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!