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!