Monday, February 24, 2014

Splits with the Mission President and Our Influence on Others

Hello everyone!

This has been quite a special week for me!  Tuesday, as we were walking down the street about to prepare to contact people - I ran into a member that used to live here in Stavanger and recently moved to Haugesund.  It was great to see him, then I immediately thought of an investigator I had wanted to teach him with!  So I called the investigator and we immediately had a lesson at that moment.  It was so fun to see what the Lord does as I have felt so comfortable becoming so well-acquainted with the members here - to the point we can get a member to help teach on the spot!  That was just the start...

Tuesday night, President and his wife came to Stavanger to give us interviews and to also come on teaching splits with me and my companion!  That night, we taught our very incredible investigator who I have been teaching for the past 4 months.  We invited her to pray about baptism and she said she would!  It was a very spiritual teach - it always is with her!  I just hope that I get to see her be baptized - it would be a very special meeting!

The next day we were interviewed by President and Sister Evans!  Sister Evans said to me, "you've had a good mission haven't you?"  I couldn't help but just say that I was so grateful for everything that has happened as a result of my decision to serve.  Things you could never see beforehand, but only a step of faith brings miracles that I've witnessed and been blessed with!  My life has changed tremendously, because I have chosen to follow the Savior!

Later in the week, I got a little sick from not enough sleep and not enough water, but I'm doing fine now!  I'm drinking and going to sleep earlier - so it's been a good recovery!  I was also told by one of the members that I should start eating sardines!  I am officially going to become Norwegian in my diet!  Although, Norwegians don't really even eat that!  I'm just going to become the 'stereotypical' Norwegian.

The last thing I'd like to share . . . We were eating dinner at a member family's home this weekend.  We were discussing how we had visited their less-active son.  They were surprised that we had done so and said that missionaries rarely got in or would even visit him!  I told them that he let us in and that we met him for a little while.  Then, one of the members of the family told me that their brother thought there was something different about me - that he liked me and that was probably why he allowed me in.  I was very humbled to hear her say that.  You never realize the impact you have on people, especially when you're about the Lord's business.

We all have our own specific people to influence on our own life's missions.  Sometimes we fail miserably, other times we succeed greatly.  I am grateful for my decision to serve as a missionary for this church.  It has been the most special experience in my life and I look forward to the next 11-months of growth that I will continue to embark on!

I hope everyone has continued growth and happiness in life!  Have a great week!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Meaning of Baptism and Confirmation

Hello everyone!!

So grateful to have another successful week!  This past week we held two Zone Leader training meetings.  One of them was in Bergen and the second in Stavanger!  All of the missionaries from Kristiansand, Arendal, and Haugesund came to the Stavanger meeting.  Both meetings were pretty solid - I'd have to say the Bergen meeting was best, but it went well!  It was pretty stressful at the start of the week, because I knew I was primarily responsible to be in charge of the meeting!  So if it was unsuccessful, of course it was because of me!  We talked about baptism, and the covenant that we make at baptism.  I am just grateful to have learned about that covenant and what we really enter into when we are baptized.

The baptismal covenant is not just a act of getting dunked in the water and showing God that we will perform an ordinance.  Really, there are promises that we make.  We promise to keep commandments, to represent Jesus Christ, and to serve Him always.  When we offer these things, we are blessed tremendously with the Gift of the Holy Ghost, a remission of sins, and the opportunity to be 'born again'!  All of these blessings have been incredible to me!  I really must say that I didn't understand that covenant at first, but after I have experienced what I have since being here - I am so glad I entered into that covenant!

After the success of both meetings, we found many prospects on the streets and have set up appointments for the future.  Some of our investigators have been doing very well - we even had an activity at the church put on by our Ward Mission Leader.  It was a success!  The strives to make the ward and missionary work together has also been quite successful!

My approach to this whole work is that I am trying to be as real as I can.  I try to show people through smiling when I contact them - how grateful I am to have this gospel.  It is the most real thing that I've ever experienced.  Two young guys on the street asked what if it all wasn't true.  I responded, "Well, then I've wasted away a lot of good time to grow my skills and abilities." But quickly stated, "I know it's not false."  The things I have experienced in life, I know that there is no other in receiving a fullness of joy but by following the commandments that God lays for us!

I hope everyone has a great week of growth and happiness!  I am so grateful for all the people in my life that have helped me to be where I am and who I am!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Growth Among Our Investigators

Hello Everyone!

What an incredible week it has been!  It has been a little stressful to be honest.  I've received a new companion, Elder Hill.  He is from Virginia and has been on his mission for 9-months.  It is the first time I will be serving with another Zone Leader.  We have been expected to continue to build up the younger missionaries for the past several months - and now to receive a more experienced missionary (although 9-months is not ALL that experienced!) is quite different when we teach people!

As for the week - miracles have been happening here!  There was a woman that called the bishop here and told him she was interesting in learning about the gospel.  When the sisters went to teach her, she mentioned that she was praying to find out which church was God's church and felt she got an answer through many different experiences with the LDS church in her life.  It'll be exciting to see what happens!  The following day, the bishop was called by a 23-year old kid who also told him that he was interested in learning!

Then on Sunday, as one of our investigators was at church - she told us she had received an answer that the Book of Mormon was true! (She comes from a non-religious background - always believing that there was something but now comes to be in the church and feel of the Spirit!)  She told us all of this - of course while the bishop was standing right with us.  He's been able to see some of the fruits of our hard work in the area pay off!

Our zone as a whole has been absolutely incredible.  Many answered prayers have come lately.  It's incredible to see and know the hand of the Lord in the work.  It's been very rewarding to be part of all of this!  It feels like we actually make a difference - the Lord is with us the whole way and we just need to patiently keep working hard and continue being examples!

This upcoming week we have two meetings that we will be holding.  One is in Bergen and one will be in Stavanger.  They are Zone Leader Training Meetings - I just hope that they are successful!  The Lord is with us this whole way!  I literally feel transformed throughout this whole process.  I have become more deeply converted in knowing that He answers my prayers.  There is no other experience I could have gone through to know of Him better.  I am grateful every day that I've made the decision to serve... it's never too late!

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Desires of Our Hearts, Faith, and The Power of Prayer

Hello Everyone!

It's never a dull moment to be a missionary!  I'll first start by saying we received 'move calls' this past Sunday.   The most excellent news is that I will only be assuming the role of Zone Leader!  The missionaries have been sufficiently trained enough that they can now become District Leaders.  With many other roles, I now get to only serve as Zone Leader!  I will still be serving in Stavanger, this is practically my home now!  I absolutely love this place and really don't have a desire to be moved.  I just want to continue to grind extremely hard here!!

As for the past week, on Thursday we had another Missionary Leadership Council in Oslo.  We all came together and received encouragement and direction for the mission at-large.  It's always so fun to discuss it all on the larger scale!  Sister Evans shared a very powerful spiritual message about faith.  It brought me to feeling the Spirit so powerfully in this setting, because I feel that what she has spoken of is truth.  She mentioned how faith is having full confidence in God, acting on that faith, and doing everything necessary in order for us to align ourselves with God's will.  As I was pondering the deepest things that I desire - I realized that it is the happiness of my family.  Before my mission, I knew that as I acted in serving a mission He would provide for my family - and He has.  I was overcome with so much emotion knowing that our Heavenly Father is so close to us and knows our very desires.

The next day, we traveled to Kristiansand to go on splits with a couple missionaries.  It was an excellent time there!  There, we met with a woman who was originally from the states.  As we talked with her, it was so amazing to just be part of the Gospel - as instruments in inspiring and helping others.  At the conclusion of the meeting, she mentioned that she saw me as 'a rock' and that it was refreshing to see someone take these things so seriously.  I told her that I can be really random at times, but when it comes to these things it's the most real thing I've ever come to know in my life.

The following day, we met with the Filipino family.  We shared the Plan of Salvation with them and they were expressing how they thought it could be true.  We began bearing testimony of prayer.  I felt as though I was presenting a quality Preach My Gospel lesson and that the Spirit was being felt by this Icelandic man (who is also a part of this family).  We invited him to pray and after he had mentioned several times that he did not know how to pray.  After explaining to him how, I testified to him that there is nothing more powerful for a son than to see his father pray.  At nights I would see my dad pray for long periods of time - sometimes falling asleep.  I told him that he could show his son no greater example - and he prayed!

It's unreal to see the way the gospel moves individuals - including myself.  Every single day it applies to the things we do.  It's so powerful to be a part of this work and to see people's lives changing.  As subtle as it is, we begin moving mountains.  I know that as we act on faith, the most challenging things help bring us closer to our Creator and that He helps us to know how powerful He is when we turn to Him.  As Elder D. Todd Christofferson has said, "Often times our experience is a result of our faith." 

I hope everyone has an excellent week!