Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last P-Day in the MTC

Hello everyone!

It is my last P-Day here at the MTC. We leave Monday afternoon at 12:30. Unfortunately, 3 of the 15 missionaries were unable to get Visas so we now will have 12 missionaries in our outgoing group. I'm not entirely sure how the whole visa process works out but I feel bad for my companion Eldste Skinner. He is one of them, but he will be a stud wherever he is temporarily reassigned to. This has been a special week. We were able to have our last teach with an investigator (our teacher posing as an investigator) and we taught of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith as a prophet. It was a pretty special moment for me because I never really experienced the Spirit through my own teaching. It was a growing and learning moment. Very unique. A couple days ago we were able to go to a devotional in which the apostle, M. Russell Ballard, spoke at. The Spirit was so strong in the meeting, as he walked in the room of the gym/devotional, everyone stood and he exuberated an undeniable spirit that he was an apostle of the Lord. Something I can never forget. In the same meeting, my companion and I sang in the choir (with a couple hundred other missionaries). Even though I'm not a singer at all, it was a pretty cool experience.

I am grateful for all the letters I received this week! Unfortunately, I do not have the time to respond to every single one. I will respond to everyone as I am flying on my planes out to Norway. Packing and everything has consumed my day so it's been a bit hectic today.

I was able to host this week again. It was a pretty awesome experience again. I hosted 4 different missionaries, which means I just brought them to their various dorms and classrooms and wish them luck. I got to explain what I know about the MTC and it was a pretty fun experience. During the event, I was able to talk with a sister who was volunteering. She was a mother of some boys, one of which she explained was going to move to Chicago. I then remembered a guy who I met in the Chicago Temple once and dropped his name because thought she might know him. Turns out she does so she is going to let her son know so that he might not be lonely in Chicago as his moves out there.

So now for a story that my mom will not like. Yesterday was my last day of gym here at the MTC. I've done an excellent job of not getting hurt. I didn't play basketball because I figured I would roll an ankle. So instead, I played volleyball and 4-square (yeah elementary school-like but we have fun with it). Anyways, I went up to block a spike that a sister from my district was about to hit. As I jumped up, another sister from our other Norwegian District accidentally hip checked me and I ended up landing straight onto my tailbone. I felt an unbelievable amount of pain in my whole body and managed to get to my knees. I didn't move because I was in such pain. One of the trainers came over and asked me some questions. I was in so much pain I could hardly respond to her. So she brought me into the training room gave me some ice and I just waited out the rest of my last gym day. But the most amazing part of it all, as soon as it happened, I thought I wasn't going to be able to go to Norway because of this freak accident. Then I thought I needed a priesthood blessing. I asked the elders in my district to give me a blessing and they did. Not even 24 hours later I am walking around hardly feeling a thing. I fell from pretty high and I am extremely fortunate for the condition I am in. I just know that priesthood blessings work and that there is a certain individual who does not want me in Norway. But I will be safely traveling there on Monday, so I look forward to it!

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. I just went to the temple here in Provo for the last time. There is no temple in Norway (for now) and I look forward to being a part of the work to bring one to be. I am blessed to have an amazing family, and an excellent support group of friends. I know this is the best work I can be a part of and I hope that everyone, everywhere is able to exercise their faith in whatever degree they choose to.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Flight Itinerary

So I just got my travel itinerary. We're flying out of Salt Lake at 12:30 PM on March 4.  Flying to Dallas TX.  From Dallas, we fly to London where we have a 8:40 AM - 1:00 PM layover, and then we fly to Oslo where we arrive at 4:10 PM on March 5th. So it's about to be official and I'm about to be up on my Oslo flow here soon. I'm pretty relieved, I can't wait to get out the MTC and living in Norrrrway.  We just got it and I just wanted to fill you guys in! I'm almost there!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Norway is Getting Closer and Closer!

Hello everyone!

I am approaching single digits for the days left in the MTC. I am expected to leave March 4th from here. If you can't tell, I think I've mentioned March 4th several times. It's an exciting thing to be approaching because the MTC can be overwhelming, stuck between cement walls, eating sort of gross food. But I hear in Norway we eat tons of hot dogs and frozen pizzas (but it IS Norwegian). This past week has been another success. The group going to Denmark has already left so we are approaching the older stages of the MTC. Because we are the older ones, we were asked to be hosts/direct traffic in the drop-off area of the MTC. So I got to wear a bright neon jacket directing traffic (unfortunately I didn't have my camera). It was a little sad to see families leave their missionaries, and made me think of my parents dropping me off. I like to think it was more of a happy thing to drop me here. This has been a blessing already for my family. I get to pray for each one of my family members every night, as a missionary, and I know my prayers have already been answered. I am excited to hear from back home. Don't think that I get homesick if you tell me about your families, it just makes me more excited because I know how vital this Gospel is to everyone and I see the blessings through your letters. I am grateful for this experience. I would like to thank Jim and Robin VanderRoest, they sent me a little package last week but I wasn't able to thank them in my letter back because I didn't realize I had a package from them. So thank you Jim and Robin!

Yesterday, one of the sisters in our district got a call from the mission president. He told her she would be serving in the west coast of Norway, and she would be driving a car. Exciting thing to hear, knowing we're approaching our arrival very soon! I only have one more P-Day in the MTC. Then it's off to "living in a postcard". I am so excited to be in Norway to have the opportunity to serve in my very own area. I know I will be terrible at the language (as we practiced mock-street contacting a couple days ago in Norwegian, and I wasn't good) but I know that the Lord will bless me. I am just being actively engaged in trying to learn the language, but have been blessed with a patience to try an learn the language. Usually I would get frustrated. But my goal is to focus on the investigators, try and meet their needs through scriptures that we prepare, and then give them the message we have prepared. I have already seen the blessing that it is to prepare to meet the need. I have come to understand the scriptures more and that has helped me to learn more about the Gospel of Christ.

I have to say that there is no bigger uphill climb I could be facing in learning the language, refining my street contacting skills, living up to being a missionary, etc. But I know that I can do all these things only because I am doing Heavenly Father's work and representing Jesus Christ on this Earth. There is no bigger privilege than this and no better place I would rather be. I do miss my family but I know that this sacrafice is one in which will bless them. I am grateful for that and I love my family and friends more than anything in this world. I greatly appreciate all your support and I pray for you all. I know prayers are answered and I hope that everyone continues to pray fervently, because you will all be blessed. I look forward to filling you in on my travel plans next week! I hope you all enjoy the pictures!


Eldste Holden

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Over the (MTC) Hump

I am officially over the hump at the MTC.  I am a little grateful for it too.  The MTC is getting more and more packed, which makes it difficult to get a seat in the Sunday and Tuesday Night Devotionals (the best part of being here).  We have some excellent firesides which motivate me to get out into the field and do some work.  I am getting more excited to get to my first area.  I am making it a goal of mine to introduce myself on my first Sunday in my first area, regardless of how much I humiliate myself.  It'll just be the right way to start off the official mission part.  Here at the MTC, my district is very solid.  We are all getting really excited to get to Norway.  We have 3 different teachers who tell us some pretty amazing stories about their Norway experiences.  They say prepare to eat a lot of hot dogs because that is what we'll be eating tons of.  Apparently missionaries have had bad experiences with fish so members rarely are fed that, but I will still have some experiences.  I recently also found out that there are a lot of African Refugees in Norway.  This is quite exciting for me (I thought I was going to be called to a French speaking, African country).  Except I have been called to "the best country in the world" which I am beginning to believe.  The pictures may have to speak for me.  We continue to learn more about the people and we met a sister who is from Norway here at the MTC, she is serving in Greece.  She told us about her hometown and if my companion or myself are called to that area she will have a couple people we can teach.  It is exciting times to be a missionary as so many people are joining us from everywhere for the common goal.  It's a great thing to be a part of and a complete honor to wear this badge.

A little Norwegian to share... Jeg heter Eldste Holden, jeg kommer fra Illinois, jeg er en misjonaerer fra Jesu Kristi Kirke Av Siste Dagers Hellige.  

I hope all is well everywhere else! Thank you to my parents and Stephanie for the Valentine's Day gifts. Happy Valentine's Day to all, best one yet! Enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

MTC: Already 1/3 Complete!

Everything is good here at the MTC, we're working hard and learning the Norwegian language.  The past week has been excellent.  Days fly by really quickly around here and we have about 25 days left until we actually fly to Norway.  Some of the best days here are Sundays and Tuesdays, because we have Firesides at night where we get the chance to listen to a General Authority or a successful individual.  The Spirit that is present in those meetings is pretty powerful and it's a great experience to be able to be a part of those meetings.  It's pretty crazy here at the MTC because more and more missionaries are being called and accepting callings.  It seems like almost half of the missionaries here are now sister missionaries.  Not a very common thing with experiences I have heard in the past, but it adds a great balance.  My district has been very solid.  This past Sunday we had a Testimony Meeting during Sacrament and everyone in my district went up and bore testimony.  I told them that I felt like a "proud parent".  I really am proud to be District Leader of an exceptional group of missionaries.  We work very hard and encourage each other to succeed.  We are now starting to teach "investigators" here at the MTC, they really are just our teachers posing as investigators.  It's a great experience to try and teach the Gospel - Faith in Christ, Repentance, Baptism, and Receiving the Holy Ghost.  We are not allowed to bring in any notes in any sort of language so our Norwegian is definitely tested as we try to teach.  Needless to say, it is a humbling experience, but we are able to work hard and try to accomplish great things.  The MTC is crowded, all for a good cause and we constantly hear that it is an exciting time to be a missionary.  That it is.  Hope all is well all over.

'Eldste' Holden

Treats from the Ellsworths - which were very much appreciated!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Eldste Holden in the MTC

Here are some pictures from my first week in the MTC.  Within 30 minutes of checking in to the MTC, they threw us in to learning the language.  Day by day, it's becoming easier for me to learn and understand.

My companion . . . Elder Skinner  -- he's a really cool guy from San Diego

The work is busy but we are learning a lot!