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  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!