Monday, June 29, 2015


Every week we have Sports Night. I don't know if I can say that it is the highlight of my week, but I definitely enjoy it. It's a chance for us missionaries to get to meet the ward members in a totally different atmosphere than church. And on the flip side, it allows them to see that we look fairly normal once we get normal clothes on again. But that's only a small part of the purpose of the activity. It also gives everyone an opportunity, regardless of beliefs, to come together and have a good time. One of our good friends, Alex, took Sports Night as an opportunity to bring one of his friends along from work. We had a great time, and I got to meet a new friend because Alex was willing to extend the invitation. We are looking forward to seeing them next week. 

Wednesday morning we bid farewell to Elder Bailey. It's always weird to see a companion go. We spend six weeks wearing matching shirts, experiencing the same rejection and jubilation, and even breathing the same air. But it leaves as quickly as it comes. And suddenly, you find yourself getting used to a new kid and becoming his friend. Luckily, you already have the same style.


We were doing some service at the church. Pulling weeds brought me back to those beautiful summer days in Idaho. There's not much more that one needs in life than that. And this is Elder Taggart, my new companion. 

Saying goodbye to Elder Bailey.

Elder Bailey's favorite cereal. I ate it for dinner, just like he would have.


Needless to say, Elder Downing will not be driving anymore.

Monday, June 22, 2015


That's the Turning Torso in the background. It's an apartment building.  It's also, the tallest building in the Nordic countries. The security systems built into this piece of art make tracting virtually impossible. But, it's still something nice to look at anyways. :)
During the week, I had the opportunity to go to Lund on companion exchanges. Basically, I spent the day with a different companion other than the one I usually have.  I had a good time there. On account of it being a college town, Lund is a much smaller and quieter city than Malmö. While we were there, we visited a family in the ward called the Onyanwus.  Brother Onyanwu said something that I found very interesting. He talked about the importance and the power in a name. We have our first names that many people know us by, and these names have a meaning. We have our last name, a family name. People often get a kick out of the name Sweat, but it is a name filled with history. Then we have the name which we strive to wear by our examples, Jesus Christ. And as missionaries, that name is also on our name tag. These are only a few of the names we are known by, but each has a different meaning and all are associated with me. It is a responsibility to make sure that we honor those names. My thoughts are rather underdeveloped here, but it has been something that I have been considering the past few days.

Elder Bailey is somewhat of a basketball star.  Last Saturday night we were playing a game with two of our friends from Korea. When the ball got stuck on the back of the rim, even Elder Bailey was amazed. Apparently it's a fairly rare occurrence for that to happen from a shot. When I realized what an incredible phenomenon it was, I decided that other people needed to hear about it as well.  
Midsommar Party.
It was raining, so we had to take it indoors.  It is quite the celebration. We dance around this pole and sing songs about frogs and such. I had this same experience last year in Göteborg, but a year doesn't change the peculiarity of this holiday. It's also the only holiday besides Christmas and New Years that missionaries take off. That is because for most Swedes, it is just a day to drink. It helps explain why this holiday took off, because as a sober human being, I kept wondering if I was just in a bad dream.
Another thing about Sweden, and I think Europe in general, is the cars are much smaller.  I find myself constantly amazed at the colors that people have chosen for their cars and the styles, as well. Some new companies I had never even seen in the U.S. (and for good reason, too) are Opel, Peugot, and Skoda. This little gem above is of the Skoda family. And I just have to chuckle as I think back to the jacked up trucks in Idaho, with their black smoke billowing out of their tailpipes. Is it overkill? Maybe. But this truck is like trying to kill a chicken with a butter knife.
The Malmö Chapel. Located on Vikingagatan 90, Malmö. We start our services at 11:00 a.m.  Visitors are always welcome.

Not only are the cars smaller, but the forks are too. 

Monday, June 15, 2015


A park across the street from the library in Malmö.
This week we met with a man named Mohanned, and one of the first things I noticed when I walked in was a baseball sitting in a cabinet. It's not often I get to see one of those leather-clad beauties, so stopped to admire it and asked him about it. Unfortunately he isn't really a fan of the sport, but he has family in Seattle, and it was a great American souvenir. 

As we sat down, he expressed that he had an interest in understanding who we were and what we were about. One could say, he is a student of religion.  He had never heard of us and that sparked his curiosity. There is no way to explain the direction that the conversation went, because two and a half hours later, I found that we had discussed everything from the depths of the ocean to the expanses of space. But one of his big questions was, "What sets you apart from the other Christian religions?" The answer is the Book of Mormon.

I do not think that one can say that our values are necessarily different or that our doctrine is fundamentally different. The Bible and Christ are the foundation to all Christian religions. Human interpretation has taken Christ's teachings and taken them in many different directions, but at the root of it all, the doctrine cannot be changed. It is made more clear when a study is done of both the Book of Mormon and the Bible side by side. An intense study of these two books reveal many wonderful truths that can be learned from the experiences of others, long before our time. 

One of the reasons that the Book of Mormon is so special, is because it is relatively untouched. Mohanned talked about how the Bible has many different translations and people use different parts of it.  Because of this, it becomes quite confusing. He also admitted that there is a possibility that the Koran has had changes made to it as leaders interpreted and even changed parts of it to increase their power or fit their purposes. However, the Book of Mormon is a book that was translated by one man. The claim that this young man, with very little formal education, translated a book from an ancient language is certainly enormous. And because of that claim, there have been countless people who have worked to defame and discredit Joseph Smith. But whatever their claims, whatever their motives, not one has disproved his story. 

One cannot discount the thousands of people who join the Church every year on account of one thing, the Book of Mormon. It is through this book that many people are able to discover, begin, and strengthen their relationship with God and Jesus Christ. We are often asked, what is the evidence of God? What is the evidence of this book? And we simply point them to a promise that can be found within the book by the last author, Moroni. 

MORONI 10: 3-5
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. 
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

This is the promise that has led thousands of young men and women to leave their families and homes. This is the promise that has spurred a congregation of 6 people in April 6, 1830 to become over 16 million today. This is the promise that when we receive these things, we can know that God is our Father.  This is the work that Joseph Smith eventually died for. The magnitude of this book is staggering and a careful study of it will bring joy. It is a book about life and contains great advice. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to read this book. Man cannot take away the assurance I have that God is there for us and through Jesus Christ we can return to Him. The Book of Mormon, with the Bible will show us the way home. I have this belief, this hope, and a growing knowledge, that I am on my way home.
Two baby seagulls that have found sanctuary by the chapel. Their parents stand sentinel on the steeple and keep unwanted people away.

This is the apartment building that I call home. 
I never cease to amaze myself with the culinary masterpieces I make. Elder Bailey was disgusted by this. Genius will always be opposed.

Monday, June 8, 2015


The morning of Zone Conference, I awoke, before my alarm, at 4:45 a.m.  As I lay in bed, I realized that I felt good. Could it be that I have become a morning person? The sunlight coming through our window seemed to smile and say, "Hello Elder Sweat, you will have a wonderful day!" So I took a picture of this incredible phenomenon so you could all experience that same joy I had on that peculiar morning.

As the day progressed, I found myself continuing to feel the same energy I had when I woke up. And even more curious, I enjoyed it. As we walked out to the bus stop that morning, at 5:30 a.m., the garbage scattered across the sidewalk seemed to be exhausted and resting from the previous night's activities. 

As we reached Malmö Central Station, we found that we had a few minutes to kill, so we decided to take a walk along the canal. And again, I found that the water even reflected this wonderful peaceful morning that I was experiencing. I could not believe it, and I kept waiting for the crash to come. But as I hopped on the train and got ready for the trip to Göteborg, I found myself alert and completely coherent. Perhaps it was all a dream, because the day seems so far away. 

We were reteaching one of the lessons to Reza, he was recently baptized. As soon as we began, he asked if he could teach us. I couldn't stop smiling as I saw him run through the whole lesson, almost flawlessly. It was cool to see that he had absorbed what had been taught to him. But even more exciting, was Reza's enthusiasm in teaching. He has found this joy, and wants to learn it well enough that he can spread it to his friends.

I'm curious about what this tour entails.

As you can see, by the end of Zone Conference, I was still smiling. And for good reason, too. We received some excellent training on raising the bar in our missionary work. The work of a missionary is very trying, and often I feel like what I seem to be: a punk kid wearing a shirt and a tie. But I find strength and comfort in the fact that I can become a strong tool, if I strive to understand how God wants me to be. It was also great to see some of my other friends, and I got to return to my first home in Utby. It was a good day, but, by 10:30 p.m., I was ready to crash. And I have decided that I am, in fact, not a morning person, still.

Unfortunately, after the Zone Conference, President has increased the severity of punishments. I woke up a few minutes late this morning, and it landed me in the stockade.  LOL

This is a replica Viking village that we checked out today. We were standing guard in the watchtower, and are happy to report that all is clear. We found out that, that was not the case over 800 years ago. In fact, this is the site that has defined religion in Sweden today. It was at this site that the world also lost 5 of its archbishops (a world record) in one battle. But at the end of it, Scandinavia was definitively a Christian nation.

Elder Bailey and I realize that we need to speak a language that the vikings will understand. As you can see, we mean business.   :)

Monday, June 1, 2015


The beauties of Earth.
On Friday, we were walking to the chapel on our way to Sport's Night. We were running late and were trying to make up for lost time. As we briskly walked, we quickly overtook an elderly woman with her grocery bags. She turned towards a bench as I hesitated thinking maybe we could help. Seeing that she had moved to the bench, I assumed she was there to stay for a moment. But as we kept going both Elder Bailey and I turned back and saw that she was on the move again. We went a few more steps and decided we would head back. As we came up, we offered to help. She kindly declined explaining that she was 88 years old, and this was good exercise for her. We walked the rest of the way with her and had a nice discussion. She told us that it's not often she meets such nice kids, and it was a pleasant surprise for her. I hope that we get to see her again another day, but for me, that moment of joy, made that day worth it. 

As promised, the kebab pizza. I'm getting hungry as I write this.

Reza and Majeed are two Persians who were baptized the week before I came to Malmö. We continue to meet with them to make sure they have an understanding of the Church and its teachings. The Church has translated The Book of Mormon into many different languages, but Persian is one that is still in process. The resources that are available at my fingertips in English dwarf that which are found in Persian. But these two found their witness through a piece of that knowledge. They took a slice of the cake of The Book of Mormon, and they find it to be good. It is a process that required prayer and work on their part. But the journey hasn't stopped there. The Church has not had the opportunity for growth in many countries in the Middle East. But here in Sweden, these men were given the invitation to join Jesus Christ's church, and they accepted. The growth is small in comparison to other nations, but they are the frontrunners of their nation. We get the opportunity, because of the policies of Sweden, to reach out to many nations. This is the land of Sweden, but we work with the children of God.

Book of Mormon: Messages from Heaven

God Is Our Father

The aromatic scent of flowers in the area takes me back to Palo Alto.

One of our other activities for the week also included fixing the flagpole in front of the chapel. We took the pole down and did some work on it. A few adjustments and we had the pole back up in no time. Then, we got the opportunity to hoist the colors. There is a lot more ceremony involved with the American flag. But it still evokes some pride in the Swedes' hearts.  A little girl with her mom was passing by on bike, and she got her mom to stop. They waited until the flag was up and waving in the wind, and then they went on their way. I wake up every morning in Malmö, Sweden, and it is just the way things are. Swedish is just a part of the daily routine, and I find that I don't always take the time to think about how special this time is for me. But that little reminder of the flag, something out of the ordinary helped me to remember, I am in Sweden. It is an ocean away from home, but I find myself thinking of it as my home more and more.