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.
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!
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. 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.
Äldste Kody Christopher Ogaard