Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Out of the City on Saturdays

We are very busy in the mission office from Monday to Friday, and then on Saturdays, we take our Pday (Preparation Day), which is a day to relax and see some cultural sites. We're still on call though, with missionaries often calling LeRon for various things. Not so many car accidents now that it is spring. It's amazing there aren't more accidents when you consider that these young missionaries have only been driving for a couple of years, and many of them have never driven in winter conditions. And then, add to that, driving in a foreign country, and you know that God is protecting our young missionaries!

We love our Saturday excursions out of the city. Due to the pandemic, things are closed, but you can still visit many churches and wander around castles and cemeteries. Covid is pretty bad here in Sweden so we don't go many places where lots of people gather. In fact in Uppsala, a city close to Stockholm, they have restricted people to their homes except for short grocery shopping trips. LeRon and I were lucky to get our first dose of the vaccine yesterday. We were so grateful! Now for pictures from several Saturdays.

Sweden is well-connected with buses. Bus stops are everywhere, even out in the sticks. You can catch up on your reading while you wait for the local bus at this cool bus stop!

And here is the Salems Kyrka, much of it from the 12th century and originally part of a defense system. So interesting to see buildings so old and still in use. Interesting too that all of the churches we've seen have had a heating system. So unlike the cold, cold churches in most of Europe. I remember attending an evensong in a church in Salzburg, Austria. We bundled up in our winter coats, with toques, and gloves, and we were still cold!

It would be so romantic to be buried in a churchyard, don't you think?  Next best thing anyway to being buried on our farm (which we of course, can't do).

An old church and an old tree. I've taken sketching classes in which they say that trees always have branches extending 45 degrees from the trunk.  Not so! They go every which way.

The church yard is on the very edge of a lake. Take a few steps backward and you'll be in the drink!

We visited Salems Kyrka the Saturday before Palm Sunday and the women priests had prepared the church with "palm" branches for the worship service the next day. Click to enlarge and you can see the palm branches behind LeRon. Ever since being in Jerusalem (many times), I've appreciated Palm Sunday more and more.

The wooden benches in Salems Kyrka are painted to look like marble.

The baptismal font in Salems Kyrka is from the 12th century and is made of stone. In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or, in Swedish, Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sista Dagars Heliga), we are baptized by immersion, as was Jesus in the New Testament. I don't think this font would be big enough!

This church is close to Salems Kyrke but I wouldn't want to be buried here! The noise from the freeway and other city noise is not very conducive to resting peacefully. 

The old tree is very dead inside.

Back to the mission office. The missionaries are in "the war room," the room where they edit videos and make advertisements for social media. Elder Scott, Elder Ronndahl, Elder Stinson, Elder Wrangell, Elder Gilbert, Elder Longman, Elder Longman, Elder Austin.

We discovered that Elder Scott and I are 3rd cousins!! He descends from a brother of my Grandma Ida (Muhlestein) Conrad. Elder Scott is now working in the office with us. So fun!

And we were so happy to see our New Zealand "grandson," Elder Stinson. He worked with us in the office for several months and is now in another area of Sweden. In fact, he and his companion, Elder Gilbert, are what we call the "Toes" meaning the "traveling office elders." So we have the Smoes (the Social Media office elders), the Poes (the proselying office elders), and the Toes!  The Toes travel throughout Sweden videoing members' uplifting stories for our social media posts.

Now we're in the city just a few blocks from where we live. We took this picture to show how the trees grow straight and very tall, yet their roots are very shallow, given the amount of bedrock here in Sweden.

The roots are just barely in the soil. Not sure how they survive, and how they grow to such heights.

Another tree barely in the ground!

But this tree has fallen over. Must have been a terrific wind. It's left a small cave in the bedrock.

Here's another view of the newly fallen tree. We're surprised that any tree can root down enough to grow.

Springtime! The trees are flowering!!

Hmn . . . not sure why this picture is here.  I took it to show cool advertising on a milk carton. Every week there's a new activity. I'm sure kids (and adults) love to do the activities as they drink their milk. It reminds me of the advertising on cereal cartons when I was a kid. If you just saved 3 boxtops, for $1.50, you could get some random toy. We loved it! And we begged Mom to buy certain cereals so we could get the almost free toy!

Love this mailbox a few blocks down the street. The cat reminds me of our beloved cat, Blackie. Blackie was almost human. We let him in the house sometimes and told him that he couldn't go in the livingroom. So even if all of us were in the livingroom, he would sit in the doorway and just look at us. He wouldn't step a foot into the room. He was definitely an outdoor cat and would go with me on my long daily walks between the fields of crop. He and our dog, Honey, were great companions.
Now we're on another Saturday adventure. We are at Gripsholms Slott (slott meaning castle). Viking rune stones everywhere.  Seems that the Vikings were always carving tributes to their mother, or their father, or someone else. The rune stones have been translated.

Gripsholm Slott is in the village of Mariefred, not too far from Stockholm. The castle was built by Sweden's King Gustav Vasa in 1537 and was used as a royal residence for many years. It's now an art museum, but of course, is closed due to the pandemic.

It was still fun to walk around the castle and see all the architectural details.

This tree doesn't look like much now, but soon it will be absolutely covered with white blossoms.

Gripsholm Castle is definitely picturesque!

Now we're at Mariefred Kyrka near Gripsholm Slott, built in 1682 over the ruins of a monastery.

Classy interior. And no, the priest would not let LeRon play the organ!

Nearby, we saw a sign saying "Ruin." So we climbed up to the "ruin" and found that it was called "The Swine Church." The church was abandoned when they built the new Mariefred Kyrka and farmers herded their pigs here, hence the name.  These stones are all that is left but the people of Mariefred are maintaining it.

A rune stone was built into the wall of the church.

This ruined church reminded us of the ruined abbeys in England. When King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church, he took over all the monasteries and abbeys, dissolving them, and taking all their wealth for himself. It was called the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  LeRon and I have really enjoyed visiting many of these English ruined abbeys and monasteries. There's a spirit there that broods over them, making us feel that they were once holy places. People worshipped God in the best way they knew how. 
This is the first working tractor we've seen!  LeRon was pretty excited!

The tractor was rolling these fields of winter wheat. There's so much rock here, that the fields have to be rolled, pushing the rocks into the soil so the harvest equipment won't break on the rocks. You can also see places where the wild boars have dug up the crop.

The Taxinge Church was closed. Not so old of a church. Built in 1863.

Fun playhouse for the kids!

The Taxinge Castle is a manor house built in the early 1800's. It now houses a Cake Castle, with 60 or more different flavors of homemade cakes. We didn't buy any because there were too many people around and . . . after all . . . we are in a pandemic! The grounds were beautiful and extensive. Like an English country garden.

Aha . . . here is the tractor that was working in the field. LeRon gets homesick for the farm!

Now we're at the Turinge Kyrka. Lovely white interior. These churches have class!

The organist let LeRon play, not on the pipe organ, but on this smaller Allen organ. Beautiful sound in this small church.

Love this headstone! A 3-D of the man himself! And this man died in 1904 so it has lasted a good while in good condition.

His nose looks Jewish, don't you think? I remember when our sons, Michael, Craig, and Eric were at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. They were wearing kipas (the Jewish skullcap) and people thought they were Jewish! I think it's the bump on their "Conrad" noses (taking after my dad).

Thought Craig would enjoy this headstone. He and I both like pillars.  This is an idea for a headstone!


  1. So glad you could be vaccinated! That is great news! Thanks for sharing your adventures. I am interested in that cousin--which of grandma's siblings?

  2. Was that a magnolia tree about to bloom by the church? I’m surprised they’d grow in Sweden! I love magnolias.

    Did you talk to the farmer?