Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Mission to Sweden!

Who would guess we would be assigned to Sweden when we submitted our mission papers in June 2019.  Scandinavia was never on our radar.  Then with the mix-up with our medical reports and subsequent assignment to San Diego, California for December and then the change to Sweden for February which was then bumped up to January and then the possibility of a reassignment to Africa and then not, it's been a roller-coaster ride.  But here we are in Stockholm, Sweden.  Actually, we live in Enebyberg, a suburb of Stockholm.  Enebyberg is pronounced en-uh-bee-berry.

Stockholm is a little south of the 60th parallel so is about at the same latitude as the northern boundary of Alberta.  We are very far north and the days are short.  Right now the sun rises about 8 a.m. and sets about 4 p.m. -- not a lot different from southern Alberta.  But apparently days here are a lot shorter in December and early January.  We'll see next year.

It's been chilly but no snow.  Everyone says this has been a very mild winter.  Last year at this time, the rivers around Stockholm were frozen and people were skating or skiing on them.  This year the rivers are open and flowing.  Stockholm is built upon 14 islands all connected by bridges.  We took the bus and then the metro (the T-bana) to the old town of Stockholm, the Gamla Stan, and found it to be as quaint and cute as many European old towns we've visited.  Will be nice to explore it when we have the time.

Mission-wise, it has been a real stretch to learn our office duties.  Having served in the mission office in Kenya has been helpful but government regulations in Sweden are much different from Kenya.  So we've had to learn completely new ways of doing things.  It's been a steep learning curve.  The first week we wondered what we were doing here.  We wondered if we could really do this for a year and a half.  Today (2 weeks and 2 days after our arrival) we think maybe we can do it!

A big hurdle is the Swedish language.  Although most people speak English, everything in the stores and everywhere else is in Swedish.  AND all the documents we deal with in the office are in Swedish!  We are starting to recognize words on documents and we use google translate a lot.  Who knew that you could point your phone at a document and it would translate right before your eyes?

The computer keyboards we use are Swedish, which means I am learning to type again!  Different letters and different placement of characters.  But I'm catching on.  At home in our apartment, I have an English keyboard and in the office, a Swedish one so my fingers have to learn two different ways of typing.  Can my senior brain do this?  Last week I wondered.  Things are looking up this week!

Yesterday we had what to us was an amazing experience: we learned that Swedish Immigration people are very nice and accommodating -- unlike our experience in Kenya.  Elder Torrie had to phone about a serious immigration problem and we were worried so we had a prayer and he took a big breath and phoned.  The lady he talked to was amazingly courteous and helpful.  So different from what we expected.  And then I had to make a call about another problem and again, the lady was great.  We were so surprised.  So different from our experience in Kenya where government people and others want bribes.

On the other hand, people in Sweden are not interested in religion -- unlike people in Kenya.  In Kenya, we could talk to anyone and everyone about Jesus Christ and they were happy to listen.  Here, no one really wants to know why we are here.  Last week I gave away our first pass-along card to a clerk in a store who had never heard of our church.  But that's the only one so far.  So for sure, missionary work here in Sweden is very different from Kenya.

But the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and we are happy to be serving Him here in Sweden.

Here we are in the Stake President's office in the Taber Alberta Stake Center after having been set apart to serve in the Sweden Stockholm Mission.  Soon our picture will be on the map!

Nice to have some of our children with us for the setting-apart.

We arrived at the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm on Thursday, January 16, 2020.  Äldste and Syster Bailey were there to greet us.  They were our trainers and have been serving as the Office Couple for the past 18 months and we are taking their places.  (Syster is  Swedish for sister.  Äldste is Swedish for Elder.)  All male missionaries, regardless of their age, go by the term Äldste, which is an office in the priesthood.

President and Syster Youngberg are our mission president and wife.  They are great people.  President Youngberg served a mission to Sweden in his youth and they have Swedish roots too.  Youngberg is pronounced yoong-berry.  They use that pronunciation here in Sweden but of course in the US, where they are from, they use the English pronunciation.  They are great people.  They relate well with the missionaries and are wonderful mission leaders.  Sadly their 3-year mission is over the end of June.


  1. Colleen, one of the things I figured out is if you remember that the k makes a sh sound in certain places, and you have studied any German at all (I remember you were working on that for awhile), if you look at words and think German, you can figure out what something is about 70 percent of the time. :) Also, yummy bread and cheese. Also, candy called Dumle, and one called Swedish cars. Yum!!!! Also be sure to go to Junibacken!!!

  2. Thanks for the hint about pronunciation, Heidi. Someone else had told me that Swedish was a lot like German and as I listen to the Swedish I must say I agree. Keep reminding me about Junibacken. And yes the bread is delicious and so are the dairy products.

  3. Sweden looks like a great place to be