Tuesday, December 27, 2016

God Jul! :):)

God Jul! :):) (Merry Christmas!)

Well Christmas has come and gone! It was one to remember for sure though... It is so weird to think that this is my second and last Christmas here in Sweden... And that I flew here to start my mission in the middle of 2015 and now it’s almost 2017! Total crazyness.. but I have loved every minute of it. 
Christmas! My family knows me too well.
I would be on here all day typing if I were to write all the stuff that happened this week, so I’m just going to write a quick summary of some awesome things that happened. 

It started out with something pretty funny and is the first time something like this has happened to me actually! We were going to go pick up my Christmas package (which was awesome) and I had my package slip, my California and Swedish drivers license and my personal number that all residents of Sweden have to live here. The personal number and license should have worked but the guy working there was being.. lets just say un-kind. He was telling me that I needed more information to pick it up and long story short we drove home to pick up another piece of identification, went back and he said that still wouldn’t work even though I had my ID card from the country of Sweden.. SO a lot of talking was going on and he said that I couldn't get my package. (all this was in Swedish) and he wouldn't tell me how I could get it. 

Singing song of repentance (christmas carols) to the people of Umeå
Finally with a little pushing, he said I needed a paper from the immigration office (which I had in my wallet the whole time with my personal number on it, ha ha). He just didn’t want to look at it! Finally he looked at it and said it would do after about 25 to 30 minutes. What makes this story better is that after I got my package, my companion who is from France tried to buy stamps with his ATM card and the guy asked to see his personal number! haha.  My companion has a personal number because he is already European! The guy that was working just responded with something like.. "thats your problem.” That's the story and the main thing is, I got my package and my companion got his stamps from another place with out any trouble. 
Erica Bussman gave us some sweet matching scarfs!
Christmas Eve! Here in Sweden, they do most celebrations on Christmas Eve. So we got invited to eat with 3 different people and lets just say that is probably the most full I have been in my life! We ate at church in the morning with a member and then drove up to a city that is about an hour away to have Christmas with a Danish/Swedish family... then drove back to finish the night at my grandma away from home, Syster Gunvor Wirtala. All had amazing food. 
More delicious Swedish Christmas food :)

Some Christmas food
I must say something about the Danish/Swedish family though... That food was heavenly! haha They are all hunters and fishers. Literally all the food we ate was shot or fished or produced in the village we were in. They had a huge fresh caught Salmon with amazing seasoning and flavor, meatballs made of moose, deer meat, turkey.. All hunted right in their backyard! 
The coolest Danish and Swedish couple out there.
Then they had the most amazing cheeses and butter that was produced right in the village as well. It was amazing and it was all so good. 

Early morning Swedish Christmas sermon.
The next morning, Sunday morning, we woke up early to go over the the Norin family to drive to a Swedish church and watch a Christmas sermon that has been going on for hundreds of years. It was way cool! Then we had an hour of church and then came back and finished the day off with the Norin Family.  They are a nice family and made so much good food! We were able to skype home and see all of our families. That’s always fun :)  We even played some songs together that night! 
This is what I got from the Norin family. This is actually chocolate! haha
It was a good Christmas and I feel happy with the ones I have had here because this is Christ´s time. We as missionaries are literally representing Him. That’s a big responsibility! During this time of Christmas you can really open doors with people who haven't thought about God a lot in their lives. I have seen that a lot these last few months during the Christmas season. We have three people that are wokring towards being baptized in January because they have hope and feel something different when they come to church and read the Book of Mormon. I know that those people will get an answer. 

Christ lives.  

Love you all and have a good new year!
Äldste Blackburn
Super dooper old Swedsh Church
Awesome Danish/Swedish family!
Worlds largest cheese slicers.
I seriously might invest in some ice skates with all this frozen water.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A beautiful time of year!

Bonjour! oui oui. 

So transfers happened this week and it was killer! Elder Baquedano got up here safely and we hit the ground running together. We are so excited to be companions! He is such a stud.
He is from France, and can also speak Spanish and studied Chinese in college for three years. Our first day together we talked to French people and a Chinese person. It’s cool to have a companion that can speak some other languages as well. Opens up opportunities for sure. He has been in Stockholm for his whole mission so he was so pumped to find out he was coming up to Norrland.. I am way excited to see the work we will do this transfer. 
Our first day together we taught a lesson to a man and committed him to baptism on January 21st. 

It's Rudolf!
The sun is going down at about 1:30 but it’s all good! We are feeling energized and are pumped for Christmas this weekend. More up dates. The new sister companionship has gotten here safely to Umeå. They are Sisters Wagner and Eriksson. Sister Eriksson is from the south of Sweden and this has been the first week on her mission. She is killing it and it’s fun to have a native Swede in the area to help us with the language and such. 

Time to hunt some reindeer.
(These are just air soft guns by the way, haha)
Not tons of time but Elder Baquedano and I had a cool experience this last Saturday. We were on our way back from playing Innebandy (indoor hockey) last Saturday and I felt that we should swing by and see this guy that we were we used to work with a little. The feeling actually was very strong. We were still sweaty and in our sports clothes but we decided to go with the feeling, because that’s one thing I have been working on is acting on impressions right when I get them. So we stopped by and he wasn’t home. At least he didn’t answered. We tried a few times.. then right when we were turning back to the car his neighbor across the path opened his door to smoke a cigarette.  We felt we should talk to him so we went over there in our sports clothes to show him the Christmas video our church came out with this year.

He was down to watch it, and then we taught him at his door about the restoration and the Book of Mormon. He really wanted a book and we swung by the next morning to give him one before church. He couldn't come to church that day because he already had plans but we will meet him this week to teach him more about it. 

It’s an awesome experience knowing that you are in the right place at the right time. 

Love you all and have a good Christmas! 
Äldste Blackburn

Got to watch Lucia this last Tuesday with our Branch President and his family.

Elder Baquedano made it here alive.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

-21 Celcius, a new car, new companion, and reindeer meat!

Elder Halterman! Our beloved Assistant
is headed home. He will do great things.
I"m back :)  TRANSFERS are this week!!!

My companion that I have been with these last two transfers... Elder Jensen is leaving and will be transferring to the Office as an Assistent to the President. He will kill it for the rest of his mission there helping this mission run. I’m actually getting one of my really good friends who will be transferring up here to be a new Zone leader with me. Elder Baquedano!! He is from France. We became friends when we were in Stockholm around each other a year ago. I’m way pumped to be companions with him. Elder Jensen left this morning to fly down to Stockholm and I am with the other two Elders here in Umeå right now.  They will be both transferring out of Umeå and we will be getting sisters! In the next few days they will be transferring (leaving to different cities) and I will be driving people around getting people where they need to go during this transfer. 
Elder Mecham and Elder Jämsä taking some model shots down in Stokcholm.
Skellefteå and Luleå district!
Splits with Elder Olson down in Sundsvall. He is stud and he's is from California. Yep.. a stud!
My new companion is arriving on Wednesday morning! Super pumped for that. It will be cool to have sisters here because Umeå hasnt had sisters for over 20 years. So that’s exciting! I will miss Elder Jensen, but we will still work closely together... Other than that, there was A LOT that happened between these two last weeks. We traveled down to Sundsvall and worked with the missionaries there. Then traveled up to Skellefteå and did splits with those Elders. 

This is called "sparking." Its how you get around in the winter on the ice and snow. Way fun!
We did some intense service for a member up there in the middle of nowhere. We lifted a huge and extremely heavy sink to cut out of stone. We estimated that each of us were lifting a little over a 100lbs and it was just one solid slab of rock. Five of us were carrying it. It was sketchy though because they wanted us to move it from a shed all the way into their house in the kitchen and it was icey and snowy. So we got a sled and lifted the slab of rock and shimmied it out of the shed and put it on a big snow plow shovel and slid it to the house. Then we got it in! But it was way fun, and they then brought out these sled looking things that you stand on and it's called "Sparking." You stand on these these and you just glide across the ice and snow. You just push and lean and you can get going pretty quick on them too! Fun experience but it was dang cold up there. It got down to -21 degrees celsius but it felt like -26 degrees with chill and humidity. As we drove home, we got some cool pictures because the sky was so clear!
Norrland Zone caroling on Drottningsgatan in Stockholm on the night of P day right before conference

We came home and had a caroling activity with just a few missionaries in our district in the city of Umeå. Then we flew down to Stockholm the next morning. We spent our “preparation day" there and then had a big caroling party with the whole Norrland zone at 6:00pm on the main street in Stockholm. I played guitar and Elder Harrison played the Ukulele while everyone else sang. It was a good time! 

The next day was our Christmas Zone conference and it was really good! Got to see a lot of missionary friends and get a good spiritual pump up. I also sang “O Come O Come Emmanuel" with 3 other missionaries at conference. 

Reindeer meat!!
A nice plate of reindeer, potatoes, and salad.
Something else cool that happened is that we got to eat reindeer meat! It’s actually really good! I would recommend it for sure. We also got a new car.  The mission sold the one we had so we got a brand new car straight form the dealer! It’s way nice and will work well for the cold winter we will have here. 

We also had the branch (*A branch is a congregation, like a Ward) Christmas party here in Umeå. It was a blast and we did some fun musical numbers. This branch is so cool! 

Other than that we have some really awesome people we are teaching that are progressing awesomely. Despite the time we were gone out of our area.. We used every free moment to find and we have some new cool people that we have lessons set up with this week. 

Love you all and have a good one!
Äldste Blackburn

Classic Swedish Christmas show. NEED to watch every Christmas Eve.
Flew back from Stockholm and found this in our window. It meas "You're the best!"

Sick painting of the Northern lights