Monday, February 29, 2016


Hej Hej

Ugh. You guys. My parents are literally the coolest people ever. I know I have said this before but like...seriously...they know me so well. It is crazy. 
I have gotten the best presents from them. I am so lucky to have them. We had Valentine's Day and I was sent a super precious gift. 
For people who don't know me, I am obsessed with bracelets. I don't wear as many out here in sweden because they actually get really really cold and it is uncomfortable. But at HOME. Man. All the time. Bracelets on bracelets on bracelets. My family knowwwssss me so well. 
They know that is what I love. And I got the most perfect gift ever. I got a bracelet! 
But Omygoodness. It's so much more than that. It is so much more than just "handmade by Andrea" but it's a piece of them that I can have with me...I'm sure they asked for 7 hearts to put was explained to me that each heart represents each family member of mine :) 
Daddy, Mama, Parker, Mitchell, Tanner, Coleman, Tyler. 
Gosh. You guys are so cool. Thank you so much for laughing at my jokes. I will always laugh at depends..I don't wanna laugh too hard then have to take dad’s oxygen mask...who knows I might laugh so hard I blow an eardrum and I'll have to steal dad’s hearing aid for a little while. 
So much ahead of us. We will be perfecting our pokes and jokes for the eternities you guys. And it will be hilarious. 

we even stopped to caress the small branches of a tree shedding its winter bark only to reveal a beautiful soft glowing green beneath. 
I'm ...still slipping on ice every where we go but it's definitely starting to melt away!! 

Now for the week weeeeek. 
Gotta be extra detailed this week since I ditched you all last week. Sorry about that. Had a lot going on. Buuutttt,
I will start with my two favorite quotes of the week. One is from Irina Shevchenko. My Ukrainian mom. (She is seriously like my bff) 
She has got a HEAVY Russian accent. This is the woman that like..tried to set me up with her son Yaroslav. Who wears suuper fancy awesome socks and who BTW asked me to make him I made him a deal that i would make him his ridiculous cookies if he got me two pairs of super fancy socks. 
P.s. The socks. Are awesaammm. 
So Irina Shevchenko invited us over for a pancake party and Nikolai Kleis followed with! So it was us, the elders, Yaroslav, and Nikolai. Irina made SUUUPER good pancakes. During the socializing, Irina was talking about how Yaroslav knew the kitchen so well as a boy...
She stopped.. "He knews zeh keeschen zeh ....zeh.... Fife feengers ahv hees hand!"
So we have been saying that all week. 

And one quote other from My Ghanaian mama. Mama Phyllis. 
We were talking about how the church services are so reverent and really give you the oppurtunity to ponder and learn.. 
And this is what she said: (In a stellar African accent)
"I have been to a lot of churches. They be up dancinnnn and yellinnn, let me tell you what. I just sit back and laugh because the devil obviously knows the bible bettah than you do. He gon take the bible and slap you in the face." She. Is. My. Hero. 
I have been exposed to so much raw culture here. 
Too much..raw culture.. 

Mama Phyllis fed us fufu... I don't know if any of you have had fufu before...but... 
I have eaten a lot of African food. It is SOOOO good. But she made fufu. And she made a lot. 
It's mashed potatoes and flour. It makes this super thick gooey rock that is dumped into a tomatoey soup with like a half a chicken in there. Obviously you eat with your hand.....legend has it that one elder went three days without food after eating mama Phyllis' fufu...
You have to eat the whole thing because're "denying blessings, You wanna deny blessings from your Heavenly Father!?" 
Yes. Blessings. It was a painful evening. 
And a restless night. Those blessings are still sitting solid as a Michelin man baby in my stomach. 

mama Phyllis

They look like kidneys yet felt like rocks in the tummy

Had a super cool experience in Stockholm on Friday night. We have a senior couple serving in our ward with us and they invited us to dinner. About 3 other areas were invited and we all went to the YSA center in Stockholm to have lasagna together. Super fun. Well on our way walking to the YSA center there is a huge cathedral and we just felt like lets go in and see what it's we walk into the's huuuugeee And gorgeous. 
As soon as we walk in a man standing to the side kinda scoffs at us and is like 
Psh. Mormoner. Basically he is like, what are you even doing in here. He starts asking questions. 
Sidenote: we are so NOT allowed to Proselyte inside a church disrespectful we aren't even allowed to Proselyte if we are within sight of a church or mosk. 
But this guy is asking questions and I finally just have to be like dude. We aren't in here to preach, we didn't come in here to preach, we are here to feel good just like everyone else....but he kept going. I told him like three more times but Swedish men are ridiculous. 
Finally a woman working in the church came over and was like Hey. Shut. Up. Hahaha…..Life saver. 
We turn around and walk deeper into the chapel. 
I start to hear a guitar...and on the side of the chapel there's a little cutout kinda. Just like a big room on the side of the church without a wall. In this cutout there are chairs set up in a circular formation. Some people...and a guy with an awesome beard, priests collar, and a guitar. 
They were doing Like a Christian Rock sing along and I was just like YAAAAS. 
Haha we go and sit down, grab our music/lyric sheets and start singing along. 
I was super into it and the song wasn't even half bad. After the song he put the guitar down..and started to pray. It was awesome. Everyone around us was like 
Mm. Yees jesus yeees. 
And then he like ended his prayer with a really cool Celtic jig on his flute. Immediately revisited by PTSD from Elder Bliss always playing his stupid flute, it was also accompanied by the spirit, telling me I needed to bear my testimony to these people..
Well he bore his..and the old lady with a satin tigerstripe cello in her wise hands...(the same one who minutes earlier told us to CLAM IT) bore her testimony about watching refugees, Muslim refugees about 200 of them file into the cathedral to pray and learn about Jesus. 
And I began to imagine this...I began to imagine How intrigued they were and how their eyes were just filled with hope and wonder and longing...a longing to know their savior. A treasure that had been violently yet silently hidden ..their entire lives
Taking a trek, for most on foot..for many, what would be their a winter to a cold, dark land discover something that would only bring an eternal warmth and a brilliant light.  Jesus Christ. 
And then a song that I wrote about 8 months ago, popped into my head. A song about the light of Christ. 
Now sidenote: when I feel the spirit telling me to do something, my heart beats super hard. Almost out of my chest. It's terrifying almost. 
so different from when I feel the spirit CONFIRM. This is what happens to me when the spirit is meant to INSPIRE. 
My heart beats harder and harder and it won't stop until I do whatever it is the spirit is telling me to do. 
A couple people had he was getting ready to do another song when I was just like SOO. HI. 
I went on to talk about how I had found MY light through trials that had happened in my life and how I was strengthened by Christ..and I started to talk about how happy I was to be singing in this circle with them because I just love music and I know how good music inspires good things and likewise, bad music inspires, bad things. I talked about how the way I truly express myself is in the music I write..I told everyone about how I want to produce music and how I write a lot of my own and how I had written this one about the light of Christ .. I asked if I could sing it for them..and the pastor said yes :) 
Now seriously...this was super cool. There were a ton of people in the pews chilling, watching, praying, listening..And I mean...this's massive. 
So I start to play..and sing..and it's just ECHOOOOOO 
So. Coool. 
I mean, people were smiling with their eyes closed and I just felt so happy to be sharing a piece of me with people I'll probably never even see again. 
I finished the song and they all clapped (which was totally awkward) and I asked if I could pray too..since that seemed to be the trend. 
The pastor nodded So I prayed. And they listened. 
In my prayer I testified of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. I testified that Jesus IS the Christ and that through him we are so much more than just people. 
And I testified of music And the pure joy the spirit brings through music to MY soul me the ability convey that to others. 
And it. Was. Awesome. Not like awesome. But like awesome in the true sense of awe some. 
I mean...they were like "hallelujah-ing" and "praise Jesus MM-ing"It was just so good. 
I..felt amazed that I could speak to them in their native language..that they understood me..and that I understood them. 
My spirit-o-meter this week just sky rocketed through the roof. 

Remember Brenda? I wrote about her about a month ago. We had tried and tried and tried to get ahold of her but she was never home and never opened her door. 
Well... We had some very interesting experiences with her this week. 
So we got in with her on a Sunday night about a month ago and we decided to pick her up and start teaching her again. 
She has been investigating for about six years now. She is from Tanzania and has been dealing with a lot of issues. She has been an alcoholic and a drug abuser. 
I can't disclose a lot of what has happened this week, and if I did I would have to kill you all haha but she has a baptismal date for the second of April! So that's every exciting. Sidenote: she taught us how to wrap our heads with these Tanzanian head wraps and gave us each I now walk around the apartment with my head wrapped like a Tanzanian. 


Well, Raymond is just ...incredible. He is going to be a bishop. 
As you all know, he was super addicted to coffee and he wanted to be baptized so soon that he literally had to hit cut it cold turkey. 
The first week in went reaaallyy badly. And he was getting really discouraged. 
So we thought we would have a really thorough lesson on the priesthood. We brought Nikolai with us and like holy cow. I wanna take him everywhere with me. He is the coolest and the BEST teacher. The elders went with us too and it turned into a really great lesson and baptismal interview. 
During the interview, snuck into his kitchen and put up all these motivational notes about temptation and stuff on everything in his kitchen. It was so awesome haha they are on everything. 
After Raymond's interview we asked if he wanted a priesthood blessing for counsel and comfort to be able to resist urges to drink coffee and smoke. 
We recorded it, typed it out and glued it to a picture of Jesus for him:) 
We came by three days later and he had made us a bunch of rice and this Afrikan chicken sauce stuff. Soooo good. And most wonderful of all, he hadn't drank or smoked. We called him every night and one night we were talking and just asked, did you drink any coffee today? And he said 
"...HEY ..thaaats rigght...actually, today at work..."
And we both were like..heart stop..
-"I ......ALMOST drank coffee!!!!!"
We both just AHHHH'd And he just laughed. He got us way good. 
Raymond was able to stop drinking coffee, he even bore his testimony about saft and Fanta. 
On Saturday, he was successfully baptized 7 times alongside his buddy Cedric and they were both confirmed in church yesterday. 
Did I say 7 times? Oh yes. Well sidenote: Cedric was baptized first and it was FLAWLISSUHH 
Thanks to Nikolai.So. The first time, the prayer was said wrong, so he got dipped under but they were too close to the wall and Ray actually hit his head on the pipes...AHHHHH. Yes. 
Then every other time, his tie or his shirt would come up dang it. By the 7th time, I'm sure you can imagine the excitement and anxiety in the crowd ... I'm going to give you a play by play right now. Because what happens next is too good. Yaro dipped him under...and the sleeve in his arm came up...
The three older women in the front row like a wave to the glass. 
The crowd gasps. The women are like Pointing and whisper yelling:
And you know that noise everyone at a football game makes when a player just gets wrecked way hard.... It was like that. 
Yaro just *SKADOOSH* shoves him to the bottom of the font. 
I kid you not. 6 seconds. 
He was under there, for six seconds. 
The best part is that when he was under and everyone was like….Ahhh
There's like all these bubbles coming up out of his mouth and he is a bit bigger than Yaroslav so like Yaro is having a hard time keeping him down and you can hear faint African cries exploding into the air out of the bubbles that reach the surface. 
He came up...and everyone clapped…. I really don't think we actually do that. It's not a thing. But we did anyways. 
And sister Banks and I were out in the hallway (we watched from the side of the firm with towels for Cedric and Raymond) just like cracking up. 
It was awesome. The rest of the ceremony was amazing. So so good. 
Everything was so good. Even though Raymond's baptism was..comical to say the least it was perfect. 
It actually was perfect for Raymond. The speakers brought up how we don't just "do it" but every ordinance performed has to be perfect. 
The prayer. The way 
It has to be perfect. And how cool is it to know he was PERFECTLY baptized.... And that we care. He really liked that. I went on to tell him how I had a little shudder down my spine as I remembered my fateful afternoon...and that dang dress. Thinking my dad was trying to kill me as he shoved me to the bottom of the font. Still scarred. 
It's funny though because Yaroslav is from Ukraine and he totally looks like he is part of the mafia. We always tease him about being part of the mafia, so right before they stepped in, before I knew what was going to transpire I said 
"Ray be careful, he's part of the Mafia, he might try to drown you!"
Never again. 
I'm never saying that ever again ever. 



Whose idea was this hand position?? Hummmm!

Raymond and Cedric

Fun fact, I got it cleared to start a choir! So. I'll be doing that till the end of my mission. 
I'm a choir conductor now. I am just being so blessed in this area. I love the ward a lot and I love the area and the sun is coming out. 
Unfortunately I'm losing my best buddy friend sister banks..she is moving south for the winter..but I'll be getting a new comp! Her name is sister Svensson :) she is from Malmö. I've wanted a Swedish companion literally since I got here. So. I am so pumped. 

I hope the Santa Barbara moms trip was super awesome. I'm super jealous. You guys are like the coolest moms ever. I was looking at the pictures and I was like 
"Oh yeah...all these people raised me”  And now look at all your kids!!! Man. We are all old now and on missions and going on missions and coming home from missions and HOME from missions!!! 
I think I can speak for all of the kids in our little camping family group that we love you guys so so much...and hope you're proud :) 

Love you
with Sister Beckstrand...2nd from left...mission pres. wife : )

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