Hello friends and family far and wide!
It has been a great week over here in Umeå. Turns out it was my last full week here as well, but I will get to that in a second.
So last Monday we had dinner over with the Ottossons, doing some contacting on the street before hand then making some calls back home that night afterwards.
Tuesday we had the bittersweet time of having our last District Meeting with the Delgados, who have just left to return back home to the States. Elder Carrigan and Elder Rhoades organized a little memorial for them by gathering videos from some of the missionaries that had served alongside them. Very special time, good meeting, and yummy chinese food for lunch. After coming back from Ö-vik, Elder Loertscher and I hurried over to the Church and met with Ian Chen, an investigator from two transfers back that had been in China during the Holidays. We had a very short visit, and unfortunately he may be moving back to China permanently due to work and so that he can be with is wife. He still wants to investigate the church and find out more and continuing reading from the Book of Mormon, so we have sent him links to church websites so that he can continue finding out more. Afterwards, we had dinner with the ZLs Sis. Nystedt and a non-member friend of hers who had a really cool Swedish name that I don't know how to spell. :) After that, the Zone Leaders and we went on street contacting splits to finish off the night.
Wednesday went a little different than planned, but Elder Loertscher and I met up with Frank, an American member in the branch who is not having too much luck with the job situation in Sweden. We got to talk to him and share a message, and he really seemed to appreciate being able to talk openly (and in English) with us. We got to meet with our other Chinese investigator, Henry, and read another chapter in the Book of Mormon with him. He treated us to his last package of real chinese beef that he had brought with him from his last trip to China. Super yummy actually. Just some cold beef that we ate with bread but was really good. Henry is enjoying our time together and is really interested in the Book of Mormon and learning more about Lehi and his family. The Lövgrens treated us and the ZLs to dinner at a Thai restaurant later that day, then Elder Loertscher and I did some more street contacting in Stan.
We met with Shrok again on Thursday and he is doing very well. He believes that the Book of Mormon is true and wants to send copies of it to Iran to his family and friends. We did our best to teach about Prophets and Joseph Smith still using Google translate, and he in turn taught us a few things in Persian. We may learn Persian faster than he learns Swedish haha! Also, we met with Emelie and Johannes that night and after having dinner with them watched the short Restoration movie. They told us that once they understand the historical side of the Book of Mormon they would really consider being baptized and becoming members.
Friday was our Lycksele day. Lycksele is a city out west of Umeå by about two hours and is located in central Sweden. We took a train together with the Zone Leaders after getting brunch at the newly opened IKEA in Umeå. Elder Loertscher and I tried to do a few swing-bys on former investigators once we got over there, then ended up doing lots of tracting. The Wennerlund family (members in the branch) had us over for dinner that night which was super good! It was cool to have dinner with them since they live so far out. They come regularly to church on Sundays but aside from that they aren't in Umeå so much, so it was very nice to visit with them in their home. We took a train back to Umeå then the ZLs drove us home to be in time for transfer calls that night.
Saturday morning we received the big transfer news. I will be transferring to Utby, a community located in GÖTEBORG!!! Elder Williams will be my new companion; I don't know anything about him other than he is in the same MTC group as Elder Kendall, so it will be awesome getting to know him. My son Elder Loertscher will be holding the fort here in Umeå and will be receiving Elder Burgin, a seasoned missionary with just three months left in his mission. As for the ZLs, Elder Bradshaw also received the boot from Umeå and is headed down to Handen in the greater Stockholm area. Elder Luke is staying here as well and is getting Elder Bailey. I am very excited to be headed down south but will greatly, greatly miss Norrland and Umeå. I felt like I have spent my whole life here and to be leaving this place seems very unreal. This will be quite a bigger change than Ö-vik to Umeå was haha. Elder Loertscher is glad to be staying but a little heartbroken to see his Father take off on him. I know he will be fine though. So that's the news. Saturday was special for a few other reasons. Last Innebandy day for me and Elder Bradshaw, as well as the occasion of two baptisms! The Elders from Ö-vik brought Salima up to Umeå in the early afternoon and had a wonderful baptismal service for her here. It was really cool because I got to see a few familiar faces from Ö-vik's branch like the Mongs and Ottossons, but also Salima, someone who Elder Workman and I had been getting to come to church and youth activities while we were down there. After her service, we were able to hold a service for Zezka!! So amazing to finally see this whole process happen after about three and a half months in the making. It was a beautiful service and we had lots of support from other Branch members. Zezka was so happy and excited and everything went really well! That night the four of us missionaries had dinner with Sis. Marianne Larsson, then Elder Loertscher and I had a little visit with our good friend Magnus.
Yesterday was my last Sunday in Umeå. Pretty bittersweet. Our investigator Kurt ended up coming to church to our surprise, just smiling at our dumbfounded faces. He only stayed for Sacrament meeting but it was good that he came. After all the meetings the branch held a lunch to end the Branch 21-day fast. It was very nice to be all gathered together and to reflect on the blessings that we had seen come from that fast, because there definitely were some. Elder Bradshaw and I got some farewells pics with a bunch of members, and that night we had a rib dinner with Niels and Zezka to celebrate all the wonderful things that have happened with them.
So all in all, it was a great end to my time here in Umeå. I have made lasting friendships, unforgettable memories, and gained more experience. The Lord has been there with me and comforted me during those hard times. I am once again looking forward to closing a chapter and opening a new one as my mission in Sweden continues. I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Äldste Stefan Reed
Varma hälsningar från Sverige
Elder Stefan Reed
182 46, Enebyberg