Sunday, January 24, 2021

Three Sweet Experiences

Yesterday we introduced a new senior couple to the cobblestone streets and quaint shops in Gamla Stan, the Old Town in Stockholm.  It's much like many old towns in Europe, but still delightful.  On the way home on the Tunnelbana (the metro or underground), as we were talking away in English, I could see a young man trying to discretely listen.  He finally looked directly at me, and I smiled, and then he jumped up and came over to talk with us.  He wasn't at all put off by the fact that we were missionaries.  This is very unusual here in Sweden.  Generally, people are not interested in religion.  We had only a few minutes to visit because we had to get off at the next stop, but we were able to give him a card with our names and contact information.  

It was a sweet experience that reminded me of a couple of other sweet experiences.  The next one had actually just happened in Gamla Stan.  We have become acquainted with several really great shopkeepers, and we introduced the new senior couple to them.  In one store, as we were leaving, the shopkeeper said that he was giving our friends a discount, and not, he emphasized, because we had bought things from him, but because he appreciated how we treated him with kindness.  He was so sincere.  It really touched me and made me realize how important it is to treat others as we want to be treated.

The other experience it reminded me of happened when we were here in the first two months of 2020.  We were at the airport with the mission president and his wife and other young missionaries, waiting to welcome several new missionaries.  We enjoyed being together, laughing and visiting as we awaited their arrival.  The plane came in and . . . no missionaries.  We were worried.  Even Missionary Travel in Salt Lake City didn't know where the missionaries were.  As the last passenger came through, he said that he had seen seven young people who looked like us, with name badges and missionary attire.  He said that they hadn't been allowed to board the plane in Amsterdam.  Now we were really worried.  Why weren't they allowed on the flight?  What would they do?  How can you tell parents that you've lost their sons and daughters?  Thankfully, they were on the next flight.

But that's not the part that was the sweet experience.  There was a young woman working in the cafe close to where we were waiting.  Being good missionaries, the junior missionaries slipped over to visit with her, and she eventually started learning about the church.  But the cool part is that as we were worrying and wondering what was happening with the missionaries, she noticed a light around all of us, and she wondered what it was.  We hadn't felt anything special; we had just been worried.  But in spite of it, somehow, she saw the light that comes as people try to be what Jesus would have them be.

These experiences reminded me of another one . . . so I guess it is actually four sweet experiences.  We were in Jerusalem, wandering through the maze of streets in the Old City.  We were nobody special, just  a mom and a dad and several grown children.  We heard a voice call out, "Hey, I have a deal for Mormons!"  I swung around to see a shopkeeper waving at us to come into his shop.  "How did you know we are Mormons?" I asked.  ("Mormon" is a nickname people sometimes call members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  "I can tell by your faces," he said.  We were stunned.  But we were also grateful that our love of Jesus Christ and His teachings sometimes shows in our faces.

Four very special experiences!  I know we're not perfect, but I hope that we will always live so that the Light of Christ can shine through us.  "This little light of mine . . . I'm going to let it shine. la la la"

Showing Aldste & Syster Wilhite the main square in Gamla Stan.  This is the iconic scene of Stockholm, just like is on the background to this blog, thanks to our daughter Michelle.  Tall picturesque buildings in lovely colors.

We love the Sankta Gertruds Kyrka in Gamla Stan.  The stained glass windows are very Catholic; the Church of Sweden broke away from the Catholic Church and became an Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Love the baroque interior!  So light and bright, and this church is amazingly warm in the winter.  It's very unlike most churches in Europe, which are unheated; you have to dress in toques and gloves.  Here in Sweden, all the churches we've seen so far have been heated.  So nice!

We missed this stained glass from the early 1900's the first time we came.  Love the detail of the family going to church.

Last time we were here, the church was decorated for Christmas.  LeRon has the contact information of the organist, who apparently allows people to come and practice on this gorgeous organ during the week.  That's the goal.

More lovely stained glass windows.  Today it was actually sunny out and the light coming into the church made the windows glow with color and light.

Christmas is never far from the mind when one sees this stained glass window!  

I'm always intrigued with the shadows made by the heavily snow-laden power lines.  The day after I took this picture, the snow began to slowly melt.

A week ago Saturday, we drove over to the eastern coast to see what things looked like in the snow in the winter.  So interesting to see boats sailing and snow covering everything else.

These ducks look a little frozen!

But these ducks are very much alive!

Now we've seen camel crossing signs in Israel, baboon crossing signs in Kenya, horse and cart crossing signs in Amish Ohio, and now wild boar crossing signs here in Sweden (along with moose crossing signs).

If this is a Canada Goose, it's a long way from home!

Though I love birds, I have never been taken with ducks, but these ducks were absolutely beautiful.

My Robinson grandchildren have four pet ducks, but these are not theirs.  I like the duck tracks in the snow.  And their bright orange feet.

Frozen waterfalls right near the ocean.  Interesting!

So much bedrock here.  It's no wonder dynamite was invented in Sweden.  They needed a lot of dynamite to blast through the rock to build roads, tunnels, homes.

Look at this fun ship playground right by the sea.  Kids were playing on it on this chilly winter day.