HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It is officially 2016! Holy Cow! The fastest year of my life has just gone by and now I am looking ahead to what this new year will bring! So far the week has been very rewarding and of course we had a wonderful New Year's Eve! I have labeled this letter Part I because we are having P-Day again in three days this coming Monday, so stay tuned for Part II then. Anyway, here is what has happened so far in the week!
Monday was a normal proselyting day, and Elder Loertscher started back up in the swing of things by doing some swing bys of less actives and potential investigators. We dropped off the last remaining plate of cookies at an investigators home and talked to her for a little bit, her name being Eva. Other highlight of the day was having dinner over at Sis. Carlsson's place, where we had delicious Cheese Cake (but not the dessert kind) and salmon. Mmmmm
More swing bys were had on Tuesday, but we also got Elder Loertscher registered for his "personnummer" so he should be good to go here in Sweden as a temporary citizen haha. We also had another member-meal with Sis. Nystedt, who invited Per-Anders (second counselor in the Branch Presidency) and her non-member friend, Astrid, again. We had a lovely traditional "Julbord" for dinner (I think that makes the sixth one hahaha), and then we got into a long,somewhat tense Gospel discussion about why we are baptized, why it is done the way it is in our church, why we do baptisms for the dead, and touched on Plan of Salvation concepts like the Spirit World. Astrid is a strong Christian, so she has some firm opinions and beliefs in her faith that made her question ours a bit. I turned out alright in the end and proved to be a very good experience for Elder Loertscher, who subtlety asked her if she would be baptized in our church if it was what Christ wanted, to which she replied yes. Later that evening we also visited with Magnus as usual and had a good chat about testimonies and signs of the times and such.
Wednesday was the grand swing-by day. Elder Loertscher and I traveled around the city and Mariehem quite a bit and contacted people along the way. We said hi to a member family and wished them a Happy New Year, renewed our bus cards, and overall had a jolly day. We had dinner with the Iguarans, who are now completely settled in and glad to be back in Umeå. Their son Joseph and his girlfriend were there (who stayed for New Years as well) and we had a yummy empanada dinner with them. They even invited us over for New Year's Eve the next day!
Thursday was New Year's Eve! We had district meeting over in Ö-vik, got lunch at Max's after, then went back into Umeå and spent a little bit of time in the city before our proselyting time ended for the day. The four of us Umeå missionaries all went over to the Iguaran's again and spent the night with them, eating tamales and rice, listening to Colombian music, and playing Monopoly with Nefi! Elder Bradshaw popped open the bubbly before midnight, and we all went outside and counted down the last few minutes of 2015. Fireworks were shot off as if we were in an air-bombing once twelve hit, blasting in the night sky. Swedes love their fireworks! Joseph even lit a good dozen or so rockets and added to the barrage. It was a crazy night, definitely the strangest New Year's Eve of my life! Who would have guessed that I would be spending it in Sweden with a Colombian family. Crazy world!
Of course, during this time we often think about and set goals for the New Year. Some of mine are writing more hand-written letters to my family (yes, you read right Mom and Dad) and to read through the Old Testament. No matter what your goals may be, spiritual or physical, educational or recreational, include the Savior in the goal-setting process. Pray about them and tell him your plan. The Youth theme for 2016 is "Press Forward", inspired by the scripture in 2 Nephi 31:
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
Ponder this scripture and keep working towards that ultimate goal of achieving eternal life.
I hope this letter finds you all safe and happy as you continue to ring in the New Year. Enjoy and have a terrific week as you start 2016!
Äldste Stefan Reed
Varma hälsningar från Sverige
Elder Stefan Reed
182 46, Enebyberg