Sunday, February 9, 2020

Hej from Sweden!

The younger generation back home who greet each other with Hey rather than Hi or Hello don't know it but they are actually speaking Swedish.  Hej (pronounced hay) is the common greeting around here and means, of course, hi or hello.  It can be said short and clipped, as to a stranger, or long and drawn out, as to a friend.  So there's your first Swedish word!

So far, Äldste Torrie (pronounced eld-stuh, and meaning of course, Elder, which is what all male missionaries are called no matter their age) and I haven't learned too many Swedish words but we regularly use our phones to translate and when that doesn't work, we type the words into google translate on our computers, and if that doesn't work, we ask for help from the young missionaries with whom we regularly work, as they are fluent in Swedish.  The two Office Elders and the two Assistants to the President live in the apartment above us and work much of the time in the mission office, which is just next door to our apartment.

The Church owns the whole building, with apartments for the 4 junior missionaries on the top floor, the mission office and our apartment on the main floor, and a storage area and large apartment for visitors in the basement.  It's an old building that used to be a pizzeria.  It's been newly painted and has lots of hot water and great water pressure.  So nice to have lots of good water.

Since it's Sunday, I'll tell you about our Sabbath meetings.  We attend the Stockholm Ward, which is just one of many wards in Sweden.  The meetings are in Swedish, of course, except when an English-speaker is giving a talk.  There are several English-speaking families in our ward but most of them also know enough Swedish to get by.  The junior missionaries -- a companionship of two sisters and a companionship of two Elders -- take turns translating for the few of us who need it in our worship service.  Thankfully the ward has lots of electronic equipment.

It's quite tedious to sit through two hours of church and not understand anything.  This is the first time I've attended church somewhere in the world where I haven't understood anything without someone translating.  I've been to church in France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and other countries where I could pick out phrases and words.  Even Kenya was English speaking.  But I know zero Swedish.  It's definitely humbling.

People have asked about street scenes in Stockholm.  One thing we noticed, coming in mid-January, was the abundance of Christmas lights still up.  Someone suggested that Swedes have so much darkness in the winter that they enjoy Christmas lights more than we do.  Could be.  The nearby Täby Centrum Mall kept their Christmas decorations up until January 31.  Today is February 9th and many homes in this area still have their Christmas lights up.  I love seeing the bridge candles in many windows.  I first saw bridge candles in Ireland one December.  I think they are so cheery in darkened windows with the point of the triangle pointing toward heaven. 

The homes here have steep roofs -- the snow, when it does come, must be very heavy with moisture -- unlike in Alberta where the snow is drier.  My eyes are drawn to the yellow siding and the red roofs although there are other colors of houses.  The houses are helter-skelter amidst many trees.  Apparently there is a law that only so much of the land can be clear-cut, even to build a house.  And the law of allemansrätten (freedom to roam) allows people access to all forested land as long as they behave themselves.  LeRon and I took a short walk in our neighborhood and ended up in a forested area with a path and even a place for an impromptu campfire.  So nice to be in the city but not in the city!

The food is great!  So many kinds of delicious cheeses.  The milk and other dairy products are very good.  Different kinds of scrumptious bread and pastries -- we have to be careful not to overeat!  And the candy aisles in the stores -- oh my -- so much candy.  I need to take a picture.  Apparently families have a candy day every Saturday and eat their fill that day, the theory being that they won't have to eat candy the rest of the week!

But back to missionary work . . . other than working all day in the office, we don't do a lot of "missionary work."  But I had a good conversation this week.  I was walking the two minutes to post some letters and as I was leaving the yard, a lovely young lady from Ethiopia approached me excitedly.  She asked, in very broken English, if I was a member of that church and if I was from the US.  I said yes . . . and no, that I was from Canada.  We couldn't understand each other but she put her phone number into my phone and I promised her that the young missionaries who speak Swedish would phone her.  I was excited.  We very rarely have anyone ask us why we are in Sweden and what we do here, even when they see our name tags.  Very unlike in Kenya!  But who's comparing?  President Baldry, our Taber Stake President, told me as he was interviewing me for our mission, that this would be a very different mission from our mission in Africa.  And he has been so very right!

Here we are in the Stockholm Ward chapel.  It's 5 C outside and they have opened the windows.  They like fresh air!

There is bedrock everywhere and trees too.  We're standing behind the chapel in the middle of the city.  So many trees!

Elder & Sister Torrie

The chapel is backed by a forest of trees but across the road are apartment buildings and busy city life.

These cars are in the church parking lot and across the street are apartment buildings.

Then from the church we drive home through more wooded areas and small roads.

Things will look different when the trees are in full leaf in the summertime.

I see lots of yellow sided homes with red roofs.  So striking.

And lastly, these are the fine missionaries we work closely with in the office:  Äldste Merrell, Äldste Seely, Äldste Jensen, Äldste Sherwood, and Äldste Balls.  Äldste Balls finished his mission and went home last week.  Even though we only knew him for two weeks, we felt very close to him and to all these wonderful young men.  Tonight they came over for treats and singing together and it reminded us of happy times in the Kenya Nairobi Mission with all the wonderful elders and sisters we worked with there.


  1. Ooh, I love the yellow buildings! Thanks for the post. I remember being in Russia and not knowing any Russian in church. The first time I was there, we had a man who spoke excellent English (like an American) and he translated for us - we didn't have headsets back then - he just sat behind us and talked in our ears. The second time I was in Russia, in Perm, we sometimes had missionaries translate for us when they could or wanted to, but often we didn't have any translation. So we just read our scriptures and listened to the music. It was hard!

  2. That was what the whole 5 years in Germany was like for us kids... and Italy for the younger ones... and Spain for Darren... Kinda enlightening, isn't it! Oh, and don't forget, there were servicemen's wards that we should have been going to but someone who shall remain nameless refused to take the family where they could understand the Gospel. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And don't ever let him try to tell you it was my mom's idea, because it WASN'T.
    My friend's husband has said (and I agree) that he thinks all the houses and buildings are painted such bright colors in Sweden because it makes things seem bright even on the cloudy and dark days of winter. The splashes of color everywhere. I loved it. Even though we were there in the summer and it was absolutely amazingly lovely weather the whole time!