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!