Monday, September 12, 2011

First Week in Sweden--Sept. 5

Hej San family!

 Sooo My first week in Sweden is almost over. Crazy. This week feels like it has been forever! I feel like I've been here for a month or something and it has only been 5 days here in Uppsala. *Uppsala is the town I’m serving in. 

So we arrived safely in Sweden. I made some Swedish friends on the airplane, which was fun...but I did sit next to a creepy American guy who had some bad experiences with the church. So that was a little hard to talk to him, but I felt really good with my Swedish! We arrived at 9 30 in the morning and we had a big band of people to pick us up. We spent most of the day waiting in a few lines getting visa's and other such numbers all taken care of so we can live here in Sweden. That was a long day. We were just sitting and waiting and I didn’t have anything on me so I felt like I was wasting time. After coming from the MTC where you are doing something all the time! It feels weird not to be doing something... and then realizing that I am a missionary... I kept thinking... shouldn’t we be talking to people or something... maybe passing out cards to everyone we meet?

Well that night we ate a nice dinner with the president and his wife. They are really great and their big push is to have missionaries work with and through members. Thomas S Monson came here in 1970 and gave a rededication on the temple and Sweden. He said there would be a second harvest and part of that promise said that it would happen when the members and the missionaries were working together. So that was neat.

Well I was pooped by bedtime and Syster W and I had our last night together. We woke up early to go running (GEORGIOUS! we ran by this little lake and I felt like I was in never never land or something... kind of reminded me of the movie stardust) then we headed off to the nearest chapel and found out who our new komrats were. My companion is Syster Erikson! She has been out for 9 months in Sweden 11 months since the MTC. (It is the rumor that she has the best Swedish out here-soo if I couldn’t get a native... she is the closest thing to it). She is really great. I love her already and she has been so helpful in trying to get settled into life on the mission. They have also begun to start a new training program. It is called the 12-week program-it focuses a lot on PMG and the 'district' movies that they have. Now instead of having 3 hours of study we have 4-an extra hour of companion study.  So here I was dying to go out and proclaim the gospel... we had to study for 4 hours... then eat lunch... and then go out. 

Well this is where the mission began to become reality. Missionary work is not exactly what I had expected. Syster Erikson and I are new to this area... and all the sudden when you are trying to plan 7 hours of something in order to fulfill your purpose as a missionary... everything becomes a whole lot more daunting and overwhelming. But I have survived. Here are the highlights of the week.

Saturday the Bishop planned an uppstellning... where you go into the town square and have a table and handout pamphlets. It was supposed to be a ward activity... number of people to show up= Syster E, me, bishop & wife and Torston (an old sweet man). Haha but it was the best contacting we have done yet... Syster Erikson began to write the plan of salvation on the ground and then wrote three questions... where did I come from? Why am I here? And where am I going?  To tell you the truth... contacting has been the hardest part for me here. They don’t teach you anything about contacting in the MTC... and it is just a whole lot harder than I imagined. So I swallowed my fears put on a smile and tried to hand out pass-along cards to those I thought would accept them. Most often the response is a slightly weird look on their face... wanting to run away look on their face... and some other concerned looks... but I would just put up a big smile tell them I just came from America so excuse my Svenska and tell them I was a missionary here in Sweden. If they didn’t even accept that I would just ask if I could bare my testimony.

Most people would tell me my Swedish was great for only being here for that long... but what worked the best was to kind of stand back and those who would stop and pause to look at the questions and read them... those would be the ones we would talk to and then explain to them what we believe and the plan of salvation. That was the most anybody has ever listened!

High light=was one guy I saw pause from a little distance and he was about to walk away but I quickly went up to him and asked him what he thought. Turns out he stayed with a family in Alaska as an exchange student that were members... so he took the discussions... read the Book of Mormon but said he didn’t get an answer if it was true. Oh my goodness it was like manna from heaven! Well he said he was still searching for the religion for 10 years and hadn’t found it yet... and the one big thing he liked about the Mormons was how great it was as a family. So cool... he reluctantly gave me his number but wouldn’t set up a time... he said he was busy this week but maybe next week. Sooo I'm praying and crossing my fingers.
Next cool thing. So I’ll admit happy-go-lucky Jacqueline was having a hard time. My Swedish was actually not the kicker. I feel pretty ok. I can say the main things that I want to say and I can understand people when I have a one on one conversation where I lead the conversation... the hard part for me is... I just feel... a little lost. Once I realized how hard contacting was... and that once you bring up religion and try and talk to someone about it... they close you off... that’s it. And then I felt like as we plan our next day... if we don’t have an appointment set up that means we have to go contacting... I just felt hopeless. You know how missionaries say they don’t want to leave and come home from their missions... yah I didn’t feel that. I still feel a little lost=like I don’t have a purpose... because even with the people who might give us a name and a time... often times they fall through... or if we do get an appointment... they really aren't interested. Geez. I guess I’m used to feeling loved, wanted, I know I am making a difference... but its hard to feel that here when you are out in this big city trying to find that one person who is ready for the gospel. 

Well I had one melt down after the second full day. Syster Erikson was great... we talked and talked. She laughed at first and said she was worried she wasn’t going to keep up with me because I just wanted to go go go.  It is also hard because I’ve heard over and over again... don’t waste a moment of your mission. It's the lord’s time... so I just feel like I have to be talking with someone trying to find someone at every moment. It is overwhelming!  So we backtracked... made some new goals... and decided that we would feel happy if we met those small simple goals. Well the next day was better and Sunday came... LOVE THE WARD. I love Mormon people. It was like finding out I did have a home here in Uppsala Sweden. They welcomed me in and we also decided that we were going to focus more on members and trying to win them over so we can get investigators through them... so now when we don’t have an appt set up we are going to go meet members and contact along the way. That feels much better... but sometimes it feels a little distant from our purpose... but I guess sometimes you have to go a little longer route to be more effective?
Sunday evening came and we had the opportunity to participate in a musikafton (music fireside)... with all the missionaries in Stockholm stake. I was still not fully understanding life... but trying to not worry and just be happy. Well the lord was aware of me... on our ride back home Syster Erikson and I were going to do some companionship study and watch one of these short movie clips (because we didn’t have time in the morning)... when a nice lady sat across from us. I thought I might as well say hi and she just seems so nice. So I said a few words to her and smiled, asked her how she was doing... and then she just opened up... she said, "I actually sat here on purpose. I saw you two out there and I've been wanting to talk to you... but I was surprised when you talked to me first" she said she had seen other boys with the same name tags on but she thought they were not allowed to talk to girls because they would always open up a book and start reading that or they would frown and just look away. !!! Crazy that they missed out on this girl! Turns out she has been investigating Mormons on utube for along time. OH MY GOODNESS MANNA FROM HEAVEN! The lord is there. She asked us some questions like... what does it mean when it says fire in your bosom... what does that feel like? And she asked something about if we really believe we can repent and be clean again... I can’t remember exactly... but she was amazing. She is prepared. Well she had to get off shortly after that... and she isn’t exactly in our area. And she is going away on a short trip to Germany ...but she wrote down our numbers and before we could get hers she had to get off... but she said walking away... I don’t usually misplace numbers... I will call you.

Soooooo... I don’t understand everything. I have a lot to figure out... but I got a little taste of that desire to be here and be a part of the Lords work. If I can experience things like that.

So I need lots of prayers :) and just know I am trying to do my best. I know I wanted to try something hard and here it is!   Love you all

 Syster Schneiber

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