Monday, March 7, 2016

Hallå från Gotland!! WOW ~ This place is gorgeous!

Saying goodbye to this guy!
He's going to do great!!
Hallå från Gotland!!

Wow... this place is gorgeous... and super old haha.  The history of this place is crazy, and there is so much of it here!  (Medieval ruins as old as 1100AD)  I’ll just start off by saying that my P-days are pretty awesome!   Monday and Tuesday I said goodbye to some people and did some things I hadn’t done before leaving Uppsala.  We picked up Elder Bentsons new companion on Tuesday  night after saying goodbye to Caroline.   That night I was trying to finish my packing and get my bags to be under 25 kilograms each for the boat!  That was a struggle!  My stuff was finally ready and the next morning I left for Uppsala Central with my bags.  My train left about 8:00ish that morning.  So I said goodbye to everybody and said goodbye to the sisters and Sister Johanson that went home, got on the train and that was that!  
Left from Uppsala Central station, towards Stockholm, to get off at a station called Karlberg. ~ Took a train from Karlberg to a city called Nynäsam, ~ Then took a boat to Visby, Gotland.  Travel was a total of 6 hours and I was by myself the whole time! :):) Had a lot of time to think.  The boat was HUGE!  It was like a mini cruise.  I got some good pictures, but they are on my other camera.  I will send those next week.  I arrived and met my new companion, Elder Jamsa (he’s part Finnish so he has a Finnish name tag that says "Jämsä”).  

I also met President Madden who is the branch president out here in the Visby branch. (A Branch is a church congregation smaller than a Ward)  He is also a missionary with his wife and they are from Nevada.  He speaks Swedish and served a mission here when he was younger.  They have been in Gotland their whole mission to help strengthen the branch out here.  We work with them a lot.  Cool people!
Some little Persian children of
families we teach!

Elder Jämsa was a professional celloist and is just an all around amazing musician.  He’s from Salem Utah, and has been on his mission for 3 months and was in the same group as Elder Bentson.  He is also a really good singer, and if there is anybody I would want to be on an island with to use music for missionary work… it's this guy!  haha   We have been having fun together and working hard the last few days.  Super easy to talk to him, and his Swedish is pretty good, and that’s not the only thing…  He has also picked up some Persian these last 12 weeks because they have been teaching tons of them!   I will have to write more about that when I have more time, but in the past 12 weeks, they have found and baptized 7 immigrants from the middle east!  Crazyyyyy and they are the nicest guys, so we meet with them a lot.  

Meeting house where we have
church on Sundays!
The Church building is in the court house in Visby on the fourth floor, and there are about 20 members at church including us missionaries and apparently that’s more than usual!  They found out that I like to sing before I got here so they scheduled a song for Elder Jämsä and I to sing yesterday.  We sang this cool arrangment of "I Need thee Every Hour”.   It’s going to be a good transfer!  There are only 2 hours of church and this is kind of what went down in sacrament meeting... We do this weird thing since there are so many Persians that come to church that don’t speak English or Swedish.  We have two phones with google translate. I have one and translate what the speaker is saying.  I just type in english as fast as I can to keep up and then once the talk is over,  I translate it to Persian and give it to all the guys to read.  Then Elder Jämsä handed me the other phone and I do the same thing on that phone with the next talk.  And it just keeps going like that the whole sacrament meeting.  Never a dull moment! 

Working on putting Persian subtitles on a
church film with the help of a new
convert to make sure the translation is right.
WOW!!  It feels good to drive!!
So all of these new Persian members have only lived in Sweden for 4 months.  They have come here to seek refuge and safety and a better oportunity.  They come here in crazy ways!  I’ll have to talk more about that as well, but we have one guy we are working with right now that is having an interview tommorow to find out if he will stay in Sweden or go back to Iran.  If he stays in Sweden he will be baptized, but if he goes back he can’t because he would be killed…  So that is why we are waiting.  If you guys could include him in your prayers that would be awesome!  Love you all and sorry so much has happened, it’s impossible to write about all of it. 
Skyped in District meeting!

I'm still trying to settle into things.  This place is a whole different mission then I have been used to.  (The culture, people, and the sociality)  I’m loving it though!  We are going to have some good P-days of exploration and hiking.  We will be getting some good pictures but until then... 

Love you all and have a good week!
Äldste Blackburn

I might have been sneezing in the picture but that's not important. **Way back in the day, those things to the right of me are where the people of Gotland hung people and pirates publicly, so it would scare the other pirates away when they would come to shore.
There is this sick castle wall that surrounds the inner city.
Trying to get out of tight parking spaces...
Oh, the down side of having a car...

Teaching our Sunday school lesson with Elder Jamsa
being a boss and writing some Persian scriptures!!

This is the wall of one of the 90 churches here on
Gotland.  This one dates back to the 1200's!

Same church, but different wall!

You can't tell, but this was a MASSIVE swan we saw in
the ocean.  It was charging me as I was
taking this picture.  I quickly ran away, ha ha

Frozen ocean water on the hill side!  Super cool!

Saying goodbye to Uppsala!

Elder Bentson's signature on my acoustic bass guitar, check!!

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