Monday, January 26, 2015

"He gives away Book of Mormons like candy!" Trollhättan Week 9

I thought it would start getting warmer soon...I was wrong. But Sweden with snow is gorgeous! Just absolutely gorgeous! The countryside is just perfect with snow! 

It seems like this week wasn't all that exciting, so I'm just going to write about what missionaries do in general. Some of you have expressed interest in knowing what my days look like, so, here you go.

6:30 AM- Wake up. Same time everyday. We pray, exercise for 30 minutes, get ready, eat breakfast, etc.
8:00 AM- Personal Study. I always start with a prayer. I have been studying the Book of Mormon and have actually just started on the Old Testament. I also like to read from Preach My Gospel and sometimes from the church magazines. Focusing on the doctrines of the lessons we teach is really the best thing to do, so I am going to start doing that better.
9:00 AM- Companionship Study. We pray together, read from the Missionary Handbook, recite the First Vision in Swedish, then discuss what we learned in personal study and plan for our lessons for the day. We always have good gospel discussions during this time.
10:00 AM- Language Study. I usually read from the Book of Mormon in Swedish for 30 minutes then do some grammar and vocabulary study for another 30 minutes. Sometimes we tell each other stories in Swedish.
11:00 AM- 12 Week. It is really just more companion study that new missionaries do in their first 12 weeks. We watch videos of other missionaries and practice teaching each other.
12:00 PM- We either do lunch or we leave the apartment at this time. Last thing we do before leaving the apartment is pray. From 12-9 we do a variety of things from teaching lessons to contacting to visiting members, etc. Our area here is pretty big, so we also spend quite a bit of time on the bus or on trains each day.
9:00 PM- Back into our apartment. We pray then do daily planning in which we discuss the day and what we are doing tomorrow. After, we get ready for bed then pray.
10:30 PM- Sleep. 

Some days we have other things like District Meetings with other missionaries or Church or Preparation days, etc. Each day is an adventure! We talk to people from all around the world and I have really learned a lot from the different peoples and cultures that we have come in contact with. Yet, every day of my life, I am grateful for the place that I come from. So many people here wish that they could live in America and nearly everyone is trying to learn English. It is crazy to think about! 

Probably one of the most important things that we do everyday is pray. And we pray a lot! Prayer is really the best way to communicate with Heavenly Father. He listens to us and cares about each of us individually. He knows me perfectly and he knows each of you perfectly too. He cares about your life! He really wants you to be happy! He is always, always there for us and all we have to do is pray. I have seen the power of prayer in my life, especially here on the mission. Prayers are really answered, maybe not when or how we want them to be, but He knows what is best for us and wants to bless us more than we can imagine. I really know that to be true.

Syster Sarah Griffes

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"If my house was a museum, I'm old enough to be a part of the museum!" Trollhättan Week 8

This weeks weather report: It has been around 32 degrees fahrenheit with some snow, but most precipitation is rain. We are almost to the point where we get a good 7 hours of sunlight, but usually it is too overcast to actually see the sun. It's like a beautiful miracle every time the sun does come out!

Last week for Preparation day, we headed to IKEA with our district. It was Syster Sorensen and I then 10 elders. They are hilarious, but pretty ridiculous too. On Tuesday we had lunch with some members that told us a story about when our chapel here in Trollhättan was being built. There was a huge storm coming and that would have been really bad for the work they were doing (not sure why exactly, they were telling us in Swedish), so they got together and said a prayer and the storm literally parted around the chapel grounds. Like storming all around, but not where the building was. Miracles still happen today! It is so cool how Heavenly Father provides for His work to be done. We also stopped by the older Swede for some service. Syster Sorensen told her that she has so many nice things that her house could be a museum and she said, "If my house was a museum, I'm old enough to be a part of the museum!" It was hysterical. 

On Wednesday we had dinner with our Macedonian investigator. It was some kind of Macedonian holiday, so she made a ton of really good food. We got to meet two of her grandsons and her great-grandson who is four. He really liked my watch and kept telling me that it is "jätte fint" (which means like very nice). :) Children are hilarious! 

Thursday was an adventure. We took the bus up to Uddevalla (about a 40 minute bus ride) and visit a really nice less active who is 90 years old. Her husband is 100! Insane! She was really funny and loves missionaries. Then we met up with the Bishop and his daughter and they drove us over to Ellös (about an hour car ride). In order to get there, we had to take a car ferry across a river. So that can be crossed off my non-existent bucket list now too. Not going to lie, I think the whole ferry thing is pretty unnecessary. Bridges people! Bridges are much better! The ferry only goes twice an hour, so we had to wait for about 20 minutes before we could go. But, when in Sweden, I guess. We taught a non-member and his member wife about agency and faith. They are very, very kind and made us dinner. They pretty much live in the middle of nowhere, but from what they said it is beautiful there during the summer. Too bad I probably won't be here then to see it! We easily traveled for a good 4 hours today... So much time on buses! 

On Friday we had Zone Training in Göteborg. It is always hilarious listening to the Elders' running commentary of what the Zone Leaders say. The training was also very uplifting and got me thinking about how I can use time more effectively and really give all my heart, mind, might, and strength to this work. We read a short story called, "The Room" (by Joshua Harris) with an investigator later that day. It is about the Atonement and gets me crying almost every time. Go look it up on the internet! It is so good!

Saturday was the first week of Innebandy. It is like floor hockey and is a really popular sport here in Sweden. We invited members and investigators to come then had dinner afterwards. I can now officially cross that off the bucket list too. It was pretty fun, but for those of you who really know me, I'm pretty bad at sports, so it was pretty funny to watch, I'm sure :)

On Sunday I attempted to translate to our Indian investigator during Sacrament meeting. Oh, it was really rough! The poor guy! He said it was good though, but I know that he was just being nice. We had a lesson with him at a member's house. It was absolutely perfect and the Spirit was very strong. Members are essential to missionary work, I just know it!

This week I have been learning a lot about the power of your attitude. It really is our decision each and every day what kind of day it will be. I can decide to let myself be tired and grumpy or I can decide that today will be a great day, regardless of how tired I am or how many things don't go as planned. All it really takes is one simple decision, but we have to actually make that decision. Heavenly Father did not send us to this earth to be miserable, He sent us here to have happiness, we just have to let ourselves find that happiness that He has in store. It's a quest of a lifetime, but we have to take it one day at a time.

Med Kärlek,
Syster Sarah Griffes

Monday, January 12, 2015

"10 Points to Gryffindor!" Trollhättan Week 7

This. Week. Was. Crazy! But so legit all at the same time.

You know what's great? Preparation day naps! They just make everything so wonderful :) Also, we went tracting for the first time (that just means that we knock on people's doors to tell them about the Gospel). It was just one door, but that is now off of my mission bucket list (this list does not actually exist, but maybe I should make one now)

Tuesday was great! We had planned to meet with a member, but they forgot so we went and contacted a few people and dropped by some less actives and such. Best part of the day? One of our investigators is from Macedonia and they celebrate Christmas there on December 6th, so we had Christmas dinner with her and her family. It was spectacular. Syster Sorensen and I sang "How Great Thou Art" for them because they asked us to sing. Next time, we will be picking a different song that we can actually harmonize to :)

Wednesday was Church watch and lots of lessons. One of our investigators is an old, sweet Swedish lady who gets funnier everytime we go. This time she was talking to us about how much my Swedish has improvement and she laughed about how the first time we went I said absolutely nothing. Which is true, her Swedish is difficult to understand!

Thursday we went to some members houses. At one house, the sons are not members, so we made a deal where we play cards with them (well, just the 10 year old) then they have to sit and listen to a story from the Scriptures. This time we chose to tell/read the story of Ammon from The Book of Mormon (Alma 17) where Ammon cuts off the bad guys arms. At one point I said something about the lamanites and the boy says, "Did you just say the lemonades? Are they called the Lemonades?" So funny! He also told us about how Ammon shouldn't have cut off the arms because, "Isn't that illegal?!" We were cracking up so bad!

Friday we had district meeting down in Göteborg. That city is just absolutely beautiful! It is pretty big for Sweden standards, but it really doesn't seem big at all. Our district has lots of new people. It's nice because I am no longer the youngest missionary in the group :) The Elders noticed that my last name kind of sounds like Gryffindor, so they call me that sometimes. Perfect! I love Harry Potter!

Saturday was lots of random lessons. We went to a lady who we met on the bus one day whose ancestry is from Kenya, but she is from Detroit, Michigan, but has lived in Sweden for almost her whole life. She. Is. Hilarious! Like so so so funny! We cracked up so bad! She told us this story about some guy in Sweden that acted like he was paralyzed and got a lot of aid from the Government then there was a fire in the hospital he was in and he just jumped up and forgot that he was supposed to be paralyzed. We really just died!

Church this Sunday was a lot better than usual. I could understand lots more and it was really great. The struggle is that if I ever zone out I am completely, totally lost and sometimes there is no returning. Hahaha, it gets better all the time. The real highlight of the day was when we taught our investigator that is getting baptized this month. We finished up the lessons and then 2 members, the investigator, Syster Sorensen, and I bore testimony on how we came to know that the Church was true. It was wonderful and spiritual and I definitely cried. By the way, speaking Swedish is almost impossible when one is crying. Terrible! Just Terrible!

Great scripture I read and loved this week from Alma 26: 35-36

Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light

Best wishes and lots of love,
Syster Sarah Griffes
A Servant of the Lord

Trollhättan Week 7 Pictures

1. The sky was so gorgeous that day!
2. My first (and, so far, only) house tracted
3. Sometimes we have to bring fruit to District Meeting, so Syster Sorensen carries it in her backpack

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gott Nytt År! Trollhättan Week 6

Hej hej! 

After Christmas, we were back to a few days of normal. Saturday, December 27th was pretty busy. We taught 5 lessons on everything from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Restoration to the Plan of Salvation. It was a pretty great, very busy day. Those days are really my favorite. That Sunday we spent some time visiting less actives and dropping off notes and treats to some of our investigators that are sick. We had planned to go visit some people in Uddevalla, about 45 minutes away, but our plans fell through, so we scrambled to find things to do instead. We also had dinner with a great family here in Trollhättan. 

Monday was not p-day, it was just a normal day. We planned to go visit an investigator in Henån (about an hour away by car) with a member that would drive us, but we got halfway there and had not gotten a firm yes that she could meet. So, we went to Ikea for some language study and lunch, then headed back to Trollhättan. We taught some new investigators about the Restoration then we visited a member that was sick in the hospital and shared a short message.

Highlight of Tuesday: our lesson with an investigator from Ghana. He has an immense faith and a crazy cool knowledge of the Bible. As he was teaching us about some things, he said, "The devil is prowling around like a tiger, my dear" It was perfect in his African accent. 

Wednesday was New Year's Eve (Nyårsafton). We proselyted until 5 (lunch with a member, a long lesson with an investigator) then went to a member's house for the evening. We were allowed to stay out until 12:30 (which is crazy because every other day we have to be back in our apartment by 9), so we had dinner with them, played some games, and watched fireworks. And when I say watched fireworks I do not mean that we sat at the edge of a lake or a field and watch the city people put them off. I'm talking anyone above the age of 18 can buy fireworks, legit fireworks that go high in the sky and make loud noises. So we're out in this park area near some apartments and EVERYONE is shooting off fireworks. It was like a war zone! So crazy, we could probably see at least 12 people shooting them off at any given minute and hear way more than that. It was pretty cool though!

New Years day was our p-day. Friday was back to normal with visiting some investigators and taught some lessons. Funnily enough, we saw 3 investigators on the bus that day, which never happens. Saturday was slower. The holidays are not the best time for missionaries here in Sweden. Everyone is out of town and no one wants to have us over when the entire family is there. Excited to go back to normality!

On Sunday I again realized that I really need to get learning Swedish. Church is always the hardest with that because we spend a good 4 hours only speaking and listening to Swedish. It's rough, but it is definitely getting better. Syster Sorensen says that everyone can understand what I say, which is great! I just really need to buckle down in the second half of my time training and really learn Swedish. It will come, it will just be a process!

One of my favorite moments of everyday is during personal study when I put on my nametag. I literally and symbolically take Christ's name on me everyday. It reminds me how important this work is that I am doing, but also who I represent. I remind myself throughout the day that this Work is not about me, it is about those here in Sweden that need me and my influence. It is about the Savior, for this is His work afterall. 

Sweden Fun Facts
-You have to pay for most public restrooms
-Most public restrooms do not have stalls, but rather small little individual bathrooms with sinks and everything
-You cannot give people live flowers in the hospital
-Swedish currency is called Kronos. The exchange rate is about 7-8 kronos for every US Dollar. 
-Everything in Sweden is ridiculously expensive. Except for fruit and vegetables which are, ironically, pretty cheap compared to the US
-Every person in Sweden, whether citizen or resident, has a personnummer. It's like a social security number except you can give your number away to other people and people can look it up online. Crazy, but I guess no one can steal your identity with your personnummer (which is good because I wrote it on a package I sent to my family today)
-Christmas is not truly over yet. The celebrate Trettondedag jul (the 13th day after Christmas) tomorrow and I heard something about the 20th day after Christmas next week... it never ends!

Med kärlek, 
Syster Sarah Griffes