Monday, June 30, 2014

He Helps Carry Us All

Hello everyone!!

This has been quite an incredible week for Elder Skinner and myself!  We had some great miracles happen in our area which I'd like to share.  Yesterday, at church, we had 6 investigators come to church (4 of them were from the same Lithuanian family) it was an absolutely incredible Sunday!  We didn't stop there either - we had a delicious dinner at the home of the Stake President's family's home and went out with a great energy.  It's so fun to work with the members here in Norway!!

As we were driving to our next destination, we decided to call some people to see if we could visit with them.  As we called a woman from the Philippines, she told me she needed help moving some stuff.  I told her that we could help her transport some things with her - she just said, "I am so lucky!"  It turned into being a couple hours of service for her and as we were waiting during some downtime, we were busy calling people trying to set up more appointments.  We did transport her things to a new apartment and while we were waiting for her we decided to stop by another family's home.

Many years back, a woman from Africa who couldn't speak Norwegian met with the missionaries.  However, this time she can speak the language, so we were able to get a return appointment (her native tongue is Swahili, of course).

We then went back to the apartment to drop off the items and the woman asked us to come and talk with her.  She began opening up and crying about how blessed she was by God that she was able to stay in Norway and how the missionaries in Sandvika have helped her so much.  It was an incredible opportunity for us to testify that God knows us individually.  He knows our needs, desires, concerns - He has the solutions for all of them.  It was through her faith that she recognized how He has helped carry her.  We were just there to serve and testify of the truthfulness of it!  It was quite special.

We found many people to teach this week.  We had an amazing Zone Conference focused on the importance of the Book of Mormon in our work.  I love that book and am so grateful for the transformation it has helped me make.  It really is truth.

We wish and hope for everyone to have the same passion about this work!  The traveling assistants are in Drammen today (Elders Badger and Weaver) to train the missionaries throughout the mission.  We were getting pretty passionate as to how we can help all of the missionaries recognize how special this work is!  We really know it's only through the members and missionaries that we can take this work forward!  It's a very special work we have to be part of!

Hope everyone has an excellent week!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Instruments in This Work

Hello everyone!!

I am grateful to say that it's been another full week!  It's always full of so many opportunities, obstacles, and blessings.  I finished the Book of Mormon for another time this past week - I know that book is the Word of God.  This man on the street this past week told us that the book was poison.  When asking him why he believes so, he told us that he believes in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  I was able to share with him that I have gained a testimony of these individuals by reading the Book of Mormon.  It is sad to see that people don't fully understand that they must show their faith first  - before they can really come to know the truth of these things.  I know it's not easy to apply faith - it's an action.  It requires us to work, but it always yields the best results - blessings from our Eternal Father.

This past week, Elder Skinner and I had a great experience!  We were driving home from a sport activity on Saturday that we had with some of the ward members.  Elder Skinner spotted a man walking on the street and told me that he'd give me 10 bucks to go stop him (we were in street clothes).  When we kept our eye on him we could see that he was wandering, so I told Elder Skinner to park the car and we would go talk to the man.  We ran up the street and to the opposite direction in which he was walking.  We stopped him and started talking about how we were inviting people to come to church.  He liked that we were talking about Christ and invited us to his apartment.  In his apartment were pictures of an ultrasound.  We told him about the church a little bit and how we wanted to share more with him.  He told us we could come back later!  Elder Skinner pointed out that we had to go find him at that time, he mentioned, "Heavenly Father was preparing to send one of his children down to him and he wanted the child to be accepted into a family with the gospel."  It's incredible to see how Heavenly Father works.

This past week, we also called a number on the phone (we found a woman with a similar name on the street).  We ended up calling the same name but wrong number, and got an appointment with a whole family from Lithuania.  We taught them a little bit and got a return appointment.  They were so grateful to have us in their home and will be coming to church next week.  It was incredible to see how Heavenly Father sets everything up for His children!

We are only instruments in this work.  As we are used as instruments, Heavenly Father builds the muscle of faith within us.  It grows and grows and grows.  It is only through the Spirit that we are willing to go through all this work and stand as Witnesses of Him.  I can't explain how incredible it is to feel that the Atonement really transforms us into individuals who can become even greater than we expect.  Heavenly Father is real and He only wants to bless us and allow us to become exceptional.  I hope everyone experiences these blessings!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Member Missionary Work

Hello everyone!!
This week we were almost able to get a baptism!  However, due to different circumstances it did not go through, but we are looking forward to it and additional baptisms in this area.  We're feeling quite optimistic and feel that our area is improving every single day!  Our focus lately has been on the members - how we can shift the momentum in this mission over to the members so that they can have their own experiences.  Elder Skinner and I have been really pushing this forward.  We led a ZLT this past Wednesday and we were able to have a good meeting!  We're hoping it will continue to take the work forward.

In this past week, one thing that I've come to learn is how dependent we are on the Lord for those people who are prepared.  We could spend all our days out on the streets contacting 100+ people every day, only to get 98 rejections.  What we have really been trusting in - is that we will focus on the members and their work.  We've decided that we are looking to find people to teach, so that we can use the members and youth on our teaches.  We probably spend a total of two hours contacting on the street, but we always seem to find one or two people who have been prepared to hear us at that moment.  It has led us to find several people who have been prepared, and it showed me that we need to be doing exactly what the Lord expects us to be doing.

When we focus on what matters most (in our circumstances it is helping the members become more converted), the Lord will provide for our needs.  He has provided for me and my family every step of the way.  Although it has been difficult here in the mission field at times, I've learned all along the way that He inspires us as His children.  It is through the Savior's example, that He has shown us the way.  It's quite incredible - the understanding that comes through following His example.  I'm so grateful that I'm able to learn every single day that I am out here.

My wish is for everyone to have the opportunity to experience the many blessings that come through doing what the Lord expects us to do!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Recognizing the Big Picture

Hello everyone!!
What a week it has been!  A little difficult to be entirely honest - we had quite a few people cancel on us, but Elder Skinner and I always seemed to be fired up.  We would have discussions at night where the Spirit would be so strong among us, it's all real stuff!  On Wednesday, we had a Mission Leadership Council with the whole mission focused on how we can keep the momentum going forward.  It seemed as though everything that Elder Skinner and I had discussed prior to the meeting was turning into the focus of how we can sustain it.  We are looking for real growth in this country and it is only found through working with the members and helping them to accomplish their missionary work.  It's been turning into quite a fun experience!

Yesterday, this ward had 12 non-members in church - the members have been inviting their friends and family! The work is really beginning to move forward in this country and I only know that it will disperse all over the country!  The mission had two baptisms in Alta and one in Stavanger!  I had a personal celebration because those are my two former areas!!

One thing that stood out to me in this past week, was when Elder Skinner and I were talking with one of our investigators.  This man had run into some personal problems with where he was going to live.  We tried to teach him that among all the trials that we go through, God is trying to teach us something.  He seemed to be mostly focused on the here and now rather than the big picture.  He went to retrieve keys from a man for an apartment to stay in, so Elder Skinner and I took a minute to look around the city center.  Basically, what I'm saying is that we people watched for a few minutes.

During the course of people watching, Elder Skinner and I came to the conclusion that, "if you ever doubt that the church is true, just go people watching!"  We looked around this city as God's children were so preoccupied with many different things, too many to even describe in this post.  Many of these things demonstrated that when we take our eyes off of the purpose of this life - or even if we don't fully understand the purpose of this life, we begin to waste away our days aimlessly wandering through this life.

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have, that this life is our time to prepare to meet God.  It is a time for us to perform our labors.  When we diligently seek to fulfill God's will by serving others and following His Son's example - we can fully understand the purpose we were sent here to become.  Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new, to stretch ourselves and to be stretched.  When we build our foundation on the Christ, no trial will be too tall - we can overcome all through Him.

I hope to always have my focus on the bigger picture throughout the rest of my life.  It's a daily decision and effort that we must develop within ourselves.  I hope that everyone has an excellent week full of success!

One thing to add is that my baby niece received her baby blessing this week in Las Vegas, NV - Claire Dodson!! I can't wait to meet this new baby - and the twins that are on the way from my brother and sister-in-law!  The Lord has richly blessed us!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Beauty of The Restoration

This past week was an excellent week!  Each day that I get to work with Elder Skinner is an absolute great experience.  He is a beast of a missionary - for example, yesterday he called a man up and began teaching him on the phone.  He roams around the apartment teaching people about The Restoration and even asked the man to join him in a prayer over the phone.  He is a truly converted individual that I look up to - I am grateful that I am always stretching my expectations just because I have his example to follow!
This past week, we had a day that was fully planned out.  It was quite exciting - the night before we were on splits with the President and he was commenting on our area and our efforts - he was pleased to be with us!  We had several appointments planned for the following day, but as we went about the day just about every single one of them fell through.  When we got to one of our last appointments of the day, it was with a member of the church - a man from Angola who is a powerful, humble man.  He is a convert of just under 2 years and he is such an incredible example!

We have been teaching this man English, this last lesson was specifically about The Restoration.  As we were going about the meeting, I felt that Elder Skinner and I were a little down from the whole day falling through.  We did everything we could to do on our part, but nothing was happening.  When we got to this appointment, and as we spoke about The Restoration - there was a special spirit that filled the room.  As we quoted Joseph Smith's First Vision, I noticed Elder Skinner sat up a little taller.  I could tell he had felt the same spirit that I was feeling.  The only desire we had throughout that day was to bless the lives of others by sharing this incredible message.

At that moment, I knew that any life that is dimmed - anyone who is willing and sincere to find truth - can find it in this gospel.  I know that it is true.  It is undeniable.  The only way an individual can lose a testimony of it is by not obeying the commandments and feeling the power that comes from the message.  If an individual is not reading the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, they will not recognize the power of it.  In John 7:17 it shows us how important it is to actually LIVE this life.

I am so grateful for my opportunity to serve; to feel the real blessings that come; to SEE the miracles that come as we ask God in faith, sincerely.  I am so grateful for my experiences and my knowledge of the truthfulness of these things.  My wish is for everyone to experience the joy that comes from living it.

I would also like to add a poem that my grandfather sent me.  It is written by my grandmother when I was born into this world.  The '2nd estate' that she writes about is the truth of this gospel.  We once lived as spirit children with our Heavenly Father.  We were sent to this Earth to learn, grow, experience, enjoy, and to love.  I am so grateful for my knowledge of these things!


He tells me to write of  joy,
My secret pal, not sadness. 
How great the joy 
I hold in my hand at this moment.

Just a small photograph.
Did I say just?
That's farther from the truth than the sun from the earth.
For it is a child; a new life.

His name is Christopher.
Number fifteen of the grandchildren
My love and I share........
And his importance in our lives cannot be described.

Fifteen small photographs  we have
Showing what our children and the Lord have given us.
Tiny fists clenched, eyes not fully open
To the glory of this second estate.

Who do they look like? 
Does it really matter when they're all so welcomed
By all who have awaited them?
Their presence and promise gives meaning to our lives.

When I hold these photographs
or the children themselves
No evil can intrude
The blessings of the Lord abound.

Patricia Holden