Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All Our Yesterdays (Med Spårvagn)

Guest blogger - Craig Smith

Our first full day in Göteborg was spent visiting the various places that I could both remember AND locate from my time here during Fall - Winter, 1981 - 1982. The apartments we lived in were the easiest, since there were only two, and they were directly across the street from each other:

I do not recall the brick facades, and I do not believe that the landscaping was this nice back then. There was definitely NOT this level of security in those days:

Neither the exterior or interior of the spårvagn (Tram) has changed very much, except for some new seats, and improved protection for the driver:





This little building is where we used to purchase our tram and bus tickets, as well as the occasional snack. Even though it looks shut down, the posters and hand written signs seem recent, so it is probably more of a local semester (vacation) closing:



This stretch of road (and the building in the background) actually has some significance; I am not sitting on this little curb just to rest:

It was right here that I had a very memorable and meaningful experience as a missionary. My companion (Elder Mark Montgomery - more on him later in the blogcast) and I were walking along here, minding our own business, when this completely wasted old man literally passes out, and falls over in the street about 10 yards from us. Everyone kept on going as though nothing had happened. We almost did, too, and I don’t know whose idea it was, but we went into the street to help him. He was blabbering, vomiting, bleeding from his head, and darn near clueless. We sat him on the curb, and he came around long enough to tell us where he lived. We literally carry-walked him home, got him inside his apartment, and put him into a chair. Then we left.

We came back about two days later, and he had cleaned up, shaved, combed his hair, and we had a great afternoon together talking about life, religion, and the hereafter. He had been a sailor for decades, and now lived on welfare/pension, and was ashamed of how we had found him days earlier. Although he declined our invitations to learn about the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration, he was exceedingly grateful for our kindness toward him, and we never saw him drunken again. We saw him once in a while on the tram, or in the street, and he was always polite and kind to us. It was a good experience and helped me to understand more of what my mission was about.

From there, Cindy and I climbed the hill at Ramberget, a local park that boasts an overlook of all of Göteborg. It was my intention to re-create some photos that Elder Montgomery and I obtained from that viewpoint. Of course, we arrived practically at high noon, when the light is absolutely the WORST, but we did our best:



We are pretty sure that we located the exact locations of the original photos, but due to 30 years of growth, the bushes all obscure the background in those spots. As you can see, although I look a little worse for the wear over time, I have a much more attractive than I used to. But I must mention a few things about Elder Montgomery. Even though I was not always the most polite or friendly companion, he was by far the most patient companion that I ever had, and is the one that I most wish I could meet again and say so. (As well as apologize.) Perhaps someday.

It was lunchtime, and Cindy noticed a McDonalds near the bus stop (code for bathroom):

I was pretty surprised at how early it still was, so I suggested that we complete the historical aspect of our trip and go all the way out near Vastra Frolunda (completely across the city) to where the ward building is. Cindy was up for it, so we went toward the Nordstan shopping mall, and I managed one more re-creation before we caught the bus to the church:

During the 7 months that I served in this area, I never once rode the bus to the church building; we always took the tram. However, no matter how I tried to force the app on my iPhone to skip the bus routes, I could never get it to produce the tram route to the church, so we took the bus, and ended up with an incredibly long (and HOT) hike, uphill, before we finally reached it. As with many other locations today, the growth of the flora over three decades changed a lot of the details:

Cindy was fine with rolling the dice on my muscle memory for finding the tram station to go back to the B&B (or, she just did not want to go back down that hill), so we took off in the general direction that I remembered. I am happy to report that even though we trekked through plenty of new construction (and fresh re-landscaping), we came right to the old sparvagn stop that my companions and I frequented all those years ago. It was a great day to re-trace old footsteps, and although I have not yet met anyone in person from then, I am hoping to change that when we travel to Lund in a few days.

We found a great place to eat downtown before returning (completely exhausted) to the B&B:



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