Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 23: Oj!

Dear family!!
okej. Well my week wasnt as cool as France and getting engaged... but it was a really great week ändå. 
Highlights! we had zone konferens on Friday and it was all about the plan of salvation. It was AMAZING. I don't think we realize how huge the plan is. Or maybe we don't remember how HUGE the plan is.  One thing that I began to realize was how essential "the fall" is.  As missionaries we often skip over that "Adam and Eve" part because it is something we ourselves don't fully understand.  But we talked about how if there was no fall.. there would be no need for Christ. Ok I know this is probably something you all already knew... but it finally hit me.  People we teach... they won't really understand a need for Christ if they don't know about how we are fallen from God.
The second half of zone conference was about how to better teach the plan. We practiced teaching the fall.. a LOT.  It was a great day. On our way home something amazing happened. It was late at night.. and we stepped on the bus and who do you know... it was this Jehovah Witness bus driver who we had talked to two weeks ago. When he saw it was us... his eyes lighted up and he said "Oh! I've been hoping to see you two! I've done a little research and I have some questions.."  First question out of his mouth was about Adam and Eve... And we had just had all that practice. We were prepared. It was really cool. 
This week has been a bit rainy too. Yesterday we were walking home from church. There was no stopping the rain. But we found some umbrellas in the closet and decided to just have a fun walk home. I am a professional walker now. As we turned the last corner and came to our street.. Syster Sprague found a big puddle. She stopped and looked at me with big eyes.. Can we PLEASE jump in the puddle!!.. my first thought was no.. we can't jump in that.. we are wearing skirts.. and our shoes.. but with that look.. and just recognizing.. sometimes you gotta do crazy things.. We jumped on in.. we splashed through all the puddles the rest of the way home. It was so fun to just take a moment and do something a little out of the ordinary. I highly suggest it for all of you :)

We were on our way to visit a possible investigator by the church one day and walked under a tunnel. We hadn't talked to very many people and an older woman was walking towards us with a big dog (like the Lysenko's dog).  We stopped her and asked her if she believed in life after death. Perfect question. and it is actually very unusual that I ask that. I usually ask about families being forever..  Her response was a very sad one. her husband had just died and tyvärr she didn't believe in life after death any more. There was a sadness that lingered around her. And she looked at us with fear and yet longing. She said it was so lucky that we could have that faith. We asked her if she would like to learn more about what we know for the plan of life .. but she said.. right now i am just not open for it.  It was so sad and yet.. a very strong experience for me.  What a difference that simple testimony means to a life. The only thing we could do after that was just to offer our testimony that she would be with her husband one day again. 

One of the first weeks we were here we stopped by a less active woman Linnea.  She has a daughter and a husband. Her parents and siblings are very strong in the church.  Her reaction to our first knock on the door was not very happy. She was on the phone and told us she was busy.  So we were a little worried to go back. But we made cookies and attempted again. This time we were received with warmth and she told us she would be coming to church soon and we could make a time to meet.  O! That Sunday she came to church and we set up a time for us to come by this week.  So Thursday we headed over. Before we knocked on the door we prayed that we would be able to help her feel the spirit and that we would know what to say. It was amazing! She is so kind and has just had some harder experiences in life where she really didn't feel like she got an answer to her prayers.  But as she got older she had a blessing one time when she was really sick.. and her answer came --this is for your experience. Well... it was amazing that she opened up to us.  So there i was thinking.. we could invited her to meet with us once a week. or maybe focus on scriptures.. or church.. how could we help her.  Then Syster Sprague starts speaking.  She shared with her a scripture and all the sudden turned to her and asked.. do you pray? (Do you pray?... most people that i have met.. even if they are inactive.. pray..). Linnea's response... no. i don't. It was the perfect question. from there we were able to testify to her and work upwards. The Holy Ghost is real and does guide you to know what each individuals needs are. 

  The same thing happened with Manal this week. We found out she was headed back to Lebanon. We were really sad.  But we set up our last teach with her. We were not really sure what to teach.  What we really want her to do is keep reading the Book of Mormon and gain an answer. So I wanted to show her my love for the Book of Mormon.  She started asking questions.. lots of them and they were all spread out over the place. For each question the Holy Ghost guided my thoughts and helped me remember certain passages and stories that would be an answer for her. And then helped me find them! 

There are a lot more miracles that have happened in the week. But you guys are going to start getting tired of them. :)

  I hope you are all happy and doing well! 

your assignment for the week is to share with someone.. that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them. 


April 16: Singing in the Rain

Hej på er!
(This is our new favorite saying... its like saying Hi on you!) This week has been more than wonderful. It has just been miraculous. Life just couldn't get better. Where to begin! One of my favorite moments from this week happened on a rainy gloomy day. One would think that on a rainy day when no one is out.. no fun could be had. But! When Syster Sprague and I are out.. people better watch out.  We had just had a wonderful lunch with one of the members in town and we were headed to the train station to catch a bus. We were sharing an umbrella and Syster Spr hand had gotten tired from holding it for so long. So I switched with her. There is a slight problem though with a short person holding an umbrella for a taller person. You end up hitting in the head a lot. So Syster Sprague had to link arms with me to hold my arm up high enough. We were just having too much fun and singing along the way.  Imagine... empty streets with dark clouds above us. The only people out have their hoods or umbrellas out and heads down walking fast. But in our little patch of walkway the sun was shining. A garbage man pulled up and hopped out of the truck. He stopped dead in his tracks and a huge grin came over his face. He exclaimed "Well! aren't you two just content with life!"... This was very un-Swedish-like. Sometimes you don't really realize how happy you are until someone stops and tells you.
Syster Sprague and I were on our way to district meeting in Göteborg. She had just said something really funny and we both cracked a big smile. Just then a woman walked by.. so she got a very big "Hej!" with our grinning faces. We walked past her and she turned quickly around and said "hey! are you two Mormon?"  :)  ja visst! She was a Spanish woman married to a Swede but she had a few friends in Spain who were Mormon. She invited us over for next week.
I dont remember if I told you what happened two weeks ago when we went in for district meeting.. but Syster Sprague and I were walking back to the center.. just saying hi to all the people walking by. a short big man suddenly stopped us and said "Hey! I know you."  Syster Sprague served in Göteborg before she came to Alingsås so she tried to rack her memory from ever meeting this guy.  Turns out he had met missionaries a few years ago and had come to church once. We talked to him for a good ten minutes. He told us about his life and how he is a professor for .. something to do with being very super smart... and how he still has lots of questions that haven't been answered. He gave us HIS number! and set up an appointment.
Man! I love it when they stop you and ask you to meet.  We met with Abdo on Monday and gave him to the elders in Götebrog. They have met with him three times this week! crazy.
 I have felt like I am in South America this week. We have gotten so many potential investigators. Its like getting someones number is "ain't no thing."  And every time we stop someone and they say "ya sure I'd like to hear your message.."  I began thinking.. of course they were going to give us their number.  We came home that day after meeting the Spanish lady and one of our appointments dropped so we tried to track down another woman. On our way we walked by this cute woman with her little kid in a stroller. I thought.. why not ask her too. So we stopped and talked to her and told her about our message about how families can be together for eternity and how they can be stronger today too. I have stopped quite a few mothers with little kids in strollers.. They never say yes. But Lejla said.. yah of course. Come over Monday. This is my address. !!! vat! This is crazy! So we are going over this evening. Hold your thumbs. (They say this in Sweden instead of crossing your fingers.) maybe throw in a few prayers too.
Another one of these crazy contacts happened on Friday. We had planned to go to Göteborg to the center there for one of the young adult activities. We had invited one of our potential investigators.  As we got on the train he texted us and said he wouldn't be able to make it. :(  Great so we planned this whole evening and now he wasn't coming.. and we couldn't just turn around after the train had headed out. So we went to the activity and then headed home.  As we waited in the Alingsås train station for our bus to come take us back to our apt we sat down next to this girl. We started talking to her and found out she was 17 and going to school.  We had a good 20 mins talking to her. Found out she was baptized and confirmed in the Swedish church but she doesn't believe in God because she never got an answer to prayer. The bus came and we ended up sitting on different seats. But! She got off the same bus stop as us. I thought.. well we might as well invite her even if she doesn't believe in God. We invited.. told her about the BOM... And of course.. She said yes! :) I love it!  So even when one door closes its probably because God wants to open an even better one.
Last awesome story. This one is about following the Spirit.  On Saturday we had our day planned out and full. We were planning on going by a lot of potential investigators and old investigators in the areas we would be in. But first we had planned to teach Manal and ask her to be baptized. So we went down to her apt and ended up with a change of plans. Her husband Kanaan was there. He usually walks out when we start with a prayer. But as we were sitting there getting ready to start Syster Sprague looks at me and points to kanaan. Signaling.. we should teach him instead. So! We did! and it went amazing! He has had some hard experiences and really doesn't believe in God. When he heard about the plan of salvation.. he said--But I don't want to live forever!.  His whole purpose in life is to live simply and be kind to all around him. But we taught him about prayer.. and committed him. He said he would do it. As we gave the closing prayer--we rushed quickly out only to find we had already missed the bus. and It was raining again. With our packed schedule.. we quickly grabbed the bikes and headed out to our next appointment. Umbrellas and bikes together. it was probably a hilarious sight.. I hope we made some people smile.  We showed up to our next appt. and no one was home. This put a little damper in our plans. And we realized we were going to have a problem now with our bikes and making it to our dinner apt in the evening. We paused and contemplated what we should do. We decided to say a prayer to see if maybe we should change some of our plans. As we prayed I thought of Manal and how we had hoped to get a baptismal date set and really have a great lesson with her. We closed the prayer and I told Sys Sp. I think we need to ride back and teach Manal. She smiled and said. Yup. I agree. So we canceled the other plans we had and rode back to Manal's house. She warmly invited us in. We had an amazing lesson and invited her to be baptized. She said, "Why not! yes!... What do I need to do to be ready?" :)  Sys Spr said.. don't go a day without praying and reading.  Of course I can do that.
Life really is full of great surprises. Rain showers and great sunsets. frost and flowers. I hope you are all happy, safe, reading your scriptures, following the spirit, and receiving answers to prayers.

  I love you and have a great DAY! 

April 9: Påskgubbar!

Hej på er!!
We had a white Easter here in Alingsås but it couldn't dampen our spirits. We have been having miracles overflowing. Where to even begin. Tuesday morning we went over to the Relief Society president's house to talk about how we could help with visiting teaching. We walk in and she is on the phone with another member and says "Oh good! the missionaries are here.. you can just talk to them" She hands us the phone and says.. "She has an investigator for you!".  This member was out at a restaurant and one of the servers ended up asking them lots of questions about the church. In the end the dad just said.. we have some Syster missionaries who would love to meet with you and tell you more about the church. We could just give them your number.... YAY! Way to go members!!  And when one member gets started on member missionary work.. the fire spreads. There is nothing more contagious than the desire to be a part of sharing the great news. When we got back to our meeting about visiting teaching.. The Relief Society ended up giving us a referral. YAY!  We haven't been able to teach either of them yet.. but! hopefully this week.  
We have continued to try and contact 10 people a day. We haven't been perfect.. But we have received 8 possible investigators this week. That is the most I have ever received in a whole area.. let alone in one week!  Every time someone says "yah, you can have my number.." I just kinda think.. what in the world.. how is this happening!  My favorite contact was when we were on a train ride to a members house for Easter. We were sitting on one side of the train with three chairs facing another three chairs... on the other side of the train were two chairs facing another two chairs.. (I wish i could just draw a picture).. But no one sat next to us the whole way.. but on the other side of us sat a black guy reading some books. I leaned over to Sys Sp and said.. should we talk to him?  she looked over at him and he said .. that's awkward! He is all the way across the train! This is true.. I said.. but what if he is SEARCHING for something! ..but i didn't know what to say.. So we did some Swedish study. Finally as the train was coming into the station I had a Swedish question.. so I walked over and asked him for help. When I asked him what he was studying.. he said Religion.. hahah Syster Sp thought.. !OF course! I asked him more about his background and if he believed in God.. His response was perfect! I asked if we could switch numbers and talk some more about what he believes.. this is usually where the go all awkward and say.. nooo thanks. BUT! he said yes :)  
Did I tell you about how beautiful Sweden is..? beacuse it is beautiful! Our lake in our backyard is awesome.. especially when we go running as the sun rises. God's creations are amazing. 
We spent part of Easter with an American/Swedish family. We played with their little kids and colored eggs. It always feels good to be with a family and be a part of it. They have been having a rough time too so it was felt good to be there just to help uplift their spirits.  Then our Swedish Easter was with the whole ward!  Easter here is very interesting. They of course do the usual coloring of eggs.. but their Easter coincides with some ancient Swedish traditions with witches. They light up a big bonfire in the evening. It is because they try to keep the witches away.. or something. It is called Påskbrasa. :)  Also the kids dress up as Påskgubbar. They can go around and knock on doors and get candy.. kinda like Halloween. So this word "gubbe" is very interesting. They often call little cute kids.. gubbe.. so I thought it was just like this word to say "cutie" or something. Turns out.. it means "old man".  SO! on påsk the kids dress up as old ladies and old men. It is super funny. On Thursday we went out with the youth and knocked on doors to invite people to the påskbrasa. It was really fun to go out with the youth and get them to knock on doors. We had our elders from our district come up to help us. They took the boys and Syster Sp and I split up with the girls. too much fun. 
Lastly Manal! Our favorite investigator and friend here in Alingsås.  She is from Lebanon and lives in our basement. She is very, very prepared. I love it. She had asked us questions about the temple. So that day we planned to teach about the temple and families. When we told her about what we had planned to teach she stopped us and said.. how did you know! It was a special moment as we were able to testify to her that we are Representatives of Christ and the Spirit guides us to know what each person needs. 
I love being a missionary!

Hope you all are doing wonderful! 

 Love Syster Schneiber!

April 2: "They just popped out of the daisies!"

Dear Family!
What a great day it is to be alive!  This week has been filled of amazing small miracles everyday! And I am sure it is the same with you all too. Where to even begin! This weekend was like Christmas for me. I loved General Conference.  I wish it would just keep going. We had the opportunity to listen to the first three sessions. We watched both morning sessions live with you! So it felt cool to know that we were watching it together. I think my favorite talks were.. OH! i don't know! I loved Eyrings! I love the way he speaks. I loved Hallstrom's about the gospel verses the church. I loved Elder Hollands because it was about a simple story in the bible.. and he put a whole new spin on it.  It is amazing how you can understand the same story with a few new points of views. I loved Ulisses Soares about how this world is going towards a scientific atheism and they are tone deaf to the music of the spirit. I see this every day with people I meet on the streets. I worry about the world and its can we stop this from spreading?  
I could just keep going!  As I took notes I tried to do the two column thing. One side was on what the person said and the other side is just little thoughts and ideas that come to me. As Syster Sprague and I headed home that evening she looked at me with big eyes and said "I have received revelation! For almost all of my questions!"... I had a small sense of disappointment because I didn't really feel like I'd received a lot of inspiration. But when we got home we took out our notes and just talked about all our favorite parts... and after going through my notes a few times... I HAVE RECEIVED REVELATION! my right hand column is full everywhere.. And the same thoughts and ideas came to me through each speaker.. no matter what topic they were speaking on. That was pretty neat. Did you receive revelation?  And if you haven't, go through your notes!  and if you still cant find it talk to someone else about what your wrote down in your notes.  I still feel like talking my way through certain ideas is how I received inspiration.. or writing it down in my journal. 
Ok last boring thing. I LOVE READING SCRIPTURES! have I said that before?  Just in case I haven't... Reading the Book of Mormon every morning and then telling Syster Sprague about it is perhaps the best part of every day. Right now I am in Alma and I read through chapter 31 this week. I loved verses 5 where Alma talks about how he is going to go out and test the word of God instead of picking up a sword. Do you realize he has already served a long mission.. and now he is going to go out again! Its kinda like we keep being missionaries through our visiting teaching and home teaching.. because the people he goes to teach in 31 are the Zoramites. The Zoramites used to have the gospel but have fallen away.. :) Get the correlation! I love it. and then in verse 38 it talks about the power of prayer. Not just any prayer but a prayer in faith. 
 38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of aafflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in bfaith.

So miracles!  As a missionary you often times have goals.  Well Syster Sprague and I were trying to reach a goal of talking to 10 people every day.. outside of what we had scheduled. In Allingsås this can seem very hard.. because the town is very small and there are not so many people out and about. BUT! We made this goal and we were going to try our best. We had been promised if we tried to reach this goal the Lord would help us get 5 new investigators that week.  SO! last Sunday was our first successful day of reaching 10. Through out the week we tried our best. Monday..our preparation day we reached ten again! Tuesday was a crazy day and it started going off schedule.  So as we rushed up to our first appointment we were about 5 mins early. We parked our bikes. As I hopped off mine and we went to lock them I just spoke out loud to Sys Sprague and Heavenly Father. "Heavenly Father, we are ready to talk to some prepared people.. if you feel like sending them our way." Right then a lady walked past. Syster Sprague and I were startled and thought... oh geez.. I hope it wasn't her! I wasn't QUITE ready.  So after parking the bikes we headed down the little road to our meeting place. A younger man rounded the corner and lit up a cigarette. I looked at Sys S and said.. should we do it?  She said, why not! (I love her!).  We stopped him. and He gave us his number!!!!!!!  First person we contacted! THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR MISSIONARIES IN SWEDEN! :)   The rest of the day we were so busy we didn't get a chance to talk to 10 people. I felt like it was Heavenly Father knew we were not going to have time so just gave him to us first. :)
Wednesday.. the same thing happens. we are running late. We have to quickly hop on our bikes and cycle to the church to print something out to then quickly head back for a teach. This does not make for good random contacting on the way. We were rushing up to 5 o'clock. finally the day slowed down and we went to go by some old investigators. As we walked up to the apt complex of the family there was a man and his son sitting on a park bench. I looked at Sys S and said.. should we talk to them? she look at me and said "why not!"  He said we could come back next week on Thursday and teach him. yay!!! This kept happening to us throughout the week. And guess what! We got 5 new investigators! I really shouldn't be so surprised because with the Lord anything is possible.. but! I still was!
Syster Sprague and I have decided to make April a month of perfection (thank you dad) and we are going to try to do our best and let the Lord do the rest. I am super excited!  

There is so much more that happens to us each day on a mission. It is just too much to write down. 
Two neat small experience were around conference.  On Saturday we were sitting in the chapel listening to conference and we have big widows on the sides. We saw a man outside walking his dog.  Conference is so amazing.. who wouldn't love listening to this and feeling of the spirit and power of God. Syster Sprague got a smile on her face and said.. should we go out there and invite him!?  I thought for a moment.. are you crazy! but then remembering all those times she stood by my side and said.. why not. I looked at her and said "Why not!".. big smiles came upon our faces and we headed out.  We walked up to the man and told him that we were listening to a prophet of god speak and he would be welcome to join us.  He said no.. but it was at that moment that I realized.. I need not have fear. We can do all things. And even if they reject our invitation.. that does not mean it doesn't count. Every invitation counts.  On Sunday morning we decided to walk to church. The buses don't run on Sundays and it would take us about 40 mins.. but we thought it might be the only way we could reach our 10 contacts. There were not too many people on the streets.   By the time we rounded the bend with the church just a minute ahead.. and woman pushing a stroller came walking towards us.  Well! we decided to stop and invite her. She unfortunately had to rush to her friends house.. But she said "I got your little note yesterday".. I thought.. what? who are you?  you got a note from us!?  Syster Sprague with surprise said, Oh! are you Marta!? She said yes.  She was quickly past and headed on her way.  I was stunned. Out of all the people out we run into an old investigator we have gone by a few times but she was never home.  We have noticed that we never just "run into people".  The Lord really guides us and puts people in our path.  Even when they don't want our message. He still wants us to invite them. 

  SO! I love you all and I love this gospel!! Have a great day! 

 Love Syster Schneiber

ps. There are these flowers that have just popped up in the middle of little patches of grass.  Spring is here! it reminded me of the "lupine lady!"... but It also reminded me of Mulan. I looked at Sys Sprague one day riding the bus and told her to look at all the flowers. Then I said.. in my best imitation of Mushu.. "did you see those huns! they popped out of the snow! like daisies!"