Date

December 18, 2017

Area

Visby, Gotland Island, Sweden

Companion

Elder Luke Strong

A Swedish Christmas

Let's begin this week with one of the most direct answers to prayer I have ever recieved in my life!  To begin, we have a member who was baptized over the summer, but since then has gone less active.  We've been trying to call and swing-bye for months to get a hold of him, but to no avail.  We decided to visit him again Monday night, and once again no one was home.  Elder Strong suggested that we pray and so that's what we did.  As we finished the prayer, we heard someone behind us walking to the door, and can you guess who it was?!  It was just the man we were looking for!  So now let's think about this, God didn't make our friend just appear out of now where, but because Elder Strong was listening the spirit which prompted him to pray it allowed us to stay there for just a few more minutes so we could be there as our friend was coming home.  I know with all my heart that our Heavenly Father loves you and is looking out for you.  As you turn to him in prayer, he will answer, but you must be listening and accepting as the Spirit answers you.  And it may not be as quick as this, but he will answer.  
So that little experience would have been enough to make this week a good one, but thanks to the Johnsons this week became a great one!  Sweden celebrates a Holiday on Dec. 13 called St. Loucia.  I don't know the exact details, but the Johnsons took us to a St. Loucia program that night where a choir of girls sang and there were 7 girls dressed in white robes, and the center one had candles on here head.  Yes. Real candles, with real flames, with real wax dripping into this girls hair! They sang, and there were some talks, and they walked around and stuff and it was really cool!  It was also inside this huge Swedish Church that's from the 1300's!  
Then on Saturday the Johnsons took us to a Julbord!  A Julbord is a big Swedish dinner baffet they have around Christmas time. It was awesome as we just stuffed ourselves with about every slice and peice of sea food and meat you could thing of!  I tried some things I liked such as smoked herring, and things I didn't like such as slimmy seel.  Then they had tons of Sweets too, fudge, pasteries, chocolate, hard candies, everything.  It was also my first dinner where they had a big head with an apple in it's mouth on the table!  
With all this fun stuff and Swedish Jul traditions I promise I'm doing some missionary work too!  Infact, this week was Zone Conference!  This Zone Confernce was special because it was my zone (Stockholm South) combined with Nordland.  So that ment I got to see a few of the missionaries from my MTC group!  It was so awesome to see some familiar faces and on top of that, it was the Christmas Conference.  So that ment the last half was filled with Youngberg's Christmas Traditions.  We watched it's a Wonderful Life, read a Christmas story (The Carpenter) and the Youngberg's did a duet on the Piano!  It was honestly so great!  
In the first part of Zone Conference we talked about how we are just getting the ball rolling in Sweden, and we can't let up.  We learned lots about working with members more, and creative contacting, and how to use Light the World!  But the craziest thing from Zone Conference is I'll be, as well as all the other missionaries in Sweden, reading the WHOLE Book of Mormon, from Christmas eve to New Years.  You heard me right, that's about 70 pages a day!  I have never read that much of anything at any point of my life before so we'll see how this goes.  But I'm really so excited because it'll totally put a new perspective on the Book of Mormon.  President Youngberg said he got this idea from a friend who was a mission president in Canada, and he said it changed those missionaries lives.  So you are welcome to join me and read the whole Book of Mormon in a week if you want!  
Also as we were leaving Zone Confernce we got to stop at the temple!  This was the first time I have seen the temple in person since being here in Sweden.  We didn't get to go inside because of time, but it was beautiful.  Something interesting about Swedens's temple is the pillars and Angel Moroni are not attached to the building.  That's because Sweden's government only allows the Swedish Church to have pillars on their churches.  But it still looks really cool!  And it's one of the oldest LDS temples in Europe. 
In church on Sunday we had some visiters from the Stake with us to speak.  One of our investigators was there too.  Our Branch is so small that often people will make comments to the speakers while they are speaking, and while a the man from the Stake was speaking, our investigators made a comment about he (The investigator) didn't have a tie on.  The speaker took advantage of that moment and took of his tie, mid talk, and said some powerful swedish words that basically said, God doesn't care what you look like or who you are, he loves you just as much as everyone else.  Our investigator was really impressed by his love for him and afterwards the speaker was able to speak more with our investigator and express his love for him.  I could see how much that ment to our investigator.  This Christmas time, let's be sure to express our love to everyone just as this speaker did to this investigator.  Just as God and Jesus Christ do to us.  Don't you dare think bad of someone because of how they look or what they do.  We are all Sons and Daughters of our loving Heavenly Father trying to make it back to him.  Just like Elder Holland said in his talk "Be ye therefore perfect.. Eventually." Which I invite all of you to reread or read, It'll only take 10-15 mins and it'll change your life.  "If I know the way home [but] am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way simply because I am staggering from side to side?" We are all just trying to make it through this life, why would we not love and support each other on this quest for salvation just as Jesus Christ did?  
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you can feel as well as spread the Light and Love of Christ with others.  Remember, there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas without Easter.  We have reason to celebrate Christ's birth because of what he did.  He loves you more than you can even imagine and I love you almost as much!  God Jul!  

--
Love,
Elder Beckman
1. St. Loucia2. Julbord3. My face after eating Seel4. Sweden Temple5. MTC Buddies




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