Monday, May 26, 2014

The Blessings of Service From Others

Hello everyone!

It's so incredible to feel the growth every single week out here!  Every day is a new adventure and every experience a new opportunity to grow.  It's been an absolute blessing!  This past week President told me it's now, "Pedal to the metal time" it's the back stretch of the mission and time to go as hard as we can!

In Drammen this past week, we were blessed with a baptism!  The Sisters' investigator who kept herself smoke-free for a whole week, was baptized.  There are always miracles when the Lord is involved!  Myself included, the baptism was an opportunity to learn and grow:

Just before the baptism, we had planned to have a couple investigators come to the baptism.  When we were struggling to find a ride - we went to our last result - one of the counselors in the bishopric.  He is a younger guy from Sweden who is already extremely busy.  When we asked him to do it, we already knew that he had enough on his plate.  The baptism was in 15 minutes and he wasn't even dressed in a suit.  He quickly decided that he would do it and picked up our investigators.  Needless to say, it was an extremely stressful situation.

The investigators came safely and I felt absolutely terrible that we had stressed this man out, but he taught me a very valuable lesson.  As we were walking towards the baptismal font to watch the baptismal ordinance, he put his arm around me and I apologized to him that we had added another thing to his plate.  He told me, "Don't even worry about it, I just had a very stressful morning."  He taught me such a valuable lesson.

I learned, that even when we are stressed - we can always find an opportunity to serve - to emulate the compassion of the Savior.  I don't despise anything more than not being on top of everything and having a plan to execute it, but this man still helped me to show my faith and was able to bless my life tremendously.

Of the men who came to the baptism, one of them said, "We are now at someone else's baptism, but someday we'll be at our own baptism!"  We now have 4 baptismal dates in our area and we're continuing to work to accomplish some great things!  Elder Skinner is an absolute beast and I can't even describe how much fun it is to be serving with him and to be so passionate about this work!  It is all so real!

I hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Grandmother's Legacy

Hello everyone!!

I wasn't able to write this past week due to our zone taking our P-Day on this past Sunday.  We celebrated 17 Mai in Oslo!  It was the celebration of 200 years of Independence - such an incredible place to be!  However, this week I would like to write about something even more important that I've been pondering this past week.

My grandmother (Patricia Enger Holden) passed away a little over a week ago.  When I skyped home last week it was a bit sad because most of my family was gathered in California to be at the funeral.  Many sad emotions.  On my end of it, I am serving the Lord here in Norway.  My grandmother's ancestors came from this beautiful land.  When I got my mission call, I immediately called my grandmother to tell her the news.  She told me many things, one of them being, "your mission call completes my life" and "finally we'll have someone in the family speaking Norwegian again!"  Even until  recently, I didn't realize how important it is to her and to the rest of my family.

In the past week, I have seen my grandmother's maiden name two times.  Once on a mailbox and the second time on a truck as we were driving around.  It was a bit of a surprise for me.  My entire mission, I had not seen my grandmother's maiden name, but in the past week - immediately after she passed away, I have seen her name.

On the 16 Mai I was pondering the importance of my mission and I was overcome by many emotions - I realized that my grandmother is now with me on this mission.  I came to realize that she was no longer needed on this Earth but to be with me as I finish out my mission here.  I know that many miracles will begin to unfold here in this wonderful country - in these coming months.  It is only a matter of time that enormous miracles will come to be.  I know that my grandmother will be helping me fulfill those miracles in this land.

I have come to learn more about the Plan of Salvation as we teach people.  When we pass from this life we go to what is called the Spirit World.  That is where my grandmother resides now.  She is helping me fulfill missionary work for those who have not heard of this gospel yet.  I know this to be true because of the experiences I have had as of late.  I have never felt more close to my grandmother than I do now.  Although the sadness of losing a loved one happens, it is because of Jesus Christ - we can all enjoy the companionship of each other even beyond this grave.

If it weren't for my grandmother, my family would not be members of the church.  I would not be in Norway serving a mission.  Because of her life and the mission that she lead, I am now here - reaching the potential that God had intended me to become.  Personally, I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have, but also that my grandmother is now here to help me.  I am so grateful for God's plan for each of His individual children.  I love this work more than anything I've ever experienced.

I wish for everyone to be able to experience the blessings of this Gospel.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reunited With Elder Skinner!

I couldn't have asked for a better way to start this transfer!  Elder Skinner and I are back on the grind again.  We were companions in the MTC - always wishing we could get a shot together in the field and now here we are.  I have thought many times that this could possibly be the most exciting time of my life!  We have so much faith between the two of us and an extreme determination to get things exploding.

This past weekend we taught a couple from Liberia.  We met the man when we were contacting on the street.  My last companion told me that he felt that we needed to talk to that man.  He was off in the distance and so I started pursuing him- not even questioning whether it was Heaven sent.  Indeed, it was.  We followed him for quite a ways, until he finally glanced back and we stopped him.  We began to tell him about prophets and apostles in this church.  Jesus Christ's original church has been reestablished on the Earth today.

We set up an appointment during the weekend to teach this man.  As Elder Skinner and I went to teach, we were expecting a short 10-20 minute lesson.  The Spirit was present and many sincere questions were asked about the truth - it turned into an hour long lesson.  When we asked this man what it would mean if the Book of Mormon were true, he said that it would complete his search to find the truth.  He had always wondered if his church was really the true one.  We bore testimony that the Holy Ghost would bear witness to him that it was true.  This man accepted to be baptized if he were to receive that answer.

We have started on a strong foot.  We have absolute faith between the two of us.  I have never had a more exciting point of my life than I do right here and right now.  I know that God has prepared us both to be serving here together.  We have had very similar experiences and very similar missions and now we get to magnify that in serving in Drammen together.

Many big things are going to happen here.  We don't want to waste a minute while serving here.  We already have another family lined up to teach this Thursday - a family from the Congo.  I know that God places us in situations to bless the lives of His children.  He has prepared many for these opportunities to follow Him.