Monday, July 29, 2013

Good vs. Evil

This week has been another sort of difficult one.  The work is hard and the appointments are not always followed through.  We do our part to set it up, show up, plan.  However, the adversary works hard to accomplish his work.  That, he accomplishes as well.  This message of the gospel brings peace in this life.  It is what we have to offer people.  Confidence in oneself, that a Heavenly Father loves each one of us and looks down on us every day, and tries to help us as best as He can.  I am grateful for Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for my knowledge of this gospel that has brought an extremely different dynamic to my life.  My life and this message feel like gifts to me, and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have through them.

This past week, we met with a woman who was prepared to hear this message.  This woman has no religious background. Her name is Elisabet.  We randomly met her on the street one day as she basically asked us what we could teach her about Christ - that was months ago, and now we finally met with her.  With her no religious background, she has been prepared by our Heavenly Father.  She told us that she believes that her life has been guided by God through many experiences.  She mentioned that she sees this life and good vs. evil.  Not to mention a whole lot about it, but she believes there to be angels of God and spirits of the adversary fighting against each other on this Earth.  Such can be learned.

I know that there are people all around us who are ready and willing to learn.  We, as messengers of Jesus Christ, have the opportunity to piece together the puzzle that many of these prepared people have been learning throughout their life.  It's a unique blessing that I do not take for granted.  It's a testimony to me that this work is real.  We're not out wasting time pretending to accomplish things for an unseen being.  There is a God, He does love each one of us, and He wants us to be happy and successful.  The best way we can be most happy is by following His commandments - they are a framework and a guide to help us live happy, successful lives.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Relationship With The Book of Mormon

This week was a bit of a difficult one!  We had appointments with investigators and some of them didn't show up!  However, we were blessed, nonetheless.  We went out and contacted and knocked on doors.  We did our part to invite others.  We knocked on a door this week of a Filipino woman who had just moved here about a month ago with her family. We were able to return later in the week to share a bit of the Restoration of the Gospel and to give her a Book of Mormon in her native language.  What a blessing it is to be able to reach languages from all over the world.  The Book of Mormon being translated so that all can come closer to Christ, learn of Him and His restored gospel.  We were able to get some new investigators and we are hoping that in the weeks to come, those new investigators will blossom into a more promising role.

As a missionary, you go through hard times.  You can have much success - family at home being blessed, learning a new language, new culture, learning yourself to a greater degree.  However, through all of it, there are still hardships that come. The only hardship I speak of is the let down that comes as people miss their appointments.  You have this amazing plan to teach people.  It gives guidance, assurance, peace, happiness, everything - but people forget about it because the business that life brings.  If we take a small portion of our day just to read, pray, and listen to the promptings we receive - life will be more simple, and more peaceful.

I know that this Restored Gospel is truth.  I know that miracles have not ceased to exist on this Earth.  I know that as we exercise faith and hope, greater things can come into fruition in our lives.  I am 2 chapters away from finishing the Book of Mormon again!  What a blessing it is.  The first time that I read the book, I was 15 years old in France.  One summer, we were there for a month visiting family, and I thought to myself "what can I do to fill my time?" I read the whole Book of Mormon that summer.  My 15-year old mind could not comprehend what it was even about.  I just knew I felt a spiritual strength and a desire to be better.  Since  that experience, I have read that book - I continue to read it.  Before my mission, I made a commitment to myself that I would read a portion of the book every day; whether it was a good day or a bad day.  It has brought consistency.  Now I find myself as a missionary, in Norway, inviting others to experience the same consistency and blessings that come from that book.  I know it is powerful.  I know it is true.  I am so grateful for it in my life and I hope that others will come to find the same happiness I have experienced through it.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Livet er Vakkert

Hello everyone!!

What an amazing week it is!!!  I will first start with an amazing missionary story.  Last Sunday, a family in the ward made an appointment for us to invite an investigator of ours to dinner. The family and this 21-year old guy have been friends for quite some time.  We hadn't had dinner at their home yet, it was actually through another member in the ward how we found this guy.  Maybe a little complicated, but two families in the ward know this investigator, which it results in the best missionary success.  So we had dinner with the family (parents are converts in their youth) and the investigator.  After the dinner, we invited him to learn about the Plan of Salvation.  After the first part, in which we tell that we actually lived with our Heavenly Father before this life, he responded with, "this sounds familiar" and that he had already believed that.  It sort of caught us off-guard.  They talk about 'people being prepared' but this much . . . So we continued through the Plan and answered many questions.  At the end of it, we shared with him 'his potential' as a Son of God.  He had already had the belief that we teach.  He was literally prepared.

So, our investigator went home that night.  Apparently, he talked about our church the rest of the night with his friend.  The next day, we had a sport activity in which he attended.  The following Sunday, he brought his best friend to Sacrament Meeting.  Of course, the talks were all based on nothing other than the Plan of Salvation.  The friend of his who originally referred us to him - gave a talk on that subject.  It was unbelievable, just to see the hand of the Lord in the work!  It is such an uplifting feeling to know that people are prepared.  They are our friends and neighbors.  We just need to have the faith to invite them, then miracles can happen.

Speaking of miracles to happen . . . My sister who was going through IVF, is pregnant.  I came on my mission to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and also to witness miracles.  That I am doing.  I am a witness to everyone that my Heavenly Father lives.  He knows us.  He loves us. He wants us to be happy and to have success.  We just need to exercise our faith in Him.  However big or small that will be, He will reward us for that.

Another amazing thing to report on is the engagement of two of my amazing friends!  Jessica Pool and Richard Mulnix!  That is another miracle which has come to pass.  I knew that it would happen, I just didn't know how.  Just as I didn't exactly know when my Heavenly Father wanted me to be a missionary; I started getting unmistakable impressions and now I am here.  I witness that our Heavenly Father only wants the best for us.  We will never go through trials that are big enough for us to overcome.  A scripture that has taken a lot of meaning to me comes in Luke 22:31-32. "After we have become converted to the Lord, he desires us to strengthen our brethren."  That is what I am here to do as a missionary.  I have been converted.  I know that my Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us.  If we exercise faith in Him and His Son Jesus Christ, we can become instruments in His hands and witness unbelievable miracles!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Importance of Youth

Hi everyone!! 

I am sorry that this week will have a shortage of responses to my e-mails, but we just got done hiking Preikestolen again here in Stavanger!  What a beautiful country I serve in . . . it is completely unbelievable to be here!  Today was an unbelievable day and it was so perfect to hike to the top.  Hopefully, the pictures do a little justice to what we just experienced.  We were able to hike with the youth in the ward which is so great.  I love the relationships we have built with the youth here in Stavanger.  The youth are so important - so unique and amazing.  I feel like they are the younger siblings that I have never had.  I get to serve them, encourage them, and sometimes teach.  Yesterday at church, we held a 'mini-MTC' for the first 2 hours of church.  We got to explain to the youth that they are highly valued by us when they come on splits.  Something that the mission is trying to encourage very much is having the youth on teaches.  This builds relationships, the Spirit, and our teacher skills as missionaries.  It is a complete win-win-win.  The experience that we had was special.  We got to ask the youth to share their simple testimony on prayer.  They did so, which brought about a special spirit in the gym.  It was then followed up by a fast-and-testimony meeting which made for an excellent Sunday.

This past week, we had some great teaches.  There was a man that we taught whose home was filthy.  We walked in and you could just sense the disconnect this man was experiencing.  One of the first things he told us was, "I drink, and drink, and drink because there is an emptiness that I have."  The gospel fills that.  I know it.  It was such a great privilege to sit and talk with this man who you could just envision experiencing a change in his life that would allow him to fill that void.  The gospel does that.  The Book of Mormon does that.  We left him with that book and our testimonies.  He said, "I know you guys don't just go around and tell about a fairy tale and Joseph Smith."  He is right.  It isn't a fairy tale.  It happened. Joseph Smith really did pray to Heavenly Father to find out truth, and because Heavenly Father loves him - He visited Joseph.  He answered his question and gave him truth that we can share with the world.  The experience that we have as missionaries, to share this gospel and to build up wards - is unbelievable!  I am grateful every day to be a missionary and I hope that everyone shares in the experience to share this gospel with their friends in order to further the work.

I thank you all for the support you have given me thus far.  I have needed it and I am so grateful to wear the badge that I do, and represent who I do.  This work is real and it can touch the lives of many if we open our mouths.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Many Miracles at Home and Here in Norway.

Hello everyone!!

I am so grateful for the letters I have received this week!  Excellent miracles from home, my mom had a hip replacement over a month ago - she is doing a lot better.  My sister is currently going through IVF cycles (ironically, my dad is an Infertility Specialist) - and she has absolutely highlighted my week.  I am so grateful for the Lord's blessings during my time of serving Him.  I also received letters of encouragement.  I just want to thank everyone for those, it is not always easy to be a missionary - and to be reminded and supported by loved ones back home is an absolute blessing to me.  Like my mom said in her letter this past week, "You are living in a postcard . . . not that everything is always easy going inside it, I'm sure."  That is a truth, but the real truth is that as I spend this time serving the Lord and His children here in Norway, my family is directly blessed - I know they are being taken care of.

This past week we had very exciting teaches. We were able to teach the second half of the Plan of Salvation to a man whom we met on the street contacting.  The Plan of Salvation encompasses where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going after this life.  If you have never had the chance to learn about this plan, please contact the missionaries, it gives purpose and meaning to this life.  It has helped me to understand who I am and why it is important for me to share this gospel with others.  Back to the story . . . We shared this plan with a man who was raised in another faith, and attended a religious boarding school.  We shared many scriptures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon with him, to help him to see the truthfulness of this plan.  As we concluded the teach, you can tell the light that we are able to share with this man.  He is very receptive, laid back and relaxed.  As soon as we parted ways he gives me a very strong handshake, almost felt like he was going to break my wrist.  I know that he had felt the influence of the Spirit, and it brings me great joy to help others on their path through this life.

We met another man on the street contacting.  His story blew my mind.  Missionaries will often talk about 'there are people out there, prepared to hear this message.'  I had not quite found someone like that, until we met with this man yesterday.  He sat down with us in the harbor of Sandnes, right next to the Kulturhus (if you can imagine huge mountains in the background, the ocean next to us and many people out walking around, birds flying around - such a beautiful place this is).  We sat down with this man, introduced ourselves, then we asked about him.  He tells us that he was born in Africa, raised one faith - converted to Christianity after he joined the army.  Then, by his own government, was thrown in jail for 3 years because he was baptized.  He met a man in the jail who helped him flee the jail, and the country.  He has eventually found himself here in Norway.  We met him on the street, just as he was on the way to the hospital to be with his sister who had just birthed a baby. We shared the Book of Mormon with this man, told him we have a living prophet and living apostles here on the Earth . . . just like the original church that Christ established.  He said that he felt like one of the Disciples of Christ who were persecuted.  He was and they were too.  The authority that once led Christ's church had been taken from the Earth.  It is now reestablished through Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon is evidence of that.  At the conclusion of this teach, the man said that all he knew about Christ, was taught to him from one of his friends in Africa.  That has since led him here.  Now we are telling him more . . . and there is more to share!  He said he needed to hear all about it.  He needs to know, and he needs us to teach him.  So we will, it is our job, and it is a great joy to be a part of this work.

I know that this work is real.  The Plan of Salvation is for all of us on this Earth.  I know that God really has called a living prophet for our time, his name is President Thomas S. Monson.  He has 12 Apostles who help lead and guide His church.  Christ is the center of our church, and I am grateful for the Atonement that He performed for me and every inhabitant on this Earth.  If it weren't for that Atonement, I know that I would not be able to serve a mission, or even be His missionary.  However, for some reason, he sees me fit to perform His work here on the Earth.  I am grateful to know that we are all children of God, and that we are individually loved by Him.