends. It just made me so happy! I just felt like there wasn't enough room in my heart for all that love and joy. So perfect! Then we went to another member's, Christine's, for the rest of the day. We had our julbord then chilled for the day. On the 25th, we were also at Christine's. We opened our gifts and it was lovely. Syster Sorensen also did a lot and put together a Thanksgiving style dinner for us. It was quite nice, especially because I wasn't in America to celebrate. I also got to skype with my family! It was so good to seem them and get to talk with them, express gratitude to them, and share my testimony with them. So much happiness!
Today was yet another Christmas day for Sweden. We were again with Gerd and Christer. We helped them make some treats then stopped by more friends and members. They are just the best and they do so much for us! I hope to be able to help the missionaries in the future like they help us!
I have been thinking a lot about the gift of Christ lately and about how everyone needs it. It is really the greatest gift that Heavenly Father has given us. As I read the Christmas story from the Bible this Christmas Eve (per family tradition), I was thinking about how I would like to give Him something this year. I have yet to decide what it is, but it will have to be something great because He deserves all, yet expects so little. I would encourage each of you to take some time and think about this year and what you can give to Him so that you can grow closer to Him and Heavenly Father.
Love you lots,