Monday, March 19, 2012

Baptisms on the Horizon...

Excerpts from last three letters:

Hey family,
It's crazy how fast time is going by, doesn't seem like I've been here a month already. Det har været bare en anden travl uge af arbejde igen. Men, vi har lavet en Dåbesdate med en af vores undersøger. Det vil være på April 7th hvis det al går godt ind til dengang. Thought I'd throw a little Danish in there, probably still written wrong but you guys can probably Google it and figure it out. This week has been a lot of fun though with tons of work. Our area has been very busy since I started with Stoffey when I got here. We've had pretty good success just this and last week especially. We've been able to teach quite a few lessons on the spot, and have given out tons of books. Not sure if I told you guys, but our area was "Area of the Week" last week. We're pretty well rolling right now. Actually I should say Stoffey is rolling right now, because basically all I'm doing is following him everywhere like a dog. But, the Danish is still improving. I'm not to the point where I could converse easily yet, but I can pick up most things that are in my vocabulary. Today's been an awesome P-day so far, and sorry this is such a short letter but we're in a hurry to get to our next destination on our "castle tour." We started at Frederiksborg Castle, then headed up here to Helsingør which has Kronborg castle. I would say Kronborg is probably the coolest thing I've seen since coming here. You can see Sweden pretty easily from the waterfront, I would guess it's about a mile away. I've been looking on family search for some potential gravesites to go check out. Still looking for some closer to my area, but we have a ton in Vordingborg that are buried down there. All the food here is good... REALLY good. I don't really eat meals anymore, I just eat all day. Everyone that watches me eat wonders how I'm not 400 pounds.

"So next P-day we're going to head into Roskilde to look at the dome church. On top of that I found a huge line of ancestors that are buried in Svogerslev just outside of Roskilde in the Svogerslev kirkegård so we're going to check that out next P-day. The line is from Charlotte Petersen on Dad's side. Her mom, Flora was born in Roskilde and her Dad's line which are the Johansens are all from Svogerselv for a few generations. So I wrote down all the names and years and we'll go look for their headstones on Monday. It's way nice, we have Alle Zone bus and train passes so we can basically go anywhere around greater Copenhagen on P-days.

Hej Familie!
It was good to hear from all of you this week, sounds like there's tons going on at home. It's only been 3 months and you're remodeling a bathroom, buying a basketball hoop and a car. I'm not going to recognize our house when I get home. It's been another busy week here with tons going on, I'll make sure I get it all in this letter for you guys. The Danish is slowly improving everyday, it definitely gets frustrating sometimes with how slow learning a language can be and how long it takes but I can see some serious progress at the same time when I look back to my first day here. We've met a ton of people this week contacting, and have a few new investigators. One is from Africa, I think Zimbabwe and is very positive. This last Friday was her first sit-down lesson with us and it went amazing. The spirit was pretty well filling the room and she started crying when we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation. I would say it was definitely the most spiritual lesson I've had on the mission. By the end of the lesson we brought up baptism and set a tentative date for June 9th. She said that she would like to be baptized but is going to Africa for 3 weeks starting this Saturday so we're hoping to get her reading out of the Book of Mormon while she's gone. Her name is Anita, but that may be spelled wrong, that's just how it sounds. She doesn't speak any English, just Portuguese and Danish. It kind of stinks with the timing of her trip and everything but hopefully she maintains interest, that's why we're going to ask her to read while she's gone. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

The other investigator with the date is Mr. F. He's been working with missionaries for a long time, and this isn't his first baptismal date. It's been tough with his health to get him to church, but he tells us every lesson that he knows it's true. The date is still set in April, but will probably have to be pushed back again, he ended up in the hospital this week unfortunately. He has a lung condition that I don't know the name of, but it makes it tough for him to breath at times and very tough to come to things like church where he's sitting up-right for a long time. We had a fast yesterday for him though, and we're just hoping that we can work something out with him to get him baptized. He's very interested in doing temple work for his wife, who passed away a year ago. That seems to have been his motivation to keep trying to be baptized, so hopefully we can get it done.

I haven't played the piano yet, but will in Zone conference this week. The ward choir director asked me to play on Easter Sunday, where there's going to be tons of non-member guests that the members will be inviting, so I'll make sure it's good. I'm surprised at how few people play the piano here. I thought if anything, more people here would play than in the states but it's actually fewer. I just noticed that my English is rapidly declining because of all the Danish cramming I've been doing for 3 months. Sorry if there's a trillion commas in this letter. Glad you guys enjoyed the Danish candy, that stuff is amazing. I haven't eaten anything I didn't like here, it's been awesome. The only problem is that I'm eating about 4 times what my companion eats. And according to him, I've been forcing him to eat more because I'm always eating.

That's crazy that Sterling's leaving already, tell him good luck for me. I'm stoked for him, that's going to be an awesome mission. Yesterday we had an interesting sacrament meeting, the area 70 from Sweden was there, and President Andersen was there with all of the Stake Presidency. The area president spoke Swedish and had to have the temple president translate for him which was cool to hear. I was surprised at how different the language is from Danish. I basically could pick out maybe one word from each sentence. I wouldn't have thought Swedish would be that much different. The weird thing is that Norwegian and Danish are almost the exact same language, and I've heard that it's possible for a Dane and a Norwegian to converse with each other staying in their own language. I thought that was pretty cool, the area President was Olsson. Well, that pretty well covers the week, I read all of your emails while writing this, so hopefully I got everything you all wanted to hear. Thanks for all the letters you send me, I'll work on that Book of Mormon insert for you Mom. I'll let you know when I give it out, that will be cool. Don't worry about the English, pretty well everyone here speaks it very well. Talk to you next week, love you.
Ældste Swenson

Monday, March 5, 2012

Having a Great Time!

What's up family,
Just another P-Day here, it's been an awesome week so hopefully I can get everything into this email. First, we had splits with Allerød on Tuesday so I went up there with Elder Greenhalgh. It was a fun time, had a typical full day of work in their area, went to a couple appointments with their investigators and did some contacting for a few hours after. I'm pretty jealous of their area too, they have Frederiksborg castle and a couple others that I forgot the names of already, but they get to drive by Frederiskborg about 10 times each day on the way to their appointments and everything. So far I would say that's been my favorite thing to see here is the castles, I think we might be heading to one today if I can find a way to get the others off their computers to come with.

This last Saturday we went on splits again, but this time it was with a member in our Ward. His name is Nickolai, he's almost 18 and is pretty set on going on a mission. Basically I went with him and Elder Stoffey went solo as we contacted down Frederikssundvej for a mile or two. That was the first time I was forced to take the lead in the contacting and everything which actually turned out to be really fun. It was a good practice in Danish, as I had to repeat my words about a trillion times while we were contacting but it ended up going very well. We gave out 3 Mormon's Bøger, which were my first three given out while I was actually doing all the talking. The language can still be a blur most of the time, but I'm learning to work with what I know. It's fun to just sit back sometimes on the trains and busses here and listen to other people talking, trying to pick everything out of what they say. I can see how tons of missionaries can be stressing out of their minds when they get to the field, especially when it's foreign and they're not familiar with the language, but I'm just trying to enjoy it all I can.

Elder Stoffey and I gave a lesson in church yesterday which went well. After church we pounded about 5 bottles of Cocio which tasted amazing. I would say that's my favorite drink so far up here. It's chocolate milk in a bottle, and usually the cheapest drink in the stores here so we'll buy about 10 bottles a week and go Mike Tyson on them. It's been fun living in our apartment, I think I told you guys, but we have 4 missionaries in there. I think there's only one other in the mission like that, usually it's just you and your companion. The other two are the zone leaders Elder Veach and Bailey. I'm pretty sure Bailey sent Mom an email the first week here which I thought was funny. If he sounded special at all, that's just how he jokes around. He's actually fairly normal for the most part. I'm just glad they're all cool guys, we've been getting along very well for the most part. My trainer is doing good, we had a pretty confrontational weekly planning session last Friday at Mr Chicken. There was actually someone there taking pictures of our fight, so I went ahead and posted them on my Picasa page. That's been our favorite place to eat out, usually we'll do our planning their each Saturday while we eat Cheeseburgers. It's a great time, and already has become a tradition.

Tomorrow we're going to be doing a few call backs from some positive contacts we ran into last week which could lead to some new investigators. It's going well with our current investigators, we have a couple very positive ones that we both feel good about. The big thing has been getting them to church, which is tough here when the building is about a 30 minute drive from most people. I'll let you all know when anything huge happens with any of them, I'm excited for most of our investigators though, I think they all have tons of potential, it's just been a matter of helping them progress further. I would say the majority of them have already said they know the Book of Mormon is true which has been very encouraging, and I've been surprised with how many people we've been finding on the streets who have an interest in the church. There's definitely people here that have been prepared for the word, it's just our job to find and help them. It's exciting to get out every day, I would say one of my favorite jobs here already is just straight-up contacting. We get to talk to almost 100 new people each day here, out of which we'll usually have a conversation or even a lesson with a quarter of them. And there's no shortage of people to work with. There's about 5 million people in the country and only 40 missionaries here at one time. That means there's loads of people who haven't even heard of the gospel yet, which gives us some responsibility every day. I'm stoked for this next week, hopefully it's another good one, I'll let you all know how it goes. Thanks for everything, love you guys.
Ældste Swenson