Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nov 21 - Gray Hairs

Dear family! Did you know that we have the greatest family? :) Through each of your letters I receive strength and encouragement. The Lord also answers my prayers through your letters. Thank you so much.
So-yes, sad but true.... I have found some gray hairs! Life as a servant of the Lord is quite different than anything I have experienced before.  I used to think I really did serve and dedicate myself to the lord. I thought I was giving up my will to do his will. Well! Doing what the Lord needs you to do 24/7 is just a tad bit different than normal life. As I do learn to give up all things for him--I find myself actually getting to know who "Jacqueline" really is. There is a quote I am reminded of by CS Lewis
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 
  It does hurt sometimes. And I wonder why does it hurt? I thought while serving the Lord I would just be happy--on top of the clouds--or something. :) The lord is smiling at my innocence. What I have begun to realize is that after he has made a repair on my soul--that is when the joy comes.  And that joy is sweeter than any other joy I have experienced so far. Coming closer to God really is the greatest joy I have tasted. It reminds me of the tree of life story in 1 Nephi.  I used to wonder how could some people taste of the fruit but than want to join the others? I am not exactly sure... but I have an idea that sometimes we forget what that joy tastes like and think its probably better over there in that building... and its a lot easier to get there.  Those are my deep thoughts for the day! I loved Helaman 10:1-5 and 3 Nephi 7:17-18 too!

So! Miracles and joy from this week. We met a guy named David one day on our way to the store and he had met previous missionaries on a bus. He was really friendly and open (unlike most Swedes). He said he was atheist but would love to meet up and help us with our Swedish. As we taught David the first lesson he said something very interesting. He said his dad was a priest in the Swedish church but he never believed in God. He said, "I think Faith in God is a gift which I have not been given."  David is such a sweet guy! He is so charitable, kind, sincere, he wants to have a family... oh I could go on and on... he seems like he already is a member of the church.... just missing the crucial point of FAITH IN GOD! So Syster E and I weren't really sure how to get him to try and have faith. We are having a thanksgiving dinner tonight with the young adults so we decided to make him cookies and invite him. Here comes the miracle! We go over Wednesday night and ask him how his date went (he told us he had a date over the weekend). Turns out he has found the girl of his dreams... it was amazing... she is perfect... etc. But! She just texted him that day and said she needed some space and time to think about it. David was heart broken. He said... "In my experience... this usually means the end of the relationship".  So we stood out in the hallway trying to comfort him and tell him to have hope. He laughed and was so grateful for our kindness and that we cared for him. He than said, "If there really was a God... It would be now that I would pray to him."  Well! Syster Erickson and I just looked at each other in slight amazement. ! We did our best to try and get him to pray and just test God to see if he was there. So we shall see what happens. He hasn’t done so yet... but! I have faith.

There really are so many miracles I could write about... but I don’t have time! So I'll just have to tell you about our weekend--Stake Conference! Syster Erickson and I spent a lot of time working on getting rides for our investigators and New Converts to conference... and it was all worth it. As we all started to sing the opening hymn-I had Håkan on my left, Jason, then Maj and then her fellowshipper Sol-Britt on my right, and then Syster E and Ingrid behind me--I just felt like I was home.  It is harder than I realized to love these people... but I am working on it. And right at that moment... I felt great love for them all. The day wasn’t perfect. I have also decided it is tiring being social... and trying to make everyone else have a good time. (Do me all a favor next time you’re at church and say hi to anyone who looks like they are alone. And especially say hi to them if they look like they are new!)  But even with all that stress... As I fell asleep last night--it was with joy an happiness for the experience they could all have that day.

Maj is scheduled to get baptized this up coming Friday. So you should all pray for her. She had her interview with the president on Sunday. I took two hours and she came out smiling but said it was hard. She too could feel the Lord trying to make her into a Palace. The President called us later on and said "Maj is a strong strong spirit. She is determined. I can see her in 5 years leading relief society and standing up in sacrament meeting being a light to others."  I was a little shocked. Maj is definitely determined... but I worry so much about her not being able to stay active once we leave. (STRESS! --this is where all the gray hairs are coming from) She hasn’t been able to quit smoking fully yet and I can just see all the easy ways for her to fall away. But after listening to the president I realized something. With the Lord all things are possible. What I need to do is have Faith that even with all those paths to fall off.... There is one bright and clear path that she can follow. We talked to her last night and she said she hadn’t prayed for help to quit smoking. She felt like that was something she should be able to do on her own. We challenged her to pray right then with us on the phone. Maj's prayers are my favorite. She is always so sincere and open-hearted. I really do love this dear woman.

So, another week has passed. I am still alive. There is still much work the Lord needs help with. And there is still more walls of my little cottage to be broken down and built back up--so that one day I can be a palace.

Nov. 19--Instruments in the Lord's Hands

Dear family!
Every day on the mission is a different one. But each morning I always wake up excited to go out and see what miracles the Lord has in store. This week was a hard one and a great one. Syster Erickson got sick... which was not so much fun. It was hard to decide what to do with our time... trying to keep Syster Erickson warm and rested... while still trying to be affective.  I think that is the bane of my existence... trying to feel like I am using our time wisely and being efficient. But! That’s life. Well we had some great fellowshipping going on by Uppsala ward this week. I was so impressed with our members! I think my favorite thing to do is have a lesson with a member and investigator. Let me just fast forward to Sunday. The day of Håkans baptism. Now let me clarify... the week before some one gets baptized is crazy. Syster Erickson and I spent some long hours on the phone... and poor Håkan felt like he was on the rollercoaster of his life. But we made it to Sunday! So the plan was to have church (we do it backwards... relief society first, Sunday school, and then sacrament meeting).  Then have some soup in between... hoping that all the members would stay and then have Håkan's baptism... 5-6 hours of church! Wahoo! We woke up Sunday morning feeling peaceful and excited. And then one by one stresses started coming. We got asked to teach the primary lesson during Sunday school (What were we going to do with our investigators!). We show up to church... turns out they are having the primary program but the piano player is sick... and Syster Erickson is roped into the job. Ingrid, Håkan, and Maj came to church! Wahoo... and yet! O boy! I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head chopped off--trying to make sure each of them were taken care of and having a good time and having someone to talk to... It is not easy to throw a party. There were so many funny strange parts to the day. I wish I could have taken a video camera and taped it so you could all be there with me. I have a new appreciation for primary teachers. (I taught my first primary lesson in Swedish! thank you! Last week I taught the relief society lesson... in Swedish... hah o boy... personally I think primary was harder.)  Once we got to sacrament--I was just so nervous about everyone having a good time... ended up that I was probably the only one who didn’t enjoy the primary program.
  OK... so in the long run I have decided everything would have gone the same with or without me stressing... So I am officially going to try and not stress about it.
  So the members did a great job taking care of all three of our investigators. Maj came out of sacrament meeting and told Syster e that she wanted to talk to both of us. Syster E had a heart attack. Turns out... she said, "after listening to those kids. I feel ready! Its like a light is inside me... it touched me! I feel ready!"  That about made all of my stress worth it. Then came the soup! The ward did a great job having everything set up and it was such a warm and friendly atmosphere. It made me so happy to see everyone sitting together socializing and talking. Especially seeing our investigators feeling at home. Håkan acted like he was already a member. A glass broke and he was the first one sweeping it up. :) Then came the big moment... THE BAPTISM! Of course our baptizer (Äldste Marchant) wasn't quite there yet... but we started in hopes that he would show up soon. I gave a talk about baptism... in Swedish! I felt like it was terrible but Håkan said it was the most beautiful talk he had heard. Äldste Marchent showed up! And Håkan got baptized! Yay!! My favorite part though had to be when the bishop welcomed him into the ward... he had a home teacher and all the men who helped in giving him the holy ghost-- he knew them all. Syster Erickson and I had spent so much time in trying to get Håkan acquainted with all of the members. Håkan was so happy. And then the grand finale. Håkan got up to bear his testimony. He got up there... paused for a few seconds... and then said powerfully "jag vet att Jesus kristi kyrka av sista dagars heliga är den endast sanna kyrkan på jorden" (I know that the church of jesus Christ of latter-day saints is the only true church upon the earth). 
   It was a day filled with lots of emotions. It was a lot of work--but the joy on Håkans face was worth it all. I think the thing I am happiest about is that I have full confidence that Håkan can make it to the temple. He is going to be a strength for the ward. He has a daughter who is 14 years old and we know this will be really good for her too. 
  To wrap up the evening... as we were sitting together having a little Fikka (refreshments) Maj turned to me and said... I think I’m going to go home and read (scriptures). I'm in Mosiah now!" 
 Life is good. I know I am far from perfect. I feel like I didn’t do anything for Håkan. He came prepackaged and ready to go. He just needed any missionary to help him get on the path to follow Christ. Håkan getting baptized was a miracle that I was able to participate in. We are only instruments in the Lord's hands... and that’s the way I like it. 

Love Syster Schneiber 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Surströmming and haircuts

Dear Family,
What a great day to be alive! Well missionary work is always filled with fun adventures and that is what this week was all about. Start off with last P-Day!
We had a missionary Halloween party. We rode the train to Gubbängen and met at the stake building there. There were probably about 30 or so missionaries and we had a blast. I played Basketball (little did you know I’ve been working on my bball skills), tried my hand at Innebandy... a Swedish floor hockey game. It brought back memories of field hockey. And then had a blast playing Frisbee out in this big field. Nothing beats a great game of frisbee! I'm so glad Syster Erickson likes frisbee and is the one who supplies the frisbee disk. When she goes home I don't know what we will do. But the grand finale was the best. Syster E and I found four cans of Surströmming in our church fridge. For those of you who don’t know... this is what Wikipedia has to say on the dish:
               "Swedish "soured (Baltic) herring") is a northern Swedish dish consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Surströmming is sold in cans, which often bulge during shipping and storage, due to the continued fermentation. When opened, the contents release a strong and sometimes overwhelming odor, which explains why the dish is often eaten outdoors. A Japanese study has shown that the smell of a newly opened can of surströmming is the most putrid smell of food in the world...."
So! We talked to some members and they gave us specific directions on how to eat this. You need: 
  1. Boiled potatoes. 
  2. Raw onions. 
  3. A forest... or some place far away from other people. 
  4. If possible a bucket of water.  
  5. Can opener.
Directions:  Go out into the forest and open the can under water in the bucket. Don’t let any of the oils touch your clothes because you will have to just throw them away if the smell gets on it.  Once the can is open pick out a fish and put it with a potato and raw onion and eat away!  (The forest is very important... supposedly you can get a fine if you open it up near people.  And if you open it up inside your house will stink for a month.  
So we had a grand time opening up the fish out in the field and tasting it. The smell was gross. The fish itself wasn’t that bad. Opening it up in water helped a lot. The worst part is the after affect. For the next 5 hours I kept burping up the smell. OO it was sooo gross! But definitely worth the experience! :)

Onto the important missionary adventures for the week. Where to start!?  Well Håkan is getting baptized next week if all goes according to plan. We had him read the baptismal interview questions and he looked back at us with a confused look and said, "Is this all!?"  Is this all! Geez it would be great to have every investigator like this. He has been searching his whole life for the right religion and the moment he heard about the restoration he said ... this is it. I'm probably getting spoiled working with him because he is so easy. But every investigator has their challenges. He is having a hard time with his friends and how they are judging him. So we have had quite a roller coaster with him.

I also taught the lesson for District Meeting this week. I had been thinking a lot about the spirit and so decided to focus on how we recognize the spirit in our work. As a missionary you hear a lot about working and teaching with the spirit. So I felt worried that I didn't really feel anything too special. In fact all these great things were happening... but it was more like we were stumbling into them. I was thinking I would get these thoughts... go talk to that person... or go down this street. But what in reality happens is... We just plan our day... I just try and smile and people and talk to the people I sit next to on the bus... and the Lord just kind of puts people in my way.

In preparing my lesson I began with what I wanted to commit my district members to. I wanted everyone to take the week and write down how the Holy Ghost had worked through them that day. In chapter 4 of PMG there is a big list of ways the holy ghost can influence us. Whether it is feelings of peace and joy, or understanding scriptures, or having a certain thought. And I know that if we take more time to recognize the spirit and write it down the more the spirit will be able to work with us.  As I continued to study though I learned something really interesting. In the Bible Dictionary under Holy Ghost it says that we are sanctified by the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Sanctification is a very interesting idea. I think in the end I realized that the Holy Ghost isn’t really something foreign you feel... it is more that it acts as a cleansing agent. It what all the sudden makes me want to do the dishes for my mom... or gives me more patience with my brother. Etc. During the district meeting I tried to search inside me to see if I was feeling a "burning in the bosom...” I didn’t really sense anything... but what I did notice is that I just had a desire to be good. That is the Holy Ghost.

Next awesome adventure! Jason is still holding on there. I called up the missionaries who baptized him... we were just going to give up on him... but they gave me hope. When he found out we were going to drop him... it hit him and running back he came. We meet at the church on Friday... and spur of the moment Syster e and I decided to give him a haircut during the lesson. (I am not sure if that is against missionary rules.... but! it was needed).  So I read with him Alma 32 and about how he needed to nurture his ground while Syster E clipped away. I sent some pictures of before and after. It was so great. He ended up writing a letter to the other missionaries and this is what he said
"Thanks for telling Sister Schneiber and Syster Erickson not to give up on me. Anyway, that kind of jolted me awake a little. I saw how I was spiritually straying from the path got lost in the wilderness (yet again) but those two messengers (angels) from God were there to help me get back on track, one step at a time.
But that foray into the wilderness only served to strengthen the faith it seems: when the darkness lifts, things become so much clearer. Maybe it has the effect of a vaccine: the spiritual immune system can now better recognize the devil's repertoire of traps."
  Missionary work is awesome!! The Lord lets me take part in his work and it is always cool to see the affects of it pay off. Jason really is awesome. One thing that I have noticed with Jason... is that it takes TIME. This didn’t all happen in one night during a haircut.  This has taken numerous weekly visits and phone calls to try and help him along.

Maj- also shown in a picture is just amazing. Sometimes I am surprised at how she just keeps going with us. Quitting smoking is really hard for her. But we taught her about fasting last week and she fasted on Sunday!! It was really hard for her and she slept through a few meetings :) But she did it! As I was talking to her on the phone last night she said she just has a desire to follow the commandments... and she is willing to change. This old woman rocker... who has been through a lot of different things recognizes the Lord and is willing to submit to him. Wow. I know this gospel is true because there is no other way she would be willing to follow the commandments otherwise.  Amazing how the Lord softens hearts when they are willing to let him in.

 Lastly! I love the scriptures!  Today I read 1 Nephi 17 and 18.  And I just had to share some verses that I loved.  17:2 talks about how they had to wade through afflictions and then two lines later he says how great were their blessings! Afflictions and blessings seem to go hand in hand. I guess that’s why people say that the hardest things in life are always the greatest. 17:13 talks about how the lord prepares a way for them through the wilderness. I really feel the same way on the mission. I might not get specific promptings to tell me where to go... he just makes the path I choose... filled with people to talk to. And lastly 17:50 Nephi says *if God commandant me to do all things...I could do them... if he asked me to turn the water into earth... I could do it".  That is so awesome. What faith!... of course it has to be what the lord commands... but when he does... all things are possible.

I love you all so much! Sorry I don’t have so much time to write personal letters today ... but know that I love you all. :)

Love Syster Schneiber!
Syster Erickson and Syster Schneiber in Stockholm

Vacuuming up fruit flies
Jason, me, Syster E on Jason's favorite park bench
Broccoli, a peace offering
Jason, pre-haircut
Jason after
Me, Maj, and Syster E.
Ingrid and Syster Erikcson are in the front. Louise and Melena (members) are in the back.
All the missionaries gathered around the surströmming (really stinky fish- Swedish tradition but tastes horrible).

October 31

Dear family,

 I am really working on trying to understand the gift of Holy Ghost. It seems like I have been more aware of his promptings during certain parts of my life than others. For some reason now... I don’t really feel like I’m getting promptings... It is more like the Lord is just putting things in my path. So it is hard to really "feel" like the Holy Ghost is guiding me. But I'm once again beginning to record the things I think are promptings and trying to really recognize the spirit in my life. I have already begun to see a difference. :) 
So the grand miracle for this week would definitely be Håkan!
Håkan, who is the most prepared man I have ever met. We were playing frisbee two weeks ago before district meeting and he just walks up to us and starts talking to an elder.  He watched a show on Mormons and thought we were really nice. He saw us playing frisbee and thought we looked pretty normal. (This is what I am talking about... I didn’t feel like I got any promptings to go visit this man... or to play frisbee... the lord just placed him in our path!) He understands perfectly the need for a restoration and has already read to Alma in the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized on 19 November. He is a writer for a living, so he really likes reading and has a lot of time to do so. He is a little socially awkward (mostly because he talks so much) but had a good time at church. He smokes and on Saturday we were planning on talking about the word of wisdom with him. But, when we sat down, the first thing he said was "Today I have quit smoking". We were so surprised!   When he said that I automatically thought, "This must be a trick! It just can’t be true!"  So I spent the whole lesson battling on if I should trust this guy. I talked about it on the way home with Syster E... We ended up talking about pride.  Håkan doesn’t really need ME or Syster Erickson. It doesn’t matter really who teaches him as long as he gets the lessons and is baptized. He really did it all on his own.  So this leaves me feeling.... well if its not really me... than what is supposed to motivate me to talk to one more person... or try and push myself out of my comfort zone... Syster Erickson quoted a scripture in Matthew. "If you love me, feed my sheep.
The only thing that should be motivating me to talk to people or to help people get baptized is my love for the Lord. I still feel parts of me that want to say... I FOUND HIM! Or I helped him get baptized! But... I'm learning to take me out of the equation. So! Pride. It’s a terrible thing.

So this last part is from Syster E's letter. I ran out of time. But I love you all!!

Quote from Syster Erickson’s email: "But for some reason.... I think he might like Sys. Schnieber. She said that he wanted to talk to her alone. So during one of the passing periods in church they "talked" but Sys. Schnieber didn’t understand anything he was saying (he uses a lot of big words in Swedish). I just found out about this because of the text he sent latter about how he felt bad for talking about "olämpliga saker" (inappropriate things) for a missionary. So, it is rather funny but I see my fault in this. I need to make sure I am in sight AND sound of my companion, even at church when everyone is talking in the halls"  haha... so slight problem but! Not to worry we have a plan to just make up a boyfriend for me. Ill keep you posted next week!
"Maj Grandmo is doing better. She was struggling with having a desire to stop smoking. Even if she believes the Book of Mormon is true, she wasn’t connecting the dots. But we met her with Tore and Solbritt Buhrman, (they have become her good friends) and she got a blessing from Tore. The next day, she said she got up to start rolling out her cigarettes and they were both "trasiga" which means broken and she took that as a sign from God that she needs to stop NOW. So, we hope we can help her with that. 
Then there is Ingrid Hede. We taught her about the Law of Chastity this week. It actually went really well, even though we were nervous. She said she doesn’t think she wants to marry Ali and doesn’t really think he is interested in learning about the gospel because he is Muslim. Apparently they met in France and then after awhile Ali came here to live with her. He is just going to school right now so she is the only one bringing in money. She is not really sure what to do since there isn’t really any place he can go. Ingrid is also trying to find a new job right now so she has a lot on her plate. I think we might have to push back her baptismal date a couple of weeks (it was the 12 of November). She still doesn’t quite understand the restoration because she still wants to go to her bible study class at the Swedish church. But we are having contact with her everyday and she is reading the Book of Mormon and praying so I think everything will work out in the end."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Dear Family!
Well the weeks just keep on flying by! Syster Erickson and I made this calendar "Underverk" calendar. We write down a daily miracle that happens. We taped it up in our kitchen and it always gives me comfort to look at all the days I have accomplished and all the miracles the Lord has blessed me with. We had a wonderful week because we had my very first zone conference!!! And we got to go to the temple!!!! Yay!!! The weather is also officially getting cold here--mom I am wearing my big coat now and my boots. They are wonderful. Hard part is it is cold outside but then when we start biking I get hot and then the boots and coat are too much.  You see Uppsala has two big hills--and whenever we have to go home we have to go up both hills. It is dreadful. There is one right by our house... that one is decent size... we call it the "Fotledens Hamnd" (The ankles revenge).  We always take it at a sprint and I am definitely out of breath on the last stretch home. But the grand hill of all hills is the one up to the library. It is HUGE. By the end I am standing and trying to push all my weight on each pedal to keep it moving forward. Some days I just cant make it and end up falling off. (The hills are especially hard on my bike because the gears are broken... so I am stuck in some random middle gear, which makes it twice as hard).  So they need to invent some kind of jacket that can sense your body temperature. When you start overheating it needs to have automatic vents that open up.
But enough about the hills in Uppsala... Lets talk about the miracles!
Monday--We get to go to Hemafton (FHE) with the singles in our ward. It is possibly my favorite part of the whole week. Last week we ran into this Korean guy named David (say it with a British accent)... he was adopted and grew up in Sweden. He said he had met the previous missionaries on the bus--said they were nice but he wasn’t really religious. Well! He was so nice I asked him if he would let us teach the lessons to him and he could help us with our Swedish. So He came early to have a lesson with us at the church. He got their before us and was just waiting in the church when our couple missionary Äldste Waite came up to talk to him... little did he know! Well Äldste Waite gave it to him straight. He told him that he would know anything about the church unless he read the Book of Mormon. So he said "will you read it"... David said-Of course, I will read it. Ä W- you cant have it unless you promise to read it. So David ended up promising to read the Book of Mormon. I don’t think Syster E and I would have been able to pull the same number on him. So we are excited to see if anything happens. It was interesting talking to him because his dad is a priest in the svenska kyrkan (Swedish church)... but he said he was never religious. He said, "I think faith is a gift and I just haven't been blessed with it".  As he left, I told him that maybe the Book of Mormon could be the gift he felt he never got. 
On Thursday we had zone conference and Friday we were going to the temple... so Wednesday night the systers from Gävle came down to spend two nights with us. It was fun to have two other systers with us and to get to know them. Syster Hill and Syster Brown. Both really cute. They also came on Wednesday with great news... They were going to have a baptism on Saturday and we were invited! This week truly was an adventure.  Zone conference was awesome--we talked about how we could use the Book of Mormon more in our teaching. I had a lot of good notes... but I think the biggest blessing for me was just getting to be around of missionaries. Some times it is hard to be in your little isolated area... you often feel like you're the only one out there. But when we get all together there is a definite power. Each missionary brings his or her own testimony and experiences... so multiply that by 25-and you have a strong spirit there.
   Next great miracle was on Friday morning. We were finally able to meet with Ingrid again! (Ingrid is our tall red headed Swede). We hadn't been able to meet with her for two weeks. She is also our most.... normal investigator. You see... it seems that a lot of the people who are willing to meet with us right off the bat are a little bit different. I have really grown to love them a lot and have a lot of hope for them... but often times they didn’t grow up with discipline good hard working values. So I often worry that even if they do become baptized will they be able to "hålla ut intill slutet" (endure to the end). But Ingrid--has these qualities already built into her character... so I have a lot of hope for her. I could see her being a great strength to the ward here in Uppsala. So I was a little bit nervous for the lesson to say the least. But the lesson went great. You know that scripture D&C 50:somthing where it says that when we teach with the spirit both the teacher and the teachie rejoice together... well that is what it is like when we teach Ingrid. The spirit is often strong. I think it is because her heart is open and she is receiving the spirit.  Well! We asked her if she wanted to be baptized! And she said yes--she still wants to read more... but we set the date for Nov 12. Soooo you should all start praying for her :)
   Maj-is our other strong progressing investigator. And she! has a fellowshipper!! This makes all the difference. You should all find out who your missionaries are and tell them that you want to help them and be a fellowshipper. Without fellowshippers... missionary work just doesn’t happen. So Maj has become friends with Sol-britt. They are perfect for each other and have a lot of the same personalities... So I have a lot of hope for her. She is having a hard time with the word of wisdom though. She doesn’t seem to understand why Coffee is a part of it. SO! We still have some work to do with her. But Sol-Britt has just been fantastic.
   Also the baptism was amazing. I Love Gävle! And it was really cool to see my first baptism. I want to tell you so much more. But we have to run! So I love you all!
 And thank you for all of your prayers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 10 - A Taste of Uppsala

Dear Family,
   I love you all so much. Reading your letters always make me smile. Lets see if I can give you a little taste of Uppsala, Sweden...
   The weather is getting colder as of Saturday.  And it is slowly getting darker and darker... NO!! But the leaves are falling off trees and it reminds me of Connecticut. Our spot to teach people most often is in the Carolina Rivera Library. It is the grand old building on the top of a big hill. And when you are standing outside the doors (the doors to the building are about 12 ft high.... or more) and you look down the hill--there are colorful trees lining the main road and lots of students on bikes and old people with awesome British looking hats. It is beautiful. And to the right side the Dome Kyrkan rises high out of the trees. It is the biggest Church in Scandinavia. (To me it looks like all the other old churches we saw in Germany and Portugal... and all over Europe.... but it is cool to have your own huge church right in your backyard).
   Every morning we trade off running or working out inside. Syster E likes to lift weights... so when we stay inside I usually trade off doing Christa's workout and P 90 X abripperX.   Running of course is my favorite... but we only have time for 15 to 20 mins of running (not nearly enough). But Uppsala has great little paths through forests. My favorite trail is through a small path and then it opens up into this huge field with horses and little trails that weave throughout the whole place. It is magnificent to see as the sun rises.  Breakfast usually comprises of bran flakes mixed with granola or muesli. My favorite part of the morning is getting to sit and eat and listen to a conference talk from my iPod. I am so grateful for general authorities. I receive a lot of strength from listening to their testimonies and following their counsel. I still haven’t been able to listen to the last session of conference but I heard it was really good.
  Then we have about 4 hours of study. One hour for personal study. Two hours for companionship study (it is usually one hour... but they have started a new program called the "12 week program" for all new missionaries and their trainers.) and then an hour of language study.  Then we have an hour for lunch... and then its out the door and adventures to be had.
     This week we got to do some service for members of the ward. I think I mentioned Syster Uhrobom last week... But we went back over again to her house to help her clean. She is 4’ 10”... maybe and kind of hard to understand. And there are piles of things everywhere. With only one pathway through the little apartment, only one person can walk through at a time. But we had a great time trying to dust and vacuum in the little uncluttered areas. I still am amazed at how much stuff she fits in her apartment. We found a piano hidden back against the wall. Syster E had to climb her way over a few piles to finally uncover it. She ended up playing hymns and we all sang together. Nothing sweeter. I love little old ladies!
    Maj Maj is making progress! This week we went over to clean her house... I am never ... never going to have cats. And I am always always going to clean every week (mom keep me to that). So we had to do a lot of dusting and collecting of cat hair. I tried to keep the cat hair away from my face and didn’t have too bad of a time with it. Syster E on the other hand.... she was coughing and crying and sneezing within 20 mins. Well Maj was so thankful but we didn’t really get to give her a good lesson after that. We really wanted to invite her to be baptized (again)... but she still wasn't really sure about it. She said... maybe if she knew the book was true ... maybe December. Well we walked out feeling a little at a loss. But I think there really is a lot of power to teaching one of the lessons from the restored gospel (from PMG).  When we just try and share a spiritual thought and discuss... there just isn’t the same spirit. So we set up another time to teach her this week and invited to member to come with. Well! This was a whole different ball game. We taught her the third lesson (Jesus Christ's Gospel) at the church with a member. Right as we began she got out a piece of paper to take notes on! Oh! It was beautiful. I also had to lead the lesson... and it just went great. We read from 2 Nephi 31 and explained the 5 steps of what we have to do in life to make it back to heavenly father. It was beautiful. At the end we invited Maj to get baptized on November 19th. And she said yes :)  So! There is still much to do but I think she is our most positive investigator. She is about 65 years old... she is a guitar teacher... she was in a rock band... a little rough around the edges... but she is so sweet. And something amazing happened! We called members in the ward on Saturday to sit next to her at church and talk to her... well! Sunday came around and they actually did it! (Swedes don’t tend to be the best fellowshippers...). And the most amazing thing happened is that one of the women we asked invited her and us over for dinner! Our very first Sunday dinner with a member and they even invited our investigator. Oh what a wonderful day!
    Andres is this younger guy... who has a beard like the people do in fiddler on the roof. He called us two weeks ago and said that he was reading the book of Mormon in the library... he had ran into a missionary 6months ago ... twice... and so he thought that was a sign from God. Well we had our second lesson with him this week. Not so good. He walked in, sat down and said... I don’t think I'm really interested in being baptized. These were my thoughts... 1. Well its a good thing he knew what our purpose was... 2. WHAT! No no no!  We walked him through a bit. Watched the talk by Callister from General Conference (SOO GOOD)... He talked about either the Book of Mormon is a huge lie or it is God's book. Well we in the end told Andres... if he hasn’t read the book than he can't know if it is true or not. We taught him the plan of salvation and read a lot of scriptures with it. So we shall see what happens.
     Another favorite part of my week was taking the bus to the Bishops house and cleaning their windows. I know mom... I never liked cleaning before... but now it's one of the high lights of my week. Syster E and I sang Disney songs and talked with the bishop’s wife. I think my favorite part about the mission so far has been creating friendships with these sweet people. I just wish more people wanted to be our friends! :)
   My last story: On Sunday we went and visited a new couple that just moved into the area. The boy was a return missionary from UT and the girl was from Sweden who had grown up in the church in Stockholm. Well they hadn't been coming to church... so it was our job to go see what was up and invite them to come back. They invited us in and were really nice. Asked us all about the mission and our lives before hand. Then when it came down to it... they told us... well we have just decided to leave the faith. Not only are they not coming to church... they don't believe in God. We sat and listened to their story. They both talked about how they hadn’t felt like they had ever really gotten an answer--what they had felt previously were just feelings they had made up.  They were both really nice... but it just scared me to see how fragile someone’s testimony can be when they stop doing the small simple things. That was one of the only questions we asked them.... "When did you stop reading your scriptures?"  They said we could come back and talk and discuss... I don't know exactly what to do with them... but we shall trust in the lord and see what is best. It is hard sometimes when you just have to let people make their own choices.
So... Please please read your scriptures every day and pray every day. That is all I ask of you all.

Love Syster Schneiber

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3 - Week 5

Kära family! I love you all so much! I got a great letter from the southern hemisphere. Glad you are surviving and I would say thriving! It sounds like you’re having my kind of adventure!  But don't worry--I am not too envious. Although I do demand a trip back to Guatemala. That cave sounds awesome!! (Side note to mom... when I went through my cave adventure... there were quite a few times I was pretty scared... so you are definitely allowed to be scared :)   And wasn’t Conference just awesome!! I think officially General Conference weekend is better than Christmas. Maybe if we had Christmas and General Conference weekend at the same time. I think I would like that the best. 
   Sooo the happenings in little Uppsala: Syster Erickson and I are just bonding. I love her so much. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer and friend. She is 5'9 and gives the greatest hugs when you need them... she always gives the perfect advice when I'm struggling with something and she also knows how to have a great time. She writes me little notes of encouragement a few times a week and then sticks them to the clock or stuffs it in my bag. This weekend as we were rushing around trying to get everything set and ready for Conference--I just couldn’t help but feel love for her. She is a great disciple of the Lord. SO that is number one blessing in my life. Thank you Heavenly Father!  
    On Mondays we get to go to hemafton (home evening with the single adults... all of about three girls and a couple from Austria (Alice and Benjamin) and a few other random stragglers. So two Syster missionaries greatly add to the activities. Well officially hemafton became my favorite night of the week. To begin our meeting we go around the circle and everyone says the highlight of his or her week.  Jason (our new member who is becoming inactive... he is from Singapore 35 years old and thinks he is having his mid-life crisis right now... ha-ha he is a riot. Deep thinker and acts like he is 25 years old... he feels like life kind of left him behind), said his highlight was sitting on his favorite bench last week and talking with us about the gospel. I showed him a scripture in the dc about God being everywhere and in everything. He said it resonates with him. So we made his highlight!! Then we had our favorite investigator (ok... we cant have favorites... but we have a lot of hope for her because she is.... more normal than the rest of our investigators :) Ingrid comes to hemafton. And she said her highlight was meeting with Alice and us Wednesday night! She said she was having a really hard time with work and things and she felt really good after meeting with us... and she just started praying every night since then and she felt like it was really helping.  OH! Boy!! Well that was just music to my ears and cake to my stomach.  Hehe. It is true that as a missionary you go around trying to help people.... but often times you don’t really know if you are doing anything. So to see that we just made two peoples weeks! And that we actually helped someone change by beginning to pray! Ohh yaH! Awesome! 
  Next awesome blessing was district meeting. We focused on using the Book of Mormon in our lessons. Often times we will teach a lesson and testify all about how the Book of Mormon is the word of God, it changes lives, it is the evidence that our church is true... and yet we never use this evidence in the lesson. So! We all made a commitment to use the Book of Mormon in EVERY LESSON for the rest of our mission. A little intimidating because I really want to keep these commitments I am making. But Syster E and I have been following through and I really feel a difference. I think the biggest reason why people stay as investigators is because they really are not reading.  It is interesting to me that each time we find someone new to teach... we are basically going in with the plan of changing their whole life. Following Christ really is giving up your life. But the reason why we do it is because when we do... we find this greater life that we had no idea was possible. It is beautiful.
      This week Syster E and I were trying to invite a lot of people to General Conference. One of the things we would often tell people when they said they would come was to think of a question they had because they could receive an answer to it at Conference. So I began thinking about questions I wanted answered. One of them was... How has reading the Book of Mormon every day for the past 3 or more years changed my life?  I had realized I kept promising people that the BOM would change their life... and I knew it had changed mine... but I couldn't really remember what life was like not reading. Sooo you all should ask yourself that question and try and answer it. How does reading the Book of Mormon everyday affect me... on a daily basis?
  Conference was the best blessing of all though. We could only watch the morning sessions live. So the first one we watched was relief society session. We ended up having problems broadcasting it in English... so three of us piled into this little class room and streamed it from the computer (just like Katie and mom!). I LOVED IT. Uchtdorfs talk was perfect. As I sat there with these two other sisters... one Swede, one German, and one American... I just felt a love for the ward. It is a pretty small ward about 35 people each Sunday... maaaybe. And they have lots of funny characters. An old man named Karl Erik who likes to run things and causes lots of problems for the bishop... but he is so sweet to us... He fed us pancakes this week :) and a woman named Salme from Finland. She is shorter than me. We stopped by to do some service because her husband was in the hospital... oh my goodness.... I have never seen a house so full of.... STUFF. There was a little pathway to walk through the small apartment... and the bathroom... the tub had been converted into a closet... things were piled all the way to the ceiling! But we helped her do her laundry and sang love one another in Swedish and she sang it in finish... she is just too cute.  The more I work with the members the more I have a desire to serve in a small struggling branch. They just need a few more just solid members to get things moving.
   Sunday came and we again couldn’t get it to broadcast in English... so we had 10 of us piled into the room. See all the Swedes can understand English... And listening to a translation of elder Holland... just doesn’t do it justice. So a lot of the Swedes just like to listen to it in English. I was a little stressed because we were trying to help Jason have a great time and receive some personal revelation. We had 3 investigators at different sessions... and just trying to help everyone have a good atmosphere. After priesthood session and before the Saturday afternoon session played Syster E and I fed everyone with potatoes and ham and random fruits and veggies. Our investigators had a great time and so did the members. It felt good to have everyone gathered together. Then after the Sat afternoon session the single adults had a meal and we were invited to join them. Once again I felt a feeling of love for this small ward and its members trying to do the best they can. AND THEN! Miracles of miracles! We fixed the satellite and got to watch the Sunday morning session on the big screen in the chapel. Best session ever. (I still haven’t gotten to watch Sunday evening yet).
  Favorite talk was Eyring's. He talked about how he couldn’t NOT be a witness of Christ... how he prepared for that talk and the woman later on said she heard the words of God. He was just a powerhouse. I think I liked it the best because I know that I have the same job right now... to be a witness of Christ. Often times I wonder why people listen to me... my Swedish is not that good... and I’m just a little girl. But after listening to each of these 12 apostles and the prophet bear their testimony on how they knew the Book of Mormon was true and Christ was their savior... I thought, "YAH! That’s right! Who could deny these powerful men and their word?". All of our investigators need to listen to Callister's talk. I just feel like I am not alone in doing this. Those strong men who lead the church are doing the same thing. Preaching, teaching, and testifying of Christ. I am honored to serve along side them.  Overall I felt like all of Conference was focused on the Book of Mormon and how it was the core. What did you all like the best? And why?
    Last funny story: we have one woman named Maj (pronounced my) who came to relief society and the sat morning session. She listened to Barbra Thomson's talk in relief society in Swedish... and then she came and joined us in the room to listen to it in English. When Barbra came on again she grabbed her head and stated loudly "oh NO!"... She didn’t say anything after that ... so I said, "What’s wrong"... she said... "In the last session I fell asleep when she talked"... hehehehhehe ooooh boy. If only she knew how many people fall asleep during Conference... too funny.
 LOVE YOU ALL BUNCHES! Keep reading and praying everyday. I know it makes a difference. I received my answer.

September 25 - Week 4 - The letter Å is my favorite

Well! It has been another great week here in Uppsala! Can you believe it-time just seems to be flying? (I wonder if it is flying on your side as well). It sounds like you are all doing very well. Mom and Katie-be mostly careful and write back about all the adventures in full detail please! This sounds like my kind of adventure. I tried to remember some of my Spanish... but it came out all Swedish. I don't know how people try and learn more than two languages. Crazy.
So this week's adventures:
We finally got invited to a member’s house for dinner! Yay! He fed us this really good apple cake (kaka is the word for cake is Swedish...he he) and delicious soup. After eating we played a game where we each took an item and had to bring up the gospel (this is to help members talk about the gospel more often in their everyday conversation) ... (all thanks to Katie’s wonderful advice). The game went great and we are excited to keep trying to work with members to get them excited about missionary work. That is actually one thing I am most excited about coming back from a mission--getting to be a member missionary. Man! Members are so important! And I would love to go on teaches with the missionaries. I often wish that someone else could plan my days and they would do all of the finding... and then I could just go from lesson to lesson. :) I love lessons! Finding on the other hand is a bit harder.
Syster E and I are really excited about one girl in particular. Her name is Ingrid... she is a tall pretty Swedish girl in her early thirties. We have been inviting a member named Alice to her lessons. Alice is WONDERFUL! She is from Austria. She had a boyfriend in Austria who was a member... went on a mission to Sweden and then came back to Austria and baptized her. Now they are married and have moved to Sweden and are going to school in Uppsala. She is SOLID. This last week we had our lesson in the library on the top floor. Imagine an old Greek library. We found this little room on the top floor that has huge windows that look over the city. O! It’s like a little heaven. So it was just we four in this room. We were teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (3rd lesson) and we invited Alice to share her experience in being baptized. It was so powerful! After she shared her experience I just felt like it would be the right time to ask Ingrid why she was still meeting with us and what she felt. (It felt like a prompted question) Background on Swedes-they are not very open about themselves and so we didn’t really know a lot about Ingrid and Syster e and I were trying to get her to open up. Because it is hard to teach someone the gospel when you don't know him or her. Every time we teach a lesson it has its own touch for each individual. That is what is so great about the gospel--it applies to everyone individually. But if you don't know whom you are teaching it is hard to put those unique touches to it. Well it was the perfect time... probably not the perfect question... especially with my Swedish... but that didn’t matter because the spirit was there and Ingrid opened right up. Something interesting that I have noticed is that... most of the time... I kind of just get the basic gist of what our investigators are saying. And sometimes I don't understand anything. But for some reason that doesn’t matter... The spirit just helps me know what questions to ask--and then I just have to wait till after the lesson to find out what their answer was. It has been really neat. I have had quite a few experiences where if the Lord didn’t direct this work... it just wouldn’t work.
SOMETHING MARVELOUS happened!! A boy just called us up last night and said he had met Syster Dabb (previous missionary in Uppsala) twice in town and he would like to meet with us now and learn more. YAY!! I LOVE IT WHEN THEY FIND US!! Soo cross your fingers.
MOM!! Guess what I found! Nyponsoppa! Remember when we went to Sweden and we brought back with us that red liquidy hot stuff that we would putt whipped cream on top? And there was also that purple stuff that you let cool and put whipped cream on that... they still have it!! I found some in our cabinets and tried making it the other day... it still tastes the same!
Last week we had a whole bunch of students show up to church (I think I told you about it)... well this week we met with a few more who had to finish their school assignment. What was so interesting to me was...as we taught them the first lesson... I asked them if they believed in God... None of them believed in God. And they are all going to be religion teachers! That was just crazy! They all said it was interesting to see how religion influenced people... but they themselves had no belief in a God. So odd.
My other favorite person we meet with often is Jason. He looks like the old guy from karate kid but... at 30 years old. He is a new member but only speaks English and doesn’t really like to come to church. So we have been teaching him the lessons again and trying to help him understand the importance of coming to church every week. This week we met up on Saturday for lunch to get him excited to come to church the next day. We sat and discussed the talk by Elder Uchtdorf about "what matters most" on his favorite bench right by the Dome Kyrka (the biggest church in Scandinavia)... It was a beautiful day... and Jason made such progress... he is really smart and intellectual... but maybe doesn’t have the greatest diligence.

I don't have much time left... But life as a missionary is wonderful. You have your ups and downs often. But the overall feeling is amazing. It is something amazing to be a part of the Lords work.

 Love you all
 Syster Schneiber

September 19 - 3 week in Sweden

Tuesday Syster Erickson and I got invited to Zone Råd (zone leader counsel).  It was really cool to be two sisters with 10 other zone leaders. I never realized how much pressure is placed upon these elders to be the perfect example when they go on splits and to have all the best advice... and so forth.  The Mission President and his wife decided they wanted to start inviting sisters to these meetings to get some of their thoughts and also let us learn more from leadership positions.  I loved it! I think I probably liked it the most because I got to be around a whole bunch of missionaries talking about gospel things. Sometimes it is hard to leave the warm home of a member where they have the gospel and all these other missionaries who have the same standards as you and go out into the world where everyone is different than you.  I've been stuck up in Rexburg Idaho for too long where everyone is Mormon :)  But at the same time there are a lot of great people out here that I can't wait to meet.
One of those was Inga. On our way back from Zone Råd I sat next to Inga. She was wearing lots of dark clothing and makeup... had headphones in. But I was so happy I just had to say hi. She took out her headphones and we started talking. She’s still in high school and turns out she is having a hard time right now. She moved from Lithuania so we started talking English and she told me how she was having a hard time letting people in because she didn’t want to be hurt from them. I listened, smiled, and tried to share what little advice I have through the gospel. At the end she smiled back at me and said- "I feel like you have something...something good". WELL!! Of course I’ve got something! The gospel of Jesus Christ! We were just getting off then though. So I gave her my phone number and the church’s website-card and that was that. I hope she is doing ok.  But that was a blessing from the Lord.
I often try to describe to people that what we have (the gospel) is what gives me the greatest joy in my life.  But other people... they seem just fine without it. 'I already am happy... thanks'.  Well how do I tell them... no you don’t have happiness like I have happiness. Because I really I'm not happy ALL the time. I have hard days just like everyone else. But what the gospel gives me is peace with what goes on in my life. A way to cope and change and grow... so I often wonder what do other people do help them develop like this?
At district meeting (Thursday-another favorite part of my week) we talked about listening.  How it is really important to listen to what your investigator is saying and trust that the lord will give you the right words to say when you open your mouth. That’s hard for me sometimes because I want to plan out where I think we should go next in the lesson. So after district meeting Syster Erickson and I decided to try and use that skill more. We had a lesson with Matts that evening. Matts is a middle-aged fellow. He is a little odd... and very hard for me to understand. (Old men tend to be the hardest to understand). So as the lesson began I could feel myself beginning to drift and just let Syster Erickson take over. But! I remembered my listening commitment and did my best to understand and listen to him. Midway through the lesson I felt like we needed to invite him to be baptized and give him a date to be baptized. So I put that on the shelf and kept listening... he kept talking and I soon forgot about that little thought.... and then! Syster Erickson came right out ... basically word for word from Preach My Gospel and invited him to be baptized. Ah it was beautiful. Of course since we were prompted by the spirit he said yes :) and now we have another investigator progressing towards baptism. Wahoo.
Next great miracle of the week was Sunday. Now Syster Erickson is a pretty leveled headed Syster. She is great... But she was getting really stressed about our investigators making it to church and wanting them to have a good time. We had three we were hoping to attend. Well that morning as we cycled over to the church I just kept praying that heavenly father would help them come... just for Syster Erickson’s sake. Well the lord was definitely in a prayer-answering mood that day. We had two of our investigators show but another 15 kids from a college religion class came. And the Lord knew that all these people needed to have a good church service so he sent us this young man from the high counsel to help us. Picture Allen (the young man) being Rob Ellis. (Ha-ha) Rob just shows up and helps us in our gospel ´principles class and then gives an excellent talk in sacrament meeting about testimonies. It was just all a miracle!
Of course with all these great miracles happening there are still challenges sprinkled in everyday. I don't think I have ever had to rely upon the Lord this much before. Missionary work can often become overwhelming... thinking me and my companion are only two people in this whole town... and I sometimes feel a burden that I am in charge of helping everyone come unto Christ.
I think I talked about this last time but the mission president is really having us focus on working through ward members and inactive families verses contacting strangers. So we are really trying to make a big switch here and get these members to be missionaries with us. This also feels slightly overwhelming at times. Uppsala's ward is the smallest ward in Sweden (possibly). And its members each have their own personal quirks and most of them don't have a lot of money.  As we have spent a lot of time going through the ward list... the Active members are small and not all of them so strong. This has lead me to think a lot about the topic of enduring to the end.  Becoming converted to the gospel is a great thing. People often have multiple big spiritual experiences in their lives that increase their faith in Christ. But what are they choosing to do in between those experiences? How am I... little Jacqueline supposed to give all these people a desire to ENDURE TO THE END? Yikes!
This lead me to wonder why have I decided to 'hålla ut I till slutet' (endure to the end). I remember talking late one night on the phone to a friend. I remember talking about Joseph Smith and all those people who worked so closely to him and yet fell away.  I suddenly felt overwhelmed and afraid. I felt like if those strong men fell... what was to say I wouldn’t fall away too?  This wise friend then said to me... 'Jacqueline... You know what they probably stopped doing? They probably stopped doing those small little things.... like reading their scriptures and saying their prayers everyday.'
I remember since that talk I have naturally just made those things a part of my life. So all of you back home. Do those little things... because even though Faith, repentance, baptism, getting the gift of the Holy Ghost are all-important one-time experiences... they should be things that happen everyday of our life. Enduring to the end is what matters in the long run. So you better all keep doing that. :)
  Syster Schneiber II