Monday, March 28, 2011

What a blessing to do hard things!

I still get snow here too, though it is warming up quite a bit now. Down in Goteborg there is no more snow! and the lakes and such are already mostly melted!!! There is snow everywhere in Karlstad, got a little yesterday too! I bet it warms up really soon!

How was the Flying Jacob? I have still only had the missionary version, so let me know! I bet Jonathan would like the missionary version we eat a lot better. ( We searched on the internet and made Flygand Jacob for dinner - bananas, bacon, peanuts - the whole bit. Jonathan's comment as he looked at it was the best, "Mom, we don't have to try everything just because Austin has it on his mission!" Needless to say, I don't think they had an open mind as they tried it. Not bad but not my favorite. There is also a YouTube video of missionaries teaching how to make it!)

Let's see... uh, this weeks food can be piti pan, I don't know how that is spelled and I truly doubt it is Swedish. Basically, hash brown cubes with ham cubes and some onion, cook until ready, add eggs, when that is all cooked you are done! Serve on tortillas like a taco. I eat mine with cheese and sour cream, sometimes ketchup... enjoy! The food is a little sad that missionaries eat...

Do you have any good and simple stir fry recipes (with vegetables). Any thing else you could think of that is good, simple and has vegetables in the recipe - please send!!! (I'm sure he would welcome recipes from anyone, send him an email!) Sorry, I am already a little tired of the same four dishes... I did eat some fish at Medhi's house. It was good, simple too.

Some of the investigators are progressing, others are not so much, or going backwards. Jimmy isn't talking to us, which is a shame. Behruz is still smoking and such, he missed his baptism date already, he will probably be taught by other missionaries in the future, not ready now. We are trying to find more people. The work goes on.

My week has been great, I got a coat from a family in the ward, they are super nice. One of their sons is going to SLC on his mission this August! I am excited for him and for SLC, they will get an amazing missionary, in a Swedish suit, yeah.

I did a lot more tracting than before, this will probably be the trend for the next couple weeks, we need more investigators woh want to do what we teach. The investigators that we have are interesting. Right now we have one really good investigator, on track for baptism in three weeks time. Other than that we have some people we teach, never regularly. We are finding some people but no good inbestigators, not yet anyways. Most people we teach are immigrants, the Swedes don't believe in God or don't want to talk about it, or both.

I am super excited for conference, they will have it in both Swedish and English. They have everything delayed. We get one session Saturday (the morning session) and then everything else is Sunday except for the afternoon session, which I believe we will watch on the computer if it is not too late. It will all be on the computers, we will be able to listen and watch, plus, we can burn the talks to cds and listen to them while in the apartment, that is fun.

Thank you for writing, I really really enjoy all of this. I will do what I can to be exactly perfect and to find people to teach. I know that I will also receive help from above, I have already seen that in my time here, and I have only been here for three weeks, almost four.

Share what you have with everyone!!! It is amazing to see what others believe, what they are missing. I am soooooooo happy that I was found worthy by my Savior to come and teach his children. What a blessing it is to do hard things.

Love you,
Aldste Maxwell

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Karlstad = Travel

Karlstad is definitely a travel area. Even now I am back in Skovde, my companion and Elder Kundis both have to renew their visas, so they went on splits and headed to Goteborg and I will head over there later today, we will play some football as a zone, then back to my area this afternoon. We do travel a lot on trains, and very long distances, very often... I hope I get my SJ card and start earning my own points while in Karlstad... When we get the silver card we can get free hot cocoa! Usually, when I am on the trains I study, read the BOM in Swedish or try to write a letter.

The Swedish people are not really outgoing at all, they do not talk to one another unless they are friends and culturally they never talk about religion. They are a very secular nation and they like it that way. Although once you get them talking, they open up a lot more. It is really fun being able to learn more about the people here and how I can better teach them. It is really hard for me to talk, I am usually cut off but I am doing more and more now! We do need to do a lot of reactivating, there should be about 150 people in church, not 20 - 30... hopefully it will begin to improve.

I don't know when it is technically spring here, it might as well be now... this past week we got a lot of sun, and that was really nice. Of course one night when we woke up we had a nice layer of new snow. I have to say, the snow here is amazing. It continued to snow all that day and is now busy melting again. I passed some people BBQing and it smelled sooo good. It is almost that time of year! I am excited to see a Swedish summer, they are supposedly very beautiful.

I might still buy a coat sometime soon, they should be on sale now and I thought it might be good to get something waterproof, so we will see! Plus, I was hoping to find something good at a second hand store, they are supposedly really cheap. A lady in the Skovde ward said she found some really good coats for only 40 SEK! That is like, 7 dollars!

We do a lot of tracting and contacting, though I feel like we need to be spending more time with our investigators. We have one investigator that is supposed to be baptized in a couple weeks, we are excited, but I am worried since he has not shown up to church the past couple weeks. We have another investigator that SHOULD be.

The most eaten meal that I have had here is Flygande Jacob (Flying Jacob) Though I have only had the missionary version. I really want to try the real Swedish dish, it sounds amazing. The missionary version is simplified, and probably not quite as good. First, the sauce is about a cup of sour cream, mixed with enough chili sauce to make it a pinkish color, heated and mixed until done. Then we cook bacon, about 6 pieces, and a chicken breast, both of which are broken up and mixed with the sauce and a bunch of cooked noodles. The real version supposedly also has bananas and some other ingredients... Sorry this recipe is not very specific, that is as specific as I have been told. We searched for a recipe online and found several, we also found a YouTube video demo of missionaries (pretty sure) making it in Sweden!

One of the best things about eating with investigators and members is they usually have fresh fruit, vegetables and other good food that we don't have. German pancakes are a new favorite in the apartment and we have made banana bread several times now. It is getting better each time!

I love the work here, it is a lot of fun and a good challenge at the same time! We meet with a lot of people and I am to the point that I can understand almost everything in Swedish, even the 89 year old lady with no teeth that we visit weekly. I have tried to speak French and, to my dismay, found that I cannot speak it anymore... I have forgotten everything as I learned Swedish! I will re-learn it about a year from now when I have Swedish down better... At least that is the plan. It should be easy to pick up again.

Thank you for everything that all of you do, your prayers and support really help! Prayer is amazing and powerful!

Love you all,
Aldste Maxwell

Monday, March 14, 2011

Most Frustrating Thing...

I have enjoyed my week. We went to a district meeting in Skovda, which is where Russell Maxwell (Austin's dad's cousin) first served, I believe... Then we went on splits to Jonkopping and then on to Karlstad. I am again in Skovda today for a zone activity in Goteborg, I think... then a district meeting tomorrow followed by splits, we travel so much, it takes up a lot of time!

I have not heard or seen anything about St. Patrick's Day here so I don't think that is a holiday they celebrate here. I don't think that the time has changed here, at least not yet. I will ask someone about when the time changes, that will be a good way to contact someone!

We all actually have keys to the church buildings here, that is where we go to use computers. They are free and not being used, plus we use the building for other stuff too.

(Christian asked Austin to include in his letter a favorite meal from the week) I have had several dishes that I think Christian would really enjoy. First, and only one this week, the potato boat. Make some mashed potatoes, take a hot dog (better if it is a good brat / sausage) and slice it lengthwise but don't cut all the way through, like a hot dog bun. Then pile the mashed potatoes on top, just pile them on, the more the better. Then put some cheese on top of that, then put it in the oven to cook until the cheese is melted and the hot dog is done cooking. You can add ketchup, mustard and bbq sauce if desired. Enjoy! Oh, and when eating like a Swedish person you must have the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right so you never have to set either down...

I only have a couple of minutes before I have to go catch a train. We got 6 new investigators last week and have some baptisms coming up too. We have some investigators that know what we teach is true but they still have to commit to baptism. I have found that the most frustrating thing of all is when they know it is right but don't want to take the step yet.

The power of prayer is amazing. Miracles are all around us and we can do amazing things with the Lord's help.

I love you all, have a great week!
Aldste Maxwell

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Week in Sweden

So, my address is the mission home. They will get the mail and forward it to me here in Karlstad. That will always be my address, it is really actually nice. So, it is actually really different here culture wise. Everyone introduces themselves by first name, not titles... So, I am Aldste Maxwell, but also Austin! It is soo weird.

Sunday, yesterday, was good. Yes, I am definitely the new missionary. I got introduced as that and they asked me to give the opening prayer in priesthood and then I chose to bear my testimony. (This branch has 2 blocks, priesthood/Relief Society followed by Sacrament meeting.) It was crazy... I definitely do not know Swedish, but I have gotten compliments on how well I already speak. We had two investigators at church, we have to translate for them, I wasn't able to so they had a member translate for one (the investigators don't understand Swedish either!) I will probably translate starting next Sunday. There were about 16 in church. Supposedly one family was missing, so it should be bigger... I love it!! My companion plays piano for some of the songs, we both blessed, a visiting member from another branch helped by passing. (I think he might have even been an authority or something...I don't know) I love Sweden!!!!!!!

I am having fun and getting used to the work. We ride the buses a lot and I haven't even seen the bikes, it is awesome. It is surprisingly warm and I have no complaints. I have not bought a coat. There are coats from "dead" missionaries in the apartment that I will use until next winter.

The mission president and his family are amazing. They were all really nice and it was a great two days we got to spend there, Sister Anderson really spoiled us. My companion is Aldste Cluff. I have been assigned to Karlstad in the Goteborg (gothenberg in English, though pronounced "yuttebury" in the Swedish spelling).

It is great here, the work is exploding and I am loving all of it. We have two baptism dates right now. We have had many teaches, and I have met a lot of people. We knocked on a door of one of our investigators, he came out in his boxers, let us in, then went to put some clothes on... and that was just the beginning of the crazy! We talked for quite a while, he has a lot of interesting views on life but loves God. Of course, it just made it better that he was a little drunk. He was really excited and very enthusiastic, when we left he gave each of us a hug, handshake and kiss on the cheek. (He does speak french, but I am almost 100% sure that is not why he kissed us.) Since then, we have been stopped by another drunk on the street, attended a bible group at another church, had a good discussion with many of the people there including the preacher, then we got 3-4 telephone numbers and will most likely end up teaching several of the people, including the preacher! Talk about crazy!

I kind of want to relearn my French because 2-3 we teach now prefer french. Most of the people we teach are immigrants, so I have not actually taught a whole lesson in Swedish yet. Soon, I will... plus, most Swedes speak amazing English! I have done a lot of contacting in Swedish though. So yeah, the work is great and I am having a great time, I am excited to see what can happen this transfer alone!

I had a little dinner yesterday in the church with one family. Tonight we get fed, tomorrow too and Wednesday, Thursday is district meeting, and Friday or Saturday we will most likely be fed too... wow, that is a lot. I like this, much more exciting than the MTC. he he

Thanks for raising me correctly and preparing me so well! I can even cook! Though, I was surprised that me buying fruit today is making this one of the first times in months that fruit has been in the apartment! And I haven't seen any veggies, I miss them... I will be slowly changing that.

My companion is awesome, by the way, he can play piano, speak Swedish, used to play football, basketball and volleyball I think, anyways, cool guy! Oh, and his voice is deep, just like Covey, on top of looking like him and acting like him a little... he just isn't quite as built, though he claims that he once was stronger... I am excited!

Love you all,
Aldste Maxwell

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

He's in Sweden?!?

On Monday, Austin and his district left for Sweden. We were expecting a call from the Salt Lake Airport but they were delayed getting checked in and were unable to make calls.

Austin was able to make a quick call from Detroit before he boarded his flight to Amsterdam. (It was a long, sad morning thinking I wasn't going to hear from him after all. And yes, I did track his plane flying across the screen on "flight status"!) It ended up being a good thing because then some of the kids were also able to talk to him. (Yes, I did share the phone call.)

He sounds great! He is happy and excited to finally get to Sweden. He said that his district got to sing the song his companion wrote at the farewell meeting on Sunday night. There were 13 missionaries headed to Sweden. One of the stewardesses spoke to him in Swedish and he understood what she said and was able to answer in Swedish. Oh, and he was quite proud of the fact that he was able to keep both bags under 50 pounds.

We haven't heard from Sweden that he has made it yet but I guess when you are taking care of 13 new missionaries - no news is good news. I am guessing that his p-day (preparation day - the day to write letters, do laundry, go shopping, etc.) will be on Monday. I will post again as soon as soon as we hear from him.