Sunday, March 29, 2015

Till we meet... - Trollhättan Week 18

Easter is coming! I love it! Here is a link to the lovely new website and video that we have been sharing with people for Easter.

#BecauseHeLives I can share the message of the Gospel with Sweden and show them that He lives and loves them. And I love it with all my heart!

Last Monday for P-day, Syster Hoke and I went with couple elders to a pretty legit kids museum called Universium. Really neat, but maybe not worth the price for us 18 and 19 year olds. Fun, nonetheless. On Tuesday, we visited a less active then headed over to Ellös (near the coast) with a member couple to visit our investigator that lives there. The drive is wonderful! We accidentally missed a turn, so we ended up on the coast of Western Sweden in a town called Grundsund. Oh, it was so pretty! The houses there are lovely colors and the sun was shining and it was pretty marvelous. The lesson was great too. The members really help out and our investigator is getting ready for his baptism in 2 weeks :) 

The rest of the week was pretty normal, but a pretty slow week. Lessons, member dinners, less active drop-bys, all that jazz. Saturday was my 20th birthday. To celebrate we...Did missionary work! Hahaha, we also had innebandy, in which a member made a delicious cake. We had lunch at Truly Indian with our investigator that is Indian with our hands, in Indian style :) Valuable things I have learned on my mission include how to eat like an Indian :D Syster Hoke did a lots of really nice things for my birthday, like decorating our apartment and coordinating so that our district members called and all that jazz. She's the bomb.com! (I accidently used the phrase "all that jazz" twice in a paragraph...what is my life coming to?!?)

On Sunday, we had a lovely Church meeting. During Sunday school, we taught a less active member who hasn't been to church in like 23 years, but wants to come back now. So cool! I love when people remember how much the Gospel means to them! It means EVERYTHING to me! We also had dinner with 2 member couples and an investigator, had a lesson, and visited another member family. A good Sabbath Day :)

I really hate goodbyes. Like I really, really hate them. I know that it is really just a "See you later!" but it still stinks. By now, you probably know that I am getting transferred. On Friday at District Meeting, our zone leaders told our whole district (15 missionaries) who all was transferring. On Wednesday April 1, I will be transferring to Örebro. Don't know much about the place, but I have heard many good things (for example, the ward is big with about 120 active members!) and I am looking forward to new experiences.

I, however, am not looking forward to leaving Trollhättan. Syster Hoke laughs sometimes because I often say that I love things with my entire heart. And I really do love Trollhättan with my entire heart! This is where I started my journey as a missionary. Where I learned Swedish (okay, so it is still a learning process), I was trained, I learned what missionaries do, I grew as a person and as a missionary, etc. I learned to love our investigators and really care for and pray for them. I learned to give my all. From the ward, I learned to serve with everything that I have. To love and seek out the ONE that needs me now. I told Syster Hoke when she first came that Trollhättan was a Zion on earth and I will firmly hold to that. True, it is not perfect, the people are not perfect, but to me, it is perfect. Absolutely perfect. I know that Trollhättan is exactly where Heavenly Father needed me to be for other people and exactly where I needed to be to learn the lessons that I learned. I am really not looking forward to saying goodbye to this place and all of these people (I have already said goodbye to quite a few), but it is time. I know it, I feel that a new adventure with new joys and challenges is awaiting, just a 3.5 hour train ride away :)

With Love,
Syster Sarah Griffes



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Trollhättan Week 18

1. Our District (minus the Alingsås Elders)
2. Syster Hoke, our Indian investigator, and I after having lunch at Truly Indian on my birthday
3. I have no idea why this is a thing, but for Easter (Påsk), the Swedes have branches with feathers on it for decorations
4. The sign for our Church :D 



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Monday, March 23, 2015

A Letter and a Lesson in Swedish- Trollhättan Week 17

Dearest Family and Friends,

I thought it was getting into warmer weather, but, alas, today we are back to thick coats and hats. It snowed last night and it is way wet too. Hoping for Spring weather to come back soon! And the sun, I miss the sun even though it has only been about 3 days. 

Last Monday for p-day, we played laser tag with about 20 other missionaries. It was way fun and I am ridiculously terrible at laser tag. Like so terrible I was 2nd to last and ended up with -2000 points :D It was fun, nonetheless. Plus, randomly running into a group of the other team to see how long it takes until you get shot is pretty fun too :) We also went to lunch and visited an old church before heading back to Trollhättan and visiting some members. 

Tuesday we had lunch with the Relief Society President. She is a really great example of charity and love. She is so willing to do anything for anyone! Then we visited a member that has broken her shoulder. We chatted with her and another member that is helping her out for a while and talked about Gratitude and how we can find good things in each and every day. It's so true! There is good to find, we just have to take the time to look! We then met with an investigator and read Mosiah 2 and talked about Obedience and how Heavenly Father blesses us when we do the things we ask. It's evident every where in the Book of Mormon! I just finished the Book of Mormon in English and, this time through, I highlighted all of the if-then statements and all of the commandment-blessing statements too. It is really cool to see all the blessings that Heavenly Father promises His worthy children. 

On Wednesday we walked a ton, a ton! We dropped by less actives and gave them cookies. While doing that, we spent about 15 minutes looking for a less active's address which doesn't exist. Sometimes I feel more like a detective than a missionary :) We visited some new converts. I love this couple so much! They are around 75 years old and are so precious together. They support each other and are always there, I love it! We then met with an investigator and started teaching the commandments. It is really cool because he just says things like, "Yes, this is how it should be." I love it! He is so prepared for the Gospel! We then had a lesson with 2 less actives and taught them the Restoration. It amazes me how quickly we forget something when we don't think about it and study it often. That's why conversion isn't a one time thing, it is continuous. Every single day, striving to learn more and be more. 

Thursday was pretty packed. We talked to an investigator about God and how we can know Him through prayer. Then we visited the member whose shoulder is broken and went on a walk with her. We talked about the temple and how much of a blessing it is in our lives. We went and had lunch with a member in Vänersborg and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ for practice. This member is so, so sweet! She thinks of everyone and always asks what she can do to help and prays for our investigators by name and all the good things. I just love her! We dropped by some members and played a card game with their son because we made a deal with him that if we play cards, we get to teach him. :) Compromising is a valuable lesson :) We taught him about Prophets. Finally, we visited an investigator and taught her and her granddaughter about prophets and invited them to watch general conference in two weeks. So excited!

Friday was district meeting then we visited an investigator and talked about lots of things from the Book of Mormon to the Atonement to how we received our testimonies. It was lovely. We then did some weekly planning. 

Innebandy on Saturday was with 13 players. Most people are getting better, but I'm pretty sure I'm actually getting worse :) That competitive-ness just doesn't run through my missionary veins :) We taught two investigators that day too. 

Back to Sunday, the best day of the week, easily! Church was really good. I can really understand almost everything that goes on and it is a miracle! We had dinner after with an investigator and a member family. I love that family so, so much (I know I've said that about a ton of people, but it is true every time!). We taught about praying, reading the scriptures, and following the prophet. Lovely time, just lovely. Then we talked to an investigator about Christ and how essential he is to us.

Well, transfer calls come this Saturday. I have been in Trollhättan for 3 transfers (about 4.5 months) and I'm thinking it is probably time for me to head on to a new place. I'm feeling it. SO SAD! I don't want to leave this place! I love it so, so much! The people here mean everything to me and I never want to leave, but I know Heavenly Father has a better plan for me (and maybe it includes me staying here, who knows?). The lame thing is that my birthday is also on Saturday, so it will either be a happy day (if I get to stay) or a lame day (if I leave). So, we'll just have to wait and see...

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for: A Lesson in Swedish
Fact of the matter is, Swedish is just a beautiful language! I realized that speaking English is a major league struggle now because Swedish words or Swedish grammar just comes out :) So here are some things that Swedish has that English needs:

-Orkar- care (well kind of like care or like you don't have energy). So one can say, "Jag orkar inte" if they just don't feel like doing something (people say this to us all the time, no surprise)
-Det finns- there is/there exists. You may think that English has this, but it really doesn't in the same way Swedish does. For example, if someone is feeling down, one can say, "Det finns hopp" (there is hope) and it makes a lot more sense than it does in English.
-Jobbigt- "a pain" or something related to that. One can say, "Det är jobbigt" (it is a pain), but it makes more sense than saying that something is a pain. 
Kan- can. But, it means more than just "I can." If one can speak Swedish, one says, "Jag kan svenska" or if someone can play innebandy, one says, "Jag kan innebandy" (I don't think I will ever, ever use this one :) So now I accidently say, " I can English" which makes no sense in English. 

And that has been your short lesson in Swedish. I wish all of you good luck in pronouncing these words :) hahaha, it's really not too bad. 

With Love,
Syster Sarah Griffes
A Servant of the Lord



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Monday, March 16, 2015

(Insert Funny Title) Trollhättan Week 16

Monday and Tuesday were two more sick days for Syster Hoke. I made this scale of insanity in my planner with 1 being "Sane" and 10 being "Totally Lost it" and put myself at a 9.1. We did a whole lot of random secretarial-esque work and Syster Hoke slept a lot.

Wednesday was back to wonderful, amazing, fulfilling MISSIONARY WORK! Oh it was so nice to be out and doing all the things that we normally do! We made cookies during our lunch hour and brought some to a member who recently broke her shoulder then went to our lovely little, old Swedish investigator's house. Again with the random things we do there: this week we sprinkled salt on all the grass patches on the path to her door. We had some Fika (have I ever mentioned how much I love Fika? I think the United States needs it!) and talked about everything that Jesus Christ has done for us. After, we went up to the church and cleaned all the cabinets in the kitchen. We dropped by some members and read Ether 12:27 and talked about overcoming weaknesses. 

On Thursday we visited a less active, tracted, taught a potential investigator, then visited another less active. We took the bus up to Uddevalla then met the Bishop and his daughter to drive to Ellös to a member and her investigator husband's house. The drive there was gorgeous! (the pictures of the week come from this trip). The Swedish countryside is breath-taking! We taught the investigator about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he had a lot of really great lessons. I'm super grateful that the Bishop was there to help out!

We had district meeting on Friday. It was good, we talked about better ways of planning and adjusting more to the needs of the investigators. After, we did some weekly planning then called our 16 year old investigator that lives far away and taught on the phone. We also visited our Serbian/Macedonian investiagor and talked about the importance of prayer and scripture study. David A. Bednar has said something like, "When we want to talk to God, we pray, but when He wants to talk to us, He does so through the scriptures." So true! Answers come when we diligently ask then seek. 

On Saturday we had 10 people at innebandy. We actually played one game with the 3 Swedes against 5 of us non-Swedes....The Swedes still won :) They've been playing Innebandy for like their whole lives...we had no chance! We watched Finding Faith in Christ with an investigator, did some more weekly planning, then taught an investigator the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was way strong and it was a really great lesson

Sunday, oh I love Sunday! There were not very many members or investigators in Church, but it was really nice to sit and listen to all the talks and everything. Spiritual food! We spent the evening visiting old investigators and less active members and tracting. We actually had a 50 minute lesson with a less active right at his door. It was pretty neat just to talk with him about his life and everything. 

I mentioned how we shared Ether 12:27 with a less active family, here is the verse:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." 

I love the natural steps that it shows. 1: Come unto Christ, 2: Humble yourself, 3: Have faith, 4: Weak things become strong. Each step is vital and I have definitely seen that in my life. When we come unto Christ, we can be perfected. The Atonement is not just about cleansing us from sin, it's about helping us become more, helping us to be better, more like Christ. There is this quote that I really like about what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can make us into: "You will only make of you a smudge, He will make of you a masterpiece." When we give Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ everything that we are, everything that we have, They can make us into more than we could ever imagine. I know that this is true because I have seen it in my life and especially on my mission. Only in losing ourselves can we find ourselves. (Luke 9:24)


Med kärlek,
Syster Sarah Griffes



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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trollhättan Week 16

Just two this week from a trip out to an member's house. They live on this Island way over on the west coast of Sweden. The pictures don't do it justice, it was beautiful!



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Monday, March 9, 2015

43 Hours in a Swedish Apartment... Trollhättan Week 15

You know what is great? Sunlight, that's what's great! I think we had 4 whole days of sunlight this week and the sun rises around 6:45 and sets around 18 (or 6 pm). I thought Sweden was pretty with snow, even more beautiful with the sun! And daylight savings time is coming in a few weeks, which is pretty much the best thing (except for the hour less of sleep). Right now it is a balmy 45, the sun is shining, and life is pretty spectacular.

Last Monday for p-day we spent in Göteborg at the YSA Center with all of the missionaries in our District. We ate Pankakor, played games, and just hung around and talked. It is really nice to do that sometimes on p-days. A cool thing happened that evening. We have been teaching this one girl only over the phone (because she lives so far away) for about 3 months now. The first few times, I had no idea what she was even saying, but on Monday, I had a whole hour long conversation with her and even taught the Plan of Salvation and answered all of her questions IN SWEDISH! It was really cool and really allowed me to see how much I have grown in the past few months that I have been here.

Tuesday was a weird day, but sunny! We went to Uddevalla (exactly 31 minutes away from Trollhättan by bus). We visited an old member lady then dropped by a bunch of less actives. None of them were home, so we left cookies and notes. We also made some Banana Bread for the Bishop and his family and we tried to ding-dong-ditch them, but the Bishop's wife caught us when we were walking down the road. Bummer... But good times! After, we headed back to Trollhättan and met with our Indian Investigator and talked about how we can find peace through trials when we rely on the Lord (John 14:27).

On Wednesday, we headed down to Utby at 6:50 AM for a Mission Tour with the Göteborg and Malmö Zones (around 40 missionaries). We had a lovely day of spiritual instruction. We talked a lot about searching for, recognizing, and acting on the Spirit. It was a really good conference and definitely a huge boost for all of us missionaries. I got to spend some time with 3 Elders from the group I was with in the MTC, it was good to catch up with them over lunch. That night, I was on splits with Syster Powell (Syster Hoke was with Syster Spencer in Göteborg for the night). All the trains in Göteborg were canceled like crazy, so we had to wait around in the station for a while. We got home just after 9:30, but some of the missionaries down in Malmö didn't get home until like 2 in the morning! Crazy!

Spent half the day with Syster Powell. We went to a member's house and read Alma 30:44 (about how God is evident in everything). We then went to visit our old lady investigator. She was cleaning a whole bunch of little decoaratory pots, so we helped her out. We actually scrubbed all of them with rags and ketchup...so that was an interesting experience. It actually worked really well! After that, we switched back companions and Syster Hoke and I taught an investigator then had a Relief Society Activity. After, we went to our Macedonian investigator's place for a party. She had a stroke exactly one year ago, so it was kind of a celebration of life. It was so much fun and the food was delicious! It was us and 13 others and they all spoke together in Romani while we just sat and listened. They actually had an entire religious discussion with us in the middle, we just had no idea what they were talking about. I love missionary work! :D

Friday was one of those really tired days (at least one of these happens every week. I'm pretty sure that it is like an unwritten rule of missionary work). We did some weekly planning then went to Vänersborg and taught 2 investigators then taught another back in Trollhättan. All 3 lessons were in Swedish, which almost never happens. I love this language, but sometimes it feels like I will never learn it well because everyone can speak English. I also worry about Swedish dying because, honestly, less than 10 million people live in Sweden and almost all of them can and like to speak English. 

There were 14 people at Innebandy on Saturday! 14! A new record! Syster Hoke had really not been feeling well, so we went in for the day so she could rest and get better. She slept a lot while I studied about the Second Coming and the Millenium, made dinner, cleaned, etc. Turns out Syster Hoke had a fever, so our mission president's wife, Syster Beckstrand, instructed us to stay home and get better. We even didn't go to church on Sunday. I never thought that would happen on my mission! Sunday was really, really long. Still got up at 6:30 and got ready and studied. I spent 3 hours doing some secretary-like work with a bunch of forms and lists. Then I read from Mormons Bok (only 30 pages left and I'm done with it in Swedish!). I read the entire Missionary Handbook and called people about lessons for this week. Mostly, I took care of Syster Hoke and got her stuff and what-not. All-in-all we spent 43 hours in our apartment (yes, I counted!)

The Ward Mission Leader let the ward know that she was sick, so people called to see if they could do anything and someone brought us dinner. It was pretty much the sweetest thing! We are here to help and serve them, but they are constantly helping and serving us. I love it here so, so much! I have learned so much about Charity and Love!

I will end with this quote by President Thomas S. Monson about Charity
"In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out."

Or actually, this one by President Spencer W. Kimball
"The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others-indeed, it is easier to "find" ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!"

I hope that each of you can find a way to serve those around you each day. I can promise you that it will bring you great happiness and fulfillment. Forget yourself and go to work!

Syster Sarah Griffes
A Servant of the Lord



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Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Just read the book! Read the book!" Trollhättan Week 14

One of those weeks where not much happened, but we made about a million phone calls and dropped by a lot of less active members.

On Tuesday it was quite rainy. I keep thinking that maybe it will stop raining soon, but, alas, no relief from that yet. We went by a less active lady and read Isaiah 53:3-5 and talked about the Atonement. Then we visited a old Swedish lady and talked about gratitude. We taught a lesson about the Plan of Salvation too. The investigator said that it is logically sound, which is good. He just needs to pray about it now and know that it is Heavenly Father's plan. We made some cookies so that we can drop by less actives this week then met with another investigator. The quote of the week comes from Syster Hoke after meeting with him. He just won't read the Book of Mormon. He is really missing out!

We visited some less actives and actually did some tracting on Wednesday. The lamest part of the day was at dinner. I got a jar of applesauce and was trying to open it, but it just wouldn't budge. We literally took it to our lesson with some members to see if they could open it, but they couldn't either. Lame! (good news, I got it opened two days later after much work loosening the seal). We taught the member family's son about the Plan of Salvation. Syster Hoke made a sweet puzzle with it and the lesson was really good. The Spirit was very strong!

Zone training was on Thursday. President Beckstrand has asked us to do some new things in our mission that I am pretty excited about. First, to focus more on service and do at least one service project a week. If any of you RMs have good, outside of the box ideas about how we can serve the members, let me know! Second, he wants the Sweden Stockholm Mission to become a practicing mission. There is this theory that one must practice something for 10,000 hours before one is an expert, so he wants us to practice more. We are supposed to teach at least one lesson to a member a day (the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Commandments, or Laws and Ordinances) so that we can become better teachers. It will be excited to do some role-playing with the members and help them to get more excited about missionary work (even those this ward is already way excited about it). Back in Trollhättan, we taught an investigator the Gospel of Jesus Christ then visited another investigator.

On Friday we had a lesson with an investigator at the Book Bindery in Vänersborg. We sit and have a gospel discussion with her and the members that run the book bindery. It is always really fun. Then we tried to drop by a referral, who was again not home and we did some weekly planning. 13 people were at Innebandy on Saturday. 13! We had a lesson with our Indian investigator after, dropped by less actives, then went to some members houses and talked about growing in testimony and conversion daily. 

This Sunday was Fast Sunday. We taught an investigator about the Plan of Salvation. He is all ready to be baptized, we just have to teach all of the lessons first. It's kind of cool though because he pretty much already knows what we teach because he has read so much from books and things that missionaries have given him before. We had a member dinner after church and it was lovely. The two kids are just hilarious and have many stories to tell us :)

Two things from church this week I really like. A member of the ward bore his testimony during Sacrament Meeting and said something that I had never really thought about before. He said, "I am glad that I am not perfect because it gives me opportunities to learn and grow." I had never really thought about how important that is! I feel like sometimes I am much to focused on the end goal (which is being Christlike) that I forget how important the journey is. It is important that we look back and see how far we come, but also that we keep our eyes riveted on the future and how much more we can become.

The second thing was from Relief Society. Someone made a comment about how we have to do everything we can so that the Lord has something to work with. That is so true of everything in life, but especially in missionary work! We have to work and work and work and then the Lord will provide the miracles. He will provide the people that are ready to change their lives and accept the Gospel. We really just cannot forget our part!

Med Kärlek, 
Syster Sarah Griffes



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Trollhättan Week 14 Pictures

1. The Eiffel Tour of Vänersborg :) Little bit of France in the middle of Sweden
2. I met Spiderman!



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