Saturday, March 20, 2021

A Month of Anniversaries

See the next post for more about our frozen snowy owl!!  But first . . . 

March has been a month of anniversaries -- our 46th wedding anniversary on March 6, my 69th birthday on March 9, LeRon's 68th birthday on March 15, and a year ago March 17th, we flew home due to Covid, thinking we would never see Sweden again.  We've had a lot of celebrations.  The office missionaries gave me a fun party, and plan to do the same tonight for LeRon's birthday.  Syster Davis, our mission president's wife, had a beautiful-looking and delicious-tasting cake with lots of fruit on top at our office meeting last night.  And missionaries posted lots of tributes to us on the mission facebook page.  So nice to be loved!  And of course, our own children and grandchildren, sent us remembrances too.

I am grateful to our mothers -- Pearl (Hancock) Conrad and Guinivere (Redd) Torrie -- for giving birth to us, and for raising us, and for teaching us to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be contributing members of society.  I'm sure they're rooting for us from heaven.  Hard to believe my mother has been gone for 18 years and LeRon's mom for 6.  Time is flying by.

We still have many restrictions here in Sweden due to the pandemic.  Still no church services for more than 8 people, so we do meetings by zoom.  Small stores have limited capacities.  In malls, restaurants that are enclosed have to seat only one to a table.  You can imagine how popular those types of restaurants are.  Our missionaries are still very busy making advertisements and contacting people on social media.  Just in the past week, they have had 145 people ask for more information about the church.  The pandemic is definitely a time of stress for many people, and they are looking for something more in their lives.  It's interesting to see how God is using the pandemic to help the Gospel go forth.

Now for some fun pictures of birthdays, buildings, and beautiful homes, missionaries, cars, and fun playgrounds, and not necessarily in that order.

Fun to see these tiny cars that people drive when they first get their drivers licenses.  The cars are governed to keep them slow and safe, but they can be annoying too. This is the first time we've seen one of the tiny cars be a Hummer!  And you can see the studded winter tires.  Nice that they are legal in Sweden.  They're very helpful on icy roads.  We had studded tires 40 years ago in Alberta and I loved them.  Sadly, they were outlawed.

Here's the front of the Hummer.  My cousin had a big Hummer and once brought it to a family reunion.  It could drive straight up high hills and then straight back down again.  The kids loved it but it scared me to death.

It's our weekly Sunday night get-together.  Happy Birthday to Aldste Olson.  Tonight we are having potato chips and dip, and vegetables, and lots of yummy nutritious food (and some non-nutritious food too!)  The candles are creatively in the Ranch dip.  

One Saturday we took a 2-hr drive south to Norrkoping to do some recording at the church there.  I love this church.  It looks like the underside of a ship.  Here you can see the porthole!  Swedes seem to love round windows.

Here Aldste Ronndahl and Aldste Nordgren are setting up the microphones for the filming session.

Aldste Torrie is in the far back by the organ, waiting for things to begin.

There's an organ and a piano in this chapel.  The inlaid wood was really pretty.

Another view of the ceiling.  So interesting to see the bottom of a ship on the ceiling of a chapel!

Aldste Bills and Aldste Spellacy are the missionaries serving in Norrkoping.  They do a lot of their online work here in the Norrkoping chapel.  They have access to computers and the internet and spend a lot of time teaching people via the internet.  Aldste Spellacy was in the group that arrived when we were first here in January 2020.  So he and the others were our guinea pig group, in that we were first learning our duties.  I've talked with Aldste Bills on the phone, but this is the first time that I've met him.  So nice to meet all these fine missionaries.

Aldste Wrangell (pronounced wrong-ell'), on the left, is one of our Finnish missionaries, and he now works with us in the office.  A senior missionary, Aldste Cowgur, is in the background, waiting for the concert to begin.

Aw . . . at last . . . the performance is beginning.  We are filming for an Easter presentation that one of the stakes is putting on, virtually, of course.  Syster Cowgur, on left with the cello; Syster Searle with the violin; Syster Allen and Syster Gilbert singing; Aldste Torrie on the piano.  They are performing I Stand All Amazed at the love Jesus offers me.  Aldste Torrie is playing by ear, and Syster Cowgur wrote the arrangement for cello and violin.

Syster Allen and Syster Gilbert were spending too much time looking down at the music, so Aldste Nordgren had the great idea to write the words out for them.  It worked like a charm.  It's in Swedish, of course.

Syster Cowgur, Aldste Torrie, and Syster Searle practising.

And now we're all singing the mission song.  L-R: Syster Allen, Syster Gilbert, Aldste Spellacy, Aldste Bills, Aldste Wrangell, Aldste Ronndahl, Aldste Nordgren with Syster Searle on the violin.

Syster Gilbert (pronounced eel-bair) and I have a connection because, even though she was raised in Sweden, she was born in Canada to a French Canadian father and a Swedish mother.  She is fluent in Swedish, French, and English!  It's time we Westerners learned a few more languages.

These beautiful sisters are friends and companions in the mission.  Usually companionships are just two, but they are sometimes three.  Syster Gilbert, Syster Allen, Syster Searle.

For our Sunday evening get-together, we invited the two Syster Training Leaders to join us too.  I'm also trying out the wide-angle on my new phone.  Pretty sweet!  L-R: Aldste Longman (kneeling), Aldste Ronndahl, Aldste Austin, Aldste Nordgren, Aldste Wrangell, Syster Hall, Aldste Rantaniemi, Syster Jackson, Syster Torrie, with Aldste Torrie kneeling at her feet.

Now Aldste Olson has joined our picture!  Yeah!  He's been in the office as long as we have.  We came in October 2020 and so did he.  He will probably be transferred to a new area soon, and we will miss him.

Now for my birthday party.  The Elders invited us upstairs to their apartment, and we had a grand time singing and dancing and eating!  Not sure what song we are singing here, but it looks fun!  Just missing Aldste Nordgren who is in the kitchen watching the food.

Fun Happy Birthday poster!  Canadian flag.  Kenyan flag.  An elephant.  A tractor!  Next time they could add a Swedish flag because we are loving Sweden too.

Aldste Ronndahl's dad is a baker and he has taught his son how to bake delicious food.  This is a Princess Torte, which is a very famous cake here in Sweden.  It's the best Princess Torte I've tasted here.  Better than the bakery ones.

Aldste Longman is trying to perfect the making of Swedish semla buns, and I think he has succeeded.  Semla buns are flavored with cardamom, and filled with almond paste and whipped cream.  Apparently, you eat them mainly in February.  But Aldste Longman has decided to make them once a week!  They were yummy.  I really like the cardamom flavor.

So I took pictures of the missionaries, and I forgot to get a picture of LeRon and me.  These missionaries made the evening so fun.  Aldste Austin, Aldste Rantaniemi, Aldste Longman, Aldste Nordgren.  And Aldste Austin and Aldste Rantaniemi gave me the tulips.  Spring is nearly here.

Aldste Ronndahl (on left) made and decorated the cake.  Aldste Olson and Aldste Wrangell are waiting to dig in!

Here's a close-up of the birthday poster.  You can see that I am driving the tractor.

The day after my birthday we awoke to snow!  That's our little red car with 💙 you on it, a message from the missionaries.

Our walk was snowier than it's been lately.  Here's another interesting house.

And it's nice that there's no leaves on the trees because now you can actually see the house.

This beautiful house has two large balconies.  I've always wanted balconies, but there's nowhere to put them on my house at home.

Here's a close-up of the balconies.  How fun to sit there in the summer!

The next night, the snow was gone.  Love this red house and the white fence.  I know it would look funny in southern Alberta, but I sure love it here!

We discovered this fun playground on one of our neighborhood walks.  The elephant caught our eyes.  It's a bit cold here in Sweden for elephants.

Fun slide going down the elephant's trunk.  Great idea for a playhouse!

Last Saturday we went down to Gamla Stan, the Old Town.  Such a picturesque place.  Love the brickwork and clock on the German Church tower.

In the courtyard of the German Church is a building with beautiful arches.  So different from western architecture.

We're looking from the German Church yard into a street in Gamla Stan.  People live in those beautiful old buildings.

Are these snowdrops peeking out from the cold soil?  Yes, spring is definitely coming!

A tiny play area near some apartment buildings hosted this unique sandbox toy!  What a fun idea!!

And again, our Sunday evening sing-along with Elders Wrangell, Longman, Austin, Ronndahl, Rantantiemi, Nordgren, and Olson.  They love singing together, especially the mission song called (loosely translated) God is in Sweden.

We were spec-ing (is that a word?) out the Mall of Scandinavia, which is supposed to be the biggest mall in Scandinavia.  This building is near the Mall.  So interesting with all its round windows.

On a wall in the Mall of Scandinavia is a painting taken from the Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren.  Pippi is the strongest girl in the world -- so strong that she can carry her horse!  Very crazy books that will make children laugh.  According to Wikipedia (who knows everything):  "Pippi is red-haired, freckled, unconventional and superhumanly strong – able to lift her horse one-handed. She is playful and unpredictable. She often makes fun of unreasonable adults, especially if they are pompous and condescending. Her anger comes out in extreme cases, such as when a man mistreats his horse. Pippi, like Peter Pan, does not want to grow up. She is the daughter of a buccaneer captain and has adventure stories to tell about that, too. Her four best friends are her horse and monkey, and the neighbours' children, Tommy and Annika."


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