Monday, April 28, 2014

True Conversion


This week has been excellent.  To start off, we were able to go to Sandvika on splits - serving with Elders Curtis and Cooper.  I was able to eat lunch with an amazing man from Norway - Brother Kittelsen.  It seemed as if everything that came from his mouth was a learning experience.  He was teaching us about the magnitude of the work we perform, while also encouraging us to develop our skills by becoming better teachers of the gospel. "Dyktig lurer", was the phrase he used to explain some of the best missionaries he has worked with.  He suggested making it so simple, that children can understand it.

While on the streets in Sandvika we spoke with a man for about 70 minutes. It was quite a long contact with this man, but I know that the Lord spends so much more time on us trying to help us to reach the potential and be the men and women that we can be!  In this contact, the man attempted to say that we shouldn't be going to a foreign land to force things on people.  I agreed with him - of course we're not here to force things on anyone!  We're here to invite people to do things that will richly bless their lives.  That is what we do and in turn, they are able to recognize the blessings and change that comes from within.  That is real conversion.

The best thing I learned from this man was what he said to us, "Truth is in the eyes that see."  This man is very successful - he has worked with congresses around the world.  He has a home in France, he has a family, he's currently a pensioner.  I asked him, "what about a God that can see everything?" To which he was only able to respond, "Well if you believe in that."

Truth is universal.  It comes from the greatest source, which is God.  If we want to know truth - our relationship to Him - our relationship with our families and how they can become eternally connected - we ask Him and then we act.  He will give us answers, He will guide us, uplift us, inspire us, and always cheer us on.  I believe in a God who knows me personally, He knows what's best for me, He provided me with a Savior that has helped me overcome my weaknesses, and continues to do so.  Through His grace, we can overcome all.

 Speaking of knowing us, this past weekend was Stake Conference.  My Heavenly Father knew that I needed to serve in Stavanger, Norway.  I served there for nearly 11 months and was able to see my 'family' from Stavanger this past weekend.  I have never experienced a gratitude so deep as I do to my Heavenly Father, when I was able to see the people that I love so much.  I love all these people I serve, but the ward in Stavanger is my Norwegian family.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that He has sent me here only to succeed through the help of His Son.  I know that all can do so in every challenge we face.

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Some things I would like to share from the Conference that we attended is how everyone can be successful missionaries!!  Here are 10 Simple Points that were shared on how EVERYONE can participate in the Lord's work:

 10 Things Members Can Do to Help the Missionaries:

1.       Learn the names of missionaries in your ward or branch
2.       Pray for those missionaries by name
3.       Pray for missionary experiences
4.       Feed the missionaries
5.       At church, look for anyone you don’t know and talk to them
6.       Invite the missionaries to teach you a “practice” lesson
7.       Offer your home to fellowship investigators (invite them to your home after church for dinner, FHE, etc)
8.       Offer your home for the missionaries to bring people to teach lessons
9.       Decide you will not be shy about sharing the gospel
10.   Offer to provide rides for investigators and less-actives

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter 2014!

Hello everyone!

I first want to start by wishing everyone a Happy Easter!!  Norwegians love their holidays!  So, of course, many went to their cabins and enjoyed their vacations!  A lot of people told us that this week would be slow, so due to that bit of info, we decided to hold our Zone Leader Training Meeting. It was an excellent meeting with a great spirit.  We were all pumped to go out and work!  So, we did!

When everyone told us that the week would be slow, our missionaries in this zone responded with an excellent week.  Nearly every companionship found an investigator.  We received several new baptismal dates and everyone was so pumped to go even stronger the coming week!

Some of the blessings that we experienced this week came when we went on splits with the assistants.  We found a couple potential families that we will try back, and we even found some investigators!  One particular day, we decided to fast over our area.  We wanted to have success in our area, knowing that faith requires action of all sorts. 

That very day, as we were driving home, I felt the impression to visit a woman.  As we drove up to the woman's house, her son was just going into the house.  We walked up, door still open, and greeted the woman.  We asked if we could come share a spiritual thought with her.  She invited us in and as we shared our thought and spoke about Christ, she became quite emotional.  We bore testimony to the reality of these things - adding to what she already knew.  As I read from the Book of Mormon, the power and spirit of that book filled the room and she became more emotional.  She said that moments before she had a weak faith, but after the encounter - she was filled with the Spirit and was so much more open to listening.

It was incredible to see the power of the Book of Mormon at work.  It is a book that testifies of the Divinity of Christ.  Many people are afraid of the book because it is new to them.  Of course it is new, but it testifies of the most powerful man that lived on this Earth.  It strengthens our faith and understanding of the work that He performed on this Earth.  It's so special and so real.  I know that there is a power that can't be denied when any honest seeker of the truth reads from it - they become spiritually filled.

I am so grateful to share that message and to have witnessed miracles throughout the Easter season -serving as a servant to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I know of the reality that He really went through with the pains and afflictions of each one of God's children while He performed His ministry.  I wish that everyone could have that same knowledge about the mercy and love that is found through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I hope everyone has another great week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Faith in Action

Hello everyone!!

This last week we had a Leadership Meeting in Oslo.  All of the Zone Leaders and District Leaders came together to be taught by our Mission President about how we can be the most effective leaders.  I think back to an article I read before my mission - found in the Bloomberg Businessweek titled, "God's MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders".  I remember reading that and being impressed by how the world sees this experience.  All I can say, as someone who is currently going through it is that I am so grateful to my Mission President - a successful man that is inspired by God to progress the Lord's work here in this beautiful country.
He taught us about integrity and what a true leader is - one who uplifts and inspires in all things.  He taught us from the scriptures, and he taught us from experience.  I am grateful for that man.

Later in the week, we were able to appreciate another baptism in this area!  It's very incredible, but a baptismal service is so simple.  The Bishop here in Drammen goes up and explains that there is nothing more important in the country of Norway on that specific day than that Baptism.  He says that there aren't trumpets played or loud music - but the simplicity and the pureness of that ordinance is real.  It is something that I have really grown to appreciate since coming to Drammen - the importance of Baptism.

The Gospel of Christ - is the most important doctrine that every individual who lives on this Earth should be tied to.  It is something my mission president has insisted on us learning throughout our mission - to have Faith in Jesus Christ, Repent, Baptism (by one holding proper authority), The Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.  I have come to learn how simple, yet how profound this doctrine is.  It changes the hearts of men, as it has changed mine throughout my time being here.  When the Gospel is fully put into practice, you see real results that transform you temporally and set your sights on the eternities.  That is what the gospel does for every individual - and that is what it has done for me.

A mission is the best opportunity of growth that an individual can go through.  Our Heavenly Father hand-picks our missions for us.  He sets us up in situations where we can learn and grow - where He can use us as instruments in His hands.

An example of this . . .There is a man in my home ward back in Rockford, from the Congo.  He was a preacher at another church back in the Congo.  After a series of much prayer and answers from God, this man became converted and joined the church.  I asked my parents to ask this man to write his testimony in Swahili, so I could share it with the people we have been teaching who speak Swahili.  He wrote it and since then, we have been finding more and more people to hand this testimony to.  I know some of these people have been changed just by reading this man's testimony.  It testifies of the sincerity of the one who asks in faith.  We must be willing to act on the answers that God gives us. This I know to be true. This is what I have done in coming on a mission.  I have seen the results of faith in action.  It is real.

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, April 7, 2014

LDS General Conference April 2014

This General Conference weekend was pretty special!  I felt spiritually filled from the talks that were shared and I am quite content with the mission I've been able serve.  You hear many cliches about missions - how they're the best opportunity to change and grow.  Cliches are quite true though, I have never felt so grateful to sit through sessions of conference and feel that the words that are absolute truth and when we put our faith into action . . . we really receive results.

This past week was a bit difficult, as a lot of people did not show up to our teaches.  However, it did not take away from the fact that as we consistently put forth faith, results come of it!  This coming week we've got appointments set up with families that we are really looking forward to go and visit.  The Lord often times checks to see how willing we are to work and to exercise our faith.  It's been a reoccuring theme throughout my mission, but the results have always been consistent - in His time and in His way.

I've never been more grateful to be serving a mission for the most powerful Being in the universe.  I know that God really does live and answer prayers.  If we don't understand why things are the way they are, we must continually move forward in faith.  Our questions will be answered and our understanding will grow deeper.  I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father that makes me work to fully appreciate the miraculous blessings that I experience.

On a weekly basis, I receive pictures of the miracle baby my sister, Stephanie, and her husband, Steven, have been blessed to raise.  I have never been more grateful to see a fruit of faith than that little baby.  I know that everyone can experience mountains being moved as we focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Whether it be that we have weaknesses that need to be overcome, or trials of faith - we can always turn to Christ and He will show us the way to everlasting happiness.

I hope everyone has an excellent week as we move forward and never back!