Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2021 December: Getting Ready for Celebrations

December was an extremely busy month.  Not only were we getting ready for the Santa Lucia celebrations and Christmas, we were welcoming 27 new missionaries and participating in Christmas zone conferences.  Also we were preparing to return home with all that that entailed.

Be sure to listen to some of the short videos below of missionaries singing.  I think you will enjoy their Swedish.  I also videoed some of the Santa Lucia songs.  Enjoy!

Wow!  27 new missionaries!!  That's a lot to welcome at one time.  Here they are at the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, tired but glad to be here. 

Each missionary is allowed two checked bags and one carry-on.  Not much for two years, but it's a lot when you have to handle them, especially on buses and trains.  There were so many missionaries that we had to rent a bus to transport them to the mission home.  

Above:  The Stockholm, Stockholm South, and Norrland Zones all came together in Stockholm for a Christmas zone conference.  Listen to these missionaries singing O Holy Night in Swedish.  Beautiful!!  L-R: Elder Lyons, Elder Smith, Elder Safsten, Syster Brighton, and Syster Hanson.

Almost the last night for Sunday night singing and treats.  Sad that we won't be doing this much anymore.  Back row L-R: Syster Torrie, Elder LaRose, Elder Densley, Elder Christenson, Elder Hancock, Elder Gilbert.  Front row L-R: new Elder Lewandoski, Elder Brown, new Elder Braden Jensen.  Elder LeRon Torrie at the keyboard.

Ha ha.  Drinking the chocolate sauce challenge.  This is the second time that Elder Hancock and Elder Gilbert have done this challenge.  Gross!  Can you imagine drinking a half glass of chocolate sauce?  They managed it, with Elder Hancock a few seconds ahead of Elder Gilbert.

Gathered round our kitchen table for almost the last time: Syster & Elder Torrie, Elder Densley, Elder Jensen, Elder LaRose, Elder Hancock, Elder Gilbert, Elder Christenson, and Elder Brown.  Who is taking the picture?

Matching ties for Elder Rönndahl and Elder Torrie.  Elder Rönndahl was in the office a year ago when we gave matching ties to all the office missionaries (December 2020).  We worked with Elder Rönndahl in the office for 11 months!  I think that's a record.  We got really close to these missionaries and they are like grandsons to us.  Elder Rönndahl is from southern Sweden and was originally called to serve in Japan (in the same mission that Elder Torrie served in his younger years).  Due to the pandemic, Elder Rönndahl was never able to receive a visa to Japan, so has served his mission in his home country of Sweden.  We're glad he did!!

Traditional food at zone conference:  a Julbord (or Christmas table).  Every family serves a huge Julbord with pickled herring, potatoes with anchovies, beetroot salad (yummy), purple cabbage salad, salmon, korv (sausages), cheese, bread, and many other things.  Swedish rice pudding for dessert.

I was happy to meet Elder Lucas, whose uncle lives in our ward here in Alberta.  It's a small world.

Christmas sculptures are everywhere to light up the dark December sky.  It's only light for about 5 hours on a December day in Stockholm  That's daylight, not sunlight!

We often shopped for zone conference supplies at Martin & Sevrera, a restaurant supply store.  You have to be a business to shop here.  Look at the size of those wooden paddles and whisks!  (Click to get a better look).

So fun to see what's new in the restaurant supply store.  Also to see where restaurants get their food and supplies.  When you shop here you can see that most restaurants do not cook the food themselves.  Forgot to take pictures of all the food.

Candy is very big here in Sweden.  Most of their desserts are not very sweet, but the Swedes do love their candy, which they eat only on Saturdays.

Marzipan pigs are big at Christmas time!

Nativity at the Taby Kyrka.  Fun to see an elephant!  No baby Jesus yet.  He won't be born until Christmas Eve.

Taby Kyrka decked out for Christmas.  The gorgeous altarpiece is from the 1470's.

We took some members of our Stockholm Ward to Taby Kyrka to see the beautiful old church.  It was first built in the 1200's and then was added on to through the years.  LeRon got to play the organ once.  

This ship model has hung here for many, many years.  Parishioners say that even though there are many insects in the church (probably due to its age), no bugs have ever eaten the sails on this ship.  It is a miracle to them.  

Sing-along evening with the office elders: Elder Gilbert, Elder Christenson, Elder LaRose, Elder Lewandoski, Elder Hancock, Elder Jensen, Elder Brown.  Elder Hancock and Elder Christenson are finished their 2-year mission and will be going home before Christmas.

Above: Last recording of our office elders singing in our tiny livingroom.  Love that photo of the zebras on the wall.  We saw it in a store at the mall and had to buy it.  It will stay here when we leave Sweden on December 20.

No more Sundays to sing together, so we had a Saturday night sing-along.  Sad evening to think of us leaving (and also Elder Hancock and Elder Christenson).  L-R: Elder Hancock, Elder laRose, Elder & Syster Torrie, Elder Gilbert, Elder Brown, Elder Lewandoski, Elder Jensen, Elder Christenson.  Have you noticed that Elder Gilbert (who is French Canadian/Swedish) never smiles for pictures?  He says Swedes don't smile for pictures.  At least they never show their teeth.  Funny!

We are at the main train station in Stockholm, heading toward Göteborg (pronounced yih-tih-boar'-ee), a city on the western coast for our last zone conference.  The train station is decked out for Christmas.

A look at the beautiful City Hall with its three crowns atop the spire.

It was a beautiful day with just a hint that winter is finally here.  Hoar frost everywhere.

Looks like the sun is just rising but it's actually about 10 a.m.  Our train was two hours late.  We were supposed to be in Göteborg at 10, and we're just on our way.

Beautiful winter scene.  Not too cold.

Above:  Be sure to listen to this lovely a capella Swedish Christmas song led by Elder Hughes of the famous Hughes family of Branson, Missouri.  If you ever get a chance to go to Branson, do.  The shows and entertainment are all family oriented.  You won't blush at the comedian jokes because they are clean.  The Hughes Family is the #1 entertainment at Christmas time.  

Here's what google says about Branson:  Branson is an Ozark town in southwest Missouri known as a family vacation destination. Its 76 Country Boulevard is famously lined with theaters, which once hosted mostly country music performers but today present diverse entertainment. Also along the strip are the Marvel Cave, the Wild West-style Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction and Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park with live music.

Above:  I videoed the missionaries singing the Mission Song, with Elder Torrie on the piano.  Fun to watch and fun to listen to! 

At the zone conference, President & Syter Davis thanked us for our service, and all the missionaries clapped for us.  It was a humbling moment and we were so happy that we got to serve in the Sweden Stockholm Mission with the Davis's and all the missionaries.  Must say that at the Stockholm zone conference, the missionaries gave us a standing ovation.  It made me cry.

We had given President Davis, along with all the office missionaries, matching ties last Christmas (December 2020).  He loves to wear the bright red tie, particularly at Christmas time.

Above: At the Christmas Zone Conferences, missionaries enacted Santa Lucia, complete with burning candles, costumes, and traditional songs.  

Whoops.  We need to light that candle again.  

Santa Lucia brings a platter of saffron buns as she and her buddies serenade us.  L-R: Syster Evenson (from Norway), Syster Saarinen (from Sweden), Elder Ponce de Leon (my 4th cousin, from Sweden), Syster Searle, and Elder Hughes (with Elder Sellers wearing a dunce-like cap, which is traditional, and holding a star -- you can see him in the previous photo).  

Above:  Here's another great Santa Lucia song.

Above: Fun a capella Christmas song.  Be sure to listen and watch!  Fun times with the missionaries!  They are practicing for a Christmas carolling service project they will do later in the day.  This was a fun song, but hard to learn.

Elder Hancock, front and center, loves singing and makes things fun!!

Now for a serious moment at zone conference . . .  It's not just a time for fun, but a time to be uplifted and to learn from President Davis and the junior missionary leaders.

Elder Torrie and I helped Syster Wilhite with the food.  But now it's time to say goodbye to missionaries that we love so much.  Here's Syster Searle, who is a whiz on the violin.

Left: Elder McCallister started our idea for making wax sculptures from the wax of Babybel cheese balls.  His family has a flower farm in Idaho so we felt connected to him -- farmers need to stick together.  On the right is my cousin, Elder Muhlestein.  So fun to have so many cousins in the mission.  He's my closest cousin in the mission at 2nd cousin, once removed.

Now we're with Elder Hughes, who is a talented singer, dancer, and actor.

Elder Ponce de Leon is my cousin through his mother.  Another cousin!

And Elder Torrie and Elder Sellers share musical talents on the piano.

We're at the train station, waiting for our train to Stockholm.  Junior missionaries waiting for their trains gave an impromptu Christmas concert, led by Syster Saarinen.

We learned afterward that you were supposed to get permission to perform in a train station.  Oh well, the people enjoyed it.  LeRon is on the left, trying to read the Swedish words.

And a goodbye to sweet Syster Cluff.

The Stockholm Train Station all decked out for Christmas.

We loved all the Christmas lights.  Swedes must pay a lot for electricity; they have so much darkness that they use lights for much of the day in winter.



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