Sunday, November 24, 2013

Southern Celebrations, Birthday Congratulations

Hello and Howdy to all y'all out there. welcome to the 20th Anniversary episode of The Ogaard Files! This here is your host, Äldste Ogaard, coming to you from the bottom of Sweden on a lovely rainy day! And may I say, what a wonderful day it has been! Perhaps by the lateness of this email you can guess it has been a little hectic, and I'm sorry to say that this week's broadcast will be relatively short. I want to recognize all the wonderful people who sent me birthday wishes already, and I promise that I will better talk about all that next week. For now I'll fill you in on what went on this week: First off, I have gotten very little sleep this last week. Thanks to a week almost filled to the bursting point with travel (delayed trains during transfers on Wednesday, travel to Göteborg on Thursday for a zone training on Friday, travel back to Karlskrona on Friday, etc), we've been meeting our beds at times a tad later than we would have liked. However, that is totally cool, because through the magic of sheer perseverance and total awesomeness, we made it through.

Oh, speaking of we, I'm sure that you are all interested in knowing a little bit about my new companion. His name is Elder Ward, and no, he is not related to the Wards in MH. He's from Detroit, and is just coming out of his greeny area (he's been in-country 3 months). I really like the guy: he's got a real fire for missionary work, and he likes to make jokes. He also apparently likes to overreact a little when he loses one of his name tags: when he lost his magnetic name tag, he went and ordered 5 new ones. On purpose. Don't believe me? I have photographic proof:
(he doesn't have a face in this picture because I thought it made him more mysterious and interesting) 

But yeah, that's how the week has gone for me. Sorry to cut things so short, but I promise I will get to all of you guys next week (Shannon, Val, you two especially. I loved the gifts!) Anyways, remember that I love you, keep calm and carry on, and most importantly, stay on your toes, because you never know what will happen in the next episode of The Ogaard Files!

Lesson Learned: Don't Bother Unpacking

Good Morning, Everybody! Or, should I say, good morning, afternoon, and evening! I must say, it is really fun having an international audience. Welcome again, one and all, to this week's broadcast of Äldste and the Swede with your wonderful host, me! This week's episode is going to be absolutely packed with interestingness, because it's a transfer episode! Now, I know that some of you are thinking "weren't you just transferred to Linköping three weeks ago?" Yeah, that's what I said. I'll be honest right now, if it weren't for the fact that my boss is the all knowing, all powerful God of everything, I would be a little upset right now. I've been here just long enough to get on my feet, grow attached to the people that I was working with, and begin making big plans for the future of this area. But I know that the Lord knows best, and I'm sure that the new missionary he sends here will do an amazing job and take care of the people I care about.

So before I tell you where I am going, I think I'll talk a little about how this week went. To set an overall rating, I would say it went fairly well, if not a little slowly. We did see some really cool stuff this week: one of our investigators began to do släktforskning (the much more fun way to say Family History work) and is super excited about it, and we have another who plans on coming to our family home evening tonight, which is pretty awesome considering she hasn't wanted to come into the chapel for weeks, if not months! Yay for Family Home Evening!

Oh, there is also a really cool experience I thought I would share with you guys! So I was standing around at the bus station last week, and was looking for a chance to talk to someone about the Gospel (trying to break out of my shyness with contacting). I look to my left, and see this really sketchy looking dude with this gnarly looking beard. My first inclination was to be like "nope, keep moving," but I felt impressed that I should speak to him. So I did! And you know what? He was totally awesome! I won't say any names (the fact this email goes on a blog makes me leery to put up other people's information), but I can say this much: he is studying to become a preacher, and was super interested in -guess what?- family history work! Seriously, I am feeling the love with the whole "find your ancestors" vibe. It really helps people connect to the Gospel on a personal level, AND it helps them feel comfortable coming to the chapel, because they have already been there to do family history work! I'm taking it as a sign: God wants us to teach people through släktforskning. Oh, and on that note, I am super exited because I helped clean up some of my family tree this week! Man, I love that we are required to use an hour a week to work on our own family history. Life rocks.

But yeah, that was really the week. So where am I going, you may ask? The answer: Karlskrona. Yep, I'm headed even farther south. Literally, I am going to the bottom border of Sweden. (for those of you who have no idea where Karlskrona is, it's right here: http://goo.gl/maps/4t8QY )

So am I excited? Honestly, I have mixed feelings. While I am excited to apply myself in a new place, I am NOT looking forward to the dialect I am headed to. From what I have been told, in Karlskrona, they speak Blekingska, which is a bad combination of Skånish (mix Danish and Swedish) and Smålandska (also supposedly hard on the ears). I'm sure the people will be absolutely wonderful; I just hope I'll be able to understand them! In all seriousness, though, I am sure that it will be a wonderful place, and that I will love it as much as I loved all my other areas. I guess time will tell.

Anyways, I think that's about it for today. I hope that you all have a wonderful day, and that you remember how much I love all of you! Especially those of you who write me. ;)

Signing out till next week,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

P.S. Picture of the week: Some super awesome clouds that totally made me think about the Second Coming. Yeah, that's right, I'm going all missionary on you.

Scouting out the Area

Hello everybody! Welcome to this year's missionary Halloween Spooktacular! This is your friendly ghost host, Äldste Ogaard, and may I say, I hope that you are all having a frightfully good week, and that you are all ready for a properly spiritual experience! (OK, I know I know, enough with the Halloween puns)
Seriously, though, this last week has been a crazy whirlwind of a week, and I'm not even sure where to begin! I guess I should probably start from the beginning.
So this week has basically been a let's-catch-Äldste-Ogaard-up-to-what's-been-going-on week. we have gone around everywhere, trying to meet with all the members so I can know the lay of the land, so to speak. I  tell you, there are so many different things to think about, it spins my head around. First off, we're starting to work with family history a lot more, so I am really working hard to learn as much as I can about Family Search and doing family History. Honestly, there are way more things to learn than time in the day. It's super cool though, because family history is HUGE in Sweden. And when I mean huge, I mean 3rd most popular hobby in the country huge. So yeah, it's a pretty big deal. Plus, we now are required to spend at least an hour a week working on our own family history so we can be more adept at helping other people with it. I was messing around the other day, and I found that I have a line that goes all the way back to 400 B.C.! That's right, I can almost trace my roots back to the time of Nephi and Lehi. Jealous much?
We're also really trying to step up our game with contacting people as well. I'll be honest with you folks, I'm a little rusty when it comes to talking to random strangers. I always get super tongue tied and nervous, and usually end up just staring out the bus window instead. BUT I know that the Lord puts certain people in my path for a reason, so I'm really working hard on being a little more brave and taking some steps to talk to people.
Hmm... What else happened this week? Well, we met with a super cool member by the name of Joseph, and man is he a fireball! I mean, you can feel the spiritual energy and willingness to work almost literally radiating off of him. He and his wife are so super nice, and I am super excited to work with him. Him and his wife are just starting with Släktforskning (family history), and they are super pumped to do the work for their ancestors. It will be so cool to help them with all the new knowledge we are gaining here, and I am super excited to see what we can find!
Anyways, other than that, not a ton to report on. Just looking forward to November (we have an American family in the ward, and I think we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with them), and hoping to see some amazing things happen in the near future.
Remember I love you all, and that I hope you have an amazing week! Oh, and I want pictures of all the Halloween costumes. I mean it!
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

P.S. I'm going to be dressing up like a missionary this year. Aren't I original?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaping Leopards, Batman! It's an Email from Äldste Ogaard!

*Cue Theme Music*
Hello Everybody! How are my favorite people in the entire world doing today? Welcome again to our weekly broadcast of Whose Mission is it, Anyways? This week I must say, the news will be short, but I give you my 100% guarantee that it will be of the same wonderful quality as usual, and will keep you on your toes!
So, to start off our little report, I am now officially in my new area, Linköping (that's here -----> http://goo.gl/maps/IlFuE  for all of you who don't know Swedish geography) I must say, it is a lot bigger than what I am used to; after spending the last 5-6 months in places like Darlarna and Skellefteå, I am totally not used to being in a city again. I keep looking around, expecting to see trees everywhere, but instead all I can see are buildings and people! Talk about shell shock. But yes, I finally have settled down.
Let me tell you though, it was an interesting journey to get to "settled down", however. It started with Monday: I had my last English group meeting, and it was very sad. I didn't tell anyone in the group that I was leaving; it was just too much. (by the way, Agnes, if you are reading this, I guess that WAS my blog that you found. My sister started one for me. Keep reading, and let everyone else know I miss them!) We had a really fun activity (spoons), and then began all the preparation for me heading out.
So, for those of you who haven't been a Mormon missionary, let me break down how this goes: usually, I have 3 days to pack up, write a report of what I've been working on for the new guy, and say all of my goodbyes to the people I have come to love so very much. Now, notice how the word "usually" is underlined? That's because this transfer, things were a tad different. This time, I had the equivalent of 2 days to get everything prepared, because we also had zone training to go to last week! Needless to say, I was a tiny bit stressed out. However, I persevered through, had an AWESOME time at zone conference (I'll talk more about it next week), and managed to survive the flight from Skellefteå (even though I had to wake up at 4:30 to catch it).
Let me tell you though, the hardest part was saying goodbye to Hanna. She took it like a trooper, but it was really hard for me to say goodbye. I only take comfort in the fact that I know Hanna is awesome and that she's in good hands in the Skellefteå branch, and that I have decided that i will be going back to Skellefteå before the end of my mission; it's not a matter of if, it's only a matter of when. =)
Anyways, other than moving, there isn't really so much to report. My new companion, Äldste Martinsson, is a pretty cool guy. I think that we'll get along just fine.
So that's it for this week, guys. Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to join again next week for another exciting episode of Whose Mission is it, Anyways? (or whatever I decide to rename it)
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

As the Sun Sets on Skellefteå...

Hello Family and Friends!
So let me just start off this email by saying this one is probably going to be a little less funny than usual. In fact, a lot less funny than usual. I guess I'm just not in a very funny mood today, mostly because yesterday we got a transfer call. Yes, it's true: I am leaving Skellefteå to head to Linköping on Thursday. I'm glad to go where the Lord wants me to go, but I'm not gonna lie, this move is going to be a very hard one. Perhaps as hard for me as when I moved from Arizona to Idaho.
Why am I so attached to Skellefteå, you may ask? well, to be honest, there are many reasons. First off, I love this town: the people are generally very open and nice, the weather right now is absolutely beautiful (if a little chilly) the sights of Autumn are everywhere; basically, this little city off the coast of the Baltic Sea has become a home to me.
But it's not just the city I'm going to miss. What I really am going to have a hard time leaving is the people. Firstly there are the members. They all have been so loving, so diligent, and so ready to do the work and help us wherever they can. Even though there are only 6 active members in the branch, they are saints in Zion, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more welcoming and humble people anywhere else.
And then there's the English group. While the Lord has perfect timing, I must say that it did not coincide with my idea of the right time to transfer. We are getting ready today to ask some of these people if they would be willing to meet with us in a teaching capacity, and I now won't be here to see that. I find consolation only in the fact that I can trust Äldste Knutsson to help these people the best he can to accept Christ and learn more about God's plan for them. It's certainly a humbling experience to give up a pet project when it starts to show fruits.
Finally (and perhaps biggest of them all), I am really going to miss Hanna. I tell you, seeing her learn and grow and become the member she is today has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I can't even begin to describe the joy I have felt seeing the light of Christ in her eyes, and in listening to her bear witness that she knows that this is God's church on the Earth today. I knew I would have to leave eventually, but it does not make it easier. I really care a lot about her, and am going to sakna (miss) the strength I have received in working with her.
But, as they say, the only things constant in life are Death, Change, and Taxes. Of those three I guess I'm pretty glad I'm experiencing Change right now, and not the other two. And I know that the Lord has a work for me to do in Linköping. I can tell you this: I am not quite sure what the Lord has in store for me, but I know it will be amazing. If Skellefteå was any indicator, I'd say I have a lot to look forward to.
This move to Linköping (which is southern-ish Sweden) will also be a big change when it comes to responsibilities, as I have been called to serve as a District Leader there. It's kind of weird that I'll be the district leader (considering my new companion, Äldste Martinsson, has been out a lot longer than me), but I look to this as a chance to be a better example and work harder to serve the Lord.
Anyways, I think I'm going to end this here. Remember that I love you all, and that I care about you a LOT.
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard
P.S Would someone tell Sis. Eagley thank you for all the letters, and that I'll be sending her one soon? I feel real bad that I haven't responded to her letters yet... 

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CONFERENCE MADNESS!!!!

Greetings, fellow earthlings!
Welcome one and all to this week's episode of Behind Swedish Lines. This is your host, Äldste Ogaard, and let me tell you, what a show we have in store for all of you today! Absolutely jam-packed with adventure, intrigue, and heroics. But, rather than talk about how awesome it will be, why don't we just jump on in, shall we?
OK, so to start off with, this week I think I set a personal record for number of lessons taught. I tell you, it's crazy. Are you guys ready for this? This week, I taught...
 
                                                                         a whopping grand total of two lessons.
Yeah, when it comes to teaching, this was an incredibly slow week. We worked really hard to get lessons set up with people, but for one reason or another, they all fell through. Except for Hanna. Our lessons with Hanna never fall through. =) While this may sound absolutely terrible, we are not discouraged. For reasons we shall talk about soon, our hopes are bright, our footsteps are sure, and our bags are very, very heavy with copies of the Book of Mormon to give out to folks.
So why are we still so encouraged after such a astronomically unsuccessful week? The answer lies first with General Conference. Holy cow, my mind was BLOWN away at how awesome General Conference was! The talks were absolutely amazing, and it was  even more fun cause we were chilling in Luleå for almost 2 whole days to watch it! it was like a missionary party up there! Our whole district (6 elders) in one apartment! It was crazy! We met the new guy in our district, Äldste Jonsson from Stockholm. He's a short term missionary (serving for 3 weeks), and he's super awesome. He's a guitarist for a band called Like Torches, and apparently they're actually pretty big. As in "they toured with Yellowcard" big. When he said he knew the members of Yellowcard personally, I totally flipped; I mean, we're talking about one of my favorite bands, and he's hung out with them, and knows them personally! OK, sorry about that. Rant mode disengaged. It was just really cool to learn that there are such amazing people all around us.
Anyways, back to Conference. So I really liked the talk given by Elder Uchtdorf for those who have left the church or are struggling with their testimonies. It was a really touching talk, and it helped remind me that as members of this church, we do not expect that we will all be perfect. The Church is not for perfect people, it is for people working to become perfect through Christ's atonement. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that, but it is absolutely true. A truth is not best measured by its believers (although it should be expected that they do their best to emulate that truth); it is best measured by simply whether it is true or not. It's like I always say when teaching people: we don't base our faith on the example of the members, or the action of a mortal man. Our faith is build upon Christ, as revealed and confirmed by the Holy Ghost. If one wants to know if this work is true, don't look at supporters and critics, or look for the flaws of imperfect human men who God called (remember, Moses wasn't perfect either); no, if you want to know if this is true, the way to do it is to sincerely ask God in the name Christ if these things are true. It seems simple, and it's definitely a bold claim to make, but I and 15 million members like me make it nonetheless.
So yeah, basically, conference was awesome, this week is going to be even more awesome (we hope to teach some of the people from our English group soon!), and I am more confident than ever that I am out doing the Lord's work: declaring His words and preparing the world for the day of His glorious return.

I hope you guys forgive me for the brevity of this week's episode, but I've got a work to do, and it's a pretty awesome one. I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you all next week!
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

Wait, what do you mean by "it's October tomorrow"?!

Hello Everyone!
So let me just start off this email by saying that today I am officially freaking out. I don't know if I stepped into a wormhole, or if the Doctor pulled me onto the TARDIS while I was sleeping, but time has gone way too fast! Let me clarify a little: First off, my little sister, Aubree, turns 18 tomorrow. Freak man, I don't want to believe it. I can not accept that my little sister will be an adult tomorrow. I know half of you reading this will laugh at me, but I feel old now. Which leads me to thing number 2: I turn 20 in 55 days. 55 days, people. Can anyone say "crazy"? It's really funny: I've been working with these Swedish high school students, and you know, I'm thinking, ok, it's nice to be with so many of my peers. Then I take a step back and actually realize how old these guys are. These kids are like 4 years younger than me! My mind was blown away. Truly, life goes fast.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, I just marked my 8th month on my mission last week. It feels like it just started, and now I'm 1/3 of the way through. Time, I command you to stop moving so fast. Seriously, I mean it.
Anyways, I thought I would take a second to more properly recognize my sister's birthday. Aubree, I love you so flipping much, and I want you to know that you are amazing. I know that you are doing an awesome job being an example to all those around you, and I hope that you know that. So, Happy 18th, Sis!
Ok, so about the missionary work. Well, to be honest, not a ton has happened. Skellefteå is still Skellefteå. English group rolls forward. Pancake night, by the way, was a wonderful success, even though my pancakes turned into these weird half American/ half Swedish hybrid pancakes. this week we're doing an activity called "What'd You Say?"; I can't quite explain it, but it'll be awesome.
One thing worth mentioning: we got a new investigator! His name is A_____, and he's a wonderful man from the Congo. He is really excited to read the Book of Mormon (in French), and he just has this wonderful positive spirit. Let me tell you, though, it was really interesting teaching him. We come to his apartment, and he opens the door, and the first thing I see is 4 chairs sitting in the hallway, waiting for us. I guess his apartment is kinda small for his family (I counted 5 people in an apartment that would comfortably fit 2), so we were pretty cool with talking in the hallway. It was actually a nice change of scenery for once; usually, the only time I see someone's hallway is right before they say they're not interested and shut the door in our faces. =P Nah, I'm kidding. They very politely shut the door in our faces. =)
Anyways, that's life right now. Just soldiering on. It will be harder now: our wonderful Zone Leader, Äldste Dalton, was whisked away to the other side of the country (Malmö). I must say, I will miss him and his Irish tin whistle, but I have no inclination of joining him down there. They speak skonish (the bad birth child of Swedish and Danish) down there, and it's hard enough understanding one skonish guy (Äldste Knutsson), let alone being surrounded by it. No, I'm glad that I am standing safe in Norrland.
So yeah, I love you all, and I hope you have an awesome week!
Until Next Time,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

Sunday, September 29, 2013

To The Citizens of Skellefteå: Please Stop With The Rain Dancing


 Dearest Family and Friends,
So remember how two weeks ago I told you a action packed adventure about overflowing baptismal fonts? Well, it appears that someone in heaven followed my example, because it has rained nonstop for the last week or so. Literally, I think I have seen the sun for a total of 6-8 hours this week. Combine that with a sunset that is determined to go down at least 15 minutes earlier every day, and a thermometer that has absolutely given up the fight to stay in the double digits (in Celsius, mind you), and you get one very interesting week.
Despite the bitter (and I mean bitter) start of fall, things have been very warm for the work here in Skellefteå, actually. We continue to go around visiting the local high schools to give our presentation (I am starting to get sick of the words "America" and "American"), and our English group last Monday went incredibly well! We had about 13 people in attendance, and they all loved it. So much, in fact, that they said they'd bring their friends this week! Which is good, because we are having an American (I just winced after typing that word) Pancake Night! It is going to be crazy; there will be pancakes (obviously), I'm a Mormon videos, and I am taking it upon myself to introduce the game Mafia to Sweden (don't worry, no secret combinations going on here!). Yes, I am very excited for tonight.
As for teaching, while there have not been any stunning developments, there are a good number of things worth noting: first, Hanna is doing well still (she had an awesome time at district conference this saturday and sunday!), and is coming with us to teach a less active family from Colombia (Hanna is studying linguistics, and Spanish just so happens to be one of the five languages she can speak). We still don't have very many investigators (I can count them on one hand), but we really feel like we could be seeing some amazing things coming out of the English group in the next couple weeks.
I'm sorry that this email is kind of short, but to be honest, I'm not sure there is much more to talk about right now. Things keep plugging along, and I'm just happy to be plugging along with them. I hope that you all have a good week, and that you are all as excited for General Conference as I am. T-minus 12 days! =)
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard
P.S. Some of you have asked about birthday ideas/needs. While I am not a worldly man, I do have a couple things that I have been thinking about: Bagpipe and Celtic instrumental music, any kind of American candy (especially peppermint Altoids. I really miss those), any of James E. Talmage's books besides Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith,  or any other book by an Apostle/Prophet, especially those on Hebrew culture and the Old Testament. Pretty much, though, I don't really need much. I'm already doing what I love in one of the best places in the world, so I think I'm pretty well off right now. I would love pictures, however. I miss all of your smiling faces, and it'd be nice to look at them every now and again. =)
P.P.S. Photos of the week!
The one of all the smiling teens is the English group.
The street sign was cool because -gatan in Swedish means "the street", so loosely translated there is a Bro Street in my area. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
and the drawing was something i doodled on a rainy mailbox while tracting. 
 





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remember, Remember the 7th of September


Hey Everybody!
Welcome to another edition of Around Skellefteå in 8o Days, baptism edition! That's right, there was a baptism in Skellefteå, and let me say that words cannot describe the total and complete awesomeness that it was. I must give it my best shot, however (none of you would forgive me otherwise), and so I thought I would begin with this:

In case you're wondering, Hanna is the girl in white, and I am the man also dressed in white.
Ok, so now you've seen the photo, perhaps I should tell a little story to go along with this. So as you can see from this wonderful photo, the baptism went down, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was also one of the most memorable experiences Skellefteå has had in years, and not just because Hanna is the first person to be baptized in 2 years. To elaborate, this baptism is unforgettable because A) it was Hanna's baptism, and Hanna is amazing; and B) this baptism was one of those Murphy's Law baptisms; that is, lets just say that in preparing everything for the baptism, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It started on Wednesday when we went to go test the pump for the baptismal font.
(aka, the little yellow thing in the corner). So we turn on the water, and you know what? the water started coming out rust red. I kid you not, that water looked like the Nile after Moses got ahold of it. We figured out that the reason it was this particular color was that no one had used these pipes since 2011, and that they had rusted pretty badly in the meantime. Luckly, the water settled to the chapel's normal, slightly yellowish color after about 2 hours of running the water.
So fast forward to Saturday morning. We arrive at the church at 10:00 to start the water (keep in mind that the baptism was going be at 3:00). We turn it on, and head upstairs (the font room is in the basement) for about an hour or so. At 11 we come down to check the water, and are surprised to see that it is already half way full! Not wanting to have a cold font for the baptism, we shut of the water, deciding we'd fill up the other half a little later.
So we come back from the library, and start the water up at 1:00. Personally, I wanted to wait till 1:30 to do this (remember, it took an hour to fill up half way), but Äldste Knutsson wanted to err on the side of caution, so we started it up. Fast forward again to 1:40. After having been upstairs working on the stuff for the english group, I decide to go downstairs to check the font. Imagine my horror when I come down the stairs to see water flowing out from underneath the door of the baptismal room and halfway down the hall (where there luckily was a drain). I run and shut off the water, and call frantically up to my companion, saying "Äldste Knutsson, we have a problem!". Hesitantly, we opened the door to the baptismal room.
 

Imagine, if you will, this room (which extends for a good distance to the back) covered in water, and the font filled to the brim. Needless to say, we were a tad flustered, as we began mopping, draining, and praying. We managed to get the room mopped up 10 minutes before the members started arriving.
But wait, it gets better. So we tell the members our quaint little story, and they of course laugh. One of the members and I head down to look at the font. After seeing the water level (remember, we drained the font down a little), Fern decides that is now too low, and that we need to fill it up again. I disagreed, but relented and turned on the water. At this point in time, I have now changed into my white clothes, and Hanna has arrived. I go up to talk to Hanna, and Fern goes up to work on the luncheon for after the baptism. Everything seemed to be going perfectly...
        ...or so I assumed.
We started the program, and it proceeded wonderfully. We had a wonderful talk, and Äldste Knutsson played a fantastic musical number on the piano. Then came the time for us to head down the stairs for the baptism.
Guess what we saw?
If you said "water", you are correct! the baptismal font had overflown a second time! When I saw this, my first thought was honestly to look and see how Hanna was reacting. Much to my relief, she started laughing. I joined in with her, realizing that this was actually quite hilarious. The other members didn't quite think so at first -this was, after all, the first baptism they had had in over 2 years, and they wanted it to be perfect- but after a while, they began seeing the humor of it too. So they start mopping up, whereas I (seeing that everything was wet anyways) decided to just head to the font. I walked on in, and then proceeded to stand there for the next 5 minutes Hanna and I tried to convince everyone to put down the mops and sit down so we could have the baptism. Finally, we got everyone to take their seats, and the baptism was performed. Let me tell you, the moment I put my arm to the square and began to give the baptismal prayer, the feeling of the entire room just changed. The moment Hanna rose up out of the water, I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and love; I knew that this was truly the Lord's plan.
The rest of the program went swimmingly: one of the sisters gave a beautiful talk on the Holy Ghost, and Hanna bore a simple but stunning testimony. Everyone in the room was beaming: I don't think it could have been a happier day for anyone.
I'm not really sure what to say in conjunction to that, but I guess I'll leave you all with my witness that I know that this is God's church on the Earth today, and that through faith, repentance, baptism by someone holding the priesthood authority, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end we all can make it back to be with our father in heaven. I know that Heavenly Father is proud of Hanna, and that He will help her, me, and all His children so that we can return to Him.
I love you all, and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard
P.S. In all the excitement I almost forgot to wish my dad a happy birthday! Gratis på födelsedagen, Dad! I would sing the Swedish Birthday song to you, but sadly, one cannot do that over email. So I would recommend the next best thing: look it up (Ja Må Han Leva), and pretend it's me singing it. I hope you have an awesome birthday, Dad, and I love you!

Keeping the Fire Burning in an Increasingly Cold Skellefteå

Sept 8
Hello again, everybody!
May I just begin by, of course, welcoming all of you to our weekly session of What in the World is Äldste Ogaard Up To? I am very glad to have all of you aboard today with me, and I must say, Looking at the mailing list, it has grown to be quite the crowd!
So let me say that I LOVED hearing the stories from home this week. Aubree, Dad, congrats on the game. Whenever I get the opportunity to wear normal clothes, I always try to have my Tiger's soccer hoodie on. Glad to see that my team is doing well. Also, Taylor, I hear from a reliable source (Mom) that you are absolutely thrashing the competition on the football field. Nice to know that my siblings are all doing so well in keeping the MHHS fighting strong!
Oh, and about that hail storm, I have to say, I am glad that I wasn't there for that; it sounded absolutely miserable! Lexi, to you specifically, I have this to say: wear your welts with honor. Just tell everyone you were too tough to run from a puny marble-sized hailstorm. Oh, and if you're looking for one of those "could have been worse" situations, turn to Joshua 10:11. I'm not sure if a soccer bag would have taken care of that hail!
Speaking of weather and how sometimes it just treat us kindly, yesterday we got soaked by the rain on our way home from an appointment. It was hilarious; we had just gotten out of an appointment with a less active YSA and his non-member family, and all the sudden it starts pouring rain! You know how they say that you get wetter riding your bike than walking? I can attest to that wholeheartedly. Within 2 minutes we were dripping. Äldste Knutsson asked if we should stop and wait it out under a tree or something, and I said "Nah, we're headed home anyways." Good thing I said that, because we would have been waiting for a long time. As it was, I was just very glad that I had my suit-coat on. With the temperature dropping lower every night, and the sun setting earlier and earlier, I probably would have been rather cold without that thing.
OK, so enough about the weather. I'm sure you all are really much more interested in how the work is coming along. Well, there actually have been several interesting developments in the last couple of days, and I must say that I am rather excited for some of the prospects. Firstly, to answer the question you are all asking, yes, Hanna is still doing quite well, and we are getting all ready for the baptism on Saturday. Her parents don't plan on coming, sadly, but everything at its own pace, I guess. No word yet on who will be performing the baptism, but we should know by the end of today or tomorrow, at the latest. I tell you, I am just amazed by the dedication and enthusiasm that Hanna shows. She is planning on starting Institute this month, and she spends a lot of time on LDS.org (she's already watched the Joseph Smith film twice, as well as almost all of the Mormon Message videos). I am blown away, and so humbled to see how much she loves the Lord and has a desire to learn and grow closer to God.
So, I've been getting a lot of questions about how things are going with my cricket playing Afghani friends. To update you on that, we are still hoping that they will come to the English group that starts next week, and one of them (Khan) still really wants to meet with us. We tried to get together last week, but things didn't quite work out. So that's where things stand on that front.
Oh, also worth mentioning is our awesome zone training we had on Thursday! So we talked a lot about how we need to strengthen our faith, and get out there and trust the Lord; you know, basic zone training stuff. What was not normal, however, was the awesome contacting spree we had afterwards! To elaborate a little: so we had to hop on a bus to get to the restaurant that we were gonna go to for the training. Äldste Knutsson spent a little too long fiddling with the cash to pay the bus driver, so we were the last ones on. What I saw when I looked down the aisles was astounding: everyone on that bus was talking to the missionaries! Seriously, everyone was sitting with someone having these amazing conversations! let me tell you that the shear fact that there was any talking at all was amazing: Swedish buses are usually so quiet you can hear a pin drop. It was one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a long time. Truly, Norrland is an amazing place to be.
But yeah, that's about the gist of it for the week. Just working hard and counting the days till Saturday. I promise I'll have pictures for all of you.
Hope that you all have a fantastic week, and that I hear from you soon!
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard
Picture of the week: Beautiful scenery shot taken on the bridge over the river in Skellefteå.

Same ol' Same ol'

 Aug 26
Dearest Family, Friends, and other Earthlings,
Hello and welcome to another weekly installation of the Adventures of Äldste Ogaard! (can anyone tell I'm missing my old radio shows?) I hope that you all have had a wonderful week, and that last week's installment found you all well. I'm running low on time (I had admin stuff to do today, so it has cut into my emailing time, sadly) So I'm going to jump right to the good stuff of the week.
First, everything is still going well with Hanna. She is progressing towards the 7th of September still, and I am super happy. Her dad has expressed a extreme dislike for the Church (and any church outside of the Svenska Kyrka), but luckily Hanna is 18, and she is still willing to go forward. We are taking it steady (we don't want to cause family problems if we can avoid it), but she is still super excited.
Also in the news, we had a less active family come to church, practically doubling our attendance this week! It was wonderful. We met with Familj Camacho (from Columbia) on Thursday, and they said they would come, but I must admit that I was a little skeptical as to whether they actually would. But, as I said to one of the members, I have been thankfully humbled by the Lord. It was awesome. And best of all, the 12 year old daughter -who was sitting and paying the most attention during sacrament- is not yet a member, and so we now have the opportunity to teach the entire family the Gospel! It will be rather interesting, as only the daughter is fluent in Swedish, but I am looking forward to the opportunity!
Anyways, there isn't much else that is going on right now. It's pretty much the daily routine here in Skellefteå right now, but I love every minute of it. I would honestly be happy spending the rest of my mission in this area. (granted, I might not say that 5 months from now, but whatever) So yep, everything is all good.
Anyways, I love you all, miss you all, and hope that you have a good week!
Tune in next week for another exciting (and hopefully more action packed) edition of:
The Adventures of Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard, Missionary Extraordinaire! 

P.S. Here's the picture of the week:
The first picture is my district, the Luleå District (we're the Marines of the mission: first in, last out)
For all you Dr. Who fans, you'll appreciate the second one. Especially because I found it in a tiny town in Sweden. If you aren't a Dr. Who fan, and don't get this, I suggest watching Dr. Who and finding out what I'm talking about.



Sunday, August 11, 2013

On solid Ground and Northward Bound



Dear Everybody,
Sorry that I couldn't get off a proper email to all of you yesterday. There were a lot of crazy things going on, and so it kinda tied things up till now. Now that I am reestablished, however, I can kind of clarify a little for why you all needed to wait a day for this weeks installation of the Adventures of Äldste Ogaard.  To put it shortly, I got transferred.
More accurately, I got short notice whitewashed. For those of you who don't know missionary jargon, whitewashing is when they send two new guys into an area who have no idea whatsoever about their new work environment or those they'll be working with. If it sounds like I'm a little stressed, it's probably because I'm a little stressed (funny how that works out, isn't it?). I'm sure you are all wondering where I got transferred to, so I'll go ahead and tell you: I am now in Skellefteå, the second most north area in the entire mission. Oh, and it also has the smallest congregation of any of the areas in the entire mission: 5 or 6 people on average, and almost all of them over the age of 65. So yes, I am a tad stressed right now. It didn't help that in order to gat here I was required to take a train and a plane, and that on top of that the train was delayed so I had to take a bus that got me there 30 minutes before my plane took off. So yeah, fun times. Despite all of this, however, I also know that the Lord's hand is in this, so I am trying to look at this in a more optimistic light. It helps that my new companion, Äldste Knutson, is a Swede, so at least I won't be worrying about the language too much.
A little more on Äldste Knutson: he's fearless; I think literally. He will talk to anyone, no matter how negative the vibe they're throwing out, or what they look like. He is also an amazing pianist. We sat down for a couple minutes in the chapel before emailing, and he pulls up to the piano and starts cranking out Chopin's Etude 12 in C minor ("Revolutionary", one of my favorites of Chopin) like he's playing nothing! I'm not going to lie, I was pretty dang impressed by that. I'm not sure how well his English skills are (he pretty much speaks Swedish the whole time), and he isn't quite an intellectual, but I think things will work out fine on that end of this very frustrating change process.
So I'm not sure if there is anything else to speak of this week, but I'm sure I'll have some interesting stories to tell next week. Lol. Remember that I love you all, and that I miss you.
Until Next Week,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard
P.S. This weeks photos are all of the wonderful people I left behind in Borlänge. The first is of ; Ana and Jonathan, two of my best friends in all of Borlänge second,the Davis', The Borlänge senior couple ; and the third, Gabriel, the coolest young man in all of Sweden. I am really going to miss all of these guys.




                  ( P.s. This is a note from Aubree. This letter actually came before "Settling Down in Skellefteå"  I just but them in the wrong order)

Settling Down in Skellefteå

Hello Everybody!
I would just like to start off this email by thanking all of you for the love and support you all have given me this last week. It hasn't been easy, but little step by little step, I'm beginning to feel a little more comfortable in this area, and I imagine that all of your prayers probably had something to do with it. =) Also, thanks again for all the emails. It is very very touching for me to open up my email account Monday and see a huge outpouring of love and affection from all of my family and friends.
One thing I need to say really quick: because of the nature of where we email in this area and other logistical factors, I may not have as much of a chance to answer individual emails as I did in Borlänge. Never fear, I still plan on responding, but it may be a little more delayed than before. I will have more time to write, however, so keep an eye out for letters in the near future!
OK, so on to how this week has gone: it's been very interesting, and very wonderful at the same time. Just because I can and that's how I roll, I believe I will begin with the interesting, and move on to the wonderful as the email progresses (because everyone enjoys a little dramatic buildup, right?)
So first off, this week has been just packed full with travel. And when I say packed full, I mean PACKED. As you all may remember, I came here to Skellefteå on Monday of last week. That in of itself was a very long and tiring journey (about 6 hours total, involving a delayed train, a bus, a plane, another bus, and a 45 minute walk). We had about two days to catch our breath, and on thursday we were off again to Örnsköldsvik so we could stay overnight to head down to Sundsvall on Friday for Zone Conference. That trip was about a 4 hour trip by bus and train. Then, Friday morning our train gets delayed by an hour and a half so we are late to Zone Conference. That trip was about an hour and a half. We get to Zone Conference, have a wonderful time (I got to chill the whole day with my old buddy Äldste Miller, whom I shared an apartment with for 2.5 months in Västerås), and then proceeded to board a train to Umeå so we could take a bus to Skellefteå. This would have been a 5 hour trip, if not for the hour long train delay. As it was, we ended up getting to Skellefteå at 12:30 A.M. and man, I was so tired, it was not even funny. So in total, this week I spent a total of 17.5 hours traveling about 690 miles around northern Sweden, as the crow flies. Not the highlight of the week.
What was the highlight of the week, then? One word, five letters: Hanna.
Perhaps I should explain a little bit. Hanna is a new investigator to the church. She met the missionaries via her English class where the missionaries were guest speakers. She kept thinking about them and thinking about them, so she decided to request a visit via lds.org. The missionaries came and taught her about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and about the Book of Mormon.

Then the missionaries got a call and were transferred.

This is where I come into the picture. We met Hanna at the church the day after Zone Conference to talk more about the Gospel. We asked her about her reading in the Book of Mormon, and she said that she was almost finished with 2nd Nephi (keep in mind, she started reading this book 2 weeks ago). We asked her what she thought about it, and she said she felt really good every time she read that. We talked to her and explained that those feelings came from the Holy Ghost, which testifies of truth. We then talked about how we follow Jesus Christ and about the Plan of Salvation, and how we can come to live together with Him through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We then invited her to pray if this was true, and she did. After praying we asked her how she felt, and she said she felt it was true. We then asked her if she would be baptized, and you know what? She said yes! It was so exciting, and the Spirit was so strong. We set a date with her, and now we are helping her prepare herself to make this sacred covenant with God. Let me tell you, any struggles I've had on the mission were worth it to see the joy on her face when she said she felt what we had been talking about was true, and when she agreed to follow Christ's example. It truly was amazing. I could actually feel the love of Christ in that room. I'm not sure that words can describe this all, but suffice it to say that it was an amazing experience, and I am so thankful that I had the chance to be a witness to it. I am so excited for Hanna and for her decision.
So yeah, not sure anything can top that. It has in the total, been an amazing week. Not sure what else to say, so I guess I'll just end with this: I love you all, I think about you every day, and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Till Next Time,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Triumphant Return to Västerås

Käre Familj och Vänner,
Hi there folks! Boy, I have to say that I am loving the news that has been coming from the emails I have been receiving! First off, A huge congratulations to my cousin Jordan on her marriage last week. Man oh man, I wish I could have been there (although, from what I heard, I may have been in attendance by proxy via a Sarah Palin cutout). I hope that all goes well with the radiation, and know that I am praying for you and your new husband that you can both start off your new life together without any worries in the background.
Also worth mentioning is an early happy birthday to my wonderful brother, Taylor! Bro, I still can't believe that you are turning 16 in three days. It's just crazy, man! I hope that it is absolutely sick, and that you have a blast on your date! =)
Ok, so I'm sure you are all wondering what has occurred in the life of Äldste Ogaard this week. Well, except for a few scattered experiences worth noting, not much, honestly. Semester rages on, and the number of people we meet with continues to steadily decrease as the month progresses. I'm praying that the fast approach of August will bring things back to speed, but it's hard to tell. It is, after all, Sweden we're talking about.
But, moving on to that which actually matters. So this week, we had several awesome opportunities, as well as a couple funny experiences. For instance, this week has been absolutely crazy when it comes to biking! We have rode here, there, all over the place. The longest of our travels via cycle this week was most definitely our trip out to our bishop's house. 5.6 kilometers uphill one way, and like 4.1 kilometers down coming back. Man, I thought my bike was going to explode when we got going on the downhill. I caught some video of it, but sadly it is too big to email.  But yeah, so lots of exercise for me this week.
Also really awesome, I got to return to Västerås for companion exchanges last week! I was with a greenie (Äldste Packer of Pleasant Grove, Utah) and we had a super sick time! we went street contacting, met with Mikael and Diana, and basically just tore up my old hometown. It was really fun to be back in Västerås with my improved Swedish skills, and to share my knowledge of the area with a new greenie. I have decided that as soon as possible, I want to train. It would be so fun. =)
One funny story I have to tell about this trip: So Hitch and I were headed down to Västerås Thursday morning, and we had to leave super early to catch our train (hint: we woke up at 3:30 to get ready), so we were still dead tired still by the time our train got to Ludvika for us to switch to the Västerås train. So we get off the train, and wait around for about 15 minutes before hopping on the Västerås train. We immediately start dozing once we get in our seats. So right as the train starts moving, Hitch jumps right up and says -totally dazed- "We need to get off the train, Now!" Without even waiting for me to say anything, he springs over to the conductor and tells her they need to stop the train. She, all super worried, asks him why. Oh man, you should have seen the confusion on her face when Hitch told her he needed to get on the Västerås train, and his when she told him that this was the Västerås train. So he comes walking over to me, and I am just dying with laughter. Needless to say, I teased him about that for a couple days. I still wonder what would have happened if he had hopped off that train without me, though...
Anyways, so yeah, not a ton going on right now, but that's my week. I hope that you all have a wonderful week, and that you remember how much the Lord loves you. In way of spiritual message, I leave you with this, borrowed from a talk given by Elder Ballard of the 12 Apostles:

A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:“All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”
I hope that you all remember that we follow the commandments to become something, not just to avoid something. It's really helped me on my mission to keep that in focus.
I love you all, I miss you, and I look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Signing out till next week,

Äldste Kody Chistopher Ogaard




A Dalahäst I saw while on my adventures this week



Some of the amazing scenery of Darlarna I saw on my bike ride from the Bishop's house






Äldste Packer, the greenie I totally wore out in Västerås on Thursday

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lazy Summer Days? Not for the Missionaries!

Dearest Family and Friends, (see, I used English for once!)
Hello Hello from Darlarna! Man oh man, I'm not going to lie, it has been a ssllooww week here in Sverige. Thanks to semester and the fact that almost everyone and their brother is out of the country for the month, we have not had much to do this week. Investigators can't meet, the members are all gone or have family over, half the houses we knock on are emptier than Rexburg on a Sunday... essentially, I'm praying for the end of July.
I will say this, however. The less active work goes jätte bra (really well). We have been visiting a lot of less active members these last couple weeks, and things are starting to really pay off. We talked to several members this week who really expressed a hope that their family members will come back to Christ and church. It was really amazing; one of the sisters we talked to just lit up like a lightbulb when we said we had met her brother, and that he was willing to continue meeting with us. She said that she was so grateful that we were helping to heal her family, and she told us that if we were doing so much to help her, she had better start working to help us out a little. =) It was good to hear that. I tell you, I really feel that as a missionary, one of the best things I feel I can do is help the families of these members; it's so hard when you have received all these blessings from the Gospel, and those you care about most don't have that and don't seem to want it. I hope that I can be an instrument in blessing some of these peoples' lives though Christ.
Anyways, sorry that this email is super short and a tad disorganized. My mind is a little caught up in all the stuff I have to do this week to get the ball rolling, so I don't have a ton to say. Iallafall (anyways), I hope you all know how much I love all of you, and that you have a fantastic day. Remember to say hi to your missionaries, and if you can, have them in your homes. Members are the key in our work, and your missionaries will sing your praises in their area books for years to come if you help them fulfill their purpose to help others come to Christ.
Sincerely,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard




The one of the machine is an electric robotic lawnmower. They're very common here in Sweden. I'm totally getting one when I buy a house...

Oh, and the two people are the Borlänge senior couple, Elder and Sister Davis. They're from Pleasant Grove, Utah, and I love these two!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The South Will Rise Again! (OK, technically it's the North, but who's counting?)

Käre Familj och Vänner,
Hello again from the beautiful climes of Borlänge in the Stockholm North Zone. Man, let me tell you, big changes are happening here in the zone this month, and I'm not going to lie, I am a little less than excited about it. Perhaps I should clarify a little bit. This week we are going through what I would like to call Mega Transfer. Basically, the mission president decided for some reason or another to play musical chairs with the entire mission. 75% of companionships are being effected by this transfer. Basically, it's flipping huge, man. On the bright side of things, me and Hitch are staying clear in our area right now (thanks be to the fact Hitch just got here). On the not so bright side of the coin, however, almost everyone I know in the zone is getting moved to other parts of Sweden. In fact, I am now officially the only remaining missionary remaining from when this zone was created (sidenote for those not familiar with LDS missionary terms: a zone consists of a totally arbitrary geographic area with two zone leaders, who are kinda like my immediate supervisors). So it is with sadness in my heart that I say that I am now the Old Man of Stockholm North. I am going to miss all of my fellow Northlanders, especially Syster Clouse and Äldste Miller, two of my best friends in the entire mission!
Anyways, on to things that you all actually care about =).  So for this week, I can't really say that there is a ton of things that have gone on here in Borlänge. It is the beginning of Semester (or as we call it in the states, vacation), which means almost everyone is out of town or "too busy to meet". Not going to lie, it's a little jobbigt (Translation: it's a pain), but we move forward.
One thing that was really cool was the number of less active people who came to church this week! We have really been working hard with quote unquote "finding the Lost Sheep" in this area, and it really paid off! We had 4 people come to church this week who haven't been in a good long time, and everyone was so happy to see them there! Truly, it was a wonderful experience.
Oh, and I guess since it did happen last week, I should probs mention what a 4th of july is like in Sverige. Here they have a different name for it; they call it Thursday. Seriously though, I did nothing for the 4th. I was on splits with the Zone Leaders, and the Zone Leader I was with was from Finland, so yeah, basically, it was Thursday. Oh, and to answer Aubree's question on what the national holiday is like in Sverige, it's about as celebrated as the 4th of July. Other than the fact that people have the day off from work, not much really goes on. Svensk folk may love Sverige, but they are not very vocal about it. lol.
Anyways, that's pretty much how my week has been. This week is nothing special, just doing the work like a boss (and a humble one at that). Hopefully I'll have something a little more exciting to share with you all next week in the adventures of Äldste Ogaard.

Till then, wishing you all a wonderful week, and a happy sommar!
Sincerely,
Äldste Kody Christophr Ogaard

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Concerning Guitars, Lakes, and one Very Satisfied Elder



Käre Familj och Vänner,
Jag ska säga denna ska vara än intressant vecka, för jag ska prata svenska hela vecka! (translation: this is going to be an interesting week, it's SYL week!)
No, for real, I am speaking Swedish this whole week. We are preparing for the lovely new greenies who will be gracing us with their presence in the middle of this month, so we all need to be on our top game! May I just say, I am SO glad I am not training this round. Some of the other people in my group may be, and I feel sorry for them. =)

But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Hello everyone, and welcome to another week of my adventures in Borlänge, Sverige! It has been a wonderfully exciting/exhausting week, and I have about a billion and a half stories to tell, and I am guessing I will not get to half of them. So have some patience with me, and I hope you all enjoy the ride!
So to start off, Äldste Anderson is gone. Yes, we sent my dearly beloved blond friend up to the icy climes of Sundsvall, where he will surely return a Utah-cicle. It was a sad day on wednesday to see him go, but such is a missionary's life.
Luckly, I received a companion who is just as cool, if not cooler. His name is Äldste Hitch, and he hales from the rainy land Washington (some random town on the peninsula). He has been out just a little under ten months, and I must say, it is really hard to understand his Swedish, because up until this point he has served his entire time in southern Sverige, and has a terribly strong Skånska accent (the bad birth child of Swedish mixed with Danish). Luckly for my new companion, he redeems himself with his hilariousness and his AMAZING musical talent. This guy plays guitar to put Carlos Santana to shame, sings like a rockstar, and plays the violin like it's nothing at all! Needless to say, we have a good time.

In fact, we actually had a really fun opportunity with music this last week: we got invited -well, more like forced- to play for some drunk partying Swedes in our neighborhood. We were walking home from a day of swingbys on our newly fixed bikes (I missed biking SO much), and we passed by these people grilling. They were totally wasted. One of them stands up and walks over to us and says, in terrible English "Hey, do you speak English?" We said yes, and he then asked us if we were priests. We, thinking this could be some kind of bolt out of the blue blessing, replied that yes, we were priests (after a manner of speaking). Apparently he was more interested in the guitar attached to my companion's back, however, and he asked us to come play some music for his friends and him. We, never being the ones to turn down a contact (drunk or not) played a couple songs for them: Hallelujah, random songs about California; basically, the kind of songs that drunk Swedes expect from musical American traveling priests (I like that title, by the way. It has a ring to it). After a while, we made an excuse to get away (it probs didn't look too good with us sitting playing guitar with a bunch of beer cans sitting everywhere) and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening laughing our heads off over the whole experience.
Oh, another experience worth noting: I got my first two legit door slams in Borlänge this week. Sadly enough, they were both less active members, and both times I only came to give them food and be on my way. The first was a Chilean woman who rejected a cake I brought for her birthday. I was rather upset about that for a while. Seriously, who rejects cake on their birthday?! The second was a woman who turned down free cookies that we had spent all morning making. I'll admit, I wanted to just hand them to the kids who were playing outside, but I thought that probably wasn't the best idea. So yes, a little bit of rejection this week, but I think I'll live. (Oh, and if by some strange twist of fate this email reaches rejecter #2, those cookies were delicious, and made with Marabou chocolate in them. Your loss)
One more thing that we had this week was a baptism! Now, before you get all excited, it was a 8 year old from Utah who was visiting Sverige with his family. His great-great grandfather came from Dalarna, so they decided to have the baptism here in one of the lakes. It was a wonderful experience. That boy was glowing, and also slightly frozen. =) It was a really fun experience. Also, he's from Sandy, and his parents know Grandma and Grandpa Ogaard. Small Mormon world. lol (For Grandma and Grandpa, it's the Johnson Family, and I believe the father's name is Bryce)

Lets see, anything else? Nope I don't think so. That is, unless you all consider important the broadcast from the General Authorities of the Church backing up everything I've said about member missionary work for the past 4 months. Not going to lie, I felt pretty dang good after watching that broadcast; it was really a testimony to me that my focus on less actives and strengthening and encouraging our wards is the key to success in missionary work right now. I know many of my missionary friends have already said this to all of you, but please, please, please pray to see who you can share the Gospel with. I have a statistic for you: of those contacted by the missionaries alone, 1 in 1000 will become a member. When missionaries teach with a member, however, 1 in 3 becomes a member of Christ's church and follow his example. Think about it: when you invite people into your homes so they can see the blessings of the Gospel in your lives, it has a profound impact on them. In fact, I would ask you all to watch this video and then follow what it shows. I really love this, and I think it teaches a lot. http://bcove.me/1ah4fj3u We are disciples of Christ. We are not out to increase number in our church, we are out to invite people to follow Him, and the Spirit will testify of that. Show all the love of Christ, and be an example of the believer. Miracles will happen.
I love you all, I miss you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week.
Sincerely,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

















Monday, June 24, 2013

The Crossroads of Surprise St. and Change Ave.

Käre Familj och Vänner,
Boy oh boy has this been a crazy week! I'm going to be candid with you folks, I have been feeling a little apprehension in writing this email. I only have 2 hours to write all of you, some respond to emails, and write my weekly letter to President Newell. With all that I have to say in this email, I fear that responses to others may lag a tad this week. Hopefully the Lord will grant my fingers some speed so I can get this all out and so that you all can receive the personal responses you all deserve. =)
So I'm not even really all that sure where to start. So much news, so many chance occurrences, wonderful encounters, and touching moments, it's hard to prioritize...
Hmm... Ok, I guess I can start with my investigators. So this week has been a record low for most of my investigators: we've only managed to meet two of them. BUT... one of them is actually making some progress! His name is Mikael, and he is a 23 year old Catholic computer graphics designer/nursing student. He's INCREDIBLY nerdy, even more so than me. Perhaps this may be a bit hard for my siblings, Shannon, and Val to swallow, but yes, it is possible. =) Anyways, he came with us to midsommar and church on Sunday, and I think that the Spirit is really working on his heart a little. I'm not sure whether he is seeking the truth very heavily right now (he is quite devoted to his faith), but he is willing to see if there is something here, and that's a lot more that I can say I have seen in my mission thus far. We will be meeting with him tomorrow, so needless to say I am praying a lot that we can teach him what he needs to hear.
Ok, what next... Oh, I guess I did mention Midsommar, so why not talk about that? So Midsommar was absolutely brilliant (all my BBC fan friends, please reread that in David Tennant's voice, if you would), and I had a wonderful time.
We made a Maypole...Inline image 1

Played some awesome games (hilarity courteous of our long-haired friend Esa Jr.)...Inline image 3

had amazing food...
*lack of photo because I was too busy eating it
... and we had some super awesome visitors (Mikael and a member family from Arizona).
So yeah, pretty dang awesome. Also awesome was the fact that the Pikes (Arizona family) had a 17 year old daughter who is super into sci-fi literature. It was super nice to talk about my favorite books and actually have someone who knew what I was talking about!

Ok, how can I follow that up? What equals on level of significance? Well, I guess I could mention transfers...
Yes, it's true, we received the dreaded transfer call. Äldste Anderson has either been a really good missionary, or a really bad one, because he's getting shipped up north to Sundsvall! Yes, my warm, kind hearted companion is getting sent up to the sunny climes of Norrland, where he will probably reside till the place turns to a half frozen wasteland =) Seriously though, he's an awesome missionary, and I'll miss him.
So that's the wonderful life of Elder Ogaard for this week. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and be sure to tune in next Monday for another installment of adventure, danger, and missionary work!
Love,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Putting My Shoulder to the Wheel


Käre Familj och Vänner,
Hallå igen from Borlänge! It has been an interesting week with interesting weather to match. I tell you, if you ever want to see bipolar weather, you should definitely come to Sverige. I'll never get used to how it can start off completely sunny, turn rainy by midday, and then be clear skies by the evening! Also, sometimes it's pouring rain while totally bright and sunny out. Talk about confusing! =)
So I'd love to tell you about how this week has been absolutely amazing and everything has been sunshine and rainbows, but sadly, that is not quite the case just now. In fact, as far as investigators go, things took a little turn for the worse this week. One of our investigators, Robert, decided to drop us this week. It was hard; we had been helping him take steps to quit smoking, and had just started him on the Church's addiction recovery program, when he decided that it was just too hard and therefore there must not exist a God. It was hard to take that phone call, let me tell you. We would have tried contacting him again to see what happened, but past indicators show that contacting him when he's frustrated is a bad idea. So we wait, hoping that some day he will decide to turn his heart to God again.
As far as our other investigators, they either can't meet, are out of town for the summer, or refuse to progress. We are working our butts off trying to help people, but as far as that goes, nothing really came this week.
There were some bright spots in the week, however. We had some wonderful opportunities to do some good ol' physical labor to help some of the members, so that was nice. We mowed this massive lawn for Leif, an older gentleman who can't really take care of it by himself, and we spend pretty much every saturday over at the house of Syster Susan Edling, a younger widow in the ward whose husband was a major packrat. We are helping her dejunk and rearrange stuff in her garage so she can sell and get rid of things, and let me tell you, the amazing food she cooks afterwards doesn't hurt (got to love Filipinos and their cooking!). It was really nice to be able to do some work that relies entirely on my efforts, and not the agency of others. lol. Anyways, that was a nice break from knocking doors and hearing people say "inte intresserad" (three guesses what that means in Swedish).
We also had a funeral this week, which was a real eye opening experience. The funeral was for a member in the ward who passed away about a week and a half after I came to Borlänge, Gunnel Wiberg. She was the only member in her family, so it was a really heart breaking experience to see how her families felt at the funeral. I realize a lot more now how much it really means to know that we can be together with our families again after death. We didn't say much to them, but I hope that in the future we can offer some of them the comfort that we can have in an understanding of God's plan.
So that was my experience last week, and may I say I am looking forward to this week a lot more. We have several referrals we received on Sunday to stop by this and next week (including an investigator who was taking the lessons in Uppsala and just moved here), and we also are going to have the chance to celebrate Midsommar this week! For those of you less versed in swedish culture, midsommar is like one of the biggest holidays in Sweden, and it flipping rocks! Look it up on Wikipedia.
So, before I close, I would just like to recognize one thing. I was reminded yesterday that in the States Sunday was Father's Day, so I would like to take a moment to tell my father just how much I love him, and how his example has played an amazing role for me, especially out here on my mission. I am working hard to make you proud, Dad, and I miss you so much!
So until next time folks, farewell, remember I love you all, and I can't wait to hear from you! =)
Sincerely, Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard

P.S. Here's your weekly photos as well! Note: The reason I don't have a nametag on here is because we were at Leif's house mowing his lawn, and I forgot my clip-on tag. Don't Judge =)

 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Borlänge Episode 2: The Return of the Missionaries

Käre Familj och Vänner,
     Hej och hallå from Borlänge once again! Man, let me tell you, last week was exhausting. Amazing, but still exhausting. So remember how I said that We would be packing like an entire week into like 4 days? Yeah, that went down, and it went down like a boss! We pumped out 17 super amazing lessons, only a few of which I am not completely satisfied with. It's hard sometimes to remember the Lord expects us to be working towards perfection, not there right now, but it's a lesson I have been trying to keep in mind.
     Another awesome thing that I thought might be worth mentioning is how absolutely awesome my grandparents are! Grandma and Grandpa, thank you so much for the package! I'm not going to lie, I haven't even opened the peanut butter yet; I know how sad I'm going to be when it's gone. =) Oh, and that music is absolutely brilliant. I don't know why, but I have been missing Amazing Grace so much, and now I have it! Anyways, thanks so much. It made my day.
     I'm glad to hear that all is doing well at home with everyone, and man can I say that my friends get around. I did a little thinking today, and came to the realization that excluding Australia and Antarctica (but come on, who counts Antarctica?), I have friends on every continent in the world. I would particularly like to give a shout out to Megan Blease, who -if my calculations are correct- is now down in Peru, serving the people there and spreading the love of Christ. Oddly enough, I have a friend here in Sweden who comes from Peru. I tell you, the world gets smaller and smaller every day.
     Ok, so I promised you all last week that I would tell you all about this wonderful conference that I was talking up so much. Let me tell you, it was perhaps the coolest thing I have had the chance to experience in a long time. We started on Saturday: I, Äldste Anderson, and the Davis' traveled down to Hägersten (southern Stockholm) for a meeting with ALL THE MISSIONARIES IN SWEDEN. Let me tell you, I was afraid that chapel was going to disintegrate with all the energy in there. It was so cool! I got to see new missionaries, old missionaries, friends who I hadn't seen in months, and of course, my best bud here on the mission, Äldste Asp (who, by the way, is getting transferred to Eskilstuna, which is out of my zone *tear*).
     So here we were, chatting away, when BAM! Elder Ballard walks into the room. Dead silence. I'll tell you this right now: I've met with an apostle once before, but you can never get used to the feeling of the sheer power and spirit of these special servants of the Lord. I imagine it must have been the same way for the disciples when Peter or Paul walked in the room.
     So we begin the meeting, and man, I was blown away. When I came, I had so many questions, so many concerns. Within the end of that meeting, I had received answers to my questions, and answers to questions I didn't even know I was really asking. I don't have the time to share everything I learned during that meeting, but suffice it to say that I have a lot of changes to make. I need to step up my game a little, and then see the miracles fly. lol.
     After the meeting, we had a quick lunch (AKA, talk for an hour with all your missionary friends then quickly wolf down a sandwich), then we headed out on companion exchanges. I worked with two elders: Äldste Keetch (one time companion of Asp and all around awesome guy), and Äldste Muirbrook (former Borlänge elder with a fiery spirit and an always open ear). Oh man, we tore up the area we worked in (Handen). We taught a foreign exchange student from Colorado on the train, got asked if we were Jehovah's Witness by someone who I think was high, and had an amazing dinner with a Filipino member named Mary. Afterwords we went to a conference for all the YSAs (Young Single Adults) in all of Europe led by -guess who- Elder Ballard! It was so packed in that building, and so warm that we were all melting -Swedes don't use AC- but let me tell you, the Spirit was just so powerful in there. The general authorities really talked a lot about missionary work, and I was so amazed and proud of how boldly they challenged those in attendance. Elder Ballard gave a challenge to all the YSAs in Europe to help one person come back to or find the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the end of the year. We really hope they took that to heart, because this is truly the Lord hastening His work, and I so want for everyone to experience the joy that comes from participating in helping others come unto Christ.
     After our YSA conference, we headed to the Handen elders' apartment, where we stayed the night, and then headed off to the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Center, where the Regional Conference was held. It blew. my. mind. Imagine, just imagine this: middle of downtown Stockholm, 3000 LDS members and their friends, gathered together to listen to an Apostle of the Lord. Man, I saw so many people it was crazy! I saw people from all over, including my dearly beloved Västerås! The twins were there, Alejandra was there, her friend Mordjane was there... Basically, it was like a family reunion for me.
     And then, the conference. Man, all of the speakers laid down the law! It was a missionary's dream meeting! Everyone was totally called to put their shoulder to the wheel, to have the courage to help others, to shout the Gospel and glad tidings of Christ's restored church on the mountain tops! I see fantastic things coming from this.
Anyways, I just looked over this email and saw it was like a billion pages long and discombobulated as all get out, so I think I'll end it here by saying yeah, it was an amazing week.
I love you all, and hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard