Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Can you compare Sweden to Kenya?

People sometimes ask us how this Sweden mission compares with our Kenya mission.  Well, it's so very different that it's hard to compare.  In fact, it's best NOT to compare.  We loved our Kenya mission, and we are loving our Sweden mission.  

One very different thing about Sweden, though, is that there are not groups from the west continually coming to "help" the people of Sweden.  (We as missionaries are helping by bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and helping with Family History too. But not monetary aid.)  In Africa, groups often come to help by giving things or by building buildings, and though it may help short-term, it is not a long-term, nor even a good solution to the pressing needs of the more than 52 countries of Africa.  

I read an article recently that led to my thinking on this subject.  It took place not in Africa, but in India.  An American woman named Becky, who was trying to heal from her daughter's suicide, started a non-profit organization to help orphans who suffered from leprosy in India.  She hired an Indian doctor to help, but he became discouraged because the patients would not follow his instructions.  She asked Padma, the Indian woman who was helping with the non-profit, what was wrong.

This was Padma's reply:  "You Americans.  You come to India, and you just give things away.  I know it probably makes you feel good, but the truth is, nothing given free has any [lasting] value.  Anytime you give something to someone, you diminish that person, because in essence, all you're doing is making them beggars to you.  If you truly want to lift people, [help them be] responsible for their own well-being.  You can't just give away medical treatment."

Becky was stunned by this reply, saying that the people had no money.  "But they can pay 2 rupees and they will feel like they're paying for their medical treatment," Padma said.  (Two rupees equals about 3 cents).  Padma continued, "If you want to lift them, give them the power to lift themselves."  They started charging two rupees and the people started following doctor's instructions, which led to healing.

I remember that when I taught ESL classes in Grassy Lake, the women took things more seriously when we asked them to pay what they could for their books instead of just giving them the books.  I would think that that concept could help the groups that come to Africa too.  

I just did a search of my many blog posts from our Kenya mission and found what I had written in April 2017.  It was called "Humanitarian Work in Mombasa: How to Help People to Help Themselves."  I think it's very interesting, if I do say so myself!  I encourage you to read it.  You can find it here: https://kenya.torriefamily.org/2017/04/how-to-help-people-to-help-themselves.html

I found another post written in August 2016, and which was titled, "You Ask . . . How Can we Help?" It is found here:  https://kenya.torriefamily.org/2016/08/you-ask-how-can-we-help.html.   It basically says what Padma said. In other words, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

That's my rant for the day!!  Becky's story can be found here: https://www.ldsliving.com/After-losing-her-daughter-how-helping-thousands-with-leprosy-in-India-led-this-mother-to-healing/s/93901.  From that page you can click on a link to listen to the podcast, or on a link to read the transcript of the podcast.  The whole story is quite incredible.

Now on to some pictures of Sweden!

We've had snow for about three weeks.  Our junior missionaries have been loving it!  Look at the height of that snowman!  Elder Torrie is 5'9" tall.  Lots of people stopped to take a picture.

Even here in the city, you can see the moon and the stars.  We love our evening walks.

The homes are so . . . Swedish here!  No curtains.  Just lovely light shining forth.


Mr. Snowman was listing quite seriously to his left.  So Elder Rantaniemi, Elder McGill, Elder Olson, and Elder Longman spent their lunch hour making him straight again.  It was quite an undertaking.

Now they are admiring their work.  It's pretty straight and tall.  I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture of them climbing on the fence to straighten the snowman out.

Now Mr. Snowman is leaning to his right.  His buttons are made of kiwi fruit.  The missionaries gave their New Zealand companion a whole case of kiwi for Christmas.  Too much to eat so they stuck them in the freezer, but that didn't help the kiwis, as you can imagine, so they used them for snowman buttons.

Allen and Shannon and their son Joseph came over for Sunday dinner.  They are fun people.  Notice the Carl Larsson picture on the wall to Allen's right.  LeRon and I love this picture of farmers back in the day.  I'm starting to really love Carl Larsson's paintings.

Now we're in Uppsala at the gorgeous cathedral.  (Uppsala is about an hour's drive north of Stockholm). The missionaries are doing some musical recordings here.  The rector was happy to have us record here.  All you have to do is book a time.  Elder Snow (on the left) is a companion to Elder Safsten (on the right) who is a wonderful opera-type singer.  Elder Stinson (in the middle) is one of the Smoes (our Social Media Office Elders).

We were awed by the beautiful dancing of Syster Olsen.  I felt very klutzy next to her; she is so incredibly graceful.  The video of her dancing will be posted sometime in March.  The three Smoes (social media office elders)-- Elder Stinson, Elder Nordgren, and Elder Ronndahl -- are doing the recording.

I so love the architecture in these old buildings.  The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran Church.  We visited with the rector, who explained the history of the church, and he showed us the oldest parts from the 1200's.  LeRon also met with one of the organists who said that LeRon could book a time and come and play the beautiful pipe organ.  He's looking forward to doing that when we can find the time to get away.

Still a lot of Christmas lights up but fewer than there were in December and January.  Click on this picture to enlarge.  It's gorgeous.  We are still doing our nightly walks even though it's getting colder and colder.  The humidity also makes it feel colder.  Tonight it is -12 C.  I know that's not as cold as the -30 that it is in southern Alberta right now, but it feels cold to walk for 30 minutes.

I'm trying to get used to my new phone.  Here's three of our office elders -- Elder Stinson, Elder Olson, and Elder Longman.  I don't think Elder Torrie's going to like this picture.  He looks like a little old man!  Oh my.  Is that the man I married almost 46 years ago?  I wonder what I look like when I'm caught unawares.

Here's a house that LeRon thinks is gorgeous.  And it is.  We love the gables and it looks so gorgeous with snow on the roof.

Elder McGill (on left) has been an Assistant to the President for 6 months now and he will be transferred soon.  We will miss him.  We've known him for more than 4 months, and you couldn't ask for a better grandson!  Yes, these young men are our adopted grandsons.  We love Elder Rantaniemi (on right) too.  His name rolls over our tongues very easily now!

Every Sunday evening at 9 p.m., the 7 office elders come downstairs to our tiny apartment and we have an evening of singing, eating, and visiting.  They are all wearing the ties we gave them for Christmas.  Fun!

I need a red rose or something so I can match!  Back row: Elder Longman, Elder Nordgren, Elder Ronndahl, Elder Rantaniemi; Front row: Elder Torrie, Elder Stinson, Elder McGill, Syster Torrie, with Elder Olson holding the camera.

We love all our missionaries and we will certainly miss these two.  They have both been in the office for about 6 months and are being transferred to other areas.  The mission is full of hellos and goodbyes.  

Fun with the missionaries.  They keep us young.

Last meeting at the mission home for Elder Stinson and Elder McGill.  Yes, they have been happy together.  They all get along so well.  It's actually quite amazing.

Our mission office meetings are definitely counseling together meetings.  It's amazing what good ideas are generated when people share and counsel together.  A plate of snickerdoodles helps too.

The Syster Training Leaders counsel with the Assistants to the President and with President & Syster Davis.  They bring that feminine point-of-view that is very helpful.  So interesting that young men and young women ages 18-22 can be so insightful, responsible, and mature, while still being enthusiastic and fun.  Syster Locher (on left) is finished her 18-month mission and is going home to Switzerland soon.  She lives in the same area that Elder Torrie's ancestors come from.  I also have Swiss ancestors, and it has been fun to get to know Syster Locher.  Syster Jackson (middle) is the new Lead Syster Training Leader, along with Syster Hall, who knows LeRon's cousin, Robyn (MacPhee) Brown in Arizona.  Small world.

A sweet woman from the US asked us to buy flowers for the Davis's, who have had a death in the family.  So we went to the florist at the Taby Mall and learned that things are different here in Sweden.  There's no vases in this flower shop.  You just buy the flowers and take them home.  This florist talked to me about what I wanted, picked the flowers and greenery, and handed me a beautiful bouquet in about 5 minutes and for about 1/4 the cost it would be at home!  Flowers here are much cheaper in the west because they have less far to travel.  These flowers come from the Royal FloraHolland in Aalsmeer near Amsterdam.  They fly them in three times a week and even the roses last for 5-7 days.  And if any of you have the chance to visit this flower market in Aalsmeer, do it.  It's an auction and is in the 4th largest building by footprint in the world.  It is truly amazing.  Google for pictures of it.  I talked LeRon and our son Craig and daughter Heather into seeing it when we were in the Netherlands one year and they thought it would be tacky but it was absolutely amazing.

Flowers for President & Syster Davis from a friend in Utah.  It was a happy surprise for them.  Thanks, RoEen, for your love and thoughtfulness.

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