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."