What an amazing time of Christmas it was here in Norway!! This past week, the work was so slow because absolutely no one goes outside! We were able to spend much time with the members - welcoming the Spirit in many different activities! We sang carols one night in city Sentrum and passed out Books of Mormon. We opened gifts and had many delicious dinners with families!
My absolute favorite part of it all, though, was the time I got to Skype with my family! I was able to see my parents and siblings on the screen! It was so nice to feel like I picked up right where I left off with them, but only with a few hundred more spiritual experiences that have shaped me in the last year. I feel that this time has been the best time of growth for me and that this has been the perfect time for me to serve as a missionary. I would not have been able to receive so many insights on life and myself, had I not chosen to serve a mission as a 22-24 year old. I absolutely love the time I have here to serve, and it will only continue to grow.
This past Sunday, we received a moves call and found out that my companion will be moving to Trondheim to be with my old MTC companion, Elder Skinner! He is going to have an amazing time with Elder Skinner - he was one of my favorites and continues to be! I'm a little jealous of the companionship - 2 of my favorite missionaries combined! I will be receiving a companion, Elder Lane, from Arizona. I have met Elder Lane one time and I remember him telling me something to the effect that I was 'as old as his brother' (I typically get that). However, I understand more and more WHY I am here at such a point in time. As an older missionary, I realize the importance I have to 'be an example'. Our mission is extremely young. At one point, over 60% of missionaries here had been out for less than 6 months. It is extremely important to set the tone for these guys and to expect that we can achieve special things here on this mission. Miracles will be had.
This past Saturday, we had a Zone Conference where we talked about the upcoming 2014. We talked about the goals we expect to accomplish and what we need to do in order to accomplish them. Sister Evans taught us about the importance of setting goals. It has been something that has always driven me. I always want to accomplish something that will allow me to feel satisfied. It is through goals that allow us to stretch and reach for something greater than what we achieve. She pointed something out that has really stuck with me in the past several days: 'When we set goals and work to achieve them - we also need to be willing to suffer through whatever it takes in order to accomplish that goal.' I immediately began to think about goals I have once pondered on in the past. There was a point that I was not willing to suffer everything in order to come on a mission. I always knew that rejection, to the extent that we face here on this mission would be a part of my experience. As I began to experience the miracles that God performed around me at the time, I decided to serve a mission - it empowered me to be where I am today.
I face another year of the unexpected here on the mission. However, with my willingness to suffer through whatever is laid before me, I know that I get to understand a little more of the compassion that Jesus Christ has for each one of us. I know that He has suffered everything we have gone through in this life. I know that He allows us to trust in Him in order to reach higher goals, even those that we never even knew we could accomplish. It is always through our faith that our Heavenly Father blesses us. I know that miracles are brought to pass according to our faith. I know that He will always help us walk by faith when we do all that we can do. I know that He is the head of this work and that we can experience the blessings He has in store for us when we really trust in Him!