Saturday, December 19, 2020

Sweden in December

We have about 6 hours of light each day now.  Not sunlight, just light.  That's just two hours less than we have in Alberta at this time of year.  But it feels like the end of the day at 4 p.m.!  We've taken to going on our walks around 6:30 p.m. rather than 8:30 now.  The darkness makes us feel tired more quickly.  But it's refreshing to walk outside in the lightly misting rain and see the Christmas lights shining from most windows, and in many yards the trees are blanketed in yellow LED lights.  Really lights up the world.  I wonder why it doesn't smell like pine trees (as in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta); there are so many evergreens here but not the lovely piney smell.

This post has lots of pictures -- Christmas lights, missionaries, interesting cars, gorgeous stained glass windows, unique straw Christmas decorations, wooden shoes, and near the end . . . a business decorated as a gingerbread house.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Still trying to get a good picture of all the Christmas lights in the Taby Centrum Mall.  They glitter and twinkle and it's beautiful.  Note that LeRon is wearing his mask.  Good boy!

On our daily walks, we see a variety of outdoor Christmas decorations.  Being the bird lover that I am, I love these birds!

Many yards have flag poles that normally fly the Swedish flag, but now they are decorated for Christmas.  So interesting to see how they stretch wires down from the poles to display the lights.

Different shapes of pole lights.  Some are slender and tall and others are squatty.


I do believe each pole is unique!  And I'm starting to love the yellowy-white lights, even more so than the colored lights.  At home I've always liked the colored lights better but here you mostly see the yellow lights and they make the darkness so warm and inviting.

LeRon told me I have enough photos of poles!

Lighted reindeer is pretty.  So far we have seen a deer and a fox here in the city.  No moose yet even though we see signs telling us to watch out for moose on the road.

Our Monday night meetings at the mission home are fun.  This night, some of the missionaries wore suspenders, so President Davis did too.  L-R: Elder Nordgren, Elder Ronndahl, President Davis, Elder Olson, and Elder Stinson.

The 7 missionaries that we work closely with surprised us by decorating our office door for Christmas.  The trees all have little notes of love and appreciation on them.  Elder Walker and Elder Olson were the instigators of the door surprise.  And Elder Olson wrote on a tree that "No one inspires me to be a farmer like you do!"  Elder Torrie was pleased of course.  And Elder Stinson wrote "Nice to have others from the British empire here."  We have always felt a connection to those from New Zealand (as Elder Stinson is) or from England (as is our new missionary, Elder Wilkey, or our Kenya Nairobi missionary, Elder Harrott!  Love you Elder Harrott!)

Last Saturday we went down to Gamla Stan (the old town) and visited the Deutsche Kirche (the German Church of the Church of Sweden).  The stained glass windows from the early 1900's were stunning.  This one says something like "Give us our daily bread."  You really need to click on this picture to enlarge it.  So beautiful.

Another beautiful stained glass window picturing a dying parent bidding goodbye to his family.  I'm so grateful to know that there is life after death and that we can be with our loved ones again.  It helps take the sting out of death.  And though we mourn for those who die, we rejoice in the new life they are entering.

Love this stained glass of a family planting potatoes.  Not sure why it says "Labora."  "Work" in German is "Arbeit" and in Swedish it's "arbete."  This beautiful work of art was made in 1909.  Seems long ago, but then not so long ago when I consider that my dad was born 6 years later in 1915.
Lovely stained glass of the Nativity, just right for Christmas and for all year long too.

We're always drawn to the pipe organs.  Each church has unique designs and they are all striking.  A yellow Christmas star is hanging in front.

LeRon got permission from the young man manning the information booth to go up right next to the organ.  Maybe sometime he will get to play it.

Ha ha.  Some fun pictures with the office missionaries.  They come over once a week to sing together, eat, and visit.  Love those matching sweaters!

I think I'm being bossy.  Not sure what else I could be doing!

Ah . . . here is Grandma Torrie with her grandsons.  And all eyes are open and everyone is smiling.

This is our "group hug" picture.  These missionaries are great fun.

And now it's goodbye to Elder Walker.  He's a technological whiz and we will miss him in the office.  He also reminds us a lot of our son-in-law Andy.

More missionaries to miss.  These two -- Elder Jensen and Elder Seely -- were in the office when we arrived in January so we got to know them well.

Being with junior missionaries definitely keeps us young!  Elder Seely's great-grandfather's brother once owned land in Grassy Lake.  LeRon's dad farmed that land for years after the Seelys left the area.  So we own that land now too.  It's a small world.  L-R: Elder Seely, Elder Jensen, Syster & Elder Torrie.

Did you know that brussel sprouts look like this when they are growing?  I didn't.  So interesting to see them for sale in the grocery store.

These teeny little cars are only driven by young drivers who have just gotten their licenses.  I'm not sure how long they have to drive these cars until they are allowed to drive regular cars.  The cars are governed at low speeds and always have a slow sign on the back.  They're not allowed on the freeway of course.  They're kind of cute but funny at the same time.

Watch out for moose on the road.  At home we watch out for deer; in Israel we watch for camels; in Kenya we watch for baboons!

We said goodbye to these great young men and young women who are going home after having served 18 or 24 months.  They serve at their own expense and they come to Sweden knowing a little Swedish and they leave fluent in the language and with a love for the culture and people.  L-R: Syster Perdue, Syster Wilson, Syster Bass, Syster Ståhlberg (pronounced stow-l-berry), Elder Seely, Elder Childs, Elder Jensen.  Syster Ståhlberg served in the Canada Calgary Mission until she was sent back to her home country of Sweden due to the pandemic.  The home mission of Elder Torrie and me is the Canada Calgary Mission.  Small world.  Syster Ståhlberg served in the Calgary area, never down in southern Alberta where we live.
Another very interesting car.  Has a motorcycle engine and no heat.  This man said it's great fun to drive!

This shows you the size of the motorcycle car!

I bet this Christmas decoration is gorgeous at night.

You'll be glad to know I wear my mask even though the majority of Swedes don't.  But we're seeing a few more people wearing masks these days.

This business is completely swathed in gingerbread decorations.  Our Robinson grandchildren make gingerbread houses every year at Christmas time.  So this reminded us of them.

God jul (Merry Christmas) and Gott uytt år (Happy New Year)
Elder Torrie is playing Christmas music for recording for our grandchildren for Christmas.  He can play for a very long time and never repeat a piece.


I fell in love with this horse made of wheat.  What a work of art!  No, I didn't buy it because it cost about 200 USD and really, how would I get it home still looking good?  Be sure to click on it to see it enlarged.
But I did buy this goat, which was much less expensive and something I hope I can take home when we go.  It's made by the same family business that made the horse in the photo above. For hundreds of years, people in northern Europe had big festivals in December called Yule. The Yule goat was supposed to help deliver presents, so sometimes Santa Claus would ride a goat instead of his sleigh.  Small goats made of straw are still a popular Christmas decoration here in Sweden. 



And who knew they have wooden shoes in Sweden?  And apparently even doctors and nurses still wear them.  They have leather uppers so that is different from the wooden shoes in Holland.

My wooden shoes are painted with a traditionally Swedish design.  Elder Torrie's are just plain.

Last time singing together before Elder Walker (far right) is transferred.  They are singing the mission song.  It really touches our hearts when they sing it.  It's in Swedish of course so we don't understand every word and I can't sing it yet because it goes rather fast and I can't sing the Swedish words that fast!

This is the last Monday night meeting for two missionaries.  Syster Perdue (on the right) is finished her 18-month mission and is going home.  Elder Walker (holding the cushion) is being transferred to Malmo, which is very far south in Sweden.  The office missionaries are L-R: Elder McGill, Elder Olson, Elder Nordgren, Elder Stinson, Elder Walker, Elder Rönndahl and Elder Rantaniemi.  The syster missionaries are Syster Training Leaders -- Syster Locher (pronounced low-hair) and Syster Perdue.  It's a very international group, with missionaries from the US, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland (German speaking).

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