Monday, October 3, 2011

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

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