Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas!

Hey, so it's been a while, because I was way too busy last week to
find any time at all to sit down and write about the week. We just had
way to much celebrating to do! If Norwegians know how to do anything,
it is definitely celebrating Christmas. We have been over to what
feels like every member in the ward, eating way too much
rice.....porridge and rice....cream. Wow, it sounds kind of gross when
you say it in English, but risgrøt and riskrem are definitely two of
my favorite things about the Norwegian holidays. They cook rice with
milk until it becomes like a porridge, and then they add butter,
sugar, and cinammon, and then you have delicious risgrøt. To make
riskrem, they just take risgrøt, make it cold, add cream, and eat it
with raspberry sauce, and I think it might be one of the best things
ever.

One tradition that Norwegians have is to put one almond in the risgrøt
or riskrem when they prepare it, and whoever finds the almond in their
portion gets a pig made out of marsipan. Why it is a pig and not some
other shape or animal? I'm not sure. This year, I got the almond, so I
ended up with one more sweet thing to eat. Which reminds me, the ward
in Oslo gave all of the missionaries Christmas presents, and I ended
up with 10 big bars of chocolate and a lot of other small chocolate
things, so I think that I will be really lucky if I get out of Norway
weighing less than 300 pounds. I can't complain about being well taken
care of, though, and the members here are amazing.

One thing that hit me this Christmas was how much joy we really get
from giving. For every other Christmas of my life, I have been focused
on what I want to receive and what my plans are, and what my "perfect"
Christmas would be. And I have had a lot of good Christmases. I have
received a lot of cool things, and I have even given a lot of great
gifts, but there has been something missing. This year I didn't expect
to get anything from anybody and we weren't quite sure if we would
even have a place to go on Christmas, but it was all okay because I
knew that I was here serving the Lord regardless of what happened, and
that I was doing my best to give something back to Him because of the
wonderful gifts He has given all of us. I still am, actually. There is
nothing like the peace and joy that come from giving of yourself for
the sake of others, and doing it for no other reason than love. The
Savior has said, "Greater love hath no man than this; that he layeth
his life down for his friends." Jesus Christ has laid down His life
for each and every one of us so that we all can take ours up again. I
know that at the last day, I want to be able to be counted worthy to
be numbered among the Savior's friends, so I will give my life, even
lay it down, for His sake. I know that as we do this, we will be
filled with the pure love of our Lord and Savior, and that the peace
and joy that will come into our lives will be beyond compare. I love
you all, and hope that you have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pictures From Elder Rasmussen


These were in my email inbox this morning...not sure what they are, but fun to look at nonetheless...Alice





Mountains to Climb

Okay, so I am really sorry that I wasn't able to send you guys an email yesterday. I wasn't on the ball enough to realize that this week we were going to change our p day to today, because we went to tour the Freia Chocolate Factory. It was really awesome, I bought way too much chocolate, we made our own chocolate, and we learned about the origins of chocolate and how it is made. We had to wear hairnets and lab coats, and I felt exactly like an oompa loompa from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But it was a lot of fun, probably the best p day I have had yet. And the best part was, the tour started early in the morning, so we finished and still had all day left to do pday things! Today has been a good day.

Other than that, it has been a pretty normal week. But it has been a good week. We found a new investigator from the Ivory Coast named Michel, who is pretty interested, and is going to introduce us to his fiancee on Thursday. Hopefully things will go well with him. We also met a man named Christian who really turned his life around because of Christ, and is really interested in talking to us. We will be teaching him tonight, and I am really excited because we are good friends as well. I really feel like things are starting to turn around here, and I truly believe that we can do anything here with the Lord's help. So the work is exciting. The mission has a lot of momentum right now, and we are going to keep it rolling into the new year. We have had 12 baptisms already this month, which is a great number for Norway, so things are going really well.

But, I have some news. After the meeting, President Evans interviewed everyone, and during my interview, he told me that I am going to be the new district leader in Oslo. I was really taken aback when he told me that, because I wasn't expecting it at all. I am still really young in the mission, and Oslo district has a lot of problems, but I am ready to rely on the Lord and let Him help me through this next phase of my life. I am excited to see the things that He has in store for me. But, that means that I will be here in Oslo until at least February, and maybe even longer. By the time I am finished here, my mission will be at least a quarter of the way over! I can't believe it, but I am happy, because Oslo is my home now. I am happy here. 

Yesterday in our zone leader training meeting, President and Sister Evans talked with us about climbing Mount Everest and the things that people have to do to get up that crazy mountain, and related it to the things that we have to do as missionaries, especially now when it is so difficult here in Oslo for us. The meeting did two things for me: gave me all kinds of faith that the Lord is going to help us to overcome this challenge, and made me want to climb Mount Everest. I want to get to the top of the world and see what it is like. I feel like I need to do something to prove to myself that my self discipline can overcome everything else :) It just sounds exciting to me.
I know that, although we all have our own different mountains to climb in our lives, the Lord is always there, helping us each step of the way. Our challenges will always be different, and we can never know what to expect- sometimes we are asked to walk the icy path, sometimes we must cross a gaping chasm in the road, and other times we are faced with sheer cliffs in our way. Regardless of the obstacle, if we show our diligence, determination, and our faith in the Lord's promise to deliver us, we will always come out stronger on the other side. I have experienced this on my mission and throughout my life, and I know that the Lord is there for us. I am so grateful that He died for our sins so that He could help us be stronger. I love Him, and my mission is to align my life with His.

I love you all, and I hope that as we spend this week preparing for Christmas, that we will all be able to remember what it really is that matters- the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have a great week!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Doing the Lord's Work

Just got this sweet note and a picture from Sister Rasmussen, who is serving with her husband at the YSA Center in Oslo:

"Thought you would like to see the worldwide work that is going forth and your son is a great deal involved in it -love it! !  -beautiful-"


Monday, December 9, 2013

Cold, Snow, and a Lot of Norwegian Christmas

It snowed for the first time this Sunday, and I loved waking up to see the snow outside my window. However, I think I may have mixed emotions about it, because as much as I am enjoying the snow right now, once it snows here in Norway, it snows and it doesn't leave until May. But that is alright, because it couldn't be more beautiful, and what would winter in Norway be without snow?

This week we have been working hard and trying to share "et gledesbud til verden," or joy to the world with everyone that we meet, but no one seems to want to be happy! It is the oddest thing. So we are just trying to mix it up and find things that people want to hear about. One night this week, we took small gingerbread cookies along with us, and in between every house we didn't get let in to, we each ate one cookie. It is safe to say that we both ate a lot of cookies by the time we were finished, but it was a great way to have a good time while doing missionary work. I really think that is what it is all about. Enjoying life while we are doing the hard things. There must be some kind of secret to that. 

Basically, the only reason that I am here is because I know that Christ lives and loves us, and wants every single one of us to have a chance to receive the gospel. That's it. If I came here to see Norway, or because that was what my parents wanted me to do, or because I simply had nothing better to do, I would have been on a plane home a long time ago. But we have the truth, I have been called by God, and He is my strength and my life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of God upon the earth today. That is all there is to it, and when everything else we have is stripped away, it is alright, because it is the truth. We have the truth. Come and see the hand of the Lord in the lives of His children. That is the message we are sharing with the world, and it will go forth unhindered until the day when He comes again, clothed in the glory of the Father. These things I know.


As always, I am so grateful for everything you all have done for me. I feel your support and your prayers, and you are all an answer to my prayers in some way. So thank you. I love you all, and Merry Christmas!

An amazing Norwegian Sunset


Me and Elder Tate



The King's Palace 


First Snow of the Year!

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's December Already!

December has always been one of my favorite months of the year, and that still holds true in Norway. Life is beautiful here, and I am so lucky to be where I am. The work is going slowly, but I am able to give everything that I am to the Lord, and I am living the dream for two years, so basically I can't complain too much. This week we had district meeting on Tuesday, we went driving with a driving instructor on Wednesday (I will be able to schedule a test as soon as I get the papers I need in the mail, so for the time being, I am just practicing, which is fine by me. I am not too worried about the test, though.) On Thursday we just had weekly planning and then banking all night, on Friday I was on splits with Elder Badger, so that was fun. We went to dinner with a really cool family named the Skovlys, and he is not a member, so hopefully we will be able to start working with him and get him into the church. They invited us over for Lille Julaften (little Christmas eve) and so life will be good with them. On Sunday we just knocked on doors, but we met a man named Ali who actually let us into the house, gave us dinner and drinks, and then let us teach him a lesson and took the Book of Mormon. He was really nice, but the problem is that he thinks that all religions are good and true, and it doesn't really matter what you believe in, so I don't really feel like much will come from that. So it has been a good week. It has been long, but I feel like we are serving God the best we can, and that is all that we can really do. So life is good here in Norway!

It has felt like Christmas here for the past month, which reminds me! I should explain about Norwegian Christmas. Christmas is different here. It is called Jul, and people start celebrating in November, basically, since there is no Thanksgiving here. The 23rd of December is called Lille Julaften, which means little Christmas eve, and the 24th, is Julaften, which is the main Christmas holiday. Everyone opens their presents that night, and that is when the celebrations are held. People hold hands in a ring around the Christmas tree and sing songs, and they eat Riskrem, which is like rice porridge or something. It tastes really good. On Christmas, they put an almond in and whoever gets the almond wins a Marsipan pig. (I actually have no clue what Marsipan is in English or if it is even a word, but it is just a type of candy.) There isn't really a 'Santa Claus' tradition here-instead they have Christmas elves called julenisser, and each house has it's own julenissen. But Santa has kind of immigrated over here over the past few years. After Christmas, they have 20 days of Christmas, starting on December 25th, and going into January. Norwegians love their Christmas!

I am doing better than I sometimes think that I am, and I owe it all to my Savior. I often find that throughout the day, my moods tend to change. Every morning I wake up, excited and ready to work, and I feel like nothing in the world could possibly bring me down or stop me from accomplishing my mission. However, life gets hard, and sometimes it isn't as easy as we at first may think it will be. Sometimes I get down, and the last thing I want to do is to talk to my Heavenly Father and tell Him how it is going. I don't feel like I should take the time to pray. But those are the moments we need to pray the most. If there is one thing I have learned on my mission, it is that prayer is powerful. Prayer changes hearts and minds and lets the Spirit into our lives. I am so grateful for the gift of prayer we have been given to guide us through this life.


I love you all and thank you so much for everything!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Norwegian Style

We had the most fun surprise today.  We received the following message and pictures...

God Dag Brother & Sister Childs,

We are the new senior couple working at the Oslo YSA Center. We have gotten to know your son the past few weeks, and grow to love and appreciate him. He is also sharing his talents on the piano and singing. He is a wonderful, faithful missionary.

Elder & Sister Rasmussen













November 25

So we don't really have any time to email today, but I just thought that I would get on and say hello before I get back to work.  This week has been really long. We had 9 appointments with non-members this week, all of which fell through, so we have been knocking on a lot of doors. Just pushing through! But that is what I am here for, right? I knew it would be hard work when I came, so it is all good.

So for Thanksgiving dinner tonight- we had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, fruit, rolls, and lots and lots of pie. It was a real Thanksgiving. Elder Tate and I made fruit salad so it was really easy. Thanksgiving is the best!

 Castles in Norway!


Spent one evening this week picking hair balls out of the shower drain... :( at least now it drains!



Monday, November 18, 2013

The Blessings of Heaven

So I thought that nothing exciting happened this week, or at least nothing that anyone would actually want to read about, but I was dead wrong! My problem is that this week has seemed so long that I forgot which things actually happened in the recent past.
But. To start off the week, I spent the whole night on Tuesday in the Emergency Room here! That was interesting because I have never actually been to the doctor's office here in Norway, let alone the hospital, so I had to learn the words for those things, ask someone how to get there, and then actually find the place, all before my companion died. Okay so maybe that is a little dramatic, but only a little. We were eating dinner with a member here in Oslo, and we were all talking and laughing and having a really great time. We ate a delicious dinner and talked for a while, and finally I delivered a spiritual thought before we left. I thought it was a little bit weird that my companion wasn't coming in with his part of the lesson, but since someone had to finish it, I just went ahead with our plan. Everything went well, and we thanked them for dinner and left. As soon as we got outside, I looked over at my companion to ask him what he thought about the visit, only to discover that his face was bright red, twice its normal size, and breaking out in a rash. I am not even being a little bit dramatic this time. I don't have any idea how we didn't notice it in the dinner, but there wasn't really time to ask questions about that. So, we rushed him, by bus (which is actually not in a rush at all) to the ER and got everything taken care of.
It turns out that the members used buckwheat in the meal, which my companion, as we found out, was obviously allergic to, and his body didn't handle it very well. But, everything went well in the end, and it made for a great story. I am just glad that everything is alright.

My companion has had a rough week I guess, because one day we were on the bus, on fold up seats, and he stood up a little bit to hit the button that signaled that we needed to get off. His seat folded back up, but he didn't know it, so when he sat back down, he just fell on the ground. It was really funny and we both laughed about it :)

I am doing well here, but it has been raining pretty often. My umbrella is holding up well, except that my companion stole it and took it clear up to Mo i Rana. On accident. So he is sending it back, so who knows when I will get it? But that is okay, I have a different one that I am using for the time being.
I am the senior companion right now, but that doesn't mean a whole lot right now. It is probably just because I know the area and Elder Tate doesn't yet. We are doing really well, and I enjoy being around him. We just knock on doors all day long, and it gets really really long. But sånn er livet. I just have to keep pushing through, right? There isn't really anything going on in our area right now, but we have a lot of appointments with potential investigators this week, so we will have to see what the future holds. Lisa didn't show up to church, and we haven't been able to get ahold of Rhoda for a while.  Last night we ended up walking down a road which took us on a hike through the forest to the middle of a field, and a ski resort, in front of these really weird apartment complexes, which were bad for knocking on, so we hiked up the hill right there and ended up in the exact same spot where we started. Then we went home. So it was a rough night :)

Other than that, it has pretty much just been another week on the mission. They come and they go, but it feels, to me at least, like we are just doing the mission things every day, and that is about it. We get up in the morning and move our feet and the Lord blesses us for it. Sometimes we don't want to talk, and the Lord blesses us for it. There are a lot of times that I would rather just sleep in or something, but I get up and smile, and the Lord blesses us for it.

We didn't come to this life for it to be easy. We came here to learn and to grow and to the things that we need to do. And, if we are faithful and put in the effort to do them, the Lord blesses us for it.

I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have to learn and to grow out here; I wouldn't rather do anything else right now. I love you all and I hope you have a great week!


PS: Gratitude for This Week:

an extra umbrella at the center
floor heaters at the apartment (they are the BEST!)
scripture study in the morning
pday!
people who open the door and are nice
laughter-a tender mercy of the Lord

Monday, November 11, 2013

More Pictures

Here are a few more pictures from Dallin's first area in Oslo, with his companion and trainer, Elder Badger.













Live, Laugh, Love

Hello there again! It feels like it has been at least a year since I was on the computer typing up my last blog entry for the week. The days are kind of blending together, and it is getting tough to tell the difference between the things that happened this week and the things I have already mentioned. However, here is a quick rundown of what happened to us this week:

On Monday we just relaxed and played ping pong and crud (a game involving a pool table and the balls). I also found a classical piano book, so I spent a lot of the day playing sonatas and rags and a lot of random things that make me happy. I forgot how much I love to play the piano! On Tuesday we had district meeting, and then dinner with a family named the Ivanov's. They are from England, and I am pretty sure that if my family ended up being a little bit like theirs one day, I would consider myself a successful father. They brought out the guitar while we were there, so I got to play that, and it's safe to say I was in my own little corner of heaven for about 20 minutes. The middle of the week is kind of just a blur for me, because we spent most of our time out knocking on doors, without any real results. On Friday we taught a man from Spain, so I thought that was cool, and Saturday was just another one of those days. On Sunday I found out I will be staying in Nordstrand for another transfer, with my new companion Elder Tate, who is from the same MTC group as me. I am really excited, because he was one of my best friends there. I couldn't ask for anything more this next transfer. Bring on the baptisms!

It was a really long week, but somehow I managed to stay happy despite everything that happened. I think before it would have been really easy to get frustrated and down on myself and on everything, and ask questions like "Why me?" or "When is this going to end?" I have to admit, my thoughts aren't always completely positive out here, and there are days that are really hard, but if there is one thing that I have learned on my mission so far, it is that we just need to learn to live, laugh, and love.

There are going to be times in life where everything does not go as planned, and it might not always be "fun." We don't have control over the things people do or say, or a lot of the things that happen in our lives. Sometimes that is just the way that it is. However, when life gets hard and we begin to feel the weight, we all have a choice to make. We can either dwell on the bad things and wonder how long we will have to endure, or we can choose to see the good, keep on living and find something to laugh about.

It is incredible how much power something as simple as laughter can have in our lives. Laughter transforms frowns to smiles and hatred to love. If we look for something to laugh about and a reason to be happy, there is nothing in life that will ever be able to get us down. If we focus on the things that are really important, like the Savior and the people we love, then we will be able to have a happy life, regardless of what happens.

I am so grateful for all the support I receive from all of you, and I hope that as Thanksgiving approaches, we can all find things to be grateful for.  Here is a list of some of mine for this week:

Gloves to keep my fingers warm in the cold nights.
The few people who are kind to us on their doorsteps.
Awesome members who are willing to work with us.
Norwegian sunsets.
The fjord!
Pepper kaker.
The swamp of the graveyard was frozen this morning so that when we walked through it, it didn't get our shoes all dirty.
Prayer.
Good friends here in the mission.

 I love you all!





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pictures!

Here are some pictures we received from Dallin last week.  He was able to send us a bunch of pictures from his first companion's camera that they took while Dallin's camera was lost.  He now has a new camera, so we should be seeing more pictures.  Yay!












Monday, November 4, 2013

November!

Hello everyone! November is here, and it is beautiful in Norway. I don't really remember what it is like back home very well, but I don't think that there is anything that can compare to the sight of a beautiful sunset over the Norwegian fjords. I really can't think of anything better. Except that it happens at 4 o'clock in the afternoon right now. But, other than that, I can't complain :)

Life on a mission is really good, because you have time to focus on Christ, the investigators, and yourself. Christ is always there and always the same, so we learn about Him; the investigators are out there somewhere, so we do everything we possibly can to find them- literally there are some nights where it is all we can do to take our shoes off before we fall onto the couch when we get home; and we are never quite good enough, so we focus on changing ourselves and becoming more like Christ.

This week we had a little party with the members on Saturday to celebrate the Fall. We were a little apprehensive when it was 5 minutes after time to begin and no one had arrived (especially when the mission president walked in the door), but after a little while the people began to trickle in and it really was a party. People came and brought soup, we decorated cookies, and we spent the evening talking and laughing. We even gathered fallen leaves and these white berries to decorate the table with. Getting creative! It was definitely a success.  It was a nice break and it made me realize how grateful I really am for the amazing members in Oslo.

I have had a lot of thoughts this week as I have tried to become a better missionary, but one word has really been on my mind more than any other. Relentless.

Christ has asked us to dedicate everything that we are to His gospel, and that is a promise that is often difficult to keep. There are so many things that are constantly battling to take our attention from the things that are truly important and take our sight off of the Lord. Whether it is fatigue, temptations, or other "good" things which maybe aren't the best, there is always something that can distract us from the path to our Savior. If we let our guard slip, it is too easy to be drawn from the way.

One scripture I really like is Alma 37:46 which says, "O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever."
The Lord has prepared the way for us, and it is our job to follow Him. If we will look to His guidance and His example, we can live forever. It is as simple as that. We need to be relentless in keeping the commandments of the Lord, relentless in following in His way, and relentless in making a stand for what is right. I know that if we remember to always look to Him and follow in His footsteps, we can truly live forever in His glory. This is the Lord's promise to us, and He will keep His end of it if we do our part.

I love you all, and I hope that you have a great week!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween!

 It's not quite the same being in Norway celebrating a holiday so closely entwined with my good old American culture, but it is Halloween nonetheless. We carved pumpkins and ate candy, and I have even seen a few costumes around the city! So, it's safe to say that my patriotism hasn't been completely crushed yet.

The days are getting shorter here, and I am not exactly sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it will probably be cool for a while for it to be dark, and if I go to the North this Winter it will be dark the whole day, so that would be cool for a second, but then again, I am a fan of the sun. We are losing about 15 minutes of daylight every day right now, so that is interesting. It is weird to go study every morning and watch the sun come up later and later every day. 
 
It's been a pretty good week, but nothing too exciting has happened. The craziest thing that happened this week was probably when Elder Whitmer and I went to get our hair cut today. We don't have very much money right now, and haircuts cost a fortune in Norway. Literally, I think the conversion is just over 100 dollars. So we were looking for something cheap, and we were walking down the street, and we saw a sign for a cheap frisør, or barbershop, so we went over to take a look. We had to walk down a dimly lit alleyway, but there was a little salon at the end, with one man who cut hair. It was only 20 dollars, so we figured, why not? It only took 10 minutes total for both of us to get our hair cut, and I think it might have been the sketchiest thing I have ever done in my life. I was surprised I had both of my ears at the back end of that experience. But we survived, and we have missionary appropriate hair now, so what more could we ask for, right?

Next week, we are going to have a harvest party on Saturday for the ward, to try and get member missionary relationships up and to get all the members to be friends with each other. Everyone is really reserved here in Norway, so they are not as tight knit in the ward as they are back home. We got in contact with a less active Family who is really excited with the party, and we are going to start working with them. Their name is the Ivanovs, and they are from America, so fingers crossed that they will make us a good Thanksgiving dinner! There is a really good chance, I think, so I am excited. They are a really cool Family.

We have been visiting a lot of less active members lately, because we want to start working with them to come back to Church and to give us referrals. Oslo has 600 people on the ward list, so we have had a lot of people to visit, but it is hard, because I think we have found close to 20 people already who don't live at the address listed on the ward list, and a lot of whom don't even live in Norway anymore. So it feels like we are just updating the ward list more than anything, but that is okay, we are finding a few that we can work with. As far as investigators go, we don't have anyone really that we worked with this week, but we had a few lessons that we taught.

The other day we were having a long day because we had been in Oslo for a lot of it and hadn't really been able to get anything done, and we were pretty tired. But after dinner we needed to go out, so we said a prayer and headed out to an area to knock on doors. We got out there and started knocking, but we both just didn't have a good feeling about it at all. We couldn't really focus, and things just didn't feel right. So, we said another prayer and asked if there was somewhere else we needed to go. We both felt like we needed to go visit a person we had met at the beginning of the transfer, but that nothing had really happened with. We got to her house and she let us in. We taught the message of the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. The spirit was so strong, and in her prayer at the end, she thanked Heavenly Father for the peace we had brought to her home. It was so cool, and she is the most positive investigator that we have found, and the Lord really led us to her this week. We had a goal to find 3 new investigators this week and it was coming down to the end of the week and we hadn't found any. Her name is Rhoda and she has 2 children, so we reached our goal and everything was good. The Lord helped us to do the things He had commanded us to do because of our faith in Him. 
 
Like I said earlier, it has been a kind of long week, but it has been good. This week I have been thinking a lot about this work. I am amazed by the simplicity of the Lord's means in accomplishing His work and His glory. He sends a bunch of 20 year old kids out into the world to faraway places where they can barely speak the language. In the hands of these young people- people who the world would scarcely trust with the simplest of tasks- He places the salvation of countless numbers of His children. There are a lot of instances in the scriptures when Jesus was scoffed at and mocked because of the things that He did, and this is another one of those times when the world tries to tell its creator that He doesn't know what He is doing. Oh the irony. And yet, in spite of it all, the work moves forward. In fact, it is hastening. It is amazing and it grows my faith every day that the Lord really is in control of our lives. So, I put on my shoes, put my trust in Him, take up my cross, and set out on my path to Him. And the Journey couldn't be more worth it.
 

I love you all, have a great Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Increase Your Faith

News for the week: It is zero degrees and snowing today! Winter is here, and I don't know if I should laugh or cry. Maybe I will do a little bit of both :) The Norwegians are all bringing out their winter gear, so I guess that it is time for me to follow suit. I have known that this was coming, but I guess I was just hoping it would stay away a little longer. But, I have heard that Norway is beautiful in the winter as well, so I might as well take the positive outlook on life, right?

This weekend we traveled to a place called Romerike for a stake conference. The European Area Presidency was there to reorganize the stake presidency, so is was fun to be able to meet them and spend a little time getting to know them. I know that they are called of God. Romerike is about an hour away from our apartment by bus, so between traveling and the actual conferences on Saturday and Sunday, we weren't able to get a whole lot done on those days. Earlier in the week, we just knocked on a lot of doors, and contacted people on the streets. I am still waiting to find that "golden" investigator, but I can see that there are people being placed in my path, so I just need to talk to them!

It has been a pretty routine week here in Norway. We still don't have a ton of investigators, since we are in a new area, so it is just work work work for us, trying to find people to teach. And I know that the Lord is leading His work, and He guides his servants. So we have been busy, trying to find out exactly what it is that He wants us to be doing.
 
But isn't that a challenge sometimes.
 
Although we aren't really teaching anyone right now, per se, we have a man named Andreas who is in a band and really cool, but he came as an observer (he is studying to be a religions teacher), so I don't know if he really wants to keep investigating. We also met a woman named Nina, but she is bipolar and a little suicidal and used to be a Jehovah's Witness, so the situation is kind of weird there. However, we did get a really positive referral yesterday, so we are going to go visit them tonight. It is a family, and I hope that we will be able to start meeting with them.

A little more about Nina:  Every day I pray that the Lord will put someone in my path who is prepared to receive the gospel and I can talk to and help them come unto Christ. I pray for Him to open my mouth and speak through me, that I can be a tool in His hands. However, it is hard to not get a little routine when you pray often for things, so on Thursday this week, I decided to be more specific. I prayed specifically that we would be able to find someone in the hour we were going contacting before our appointment. It is hard to find people here, but I knew that it was the will of the Lord, so I set out to do it. Then, as we were walking that day, I saw a woman smoking by a garbage can. She was a little out of the way, but I just knew that she was who we needed to talk to, so we went over and said hi. It was Nina, and she told us that we were guardian angels for her that day. We sat down on a bench and taught her about the gospel and she said it was exactly what she needed to hear. She told us the whole time we were together, she didn't feel the need to smoke, and she was so grateful that the Lord had led us to her. 
 
This week I have been thinking a lot about faith. Faith is a gift from God, given to the obedient. It is not something that I will ever be able to achieve by myself, nor can I expect God to just give me faith. It is something that I have to work for. Actually put some effort in. And it is not fun, sometimes. Faith isn't easy. As I have been thinking about ways that I could increase my faith, I began to study the handbook for missionaries, and I realized just how many rules there are. Some of them are little things that don't seem to matter, and some are obvious no-nos. But if I want to be able to have more faith, I have to be able to be exactly obedient to all of them. It sounds like a big task, and, I have to admit, I was overwhelmed for a while. It didn't seem possible to me to be exactly obedient 100% of the time. But then I realized something.
 
It's not.
 
God doesn't reserve His gift of faith to those who are perfect at being obedient. If that were the case, which one of us would qualify for this precious gift? God gives us the faith we need to be more obedient, based on our desire to follow his commandments. And then, when we are a little more obedient, He gives us the faith we need to be a little more obedient. To follow one more rule, one more commandment, a little more fully. It is a cycle that revolves around our efforts to repent, become better, and follow our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
Cool, huh? So this week I have been trying to be as obedient as I possibly can, and, I am by no means perfect, but by doing the things that I am able to do, I am experiencing an increase in my faith in the saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. And it is amazing. Don't we all need to have a little more faith in our Creator? He stands ready to give it if we but try to follow Him.
 
I have a testimony of the divinity of this work and I know that it is being hastened. Let us all put our hands to the plow and not look back until the Savior finally says, "It is enough."
 

I love you all and I hope that you have an amazing week!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pictures!



Winter is Coming!

Yes, winter is most definitely right around the corner, and I don't know whether I should be shaking with trepidation or excitement. Maybe a combination of both would be best. Here in Nordstrand, we knock on doors every night, and the winter jackets, scarves, and gloves have officially come out. I am not too sure how I feel about that, but hey, sånn er det bare. It is what it is.
 
Here is a just a little side note before I begin: When you set up a washer, it is IMPORTANT that it is leveled before you use it.... When we set up the washer here, we just took it out of the box and plugged it in, then we put some clothes in the washer to wash overnight. Clothes take longer to wash here in Norway, so nights are usually the best time to wash clothes. After we went to bed, we woke up in the middle of the night to a cacophony coming from inside the bathroom. Our washer already sounds like it is trying to take off and fly when it starts to go into a spin cycle, but this time it was incredibly loud and banging around. When we got into the bathroom, the washer was banging around and hopping up and down, and it had moved out in front of the door. We unplugged it and sat on it until it stopped, and then we sat there for a minute, hearts racing, and then went back to bed :) But, the next day, we leveled it out and now everything works fine. So, my advice would be this: Usually, it is a good idea to read the directions before setting something up. Especially a washing machine :)
 
The members here in Oslo are great. The Relief Society president is named Pauline, and she is from England, and she is the only person I have ever heard speak Norwegian with an English accent. So that is funny. She is really nice and has short blonde hair and is always inviting the missionaries over. Are Svendsen, my favorite member, is a rich lawyer that lives in a really really nice apartment in possibly the sketchiest part of Oslo. Are is a star member missionary, and he is always bringing his friends to church and meeting random people who somehow end up coming to some church event.  Even with members like Are, we don't have a ton of baptisms here in Norway. As of right now, we have had 43 this year, and I don't know how much higher it is going to get. We haven't had any baptisms in Oslo since I have been here, but we are trying really hard and I have faith that number is going to turn around soon.

Tracting is really long and there are a lot of people who say no. I haven't really had any bad experiences yet, just nights of not finding anyone and people slamming doors in our face, but it is always worth it when we find the people that are interested in talking to us more. One funny thing was that we talked to a man that really wasn't interested. (I guess you need a little background first. The word for interested in Norwegian is interesert, and the word for interesting is interesant. So keep that in mind.) But when people find out we are Americans they try to speak English to us a lot, so that guy did the same. He glared at us a little bit, looked down, and then said in a quiet voice, "I'm not interesting." It was all I could do to not laugh as he closed the door and we walked off the step, but I guess what I am trying to say is that we find ways to keep it entertaining :)

Even though this week was really really slow, it was good. We didn't teach any lessons, and we just went out knocking on doors every night, so it was really really long. But, we found a lot of good potentials, and we even set up a few teaching appointments, so this week is going to be a lot better. And everyone has been expecting this at first in this new area, so hopefully we can just get things going now. We set up three dinners with members this week, and we are going to meet with David, the Buddhist again. When we asked him to send us his address, he said that he didn't have one and that he would have to send us a "description" of how to get to where he sleeps, so I have no idea what that means, and I am a little nervous about it, but we will see tomorrow! Hopefully I will have more to report next week!
 
The slow week has given me a lot of time to think about life and what it means to be a follower of Christ, and I think that it has been really good for me. Sometimes you just need time to think, you know?
 
I have been told all of my life, that in order to understand another person, you need to be able to walk a mile in their shoes and to see the world through their eyes. But that has never really made very much sense to me, because the world is the same for everyone. Whether it is through my eyes or your eyes, a rock is a rock, a tree is a tree, and a person remains the same. Right?
 
I think so. But, as I have pondered what it really takes to understand a person and to know what it is that they are going through, I have come to a conclusion. We all look at the same world and the same things, and no matter who the viewer is, God's creations remain the same. In and of itself, the fact that I am looking at the world does not change its reality. However, what does matter and what separates us from each other is that we look at the world and notice the things that are individually important to us.
 
As a missionary, I look at the world and I see good places to proselyte, and people who are likely to accept the gospel. An architect looks at the world and notices structures, buildings, and angles. An artist sees lines and colors, a mother watches carefully over her children, and a religious man sees the hand of God in everything around him. These are all different ways that we observe the world, and we are each different from each other. We have different backgrounds and priorities which shape the way in which we view the world. But, there is One who views the world as its very creator.
 
Christ views the world and its inhabitants for what they can become.
 
It is such a profound thing to think that our Savior keeps our eternal possibilities in His view. His eternal perspective is not marred by our occasional faults and mistakes. He always remembers what our true purpose is here, and what it takes to get there. As I have begun to try to more fully understand my Savior, I have done my best to see the world through His eyes, and to pay attention to the things that He thinks are important. As I have done this, it has been like He reached gently down to me and lifted a veil from in front of my eyes. When we try to look through Christ's perspective, we can understand so much more of the world around us. Our charity grows.
 
I know that if we all do our best to look through Christ's eyes and make His priorities our priorities, we will be better able to help each other on this journey toward perfection. Christ will always be there for us, so let us all make the decision to always be there for Him.
 

I love this gospel and I love all of you, and I am so grateful for all the love and support I have received this week. It has been much needed, and my prayers have been answered through those that I love. You are all the best, and I hope that we can all make the most of this next week! Gud vær med dere til vi ses igjen!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Typical Day in The Norway Oslo Mission

We asked Dallin to share what he does on a typical day. He sent us a rundown of last Thursday...thought you all might be interested...


This last Thursday, I woke up and then we had to travel in to Oslo, so we left at 7:35 and got on this...I don't know what is called in English. It is a trikk in Norwegian. Maybe like a tram or cable car? I don't know. We took studies in Oslo because we had a district meeting at noon to get everyone excited for the transfer and to set some goals, and then we headed back to our apartment in Nordstrand. We had to set up our washer and our stove and our desks, and then we went to a dinner with these vegan members. They served us a cabbage soup with raw onions and it was really weird, but there was a new investigator there and we taught him about the Book of Mormon and the spirit was really strong and he said he would read. He is really hard-core buddhist, so that is interesting. But then we went back and knocked on doors for the rest of the night, and we didn't really get in any houses, but we got a few try-backs, so it wasn't too bad. So there you have it! A typical day in the Norway mission. 

A Weekend of Revelation

Well, my first week out here in Nordstrand is over, and it is a lot different than living in Oslo. In Oslo there were always people on the streets to talk to whenever we wanted, and there was never a time in the day when we had to try to find something to do, we were always very busy. But out here in North Beach, as I like to call my area, there is never anyone on the streets and we are always trying to decide what to do. Which means that we spend a lot of time just knocking on doors trying to find new people to teach. Which is really hard when no one wants to listen.
 
There are good times and times that are not as good on the mission, and this week has definitely been hard. However, it has forced me to look to my Savior for guidance and comfort, and He has been there every step of the way. Every time we get a door slammed in our face, he feels the rejection just like we do. He walks with me every step of the way as we go out and try to find new investigators. I have come to understand the personal power of the atonement so much more this week, and I am so grateful for the trials we have in life which teach us our most valuable lessons. And, it just so happens that my favorite conference talk revolved around that very enabling power of the atonement of Christ.
 
General Conference was the best! I have never been looking forward to it this much and I have never been as spiritually prepared for it as I was this time, and I have never gotten as much out of what was said as I did this time. I took the time a few days before to write down several questions that I had and wanted to get answered, and then I just prayed that Heavenly Father would give me guidance through His apostles. It was amazing to watch as the talks went down my list almost like a check list and I received answers one by one. Heavenly Father truly knows his children and He is so anxious to communicate with us if we will just let Him in.
 
A quote that I really like from conference says this:
 
“We humble people, we who sometimes feel ourselves so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that He has actually given his angels—invisible beings of power and might—charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”
 
I have truly felt angels in my life and I know that they are there around us, bouying us up through every hardship that we are called to endure through this life. The Lord knows every single one of us perfectly and He knows just how far we can bend before we break, and He goes with us to that very point so that we can become that much stronger as a result. It is only through the storms of life that we are able to grow to our full potential, and I would not have it any other way. If life were easy, what would be the point?
 
My shoulders are squared and I am looking to the future and I am ready to face the challenges that are going to come. I don't know where this life is going to take me, but I know that where ever it is, I can count on the fact that I will be walking with my Savior's arm around my shoulder, and that will never change. I hope that we can each develop our personal relationship with the One who knows us best as we take the journey back to Him.
 
I love you all, and I know that this week is going to be the best! Thank you!

Monday, September 30, 2013

One Transfer Down!

Okay so moves call was yesterday morning, and I found out that I am going to be leaving Oslo to serve in Nordstrand. I know you have no idea where that is, but that is okay! Norstrand is kind of like a suburb of Oslo, and it is located on the east side of the Oslo fjord. I will be opening up the area because we have so many new missionaries coming in (13 this transfer, I think), and president doesn't know where to put them all! I will be serving with Elder Whitmer, who I know nothing about, but I am sure that we will have a great time together. It is going to be tough to get the area going I think, and it will be weird to be in Oslo but not in the city where all the people are, but I have so much faith that the Lord is sending me to where I need to be and that I will be able to reach those He needs me to reach. I will be picking up Elder Whitmer on Wednesday afternoon, and then we will head out to Nordstrand and start the work. Everything is so exciting!
As nervous as I am, I really am so excited to go out there and start working. I am ready to take the challenge and go for it, and I know the Lord will be with me every step of the way. I am also staying in the same ward, so I will still be able to be with all my friends here, and most of the really solid members live in Nordstrand, so we are in really good shape. It will just be really hard, but one thing we always say here is "sånn er det bare." That's life, right?
I love what it says in Doctrine and Coventants 58:3-4.  “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.” We can never see what is going to come in the future and we have no idea what our influence on someone today will do to someone in 20 years. The Lord is always doing His work, on His own time and in His own way. All we can do is keep doing what is right and pray for Him to consecrate our actions to our own, and others', salvation. Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the enabling power of the atonement that we receive everyday in our lives. Through Christ's sacrifice, we are able to become clean and choose to follow Him and His teachings. Through our Savior, we can make a difference in the lives of other people. Through Him, life gains purpose, and we are able to press forward, knowing that "the day cometh that we shall be crowned with great glory." The gospel is amazing, and I hope that we can all choose to make it a bigger part of our lives.
I love you all, and I am so grateful for everything you do!

MVH Eldste Childs

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Work of Miracles

It seems like I don't talk about my mission very often and without so many details, so here is the rundown for the week. The members here in Oslo are amazing and we eat dinner with them basically every day, so I feel so blessed and taken care of here in Norway. We have two main investigators right now, and their names are Vegard and Asbjørn. Vegard is a guy in his twenties who we met on the street and goes to the local college here in Oslo. He is really interested to learn if this gospel is true and he is very excited about the Book of Mormon. Asbjørn is an 80 year old man who was a referral from a member here. His wife has been a member for 20 years and this is the first time in his life that he has actually been willing to learn about the gospel, so it is really exciting for everyone. The only problem is that he went to the hospital this week because he is "alvorlig syk," or seriously ill, I we are not sure if he is going to make it through this next week. It is so sad, but I am comforted because I have the strongest feeling that we have been meeting with him so that he could accept the gospel in his heart now, so that when he gets the chance in the next life he will accept it and join the fold. I will miss that man, though.
 
Transfers are coming up next week, and everyone here is starting to wonder what is going to happen. The way it works here in Norway is that everyone goes to their apartment early the Sunday before transfers, and we all get on the cell phones and have a huge conference call with the whole mission. The president and the assistants get on and read the names and assignments of all the missionaries for the next transfer, and that is that. So that will be next Sunday and I am very excited. I think that I will probably stay here in Oslo, but I want so badly to head north and serve there for the winter. If I am going to be in Norway, I might as well experience everything it has to offer, right? Plus there is something about looking at the northern lights in negative 40 degree weather in a small Norwegian town that sounds really appealing to me right now. Call me crazy, but I hope it happens.
 
We have been on splits a lot this week, and it has been focused a lot on finding. It has been a tough week this week for everyone in the zone, so we have really just been focused on trying to find the people the Lord has been prepared for us to find who are ready to be baptized. My faith in Him is growing so much as we experience miracles every day.
 
Speaking of miracles, aren't they such an interesting thing? Something so hoped for and prayed for, but how many of us actually believe that they can happen in our daily lives?
 
I do. At the very beginning of my mission, I used to pray for miracles to happen in the work and in my life here. I would try to do the things to qualify for the miracles, like follow the schedule and be like Christ and work hard, but I wasn't really seeing any fruits of my effort. I felt like nothing was happening and that I was, to a degree, doing the work on my own. Obviously I was following the Spirit, but apart from that, I was not feeling Divine Help. But I soon realized that I was going about everything the wrong way. When I was asking God to give me miracles in my life, I should have been praying to recognize the things He was already doing to help me. It seems so simple to me now, because obviously God helps us and does everything He can to give us the things we need. But in our mortal state and with eyes blinded by the things of the world, it can be so difficult at times to recognize the things He is doing for us. The miracles He is working in our lives. But, as we learn to recognize God's hand in our life, I know that gratitude will replace the heartaches of suffering and we will learn to be happy through times of hardship. When we are grateful for the things God has already given us, He will soon begin to give us more miracles than we could ever dream of and will bless our lives in ways we could never imagine.
 

May we all recognize God's hand in our life and be grateful for the things we already have. I love you all! Have a great week and touch someone's life while you are at it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

PDay Pictures

Unfortunately, Dallin's camera is in hiding.  

Fortunately, one of sisters in Dallin's area is a daughter of Barry's coworker and he forwarded these pictures to us.  Fun to see that Dallin is alive and looks happy!  I believe they were on their way to an island for a barbecue and volleyball match last Monday.



Fighting the Good Fight

Man, missions are not easy. That is something that I have heard for the past 18 years, but I have never really understood why. I am here living in Europe with an amazing culture, a beautiful country, and the best people, yet it is not easy. This week we were running around from dinners with members to contacting referrals to talking to people on the street. Then we would head off in the other direction to visit some less active members, call the ward council, and go to our regular investigator lessons. It has been crazy and we are doing well. We are finding new investigators all the time, and we are teaching two right now that are really positive that we plan to get a baptismal date with this week, Asbjørn and Vegard. Appointments with members are going really well, we are getting to the point where we are going to start following up with them about referrals now, and it is cool because one family gave us 5 and another member told us he has some friends for us and another has promised 10 by the end of the year, and the sisters here got 5 last night, so that is really cool. This is hard, but I am learning so much and growing as I try to serve my Savior as best as I can.We are so busy and I am so imperfect, that there are times when I just realize how much of a gamble it must have been for the Savior to send me here to serve in Norway. Sometimes I feel so incapable and there are times when all I can do is look ahead and walk to the next street corner and cry out to my Father in Heaven for help, and all of the sudden I feel myself being carried as I do the will of the Father.

All the distress is gone. Fear turns to faith, and hope replaces doubt.

God is good, so why do we need to worry about anything else in our lives? I think that it should be enough to do the Lord's will and be happy with that. But obviously it is not that easy and words come easier than actions. 

One thing that I have been guilty of my whole life is looking forward to the next thing in life, and almost skipping everything that happens around me now. When I was in school I would count down the days until summer, and in my job I would anxiously await the time when I could go home. Now, here in Norway, there are times when I find myself looking at the time and willing it to move faster. This has always worked for me, and things have turned out alright in my life, but then I think about how much I could be losing here in the now. God has given us every single experience because He knows that we will learn something and grow a little more because we make it to the other side. I wonder, then, what right I have to be ungrateful and live my whole life looking to the future. I am afraid that if I am not careful, I am going to blink twice and two years will be gone. I will be home and be left to wonder where my mission went. It is my goal to see the good in every day, and to make an effort to find the lessons God wants me to learn as I go throughout life, touching others lives for good. I want to make the most of every opportunity God has given me, and never give myself a reason to have regrets. I am here in Norway and we are living our lives. There is nothing that is going to change that. So let's all change our attitudes and enjoy the journey.


I love you all, and I am sending you my prayes here from Norway! MVH Eldste Childs

Monday, September 9, 2013

Just Another Normal Week in Oslo

Fall is coming rapidly here in Oslo, and it feels like the time is moving very quickly. I heard there was a huge rainstorm back home, and I am sad that I missed it! It is kind of ironic, because last summer I guess it rained every single day in the summer here, but now that I am here, it has only kind of rained once. That is too bad that everywhere flooded, but I enjoy a good storm, and I think that I have a lot of good Norway storms to look forward to in the future. 

We have been focusing a lot on member work, and already our numbers are increasing and the work is accelerating. When I first got here, all the missionaries were teaching a lot of lessons, but they were teaching basically only foreigners, and they only spoke English and they weren't usually super solid investigators, but at least they were willing to meet. What would usually happen is that they would be baptized, often for the benefits I think, then they would come to church maybe one time after their baptism and then they just all went inactive. Because of this, the missionaries really didn't have a good relationship with the ward mission leader or the bishop, and things weren't going so well. That didn't make sense to me really, because we are in Norway, and there are plenty of Norwegians here who need the gospel as well. I just think that the missionaries were afraid to talk to them, and the foreigners were easier. So, we decided we need to work more with the members to find people to teach who will be solid. So, we set a goal to get 150 referrals from members before the end of the year, which is kind of a crazy goal here if I am honest, but the bishop is on board and we are doing it. It means right now we have to just meet with a lot of members and challenge them to find people for us and help them learn how to do missionary work because they have never done it before. It is a really long process right now, meeting with so many members and making them cookies and helping them feel the fruits of missionary work, but I know we will see so much success because of it, and our numbers are already higher than they have been in a long time. The members are such powerful missionaries once they realize how much of an impact they can make!

Also, the Lord blesses us to still find people as we work with the members. We have a slogan I guess you could call it, but it is: Pray all day and save on the way. That just means that instead of scheduling in time to contact people on the street, we just contact on the way to appointments and talk to people on the bus and subway and things. It is incredible because the Lord is helping us to find more people who are prepared to teach than we did when we spent hours contacting and proselyting. Cool, huh?

Anyway, so there you go. We see our friend, Joseph all the time on the street and call him a lot, but we haven't been able to meet with him yet because he is trying to figure out his housing situation. But he has promised to come to church with us every week after he gets it figured out. The city of Oslo has one ward, and that is our area. There are 8 missionaries in the Oslo ward, so that is kind of crazy, but it is really fun. Sister Pitts and Sister Pyne are in my district, and they went to AF and Lone Peak, so it is really fun to talk to them and talk about people we all know and memories we all have. There are two stakes in Norway, one is the Oslo stake, which includes several wards from around the area, and the other is the Drammen stake, which just got organized. The north of Norway is still under the mission so it is several branches. There are about 75 missionaries in Norway right now, and it is so exciting to see all of the new people coming here and to meet other missionaries serving in Norway. The mission is so spread out that it isn't very often that you meet other missionaries, so it is fun when we are able to. 


Life is really good, and I am getting settled into this mission thing. The language is coming, and I am witnessing miracles every day as the Lord guides the work. I know that this church is true, and my testimony of that has grown so much while I have been here in Norway. Life is hard at times, but I know that the Lord has a plan and that it will all work out in the end. I am so grateful for all of the love and support like always, and I love you all! Hold the faith and keep moving forward!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gjør Fremgang- Making Progress

I do not think that anything worth anything in life could be really considered easy, but if there happened to be a scale on which we could grade the experiences through which we persevere in life, I think that missions would be near the top. Here we are expected to stop people on the street and invite them to hear the message that we have to share...but we have difficulty understanding the words they speak to us. We are expected to visit members and knock on doors and find our way around the city....but we have never been to this city before. We are expected to go forth boldly and call all people to repentance and to come unto Christ....but we are only kids in the eyes of the world.
 
I often wonder if the great missionaries of old (Ammon and the sons of Mosiah, Alma and Amulek, Nephi and Lehi to name a few of my favorites) ever felt this way. I wonder if they ever felt insufficient to do the things the Lord commanded them, or whether they were born with the unwavering faith which wrought a mighty change in the hearts of the Lamanites and caused them to be baptized by fire. Were they born the perfect missionary examples and as mighty men of God, or did their weakness somehow grow into something strong? Is it possible to learn greatness? I think it must be, because the Lord has called me, who can barely be called a man, to go out among the Norwegians and proclaim the Gospel to everyone I see. I am often amazed by the trust my Redeemer has for me, because people's very salvation is on the line and depends on my success in this country.
 
To let you know what I am feeling--That is a lot of pressure.
 
But at the same time it isn't. Is it really me doing the work? No. Is it left in my hands to know who to talk to and what to do? No. The Lord has not left us alone, and I can feel His presence every single day I am here. I am led by the Spirit to know where to go, and I never have to worry to talk to someone, because I know that I will be given the things to say. We are not learning how to become great speakers or to have the power to convince people of the truth, we are learning to trust more fully in the Lord, because He will give us everything that we need to succeed.
 
Let me tell you a little bit about contacting. When we are walking along the streets, we have made it a goal to talk to everyone that we see and invite them to hear our message. It seemed like a crazy goal at first, but to be honest, sometimes it is really easy. We are just walking by people on the street and it isn't too big of a deal to stop them and begin to speak. But there are other times when it isn't so easy. The people who are standing in groups on street corners. Those who are definitely out of our way to talk to. The people we see who we think there is no way that they would ever in any way accept the gospel. But I am always prompted to talk to them, and when I follow these promptings and put my faith in the Lord to stretch myself and to grow, to follow His will, that is when we find people. We met Joseph on the street this week, and I had no hope that he would want to talk to us. But, in keeping to our goal, we struck up a conversation with him and watched the Lord work. He believes in God and that He is our Father, but Joseph believes that God is a little too busy right now for us and that we cannot waste our time waiting for someone who won't come to our rescue. He thinks that he just has to accept his very poor lot in life and just keep living. This absolutely broke my heart. The Spirit was so strong as I had the opportunity to bear my testimony to him that God loves every single one of us and has a hand in our lives every day. As the Spirit worked through me, I felt my own testimony being reconfirmed that God has a plan in our lives and that He has not forsaken us. It is my hope that we will each be able to keep an eternal perspective in our lives as we interact with others and go through our trials. It is such a blessing to be able to share the glorious truths which we possess with people who need them so badly. Never suppress a generous thought, and always try to follow the Lord no matter how hard it may seem to be. He loves all of us, and will always provide a way.
 

Thank all of you so much for all of your love and support! It means the world to me. I love you!

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm In Norway!

I can't even believe it!  First, a little about the trip:  I was sitting next to someone on a window seat on the plane to London, so I was excited for a really long, really squishy trip, but then the flight attendant came and asked me if I would like a seat with more leg room, which I gladly accepted. So I had leg room and I talked to a lady from London for a lot of the time and spent the rest of the time sleeping.  I was disappointed I didn't sit next to a Norwegian on the plane, but I am here now and I get to talk to a lot of them every day, so I suppose that isn't so big of a deal.  I love London, and we saw all the major landmarks there like the Eye of London from the plane so that was cool. Our plane was delayed in Dallas, so when we landed, there were people there that rushed us through customs and we cut to the front of all the lines and we barely made it onto our connecting flight to Oslo before the gates closed. I think we got a lot of nasty glares, but we were all just glad we made it. After a really long day of travel and rushing through the London airport to barely make our flight to Oslo, it was such a relief to finally make it to the mission home and sit down....for maybe two seconds. After that it was off to dinner with the mission president then sleep and then off to our areas, and after that all I remember is a blur of events.

I am still wondering if perhaps I am dreaming this all and I will wake up in my warm bed in Utah.  Everything is all so new; the language, the people, the city and the culture. I am serving in Oslo, Norway!  Yes it is true,  I am now living in the most expensive city in the world.  How lucky is that? There are so many stores and subways and trains and people. I can see the king’s palace from my apartment, and I live in a beautiful city full of rich history and culture.   My comments about the city: fast is a good word to describe it, everyone dresses really well, and everyone should have the opportunity to eat Kebob (a really great restaurant) at least once before they die.  

Meals aren't that different here, we ate twice with members so far and they served pasta and chicken, so that was normal, but some very Norwegian things I have eaten so far include a piece of bread with jam and cheese on it for breakfast, a hot dog served on a crepe-looking tortilla thing with potato salad and this amazing sweet mustard on it (which tastes soo good by the way) and a sandwich with butter and raw salmon, which I think dad would like. But other than that, it is pretty normal, I just eat cereal sometimes for breakfast and other ordinary things.  

We wake up at 6:30 and prepare til 8:00, then we have studies till 12:00 and lunch til 1:00, then we go out and begin to work. That could be street contacting or knocking doors or having appointments. This week, we took a ferry across the fjord and went knocking (they call it bonking here) to an area and it was really cool. The houses looked like what you picture when you think Norwegian and there were weeds growing on the roofs and you could see the fjord from the houses, and it was all very Norwegian. We didn't have any success, but it was cool. Oslo is a very cool city, and I am grateful to be able to learn Bokmål here before I go to other cities and have to learn different dialects.

Laundry takes longer over here, but we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, so that is very convenient. We are lucky to be able to have a dryer, because I don't think that any other missionary apartments have one. There is a grocery store right by our apartment where we buy our food and it is kind of expensive, but that is to be expected here, and they give us enough money to get by.  Elder Gunther is up in Narvik, which is a little city in the north, and I haven't been able to hear how he is doing yet.

My companion's name is Elder Badger and he is from Salt Lake. He is a zone leader, a district leader, and my trainer, so that is really weird. It is hard not to get frustrated sometimes because we end up going on splits a lot so he can do things with the other zone leader and I get put with another greenie, so it feels like I might as well not have a trainer a lot of the time. The other greenie can't speak Norsk very well, so I end up doing a lot of the things, which is hard, but I suppose that it helps me to learn faster.   People here compliment me on my Norsk a lot, so that makes me feel good, and I am learning more each day.  We talk to everyone on the streets about the gospel and not many people actually care to listen. But there are a few. They are out there. So we will continue to work until we find the people the Lord has prepared for us to find.  I taught one investigator so far and we have another appointment with him later, but when I got here my companion didn't have any investigators, so we have just been focusing on finding this week, specifically street contacting and some knocking on doors. It was really hard at first because it was tough to want to stop people on the street if I knew I wasn't going to be able to understand what they are saying, but it is getting easier now, and we are finding a lot of potential investigators, so that is good.

I gave a talk in church this Sunday. It was my first week, what were they thinking? But everyone could understand me I think, so that is all that really matters, right? I talked about member missionary work because we are really trying to get the members more involved in the work here.   One thing I have realized is the truth of the statement that President Hinckley once made. To paraphrase, here it is: Anyone who has truly studied the process of missionary work in the church today will know that there is a better way than merely contacting and knocking on doors. That way is through the members of the church. And it is true. Here I am in Norway. I don't have any friends and I can barely speak the language, and I am trying to find the people that will hear the gospel. I can find a few people on my own, but it is not as effective as it could be. I have a testimony that missionary work will come alive when the members and the missionaries can work together to spread the good news. Members have many friends and, better yet, can judge who will receive the gospel and in exactly what way they will receive it. We need the members of the church to help us accomplish this great work we have been called to do. The Lord has said: and if ye have desires to serve thy God, then ye are called to the work. So let us all work together and pray to the Lord for the courage to share the good word with those that we know. It can be a scary thing, but it need not be. We are simply sharing something with them that has the power to literally change their life, and will bring them so much joy. People's salvation is hanging in the balance of this work, and I do not ever want to have to say that perhaps if I had tried a little harder, someone could have been brought into the fold. I love this work and I love all of you.


Gud vær med dere til vi ses igjen!