Mar 30, 2010

Going, Going, GONE!
Part II
This picture of Manny approaching three years old with his father on the farm is one of the family favorites.  There is such a happiness and security in his little face.  If you ask his Dad, he will tell you that even at that young age,  Manny had a great desire to do right.  He was a sweet natured little boy, a peacemaker among his brothers and sisters, and a "Straight Arrow" from the beginning.
       During the final days just before he was to leave, there were often quiet and reflective moments.  He did some of the things he has always loved to do... build and work.
This crossbow was one he constructed himself.  Supposedly designed for a short, powerful thrust, this particular weapon projected it's arrow upwards of 300 meters when he let it fly!
There had been a delay caused by the cold weather, so the project of cementing the floors in the tank room and the small animal barn was taking place weeks later than scheduled,  just before Manny was set to leave. He and Gustav were busily engaged in that work right up to the last couple of days.

Sunday, 21st March, 2010
District Conference-Umeå, Sweden

This was a day for great blessings and loving good-byes.
The Mission President for Sweden and his wife, President Larry and Sister Sally Anderson from the Mission Home in Stockholm (with Manny and Gustav above), came to Umeå - about 3 hours away from the farm - for our District Conference.  After the meetings President Anderson gave Manny a special blessing called a "Setting Apart" in which Manny was promised great gifts from Heavenly Father as he served as a missionary.  All of these gifts will come as Manny exercises his own faith and works hard.  They are also largely dependent upon his willingness to be obedient. Hans had been able to give him a wonderful father's blessing as well before he had to leave, so Manny was  spritually armed and ready!

Good-bye to Nainy.
Good-bye to Elder Harris and Elder Bracken, the two full-time missionaries serving in our area right now. (Elder Bracken, from Kaysville, Utah is fairly new - about four months in - and Elder Harris will be returning home to St. George, Utah,  after serving his two-year mission,  just a few days after Manny flies out). 
Good-bye to President Jan Ottosson (right) who has been Manny's Branch President and devoted leader for the last eight years and was released at this conference, and to his father President Åke Ottosson (left) who was just called as the new Branch President in our home branch of Örnsköldsvik.
Good-bye to President Håkan Stegeby, our District President for the Umeå District,  (standing in front of the "Choose The Right" sign in a Primary room - an appropriate description of them both), and good-bye to Elder Wondre, our Area Authority Seventy.
A lot of excellent Priesthood Leaders supporting him!

Umeå Airport
This was a poignant moment for all of us.  It was really happening.
The missionaries and the Ottosson family came to the airport with us to say their final good-byes.

Katti, the mom, and Smilla and Frida, the daughters, chatted it up while Jan looked over Manny's travel itinerary that Hans had put together for him.  (It was invaluable and had everything Manny needed  in the way of documents for his flights to go smoothly). 

It had been quite a full day already, and it wasn't surprising that Manny was yawning as he sat down for a minute.  There were so many feelings.
But finally...

(as young Viktor Ottosson looked on)
It was time to go.

These two brothers
 are two-thirds of what we always refer to as "The Three Musketeers".  Hans, Manny and Gustav,
 held the fort together at Eden 121 for years on their own.  They worked together, they played together, they gave their all for each other and to maintain the farm.  Each of them went above and beyond what could ever be expected over and over and over again.
When I came, that time came to an end. 
But the feelings that were forged and the bonds that were formed will hopefully never come to an end.

This picture is blurry.  I was crying when I took it, but not out of sadness, (except that we will miss him so much), but out of our tender feelings of joy, and confidence in this good young man.  We waved good-bye to him and sent him off,  just as he had done with his crossbow only a few short days ago.  But we have peace, born out of the  faith that he will always be our...

Straight Arrow!

Mar 26, 2010

Going, Going, GONE!
Part I

This sign hangs in the front entry of a business called "Allmontage" in the village of Junsele.  The words say,
"Pay Attention!  This shop is watched over by Angels"
In the final weeks before Manny was to fly out for the Missionary Training Center, we felt every day that we were being watched over by angels as well.

There were so many things to do to meet all the criteria and have him completely prepared.  The bulk of his clothing list was being taken care of by family in Logan, but we had a list of our own to deal with.
Two beautiful new pairs of shoes would be waiting for him when he stepped off the plane in the U.S., but in the meantime Hans wanted to make sure that Manny was dressed properly and in keeping with the importance and dignity of the experience he was embarking on.  Even though they would be worn for a very short time during travel, his Sunday shoes needed repair.  They were split in the back, so we took them down and had Micke Norberg at Allmontage repair them.

Not only did he insert and glue a leather patch into the back seam, he stitched it and then colored over it to make it look almost invisible. So kind!

This handsome guy is our large bull and the pen he is currently in will be needed as a birthing stall any minute as calfing time rapidly approaches.

The full-time missionaries currently serving in our area, Elder Harris and Elder Bracken, came up for the day and helped Manny to build the outside enclosure that was needed. They could really swing those hammers and were so willing to help!

While they were outside in the frozen cold, I was inside in the warm kitchen baking up a storm for the fika we were having the next day as a going away fest in our little branch of the Church in Örnsköldsvik.

There were individual cheesecakes (ostkaka), a slice of strawberry on each, squares of carrot cake (morotterkaka) decorated with pineapple and carrot shreds,
chocolate cake,

and finally,
blueberry teacakes,
 To wash it all down, we had red currant saft.
So delicious!

 I had been working in the linen closet one day and found a lovely linen tablecloth.  It had been made by Hans' mother and Manny's grandmother, Birgitta Metzen who passed away years ago.  She had embroidered her initials on it as a young mother.  It was the perfect table covering for the occasion and when the table was all set with that and the Angermanland napkins, we felt that she, who had such a gift for making and serving beautiful food, would have approved.

After church that day we all gathered in the Priesthood classroom and had a wonderful time wishing Manny well.  These are people who Manny loves and who love him.  They are such warm and supportive friends to our family. 

The children from his Primary class were loving all their treats!

We came home tired but happy, did the barn and then came in the house to see how we had done in the preceding days and weeks.  We were coming down to the wire and we were doing well.  There were not too many items left now on the list. 

This post began with a sign about the presence of angels.  We feel that way about those who have helped us during this very busy time. The following quote sums up our feelings pretty well:

"I have spoken . . . of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind.
                                                       Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Ministry of Angels," Ensign, Nov. 2008, 30

Mar 19, 2010

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 =

One Successful Trip
You win a few, you lose WIN them all!
(Part III)

As we were driving away from the tractor experience, the farm wife asked us if we were interested in weaving?  We said we were and she invited us to stop at her weaving shop in the village on our way out of town.  Remember the "Transition" post a few back?  This was happening during that time period when the traditional season for all the handwork and weaving was just coming to an end. 

It was already late afternoon, we were under a time crunch to get back home to the farm, but we said "Yes" anyway.  And were we glad we did!

She had EVERYTHING there! 
Looms for wide rugs, looms for narrow rugs, looms for table runners, looms for shaggy projects, looms for smooth projects.

Her shop was full and it was obvious that she loved this creative work.

And she was so good at it!
We were interested to see the things she made and the scope of it all.  We especially loved her concept of preserving the skill, the handicraft of weaving, serving customers from far and wide through her
"Joy of Weaving" 
Workroom and Shoppe
(see the sign at the beginning of the post)
It was an unexpected bonus that afternoon.

Onward, ever onward....
I used to consider myself kind of an intrepid motorist.  I would often drive alone in the dead of winter from Logan, Utah to Lethbridge, Alberta, over three mountain ranges, through ice and snow in 10 or 11 hour stretches,  stopping only for gas breaks.
Those days are officially over.
After leaving the weaving shop, we started driving with Hans and I in one car pulling the tractor and Manny in the other pulling the moped.   Several hours later I went over to Manny's car to spell him off and he fell asleep exhausted.  I was confident I could just keep going with no problem, and I did for about an hour or so,
but when I started to see jungle animals on the road in front of me, it was a good sign that we had better stop.
Hans (Mr. Endurance, who could have gone on for hours more), sent Manny on ahead to scout out a place where we could sleep for the night.  He found a Bed and Breakfast called "Lilla Hotellet" (the little hotel) in a small village called Sveg (Svay-ig), and after parking both vehicles safely in the back lot, we went in, climbed the stairs in the old renovated home, and found our room.

The entire area for sleeping a family of six was a little larger than one of our closets in the main house on the farm.
 Boasting a king bed for Hans and I which went almost wall to wall, and then four other single beds on the other side of the room, it was fascinating to see how they could all fit.  There was a small toilet room with a sink, and a shower stall that would have been perfect for Skinny Minnie.  But we were thrilled to have it, got washed and hopped into bed at the speed of light.

      Nothing could have felt better!

Early the next morning we were the first ones down to the Swedish breakfast that was included with the cost of the room.  Filmjölk (a cultured milk about the consistency of unwhipped cream), served with muesli or cornflakes - I actually like it the very common way with sugar and ground ginger sprinkled on top - sliced meats and cheeses, soft and crisp breads, hard boiled eggs,  juices and coffee.  It was fun and just enough to send us on our way for the next five or six hours until we could be

Home again...

You can see from where the winter sun is in the sky that it was early afternoon when we finally pulled into Eden 121.  That's what it looks like at about 1:30 or 2:00 P.M. at this time of year.
We were SO HAPPY to see Gustav!

Hans and the boys uncovered the moped and unloaded it off the trailer while I worked on unloading the back of the car.  Later the trailers were unhooked and put away and the tractor unloaded and put under roof.

We had been gone four days. 
It was a lot to accomplish in that relatively short time period.

And now for the equation:
(we've already had people contacting us with their guesses of what the numerals mean)

1 good young man
2 loving parents
a  3 wheeled moped
a  4 wheeled trailer
a  4 wheeled tractor
a  4 wheeled car

One VERY Successful Trip!