Well everybody, I made it safe and sound up to Ö-vik! The bus ride was a little long but overall not bad. Last Monday I was with a big group of missionaries taking a walk around Stockholm and Gamla Stan, and then in the evening Elder Aabo and I went to the Heidenberg's place and had a delicious fish dinner there. Tuesday was spent packing up for my departure, but also we had the chance to welcome the new greenies as they came in to the YSA Center! A large group of 13 fresh ones, half tired out of their minds haha. I got to take one of them out contacting for his first time; it was odd to be on the opposite side of that, because not too long ago I was in his position! Turns out this Elder, Murri is his name, is from Texas and is in fact in my District up here as well. He is being trained by Elder Nelson (also from Texas) in Umeå. Tuesday night, I got one last dinner with the Guerras and said a farewell to them. But now, onto my start in Ö-vik...
I arrived Wednesday and was greeted by my new companion, Elder Thacker, who comes from South Jordan, UT. We got picked up by the hilarious senior couple that also works in this area, the Delgados, who took us out for dinner that evening. They dropped us off at our place afterwards and there I spent the remainder of the night unpacking and getting settled in.
I had my first District meeting on Thursday, and surprisingly it went rather well. Our District comprises the two sets of Umeå Elders, the Delgados, and me and Thacker, so smaller than what I am used to. After our meeting, we went out to eat lunch before the Umeå Elders had to catch their train headed back to their area. Elder Thacker and I headed to the church after lunch and did some language study time and organizing area information. The church is two minutes in walking distance away from our apartment, so its very convenient to get there. The church membership here is organized into a branch; there is no actual chapel building per say, we meet in on the floorplan of an apartment building that has been repurposed into a chapel and a few classrooms. Very cozy. We went out later and did some swing-bys on old investigators in the area, doing some trackting and contacting as we went. We did end up meeting a nice african woman, who we ended up talking to for a quite awhile and eating some food with her. Since she was alone we just sat outside the door of her apartment; we got some strange looks from the passing tennats haha.
On Friday, we shared a message with a new convert named Inger and had some tea with her at her place. We also did some weekly planning and then later had "English class" at the church with the Mong kids. They are a very active Cambodian family (one of the three/four that really hold the branch together), and their children are super funny. Kim is 16, Sovann is 14, and Poo minn is 12. They all speak fluent Swedish and nearly fluent English. We played Uno with them and they welcomed me to the Ö-vik branch.
Saturday was a pretty successful day. We got riding on our bikes and did a bunch of tracting and old investigator swing-bys. We were able to get into contact with one old potential investigator who saw us coming out of an apartment building, and we told him the address to our church and he was very excited to come on Sunday. We handed out two Book of Mormons, one of which was given to a random guy on the street who saw us biking and asked if we were Christians. He said he was looking for a better life so we quickly gave him a Book of Mormon and the address to the Church. Tender mercies of the Lord right there, he puts the prepared people in our path. After a long day of hunting down old investigators and riding around on bikes, we played soccer with the youth of the branch that night. Of course these kids are super good at soccer and we had a lot of fun.
I got to experience my first Sunday in a branch yesterday. Because the branch is so small, we only have two hours of church, sacrament, and then a second hour meeting for young men and young women, relief society, and priesthood. I gave a talk on prayer in sacrament meeting, and in priesthood it was just me and Elder Thacker and the Delgados. After Church meetings, Elder Thacker and I did a ton of old investigator swing-bys and got in touch with some again. We had dinner over at the Delgados place that evening and we helped them do some Indexing too.
This area is going to be a huge change for me. I'm not the city missionary anymore; real Swedish small town for me for the next while. Things are so quiet here, and this area is so large that it is hard for lots of people to come to church. There is lots that needs to be done here, and I hope and pray that I can do some good and boost the work in this area. I know there is reason for my being here, and hopefully I can find it and strengthen the Lord's kingdom here in Ö-vik. I wish you all the best, and leave you with this scripture which I shared in my talk yesterday: 2 Nephi 33:3. Follow the example of Nephi and pray for others. We are blessed more when we put the welfare of others ahead of our own.
Love you all! Have a wonderful week!