© 2015 mikeandbrynne

Unspeakable Joy

Our boys all adore our next door neighbor Max who just graduated this spring.  All throughout our Sweden adventure the kids have been on the lookout for Sweden’s popular “In-N-Out” Style hamburger joint, Max.  They have just been dying to tell Max that they went to eat at Max’s.  Finally, their wish came true and full of burgers and fried we arrived in the pouring rain into Goteborg.  About an hour outside of the city in the seaside town of Tjorn, another one of the highlights of the trip awaited us.

 

Mats and Brit-Marie were dating when Mike met Mats 20 years ago and Mike explained that he and Mats had an immediate connection.  Already a Christian, Mats had recently given up alcohol when he met Mike and was hungering for the next step.  Mike relished in sharing the gospel with him because he was so receptive.  Two decades after his baptism we were privileged to be hosted by Mats and Brit Marie who were sealed in the temple and have an outgoing, gregarious and beautiful 11 year old daughter, Sophia.  They welcomed us into their seaside home, arranged places for all of us to stay and served us incredible food which was all served to perfection, but the highlight was a surprise Mats had arranged for Mike.  Another one of Mike’s amazing contacts that he was blessed to meet, teach and baptize on his mission (on his birthday!) was Camilla.  We love Camilla and her husband Tommy and were sad that they were out of the country during our Sweden trip.

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Well Camilla and Tommy and their three boys were waiting for us at Mats and Brit Marie’s house!  Two of Mike’s favorite people who he met and worked with in two different parts of the country were there together with their eternal families.  Mats had arranged for both himself and Camilla to share their testimonies and conversion stories in a little family gathering setting.  It was amazing.  They both were so kind to sing Mike’s praisies and the kids got to see the “fruits” of Mike’s labors.  Two beautiful families, both sealed in the temple, talking about how much they love the Lord and how thankful they are for the true gospel of Christ.  With tears of joy and gratitude Mike also shared his testimony and we knelt in prayer together and prayed in both Swedish and English.  Powerful.  Mike described it as “pure stoke”.  Later, he told the boys that there is no tropical vacation, no ski jump, no surf break, no sports car, no monetary possession, that can compare  with that kind of joy.  I think we would have come to Sweden just for that.

Mats on the guitar-

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Sadly, the rain never let up and we weren’t able to jump into their boat or off the dock for a swim, but the kids had a blast playing chess and Wi-Sports together.  The next morning Mike and I braved the rain with Brit Marie and walked all through the beautiful marshes and heather and got a tour of the lovely harbor.  I wanted to move to a small seaside town and jump in the sea each day like Brit Marie!

 

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Unfortunately, it seemed as if the rains and storms of life had also descended upon Mike’s favorite ward, Trollhatten.  Before we arrived in Trollhatten we had read Mike’s five months worth of journal entries on this beautiful south western city.  It had been a beautiful time of teaching and harvesting—a true highlight of Mike’s mission.  He had met and worked with beautiful families and had seen multiple miracles of faith, hope and charity take place.  Sensing Mike and his companion’s passion, the ward had joined the rallying cry and had been supportive and welcoming.  Knowing the sweet, made the bitter all the more heart-breaking.  Instead of being greeted by a large growing ward of 150+ sacrament meeting attendees as it had been when Mike left, we visited with 60 or so stalwart members.  The full primary now boasted only a handful of sweet children.  In a land where being a member is so rare and lifestlyes can be so different from the LDS traditional norm, it is difficult to find leadership and difficult to create a community.  Sadly, there had been some complications with local leadership and many had left the fold of the church.  It was devastating for Mike-he wanted to package the whole ward up and bring them to Gilbert where large strong wards are a dime a dozen.  However,  I saw joy in the eyes of a young Aaronic priesthood bearer passing the sacrament, I saw determination in the countenance of an inspired gospel doctrine teacher, I saw hope in the eyes of young couples and kindness in the whole being of the older generation.  There are still times of joy and gladness ahead for these good members, but they needed our love and prayers of their behalf.  Mike was privileged to get to speak in sacrament meeting and I left feeling a burden upon the shoulders of myself and my family—because we have been blessed with such ease with the gospel SO MUCH is required of us.  It is not okay for us to get distracted or offeneded by the insignificant.  We must confidently walk in the light of the gospel and help others along the path.

 

Mike and I stopped for a visit to the sweetest sister on the way home from church who was too aged to make the journey to the ward building anymore.  Her desire for goodness made my heart ache and want to be better.  Mats and Brit Marie favored us with one more fabulous Swedish meal before we headed back south for the ferry that would take us from Helsinborg, Sweden to Helsinor, Denmark.  It was a beautiful evening and “Hamlet’s” Elsinore castle cast a silhouette across the channel welcoming us to Denmark, but it was hard for any of us to get excited.  We had all fallen in love with Mike’s Sweden and the home of so many of our ancestors.  We didn’t want to leave.

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