Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
A turn of events here in the last leg of my mission - instead of going to Romerike, I was called the night before I moved and was told I'd serve back in Sandvika instead! So, back I went to my previous Ward, this time serving with Elder Allen. I was looking forward to traveling to the area my ancestors come from, but instead find myself here! Of course, it leads me to think, "Alright, what does the Lord need me for for a second time?"
He Is The Gift
Just before I left Oslo, I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a woman who was just diagnosed with cancer for the second time. After the blessing was completed, she put her face in her hands and cried. She thanked us for coming over and sharing in the Spirit with her. We concluded by reading a chapter from the Book of Mormon, where Christ comes to visit the people. As we passed the book around, she could hardly stop herself from reading the whole chapter by herself.
Last night, we had a pretty cool experience. We had dinner with a family here in Sandvika. During our conversation, it came up that my mom was from a small town in Eastern France where she originally joined the church. The family told me that they had a son who had served in that very town. They mentioned that they stayed with a family years back - a family who had a lot of kids and the wife decorated eggs. I shouted, "DET ER TANTEN MIN!!!" "That's my aunt!!" I was so excited that they had met my family! They then shared pictures that had my uncle in them! It was so crazy!!
It was one of those experiences where Heavenly Father was reminding me that He is mindful of where I am. There have been several experiences I've had like this on my mission. I generally tell people I am from Chicago in passing, but sometimes it comes out that the very people I meet have been to or even come from Rockford, IL. I was so amazed at the one time when I spoke to a man on the street - he said, "My wife is from Rockford" and I was shocked and said, "THAT'S WHERE I'M FROM!" I am certainly confident that our Heavenly Father knows exactly where we are, what we're going through, and who we are to become.
This Christmas, we are focusing on "He Is The Gift" which is being shared by our church. The church has made a powerful 3-minute film reminding us of what the true meaning of Christmas really is all about. Attached is a link to the film, so that all can see:
Just before I left Oslo, I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a woman who was just diagnosed with cancer for the second time. After the blessing was completed, she put her face in her hands and cried. She thanked us for coming over and sharing in the Spirit with her. We concluded by reading a chapter from the Book of Mormon, where Christ comes to visit the people. As we passed the book around, she could hardly stop herself from reading the whole chapter by herself.
This Christmas, it is such a blessing to be able to share The Gift of Jesus Christ. It has been the greatest blessing to me, to be able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone here in Norway. I love this land and I love this work - this is such a special thing to be part of! I hope everyone is able to enjoy The Gift this Christmas!
Monday, December 8, 2014
Only about a month more to go!
With the time winding down, I've still been trying to give it my best! It's been so strange coming here to Oslo and to only be here for a couple weeks. This week, I will be moving to my final area, Romerike. One missionary needed to go home early because of an injury - so it has caused some changes in callings. This has resulted in me being moved to Romerike to be in a threesome for my last 4 weeks! It'll be exciting! Romerike hasn't had a a baptism in 5 years. I'm very excited to see if we can get a Christmas miracle in right before I leave to go home.
This past week, we had a couple special moments. We taught a couple - the woman's back was hurting so we gave her a priesthood blessing. It was quite special to do. It was our first time teaching them and they were very open to our message! They asked about the differences between our church and other churches. Since she will be studying medicine, I compared the authority in our church to that of a doctor - a doctor who has the education and is certified has the right to practice medicine. One would not just go to a medical student who may be very knowledgeable about these things - they need to right to know these things. The couple then said, "Now that you put it that way, we understand!" It's so fun to teach using analogies.
The same day, we taught a young guy from Iceland who is very open to our message. We stopped him on the street to talk to him about the meaning of life. We set up an appointment for the next day. We taught him how to pray. He was asking so many incredible questions like, "How do I know when I get an answer?" and was very sincere in his search. We shared with him a scripture that the purpose of life is to find joy. It confirmed what he had said to us on the street - his thought on the meaning of life. He was very grateful for it and said, "I have to sleep on this now." It's so great to hear about his desire to know!
This week, I'll be moving to Romerike, but it's so nice to know that every day is worth it. As long as we give our best to the right cause - in the Lord's work - it makes all the difference. I'm so grateful for the gospel in my life. It has changed absolutely everything in regards to my life. I love the Lord and His ways. I hope everyone experiences the joy that this gospel brings!
Monday, December 1, 2014
This week was quite exciting! I was sent to Oslo to serve with my new companion, Elder Parkinson! I have very little time left here on the mission, but recently, it has been very exciting to be going around and sharing the gospel!
This past week, I served half in Sandvika and half in Oslo. We found a lot of different people to teach - both from knocking on doors and by contacting on the streets. It has been quite an adjustment to get back to full-time finding. However, as I ponder on the thoughts of the experiences I've had from working closely with President Evans, I am so grateful to have seen his example. He is an extremely focused man and has a deep care for the missionaries to whom he serves. I have a lot of respect for his example, and I am grateful that I've been sent here to be a missionary to learn from him.
The best lesson I feel that I've learned from him - is consecration. Through his example, and by the spiritual thoughts that he has shared; they have helped me to understand how to not only sacrifice, but to follow the Lord in His example. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have in serving here in Norway - it has been the greatest blessing that I've been able to enjoy!
I hope everyone has a great week!
Monday, November 24, 2014
Unfortunately, this upcoming week, Elder Skinner and I will be broken up again! Last week, we prepared a moves game plan, purchased plane and train tickets. After all of the administrative work, we finally were able to get to the streets! It felt so good to be out!
At one point, we were out knocking on some doors in a particular area. When Elder Skinner looked at an area of houses, we decided we were going to knock the doors - no success, but Elder Skinner just wanted to keep going! We ended up walking across this busy street and walking to a highly unlikely area. He was determined to keep going. He found a neighborhood to keep knocking and we made our way up. Along the way, we were laughing and thinking, "Where in the world are we?!" Eventually, we knocked on the door of a family of Christians. They wanted us to come back and help with some service! It was quite cool! As we were walking back to our car, we crossed paths with a man who told us that he was a member of the church . . . I experience instances like these time and time again, and I know that this work is Heavenly Father's - He just allows us to be part of it and witness that He really is real!
This week, I will be moving to Oslo to serve with Elder Parkinson. He is formerly from Minnesota, so we get to be a solid Midwest connection! I look forward to serving with him, he's an up-and-coming stud in the mission! It'll be fun to spend some time in Oslo - the big city of Norway with plenty of people to talk to!!
I am quite content with the mission that I have been blessed with. We still have some quality time left here, but I am constantly thinking about how blessed I have been to serve in this beautiful land - at this perfect time. I keep learning more and more from my Mission President and I realize that I was sent to this mission to learn from him. I admire his decisions to diligently serve in faith. I have been so blessed here by a loving Heavenly Father - whom I have come to know and desire nothing more than to serve Him to the best of my abilities. I know that we are all children of God - sent here to be tried and proven. It's not always easy, but as long as we listen to the small promptings He blesses us with, we will succeed in this journey!
Monday, November 17, 2014
This week I'd just like to share something that has been incredible to me! Since the beginning of my mission, I have been praying that my brother Shane would go on his own mission. A few months ago, he received a call to serve in the Daejeon South Korea mission! This past weekend he was set apart as a missionary and this week he will be entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT! It has been a miracle to me! Heavenly Father has answered my prayers. The answers have been so distinct and so direct, that I know that my prayers are heard!
This past week Elder Skinner and I caught eye of an area where we felt we needed to knock on doors. It was just off the highway (as we were driving home from dropping some of the missionaries off). We decided to knock on doors that night. We found some people who were interested and asked us to come back last night. We did so and continued to knock in that area. We found a family where the mother had been baptized into the church in the Philippines. She let us into her home and we discovered that she has a family - her mother a member, and her children never having heard of the church. Their son, Shane, told us that he believed in Christ because of the things he had heard about Him. It was so special to see! I was so excited to tell him that I had a brother named Shane too! I love how the Lord works - He always seems to set us up in some unique situations. We'll be going back to visit this family later this week!
Yesterday, was Stake Conferece in the Oslo Stake. One of the Area Seventies came from Germany. He shared about the joy that the gospel brings. He shared that the world is preoccupied with having 'fun', while the gospel on the other hand brings everlasting joy. There is a huge difference in getting into a Ferari and driving it for 2 minutes. When you get out you say, "That was fun" and then you look for the next car that you can drive. The gospel on the other hand, gives us everlasting joy. As one partakes in the joy of the gospel, it gives an everlasting sense of peace. Such things, I have experienced in comparison, with the things that the world has to offer.
The gospel which is personified by the example of Jesus Christ has been the most rewarding thing I have learned in my life. I spent time studying Finance in school, completed my degree, and began working afterwards. These things were good - they helped me to progress and to gain experience. The most rewarding thing I have learned, however; is that through learning of Christ and His example, an individual can reach heights that stretch him or her beyond his or her own capacity. There is a joy that comes in becoming what the Lord sees us becoming. Our experiences are not accurate enough to show who we can become. Through application of the gospel, I have been able to transform into an individual whom I never thought I could become. I never thought that I would be able to walk around Norway and testify that I know God lives and that Jesus Christ is our perfect example. The truths that I have been able to share, have lead me to witness miracles.
Monday, November 10, 2014
This past week was pretty nice! We were able to do our final Zone Conference in Oslo on Tuesday, had a Mission Leadership Council (my last one!), and had to arrange travel and coordinate moves for some of the missionaries. To top it all off, we are trying to keep our area moving forward - it's not always easy, but it's what we are here for!
Last night, we had an experience where Elder Skinner and I needed to finalize some of the moves details. Instead of working on it, we decided that we needed to put in some work for our area. As we prayed, we promised Heavenly Father that we weren't going to be coming home until we find someone to teach. We went out to an area, where earlier, we felt we should knock. To our surprise, the second door we knocked, a woman let us in!
The woman worked for Nu Skin - a company based out of Provo, Utah. She told us that she had been to Salt Lake City before and had seen the temple there. She talked about the choir and the tabernacle and how it was such a beautiful place! She was telling us how great the values are for Nu Skin. It was pretty cool because one of the men who is in management for the company is currently serving as the mission president in France! She knew all about it and how he sacrificed a few years to focus on the missionary work. We ended up watching The Restoration movie with her and talking a little bit more about why it was important that a restoration would occur. It was a good experience and we will be going back to visit with her again!
It was a cool experience to see that the Lord had provided for us when we needed it most. It is a blessing to know that Heavenly Father does care about us and our concerns. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, a professor I had at the university I attended before coming on a mission - played a big role in helping me understand that Heavenly Father knew exactly where I was and that He knew my situation.
I emailed that teacher a week ago. That man is a member of the church and invited me to come to church at a time where I needed it most. When I wrote him, I thanked him for his faith and, to me, he represented a true Disciple of Christ. I shared with him some stories from my mission and a picture of the woman that I had the opportunity of baptizing. It gave me the best happiness that I could share these things with my former professor.
Because of his influence and the other many experiences I have had since then, I know that God knows His children. I have since become an instrument in giving the same hand of fellowship to several of Heavenly Father's children here on a mission in Norway. I know without a doubt that He needs each and every one of His children to make a positive impact on others' lives. It is up to us as individuals to make the correct decisions in bringing many to know of His love. These are the most important decisions I have made in my life!
Monday, November 3, 2014
So grateful to be able to write this week - we had some amazing experiences! We did a lot of traveling, but it was so rewarding! On Wednesday, we were in Stavanger for a Zone Conference and that night, we were able to be at a baptismal meeting for the woman whom I have been teaching for over a year! I have stayed in contact with her, and her special baptism came! It was an absolutely incredible experience! I was able to be part of the baptism and it was such a special moment!
We then went up to Trondheim to have another Zone Conference and it was another great meeting. We are realizing more and more just how special the missionaries are who serve in this Norway Oslo mission! On one of the nights we were in Trondheim, I had a pretty special experience that I'd like to share:
I was sitting on the bus to drive back to the apartment in Trondheim, when I was wishing that I could talk to someone on the bus about the gospel. I said a little prayer and asked God if He would set someone next to me and I promised that I would talk to them about the gospel. About a minute later a girl sat down next to me and I started talking to her right away. She immediately told me her name and told me that she was in Norway on exchange from Kenya to teach a Bible Study class. It was very special to be able to share with her about the Book of Mormon. We use the book along with the Bible because they were both written to strengthen our faith and understanding of Christ. I asked her if she would be willing to learn more about it - she told me that it was new to her, so I gave her a pass along card and she walked away looking over the card.
It was such a simple but special experience for me to know that God answered my prayer! I know that He does so by small and simple things. I am really grateful for my opportunity to grow and to share the gospel with others because I know that special experiences such as baptism lead us back to God. It was so special to be part of the teaching process, but most of all, baptism! I really love this work and I know that it's Heavenly Father's work!
Hope everyone has a great week!
Monday, October 27, 2014
This past week was another one of those fun missionary weeks! As Elder Skinner and I were knocking doors last night, he kept asking, "How many last-door stories have you heard?" and we kept knocking the last door. It was just fun being out and doing some good work.
Something we recognize, is that the smartest way to do missionary work is through the members. We hope to have as many opportunities as possible to work alongside the members. When we don't have that chance, we have to go 'old-fashioned' style and knock doors. Not the most fun, but of course we make it fun!
A cool experience we had just last night. We were led to an apartment building - as we approached the door we saw a man who was picking up trash on the floor in the pitch dark. We asked him if we could help him, he said, "No" but told us that he would let us into the apartment building door. Nice guy!
We got into the apartment building and knocked all the doors until the second to last door... how many second to last door stories have you heard? Here's one:
The man who opened the door told us that he was just turning on the TV to watch a rabbi give a sermon. We told him about the Book of Mormon and he told us that he had a lot to think about at that moment. He told us that he had gone to church that day and that he had a lot going on in his life. We told him we would come back and share our message with him. He asked us, "Is it difficult doing what you're doing?" It was the end of the night, one would imagine that it is difficult, but when you're on the Lord's errand - it's really not. It's the most rewarding thing you could ever imagine, especially when you're led to a man like him.
We will go back to that man and teach him more about the gospel. It's incredible when you're led 'not knowing beforehand what you should do' but the Lord always takes care of you. To be honest, I chuckled to myself thinking, "Why on earth are we led to this apartment building?" But of course, Heavenly Father's ways are higher than my own. I'm just grateful that I'm able to be led by Him. It's the greatest blessing I've ever experienced - to serve the Lord!
This week I get to go to Stavanger and be part of a very special convert's baptism! I have been in contact with her for over a year now! She is so amazing! I hope that everyone has a great week!
Monday, October 20, 2014
This week starts another week of serving with Elder Skinner! It's always been so much fun serving with him. It never happens that a couple missionaries serve together three separate times on a mission, but we both prayed about it and Heavenly Father definitely answers prayers!!
We've already had some great experiences together. We were knocking on doors and eventually found a family from Poland that we will be teaching the gospel to in the next couple weeks. Saturday, we were able to attend a baptism in Drammen. The next day, we received word that two of our converts we worked with in Drammen had both received the priesthood. One received a calling in church and the young man who was just baptized was confirmed as a member of the church. This work really is exciting!!
On October 29th, we will be heading west for Zone Conference. That night, there will be another baptismal meeting with a woman who I have taught/been in contact with for the past year! It's been such a blessing to know her and to see her faith grow! This work is so incredible!
In our mission this week, we have had 16 new missionaries come. We had 11 of our sisters leave to go back to their homes (their group was nicknamed the 17 miracles - the next 6 sisters go home in a month). It was sad to see them go, because they came into the field when I was pretty new, and now they leave. It's just another way of showing me that my mission won't last forever and that it's soon coming to an end.
I've been so grateful to give this experience absolutely everything that I have. I have been blessed tremendously, along with my family! I'm grateful that I have been able to keep a blog, so that I can share experiences of the miracles and blessings that have come in serving the Lord. There are so many opportunities to learn, grow, and refine oneself. I've just been so grateful to learn for myself all of these valuable lessons that apply to my life - the gospel really does change us!
I hope that everyone can experience that change and hope that comes through living the gospel!
Monday, October 13, 2014
What a week! The time is flying by once again. We had a 'Moves Call' yesterday - all the missionaries call into a conference call and we announce where the missionaries will be serving, their callings, and their companions. So that was yesterday, and this Wednesday we will have moves. I will receive my new companion, Elder Skinner. He isn't quite a "new companion" but more of a "3-Peat". We were companions in the MTC, companions in Drammen, and now will be here in Sandvika! It's quite exciting - he will definitely be a lifelong friend!
Elder Jones and I served our last full week in our proselyting area, he will be serving as a traveling assistant - meaning that he will travel to all areas in Norway and train the missionaries. It'll be an exciting way for him to end his mission!
As for the week of proselyting, we spent a lot of days knocking on doors - some positive and some not interested. We had the opportunity to spend some time in Stavanger, teaching a woman who should be getting baptized by the end of the month. I have known her for close to a year now, and have kept in contact with her.
She is an incredible woman who has had a powerful experience in coming to know the power of God, she knows that He knows her individually.
It has been possibly the most rewarding experience to watch her growth along the journey to baptism. It is such an incredible blessing to be a missionary. The Spirit helps to change the hearts of our Heavenly Father's children. Our very own hearts can be changed if we allow them to be. My testimony that this is real, is one that has come firsthand. If we give room in our hearts, it will happen. It happens in His time and in His way, but it happens!
During the teach we had with her, I felt prompted that we needed to share this very powerful movie with her:
It's incredible to know that these miracles are real. I know that they are. I have been both on the receiving end as well as the giving end of them. I am grateful that our loving Heavenly Father desires that we know of His love and concern for us. I continue to hope that all will come to know of these things - they are real!
Have a great week!
Monday, October 6, 2014
Another great week here in Norway. The leaves are beginning to change color and fall drastically here. The weather is beginning to turn colder and it just goes to show there are many "lasts" that I am experiencing while here in Norway. One of those lasts, I experienced this past weekend - my last General Conference as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The leadership of the church instructed us with incredible messages that help us seek correction and guidance in our lives. They are absolutely fulfilling talks.
One of my favorite talks given from the conference was by Elder David A. Bednar - he was the apostle who just recently visited our mission here in Norway. I am attaching the link to the talk so that all can see Elder Bednar describe why we are missionaries in this church:
This is the very reason that I have decided to dedicate 2-years of my life to this work. I have experienced first-hand the cleansing and healing effect of the Savior and His Atonement. I recognized that the only way to really reach one's full potential is by living the laws and commandments given by our Savior and His prophets and apostles. As we listen to the conference talks, there comes new goals and a vision of how we can improve as a child of God.
In the overview of our week, I'd like to share a story that helped build my testimony in the power of fasting:
Last Sunday, my companion and I decided that we needed to fast in order to help the progress of our area to go forward. As the 'leaders' of the mission, we understand that the importance of our calling is to lead by example. Our purpose as missionaries is to "invite others to come unto Christ...through...baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost." Baptism is a very essential ordinance that we all must take part in. Jesus Christ Himself, taught the importance in John 3:5 "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." My companion and I decided we needed to fast that we would have a baptism.
We visited a family this past week whose children have not yet been baptized. At the conclusion of our lesson, the father of the home said, "The children have an announcement to make...they have decided that they would like to be baptized." It was a complete shock to me and my companion! That week we had fasted so that the Lord would help us fulfill our purpose. He did so by immediately answering our faith.
I have experienced throughout my life that my Heavenly Father knows me as an individual. He knew me before I was a missionary, and He knows me as I have become the type of servant He would like me to be. It is by submitting our will to the Father's that we find the most happiness. He knows what is best for us and He will do everything in His power to bless us if we are willing to obey Him. My hope is that everyone can experience the joy in knowing that we are individual children of our Heavenly Father.
Monday, September 29, 2014
I really enjoy writing these weekly updates, because I get to look back on a week that is packed with hard work and pick out the nuggets of blessings that exist. It brings to thought a Mormon Message titled, "Flecks of Gold" in which I'll attach the link:
This past week, my "Flecks of Gold" came in rather large nuggets, actually. We went on splits with the elders here in Sandvika. I was paired up with Elder Crook and we had a great day! At one point, Elder Crook and I went to a different part of the city to contact people on the street in the city center. We saw a family walking in the opposite direction and so we decided to try to speak to them. Immediately, we stopped the first boy on the way back. This young Norwegian teenager told us that he had never heard of the Book of Mormon - so, we asked him if we could sit down on a bench with him and teach him about it. He told us that his mother had passed away several years before. He told us that he had had a dream that she was great and that life was better. He told us that he grew up in a Christian home, but at times still doubted. We testified to him that the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a book that could help him strengthen his faith in Christ.
In this church, we are not trying to change anything. We are only helping to strengthen people's faith in Christ. At times, it is difficult finding people who will listen to the message. As we patiently and persistently go about finding people who will receive us, we continue to accumulate these "Flecks of Gold", which help us know that God really does care about each and every one of us.
We were having a tough week - a lot of work but no results. Yesterday, we decided to fast about our area. We ended up getting two baptismal dates for a father and his son, and found four new people to teach. It was incredible how the Lord knew what we needed and how to help us accomplish His work. He really is involved in the details of our lives. It is most important that we trust in and have faith in Him. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father.
Monday, September 22, 2014
This past week was capped off by the report we receive every Monday morning. We get to see the results from the prior week, and this past week our mission had some of the best results we've ever seen! It's so satisfying to see that the missionaries are catching the fire and that they 'get it' earlier and earlier on their missions. We have some of the greatest missionaries here in the Norway Oslo mission! It's been so satisfying to serve here and work with all of them!
This past Tuesday, my companion Elder Jones and I, went on splits with the missionaries down in Drammen. Two of my favorites, Elders Skinner and Halverson are down there. It was a beautiful day in Drammen - we planned for a packed day. As we were done planning, we realized that we hadn't even planned for lunch or dinner! Our focus was entirely on the work and what we could do that day as a team! Instead of making time for it, I just wrote down 'dinner' in my daily things to accomplish. I was able to grab some quick food, so it all worked out.
The results of that day were incredible! As we came back together at the end of the night, we were all pumped to have served together! We had found new families, new investigators, taught new converts, done service for members, taught investigators in members' homes. It was a full day of straight missionary work at it's finest. In total, we taught thirteen lessons between the two companionships, and found six new people to teach! You can never expect anything less when you're in Drammen and with those two missionaries.
It was the highlight of my week - we like to call it "splits magic" when we go to an area and light it up together. It really is what makes it all worth coming out here and giving it your all! I know that this is the Lord's work and that He provides when we show our faith.
I'm so grateful for every opportunity to serve in any capacity! This week, we'll be heading to Trondheim for some splits with those missionaries - onto another great week in the Norslo mission!
Monday, September 15, 2014
I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life this past weekend - I was able to baptize a man who Elder Skinner and I worked with down in Drammen. He asked that I come down and perform the ordinance, which I was so grateful to do! It was certainly a miracle and a mercy from Heavenly Father. I'll write a little about his story.
The first time I called him down in Drammen, he told me, "you don't know me bro" and hung up the phone on me. Obviously, he was not very open to speak with us missionaries (common). What eventually happened, was there was a member from the church in Drammen who told us about his friend he wanted us to meet. We went to this man's home - the same man. This member told him, "I brought them to you because I know how important their message is." From then on we began to teach him.
He eventually came to church, wearing street clothes (the equivalent of training clothes). He has one of the greatest smiles you can imagine, and loved the members at the church. He came back several times. A few weeks after the initial time he came to church, he came wearing a suit.
We eventually began bringing members to the teaches with him. He was not desirous to be baptized. As he continued to meet with us and the members, even eat dinners in members' homes, he became more and more open to learning about the Gospel. The last week I was in Drammen, he was sad that I was leaving. He told me "vi er sammen"... "we are together" I assured him that we are together. During last teach, he accepted a date to be baptized - September 13th.
In accepting the invitation to be baptized, he had problems with paying rent. He wasn't receiving help to pay for his situation. He was struggling and was stressed. We assured him that as he showed his faith, everything would work out. This lasted for several months. The day came for his baptism and still, nothing had been resolved. I baptized him on September 13th, that very day he went home and found in his mailbox, a check to help him pay for his rent. He shared his testimony immediately after receiving the Holy Ghost during Sacrament meeting.
When he was taught about the Word of Wisdom, he told me that he knew that our church was the true church of God. It was through the Spirit and the light of the members that helped open him to this understanding. He is completely a changed man.
I shared with him also the testimony of a humble member from my home ward in Rockford. He is originally from the Congo and wrote a powerful testimony in Swahili for me to share with the people here. I shared that testimony and this man said, "hilse på mannen som ga deg vitnesbyrdet." - "Say hi to the man who gave you the testimony."
Monday, September 8, 2014
Another incredibly busy week!
The highlights of the week came towards the end, when Elder Jones and I found out that the article we were interviewed for was finally published! The title of the article is, "Enden er nor" which means "The End is Near", in Norwegian. It was featured in one of the biggest magazines in the country and many of the missionaries who were traveling to Oslo this weekend saw many people reading it on their flights! Some of them had some really funny stories like, "Wait... those are missionaries...that's Elder Jones and Holden??" and then they recognized that we were in the article! It was something that got me so excited, because it seemed to recognize that the work I've been striving to accomplish here, has gone a long way!
The second amazing experience, is that Elder Bednar visited the two stakes here (he spoke at Stake Conference) and later in the day spoke to our mission at the Oslo church! It was really quite amazing to see and hear Elder Bednar teach! He is an incredible man! He shared unbelievable stories and basically showcased a teaching style that you'll never see anywhere else. He was completely directed and guided by the Spirit in his teaching and you could just see that he was always teaching so powerfully. I was so grateful to be able to listen to this man speak. He definitely had authority while he taught. When he taught the message of The Restoration, you just knew that it was true and that there is no way that you can deny that.
I think the most special thing that I have noticed about these apostles, is that when they walk into a room, they fill the room with their spirit. I've come to know that these men that lead this church are men of God and there's no other way of explaining it. The special thing about it all is that it is always when we approach these meetings with a willing heart and a desire to change, one can leave these meetings edified. It is always through the application of these things that we are able to be blessed by what is taught. I have been so grateful for the opportunity I have received to serve here in Norway on this mission. It has been a very special experience and I thank Heavenly Father every day for Him sending me here. Missionary work is incredible!
Monday, September 1, 2014
This week was absolutely insane!!!
We traveled out to Stavanger to give some training to the missionaries in the West Zone. The missionaries there had such a good spirit and were so engaged, it made for a great meeting! After the meeting, we were able to go up Preikestolen with all of the missionaries! Luckily, I survived the trip again! That night, I was able to be on a teach with a woman I've been teaching for nearly a year! She has a baptismal date scheduled for October and we had an incredible lesson with her! She was concerned about her son being prepared for the baptism. We knelt in prayer and she explained that she felt that she needed to prepare her son. The thought came to me that I would invite her to invite her son, as I was getting the words out to her, she immediately said, "I need to invite him!" I had no doubt that the Spirit was present and that it led her to the same conclusion. She immediately became overwhelmed by the Spirit. It was such a powerful moment and we knelt in prayer again to give thanks for the experience we had. The Lord is incredible!
We then went to Trondheim the next morning to give a training meeting for the missionaries in the North Zone. Our training has been on our effectiveness of planning, and the missionaries have felt that it has been extremely beneficial to focus on this. The results from this past week have shown that our mission is on the rise - it becomes better and better with every turn. The most exciting opportunity we have, is that Elder Bednar will be visiting this country for a special Stake Conference. He'll then give our mission a special training meeting! Speaking for the missionaries, "We can hardly wait for him to get here!"
Elder Jones and I have had to prepare many flights, sleeping arrangements, travel plans to and from various locations. It's been extremely busy, but we've got it all done! Now we're just hoping that it gets executed correctly!
This work is real. We all have a Heavenly Father who knows us and loves each and every one of us. It's up to us to work towards accomplishing His goals. He wants all of His children to live with Him again, and so, we need to help Him with that work. I have done everything I can to make that happen here in this country, and I've never been more satisfied with anything in my life. I hope that everyone can come to experience this happiness!
Monday, August 25, 2014
This mission experience just keeps evolving into so many different adventures!
This past week Elder Jones and I were interviewed by Dagbladet - I believe it's the biggest newspaper here in Norway. Because Elder Bednar is coming here on visit, they interviewed us and asked questions about the church and ourselves. It was a cool experience! They also took TONS of pictures of us! The best part of the whole thing is that they wanted to come out on the streets with us as we talked to people! I'll give our experience its own paragraph. . .
The journalist and photographer watched us from a distance. They were initially blown away by how we directly go up to people and just begin to speak with them. Obviously, not everyone is interested in talking with us, but it just helped them see how we know that this message is true and that the people we speak with are not always open to hearing about it. That's part of the work that we do - it's special.
We spoke with several people, but the most incredible experience is when we crossed the street to talk to this teenager sitting on some steps. We approached him and opened the Book of Mormon to show him pictures in the introduction and read a scripture, Moroni's Promise to be exact. Our contact with the young guy lasted a solid 10 minutes. The whole time, the photographer was tucked away by this wall and took pictures of us. It was special because we were inviting this guy to learn more and to come to know the things we know to be true. He accepted the book and agreed to meet with the missionaries in Oslo the next day, then he left. The photographer and journalist then came up to us and asked us all sorts of questions. The best part was when the photographer told us that, "the light was perfect, you guys were standing there looking like two angels!" She then told us that she 'wanted to always be with us' it was no doubt that she felt a small bit of the Spirit.
Heavenly Father answered the prayer we had in our hearts that day. We were going around hoping to find a miracle that we could show these people. It happened, and I am certain it happened because it is His work. He doesn't let us fail when our intentions are to further His work. It's so special to be part of it as a missionary. There is no other experience that I could have that would be more rewarding, and I never plan on stopping even when I am not doing this full-time.
When we answer the call to serve as His servant, it is a life-long commitment, but I know that it's the most rewarding commitment that anyone can enter into as we give it everything we have. My wish is for everyone to experience the same blessings and miracles, and to know that we all have a Heavenly Father who knows us all individually.
Monday, August 18, 2014
It was an excellent week again this past week! Our mission was blessed to have a mission tour with Elder Dyches of the Seventy - We were able to spend some good quality time! Elder Jones and I were privileged to eat dinner with President and Sister Evans, as well as Elder and Sister Dyches - that was a special experience! We were able to attend a couple meetings and I learned so much from those meetings. It's just a matter of applying the things you learn so that you really are able to yield results!
One of the things that Elder Dyches pointed out, was what I'd like to focus my post on. In Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, it is written that our purpose as missionaries is to, "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Elder Dyches pointed out, that in order for us to remain solid in the gospel and not to be scared by the difficulties that life can bring, we need to always have this purpose. Regardless of what calling we serve in the church or what we go through, if our purpose remains our purpose, we will always remain strong.
This morning's devotional, that President Evans gave, he shared similar thoughts on this. He started by saying a favorite scripture of his - 2 Nephi 31:20. If we press forward in faith, regardless of what sort of capacity we serve in or whatever the circumstances that surround us, we will receive the promised blessings. We must endure to the end, sometimes it's easier than others. For instance, I'm a missionary sharing this gospel daily with others and it makes it easier, but when I'm done with this calling I must always be an example of these things. It's an important calling that we have; being examples unto the world.
The things that I have learned here and that continue to be ingrained in me, I hope stick with me forever. I hope that I am always passionate about these things - that hope can be made possible as one diligently reads scriptures and prays. They are very important things that often times seem mundane, but I know that there is peace and guidance in these things, and I'm grateful that I have been able to have such great opportunities to be around incredible people! Again, I hope for everyone to have these opportunities!
Monday, August 11, 2014
I had an excellent week this past week! I got to go back to Stavanger on splits with the Elders there! The best part of it was that we met with a very special woman to me! For the longest time she was afraid of the Bible, she didn't grow up in a religious home and we were always trying to help her to feel comfortable learning about these things. She always felt the Spirit so strongly, she had incredible experiences with Heavenly Father and the healing that comes from the Atonement. Finally, this past week she had another appointment with us and we invited her to be baptized. She asked me to pick the date for her to be baptized and she wants me to come back to be at the baptism! It was so incredible, the Lord takes special care of her - I know that for certain!
Her baptism will not be until October, but it should work out that I will be back in Stavanger on that day to be part of the baptism! I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord - He has blessed me personally with incredible miracles. Everything I've experienced here has been nothing short of miraculous!
This coming week, our mission will be hosting Elder Dyches from the Area Presidency. I am really looking forward to him coming because we will be in several meetings with him. I feel blessed that I will be able to spend time with a General Authority in person! It's a blessing to work closely to the Mission President, and now a General Authority! It is a great blessing for me to be here and to contribute to this work and this country! I am very grateful for every experience!
I hope that everyone is able to have a great week! This whole experience has shaped and refined me into someone I never thought was possible, but He does it every single day. It's quite incredible to be molded! My wish is for everyone to have this similar experience!
Monday, August 4, 2014
Another week to put in the books -they also just keep getting better and better! I think I'll just start by writing about some of the examples I've seen on this mission. To start - my mission president, President Evans, is an absolutely incredible example. I feel so extremely blessed to be able to serve around him. You get to see his focus and dedication on doing the Lord's work. This work is real, and you can see it as he takes it so seriously. It's so much fun to learn from him and to hear his stories about former work and church experiences. It has been confirmed to me, more and more, that the Lord has sent me here only to bless me beyond anything that I could ever imagine. This has been the most incredible opportunity of my life, in which, I only have my Heavenly Father to thank.
Another example I have looked very much up to, is the bishop in Drammen. He is included in my pictures this week, Bishop Waal. It is so cool to see how down to earth he is and to see the energy that he brings to his ward as he leads. He's only 29, but he's such a gifted leader. The whole time I was in Drammen, I kept observing how personable and energized he is. You can really tell how much he cares about his family and those that are around him.
It's been the most humbling experience to learn from men that really 'get it'. They are blessed because of the capacity to which they serve others around them. I hope to one day be an example to many others around me!
This past weekend we were able to attend a baptism, in which, Elder Skinner performed the baptism. That was such a big blessing to be part of. You work so hard as a missionary, meet so many people, and invite so many to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to find the truth that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. It's not the easiest job, but it takes a sincere individual to receive an answer that God continues to give His children revelation on the Earth today. There would be no reason as to why He would stop calling prophets as He always has.
I am so grateful for my loving Heavenly Father - He has blessed my life in ways that I never would have imagined. He has changed my life and I wouldn't want my life to be any other way. I hope that everyone gets the opportunity to trust in the Lord and to see how He can really change our lives! It's the greatest experience that anyone can obtain!