Monday, December 15, 2014

He Is The Gift

A turn of events here in the last leg of my mission - instead of going to Romerike, I was called the night before I moved and was told I'd serve back in Sandvika instead!  So, back I went to my previous Ward, this time serving with Elder Allen.  I was looking forward to traveling to the area my ancestors come from, but instead find myself here!  Of course, it leads me to think, "Alright, what does the Lord need me for for a second time?"

Last night, we had a pretty cool experience.  We had dinner with a family here in Sandvika.  During our conversation, it came up that my mom was from a small town in Eastern France where she originally joined the church.  The family told me that they had a son who had served in that very town.  They mentioned that they stayed with a family years back - a family who had a lot of kids and the wife decorated eggs.  I shouted, "DET ER TANTEN MIN!!!" "That's my aunt!!"  I was so excited that they had met my family!  They then shared pictures that had my uncle in them!  It was so crazy!!

It was one of those experiences where Heavenly Father was reminding me that He is mindful of where I am.  There have been several experiences I've had like this on my mission.  I generally tell people I am from Chicago in passing, but sometimes it comes out that the very people I meet have been to or even come from Rockford, IL.  I was so amazed at the one time when I spoke to a man on the street - he said, "My wife is from Rockford" and I was shocked and said, "THAT'S WHERE I'M FROM!"  I am certainly confident that our Heavenly Father knows exactly where we are, what we're going through, and who we are to become.

This Christmas, we are focusing on "He Is The Gift" which is being shared by our church.  The church has made a powerful 3-minute film reminding us of what the true meaning of Christmas really is all about.  Attached is a link to the film, so that all can see:

He Is The Gift 

Just before I left Oslo, I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a woman who was just diagnosed with cancer for the second time.  After the blessing was completed, she put her face in her hands and cried.  She thanked us for coming over and sharing in the Spirit with her.  We concluded by reading a chapter from the Book of Mormon, where Christ comes to visit the people.  As we passed the book around, she could hardly stop herself from reading the whole chapter by herself.

This Christmas, it is such a blessing to be able to share The Gift of Jesus Christ.  It has been the greatest blessing to me, to be able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone here in Norway.  I love this land and I love this work - this is such a special thing to be part of!  I hope everyone is able to enjoy The Gift this Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sincerity in the Search for Truth

Only about a month more to go!

With the time winding down, I've still been trying to give it my best!  It's been so strange coming here to Oslo and to only be here for a couple weeks.  This week, I will be moving to my final area, Romerike.  One missionary needed to go home early because of an injury - so it has caused some changes in callings.  This has resulted in me being moved to Romerike to be in a threesome for my last 4 weeks!  It'll be exciting!  Romerike hasn't had a a baptism in 5 years.  I'm very excited to see if we can get a Christmas miracle in right before I leave to go home. 

This past week, we had a couple special moments.  We taught a couple - the woman's back was hurting so we gave her a priesthood blessing.  It was quite special to do.  It was our first time teaching them and they were very open to our message!  They asked about the differences between our church and other churches.  Since she will be studying medicine, I compared the authority in our church to that of a doctor - a doctor who has the education and is certified has the right to practice medicine.  One would not just go to a medical student who may be very knowledgeable about these things - they need to right to know these things.  The couple then said, "Now that you put it that way, we understand!" It's so fun to teach using analogies.

The same day, we taught a young guy from Iceland who is very open to our message.  We stopped him on the street to talk to him about the meaning of life.  We set up an appointment for the next day.  We taught him how to pray. He was asking so many incredible questions like, "How do I know when I get an answer?" and was very sincere in his search.  We shared with him a scripture that the purpose of life is to find joy.  It confirmed what he had said to us on the street - his thought on the meaning of life.  He was very grateful for it and said, "I have to sleep on this now." It's so great to hear about his desire to know!

This week, I'll be moving to Romerike, but it's so nice to know that every day is worth it.  As long as we give our best to the right cause - in the Lord's work - it makes all the difference.  I'm so grateful for the gospel in my life.  It has changed absolutely everything in regards to my life.  I love the Lord and His ways.  I hope everyone experiences the joy that this gospel brings!

Monday, December 1, 2014

President Evans

Hey everyone!!

This week was quite exciting!  I was sent to Oslo to serve with my new companion, Elder Parkinson!  I have very little time left here on the mission, but recently, it has been very exciting to be going around and sharing the gospel!

This past week, I served half in Sandvika and half in Oslo.  We found a lot of different people to teach - both from knocking on doors and by contacting on the streets.  It has been quite an adjustment to get back to full-time finding.  However, as I ponder on the thoughts of the experiences I've had from working closely with President Evans, I am so grateful to have seen his example.  He is an extremely focused man and has a deep care for the missionaries to whom he serves.  I have a lot of respect for his example, and I am grateful that I've been sent here to be a missionary to learn from him.

The best lesson I feel that I've learned from him - is consecration.  Through his example, and by the spiritual thoughts that he has shared; they have helped me to understand how to not only sacrifice, but to follow the Lord in His example.  I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have in serving here in Norway - it has been the greatest blessing that I've been able to enjoy!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Final Move to Oslo

Hello everyone!

Unfortunately, this upcoming week, Elder Skinner and I will be broken up again!  Last week, we prepared a moves game plan, purchased plane and train tickets.  After all of the administrative work, we finally were able to get to the streets!  It felt so good to be out!

At one point, we were out knocking on some doors in a particular area.  When Elder Skinner looked at an area of houses, we decided we were going to knock the doors - no success, but Elder Skinner just wanted to keep going!  We ended up walking across this busy street and walking to a highly unlikely area.  He was determined to keep going.  He found a neighborhood to keep knocking and we made our way up.  Along the way, we were laughing and thinking, "Where in the world are we?!"  Eventually, we knocked on the door of a family of Christians.  They wanted us to come back and help with some service!  It was quite cool!  As we were walking back to our car, we crossed paths with a man who told us that he was a member of the church . . . I experience instances like these time and time again, and I know that this work is Heavenly Father's - He just allows us to be part of it and witness that He really is real!

This week, I will be moving to Oslo to serve with Elder Parkinson.  He is formerly from Minnesota, so we get to be a solid Midwest connection!  I look forward to serving with him, he's an up-and-coming stud in the mission!  It'll be fun to spend some time in Oslo - the big city of Norway with plenty of people to talk to!!

I am quite content with the mission that I have been blessed with.  We still have some quality time left here, but I am constantly thinking about how blessed I have been to serve in this beautiful land - at this perfect time.  I keep learning more and more from my Mission President and I realize that I was sent to this mission to learn from him.  I admire his decisions to diligently serve in faith.  I have been so blessed here by a loving Heavenly Father - whom I have come to know and desire nothing more than to serve Him to the best of my abilities.  I know that we are all children of God - sent here to be tried and proven.  It's not always easy, but as long as we listen to the small promptings He blesses us with, we will succeed in this journey!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Elder SHANE Holden

Hello everyone!!

This week I'd just like to share something that has been incredible to me!  Since the beginning of my mission, I have been praying that my brother Shane would go on his own mission.  A few months ago, he received a call to serve in the Daejeon South Korea mission!  This past weekend he was set apart as a missionary and this week he will be entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT!  It has been a miracle to me!  Heavenly Father has answered my prayers.  The answers have been so distinct and so direct, that I know that my prayers are heard!

This past week Elder Skinner and I caught eye of an area where we felt we needed to knock on doors.  It was just off the highway (as we were driving home from dropping some of the missionaries off).  We decided to knock on doors that night.  We found some people who were interested and asked us to come back last night.  We did so and continued to knock in that area.  We found a family where the mother had been baptized into the church in the Philippines.  She let us into her home and we discovered that she has a family - her mother a member, and her children never having heard of the church.  Their son, Shane, told us that he believed in Christ because of the things he had heard about Him.  It was so special to see!  I was so excited to tell him that I had a brother named Shane too!  I love how the Lord works - He always seems to set us up in some unique situations. We'll be going back to visit this family later this week!

Yesterday, was Stake Conferece in the Oslo Stake.  One of the Area Seventies came from Germany.  He shared about the joy that the gospel brings.  He shared that the world is preoccupied with having 'fun', while the gospel on the other hand brings everlasting joy.  There is a huge difference in getting into a Ferari and driving it for 2 minutes.  When you get out you say, "That was fun" and then you look for the next car that you can drive.  The gospel on the other hand, gives us everlasting joy.  As one partakes in the joy of the gospel, it gives an everlasting sense of peace.  Such things, I have experienced in comparison, with the things that the world has to offer.

The gospel which is personified by the example of Jesus Christ has been the most rewarding thing I have learned in my life.  I spent time studying Finance in school, completed my degree, and began working afterwards.  These things were good - they helped me to progress and to gain experience.  The most rewarding thing I have learned, however; is that through learning of Christ and His example, an individual can reach heights that stretch him or her beyond his or her own capacity.  There is a joy that comes in becoming what the Lord sees us becoming.  Our experiences are not accurate enough to show who we can become.  Through application of the gospel, I have been able to transform into an individual whom I never thought I could become.  I never thought that I would be able to walk around Norway and testify that I know God lives and that Jesus Christ is our perfect example.  The truths that I have been able to share, have lead me to witness miracles.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Disciples of Christ

Hello everyone!

This past week was pretty nice!  We were able to do our final Zone Conference in Oslo on Tuesday, had a Mission Leadership Council (my last one!), and had to arrange travel and coordinate moves for some of the missionaries.  To top it all off, we are trying to keep our area moving forward - it's not always easy, but it's what we are here for!

Last night, we had an experience where Elder Skinner and I needed to finalize some of the moves details.  Instead of working on it, we decided that we needed to put in some work for our area.  As we prayed, we promised Heavenly Father that we weren't going to be coming home until we find someone to teach.  We went out to an area, where earlier, we felt we should knock.  To our surprise, the second door we knocked, a woman let us in!

The woman worked for Nu Skin - a company based out of Provo, Utah.  She told us that she had been to Salt Lake City before and had seen the temple there.  She talked about the choir and the tabernacle and how it was such a beautiful place!  She was telling us how great the values are for Nu Skin.  It was pretty cool because one of the men who is in management for the company is currently serving as the mission president in France!  She knew all about it and how he sacrificed a few years to focus on the missionary work.  We ended up watching The Restoration movie with her and talking a little bit more about why it was important that a restoration would occur.  It was a good experience and we will be going back to visit with her again!

It was a cool experience to see that the Lord had provided for us when we needed it most.  It is a blessing to know that Heavenly Father does care about us and our concerns.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, a professor I had at the university I attended before coming on a mission - played a big role in helping me understand that Heavenly Father knew exactly where I was and that He knew my situation.

I emailed that teacher a week ago.  That man is a member of the church and invited me to come to church at a time where I needed it most.  When I wrote him, I thanked him for his faith and, to me, he represented a true Disciple of Christ.  I shared with him some stories from my mission and a picture of the woman that I had the opportunity of baptizing.  It gave me the best happiness that I could share these things with my former professor.

Because of his influence and the other many experiences I have had since then, I know that God knows His children.  I have since become an instrument in giving the same hand of fellowship to several of Heavenly Father's children here on a mission in Norway.  I know without a doubt that He needs each and every one of His children to make a positive impact on others' lives.  It is up to us as individuals to make the correct decisions in bringing many to know of His love.  These are the most important decisions I have made in my life!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Small and Simple Things

Hello everyone!!

So grateful to be able to write this week - we had some amazing experiences!  We did a lot of traveling, but it was so rewarding!  On Wednesday, we were in Stavanger for a Zone Conference and that night, we were able to be at a baptismal meeting for the woman whom I have been teaching for over a year!  I have stayed in contact with her, and her special baptism came!  It was an absolutely incredible experience!  I was able to be part of the baptism and it was such a special moment!

We then went up to Trondheim to have another Zone Conference and it was another great meeting.  We are realizing more and more just how special the missionaries are who serve in this Norway Oslo mission!  On one of the nights we were in Trondheim, I had a pretty special experience that I'd like to share:

I was sitting on the bus to drive back to the apartment in Trondheim, when I was wishing that I could talk to someone on the bus about the gospel.  I said a little prayer and asked God if He would set someone next to me and I promised that I would talk to them about the gospel.  About a minute later a girl sat down next to me and I started talking to her right away.  She immediately told me her name and told me that she was in Norway on exchange from Kenya to teach a Bible Study class.  It was very special to be able to share with her about the Book of Mormon.  We use the book along with the Bible because they were both written to strengthen our faith and understanding of Christ.  I asked her if she would be willing to learn more about it - she told me that it was new to her, so I gave her a pass along card and she walked away looking over the card.

It was such a simple but special experience for me to know that God answered my prayer!  I know that He does so by small and simple things.  I am really grateful for my opportunity to grow and to share the gospel with others because I know that special experiences such as baptism lead us back to God.  It was so special to be part of the teaching process, but most of all, baptism!  I really love this work and I know that it's Heavenly Father's work!

Hope everyone has a great week!