Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Norway 2013

What an amazing time of Christmas it was here in Norway!!  This past week, the work was so slow because absolutely no one goes outside!  We were able to spend much time with the members - welcoming the Spirit in many different activities!  We sang carols one night in city Sentrum and passed out Books of Mormon.  We opened gifts and had many delicious dinners with families!

My absolute favorite part of it all, though, was the time I got to Skype with my family!  I was able to see my parents and siblings on the screen!  It was so nice to feel like I picked up right where I left off with them, but only with a few hundred more spiritual experiences that have shaped me in the last year.  I feel that this time has been the best time of growth for me and that this has been the perfect time for me to serve as a missionary.  I would not have been able to receive so many insights on life and myself, had I not chosen to serve a mission as a 22-24 year old.  I absolutely love the time I have here to serve, and it will only continue to grow.

This past Sunday, we received a moves call and found out that my companion will be moving to Trondheim to be with my old MTC companion, Elder Skinner!  He is going to have an amazing time with Elder Skinner - he was one of my favorites and continues to be!  I'm a little jealous of the companionship - 2 of my favorite missionaries combined!  I will be receiving a companion, Elder Lane, from Arizona.  I have met Elder Lane one time and I remember him telling me something to the effect that I was 'as old as his brother' (I typically get that).  However,  I understand more and more WHY I am here at such a point in time.  As an older missionary, I realize the importance I have to 'be an example'.  Our mission is extremely young.  At one point, over 60% of missionaries here had been out for less than 6 months.  It is extremely important to set the tone for these guys and to expect that we can achieve special things here on this mission.  Miracles will be had.

This past Saturday, we had a Zone Conference where we talked about the upcoming 2014.  We talked about the goals we expect to accomplish and what we need to do in order to accomplish them.  Sister Evans taught us about the importance of setting goals.  It has been something that has always driven me.  I always want to accomplish something that will allow me to feel satisfied.  It is through goals that allow us to stretch and reach for something greater than what we achieve.  She pointed something out that has really stuck with me in the past several days: 'When we set goals and work to achieve them - we also need to be willing to suffer through whatever it takes in order to accomplish that goal.'  I immediately began to think about goals I have once pondered on in the past.  There was a point that I was not willing to suffer everything in order to come on a mission.  I always knew that rejection, to the extent that we face here on this mission would be a part of my experience.  As I began to experience the miracles that God performed around me at the time, I decided to serve a mission - it empowered me to be where I am today.

I face another year of the unexpected here on the mission.  However, with my willingness to suffer through whatever is laid before me, I know that I get to understand a little more of the compassion that Jesus Christ has for each one of us.  I know that He has suffered everything we have gone through in this life.  I know that He allows us to trust in Him in order to reach higher goals, even those that we never even knew we could accomplish.  It is always through our faith that our Heavenly Father blesses us.  I know that miracles are brought to pass according to our faith.  I know that He will always help us walk by faith when we do all that we can do.  I know that He is the head of this work and that we can experience the blessings He has in store for us when we really trust in Him!

I hope everyone has an amazing end to 2013!  2014 is a new beginning to put things in the past and to move forward!  I hope this New Year brings so many more blessings to everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Hello everyone!!

I am so grateful to write a little note this week.  I am so excited to Skype my family on Wednesday!  I can't think of a better Christmas present than to just be able to talk with my family!  I miss them a ton and I continue to be grateful for them in every way that they've shaped my life.  I always see different things and knew that my Heavenly Father hand-picked my family for me.  He continues to do so with the new additions that we have to my amazing family!  Little niece and another on the way!  My in-law's - I can't remember what our family was like without them as part of our family.  I am filled with so much gratitude that I get to be part of an amazing group of people.

This past week I was brought to remembrance the struggles that I had several years ago.  As a kid, I had always dreamed that I would go to BYU and leave on a mission at the age of 19.  After never being accepted to attend BYU or the University of Illinois, many of my plans changed and sent me on a different path.  I was quite literally scrambling to find my way and my future.  My expectations on life had changed.  I faced many trials that I eventually was able to overcome with faith.

Today, I am an Illinois State University graduate with a Bachelor's in Finance.  Overall, I was denied from the University of Illinois 3 times and BYU 3 times.  The last option I really felt for myself was to attend Illinois State and I did so grudgingly.  Through an experience I had, there was a professor that ended up teaching a Leadership class where I was accepted.  The same teacher, Dr. Ringer, invited me to 'come to church'.  I was lost and tried to find my own way, but as this man invited me to come to church it changed my whole life.  I recognized that there is a loving Heavenly Father, through all my weaknesses, He still calls us to do His work.  I came to know from that specific experience, Heavenly Father knows us.  He knows what we will choose.  He knows how to teach us.  In my own learning, I learned that I was supposed to be called on this mission at this time.

There were many people who inspired me to become where I am.  Today, being my 11-month mark on my mission, I am able to recognize the blessings I've had in the past year.  Even more than just the year, He has blessed my entire life.  He hand-picked my family and allowed me to have the experiences that were necessary for me to grow.

My favorite investigator has come to know of this knowledge.  This past week she shared with us a story that she had.  When she was alone and in a dark place in her life, she turned to the only person she could, our Heavenly Father.  She prayed for help.  She said that He answered her prayers and told her how strong He was.  She explained Him as solid as the cement ground - immovable.  I then shared with her the scripture in Helaman 5:12 - quite possibly my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon.

When we build our foundation on Christ, the greatest gift that God has given us, we are able to stand immovable.  This investigator has come to know that through her experience.  I have come to know that through my experiences.  I know that there is a Heavenly Father who knows us individually.  We are all imperfect, but He has given us the Savior Jesus Christ to help us overcome our imperfections and to be lifted to a high plane of thought and understanding.

I am so grateful this season for Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for my family and the foundation that they laid for me.  I know that Heavenly Father knows us all individually and that He only wants us to be as happy as we allow ourselves to be.  When we allow our lives to be filled with the grace of Jesus Christ, I know we can become happier than we've ever imagined.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Knowing Our Heavenly Father

Hello everyone!!

This week has been another special one!  Yesterday I was able to see the first baptism on my mission and to add to it - I was able to participate in the Confirmation!  I am grateful to know of the knowledge we have that Confirmation is performed by laying on of hands - as it is spoken of in the Bible.  It has been something that has strengthened my understanding since I have been on a mission.

This past week was pretty special with an experience that my companion and I were able to have.  There is a couple that we have been visiting once a week for the past few weeks - the husband is member (less-active) and the wife was once a foreign-exchange student in Utah.  They have, in their home, The Family Proclamation and The Living Christ documents framed and sitting on a book shelf.  The couple is very much into black-metal and going to concerts like that.  It has been so awesome to teach them!  They have felt that there are some people who don't entirely accept them.  Judging others is something that occurs, but of course is not something we are taught.  Of course we are all imperfect, but we all need to be patient towards one another.  My companion and I have really been able to connect with this couple - it's been absolutely incredible!

Since we have been meeting with them, we have been showing them our desire to get to know them as individuals and not just as people you go in and immediately ask to be baptized.  This does not work in Norway.  With this couple, we've been able to get to know them for who they are.  We eventually got into speaking about the Restoration and were able to discuss and share our own personal experiences about the Restoration.  When it came towards the end of the lesson, my companion, Elder Stookey, bore a powerful testimony about not being on a mission because it was expected of him but because he knew it was the right thing to do.  Among the things he sacrificed to be here - he is here because he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet.  After he shared his testimony - the couple said they both felt goosebumps and thanked him for sharing that with them.  It was powerful.

I have been able to be a part of many powerful moments here on my mission.  It's been the greatest blessing.  I am so happy to feel the Spirit and bear testimony of it!  To add to it - one of our favorite investigators had her 40th birthday and told us that she had brought her Book of Mormon with her on her trip to Oslo.  She also said that she was grateful to come to know about the Mormon church!  This past week we asked her who her Heavenly Father is to her.  She, not coming from a religious background, told us that she knew Heavenly Father was a loving person.  He knows us and our struggles, and he knows what is best for us.  He doesn't force us to do anything that we don't want to do but that he allows us to choose for ourselves.  I wasn't entirely surprised by her answer, but I too have the same knowledge that she explained.  I know our Heavenly Father is person who loves us and knows us, He knows how to help us succeed, and He wants us to succeed.  He will not force us to do anything to choose His path, but He gives us the opportunity to choose for ourselves.

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have of such a Heavenly Father.  I wish everyone was able to come to know the same thing.  I know it is possible, but I also know it comes from our willingness to find it out for ourselves.  I hope everyone has a great week and desires to continue to find out truths for themselves!

It's almost Christmas where I get to Skype to my family!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Progress in the Area and Snow in Stavanger!

Hello everyone!!

I never really imagined being a missionary who is nearly one year out on a mission.  I'm almost at the peak of the mountain and coming down the other side.  To think about the last 7 weeks I have spent here in Stavanger - I've never been challenged this much in my life.  I came to this area 7 weeks ago with a lot of pressure mounted.  My president told me that I needed to 'bring a fire' to the area.  We had a lot of success in Alta, our area began to take off between the new investigators we were finding and many people whom we met.  My trainee who is still serving there (Elder Hurst from Hawaii, serving like a champ through mørke-tid) has really allowed the area to take off even more.  The people in the area are saying that they don't want the missionaries to leave the area because of the special things that are happening!  It's really cool to be a 'proud parent' in mission talk - when you train a missionary, they become your son.  If you are the second missionary to serve with a missionary on their mission, you are their 'mother'.  So, I am currently a father and a mother in mission-talk.  I am currently mothering a missionary as I serve here in Stavanger again.

However, as I look back on the week - we were able to get a second baptismal date in our area.  We have one for Jan 12 and another for Jan 26.  I have felt that it is better to be bold and extremely loving at the same time.  I have been able to find a balance in the two.  I know that in missionary work, some people may not be willing to change - but there are many people out there who really are seeking for a knowledge of the things we have to share with them.  It's up to us to invite them.  I have a good time inviting people to many different things!

Wednesday we flew to Oslo for Mission Leadership Council, where we come together and discussed where to take the mission moving forward.  It was a very uplifting meeting and I enjoyed being part of that and learning how to continue to help the work go forward.  Of course, the answer to taking missionary work forward is through the members in the ward.  It is our responsibility to find the best matches with members and also help the members become missionaries and invite their friends.  The gospel is a huge blessing to us and we need to continue to help it move forward!

Unfortunately, we had a crazy wind storm on Thursday of this week.  It destroyed our plans of having a great day.  Everything became canceled and we ended up going to a member's for dinner and tried to be most effective with our time.  The next day (Friday), we woke up with about 4 inches of snow!  It never snows in Stavanger!  It only stayed for that day, because the next day there was a ton of rain and all the snow was gone.  Amidst all of that, we were able to get an additional baptismal date.

Next week is looking impressive though!  Our mission president and his wife will be coming to our area to hold a Zone Leader Training meeting.  Fortunately, we don't have to put on a meeting - so it finally gives me a break from having to prepare a lesson!  We also have a baptism in Stavanger coming up next Sunday, the sister missionaries from Sandnes (they took over my old area and are amazing missionaries) have been teaching a young guy from Germany.  He is very special.  I was able to give him his baptismal interview and he passed.  Very awesome guy!

I hope everyone has a great week! The work continues to roll forward!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Christ's Atonement: Physical and Spiritual Healing

Hello everyone!!

This week has been awesome!  We have been able to achieve a lot of great things here in Stavanger so far!  My president initially said that the area was dead - a huge challenge to come in and 'keep the fire burning' that I had kindled up in the North.  So, here we are in Stavanger again and I've been here 5-6 weeks.  The area has been picking up a ton and we have had some awesome miracles!  The one person I would like to focus my writing on this week is a woman we have been teaching for several weeks.  She is a single mother of a 19-year-old son.  She is currently living in Stavanger to study at the university and she seeks to finish her studies.  When the missionaries met her on the street, they were able to get her number.  When I moved back down here I called that number on the first night and got an appointment for the next day!

That next day, she was brought to tears.  She was sharing experiences she had had of praying to Heavenly Father and receiving strength through Christ.  Her health had been slipping at one point.  She did not grow up in a religious home, but thought to pray as she was struggling with her health.  Ever since that day, she says her health has gradually increased.  She said that when she prayed, she felt hands on her shoulders - helping her receive strength to endure.  She has experienced the grace and mercy of Christ's Atonement, which heals us physically and spiritually.  From that experience we've been able to share with her the message we teach.  We've had many members involved in the teach and she loves to sit and discuss the gospel with the members.  After a few weeks, she decided she wanted to come to church.  On her first church meeting, she was touched by the Spirit and was brought to tears.  This past week we had a fast and testimony meeting in church and I was told she was crying throughout the meeting.

My most favorite thing about this woman is when she comes into the church, she has the biggest smile!  She feels the love of the Savior as she walks into the church and sees the pictures of Christ.  This past Saturday, she attended a Super Saturday activity that was put on by the Relief Society.  I walked into the gym during the activity and she was beaming!  She came up to me and told me about the activity, that they had been doing yoga, watched a spiritual movie, and then were going to be doing crafts.  She was so excited about the new friends that she had made!  It was amazing to see the love and joy that she had.  She doesn't stop smiling and saying 'eg e heldig!' - I am lucky!

It is a huge blessing to be able to teach this woman, and every person we are able to teach.  The members in this ward are absolutely incredible.  The Spirit that is present at these meetings is so fulfilling!  I am so grateful to be a missionary and to be able to meet these special people in Stavanger, Norway!

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Renewed Faith in God

Hello everyone!!

This week was absolutely unbelievable.  It was completely up and down!  It first started with splits with a brand new missionary in the land.  This missionary is from London, he is 21 and also decided to serve a mission a little bit later.  If you can imagine the excitement I had to be serving with someone who had so much drive towards the mission!  He told me, "I originally really didn't want to serve a mission" - I could strongly second that along with him.

That night, Elder Edwards and I went out to a member's for dinner.  We shared a spiritual thought was incredible.  The members told us that they felt the Spirit and it really started off our proselyting night.  We then followed with a little rejection and led to an amazing experience right before the end of the night.  We were in a dark are in the city sentrum.  We were lead to an area where we had just begun strolling at 8:45.  We contacted a girl on the street who tried to pretend that she didn't speak Norwegian.  I just laughed with her and said, "Really? Do you come from Stavanger?"  After a little more joking, she started speaking Norwegian and we started talking about the Book of Mormon.  Elder Edwards (he's been a missionary for 7 days at this point) gave her a book and told her she could have it.  We started talking about why the Book of Mormon was important and then she just straight up asked Elder Edwards why he was a member of the church.  He responded with a very powerful testimony of leaving his family that he loves for 2 years to share a message that is true.  She got teary-eyed, said that was powerful, then turned to me and asked me the same question.  I bore my testimony to her that God knew her specifically and loved her, and that this was a very special moment for us.  The Spirit was absolutely strong.  She was brought to tears.  I got her number to meet up with her again, but Elder Edwards - being the more experienced missionary said to her,  "I need to say this to you . . . If you find out that this church is God's true church on the Earth, will you be baptized?"  She responded, "yes."  I was very surprised!  Then he said, "If you are to find out this church is true by January 12th will you be baptized?"  She said, "yes." She then told us that we had renewed her faith in God on the street.

It was absolutely incredible to walk away from that experience and know that God knew her individually.  She felt the Spirit of God right there on that street.  It confirmed to her that what we had said was truth - and it helped her to be comforted that night.

There were many more experiences we had this past week.  This was possibly my most favorite though.  There are many miracles flowing here in the west of Norway.  I know that God answers prayers of a humble child.  I know that as we act on faith, we can be blessed tremendously.  It is my hope that everyone acts on their hope and that leads to faith.  There really is a God that loves us individually.  We should never forget this truth.

Have an excellent week!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reaching the Community

I would like to start by saying I'm grateful it's P-Day!  I have been so exhausted from the past week - but it's the most fulfilling exhaustion.  Sunday morning, I woke up thinking, "awesome, today is church so I get to rest a little by sitting in church".... then I realized we had our Mini-MTC planned for the youth that day.  No resting.  So we held the mini-MTC - showing the youth how they can help us on teaches, teaching them about the Gospel of Christ, and by helping them to do their own missionary work.  It was a little intimidating with so many youth there, but it was extremely satisfying to see everything unfold!  Stavanger has unbelievable examples of the youth here.  I love the opportunity to serve here!

During the course of the week, we were able to find a preacher from another church.  We were out contacting one night and I decided to contact a man who had his back turned to us.  I just felt that I needed to talk to him.  He was extremely positive and a preacher from another church.  He loved Christ and we were able to share the Book of Mormon, a second testament of Jesus Christ!  It's a book to help us grow in faith and understanding of Christ.  Perfect for this man!  We later met with him and he told us he'd read the book in 5 days - we shall see! We gave him the book in Amharic!  A very cool experience!
That same night we headed to the church to have another couple teaches.  The last teach we had was with a less-active man.  He hadn't been coming to church for years.  He really didn't know why it was important to believe in the Book of Mormon.  I was grateful to share my experiences of reading that book.  When I was 15 years old and read it for the first time (though I could not understand the depth of the stories), I felt a power about the book that I've never been able to deny.  I shared my experiences and many others.  It wasn't until I shared with him one of my go-to lines.  In the Bible it talks about from the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established.  The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ.  He immediately said, "That's right!", rather excited.  He tried to follow up by saying that he still didn't have a belief in the book, but of course you're not going to believe it until you open yourself and experience it first hand!

We are making plans to start up our Norwegian language class on the 26th.  We've been putting flyers up around Stavanger to invite people to attend it.  At the conclusion, of the classes we will be sharing 15-minutes about the church.  We are also planning to introduce an idea to start a family history course here at the church.  My companion and I are really just having fun with the work.  We're doing all we can to invite people!

Speaking of invitations - we met an 18-year old kid on the street and asked him to come to church on Sunday.  He came!  We gave him a Book of Mormon.  He prayed out loud for the first time in front of people - he was so excited about it!  We'll be meeting with him soon!  Amazing experiences here in Stavanger - there are so many people to find and teach.  Missionary work is really just fun!

I hope everyone has a great week!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Miracles Among the Willing and Ready

This week was absolutely exhausting but unbelievable as well!  I have to share some great experiences.  We had Zone Leader Training Meetings this week in Stavanger and Bergen.  On Tuesday, we had the missionaries from down in Kristiansand/Arendal come up for a 3 hour meeting that we hosted.  The next day. . . Wednesday - we flew up to Bergen and had the same meeting with the Bergen missionaries.  That was a beautiful area!  Everything here in Norway has been absolutely beautiful!  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures this trip, but I will be there again soon!  It was a great learning experience and one for growth that I was able to experience in hosting those meetings!

We had some absolutely incredible miracles as well.  There was one night we were out contacting in Stavanger Sentrum - from a distance I saw a woman who was carrying many bags - looking like she had just done a lot of shopping.  I was trying to form the words to say that even the woman doing a lot of shopping needs the gospel. Instead, I just stopped her and began to talk to her.  She started explaining she wasn't raised in a religious home (many Norwegians are similar to this) but that she had prayed at one point when she really needed help.  At this point in her life she didn't want to live - but through prayer and some experiences she had, she knew that God and Jesus Christ cared about her.  The next 30 minutes we walked around to different bus stations with her, carrying her shopping bags.  She was looking for a way to get home and we were teaching her about a loving Heavenly Father who knows her personally and loves her.  She said it made her a little nervous (something she said a couple times throughout the night when I knew what she was feeling was the Spirit). 

We continued to walk around town and help her until eventually she decided she would just go to McDonald's and we could teach her there.  On our way to McDonald's we ran into the sister missionaries and she was excited to meet sister missionaries.  Later, we ran into the other elders (a total of 7 missionaries who have been present but we decided not to bring the other missionaries with us, so there were just 5 of us).  We all went to McDonald's and taught her and she kept asking us to tell her more about our God and Jesus Christ.  She was absolutely amazing and was so excited (she's only lived in Stavanger for 4 days - moved from Oslo) and she wants to come to church!  We gave her a Book of Mormon with a personal note written to her in it.  She was so happy to get the book and we all signed our names in it for her.

A couple days later, we walked into the church in Stavanger as a woman was walking out.  I noticed she was a little shy so I asked her her name.  She then opened up and told us she had the feeling she wanted to come to church for 7 years but made the decision that day.  Another missionary asked her why she made the decision that day, and she said it was because she thought about taking her life that day but came to the church instead. She met with the sister missionaries who taught her about the Plan of Salvation (God's plan for us) and committed her to being baptized so that her sins could be washed away.  Her date is set for December 8th.

The last miracle we had this week was with a woman with whom we had a 2nd teach.  Included on the teach, was a member who was recently baptized.  I was part of the companionship that first taught this man before we were transferred out.  I kept close tabs on the story behind him - miracle story of course!  He said one day he woke up without the desire to smoke - and that week was able to be baptized.

He came with us on a teach with the woman here at the church. This woman has been so prepared to hear this message.  When she came in, the member told her immediately about how he was baptized on Sept 5th.  Throughout the whole lesson she would ask him about his experiences and what the Holy Ghost was.  It was amazing to see the faith and testimony of this man I had the opportunity to teach at first.  He was now bearing testimony to this woman about the Book of Mormon.  I was blown away in this teach of how amazing miracles happen when we just exercise our faith in the Lord.

I am blown away every day we have been here experiencing incredible things as missionaries.  The miracles we see are so real!  I am so grateful to be an instrument for God in His work.  That's all that I am.  We just keep working and working and He continues to prepare these people.  I love to be an instrument for Him and I am grateful to have the knowledge that I do have.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world.  He lived and died for each one of us - all we need to do is trust in Him and He will provide for us!

I hope everyone has an incredible week this week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Witnessing the Lord's Hand in Missionary Work

Hello everyone!!

It's been a fast week!  Getting more responsibility seems like it makes the time fly!  I am not complaining in the least bit, though!  It has been quite exciting to be part of this work!!

This past week we had a Missionary Leadership Council in Oslo where we all flew in and discussed different topics for the month of November - how we're going to help the mission go forward.  That was a lot of fun to be a part of!  We also were talking about setting goals for next year, and it was cool to be talking about getting the wards and the missionaries on the same page so that we can help each other progress this work forward!

We finally met with a guy named Constantin this week.  He has been learning about the church for about a year now and has not decided to join quite yet.  He knows the Book of Mormon is true, but he is having a difficult time overcoming a couple things.  So, when I got back here I gave him a call and he was extremely excited that I was called to serve back in Stavanger.  He told me that last time he was sad in his heart because he was not able to have me over for dinner before I left.  Since I served in Sandnes, I was never able to come in and eat with him and his wife.  Now that I am his missionary he is pretty excited about it!  I am also very excited about it!!

There was another woman who came to my mind a couple weeks ago.  I gave her a call and she had told me that her mother was sick and that she needed the blessings, so she would have us missionaries over within the week.  When the week passed, I gave her a call and found out that her mother had passed away.  Quite sad - but it is very interesting to see the hand of the Lord place impressions in my mind to call someone I had actually never even met before - I had only heard about her.  We will be going to her home tonight to give her a blessing and share with her the Plan of Salvation.  I know that it is God's Plan for his children here on Earth and I am grateful to be able to share it with people.

Miracles happen every day on this mission.  There was an unbelievable story that was shared at MLC this past week.  Something about a mute homeless man giving the missionaries the address to a place that they needed to find in order to meet with a man who was baptized within 4 days of meeting him! It's absolutely incredible to see and hear how God works.  He loves us!  All He wants for us is to be happy and to find success in this short life!  It is only through His work that we can find the most satisfying happiness!

I hope everyone has an excellent week filled with miracles!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Stavanger and a Friend's Mission Farewell

This week has been pretty amazing!!  I flew to Stavanger on Tuesday to come back to my old area to serve as a Zone Leader/District Leader.  I was told the area needed a little help so they called me back to serve with this ward that I absolutely love.  Everyone who I have come to meet and know here has been absolutely special to me.  Now with the opportunity to work more closely with the ward, it's very exciting to me!

The night that I got here, we began contacting on the streets for a couple hours in the middle of straight rain.  I was having way too much fun being back in the city that I love here in Norway, that I couldn't contain myself.  We had some good success and met some awesome people as well - they have resulted in a few teaches.  The following day we had a District Meeting where I met all the missionaries serving here in the district.  I do believe we have the largest district in Norway here in Stavanger/Haugesund combination.  Another exciting opportunity!

It was so nice to see the members again.  There is an American family here in Stavanger with 4 small boys (they just had another one since I'd been gone, so it was so excited to see the new one!).  As I was leaving to go up to Alta, they told their boys I was going to the North Pole to maybe meet Santa Claus.  It's been 2 months and I had completely forgotten about that (as well as the parents), but they told me that as they told their boys that 'Elder Holland' (that's what they call me) had returned, the boys asked if I had talked to Santa Claus!

The most amazing experience of the week was definitely the opportunity to see my friend's farewell here in Stavanger.  Originally, she was unsure if she wanted to serve a mission, but as I (being a little bit older myself) came here, it helped her make a decision to serve a mission as well.  Just yesterday she gave her farewell talk with many friends and family present.  I really felt the Spirit of the Lord so much in that hour of church.  It was an extremely uplifting experience.  She will be serving in London South Mission.  It was all just an amazing experience with the Spirit so strong.

I love missionary work and I just love Norway.  Stavanger is a very special place to me and I look forward to the opportunities and the miracles that will take part here in the weeks to come!  I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to . . . . Stavanger!

Hello everyone!

I have received some extremely exciting news this past week.  I got a call from my mission president the other day and was told that I will be moved back down to Stavanger to become a Zone Leader (I know I said I didn't want to talk about callings and leadership, because it really doesn't matter... but the news is too surprising to withhold it)!  Our transfers were supposed to be in 3 weeks, but I received a quick call saying I was getting shipped back down tomorrow!  I am extremely excited to see everyone again and to get back to work down there with a lot of people I have come to love!  When I was in the MTC, I felt a specific pull towards the city of Stavanger.  That was where I wanted to serve for some reason - I served in Sandnes for 5.5 months, and now I'm going back down to take some more time!  My president has let me know that I've got some work to do down there, but I really couldn't be more excited!  I came on this mission to work, and so I will be doing it every day that I'm here.  I specifically prayed that God would turn me into a man on this mission, and I feel that that has become the process.  I am grateful for every chance that I have gotten and for the ability to serve God.  It really is His work that we do as missionaries.  The many miracles that we come in contact with, all depending on our faith.

This past week we met with the woman who we met on the airplane from last week.  After she attended church she sent us a text a couple days later letting us know that she had given much thought to what she had learned.  I know she felt the Spirit of God; teaching her the truths of this earthly existence.  She asked if we would visit and to share a little bit more.  It was another special visit.  We read a chapter in the Book of Mormon - Alma 32, which speaks about faith.  It talks about how we grow our faith like a small seed.  As we give it nourishment and do the things that we need to do in this life, we can grow our faith to the point that it takes root.  Faith is something that is real.  It's not easily understood, but as we do the things that grow our faith (daily prayer, daily reading of the scriptures, attending church weekly) it allows us to grow a knowledge and understanding of our faith.  I know that the small seed of faith that I have continued to nurture through this mission has taken root.  I understand the truths of this life more here than I ever have before.  It is a blessing to share with people the truths that are found in the scriptures.  It's a blessing to be a missionary and to continue to be stretched in the Lord's work.  I know that miracles do in fact happen and that they are dependent on our desire to serve the Lord and follow His commandments.  These things are not man-made.  I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Miracles in Our Travels

Hello everyone!!

This week was pretty incredible.  We flew into Tromsø on Wednesday morning to go on splits and perform some missionary business.  At our arrival, there were then 6 missionaries serving in Tromsø.  It was pretty cool to be in that cluster of missionaries.  We were able to do some contacting on the streets.  Tromsø is a beautiful city - it has a lot of nice people and some tourists.  It's really cool just to go out and talk to people on the streets. As strange as it might seem, it's a huge blessing to be a part of.  In Alta, there aren't as many people to go out and speak with, so in a big city it's a little more fun.

The next morning, we flew into Trondheim to be part of some splits the day before Zone Conference.  That day we probably did 4-hours of contacting around the city of Trondheim.  That is another beautiful, beautiful city.  A lot of really awesome people and a ton of students there at the university.  It is one of the largest Atheist places in the world (it might be the world's largest, if I'm not mistaken), but it is so cool to talk to people about how they established their belief in certain things.  The greatest blessing is that even when people claim to be Atheist, they still believe in a higher power.  They just have not heard the truth of all things.  As we go around and contact people, we are able to piece a little bit of the puzzle of this existence together for them - they then thank us and we part ways.  Often times missionaries like to call it 'planting seeds'.  It's just really satisfying to see people getting a little portion of the truth and them being grateful for it.  This life is hard enough, but once we understand we are children of a Supreme Being who loves us and cares about us - life becomes a little bit more enjoyable.

We also had interviews with our president that night and Zone Conference the following day.  As I was speaking with the Mission President's wife, I received a call from my old area - Sandnes.  They were searching for some addresses that we had found people who had shown some interest in our message. As we got to talking about other people, there was a woman we found contacting one day.  As we approached the woman that day, we had the world's biggest smiles.  I remember thinking to myself, "why am I smiling so big?"  The woman also asked us the same thing (our Ward Mission Leader used to call my companion and I his 'smiling assassins').  She was with her daughter walking on the street when we stopped them - smiling - asked her if she had heard of the Book of Mormon.  She was surprised and told us that she had found the book on the street one day!  It was laying on a ledge and she took it home with her.  We asked if he could teach her about it, she agreed, but would be on vacation for 5-weeks.  So, the update was that she was reading the Book of Mormon and praying - she also brought a friend on their first teach.  They are both reading and praying.  It was very satisfying to be part of that mini-miracle.

The other great miracle this week happened to us this past Friday night.  We had to leave the Zone Conference a bit early to catch our flight back to Alta.  Had we missed the flight, we'd be stuck in Trondheim until Monday - no more flights up there.  As we got to the airport, we found that our flight plans were from Trondheim down to Oslo - from Olso we would fly to Tromsø and Alta. We were a bit surprised, but no big deal.  As we got on our flight in Oslo to Tromsø/Alta, we sat next to a woman who immediately began speaking with us.  She noticed our badges and expressed that she had spoken with missionaries earlier in the airport and that it was a surprise to be sitting next to us.  The next 2-3 hours were spent talking to this woman, Ada.  She was incredible.  Very prepared to hear the message and often times as we spoke to her she would be saying, "I am listening very closely to what you are saying now."  I felt the need to invite her to church (she was only going to be in Alta for the weekend). As Sunday came, she came to church!  I sat next to her all church (our church attendance was 4 out of 10 people were not members!).  It was an excellent couple hours of church!  At the conclusion of the meetings, I turned and asked her how she liked church.  She responded, "I have a lot to think about."

It was incredible to be part of that miracle!  At first we didn't know why we were flying Trondheim - Oslo - Tromsø - Alta, but we did it.  As we did it, we were able to take part in the Lord's work.  He is the master of the work. He controls all of this.  Now I will always stay in contact with Ada throughout my mission.  Wherever I move to, I will let her know.  She also has a son who is 24.  She is surprised that we do this work.  Two years of sacrifice, but to do it so that others can have the some knowledge and blessings that we have.  It is a special experience to be part of the Lord's work - we are absolutely an instrument in His hands.

I hope everyone can have the experience to feel the love the Lord has for His children by taking part in any form of service.  I know we are all needed to bless the lives of one another.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Conference and Technological Advances in the Church


Hello everyone!

After General Conference, there really is nothing much I can say spiritually, other than watch and listen to the talks given at this October's General Conference on LDS.org.  There are living prophets that live on this Earth, they lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  They speak every 6-months and bear messages that are the word of God.  If anyone takes the time to listen, I can promise that they offer answers to questions that many of us wonder.  It's very unique to be a member of this church and to be blessed with the opportunity to listen to those talks.

This past week was a busy one.  We set up the church for conference - we had to move the computer and set it up on the tv there.  It's pretty special to be a missionary in Northern Norway.  There are many pioneers here in the North.  Through technology they are beginning a new age of pioneering.  Shortly, we will be receiving a computer here, with a conference camera.  All the churches here in Northern Norway will have these items.  We'll be able to Skype one another and broadcast talks given in the various meeting houses.  We'll be able to communicate more effectively, and we missionaries will be able to hold meetings easier.  It's a very exciting time to see the pioneering age of technology take shape.  I am part of it first-hand!

This really is the work of the Lord.  The truthfulness of the gospel is found in our church.  As a missionary, we don't just kill time for 2 years to walk around and put down good community service on a resume.  It's the real deal.  We labor to bring people in and to help them receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As the President of the church said yesterday, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the penetrating light that shines through the darkness of life."  That is what it is.  We labor so that others can receive the light and knowledge of the truth.  Where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going . . . With this perspective in mind, we are able to teach and expound on the gospel to allow others to receive a surety that they will someday come back to a Heavenly Father who truly loves us as individuals.  The truth has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  That church continues to progress on this Earth today.  I am extremely gateful to be a missionary for this church.  I hope everyone has the chance to take a look at General Conference!

This week we will be traveling to Tromsø to be on splits and perform a baptismal interview.  We will then go down to zone conference in Trondheim and then come back here to Alta.  An exciting week to look forward too!  I hope everyone has an excellent week!


Monday, September 30, 2013

The Importance of Mothers

Hello everyone!!

This week was extremely eventful.  We did not end up having the baptism - our investigator did not feel she was entirely ready to make the commitment.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to teach her though. She really cares about these decisions and the commitments of them.  It's very satisfying to see someone who really cares about all of this.  It is hard to show someone that living by faith is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants us to do.  I read a scripture this past week in Hebrews 10:31-32 which summed it up perfect for me.  It is difficult to live in the hands of the living God - but remember when your mind began to be enlightened by the truths that were taught, how much you could withstand the things of the adversary.  If we are all able to remember the moments that we have been enlightened by the truths of the gospel that are taught; that really is what feeling the Holy Ghost is.  It's an enlightenment to our understanding and it illuminates us.  Everything that has to do with this gospel is light.  As we learn, grow, and progress we obtain more light and we try to invite others to receive that light to walk through life with.  The light that the Gospel has blessed me with has meant absolutely everything for me.

A lot of our focus was on getting our investigator prepared for baptism, but as the week unfolded . . .we were still able to meet new people and to share the gospel.  I have found that I can now full conversations in Norwegian, confidently.  It's definitely a miracle, but I can do it!  The Lord has really blessed me and I feel confident in doing His will here on the Earth.  In the past week we were able to meet with a 24-year old single mother.  She grew up in a family of 13 siblings and in a very religious family (there is a Lutheran-associated sect who are very conservative and have many children up here).  We met her while knocking a few weeks ago and finally were able to meet with her.  She was a very nice woman - works as a chef here in Alta.  As we began to talk about the gospel, she became more engaged.  She was a little surprised that people like us would talk about things the way we would.  How families are a blessing that God has given us.  How we believe our prayers can be answered today.  I found a scripture that I wanted to share with her - it was in Alma 56:47-48 from the Book of Mormon.  It was when the 2000 Strippling Warriors told their leader that they would fight, trusting in God, because they saw the example their mothers made.  I asked her if she recognized the importance of her responsibility as a mother.  How it was with the help of my own mother that I have been able to trust in God in faith that serving a mission was something I needed to do.  The example of a mother is so important.  She has the opportunity to really help her son.  So we asked her to pray with her son.  It was an experience for myself that allowed me to learn and grow by teaching it.

There is another mother whose door we knocked on a few weeks back.  As we knocked on her door the first time, she became a little emotional and told us that she had lost her husband within the past year.  She has since also shared with us other experiences she has had.  We have gone back to her home, asking her if there is any service that we could do for her.  She declines - she has 2 boys and family that lives nearby.  We gave her a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation - something her boys had read to each other and they had looked some things up online about our church.  She still did not invite us in this past time, but we were able to give her another pamphlet.  I can tell her her heart has been softened to hear what we have to say and to hopefully listen sometime down the road.  She believes that God does have a plan - she didn't see it before but since her life-changing moment, she has now opened a little to it.  As a missionary we hope to find these people and to invite them to learn more and recognize that God really does love us individually.  We are sent here to this Earth for a purpose.  It is to learn and to grow so that someday we can come back to Him.  It is only through our Savior that we can come back to Him.  I am so grateful to be a representative of the Savior for people - a true blessing I never comprehended before, but now it is so real.  The love that our Heavenly Father has for each of His children is amazing.  I am grateful for every day that I get to study the gospel and share the gospel with people.  The work continues to go forward and we continue to invite people.  It is the most satisfying work I have and ever will be associated with.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

A Baptismal Date and a Friend's Mission Call

Another pretty amazing week here in Alta.  I really never thought that I would be saying that - and it has been 2 weeks straight.  The Lord has answered so many of our prayers.  Our area is currently at one of those 'areas of excellence' with regards to the numbers that we reported.  On a completely spiritual note, this is an excellent area.  The Spirit is absolutely present in the Alta/Hammerfest Branch.  It is a special place to attend church here in the most northern part of Norway.  There is only 1 Branch that is more north than us in the world (we have the most Northern missionaries in all the world).  It's unbelievable to be part of this work.  The people here are so nice.  We can stop someone on the street and have a full on conversation with them.  My language skills are improving daily.  It is very satisfying to feel and know the growth I have come to make.  I used to think I'd be serving a French speaking mission, but our Heavenly Father had something else in store for me.  So, here I am in Northern Norway speaking Norwegian and I love this country like nothing else.

To the fun stuff, we had the traveling assistants with us this past Monday and Tuesday.  The President has assigned missionaries to travel around the country and to train missionaries and companionships.  We are an extremely young mission.  We need all the help we can get, but we have gotten a tremendous amount of help.  It's by those forces seen and unseen all around us that it's happened.  With the help of the assistants we found much potential here in this area.  Much more.  They helped me to see how to become a better contacter up here in the North.  All areas are different in Norway.  My last area we relied on busses, trains, city transportation to get around.  Up here in Alta we've got a car.  There are much fewer people, the culture is much more laid back and we live out on a farm.  It's pretty special to know the contrasts, but here in the North we have found much success through contacting former investigators.  We've been knocking on doors and finding people.  One of our newest investigators this week was a woman - married with a couple children who had lost a child in the past.  At one point she had searched for answers.  'What happens to us after we die?'   She even said she was angry at God, then realized that there might have been a purpose to it.  That is why we are missionaries; we help others peace the puzzle together and help them see the truh of our message.  Next week we will be sharing the Plan of Salvation with her.  It is my most favorite lesson that we get to share with people.  Where we came from, why we are here, where are we going. . .  It was an approach I made to two teenage boys here the other day.  One of them was smoking and I spotted them from much distance.  I asked them if they wanted to know the purpose of why we are here.  Who wouldn't want to know that question?  We invited them to church, and they sort of humorously said that they would come.  They didn't show up, but I did get their number.  It is our job as missionaries to teach everyone about the truths of this gospel.  It's really quite fun!

We have a young woman we are working with.  She was a foreign exchange student in Kansas City this past year.  I wrote about her from the past week's post.  She met a young man who had introduced her to the church.  He has been visiting her for the past 2 weeks here in northern Norway. He will be going on a mission to South Korea in December, but he has had the opportunity to vacation here in the north before he gets into the real serious work.  What an opportunity and a blessing it is for him to be able to vacation here!  He has been a tremendous help.  It's been a special experience to teach his friend the gospel.  Due to members in the branch going on vacation to Spain for 2 weeks, we've been forced to change her baptismal date . . . to this week! It added an exciting twist to the work, but she was prepared before we even got her.  It really is up to her to make the choice.  We are her guides to help her prepare and progress, but we know she is ready.  So, Friday will be the day!  It is a very exciting experience.  I have not seen a single one of these on my mission.  Not that it bothers me in the least bit.  I am here to help people come closer to our Heavenly Father.  It's not an easy thing to do, but it's the most beneficial thing.  It often comes with tremendouse sacrifice,but as we sacrifice we come to learn more about what the Savior Jesus Christ did for us.  He did everything for us.  If we rely on Him throughout our days and turn to Him in prayer and faith, He will always provide.  I know He does and I am so grateful to have such a real opportunity to understand more of the sacrifice He made for us as I teach our brothers and sisters.

I will also add that I received news that a friend of mine down in Stavanger received her mission call to the London South Mission!  I am so excited to know that there are many people who continue to respond to the call.  This has been the most unbelievable experience anyone could ask for.  Through the help of the Lord, I have turned many weaknesses into strengths.  I know that I have many weaknesses.  I continue to overcome them.  My MANY weaknesses, but I know that it is only through His grace that I can overcome my weaknesses. I love the people of Norway, I love the gospel I have the opportunity to study and share every day, I love coming home tired because I knew I worked hard that day.  I love this town of Alta and the people who live and thrive here in Norway.  I am grateful to share my experiences through this blog.  As of today, I am officially 8-months through my missionary time.  Unbelievable! I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Baptism, a Baptismal Date Set, and The Northern Lights

This was a pretty special week here in Alta!  My trainee and I were blessed this week to reach the standards for 'standards of excellence' in our Area.  We worked very hard, we sacrificed, prayed a ton and found a lot of success and potential!  It really was a special week and a week full of growth.  We have many people to work with here, and also a baptismal date for a young woman who was formerly a foreign exchange student in the States.  She met a member of the church in Missouri that brought her to attend church many times.  Now that she is back in Norway, the boy has come to visit her while he is waiting for his mission call.  It came!  He is going to South Korea and she currently has a baptismal date for October!  We are helping her progress in the gospel and I extended an invitation that has served me very well in my life.  I asked her if she would keep a journal and write down thoughts and impressions.  It has been something that has served me very well in my life and she has accepted the commitment and is doing so!

I held my first district meeting the past Tuesday over Skype!  I conducted the whole meeting in Norwegian - it was a little difficult but the language is continuing to come along.  It's a bit difficult because many people like to speak English with the Elders, but here in Alta I have made a ton of progress with my language.  It's coming very well. Our district consists of us in Alta and a 3-some of elders in Tromsø.  It's pretty fun to be part of the North!

Yesterday, there was a baptism in my old area of a man whom we began teaching in Sandnes.  I know he was prepared to hear about the gospel.  He said that he had contemplated commiting suicide before and didn't really know what life was all about.  He was extremely humble and so genuine and sincere.  The week after I left, they got a baptismal date with him. He then kept himself to all of his commitments and was baptised yesterday.  There are definitely special things happening here.  They are not always the easiest to find, but they are found.  It is done through a lot of hardwork, a lot of prayer, fasting, and patience.  I would not want it any other way.

I love the work that we do.  We try to find people whom the Lord has prepared for us.  They are out there.  They are ready to receive all the blessings that our loving Heavenly Father has prepared for them.  We are ready to allow them to receive them as well.  The most special work I have ever been involved in is being here as a missionary.  There are only 20,000 people in this small town but it has so much potential.  We are literally on top of the world.  We work very hard to allow others to make commitments to our Heavenly Father which brings tremendous blessings.  I have been so blessed throughout my life and as I continually dedicate myself to this work it only keeps getting better!

I also have to add.... we saw the Northern Lights for the first time!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Serving in Northernmost Norway

I just looked on our mission website to see a 'quote of the week' from a couple weeks back. One that applies directly to me is one said by Eleanor Roosevelt:

''We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.''
With that, I just want to start by first saying I used to doubt that I could serve a mission.  I was afraid to take a step of faith and to see what the Lord could transform me into.  Here I am as the Northern-most missionary in the world and I have never had to rely on the Lord more in everything that I do. . . but I have done so, and as I have done so I have drawn closer to Him, I have learned a lot about myself, but I have also increased in my own capacity.  I have never absorbed scriptures so much, never overcome my own doubts and fears as much.  This past week I had the experience to fly from Alta to Trondheim and back.  It consisted of 6 different flights - between take-off's and landings.  As a kid growing up, I used to hate the thought of a flight.  Now as a missionary, I have to take many flights - and I'm expected to get a full day of missionary work in.  It's only been through the blessings of the Lord that I have overcome motion-sickness.  I can now fly 6 flights in a day, sit in a window seat, aisle seat, any seat and read or look out the window.  This may not seem like a big deal to people but for myself as a kid - we used to fly to France - 9 hour flights and the turbulance and everything got me incredibly sick.  Now because I have faced my fears, I serve the Lord and it's only through His grace that I am being incredibly blessed.
We serve in a city of about 20,000 people.  Some of the nicest people I've encountered while knocking on doors -not always interested of course, but it's the hours we spend knocking on doors.  Contacting so many few people on the streets  has helped me to draw closer to the Lord.  It's no longer the faster-paced Stavanger/Sandnes.  There aren't as many people out on the streets or on the gågate.  It's a small town, but it's been through my prayers and through scripture study that I've been able to derive more strength and understanding of what exactly Christ did for us.  For every single one of God's children He suffered for us.  He overcame death so that we too may do so.  I am able to share this message, and also the message that we have a living prophet that leads our church.  We believe our families can be together forever.  I am so grateful to know that as well.  It's such a comfort to know that.  As I miss my family back home, I have the opportunity to be with them forever.  It brings such a comfort and confidence to know that.  The blessings of this gospel are real and I am grateful to share that with others.  I am facing my fears as a missionary, I'd like to say I've overcome all of them to be where I am, but I've still got so much more to learn and grow.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow into what my Heavenly Father has always known I could become. I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Travels and Life in Alta, Norway

This week was very solid!  A lot of good experience, tons of flights, and a lot of exhaustion!  On Monday morning, we flew to Trondheim for a Mission Conference with Elder Kearon.  He was extremely funny and the spirit was absolutely powerful.  I don't think I've ever felt the spirit for such an extended period of time in my life.  It was very much needed and very much appreciated.  During the meeting, it was pretty crazy because he brought up a topic of discussion with us about 'being real' as a missionary . . . not as a robotic person going around and not speaking from the heart about the conviction you have about the message.  The interesting part was when he pointed to me and said something to the effect that "you have something to say about this."  To which I stood up and the many feelings and thoughts I have had about 'being real' came rushing to me.  I was pretty overcome, as 'being real' is what I have pondered on my whole life.  I couldn't hold back my emotion, but only to say that I knew that we need to be real.  As I have grown up in an area where I was one of few members of the church, the most real thing that existed was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  To be a light in a dark world is something that is empowering . . . especially in a country such as Norway - one of the most prominent 'atheist' countries.  It is a blessing to be a missionary bearing truth of the love our Heavenly Father has for us as His children.  He wants us to be happy and successful.  He just asks us to exercise a portion of faith to bring about blessings and often miracles.  I know that miracles do not cease to exist, and that there is a God who loves each and every one of us.  I am grateful to bear this message of truth.


Another experience I had this week, is when I went on splits with another missionary.  I flew to Tromsø early on Thursday meeting to conduct an interview for a baptism.  The young man was so full of faith and understanding, it was an excellent privilege to be part of.  This young man is from the Congo, he has been living in Norway for about 5 years and the stories I have heard about him are incredible.  He was told as a young man that one day he would find that truth and was advised to take it.  He believes he found the truth, and it brought the two of us together.  I shared with him experiences of the missionary work my family has had the opportunity of being part of in a tribe in Congo.  Many people are hearing the message of the Restoration of the Gospel from connections which were made over the past few years.  As I began telling him the story of the tribe, it brought a spirit which was very unique.  He was baptised this past Sunday in Tromsø.  He in fact did find the truth.

Here in Alta, the branch is small.  About 15 are in attendance each week (including the missionaries).  We have some investigators - the area was white-washed, so it's been difficult to get to know the investigators initially.  The people here are so nice when we knock on their doors.  We have had some positive success here in Alta.  Last night, we met with a man from Iceland who admires Mormons for their good work ethic and family values.  We were able to share with him the message of the Restoration and why our families are so important.  We scheduled to teach him the Plan of Salvation (my favorite teach) in a couple weeks, so we look forward to that.

A little bit about Alta . . . We are living on a farm with a family - a woman and her son, from the branch.  The son has a form of autism - but also has a perfect pitch in his musical abilities.  My trainee is pretty amazing at the piano, so they love to play the song 'Entertainer' at every chance they get!  It definitely makes for great experiences living here.  In the MTC, I'll be honest. . . I said specifically that I did not want to serve in Alta.  Of course, the Lord sends me up here!  But it's been an amazing experience thus far.  I am very grateful for it and it is a beautiful place!  I just did not want to be in the dark and cold at the time, but I am growing into my new calling!  It's the North!

I hope everyone has a great week!