Monday, June 28, 2021

Fun Foliage, Faint Frescoes, and Fancy Singing

We can't believe how beautiful Sweden is.  Long days.  Short nights.  Sunshine.  Flowering foliage.  Hot weather at 84 F.  Yes, it was absolutely hot and it only got up to 84 F!  It's the humidity.  Everyone was sweltering last week.  Thankfully, this week it's been in the 70's.

Has been crazy busy on the mission.  We sent 12 missionaries home but only 11 made it.  Yes, one missionary was stranded at the airport.  He had put his passport in the security tray and when the tray came out after several passes through the x-ray machine, the passport was gone.  No one knows what happened to it.  We had all left the airport but he managed to text someone to come back and get him.  What stress!  The day was spent running to the US Embassy to get a temporary passport and then to let his family know what had happened.  Made us realize we don't even know if there is a Canadian Embassy here in Stockholm.  We'll have to find out.  (Yes, there is).

LeRon and I received our 2nd Covid vaccines.  Yeah!!  We are so grateful for the scientists who were able to develop the vaccine so quickly and for the many miracles along the way.  God knew the pandemic was coming and he provided inventions and discoveries to help things along.  And the pandemic has really increased our missionary outreach.  Through the internet our missionaries are able to reach many who are wanting peace in their lives. It has been simply amazing.

Most of the pictures will enlarge if you click on them.  Not sure why some of them don't.  And at the end of the post I have included three videos of a father-daughter duo that LeRon and I love hearing sing.

Also note that we now have a YouTube channel.  Just search for L&C Torrie on YouTube.  I have about 50 variations of the mission song (with different missionaries singing) as well as other songs by our missionary grandsons, a few stories for my grandkids, a video by the Snowy Owl creator, Per (see my posts in February 2021), and some videos of LeRon playing the organ in one of the lovely old churches.  

Who knew foliage grows so big and beautiful this far north?  Stockholm is the same latitude as the northern boundary of Alberta.  Now, granted, I have never been that far north in Alberta, but I can't imagine such flowering foliage growing there.  Above is a huge goatsbeard.  I have one growing in my yard in Alberta but it is only half the size and has been growing for years.

And much of the flowering foliage is growing wild here.  So lovely amidst the ferns.

You are probably getting tired of hearing about the trees and foliage, but oh well . . .  Here are globe willows growing on both sides of the road.  They look pruned but this is how they grow, with canopies that are naturally globe-shaped.  So lovely.

Last Saturday we stopped again at the Täby Kyrka.  As we entered, we could hear organ music.  We were in luck!  The organist was there so LeRon could talk to her.
She was going for lunch so she allowed Elder Torrie to play to his heart's content.  The pedals were in need of work; they clinked and clacked as he played.  But the sound of the pipes in the old church was beautiful.  I videoed some of the songs and put them on YouTube.  You can check them out by searching for L&C Torrie on YouTube.

You may remember from my last post that this church was painted in the 1400's by the famous Swedish artist, Albertus Pictor.  Then in the 1700's, church paintings were determined to be vulgar and so many of his paintings were whitewashed.  But fortunately not all.  The Täby Kyrka has the best preserved paintings of all the churches that Albertus painted.  In this photo, you can see the whitewashed part.  So sad.  You can barely make out Jesus on the cross.  Apparently nothing can be done to completely restore the fresco.  Frescoes are paintings on plaster.

This time I was able to see more clearly what the paintings were about.  Above is Abraham with his drawn sword, about to sacrifice his son Isaac, and being stopped by an angel.  Click to enlarge and you can see more details, such as Isaac's bound wrists and the ram that would be sacrificed instead of Isaac. 

You can see detail in all the arches.  Can you imagine painting over your head like that?  It's even hard to see the paintings because you have to hang on to something so you won't fall as you crane your neck to look up.  I wondered why he painted the ceiling when it is so hard to do, but then I realized that the walls are covered in windows, so there's not much space there to paint.

The painting in the middle is of the wounded Jew who was helped by the Good Samaritan, while the Priest and the Levite (who both should have helped their kinsman) passed him by.  Samaritans and Jews were at enmity with each other.  Jesus taught this story to help his disciples see the value of each person no matter his ethnicity or culture.  We can surely use this teaching today!  People are people.  They are human beings who need our love and help.  After all, we are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same God.

And this painting shows the Children of Israel dancing around the golden calf while they should have been preparing themselves for the Law that Moses would bring down from Mt. Sinai.  Because of their disobedience, the Lord gave them the lesser law rather than the higher law that he wanted to give them.  

And here is Moses with the Ten Commandments that were written by the finger of God on Mt. Sinai.

Not sure why Albertus Pictor painted this fresco amidst his Old and New Testament paintings.   The painting is of a man playing chess with the devil.  Above them is a faded banner that used to say, "I checkmate thee."  It inspired the Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, to create a film in the 1950's called The Seventh Seal Many people come here specifically to see this painting.  I googled about the movie and it doesn't sound too uplifting to me.

In this fresco, Jesus is surrounded by Roman soldiers who are taking him captive.  Maybe if you look hard enough you can see Peter cutting off the ear of one of them, and Jesus healing it.  Not sure.  A lot is going on in the painting, and a lot of it has been whitewashed.

And here is the Old Testament story of Job.  God allowed Satan to test Job but not to take his life.  This picture depicts Job covered in boils.  How painful!  I had one boil once and it was extremely painful.  I can't imagine being covered in boils!  But even so, I hope I wouldn't curse God, although I may wish to die!

LeRon couldn't resist walking out into this field of winter wheat.  He said it looked a little thin.  It's heading out, so harvest is not far away here in Sweden.

First working tractor we've seen.  We're not sure when work gets done because we've very rarely seen anyone working.  This fellow was bringing in the hay bales.

And here are some of the bales, waiting to be brought in to the haystack.

Trees are very gorgeous but LeRon and I absolutely love the open fields and the sky.  We sing with John Denver, "Thank goodness I'm a country boy!"

And in the middle of nowhere . . . a Viking runestone!

Runestones were erected in memory of someone important to the person who erected them . . . or to the person himself.  They usually said things like, "This stone is erected in honor of . . . who lived . . . and did something wonderful" etc.  Or they were erected next to an actual burial spot.  Many of them are grave markers, but not all.

Sweden has more runestones than any other country.  It has about 3000, depending on the definition of runestone.  And the majority are located just north of Stockholm in Uppland province.  They were originally very colorful but the color has worn off and now people keep the runes visible by painting them from time to time.

Elder Torrie and I visit Helene every Sunday and take her the sacrament.  On this Sunday, her mother, Cecilia, had come for a visit.  Cecilia and I are around the same age and we got along famously.  She speaks English (thank goodness), Swedish, and Cantonese, and probably other languages.  We in the west could learn a lot of lessons from other people.  We need to learn more than just English.

Sunday evening singing . . .  It's always a highlight.  9 p.m. and we hear footsteps stomping down the stairs to our apartment.

Music time again with ukele and guitar.  No banjo this time as a string had broken and needed to be repaired.

Here's our whole group . . . Äldste Torrie and I with Äldste Scott, Äldste Austin, Äldste Spellacy, Äldste Rönndahl, Äldste Nordgren, and Äldste Wrangell.  These young men have become our adopted grandsons and we love them a lot.  They keep us young!  (or something).

We are sad to say goodbye to Äldste Wrangell and Äldste Nordgren who are being transferred to other areas of Sweden.  But it's only goodbye for a while because we will see them again before they leave for home in 6 weeks when their 2-year missions are over.  We get really close to these missionaries.
This tree at the mission home is completely covered with heavenly-scented laburnum.  

Last office meeting at the mission home for the missionaries on each end, Äldste Wrangell and Äldste Nordgren who are being transferred to other areas of Sweden.  They will be missed!
President Davis has joined the fun.  Will he break the couch?  In this picture are 3 cousins that I discovered on this mission: President Davis who is my 3rd cousin, Äldste Austin, second from left who is LeRon's 3rd cousin twice removed (I think), and Äldste Scott holding the cushion who is my 2nd cousin twice removed.  Actually Äldste Nordgren is my 10th cousin too but that's a little distant.

Here we are at Stockholm South Zone Conference.  First in-person zone conference since last October.  There are 5 zones in the mission and zone conferences are held every 6 weeks.  Now that zone conferences are in-person, President & Syster Davis will be doing a lot of traveling as they go to each conference.  Plus President Davis interviews each missionary every 6 weeks.  Plus each missionary writes a letter of report to President Davis every week, and he responds to each letter each week.  Anyone who wants to be a mission president is nuts!

Some of our office missionaries in their new suits.  When we were in Kenya, missionaries weren't allowed to wear sunglasses unless they needed to for medical reasons.  Hmn . . . has the policy changed?  I sure need to wear sunglasses.  The sun is very bright here in Sweden and my eyes are very bad.  Here's Äldste Nordgren, Äldste Wrangell, Äldste Spellacy, and Äldste Rönndahl.

Äldste Nordgren in his office.  He is master of spreadsheets and has done a lot to track things in our mission to help us understand what we need to do better.  He is the mastermind behind our ads, which have recently given us more than 2000 contacts with people who want to know more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, or who simply want help to find more peace in their lives.  Or they want help with family history.

And here is Äldste Wrangell in the office.  All these young men are computer experts.  They help us all the time with problems and can fix them with the click of a key or two.  Äldste Torrie is pretty computer-savvy but these young men are so sharp!  Äldste Wrangell will be returning home to Finland, where he will study economics at university.

The laburnum, or golden rain as they call it here, is out of this world beautiful with a heavenly scent.  Sadly it only blooms for 2-3 weeks.

Laburnum is everywhere in yards and in the wild.  Apparently it spreads.  Someone brought it in from warmer climates to the south, and it really took off.  Wish we could grow it in Alberta.

Äldste Olson, Äldste Rantaniemi, and Äldste Nordgren worked with us in the office.  Now we're saying goodbye to Äldste Rantaniemi who has finished his mission and is returning home to Finland.

More missionaries returning home . . . Äldste Jackson did LeRon's job in the office for a while before we came back to Sweden.  Then there's Äldste Mangum, Äldste Evan Jensen (several Jensens in our mission), Äldste Hoyt (who was in the office when we first returned in October 2020) and Äldste Anderton.

The night before missionaries go home, LeRon and I go over a few departing things with them and give them their itineraries.  Then President and Syster Davis have a testimony meeting with them.  It's a very special evening for them as they share their feelings about the Savior Jesus Christ, and about serving in the Sweden Stockholm Mission.  In this group, there are 2 more missionaries that we served with in the office:  Äldste Walker (back row, dark suit, next to Äldste Nordgren in white shirt), and Äldste Hall (front row in light colored suit).  Äldste Walker was amazing on the computer.  He reminded us a lot, in looks, voice, and mannerisms, of our son-in-law Andy!  Äldste Hall is from Denmark but went to the temple for the first time in Calgary, so we have that connection with him.

For my information when I get too old to remember things:  Back L-R: Äldste Olson (not leaving yet), Äldste Nordgren (not leaving yet), Äldste Walker, Äldste Mangum; front row: Äldste Rantaniemi, Äldste Anderton, Äldste Evan Jensen, Äldste Hall, Äldste Hoyt.

And Äldste Warenski, Äldste Jackson, Äldste Hamilton.

Two sisters also leaving: Syster Nissen (who wrote the words and music of our mission song) and Syster Hansen.  Twelve leaving altogether.  That takes us from 103 missionaries down to 91 but 2 more are coming, so we will have 93.

President and Syster Davis giving the departing 12 missionaries words of wisdom, counsel and love.

Next morning, here we are at the mission home at 3 a.m.  Look at the lighted sky!  How cool is that?  The days are very long here.  It stays light until midnight and starts getting light again at 2 a.m.  It never gets totally dark, just kind of gray.

And here is the van we've rented to carry all the luggage to the airport.  Even with only 2 bags plus a carry-on each, it's a lot of baggage.

3:30 a.m.  Trying to be quiet so we don't wake the neighbors.

Sad/happy missionaries.  Sad to be leaving beautiful Sweden but happy to be going home to family.

Unloading at the airport.  Quite the feat!  Next month there will be 23 missionaries going home so there will be even more baggage.  Farewell Äldste Hall (center with thumbs up).

And on our way home from the airport, we saw a MOOSE!!!  No time to take a picture.  It was running along beside the freeway.  That's our first moose.  And then we saw a hot air balloon.  Reminded us of our fun balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey.  You need to google for pictures of Cappadocia and you will see why our balloon ride there was so fantastic.

Some of the seniors went downtown to the Santa Clara Kyrka to a small concert.  The original Santa Clara Kyrka (or Saint Klara Church) was built in the 1200's but was torn down by King Gustav Vasa and then rebuilt in the 1500's.  The church bell tower was built in the 1800's.  Love those church bells.

Syster Davis and Syster Torrie on the grounds of the Santa Clara Kyrka.  We loved the trees on the grounds.  These two trees formed a lovely canopy over a gravestone of some famous person.

Another beautiful ceiling.  We've seen a lot of churches with beautiful ceilings.  I wonder if people ever  look up as they are worshiping?

The original organ was built in 1628 and was rebuilt and expanded through the years.  We plan to attend an organ concert here this summer.

I liked this fresco of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.

And beautiful stained glass windows.  Craftsmen back in the day really knew how to make beautiful windows.  Reminds us of the stained glass window in the Rome Temple Visitor's Center.  Nice to know we have craftsmen even today.

Close-up of the lovely stained glass of Mary and baby Jesus, the star, and the 3 wisemen.

Crucified Christ in the sanctuary.

And beautiful wood carvings on the pulpit.  Look at that carved fabric-looking wood.  Or is it stone?  Not sure.  It's beautiful anyway.

Midsommarkonsert with Karin Lundin, soprano, and Christer Wikmark tenor/baritone.  Classical and Swedish music.  So lovely.  These old churches have wonderful acoustics.  We met Karin's mother before the concert and she has every right to be proud of her daughter.  Nothing like a trained voice.  We enjoyed watching Karin's expressive face; you could tell she absolutely loves singing.

Christer Wikmark and Karin Lundin were the singers, accompanied by Michael Waldenby on the piano.  Apparently he is a wonderful composer too.  It was lovely.  He played on a Yamaha G-2, which is what we have at home, or rather, what our son Craig now has in his home.  Even though it was a small grand, it had power in that church.  So amazing to hear.  If you want to learn more about Karin, visit her website

LeRon and President Davis had fun visiting with a couple of concert goers.  Only 50 people were allowed at the concert, but there were probably only 30 there.  It was a great concert in a lovely venue.

Talking about concerts and singing . . . if you haven't heard of the father-daughter duo, Mat and Savanna Shaw, you need to.  They are amazing.  Their voices blend so well and they obviously have great love for each other.  LeRon and I love listening to them.  They sing all kinds of music -- popular, religious, movie themes.  Here's a couple of samplings.

Savanna and her dad, Mat, started singing on YouTube back in March 2020 when she was home from school due to the pandemic.  They have become extremely popular.  Love their wholesomeness and clear voices and fun songs.

1 comment:

  1. Fun posts! Beautiful pictures. I love the labernum. I hadn't heard of that type of tree before, but I love the yellow blossoms! Great to see you having fun with the missionaries.