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 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