Sunday, February 21, 2021

Giant Snowy Owls and Crazy Pandemic Times

It's been a crazy month.  In non-pandemic times, missionaries arrive and depart every 6 weeks.  It's what we call the transfer cycle.  Every 6 weeks, missionaries are moved to different places within Sweden as new ones arrive and old ones depart.  But this month, due to the pandemic, missionaries have come in at three different times -- 9 one week, then 11 the next, then another 9 this coming Friday.  Three missionaries finished their missions and returned home.  All of these events give LeRon and me a lot of work and it can be somewhat stressful.  All of the missionaries in one group were stranded overnight in Frankfurt as they awaited further Covid testing, and all of their bags were delayed a few days.  So important to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on bag!  But they were all excited to be in Sweden as missionaries.

I received a phone call this past week that brightened my day.  A Swedish woman who had LDS friends, and who had been to Salt Lake City (our church's headquarters) a couple of years ago on a business trip, wanted to meet with missionaries to learn more about what we believe.  That was a happy call; I've never had one quite like that before.  

And then yesterday, LeRon and I went bed shopping.  (My hips can't take this old mattress anymore).  We found a wonderful bed (hopefully!) and we were able to share the gospel with Diana, a beautiful Syrian/Swedish girl who is engaged to be married later this year.  We were able to witness to her that we knew families can be together even after death.  Her fiancé sounds like a good man.  He told her that he knows that "a happy wife means a happy life!"  Smart man!

Now for the giant snowy owl . . . (and be sure to look at the very last two pictures) . . .

Aldste Torrie and I were out for our daily evening walk and we came upon the most amazing thing!!  A heroic size snowy owl made of . . . snow!  Its creator was in the yard and he welcomed us in.  (Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge). He said he made it with layers of snow and ice so that it is a solid mass.  It took him a long time to build.

Its nose is made from a tree root.  The tree, which stood right where the owl is now, blew down in a wind last year.  Trees here have very shallow roots because of the bedrock that is everywhere.  We're amazed that so many trees actually grow in this rocky land.

Children (and grownups too) climb up the ladder and sit on the head.

And then they slide down the back of the owl!

Of course I had to climb the ladder!!  But I wasn't dressed to slide down the back, so this is as far as I went.  I was afraid that if I got up on the head, I wouldn't be able to get back down without having to slide down.  And like I said, I didn't have any snow pants on.  In fact, I never even brought snow pants to Sweden.

You can just barely see me if you click on the picture.  But this shows the size of the owl in comparison to 5' 3" me.

Per, (pronounced pair), the creator of this amazing bird, was surprised when I climbed up the ladder, seeing that I am almost 70.  (Hard to believe it as I see it in writing -- in two weeks I turn 69, and that's definitely almost 70).  He said that others my age had come to see the owl but they just walked around it; they never considered climbing it.  I never considered not climbing it!

Here's a happy view of the snowy owl, the owl's creator, Per, and his Christmas pole lights.  Normally he flies the Swedish flag but in the dark days of winter, he helps light the world with the pole lights and the flickering gas lights.

We couldn't get enough of this amazing creation.

You can see the delicate filagree of the owl's wings.  Per made it by making icy spikes and clumping snow onto each spike.  The whole thing has also been covered with water, which of course, froze, giving it a shiny surface.

See you tomorrow night, little owl . . . I mean, big owl.

At first I thought these were lawn decorations.  But no, they are real, live, deer.  I don't think these are reindeer; we saw reindeer on our trip to Norway.  They didn't look like these little deer, even though reindeer are also very small.
There were 4 little deer.  So cute!  The deer at home in Alberta are cute too but they eat my trees, so I'm not so enamored with them there.

And then we were driving here in the city and saw lovely waterfalls frozen as they cascaded down the bedrock.  The temperatures have warmed above freezing and soon the frozen water will no longer be frozen.  We drove around this round-about three or four times to allow me to snap this picture out the window.  This is the first time we've been honked at.  I guess we didn't take the round-about fast enough for the other car that snuck up on us.

We said goodbye to three wonderful missionaries -- Syster Locher, Aldste Barney, and Aldste Kent.  Syster Locher is from Switzerland, actually near the little town that LeRon's great-great-grandfather came from (Bassersdorf).  My great-grandparents also came from Switzerland, but closer to Zurich.

Aldste Deshler was one of the two missionaries that took over for us in the office when we were sent home back in March 2020 due to Covid.  I had about two days to train him, and then he did my job for several months before Aldste Ward took over, and then on October 1, 2020, I was back at my job.  So we have a connection with Aldste Deshler, that's for sure.  Such a good thing that LeRon helped me develop all the spreadsheets to track everything we have to do in the office.  If not for that, I wouldn't have been able to train Aldste Deshler so quickly.  Spreadsheets are an amazing tool!  LeRon has used them in our farm business for 45 years so he's pretty expert at it.

The Lead Syster Training Leaders stopped by for a visit.  Next to me is Syster Jackson, and she reminds me of my niece Elizabeth.  Maybe you can't see it in this picture, but if you were around her, you would agree.  Next to her is Syster Locher, who has now returned home to Switzerland.  And on the right is Syster Hall, who is a dear friend of LeRon's cousin, Robyn Brown (Aunt Barbara MacPhee's daughter).  Small world.

We get close to these missionaries and it's hard to say goodbye when it's time for them to go.  How do you like LeRon's Scandinavian sweater?  He bought it here in Sweden but it was made in Norway.  It keeps him toasty warm.  Warmer than I want to be.

We took Syster Locher to the airport for her trip home.  We waited in the check-in line for 1 hour and 10 minutes!!!  Hardly any agents were working.  While I waited with Syster Locher, Aldste Torrie went to try and locate the missing bags of the 9 missionaries who had arrived yesterday.  He finally discovered that they were still in Frankfurt and would be coming to Stockholm later that afternoon.  Too late for the missionaries who were going to other parts of Sweden.

We helped with the transferring of new missionaries.  And here is my cousin, Aldste Muhlestein, who is being transferred from the far north to warmer Stockholm!  So fun that we got to meet on this mission.  For sure he looks like he could fit in with my dad's family.  My dad and my Aunt Ethel and Aunt Elaine all had very brown eyes.  And my dad had such dark hair that I once thought he was a native Indian.

A Saturday afternoon walk through the forest.  The snow looks like huge marshmallows on the branches of this bush.  Or like snowballs.

These John Deere tractors regularly plow the streets.  Fun for farmer-boy LeRon to see.

Now for our favorite time of the week.  Sunday night, 9 p.m.  Singing with the missionaries who live above us and work regularly in the office with us.  Then visiting and eating till past 10.  L-R: Elder Torrie on the piano, Elder Ronndahl, Elder Olson, Elder Rantaniemi, and the elephant on the wall.

Missionaries can really sing!  They sing the hymns with gusto on a Sunday evening.  At Christmas time, we had fun singing all the Christmas songs too, not just the hymns.  Elder Rantaniemi, Elder Austin, Elder Nordgren, Elder Wrangell (with the wowy socks), and Elder Longman.

The mission song really brings the spirit of brotherhood.  So fun to hear these missionaries sing it.  I love the song too but it's in Swedish and I can't spit out the words fast enough to join in.  Swedish is a very difficult language.

Mission business took us into downtown Stockholm via the tunnelbana (the underground).  We love the designs and the light and the colors in many of the stations.

LeRon and I were reminded of how much we loved to ride the escalators in Eatons in Lethbridge when we were kids.  My family went to Lethbridge about twice a year -- once to go to the dentist, and once at Christmas time to go Christmas shopping.  LeRon's family went more often because they took piano lessons there.  These escalators, taking you out of the tunnelbana, make the Eatons' elevators seem very puny (which they were).  But we've ridden on much longer and steeper escalators in the tube in London.

Here's another tunnelbana station.  Sometime we'll have to explore all the stations just to see the artwork.  When we have free time.  Ha ha.

It's been raining for two days and the temperature is well above 0 C.  So sad that our owl is melting.  Per is trying to fix it but it may be a losing battle.  We also love his 100-year old house.  In Alberta we would just tear down a 100-year old house and build a new one.  We like the old homes here.  They are classy and elegant with lots of balconies and windows.

Close-up of our weeping, dying owl.  Maybe Per can save it.  We hope so . . . and yet, we are getting tired of winter!


  1. That owl snow sculpture looks amazing and so fun! What a lovely service to your little community to provide that joy in the winter. :)

  2. Way cool! I loved your sentence, "I never considered not climbing it!" I am glad you are still a feisty girl!

  3. That cousin looks like David and Patrick!

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