In the LDS church babies are given a special priesthood blessing in the months after they are born. Chris gave Lily a beautiful blessing and my dad was able to be a part of the circle of priesthood brethren along with many of our good friends. I am so grateful to have the power of the priesthood in our home and family!
My mom and I stayed up late the night before to sew Lily a blessing gown (based on this tutorial) and while in the end it was hard to find Lily in all the ruffles, we think it turned out pretty cute!
“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” – The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:8
As soon as our early Thanksgiving ended, it was time to help my little brother, Cameron, get all of his final preparations ready for his 2-year mission to Dallas, Texas for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can't believe he's old enough to be a missionary already! Granted, he left sooner than we all had planned on due to the change in the age limit last fall, but it still makes me feel old!
Bye Cam! You're going to be a great missionary! We sure do love you!
(Whether you are Mormon or not, if any of you reading this are in Texas and happen to see this guy and his companion walking around, you should definitely invite them over for a good home-cooked meal. And if he knocks on your door, take a second to think about the sacrifices these young people are making and at least listen to what he has to say for 5 minutes. As a favor to me. It'll make his day and mine. :) Go Texas!)
Tuesday-Friday we did around 4 temple sessions per day starting at 9 and ending at 6.
At first we were both quite intimidated by spending THAT much time in the temple, as we had only ever done one session at a time before. We were afraid we’d get bored or worse, be that person. You know the one. The one who starts snoring at the worst possible time.
We were pleasantly surprised though! I can’t speak for Chris, but I felt such a sense of peace there that it made everything go quickly, and on the few occasions it went slow I didn’t mind so much. It was wonderful to be there with Chris so often as well as the rest of the ward members.
Usually right after the temple, everyone gathered in the community kitchen at the patron house to make dinner. One night, as is apparently a yearly temple trip tradition, we all went out to a neighboring pizza joint and pigged out on really good pizza.
Another night, everyone bought their favorite flavor of Haagen-Daas or Ben & Jerry’s and we had a massive family-style ice cream party.
Then the kids would run wild in the yard, the youth would gather to play card games, and the adults would circle around and chat until eventually someone would pick up a guitar or ukulele and the rest of the evening would end up in a big sing-along music fest.
Near the end of the trip I commented to Chris, “I don’t think I’ve felt this much spiritual camaraderie and unity for a week straight since my days of EFY and church history trips. In fact, it kind of feels like an adult Youth Conference.”
I love knowing that those days aren’t behind us :)
It takes 18 hours or so to drive from Stavanger to Stockholm. By some definite divine intervention, our plucky little station wagon made it to and from Sweden in one piece. We had some worrisome moments, but I tell ya…blessings come from going to the temple!
We carpooled with our friends Amerigo and Sarah and caravanned with the Steffensen clan. Amerigo and Sarah are originally from the Philipines, which meant that our car was full of a combination of English, Tagalog, and Norwegian the whole drive! So much fun!
Of course, we had to stop along the way for a Norwegian hot dog picnic.
We wound along the southern coast of Norway, stopping for church in Kristiansand along the way. It was a seriously gorgeous drive! We passed fjords, lakes, rivers, and countless waterfalls. I don't think I will get over how beautiful Norway is as long as we live here. We stopped for the night in Drammen (just outside of Oslo and about half-way to Stockholm) and stayed the night with our stake president's family.
We crossed the border into Sweden the next day and the difference was strangely immediate. For one thing, the speed limit suddenly increased from 70 km/h to 110 km/h! (Go Sweden!) In addition, I had never noticed there were no billboards along the side of the roads in Norway until we started seeing them along the highway in Sweden. The landscape also suddenly became rather boring (sorry Sweden!). Where Norway is full of winding roads and small quaint towns, Sweden was one loooong tree-lined road. With red barns. Lots and lots of red barns.