Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Norwegians Cherish Their Families

Hello all!!

This week has flown by!  I am beginning to feel even more comfortable here in Norway and slowly getting over the effects of jet lag, still.  Crazy - but 3 weeks ago from today I was sitting on a plane flying out here to Norway!  I am here now and still can't speak the language, but am constantly improving and getting a better ear for it.  The best part is, we have been teaching many lessons. Possibly why it feels like the time just flies by.  Just this past Tuesday, I was able to go up to Haugesund where I was on splits with District Leader Elder Johnson.  I learned a ton from him, rode my first ferry in Norway, saw a beautiful city, and got involved in helping with the work up there.  The next day we had a little adventure where I almost forgot all my books and other things at the apartment - so I missed my return ferry and took a bus home instead.  It was a fun adventure, but I ended up getting back into Stavanger around 9:30 in time to get ready for the next day.

We have been working hard in Sandnes, many appointments, and we've been trying to contact and knock with a 'Families Can Be Together Forever Approach' and it is quite successful.  Norwegians love their families and it is very apparent with the reactions we get.  We had an excellent conversation with a woman I smiled and waved to while she was walking her dog, and she just wanted to start talking with us.  It's an excellent opportunity to be a missionary - many people recognize the good we are trying to serve the world.  It inspires hope and it is so great to be on the right side of the work.  I have to say that I really do love my calling and that being called to Norway was just the icing on the cake, essentially. 

Today, we had a good time at the Oil Museum here in Stavanger, I am attaching many pictures from my experience.  I hope you all enjoy!  I am very grateful for all the positive support and responses that I get from friends and family back home.  You are all truly a blessing to me and I know and feel your love!  I'm so grateful to be able to represent the church and my family!  I hope you all have an excellent week!

Eldste Holden

Our Zone at a recent Zone Conference

Tribute to Harald Hardrada - King of Norway

Monday, March 18, 2013

2nd Week in Norway and Norwegian

Hello everyone!!

I am grateful for this opportunity I get to write everyone and share what I have been up to here in Norway!  This week was great, as I am starting to overcome jet lag and even starting to understand the language!  This week was a solid one, we had a few teaches.  We are teaching many diverse people which is excellent, some from Brazil and some from Norway.  We tracted into a guy from Venezuela the other day which was an awesome experience.  It's been really cool to feel my growth and get more acclimated with the language.

Language - I have had some comments from the natives telling me that they are impressed with my language skills.  I really have been getting better every day and I think yesterday at church I understood close to 70% of the discussions and meetings at church.  It's an absolute blessing from the Lord to have the Gift of Tongues.  It's a real thing, because I tried studying French for 5 years and it never clicked the way this does.  I am so grateful for it.

Zone Conference - Saturday we had Zone Conference with the western part of the mission.  I got to meet tons of missionaries and we had about 18 missionaries total, in our apartment here in Stavanger.  It was great to become acquainted with each one of them and to feel the Spirit that other missionaries possess.  I look forward to the day where I become more adjusted to the lifestyle.  My mission president told me that I was a little impatient (I just work very hard at trying to understand the language).  Overall, it's been helping me a lot!

We have many teaching appointments.  We have been getting to know and love the members more.  There are some excellent families here in Stavanger and I love the experience and opportunity I have to meet them.  It's exciting to get the feeling of loving random strangers and trying to assist them in their relationship with Christ.

Crazy experience - Yesterday we went to meet with a man to give him a Book of Mormon (Mormons Bok here in Norway).  Turns out he brought a friend with him and they were trying to dispute our faith.  I sat and relied on the Spirit to discern what he had to say, and just testified of the truth and change the Book of Mormon can bring to one's life.  I told him that I was not forced to go on this mission.  I stated that I am 22-years old and it was by my absolute own desire, and that I know that book can change lives.  I testified boldly to him of the truth of it.  He told me he respected my testimony of it and we ended up leaving them as he tried to dispute other things.  They took the book and I challenged him to read it.  He may not ever do it, but I am grateful for the opportunity to testify of truths.  It really is an experience to be a part of this.  To have personal study at 8 am every morning, where I get to read and study scriptures that give me guidance and hope in a world that lacks it.  It brings a light and strength in my life that I couldn't find anywhere else.  There really is a power through faith that I have come to understand through a study and love of service.  I am grateful for all of the support that I am able to receive and I hope that you all are praying to strengthen your own faith.  It is a humble beginning on a path to great happiness.

Thank you all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

First Post From Norway

Hello everyone!

I just got to Norway this past Tuesday.  My first day in Norway (Wednesday) was spent in Øslo, Norway where we hung out at the Mission Home, were a little spoiled - but had some minor training. It's great to be a part of this work and also very humbling!  After a crazy day of jet lag - we all separated to our different areas.  Thursday, I was flown over to Stavanger (where I am currently living) but am serving in the area of Sandnes.  At this moment it is the 'hot spot' of the mission where we are currently teaching several investigators.  The first night, we went knocking on doors where I tried my best at some Norwegian and had many new experiences.  There was one man who did take a Book and we scheduled a return appointment, however he later canceled.  It is great to be a part of the work though.  A lot of good people to work with and very cool culture to be adjusting to.  Needless to say it is an adventure!  Since the first day - we have had different experiences contacting, teaching lessons, and everything missionary related.  I live right by Stavanger Sentrum (right by a center lake for those of you who want to look it up on Google Maps).  The mission is looking at getting us situated with an apartment in our area of Sandnes - we'll see how that is all worked out.

My first Sunday here, yesterday, we attended church where everything was in a different language.  It was pretty different for me obviously but I look forward to being able to speak and converse with people in the language of Norwegian.  Funny thing is that when you get in on an appointment - people want to speak English with you.  So you contact in Norwegian and eventually it turns into English and it sort of feels like cheating but until I am up to par with my Norwegian I will take it.  It's very cold here!  A little windy, but in my area (the west) it hardly gets snow, so there is no snow.  It was beautiful flying into the apartment here because there are many islands all around.  As I was initially flying into the country and was here, it was cool to see many snowy hills, farms, and everything all around.  It's very unique to be here.  I look forward to being more situated here, but it really is an adventure.  An adjustment I was not expecting was to be getting used to wearing a badge out in public.  You get some funny looks but I think I feel just as awkward as the people looking at me feel when they look at me.  I will get adjusted to it soon and it will be exciting to get used to.  I am excited to be a servant of the Lord, but I have some shoes to grow into while being here.  I hope everyone is doing very well at home!  I am here safe, working hard, and getting adjusted.  I love you all and I appreciate your love, encouragement, and support!


Eldste Holden

PS - When I look in the faces of women here in Norway, I see my Aunt Mary and Aunt Vicki's face in the women sometimes.  It's CRAZY crazy to see.  Especially Aunt Mary - you can just see how Norwegian she is, but I've seen some Vicki lookalikes too!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


An email from President Evans:

Thought you would enjoy these pics.  Elder Holden is doing great and now working in his new area in Sandnes, on the west coast.  Very impressed with him!

President Evans

The best method of contacting Elder Holden is via email:

As you know, Elder Holden flew to Norway and is now getting settled and situated.  More details will be posted soon.